Another year has come and gone. I am always amazed when the New Year comes around. Some are excited 2018 is done and over with and are hoping for a better year; too many challenges and conflicts. Others look back and have unanswered questions and are looking forward to possible solutions. Others make New Year’s Resolutions looking for a fresh start. Another aspect of the New Year is all the predictions, whether political or economic and local or global. Even us Christians jump on the bandwagon of prophesying what the New Year will bring. One of the challenges is the many different prophetic voices that seem to contradict each other. The voices range from the a great apostacy to a great harvest. Of course we have those who will predict the return of Jesus or the end of the world. So here we are at the start of 2019 and I wondering what the Lord is saying to us here at Courts of Praise. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches…”
In my years of following Jesus I have learned the importance of relationship in God’s Kingdom. Nothing is more important to God than his family. Jesus died for mankind with the offer of personal friendship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Every day grace and mercy and peace are available to God’s children. God wants to be involved in every aspect of our lives; family, work, play, church, mission. In other words – our heavenly Father desires to communicate and connect with us. This is where I believe God is saying “communion” is a key word for us to consider and engage with. I love this verse from the Old Testament – “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him (2 Chron 16:9).
Communion has some wonderful synonyms to consider; Closeness, Compassion, Community, Intimacy, Relationship and Unity. When we put communion together with “In Remembrance of Jesus” we discover a foundational value of the Kingdom of God – relationships. We are the family of God and communion with God and each other is a fine goal to pursue in 2019. “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 15:5-6). What a beautiful picture of communion on earth as it is in heaven.
Let me ask you a couple of questions? Are you interested in communion with God? Or are you captivated by relationship with God? On a scale of 1 – 10… where are you at? We live in a world that provides too many distractions. There are too many competing voices clamoring for our attention here and there. What can we do? I believe that 2019 is a year of opportunity for us to become not merely interested in God but fascinated by who he is and all that he has planned for us. By fascinated I mean intentionally hungering and thirsting after God and seeking to fulfill his dreams on earth. In other words, getting to know him and his Kingdom ways more than all that the world has to offer. Apprehending God’s Heart and Fulfilling His Dreams is still the cry of my heart for Courts of Praise.
So what does this “communion” look like in practice? Firstly, Worship and the Word. He is looking for true worshippers of Spirit and truth (John 4:34), for people who will devour his Word (Psalm 119). Secondly, God has his ear on those who pray; not just simple religious or bless me prayers but prayers that thirst and pant for God as the deer pants for water (Psalm 42), prayers that are desperate and full of faith, prayers that long to see God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10). God is not looking for a good song service, casual or brief reading of his Holy Scriptures or mechanical prayers. In some ways we are genuine and growing in our communion with God and each other, and yet at other times we fall short of God’s glory. One of the main reasons that the Great Commission is a struggle for many is that the life of Communion is lacking.
Our Father in Heaven is looking for fascination, awe, amazement, and wonder to fill the hearts of his children once again. He is also looking for a “communion” of the saints where there is love and care for each other. “We are becoming a grace-full, loving, accepting and forgiving community of believers from all nations that celebrate each other and who are committed to bringing souls into God’s kingdom.” Communion is both vertical with God and horizontal with each other and I am believing and praying for both in 2019. But I must say that communion in and of itself is not complete unless there is a plan – a commission.
Fulfilling His Dreams is part of the motto here at Courts of Praise. This is all about the Great Commission. The co-mission we are involved is the spreading of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Matt 28:18-20 is one of the foundational Scriptures of Foursquare Churches around the world – “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Over the past ten years or so we have put this verse into practice in a variety of ways.
· Personal one on one evangelism, many of us sharing our testimonies of Jesus changing our lives.
· We done BBQ’s in the park.
· PJ parties for the girls in Pleasant Hill School.
· Outdoor concerts.
· Mission trips to India and the Philippines.
· Stephen’s Backpacks.
· Mission trips within Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
· Partnering with Foursquare churches and missions.
· Prairie Light Christian Fellowship
Randy Barnetson who pastors the Street Church, a Foursquare work in downtown Vancouver was recently asked, “What is the Word for 2019?” I said “pretty much the same as He was saying in 2018.... “Visit the prisoners, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.” I was blessed and challenged by Randy’s response. He did not give some super-duper-spiritual-God-prophecy. He kept it plain and simple and Biblical.
I am not interested in “church as usual”. Could the answer be as simple as making the transition from being fascinated with God once again (Communion) to intentional acts of Good News (Commission). What does this look like? During the Christmas season of 2018 we once again joined with Stephen’s Backpacks. We shared the message with the congregation, engaged in fundraising and promotion. However, one major difference was this – we packed backpacks together on a Sunday morning as part of our church service. This service was a lot of work for many, set up, packing backpacks, clean up and then the delivery. But over-all was one of the most productive services we have had at Courts of Praise in a long time.
What happened? There was a convergence of Communion and Commission. We worshipped together, shared the Word, prayed, had guest speakers from Pleasant Hill School and then we packed backpacks together – Fulfilling His Dreams and our too.
It is my hope and prayer that this 2019 will be a year of Communion and Commission meeting together for us. A year of awe and fascination towards God. Let’s draw near to God and in turn he will draw near to us (James 4:4). The more we seek God the more he desires to share himself with us. Let’s taste and see that the Lord is Good (Psalm 34:7). Let’s be like the Bereans who “were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). Let’s walk in fellowship and unity with each other – this is true communion.
But we are not going to stop there. In the months ahead we are going to discover how we can be practically involved with sharing the Great Commission here is Saskatoon and beyond. The Commission will involve our time, energy and money. There is something wonderful when the family of God comes together fulfilling the plans and purposes of God.
We have a week of Prayer & Fasting in conjunction with our Foursquare Church Family.
We are planning for Feb 10/19 Mission’s Sunday – Lighthouse gifts bags for Feb 14th.