Closing the Door

Shutting the door is becoming vital.  Actually it has always been vital… but easily neglected.

“But when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place;”   Matt 6:6

“What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops”  Matt 10:27

I am being challenged again.  It is time to shut the door. To pray. To fast. The One in the secret place is calling. I am not talking about a get-away from everyone/everything for a week type retreat. Although how nice that would be:)  But rather as a way to live. Part of who I am, part of living. A place to live out of.

I love to pray. I love to shut myself away and be with God. To pray. Meditate. Soak in His presence. Worship. Yet, for me there is a challenge in that. It’s time –  or rather lack thereof.  I want to live in that place,  with day to day responsibilities continuing.

And I know the need.  This nation, as do all nations, need prayer. The nations need the God of Deliverance to come.  We need to be on our knees fighting for this country.  Praying for revival.  Seeking God.  Our very words and actions need to be a response from being in the secret place.

So, my personal challenge at the moment is how.  In between work, school pick-ups, family, and community I need to find time to shut the door for longer.  I have taken little steps over the last couple of years.  God knows the season we are in and gives His grace as we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. For some an early morning works, or a middle of the night. Others drop a day off work each week,  to free up time to be with Him. When I was working full-time and had a young child who got up with the birds, my lunch-breaks became my refuge. Taking myself to the car to be in the Word and pray. Bible reading became my priority reading.  I have learnt to use what I am given. A spare room has at times been converted into a prayer room. The random evenings when I am the only one around/up, become a spontaneous prayer time.  I also know from experience that complete fasts while I am working result in higher error rates(!), so an adapted  ‘Daniel fast’ evolved.

Yes life is busy. It’s so easy to drift from this place. Seasons change, events come up that alter our ‘routines’. I find myself using lunch-breaks for fruit and veggie shopping. And the last time I fasted??  Nevertheless the challenge remains. The Spirit continues calling.

So I am going to shut the door some more.  Has God been challenging you also? Are you going to close the door? It takes discipline. Determination. And surrender. But how beautiful to be behind that door…

What’s in my hand?

When was the last time you were encouraged? Where someone said something, sent a txt, emailed, rang, invited you for dinner, or just turned up to show their support? There is a huge need for encouragement in the hearts of believers. For the body. Just watch the crowds flock to hear ‘prophetic ministry’.

Such a desperation shows me two things.

Firstly, that people are going through tough times. This shouldn’t be a surprise. The Bible assumes afflictions. Although knowing that, doesn’t make things any easier! 🙂

Secondly, that there is a shortage of encouragement.  Encouragement is a result of action. Practical love.  It takes initiation. Risk. Obediance to the directives of the Holy Spirit.

Just look at Paul the apostle’s ministry.   Look at his heart towards the churches he ministered to. His travels – his ‘itinerant ministry’ was not to give him a boost in income. Not to give him a ‘name’. Not to promote himself.  Read both books of Thessalonians.  He writes of a trip to the church

‘So, affectionately longing for you, we were pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.’  1Thess 1:1

Again he longed to visit them.  He prayed for them,’ remembering without ceasing’, he was ‘eager to see their face’.  And when he could no longer endure not seeing them, Paul sent Timothy to go and encourage the church.

And, then he wrote the letters to tell them.

We are instructed to encourage one another and even more as we see The Day approaching.

So I challenge you to develop or strengthen this form of practical love. God can use whatever is in your hands. Do you have a cell phone? If you find yourself thinking about someone… don’t just pray for them (and yes that is important). How about flicking off a text to say you are.  Do you have a child and crayons? How about them making a card for someone?  Have a spare evening? Create a ‘guest night’ and invite different folks over for dinner.  Yes it takes initiation. Yes, it can take effort. But God can take the little in your hand, and minister mightly to another.

 

 

A life poured out

Poured out.                                               2Tim 4:6;   Phil 2:17

I love reading Paul’s letters. He lived a life poured out – and he was aware of it. He had chosen to live that way.

Jesus tells us ‘Freely you have received, freely give’ Matt 10:8.  Love is our greatest gift. Jesus’ love. Placed into human hands. So what does this look like? I fully believe that we aren’t anywhere near realizing what this looks like.  It’s not our own love, it’s not our own motives, our own strength.
It’s a life poured out. Selfless, led by the Spirit.  Empowered. It’s ministering healing. It’s ministering deliverance. It’s practical. It’s caring for the widows, the fatherless, the poor. It’s serving. It’s preferring others. It’s initiating action. It’s sacrifice.

I have been crucified with Christ. It’s no longer I that lives but Christ that lives in me.

What would it look like if we all lived like that?  If one purposed to seek a revelation of God’s love for oneself, and equally, a revelation of God’s love for all mankind.  Is that not the commandments that Jesus gave?!  Loving God and loving one another.  If families walked like this, ministering to other families. If churches lived like this… ministering to their communities…to each other?!

 

The pioneer spirit

There is something about Northland, New Zealand that I love. The pioneering history. Of missionaries, kauri logging and gum-digging. It’s the pioneering spirit that resonates.  The raw, hard-working, visionary folk that peppered the country. Missionaries bringing the gospel (politics aside) to the nation. Establishing churches and communities of faith and prayer.

I spent last Christmas in Waipu.  A settlement that was built on the vision and work of a Scottish preacher. As I sat on a deck overlooking the region, reading a novel based on the land I was seeing, I thought of the hard work and hard environs in which those early settlers lived.

Churches built in remote places,  ministers/pastors preaching and pastoring in wild country. Preaching circuits were by horseback. I think of the mission Te Mu at Te Wairoa, made famous by being destroyed by Mt Tarawera’s eruption. I think of a camp meeting in Port Albert, with an Amercian evangelist in the c. 1880’s. Closed down by police for being too unruly. Yet leaving a legacy of salvations, and people going onto become ministers and preachers in this nation. I think of Ratana and his prophetic/healing ministry and the hundreds who found Jesus.

How many more have faithfully served in this nation.  Who poured their lives out as living sacrifices. I honour those preachers and ministers in the history of our nation.

Maybe the landscapes have changed, the challenges have a different look these days. But our God is the same God. The Word is the same. The Holy Spirit, the presence of God that captivated hearts then, continues to minister today.

‘Finally my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.’  Eph 6:10