Will we meet this month?
The timing of the September Lampstand meeting left us wondering if we would even be able to have this gathering! Due with our fifth baby on September 22, we just weren’t sure if we would be able to host the gathering on the 17th of September.
After my doctor visit on Thursday of that week, I was already showing some progress towards labor! I was excited and ready for this baby to arrive, but in praying about whether or not to have the Lampstand meeting, I felt like the Lord was giving me a choice. It was almost like I could choose to just focus on preparing for the baby and his arrival (which would not have been a bad choice) or I could choose to go for it with this meeting and believe that the Lord wanted to accomplish something in it.
We had the meeting! And, I am so thankful we did. Personally, I felt that I received things I needed to prepare me for the labor and delivery of Johnjudah David that was just around the corner. And, corporately it was an encouraging time of equipping for all.
Worship and communion
Ian Wilson was such a blessing to us in leading worship especially as we took communion together. He facilitated the flow of the whole evening so well. We began with Hebrews 10 as I shared my meditations on verses 19-23.
“Therefore brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
In this passage we see that through the blood of Jesus and the body (flesh) of Jesus, we have access to the HOLY PLACES. So through communion, in taking the body and blood of Jesus, we can come near! Jesus has sprinkled our hearts clean and washed our bodies through the waters of baptism.
Sometimes it is important to stir ourselves up and remember that when we come to the place of communion we are coming into the HOLY presence of the Lord.
Matthew talked more about the connection between the Old Testament tabernacle and what Jesus did in the upper room in establishing communion with his disciples.
So we took time in repentance and asking God to stir expectation that He wants to meet with us when we come to Him in communion.
Teaching time: embracing weakness to get oil
Following the worship and communion time, Matthew shared about getting oil in the place of weakness. He described the difference between involuntary and voluntary weakness and explained that both of these are opportunity to see God’s power and strength at work, which fuels us in a unique way.
We are promised trials and tribulations, and yet we tend to want to insulate ourselves from pain or discomfort. We do many things that are ultimately rooted in the desire to eliminate feelings of discomfort or any semblance of weakness in our lives.
Involuntary weakness would be times of trial, sickness, persecution, trouble, or loss. Seasons or experiences that we cannot handle in our own strength, but that we really have no control over. These are things that cause us to feel weak that we didn’t ask for or cause. We can’t control these circumstances, but we can control our response. Our response is critical in the midst of involuntary weakness. We can respond in bitterness and anger or despair. Or, we can see this type of weakness as a catalyst to cause us to grow in the Lord.
Voluntary weakness---is part of basic Christianity because we see it in the NT church! This type of weakness is something that we choose; we choose to put ourselves in a place of weakness in order to see God’s strength. Some examples of this type of weakness are seen in the following list:
Prayer – fasting our time
Watching – fasting sleep/time to seek the Lord
Serving – fasting time, giving time to others, which is limiting ourselves
Giving – limiting our resources
Putting ourselves in place of weakness so we can receive His strength
Exercise: The way of weakness
Part of the response time was an exercise Matthew created using the following questions:
1. Where are you feeling weak (as far as involuntary weakness)?
2. Where are you embracing voluntary weakness?
3. Where do you need for the Lord to show His strength in your life?
4. Recall in the past where you have seen His strength in your weakness.
5. Pray and ask God to help you pursue Him in weakness.
6. Commit yourself to believe Him to meet you in your weakness.
We took some time of stillness to reflect on these questions to give the Lord time to speak to our hearts. We would offer this here for anyone reading to take time to use this resource as w
“This time has been set apart and the Spirit says, ‘I will meet you here.’” Linda Edwards shared these words with us as she opened up in leading worship for our August gathering. We gathered with a small group (but an abundance of children!), and Linda explained that in the Jewish watches of the night, 6-9 pm is set as the first watch of the night. Since we are meeting from 6-9, she encouraged us that the Lord is meeting with us as we set ourselves to seek Him in the first watch.
I was so overwhelmed with gratitude again for all of the various worship leaders who have come and shared their hearts with us. It was like as Linda played and sang, I saw that each person or group who have come have their own “flavor.” And, that the Lord loves all of these unique expressions of worship. I believe it is truly delightful to Him when we bring an offering of praise and adoration. And, we certainly don’t want to try to be like someone else in our outpouring of love to Him! We want our worship to flow from our hearts in the unique way that He has designed each of us.
