From the pastor’s pen: consecrate for abundance
Back in 2018, during one of my usual morning devotions, the Holy Spirit strongly drew my attention to a verse that would have otherwise never stood out to me – “This shall be the sign for you: this year eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs of the same. Then in the third year sow and reap and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit.” (2King 19:29). As I started to enquire why the Lord wanted me to focus on such an unassuming verse, I began to feel like the Holy Spirit was giving me a revelation of what the next three years would be like for our Church – the first two being years of loss, meagre rations and sufficiency, followed by a third year of plenty and abundance.
Looking back at 2018 and 2019, that has certainly been the case. From finances to workers, our resources have been meagre at best. And yet, despite our lack, I am proud to say that this Church has pumped out more ministry, mission and outreach than ever before! From our work in local schools to planting our first campus, from unity projects to faith-action projects our Church has never been more outward focused and generous.
During the last two years, I often asked the Lord why he would cause us to go through such a time of lack when our agenda was all about seeing lives transformed and his Kingdom extended.
Now I understand why – it was a time of test to see whether or not we’d give ourselves wholeheartedly to his plans and purposes even though we could not afford it. For he will only add more to those who prove their faithfulness in the little they have. Well, we did stretch and we did impact lives and communities with the little we had and the Lord always made sure we had just enough.
2020 is now upon us and, if I have indeed heard the Holy Spirit correctly, this should be the year to “sow and reap and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit.” This would also seem to be confirmed by a prophetic message that our brother Peter shared on the 4th of December last year (you can listen to it in the podcast section of ChurchSuite or our website; alternatively, you can ask for a CD at our sound-desk).
Yet, alongside that message, the Lord calls us to re-consecrate ourselves to him at the opening of this new year of abundance, to empty ourselves of that which clutters and hinders our lives that we might be able to contain all that he will be pouring upon us as he transitions us into a new season of our missional journey with him. This call carries a great sense of urgency. We want to be ready to receive him when he shows up – or else we will miss out! I am determined for our Church to be ready for when the Lord moves and sends, but this is a decision that we all individually need to make for ourselves.
Week of prayer and fast
In view of all that, our Church will be hosting a week of prayer and fasting centred around the theme of consecration from Monday 13th to Sunday 19th of January at 7pm (Central Campus). Each night, we will explore a specific aspect of Consecration, concluding it on Sunday with an opportunity to consecrate ourselves afresh individually and corporately:
Monday – Separation FROM
Tuesday – Separation FOR
Wednesday – Intimacy
Thursday – Cost
Friday – Reward
Saturday – Journey
Sunday – Choice
In the meantime, let us make preparations for fasting. Some of us have already developed a culture of fasting, but it may be a totally new experience for others. Even though the fasting will be tailored around our personal circumstances, it might be a good idea to prepare for it throughout this month:
Get ready to fast – fasting works both as an act of humility before God and as a means to strengthen our spiritual capacity while weakening the flesh by depriving it of food. There are different levels of fast:
Liquid only – non-solid food (milk, juice, smoothies etc)
Vegetarian/vegan diet – solid but not nutritious food (also known as “Daniel fast”)
In the run-up to the fast, prepare and plan for it. Pick one of the different types of fasting above or mix and match them. You might decide to skip one meal a day (possibly tea) or you might decide to be on a water only fast at alternate days. Or you might prefer to go vegan for the entire week. However, if you have a medical condition, make sure to double-check with your doctor first!
Get ready to pray and meditate – it is called PRAYER and fasting. It only works when we starve the flesh AND feed the spirit. Fasting alone will not give you any spiritual benefits without engaging with prayer and Scripture. Therefore, plan for both:
Plan for prayer – make sure you can find a quiet spot to pray instead of eating (go back to your car at lunch-breaks? Move to a separate room? You may need to inform your manager)
Plan for meditation – prepare various Scripture readings that centre on consecration. Read about the lives of consecrated people in the Bible (Moses, Samuel, David, Elijah, Jeremiah, Jesus etc). Look for Bible reading plans centred on consecration. Enrich all that with teachings and podcasts on the theme (but don’t use them to replace your time with Scripture itself)
Get ready to switch off – enter the mindset of ignoring social media/TV etc for a week. Begin to put it away one day a week or keep your phone on “Do not disturb” every day from 4pm.
Also, keep a journal of the things the Holy Spirit reveals to you during that week. You may receive dreams or visions that you don’t want to forget.
Above all, do it with the Holy Spirit! Don’t feel like you’re in competition with others. Pray about it and follow the instructions of the Holy Spirit. If you have never experienced the incredible mental, physical and spiritual benefits of fasting, this is your chance!
Vision Sunday and firstfruits offering
At the start of this year, on Sunday 26th of January, we will come together for a Vision Sunday, where Pastor Simon will set the direction and plan for 2020 – an incredibly important appointment for anyone invested in our Church and its journey in God’s purposes.
That Sunday, we will also collect a firstfruits offering a special freewill offering of thanksgiving for God’s provision and generosity toward us at the start of the new year.
New Teaching Series – Sevenfold foundation
In the new year, we will begin a new teaching series based on the sevenfold foundation of Christian doctrine as outlined in Hebrews 6:1-2 “a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgement”
This new series will unfold in 7 sessions:
22nd Jan – Repentance
29th Jan – Faith
5th Feb – Water baptism
12th Feb – Spirit baptism
19th Feb – Laying on of hands (impartation)
26th Feb – [Break: Intercession night]
4th Mar – Resurrection of the dead
11th Mar – Judgement
As per usual, teaching will be followed by a short break and further conversation in small groups.
Our Church is going to be one of 12 local Churches to provide follow-up for all those who made a decision to follow Jesus at the “Christmas Unwrapped” event.
A new cycle of Alpha Course will begin on Thursday 23rd of January for 12 weeks, including a 2 days retreat.
If you know anyone that would be interested in exploring the Christian faith and/or if you brought someone along to the “Christmas Unwrapped” event, please propose this course to them and offer to go alongside them. The environment will be very relaxed and informal.
If you would like to discover opportunities to help out, please see Emmanuel.
For more info and sign-ups, check out the event on ChurchSuite.