This past week has found me reflecting on significant events that transpired 40 years ago during the last week of October 1982. It was a beautiful Sunday morning on the 24th of October as I was making my way to a church that I was visiting for the first time. This particular service featured three significant messages which I had never forgotten. In fact, these messages are even more relevant today. I will briefly highlight the messages below:
1. The Sunday School lesson was taught by a Pastor who shared from the following Old Testament passage:
And it shall come to pass at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And punish the men Who are settled in complacency, Who say in their heart, ‘The LORD will not do good, Nor will He do evil’ (Zephaniah 1:12).
Though the above scripture is not known to many, its message is clear. God is doing a work of inspection that goes beyond the surface. People can put on a good show but the Lord is interested in that which is concealed and hidden. Are we a people who willingly allow the Lord to search our hearts? This pastor used powerful examples from his secular background to illustrate his point. Essentially, the Lord does a work of inspection on every aspect of our lives. He stands at the door and knocks; will we open up to Him and allow His light to shine on the hidden areas (Revelation 3:20)?
2. The song service was led by another Pastor who had recently written a new song entitled “Bless me Lord”. It is taken from the following scripture.
And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me” (Genesis 32:26)!
This is a picture of Jacob who recognised a moment where he could experience a divine exchange. He was desperate for a fresh encounter with God. What was the result? He attained a change of name and character. He was no longer to be called Jacob (supplanter or deceiver) but rather be named “Israel”. Jacob was cleansed from his nature of deceit resulting in a new name and authority with God and men (Genesis 32:28). Do you have a similar desperation for God? Are you tired of the tendencies of your flesh that keep us bound in our old ways? Let these words and actions of Jacob apprehend you so that we can experience a change of name and character.
3. The main service was taken by another Pastor who shared on the topic of “Strength to Strength”. The following text provides the key point:
They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion (Psalm 84:7).
This Psalm portrays the journey of a believer comprised of both good and challenging experiences. If we are going through valley type situations, we find that the Lord is there and has the ability to carry us through (Psalm 84:6). This beautiful Psalm helps to give perspective to our Christian walk. Whenever opposition comes, there is a matching grace and strength that God gives that enables believers to overcome. This message really ministered to me, even as a young believer.
Admittedly, the true significance of the above messages could not be fully appreciated at the time. Still, it’s amazing how vividly I can recall this anointed and powerful Sunday Service. Reflecting over 40 years, I do see how these messages have impacted me. Most important, they are messages the worldwide church needs to note.
Do we discern the unique work of inspection the Lord is doing in the church and in our lives? Are we willing to be like David and fully open our heart to the Lord’s searching (Psalm 139:23)? Do we really want to stay at the level of status quo Christianity that prohibits us from experiencing a true divine exchange of character? Lay hold of God and do not let go! Finally, God has established a pathway for each of our lives. Do you long to dwell in his courts (Psalm 84:2) while growing in His strength (Psalm 84:7)?
May the Lord help us in discerning and preparing for that which is to come. A 40-year reflection helps in providing a powerful blueprint on how we can take our walk with God to a greater level. Will we have a part?
Monday: Revelation 3:20
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
Tuesday: Zechariah 3:4
Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”
Wednesday: Isaiah 40:31
But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
Thursday: Philippians 3:10-11
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Friday: Psalm 26:2
Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.
Saturday: 2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Sunday: Psalm 15:1
A Psalm of David. LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
All scriptures are quoted from the New King James Version (NKJV).
By Pastor Tim O’Connell