"Preparing Us to be Workers in the Harvest Field:" Reflections from Prayer Week at Christ Community Church
During Prayer Week, the congregation of Christ Community Church gathered each night for corporate prayer and worship, intentionally coming before the Lord and asking Him to prepare obedient workers in the harvest field (as Jesus told his disciples to pray in Matthew 9:35-38). Take the City's founder and director, Andrew Chalmers, led the church family into intentional time with Christ through four nights of teaching, praying, listening and responding.
Each night, there was a centralized focus on one word and supporting scripture:
"Last year in June, God spoke a specific phrase to me and it was, 'Stay in, live in, dwell in my presence, so shall the knowledge be that I will pour into thee.' Around the time He spoke that to me, I was going through a really tough time and I was spending a lot of my early mornings in His presence. Fast-forward to a year later, I found myself longing to spend that time with Him again, but it was so hard for me to get up early in the mornings like I had been doing previously. About two weeks ago, I set my alarm clock to 5am so that I could get up and spend at least an hour with Him before I started my day. Well, it was so hard to get out of bed and I really wanted to do it.
Sunday night after Andrew taught on abiding and we went into our time of individual prayer with the Lord, I looked up the word "dwell" since God had brought the phrase He spoke last year back to my remembrance. In the New Testament “dwell” most frequently stands for oikeo or one of its compounds; also, skenoo, and meno, which however, are always translated "abide." I knew then what God was saying to me. After acknowledging I understood what He was saying I then asked the Lord what He wanted me to do. He said, 'just give me an hour.' I set my alarm for 5am and on Monday morning, and I spent an hour with Him before getting my day started. I have been getting up at 5am since Monday morning. He didn’t give me a time period on how long to do it so I will just keep doing it until He says otherwise."
"I am here. I have always been with you, even though you sometimes disobey my
commandments and do what you want to do… though you forget me and are sometimes gripped with anxiety when all you have to do is ask me… though you make decisions for your future when I already know the plans I have for you. Give me your heart my child. All you have to do is put your hand in my hand. I am just a breath away. Abide with me as I am always with you.”
"In a nutshell, I was asking God to help me in loving someone and asking Him to help me see them the way He does. I was confessing that I can't do this. (I love God's kindness and humor - his response to this was "of course you can't do it! We've seen that you can't do!" -- but His tone was full of so much love... like a father joking around with his daughter). After this confession, I felt like God was inviting me to take some time to take authority over selfishness, self-centeredness, sarcasm, and harsh responses and to bring them under the authority of Jesus... and then to speak and claim peace, kindness, patience, love and gentleness. How I long for the fruit of His Spirit to be all that is produced in me.
There was another part that I felt I heard that I think is for all of us -- I felt like God was saying "I really am giving you all you need for the people and tasks that I put along your path. Take it. Take what I am offering you. Take me. Hold tight to me (abide). I'm glad you cannot do this on your own-- I never intended for you to do this on your own. I want to be a part of this. I want to do this with you and through you!"
The Lord gave Brian a vision on the subject of "pruning."
"I saw a fruit tree, and one of the bottom limbs was spindly threatening to break, pulled downward because of the weight of the fruit it bore. The fruit was still attached to the limb, but the fruit was also on the ground because the limb could not support it. I have couple of things I think God was trying to say to me and to our church:
The presence of fruit isn't necessarily determined by the strength of the branch. God can use any branch attached to the Vine to produce at any time. In fact, there may be branches that appear to be fully mature, but they can have seasons with no fruit (1 Sam 16:7).
Bearing too much may break us. If there's no one to harvest and no one to prune, even good fruit can overwhelm us (for instance, I have all these good things in my life... kids, spouse, work, friends, church, hobbies, but I am too exhausted to appreciate them (Luke 10:40). So, we may have to give up some fruit in order to regain strength or composure. Fruit that is attached to the branch but touching the ground will rot; we need pruning and harvesting (Psalm 39:6).
When we are the laborers in the field (Luke 10:2, Matthew 9:38), we must see the field as full and ripe. We can't assume spindly or damaged branches will not produce fruit and therefore overlook them (1 Sam 16). It's the vinedresser's job to prune, and He will do it in the right season. Even in dormant seasons, He tends the branches."
"The passage in John 15 speaks of the gardener as one who prunes and cuts off branches that do not bear fruit with the goal of helping the branches produce more fruit. An “ouch” response surfaced at first when I read this thinking of all the places where I need pruning and how often it hurts to go through the pruning seasons. Often in the presence of the gardener, I feel like I have missed the mark and that I have disappointed Him as he cuts and prunes… but When I looked at the definition of gardener, the dictionary stated that a gardener is “a person who tends and cultivates for a living," my heart softened as I realized that my Heavenly Father and Gardener is tenderly tending to me. He is spending time with me. He is cultivating the soil of my heart, and He does this for a living. He is constant and attentive, and He delights in His garden. His tending and cultivating are all for the display of His splendor and glory. His tending and cultivating are rooted in His love for me."
Sunday: "Speak up! Speak up to those where you are-- kindly speak up, for their time may be short; your time to speak is now. Jesus, you gave me a voice. I will speak what you tell me to speak."
Tuesday: "Don’t keep quiet: be the reconciler."
Wednesday: "Listen to the words you are reading in the Bible as if Jesus, whose Spirit wrote them, is reading them aloud to you. That is how you get to know his voice."
"My precious love, why is your soul downcast? Are you striving? Carrying burdens that you shouldn’t be? Pleasing others? Trying to control? My truth reminds you that my love has set you free! I have carried all that has entangled you and all that has weighed you down, to the cross! It was nailed there, and all has been redeemed, restored, and made new! Run to me, dear one, climb into my lap and rest in my everlasting arms! I will hold you close and speak my freeing, loving truth to your weary soul! I have good that you need to be rested up for: plans of hope! Child, you are my unique, treasured possession, that I have created for my glorious good!! I knew this long ago, before the foundations of the world, and I know exactly what you need. As you nestle in my lap, I will lavish you with my peace, my wisdom, and my Words of affirmation, my joy, and my hope. These truths will carry you boldly and courageously as you take steps of faith abiding in Me. The peace that I have for you surpasses your own understanding, that is why your time sitting with me is so important. You do not fully know or understand my greatness, but when we spend time together I will continually supply you with all you need. I promise that you will be equipped to face each new day. Trust me, my child. Delight yourself in me, enjoy all my goodness. The more time we spend together, the more you will find out about me and the rich love I have for you, the good plans of hope that I have for you! There is so much that I desire to share and teach you, it’s greater than you will ever fathom or imagine. I am always here for you, never leaving and never forsaking. The things that have broken your heart break my heart, too. I know every precious detail about you. I know your life before, now, and what is to come. Crawl up in my lap, sit for a while I rejoice over you with singing and quiet you with my overcoming love. Rest safely with me as the storms come and go in this world. We will laugh together and I will strengthen you with my truthful joy, we will cry together and I have and will know every teardrop that falls. Set your gaze on me, child, know that I will fill you the fullest measure and equip you in every way with all you will ever need. The great love that I have for you and for you to share will bring my HOPE to this broken world. I will safely supply, carry, and empower you moment by moment until I get to see you face to face... right now, our world needs you and my goodness that you carry! I love you, your Father"
May we all continue to reap the benefits and fruits of our week in prayer and press on after the Lord of the harvest.
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