March 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
The Lord has been working wonders in us individually, corporately as a CU and in St Andrews over these last 5 weeks. Praise God that he speaks to his people! As you may have seen, God has continually been reminding us of the following verse:
2 Chronicles 7:14-15
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
In the prayer room, much time has been spent on our knees. Prayers have been plentiful as we’ve asked the Lord to touch us and touch our city. We have been more dedicated to seeking the Lord with everything we are and have. For me though, it has only been in the last week that the Spirit has brought me fresh conviction of sin, revelation of my ‘wicked ways’. Perhaps we are more comfortable using this sort of terminology to describe ourselves before we were saved, or maybe to those who are yet to know Jesus. However what has struck me is that it is us who have been called by his name and must continually turn from our wicked ways in repentance. According to these verses the healing of our friends, town, and nation depends on it!
The Lord has been speaking to me about this through Israel’s journey under the rule of Samuel. Having sinned greatly against the Lord in choosing to worship idols, God allows Israel to be defeated by the Philistines and for the ark of the Lord to be captured (1 Samuel 4). When the ark is returned to some of Israel in Beth-Shemesh. Eventually the ark is returned to the men of Israel living in Beth-Shemesh but the Lord strikes down seventy men because they even dared to look upon the ark of the Lord (1 Samuel 6). Israel cries “Who is able to stand before this holy God?” (1 Sam 6 v 20). At the request of the men at Beth-Shemesh, the ark is given to God’s people at Kiriath-jearim. These men then lament for 20 years; their cities were in ruins, their armies were defeated, and they were under Philistine domination, all as a result of not being right with God. Then comes Samuel’s plea to Israel and their response,
‘“If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only” (1 Sam 7 v 3-4).
Finally Israel chooses to follow the one true God! Israel then gathers together (v5). Israel pours out its soul before the Lord. Israel fasts for a day. Israel declares it has sinned before the Lord (v6). Samuel also cries out to God for them (v9). And how does the Lord respond?
“…the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and drew them into confusion, and they were routed before Israel” (v10).
The Lord gives Israel victory over its enemies. And even more, “The cities that the Philistines have taken from Israel were restored to Israel…There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites” (1 Sam 7 v 14). God also restores! As Israel turns from its wicked ways, God not only heals and restores them as a people but brings healing and peace to their land. HE IS THE FORGIVER, RESTORER, HEALER AND PEACE-GIVER. As God’s people we must remember that God is God. He is holy, holy, holy. Who can stand before him? He is so perfectly righteous and so cannot tolerate any form of idolatry. He is jealous for us. His love burns for us. We must love and serve only Jesus for he is Lord. Upon reflection the Holy Spirit has brought me fresh conviction of an idol in my own life. So subtle yet pervasive. The enemy comes to steal, kill, destroy, condemn, tempt and distract. He may even take a good thing and make it become a ‘God’ thing. An idol. But as hard as it may be, we know that in laying our idols down, putting them to death, bringing them to God with a repentant heart, Jesus will forgive, heal, change and restore us. It starts with us on our knees. And then will spread to our land.
I praise you for your holiness and righteousness. Thank you for revealing your majesty and glory to us, a broken and idolatrous people. Thank you that through Jesus we can be declared holy and blameless children of God. In your mercy, help us Lord to cast down our idols. Convict us of our wicked ways. Make us a people who by your Spirit have hearts as extravagantly devoted to you as you are to us.
In the precious name of Jesus,
March 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
“He has taken me to the banquet hall and his banner over me is love.” – Song of Songs 2:4
These past few weeks have been a time of reflection, a time of learning, a time of waiting and a time of revelation. Crazy early morning worship sessions, late afternoon Holy Spirit anointing, simple chats with my Maker. This is what the prayer room has been about: meeting with God; gaining intimacy with the one and only being who knows me completely, inside and out. Yesterday, three of my friends were praying for me and they all simultaneously began praying about joy. I felt the Holy Spirit right there. A tingling sensation rushed over me, which often happens when I am in the holiness of His presence. I felt the most overwhelming sense of joy.
“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” – Psalm 16:11 and Acts 2:28
I feel as though this verse is particularly poignant for us at the moment. We can often become so caught up in the seriousness and rush of life that we forget about this thing called “joy”. It becomes an ethereal emotion, something which is fleeting and not attainable for everybody. This is a lie of the devil. There is of course a time for gravitas but we are not called to be a people of mourning but a people of gladness.
“Hear the word of the LORD, O nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.
For the LORD will ransom Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.
They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD – the grain, the new wine and the oil, the young of the flocks and the herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more.
Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” – Jeremiah 31:10-13
We have so much to be joyful about! The battle is already won. Praise God! (I particularly like the verse about maidens dancing, but that’s just because I love to dance!) He loves us more than we can ever imagine. He wants to shower gifts and blessings and joy and joy and joy and even more joy on us. All we have to do is allow ourselves to fall in love with Him.
