Sardis message from Pastor Fortunato Santos-19th April


I am sending the sermon for Sunday and Bible Study for Tuesday.

God bless

Then the Lord reinvented the church – 19/04/2020

 Acts 11:1-15

When we read the book of Acts we are always very impressed with the power of the Spirit of God and how He moved upon the church. It is truly an impressive account. However, the church closed itself in a Jewish community and it stayed there. The apostles were not fulfilling the Great Commission as we find it in Matthew 28:16-20. It was the Lord’s desire for the gospel to be preached to the very ends of the earth. The church still being very Jewish, we look for instance in Acts 3 at the story of Peter and John going to temple at 3pm where a paralytic man is healed and he started walking and praising God. It is important to notice that Peter and John by now had seen Jesus ascended to heaven, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they were still practicing Judaism as their religion, at 3pm they went with all the other Jews to Temple to pray because this was the Jewish tradition of those days. They were doing what they knew and they did not see any need of changing anything. Then we read in Acts 8 the church being persecuted and then its evangelistic enterprise beyond Jerusalem started.  We read in chapter 10 Peter having a wonderful vision from God and how God worked in that vision. In the Jewish culture the gentiles would be considered impure people – God used an analogy to speak to Peter and show to him that they were not impure. Also in chapter 10 we see the vision God gave to Peter becoming true. Peter went with the soldiers to Cornellius’s house and they were God fearing people who did not know the way. When Peter arrived in Caesarea he found a group of people in whose life God had been working and they were ready to receive the truth of the gospel. Peter was called In front of the ‘synod’ to give an account of his actions to them. How could he dare to eat with non-Jews? It was against their culture. Between Acts 1 to Acts 10 spans around 7 years. For around 7 years the church was short sighted and God thought I need to do something new in order to change what is happening.

As we can see, God needed to reinvent the church. It was important for the church to have its own identity and take up her responsibility of breaking away from man’s traditions by sharing the good news with the world. It was a completely new concept to these Jewish boys ‘we are one’. ‘We are one not as Jews, but we are one as Jews and Gentiles’. Paul worked on this subject when he said in (Galatians 3:28) for in Christ there is no Jew, no Greek as we are one in Him. God just did not save the Gentiles, He poured out His Spirit upon them as well. It is wonderful to see people coming through the doors to worship God with other believers and it is a healthy position to take. However, it is wrong to think that we as church, have a monopoly over God. It wrong for us to think that we own God. There are lots of people out there who are truly God fearing people and who have a lot to teach us and encourage us in the ways of the Lord. The Spirit of God is working in people’s hearts much more that what we can think. We have the tendency to think of the church as being a cocoon. If it does not happen in the church it is not good and we are doubtful of it. We do  need to analyse things and check them against the scriptures. God isn’t in enclosure within the church and even less within our own spiritual culture. God is much bigger than what we can think and imagine and praise God for that.

It was necessary for God to give Peter a very drastic vision  in order to wake up the church for infinite possibilities ahead of her. To bring the church out of her own ghetto and be exposed to the reality of a world to be saved and ready to receive the truth. Of course I do not like what is happening around us at this very present moment. However God is giving us a wake up call as the body of Christ and shaking us from our conformism in doing church and showing to us new ways. For sure we are going to carry on doing lots of the things as we have been doing before but nevertheless we are going to do new things too. Our moment in history is teaching us to be innovative and creative. I have been greatly encouraged to see how people are developing their own spirituality and walk with God. I have been great encouraged in seeing people looking after people, caring for people, phoning, shopping etc. We are rediscovering us and reinventing our ways of doing church and promoting the gospel. There are so many lessons we can learn and God expects us to learn them. God shook the early church to its core and God is shaking us up today in order for us to shape up.

There is a great need for us to reach out to those who never heard, or are not listening, or responding to our conventional ways of doing church. We must come out of the situation we are living in much better than when we first entered it. We need to have a new vision and be reinvigorated in doing church in new and efficient ways. If Peter had not responded in a positive way to the vision he was given by God he would have covered himself with the blanket of prejudices within Judaism. If the church would have carried on with the mentality ‘for Jews’ only, most of us would not be part of the salvation in Christ because the majority of us are not Jews. We are gentiles and God had a plan and desire to save us too. The saving plan of God is inclusive and not exclusive. To achieve that, He  shook up the conventional ways the apostles were doing church.


