I have been away at a conference recently.
The Fresh Streams conference is an absolute must for me. I have attended this conference for a number of years and, as soon as booking opens, I get my name on the list. now and I try and get in as soon as booking opens. I love the values of Fresh Streams, and I love the emphasis on word and spirit. Along with great teaching, challenging seminars and the opportunity to hear about what is happening all over the UK, I always catch up with friends old and new.and make new friends. You can find out about them here www.freshstreams.net
However, the main reason I go is because somehow, someway, somewhere God always speaks to me during this conference. God has spoken to me through the teaching in the main sessions, or through ministry as I have been prayed for. God has spoken to me through conversations with friends and colleagues. So, I went in eager expectation that God would say something!
I wasn’t disappointed! God spoke to me in the ‘incidentals’. What I mean by that is, He spoke through odd words, scripture and phrases that were not necessarily part of the main session or the main thrust of what was being said or done.
For example, during one of the worship sessions somebody read from Psalm 85. During that reading there were two verses that “shouted out” to me and really stirred something in my heart.
Restore us again, God our saviour (vs 4)
Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you (vs 6)
Of course, being a good minister (some of the time) I should have looked this up in a commentary but, I didn’t! It seemed to me that it is a prayer of national repentance. We know, from history, that the nations of Israel and Judah turned their backs on God many times. The nations went through difficult times and the penny dropped – “look where we are, if we get back on track with God then, we can live in His blessing.”
So why did these words speak to me?
Simply because they resonated with something I have been praying for me, the Church that I have the great privilege to minister in, all the Churches in our community, our town and our nation.
In fact, it is my heartfelt prayer. These words spoke at a deeply personal level.
I believe in repentance. Admitting to God where we have failed and seeking His Holy Spirit’s empowering to walk right before Him.
What I have also come to realise is that repentance is not just about turning from something, it also about turning to something.
For real repentance to happen, not only are we to turn away from those things that spoil our relationship with God, we have to turn to the God who can bring healing and hope into my life, church, community and country. Repentance is a change of mindset
As I look at my life, I realise that there are areas that are broken or have taken severe knocks (another incidental at this point (I am sorry cannot remember who said it));
What the devil cannot have, he divides
The challenge I felt was that, perhaps, I am too quick to give up on prayer. I have prayed about various things for a while.
Nothing seems to happen.
I give up.
I have even written some things off as beyond repair.
These words from Psalm 85 challenged me afresh not to give up but, to keep on praying. So, I am praying that God will bring renewal and restoration where the devil has sought to divide. I will keep on praying that God will renew and restore even those things that I thought were beyond repair.
Would you join your prayers with mine?