You are beautiful LORD. I thank you for every good and perfect gift that you have given to each one of us. I pray that you will remind us every day of the blessings that you have given us. Even in the midst of suffering, may we be seeking your face. Give us joy in abundance. Fill us to overflowing. And when we are overflowing, make our hearts bigger to receive even more of your love and joy. Help us to prioritise so that we can make time regularly to be with you because in your presence there is fullness of joy. We love you LORD. I pray that you will continue to mould our hearts so that we can fall absolutely in love with you: deeper and deeper and deeper until we are covered in your love.
In Jesus’ precious name,
March 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
For our fourth week of prayer, we intercede in particular for the Universities of the UK. We pray that the Lord would change the students of this nation.
Are we prepared to say ‘no’?
Before this prayer room thing even started, I was invited to a meeting with the BIG PRAYER GUYS. The mental intercessors. People from Durham, from York, from London. It was a big deal, lots of chatting with God, story time, love songs, prophecy. God said big stuff, daunting stuff. That there’s stuff happening here in sleepy St Andrews that is going to spread throughout Europe. We were reminded how Raj, the crazy Indian, had called us the ‘Hope of Europe’. I mean really, if we’re the Hope of Europe, worry, right? Have you seen Europe? It’s massive. Obviously I want to be involved with whatever it is God’s planning, but that’s scary stuff.
‘The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ 3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.4 But the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”
5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” 6 Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.
7 The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” 8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.’ 7:2-8
What?! God, what are you doing?!? We need everyone to be involved! We need everyone to commit! We need everyone to pitch in, to chip in, get keen, bring your neighbour!
No. So often we have this response to God, when actually what he’s doing is perfectly logical and cool when we remember that THIS IS GOD WE’RE TALKING ABOUT. How often do I limit God to only working through me? How often do I forget that I am expendable, a vessel, a branch, a glove, and nothing else. ‘The battle is the LORD’S’ 1 Sam 17:47 What God wants will happen. Fact. Why do we time and again burn ourselves out, and endanger our relationship with God by doing too much STUFF.
I want to prioritise me and God above everything else, because my relationship with my God is the most important thing.
We are at a Gideon moment. Crazy stuff’s kicking off, and it’s going to grow. It’s a big battle. But the battle is not ours. God wins. Sometimes we have the privilege of being used, seeing fruit grow in our lives, but in no way is God’s work dependent on me, or on you. Be still and know he’s God. Dare to love him more, ask for more revelation, more Spirit, more likeness. Change and be changed. We are all in the army, but we don’t all want to go. I want to be one of the 300 who goes to battle, but it’s God, not me, who chooses them, and they’re the ones who want to go. I want to want to go. Say ‘no’ to something you don’t want to do today, and instead spend time letting God change you so you DO want to do it.
March 2, 2011 § Leave a comment
It’s a wonderful thing when you are reminded of a truth that changes everything, something that has been true since time began, and something that will be true until the end of this age, something that is easy to forget but always remains, outside of our tunnel-eyed vision of what this world is about. Many things are true and yet we don’t know them, many things have not yet been revealed to us. But there is one thing that we are told is true, one thing that we have been given that is real for us here and now, one of the greatest promises that could ever have been made –
2 Chronicles 7:14-15
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Leading a Children’s Ministry can often be slow. For 6 months now it’s felt a little like we’ve been hitting a brick wall, week in, week out. Each Sunday we come with our grand plans for revival: play-dough prayer activities, new and exciting dramas, balloon memory verses and each Sunday we depart feeling like the kids got part of it, but not all of it. They engaged with the talk but were clueless when it came to the prayer. They laughed and screamed during the game, but they refused to concentrate during the craft. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve definitely been seeking God and He’s definitely been working, some pretty cool stuff has happened and He’s been God throughout, but I’ve always felt that something has been missing. Then suddenly it hit me. Slap bang in the face. Exactly what we were doing wrong. I was spending so much time worrying about how much fun was had, how much was understood, how many kids there were, that I had totally forgotten who was really in control of this whole thing and who really I needed to go to in order to make everything fit into place – the very God about whom we were trying to teach these kids.
So, what could we do? The only option appeared to be to pray. We began praying once a week – just however many people were able to come, four of us one week, three of us the next. Spending an hour in a little room tucked away in the church building asking God to come and use us, to open these children’s hearts to what He wants for them, to inspire us to speak his words not our own, to send His spirit on Sunday morning. And what happened? Well it worked, obviously. The children began to understand, they engaged with concepts, they prayed themselves!, they asked questions and gave answers, and amidst all this they were still children, having fun and learning what is means to be part of the Kingdom. All because we prayed, because God listened and then He showed up.
Prayer really does change everything, because when we pray we give what needs doing to God, and we let him decide what it is that needs doing rather than deciding so ourselves. We say that we are not enough, and we cannot do it, but He can. And he does. It’s easy to forget to pray or feel like it’s a chore because you rarely get a “within-the-next-two-minutes” response like everything else these days, but when we really think about who it is we’re talking to and what He can do surely we look upon the whole concept with very different eyes.
February 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
Week 3, Day 1
Today starts the week of justice week and this morning was quiet. I reflected on God’s challenge for my life and the echoes of His heart for justice through the Bible. Just as Joseph’s brothers realised they had done wrong by not treating their brother kindly, we are called in Matthew 25 to look after those around us; to forget them is to forget God.
