Robin J Johnson
When entering a New Year it is not uncommon for leaders to share the vision and/or theme etc, for the year ahead. Many early on will hold a “Vision Sunday” which is a genuine and reasonable practice to start the year.
For me, contemplating the year ahead I want to consolidate the growth of the past two years (even though Covid tried to restrict us) and continue with the increase we experienced and of course return to international travel and speaking.
However, more than making plans, what is it really that we need most to sustain us through the coming year and indeed enable us to make an even greater impact in our various spheres of influence?
“A beautiful and refreshing time”
Reading a recent comment from a friend, on the other side of the world, five words grabbed my attention, “A beautiful and refreshing time”
Immediately the words triggered in me the longing to experience the same, as we had so many times before. While at the same time being genuinely pleased for them, I also felt awfully jealous and indeed very envious. I asked myself; when was the last time that I could say the same? To my dismay I couldn’t remember a recent one. My friend was not speaking about a personal daily devotion, which I’m sure we all know can be beautiful and refreshing, but was sharing an experience of corporate worship as believers gathered to seek the Lord.
Yes, I know we have had an annoying long period of lockdowns, endured service closures and it has been only a matter of weeks since we could gather without restrictions. Though we have had nice services, one could not say with any certainty as my friend stated, “Beautiful and refreshing.”
This is of course a very subjective view point and one that others might disagree with, but once you have tasted the heavenly glory, the manifest presence of God and His touch like liquid love flowing from the throne room of heaven, nothing else will or can satisfy.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am not criticising or neither am I unthankful for a nice service, but I want the more. Something inside of me recognises my need that I must have more of Jesus; His presence, power and love, a moment in time when my whole being is centred on Him and is consumed with His passion and love.
As I pondered “beautiful and refreshing” the words of Isaiah came to mind.
But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. Isaiah 40:31 (AMP)
I long for those times when we linger in His presence, wait on Him with no agenda of our own, other than a cry from deep within, “Holy Spirit come refresh me with your living water, open my eyes I want to see Jesus.”
Days of revival
Going forward into 2022 many have expressed their desire for and predictions of revival in the coming days. Certainly this is the desire in all our hearts, but what it will exactly look like, is something we are yet to see. Nevertheless, we pray earnestly that whatever it is, when the Holy Spirit is poured out we will not miss the moment or be left void of a fresh and dynamic encounter from heaven.
Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” (John 7:37) Thirsty people seek refreshment. Are you thirsty? Then seek the Lord. There is no other prerequisite, you only need to be thirsty. Religious people will tell you otherwise and they will even provide you with a schedule to achieve and attract God’s favour. No, it is simple, thirsty for more of Him.
O God of my life, I’m lovesick for you in this weary wilderness. I thirst with the deepest longings to love you more, with cravings in my heart that can’t be described. Such yearning grips my soul for you, my God! Psalms 63:1 (TPT)
You might ask where does repentance figure in this? Repentance is not simply rhetoric, it is an action that follows a change of mind. It is turning away from the old (or a pattern of behaviour) to embrace the new offered by the grace of God. For me, in this context, repentance is represented in coming to the Lord with a thirsty heart, setting aside my agenda, letting go my reliance on self and waiting on Him.
I long to drink of you, O God, drinking deeply from the streams of pleasure flowing from your presence. My longings overwhelm me for more of you! Psalms 42:1 (TPT)
Let us determine in our hearts and follow through with our actions that we will not let 2022 slip through our fingers and find ourselves at years end, really no further ahead than we were at the beginning. It is now time for change!
Whether it is through the Sunday service or additional gatherings we must make seeking His manifest presence the ultimate goal. If there is no encounter with the Lord, how can we truly say we have gathered unto Him? Possibly the way we conduct our service needs to change? Our prayer meetings probably need to change? To be honest, most prayer meetings involve bringing our list of needs and wants to the Lord and then we go home. For certain there is a place for bringing our requests to the Lord (Philippians 4:6) and I am certainly not wanting to be disparaging of any type of prayer.
However, what if we simply came together to wait on the Lord? No agenda, just with a heart of worship, surrendered and wait until we encounter His manifest presence? I have seen it happen on so many occasions (size does not matter). It is the heart of worship that attracts the presence of God. Whether there is only one guitarist or a whole music team, it does not matter.
Yet I know that you are most holy; it’s indisputable. You are God-Enthroned, surrounded with songs, living among the shouts of praise of your princely people. Psalms 22:3 (TPT)
It is the hungry heart and the praises of our mouth that brings down His manifest presence.
Deep within me are these lovesick longings, desires and daydreams of living in union with you. When I’m near you my heart and my soul will sing and worship with my joyful songs of you, my true source and spring of life! Psalms 84:2 (TPT)
Soaking and saturated
We need to soak in His presence, waiting and positioning ourselves to hear and receive from the Lord. It certainly is time for a fresh touch; to encounter a moment in time that will dramatically realign us with the power and purpose of God. An encounter to launch us into all that the future holds. Just as Jesus told the disciples.
“So stay here in the city until the mighty power of heaven falls upon you and wraps around you.” Luke 24:47
The inference is wait.
This is more than a three minute pause in a Sunday service. I am talking about intentional waiting. Seek the Lord with allocated time (whatever that might be) set aside with a heart of worship and wait. It is not always about how much time, though time is a factor we need to be willing to surrender as we tune our hearts and minds to encounter Him.
For your tender mercies mean more to me than life itself. How I love and praise you, God! Psalms 63:3 (TPT)
I remember back to the mid 80s when we began to sense there was a new and fresh visitation of God on the horizon. What did we do? We began to seek the Lord with fervour, we gathered, we prayed and we waited. And yes He came and filled us with His glorious power, love and might.
I have heard all about you, LORD. I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger, remember your mercy. Habakkuk 3:2 (NLT)
I love His presence.
Yes, guilty as charged, I have an addiction; the Holy Spirit, His power and love, His manifest presence. Yet I am compelled to never forget the timeless truth, blessed to be a blessing. Why do we need a fresh, dynamic encounter? There is a world living in darkness, lost in sin that needs a Saviour.
Whatever plans you have for this year, may I remind you that Jesus’ last command must be our first priority. Jesus has not only chosen us to be with Him, but also to preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God (Mark 3:14). There is no back up plan, we are it.
The touch we had yesterday was good, yet the task is still not finished. We need a fresh touch today, tomorrow and everyday going forward. Come Holy Spirit!
“But I promise you this—the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be filled with power. And you will be my messengers to Jerusalem, throughout Judea, the distant provinces —even to the remotest places on earth!” Acts 1:8 (TPT)
Wait, I say, wait on the Lord!
Special Bonus — I want great Open file to read or download
A dynamic heart cry for more of His glory and grace.