What a blessing to be part of any group that is lifting up the name of Jesus! These times in our home have truly been a gift.
Matthew asked me to share at this meeting about stability. This is a critical aspect of having oil in that we want to have a stable, steady flame that won’t go out when winds of challenge blow. Stability has been a word that keeps coming to mind lately. So many things in the world are shaking and so unstable, and it has been the kindness of the Lord to keep bringing the word stability to mind and to remind me that He can give me stability no matter the circumstances around me.
We talked about what stability is NOT; it is not being stuck or an unwillingness to grow or change.
We talked about what stability is: steadfastness, faithfulness, perseverance, endurance, confidence, courage, resolve. The input from the group was great: firm, balance, focus, strong, trust, consistent, constant, security, deep roots, being still, rock.
We talked about the need for it in so many different areas of our lives: our faith, our minds, our hearts, our decisions.
So where do we find stability? We were created with a deep desire for it, and there are a lot of places we CANNOT find it. For example, our culture, our friends, our families, even within ourselves. These might be sources of stability for us at times, but ultimately they can shift or change or let us down.
What truly stabilizes us? Jesus, His presence, the Spirit at work in us. One KEY to stability is REMEMBERING. When we remember God’s steadfast nature and His inability to change, for the worse or for the better, then we are encouraged. We looked at Psalm 77 and how God renewed the strength of His people as they remembered His great works. Hebrews 10 is another passage that highlights the unwavering confidence we can have through what Christ has accomplished on the cross.
How then do we access the stability we need?
We followed up the teaching time with a practical exercise. We took about 15 minutes while Linda played quietly to walk through topics and Scriptures that would help us recall God’s steadfastness. We repented for any lack of trust or unbelief in His faithfulness and asked for renewed grace to remain steady in Him.
What a blessing to hear what God shared among us as we took this time to be still. We prayed for each person to be encouraged in stability in the Lord.
We are so grateful that the Lord really is the stability of our times, and that He is a constant source of strength and “fuel” for our hearts to keep us shining brightly in dark times.
We met together with an awesome group of folks on July 23, with Ginny Wall leading worship. Ginny did a beautiful job of selecting and leading us in songs that reflected the heart of our identity in Christ. There was a sweetness and quietness and in the midst of one of those still times I felt like the Lord was inviting us to set our hearts, our eyes, our gaze on Him.
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
As we sang, “I want to be your resting place,” there was a sense of the Lord’s presence with us. I was impacted by Revelation 4 and Colossians 3. It was like the Lord was reminding us of John’s experience with the invitation to get up to the throne and fix our eyes on Him and see all things from His perspective.
Personally, I can never express enough gratitude to the Lord for leading in these worship times. And, I feel such gratitude for the people who have come to pour out their hearts in worship, whether leading or participating. These times have truly been “fueling” for me and I pray that they have been an encouragement to the others who have gathered as well.
Matthew did an excellent job sharing about “Pressing out Oil, the Truth of our Identity in Christ.” He shared that if we don’t know who we are, we will be tossed to and fro and explained that a critical aspect of our “fuel reserve” is in knowing who we are in Christ and how He truly feels about us.
Our core identity is found in being Servants, Sons, and the Bride of Christ. We function in many roles, but these things are crucial to our identity.
As servants: we give our lives in loving service to our King.
As Sons: we are no longer slaves, but heirs, co-heirs with Christ.
As the Bride: we are invited into intimacy and partnership with the Lord.
Have you ever wondered what God really feels about you personally? Have you wondered how you could even know that for sure? Do you just guess or assume that He’s probably mad at you for failures, or maybe sad about all of your wrong choices, or that He is probably too big and busy to care much about you at all?
The Scriptures are full of references that give us a glimpse into the pure emotions of the Lord towards His people. Our emotions are tainted by sin, but God’s are perfect and pure.
Four key emotions of God that we should know:
1. Tender mercies (Psalm 103:14, 69:16, Isaiah 63:7)
2. Delight / Gladness (Psalm 18:19)
3. Burning desire
4. Fiery zeal, jealous anger (Ephesians 3:17)
Matthew ended with an exhortation to make this a lifelong part of our diet in our journey with the Lord. What we eat in the natural matters, and so also what we feed on spiritually matters to our health. It is crucial that we KNOW and understand the amazing love God has for us and the way He thinks and feels about us in order to walk with stability in a time that is increasingly unstable.
Matthew or Julie Wine