This internal struggle is that which every sinful human goes through when they look to God. We see Jesus’ love, sacrifice, and truth and it shines a light upon us and challenges us to act differently. Just as the snake was put on the stick to look up to and have the poison sucked out of us, so is Jesus lifted up and makes us realise that we are guilty and yet forgiven. How can we NOT act with the love we have been shown.
Micah 6:8 puts very bluntly what the Lord requires of us, the parable of the sheep and the goats clearly forces us to see our neighbour as ourselves, or God will not see us. This week is about justice, and God sets the standard of that justice. He is a JUST and MIGHTY God. He is the Lion as well as the Lamb. He cries with us in our suffering, and answers the cries of the poor. He heals and holds us so we might not fall away from Him.
The challenge of today is to see God, be lit up by His love and change ourselves to be more Godly, more loving and to see His face in every stranger, worldwide, no matter who they are.
February 26, 2011 § Leave a comment
2 Kings 20.1-3
In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, “Remember, LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.”
And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the LORD. I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’”
Bristol is witnessing the beginning of an organic move of God as people begin to seek the Lord in prayer for 7.14. There is no one building for the prayer, there is no one leader, there is just a group, who want to see God move in this city and this nation.
Repentance is not negative. It is the action where we declare that God has more for us and we want to step closer to his burning heart for us. Repentance goes hand in hand with Hope. The heart for governments and protestors to repent is what drives 7.14. The LORD has spoken in our prayers to say that if we wish to see repentance happen nationally then we must each become people committed to repentance. We believe God is going to change the culture of our society, not from the top down, but from the bottom up. If the society under this government becomes one driven by repentance, repentance which shouts that the LORD has more for us, that the LORD’s way is higher, fuller, true, if our society became one of Godly repentance then those in leadership over us would not be called to change a culture, but be called to join a changed culture.
King Hezekiah chose to repent in the secret place just between him and God. He turns to the wall so no-one can see him and weeps bitterly as he surrenders his whole self to the LORD. As a result of Hezekiah’s repentance he lives longer, but also God spares Jerusalem. One man’s repentance results in a city being saved from it’s enemies. If every person in a nation became people full of repentance then I can’t even imagine what we would begin to see…
7.14 is the starting flag for a shift in our culture where we each are individually responsible to see the kingdom come.
The unavoidable side affect of repenting people is a culture of repentance. The side affect of a culture of repentance is a government which repents and believes that the LORD has more for them. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
The kingdom IS near. Step one
February 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
“Into the darkness you shine. Out of the ashes we rise.”
We’ve been singing these words in Church recently, and what amazing words they are. But what if these words could actually become visible? What if we could literally see a gathering of God’s people, that displayed the light of Christ in the heart of this City, and saw the Church rise up in an apathetic age? I believe God is calling his Church to come together, for a ‘one night only’ event in London. A statement of faith and unity, that will capture hearts and minds, and bring healing and change to the nation.
Some time ago, just after the first student protest, I was praying about student ministry in general and for God to move on campus. At that moment, I had a picture. In my mind’s eye I saw the Houses of Parliament, and a gathering of people in front of it, holding candles and praying. In an instant I knew they were students, coming together to pray for their Government and Leaders.
I believe God wants to see Parliament Square full of people, coming from all over, carrying candles and praying for our nation and leaders. Whilst at first I thought it would be just for students, I now feel it will be much broader. I believe this event (called ‘7:14’ after 2 Chronicles 7:14) is an opportunity for the WHOLE Church, young and old, to come together in a very public and visible way, to bless the nation and be seen by its people. A beautiful image of what the Church is called to be. A visible sign of what the Church is called to do.
But whilst it will be an event for everyone, I believe students and young people will lead it, mobilising themselves to come together, in the opposite spirit to that of the protests, choosing to pray for the government, even when they may not agree with its policies. As they take the lead, I believe the wider Church will follow, and a significant and visible statement will be made by the Church in Central London.
This is a one off event, and my aim is for it to be as anonymous, brandless and grassroots as possible. No agendas. No platforms. Just a call to pray.
As for 7:14 itself, it’s all about simplicity. We’ll come together in a window of time. The rest will just happen as it does, and as God’s Spirit blows. There’ll be no public address, or gathering spot, no sense of a centre at all, just the People of God coming together as one for an hour of prayer and light for the nation. We’ll meet at 7.14pm in Parliament Square, and we’ll just take things from there. Walking, standing, praying, blessing. Seeking God together. It will rise up from the ground and then seemingly disappear, peaceable and beautiful, apparently unenduring, but something will have changed, and God in his mercy will have heard.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
One People. One Prayer. One Purpose.
One hour, to see our Nation changed.
An hour of prayer for our Nation and Leaders.
A visible statement of faith.
A brandless, grassroots, flashmob event.
For everyone, led by students.
Tuesday 15th March
7:14pm – 8:14pm
Bring candles, glow sticks, lights of all kinds.
Students, Young People, Church, rise up!
Let your light be seen.
“If my people, who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray and seek
my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive
their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Catch the vision. SPREAD THE WORD.
Event Page: http://tinyurl.com/6fbd7lr