The Power of Secret Prayer 21/04/2020

Matthew 6: 5 -8

A friend sent me today a poster that says ‘Prayer is the best gift you can give a friend’.

These verses are an introduction to the teaching of what we call ‘The Lord’s Prayer’.  We concentrate on the Lord’s prayer and we forget the wonderful principle of what He is teaching us, ‘Secret Prayer’

Prayer is when we talk to God and prayer is something you can do for someone even when they do not want it. Some times people tell you ‘please do not pray for me’; you still can pray for them and they do not need to know about it. Prayer can be kept as a secret between you and God. This is what we call ‘Secret Prayer’. Some people have had some disappointments in life and they turn against God and this is one of the reasons why they do not want prayers – still, in the secret of your room you are able to pray for them even though they do not know about it. Prayer is a wonderful tool the Lord has given us, there is no distance in prayer, no language barrier, no class barrier etc. You can pray for an astronaut who is in the moon, or for a naval man who is in a nuclear submarine in the deepest of the oceans on earth. You can pray for someone who speaks Chinese, Welsh or any other language and you can pray for them in a different language altogether. You can pray for your closest friend or for someone you have never met but you saw their photo in a magazine and the Lord puts in your heart the desire to pray for that person. You can pray for the richest man in the world or for a homeless person you have seen in Swansea. All of these examples and more you can do in the secret of your own room. The Lord Jesus was not impressed with people who liked praying to show off how beautifully they could pray and eloquent they could say prayers in public.  There is nothing wrong with long prayers, but it is wrong when we pray to show off.

The Lord Jesus prayed. The bible gives us example of Jesus praying alone and other times He prayed publicly (Hebrews 5:7; Luke 6:12; John 11:41). It is very important we develop our own prayer life with the Lord. Just to remind you ‘ prayer is a very powerful tool the Lord has given us, His people’.

There are some prayers that we need to keep as a secret because they are just between you and the Lord. In my own personal life I have lots of prayers which no one knows about. It does not mean I do not trust  people, but these prayers I am referring to, they are just between me and the Lord. They are like precious secrets between us. You just tell the deepest secrets of your heart to someone you fully trust. I can reassure you that there are no secrets between the Lord and I. I am referring to His omniscience -He knows everything. I know He knows everything, but I love spending time with Him and sharing with Him things which are in my heart. This is part of praying in secret.

The secret prayer has its prices to pay too. I personally l love to hear testimonies of people sharing how the Lord has answered their prayers. Some of the secret prayers, when the Lord answers them, it is to keep just between you two. The joy of it is shared just between you, it is not that you are afraid but it is a private matter between you and Him. You are not being selfish but wise.

Secret prayers are not a substitute for public prayers. Actually we should see both as part of the same parcel.  We should have private prayers and secret prayers too. Some people resource to secret prayers only ,not because it is a private matter between them and the Lord, but because they are embarrassed of praying openly in public. When you are among Christians we are all part of the same family. We have the same Father and we as children we pray to the same Father. One of the prayers that we believers should pray is ‘Lord help me to pray out publicly’. It is such an encouragement for others when we see people talking with God.

Very often we say like this to people ‘I will pray for you’. We say it in some way of being apologetic about it. This is the wrong attitude, because the best thing we can do for anyone it is ‘to pray for them’. When we say to someone I will pray for you, what we are really saying is ‘I know someone who is able to help you and I am going to ask Him to help you’. In times of great need a helping hand can make a great difference in someone’s life.

Going back to ‘secret prayer’. There is so much need for it. If you know of a situation which is not right but you do not have the opportunity to talk about or do something about it exercise what the Lord has taught you, ‘secret prayer’. If you see someone suffering injustice in your place of work and you cannot do anything about it, it is time for ‘secret prayer’. Someone is struggling emotionally and you know there aren’t any words to comfort that person, it is time for ‘secret prayer’. You can take ‘secret prayer’ with you wherever you go.

Be a believer who prays publicly but also a believer who understand and exercises ‘secret prayer’.

Prayer requests

Claire James and her daughter Elise. Both of them working in local hospitals and they need the Lord’s protection.

Pray for people within our own fellowship.

Pray for your family

Pray for your neighbours

Pray for our country