The Power Of Connection
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Genesis 28:10-17, Psalm 92:13
Sunday 23rd August 2015
Today, as we mark and celebrate 10 years of the New Wine Cell Group network, I would like to share a message with you to commemorate the occasion and to encourage each of us on the importance of being connected in God’s house. Today’s message is titled ‘The Power of Connection’, and series subtitled ‘Getting the Best out of Church Life’.
Our foundation scripture in Genesis 28:10-17 reads: ‘Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
Even though many of us attend church regularly on Sundays, we do not maximally benefit from our time in church as we ought to. Some attend traditionally, being another Sunday. Others attend because it is a good avenue to catch up with a friend or make new connections. Yet, some of us attend fully convinced that they will encounter God and be richly blessed as a result of showing up in His presence. Today, I would like to do a quick exegesis of our foundation scripture in relation to this subject and draw some lessons that we can all learn from and apply to our lives.
Church life could be compared to a large banquet in which everything you would ever need for life has been provided for you. With no restrictions or inhibitions, you can ingest as much as you wish to. Despite the availability of all we may ever need in life in God’s house: love, joy, peace, deliverance, breakthrough, prosperity and so much more, not everyone of us take advantage of this great opportunity.
From our foundation scripture, Jacob came to a certain place as he came out of Beersheba and prepared to spend the night as evening fell. He had no inclination whatsoever of the significance of this location. This was a place of change, of an encounter with God. It was a defining moment in his life, yet he failed to recognise the relevance of this spot. The scriptures record that he stayed there and spent the night, simply because nightfall had hindered the progress of his journey. He took a stone, made himself comfortable and went to sleep. God had to intervene and draw Jacob’s attention to this interface of heaven on earth, before he woke up. Conversely, how many of us have routinely attended church without attaching much importance to this time every week? Verse 12 records how God brought this to his attention: ‘Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it’.
Here was a point teeming with spiritual activity that had been ignored and trivialized by Jacob. He was oblivious to the proximity of this point to his destiny.
Verse 13-15 reads further: ‘And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants’. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” It was this experience that finally got Jacob’s attention.
This ordinary place in his reckoning was the point of his destiny. It was a place of divine visitation and communication. It was a place brimming with the hosts of heaven – a place that was to change Jacob’s life for a lifetime. Our predisposition to church life can be measured also in the way we approach our time in church: our interaction with the greeters, the ushers or even the minister of the word for that service. That point for Jacob was (as it is for us when we attend church), the house of God; the gate of Heaven.
I have often wondered why many attend church and leave with different experiences. It is often the same scripture and sermon that the congregation had listened to. Why? Much like in the days of Moses, we read about the Israelites, a nation we could refer to as the church in the wilderness. With twelve leaders in that church amongst who were Caleb and Joshua, ten of them had a different view from the duo on the viability of conquering the Promised Land. Here are two reasons I came up with to answer this question.
Firstly, many believers do not have a revelation of the House of God: They do not have a fundamental understanding and the spiritual implication of belonging to a local assembly. This spiritual practice has been trivialized to the point that believers have become desensitized to the grace and glory of God’s house. For many, it has been watered down to a certain place to be attended every weekend. Such was the experience of Jacob. He stumbled upon God’s house, but he failed to recognise it. Here are his exact words: ‘Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” All he needed to make headway in life were at this location and he could have missed it, simply because he lacked a revelation of God’s house. Jacob slept, oblivious of all that God had in mind for him. How does one sleep in the middle of opportunity or breakthrough? He failed to stare his destiny in the face, but rather turned over and took a nice nap. Here was the centre of communication between heaven and earth, yet Jacob had no clue about it. Conversely, each time of worship in church is a time of intense spiritual activity between heaven and earth, yet many fail to take cognisance of this reality. A dynamic transaction was happening at this location but Jacob was not participating. Again, such is the state of hearts and minds of many believers in church.
In order to get the best out of church, we must recognise that the house of God is the gate of Heaven. It gives access to the realm of God and every spiritual blessing. Ephesians 1:3 reads: ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ’. Everything we would ever need in life is in God’s house and it is our responsibility to recognise and take advantage of this. We ought to recognise that our breakthrough, healing, victory and deliverance are in church. The point of meeting with God is the place of destiny. Hence, church must graduate from a place we show up in on the weekends, just to be part of a service to a place of life transformation. The moment Jacob realised the significance of this point, he exclaimed in verse 17: ‘And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” God’s house is the place of divine destiny. Hence we must come to church with great expectations of an unravelling of our future and of what God will do in our lives, as our lives depend on this. When God’s word goes out, it does not return to Him void, but the word is bound to accomplish the purpose for which it was sent (Isaiah 55:11). So the house of God is not just a religious gathering or a place of entertainment. The story of the healing of the woman with the issue of blood in the days of Jesus is a good illustration of the importance of connecting with God’s power, regardless of the size of a crowd or congregation.
Secondly, believers must be connected to experience the blessings of the House of God: It is such a sad tale to tell when believers come to God’s house without connecting with God’s power. Here is Psalm 92:12-13: ‘The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God’.
Although, we’ve established that the house of God is the gate of Heaven, as believers, it is still our responsibility to be connected and planted in God’s house. The prerequisite for flourishing in life is being planted in God’s house. A flourishing tree will soon wither, if it is not planted. In our local churches, we must be planted. A believer who does not heed this advice is living dangerously. Here are the various ways by which you can be connected in a local assembly, namely: Becoming a member of a local assembly, becoming a worker in God’s house, by giving regularly in God’s house (Jesus said in Matthew 6:21 that where you heart is, that is where your treasure will be), and being involved in initiatives and outreaches to the local community.
We must realise that it is a privileged position we have to worship, serve and give in God’s house – it is not a right. It is for our sake that we have the opportunity to serve God’s purpose in our generation. God’s counsel will stand forever and His purpose cannot be aborted. Our failure to serve God will not stop what He intends to do. Rather, God can raise another generation. Take advantage of this opportunity to connect with God’s house so that you can experience all that God has prepared for you.
Furthermore, to connect in God’s house, join a team in church, and become a part of the cell group network. A cell group can be defined as a ‘voluntary, intentional gathering of five to fifteen people, meeting together regularly with the shared goal of mutual fellowship, edification and growth’. The cell group enhances connecting to God’s house, and subsequently augmenting flourishing. A person’s connection can determine how far he or she goes in life. It is a principle that will work for anyone. Remember that everything that thrives in life is connected to something – from inanimate to animate objects. No one is designed to flourish without and connection. From microphones used in communicating (wireless or wired), lecterns, cables for electricity, and most of our appliances at home, in the office and in public places are all connected to something. And so our lives should be connected in order to flourish. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 reads: ‘Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up’.
I pray that God will give us a revelation of His House. May he open our eyes to understand the significance of being connected in His house, so that we can flourish all the days of our lives in Jesus name (Amen).
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