John Gunn - Portugal Convention - 2005

John wants that all that is spoken at the convention is Portuguese so all is interpreted for, even the Spanish friends and workers who do not have Portuguese.  So glad that the theme of the convention is Jesus, as it should be.

John Gunn opened the convention saying how many have been desiring to see this day come. Over the last 35 years, 21 workers have laboured here, 12 brothers and 9 sisters.  They all came to Portugal  with the hope to one day see this day.  Not a person came here by chance, but it is God’s work that is before us today.  It is the result of many prayers.  Paul desired to reach Spain and one can say with certainty that before he came he prayed.  There is no fruit without prayer.  We do not know today how many have prayed or who they are but we do know that many have prayed for the work here in this land.  It is God’s work on earth, and all praise and honour belong to God, not to us.  Convention is a very special time, it is once a year and we read of this in the Bible.   In 1st Samuel the people went to Shiloh, this was for a special dedication, not just for a few days but for the whole year, allowing God to do a deeper work. 

We see it brought a great change for Hannah.  She had an enemy in her life but, when this enemy was dealt with, it brought about a change that showed on her face.  The changes that last are the changes within.  She may have changed many times, but this day her attitude in her heart changed.  She was no longer sad, and no longer worried about her enemy.  She worried about the kingdom, worried about serving, and of being a help.  If we can have the Lord open our eyes to see what is needed, we will forget ourselves and be useful in this kingdom.  If we cannot forget ourselves, we cannot be useful in this kingdom. 

Jesus' disciples were those who did not live for themselves.  They wanted to learn to be useful. 

God took Jeremiah to the potter's house and there he gave Jeremiah a message for the people:  "I cannot I do with you as this potter has done."  God was not speaking of others in the world but speaking of His own people who needed to change, a change on the inside and on the outside.  The clay did not resist the potter.  This is the only hope we have, for the work of  God to bring about a change in our lives, have our lives put on the wheel to be changed to become a perfect vessel. 

Jesus did this in the beginning of his ministry.  He changed water into wine, a total change.  God does not bring about a partial change, not water mixed with wine.  This is not the miracle that happens in our lives.  It is simple obedience that is required to bring about change.  We want others to be inspired to have faith in God.  These days we want to see things more clearly, focusing on things that are real, that are true, that are correct. When Jesus was transfigured, the 3 disciples saw Jesus as they had never seen Him before.  This vision produces something in our lives, a desire to do something.

Moses and Elijah spoke to Jesus of His decease, speaking of His death.  We do not want to speak of death but death is a reality and Jesus' death brought fruit as a result.  We want to have fruit in our lives as a result of dying. The seed falling into the ground and dying produces fruit.  We see this dying in the life of Jesus every single day of His life.  It brought about a change.  Self-righteousness has no place in God’s kingdom.  Only when we are willing to be clothed with the raiment that God gives us can we enter His presence. 

Job, at the end of his experience, could say, "I abhor myself."  He could never have had said that this was a blessing from God unless there had been a change.  He passed through different experiences but he remained faithful, kept his integrity and his honesty. There is not one of us that does not need to change.  What happens when we are not willing to change?  We just travel along and our lives are far from God and we just go on in our own way. 

Joseph and Mary thought that they had Jesus with them, journeying on without Him, but they were willing to change, to go back to the place where they had had Him.  God wants us to change direction, to turn to be completely in His will. 

The elder brother of the prodigal, where was he?  Outside the father’s house.  What put him there?  It was his attitude.  He did not want to go inside because of his attitude of heart towards his brother, he wasn’t willing to change.  He told of how much good that he had done but because he did not have the right attitude to his brother, he was outside and stayed outside.  He spoke to others of all that his brother had done, but he himself had the same attitude of heart that kept him outside.

When Jesus washed the disciples' feet in the upper room, Peter said, "No," and when Jesus made him understand what He was doing and what it meant, that he would not have a part with Jesus, Peter reacted with a complete change, "Not my feet only but all."  He did not want one thing between him and Christ.  He loved Jesus and wanted to have a part with Him and was willing for all to be cleansed.  We need to be changed to the way that God wants us to be.