The theme or template for our fast this year was Psalm 24. God spoke to us powerfully through Ps 24 10 years ago and it’s something we keep coming back to. It’s also something I’ve heard a number of people speak out of prophetically already this year and so it felt right for us to use it.
On Weds night as we gathered in Kingston, we began worshipping on the 1st floor, acknowledging that the earth is the Lords and everything in it, because he created it and sustains it. Everything in this world is subject to his command and his will, whether it acknowledges him or not.
As we climbed the stairs to the second floor, there were people reading verses 3-6 over us repeatedly:
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.
They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.
Because of Jesus, we have been given clean hands and pure hearts, and yet there was an invitation to repentance, to allowing Holy Spirit to search our hearts, to identify areas where we are not living in the freedom and victory Jesus has made available to us and to wash our hands, symbolising the repentance and forgiveness in Jesus that happens inwardly.
As we entered the auditorium, Wesley’s covenant prayer allowed us a moment of consecration, of recommitting ourselves and rededicating ourselves to Jesus and his mission. To bringing his kingdom to earth as it is in heaven.
Inside the auditorium there was an archway, symbolising how we ‘push through’ and ‘birth’ the things God has planted in us. How it can feel difficult, awkward and even painful but we persist because of the promise of a joy-filled outcome, particularly with Christine’s sense of God saying this is a year of open doors.
We were invited to pass through for ourselves and then write down the names of people we are trusting God for on the paper men around the cross. We then carried the paper men and names through the arch again before placing them around the cross.
In the process of worship, repentance, consecration and pushing through, God seemed to be continuing what he’s been doing since last Sept. As Charles said in Sept he felt like he’s been under a rock for the last few years but Holy Spirit had completely shattered that. For some this process has been in a moment, for others it has been over time, for many it’s still ongoing but it feels like Father is unwrapping the grave clothes of disappointment, delay, discouragement, covid, isolation etc from our Lazarus and calling us to life again in Him.
Whether you were able to participate in the fast fully or not, I believe this is what God is doing among us currently and you are invited into it too. As we Acknowledge who he is and worship him, as we Repent of where we’ve got stuck, sidetracked, distracted, lost hope, where we Consecrate ourselves to him again and where we Contend in prayer for his promises again, we will see his Kingdom increasingly come.
During the online prayer meeting on Friday morning, listening to people’s experience of the fast and what they felt God was saying, I had a real sense of God calling us to create margin in our lives. We may, in general, be financially well off compared to most of the rest of humanity, but we are time poor. We can ask God to give us eyes to see those he wants us to speak to and ears to hear their stories, but often we are too busy/distracted/focussed to have any time to stop and acknowledge them.
When we bring something to God that costs us, something that is a limited resource for us, this is a pleasing sacrifice to him. When we create a space for him to be honored (an altar) and put a sacrifice on that (something which has value to us, given over to him) he sends his fire (Holy Spirit) to consume it. Conversely, we often create no space and supply no sacrifice, but still want him to deliver the fire. Sometimes he does, because he is gracious, but often the absence of fire can be traced back to a missing altar and sacrifice. While salvation is free as a result of Jesus’ once for all sacrifice on our behalf, God’s desires us, copying the example of Jesus, to lay ourselves down (alter & sacrifice) for the sake of others.
What margin can you create in your life to bring as an offering to God? There are things that have to happen, things we cannot get out of but what other time-thieves do we allow access to our precious resource, that could be more properly utilised? As we echo Isaiah’s prayer “here I am, send me” it is a prayer that costs…..but it’s worth it.
Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—he is the King of glory.