I have been thinking about the blessing of God, which all of us need!
Two thoughts have been running through my mind:
Asked for blessing:
In Zechariah 10 verse 1, we read these words; “Ask rain from the LORD in the season of the spring (latter) rain, from the Lord who makes the storm clouds and He will give showers of rain…:”
I love this verse: It reminds us that our God is faithful to His ways and His promises and yet it also reminds us of our need to ask, seek and knock. In one sense it seems odd to be told to ask for rain in a season of rain, but God is sovereign and faithful, not a robot. The fact that He has created seasons, does not absolve us from the need to work and pray that the blessing from heaven that each season needs will be given. It is called relationship.
What season are we in at the moment in the spiritual sense? Well, it may well be that we are in a season as a nation, or even as a church within a nation and we need to learn to read the times and the seasons to know what God is about and what appropriate in season blessing to ask Him for. I personally think there are sounds in the air as it were, but for me they are not so definite that I can say what God may be doing in Scotland with any degree of certainty…more an inkling! However I am more interested that we think of this personally or in terms of our immediate fellowship. Ask for what is needed for your situation, which may be different from another church in another setting. I find it fascinating, the stories of differing individuals and congregations. There is a history, a flow. There are seasons: seasons of blessing, seasons of drought, of direction, of wandering etc etc. What season are you and the fellowship you are part of in, right now?
Many churches, perhaps quite rightly from time to time, undertake a community or parish review of where they have been placed or felt called to worship and to witness. There is indeed some benefit in that with regard to making sure that mission is relevant. But such things are of limited Kingdom of God use, on their own. What matters is what season are we in with God, and what is the appropriate blessing to ask for? Sometimes we spend so much time describing the horizontal season, our “parish” and our relationship to it, that we fail to put a finger to the wind and find out what direction God is moving in inviting us to follow, or where the cloud and fire of His presence would have us rest and remain and live in for a while.
For instance there is no point planning for some grand mission if in fact there are signs that God’s hand of judgement or discipline is upon a congregation or a denomination and will remain so until that is acknowledged. That means in God’s reckoning we are in a season of needing to ask for the grace of repentance. Or looking at it another way: there is no point restructuring for the umpteenth time the leadership group or the house group set up, if God has indicated that right now the fields are white unto harvest and what is needed are reapers to be sent into the harvest, before the harvest is lost. An ingathering beyond a sheaf or two would probably mean a restructuring with purpose rather than routine to its name will probably emerge quite naturally.
Obviously there is overlap, there can be unseasonal weather (was today really summer?). I am simplifying things greatly, but I hope you get the point. Asking for revival while ignoring a God indicated need for a season of repentance and prayer to be lived through as the herald of its beginning, or asking for effective outreach when the reaching out congregation is diseased with lack of unity and love, or whatever, or has no standards of biblical holiness or purity it seeks to live by, is asking for the wrong thing at the wrong time.
Do you really know what you need before God? Do I? Do you really know what your congregation or gathering needs? Did I when I was involved in leading differing congregations with different stories in different settings? Do you know what your ministry really needs? Ask the God of the Seasons to help you get an awareness of the real spiritual season He sees you are in and to help you ask for the blessings you need in that season. It might be much more fertile than you would realise by human observation, or indeed it might be much more dry than things “going well” might suggest.
So I have been thinking of “asked for” blessings: rain in the rain season, but I have also been thinking of …
Earlier today, my mind went to one of the most famous example of commanded blessing:
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is for God’s people to dwell in unity!
It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”
I have lived long enough, been round the block enough times, to see this being fulfilled in the positive and the negative: great blessing falling on loving united pursuit of the glory of God: blessing evaporating, as unity gave way to attitudes within God’s family that the Father could not bless.
Oh, I could preach, but you don’t need spoon fed with what you might want to do with all of this even before gathering with God’s people this Lord’s Day.