In Acts 13, the church in Antioch met to worship, pray and fast. And we read that “while they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set Apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’. So after they had fasted and prayed they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”
I find it interesting that it was, “while they were worshipping the Lord and fasting” that God the Holy Spirit spoke to them. Last Thursday night during our 1/2 Night of Prayer, David Legge encouraged us to praise God in our prayer times. To enter His courts with thanksgiving and praise, for there God would move and would speak to His people. And after David spoke, Jonny Wright led us in a wonderful time of worship. And as many entered in to the presence of God, do you know what happened next? The Lord spoke!
I was near the front and was on my knees. And we were in a time of prayer where we were crying out to God to touch Breda, Belfast and beyond…to move in mighty ways during 1000 Lives! And during that time of prayer I couldn’t get Luke 4v18-19 off my mind. Have you ever been there where you know the Lord Is directing you back to one particular passage? I was there on Thursday night and God just seemed to keep placing these verses on my mind and heart. Just as I was about to share them with our people, Joanna Wright on the other side of the room began to read verses from Isaiah 61. She said she felt God wanted her to share these verses to the people of NBC. Now if you know your Bible, you will know that the verses of Luke 4v18-19 are the exact same words as Isaiah 61 – for Jesus picks up the scroll in Luke 4 and directly quotes from Isaiah 61. So as Joanna read out the exact words from Isaiah 61 that I was just about to read out of Luke 4 I smiled and thanked God that he had laid the same verses on both of our hearts.
Then right after our evening concluded, Ricky Wallace came up to Joanna and shared that right before she had read those verses he couldn’t get Isaiah 61 off his mind. Just today I was sharing this with another lady from NBC and she told me that for the last 10 days she has had Isaiah 61 on her mind and heart, feeling God wants us to take note of these verses.
Is this all a coincidence? Surely the world would say so. Surely the skeptical would say so. But then I read Acts 13, and I see that when a church worships, prays, fasts, and enters in to the presence of God, He loves to come and speak. By His word through His Spirit. He loves to speak to his children when they enter his courts with thanksgiving and with praise. He loves to shine light on His children’s path, calling them deeper into Him, and showing them what He wants to do in their midst.
But when He speaks, it is crucially important that the church listen. Just as the Antioch church heard God the Holy Spirit speak to them, and immediately obeyed the word of the Lord, acting in faith upon the voice of God, so we in NBC must listen to God’s voice and when He speaks we must obey and respond in faith!
So what are are the words of Isaiah 61, read out by Joanna, laid on Ricky’s heart, quoted by Jesus in Luke 4, the words that I couldn’t get out of my mind on Thursday night…? What is it that God said to us as we were crying out in prayer for Breda, Belfast and Beyond, asking him to reveal to us what He wants to do in our midst?
Here’s what He said through Isaiah 61 and Luke 4. Messiah is speaking about what His ministry looks like in the world:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
Because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
And recovery of sight for the blind
To release the oppressed
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”
And so last Thursday night, as NBC entered in to the presence of God, worshipped and prayed, Jesus spoke! And he told us He longs to transform lives in our midst!
Here it is…
Jesus wants to walk into Breda and bring good news to the poor, freedom to the prisoners, sight to the blind, release to the oppressed, and favour from the Lord!
Jesus wants to proclaim over Belfast good news, freedom, sight, release and favour!
In this season of 1000 Lives, God wants to reach the poor, the prisoners, the blind and the oppressed. And when He reaches them he will transform their lives!
What an encouragement this is to us as a church – to keep entering in to God’s presence. To keep praying. To keep fasting. To keep seeking and crying out for more. And to keep praising! For as we make this our rhythm He is the God who speaks. And when He speaks we better listen. For He is calling us to take Jesus to Breda, Belfast and Beyond during this season of 1000 Lives – so that the poor, the prisoners, the blind and the oppressed might find life through Jesus Christ!
We are gathering again on Wednesday 21st February for another 1/2 Night of Prayer, led by Jonny Wright and David Legge. Our prayer watches continue each week from Monday – Friday (8-9am, 1-2pm & 8-9pm). We gather this Sunday at 11am and 7pm for worship and witness.
Will you join us in the place of worship and prayer? And will you follow God with us as He calls us and tells us He wants to preach good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, sight for the blind, release for the oppressed, and favour from the Lord?
It truly is wonderful….when the Lord Speaks!
God bless you this week!
Tim & 1000 Lives Team
- Keep praying for your 3 friends and reading through our 1000 Lives Reading Plan
- Please invite a friend to our Life Story Night this Sun night @ 7pm – ‘Once An Addict’ with Barry Woodward, a heroin addict transformed by Christ
- Please get tickets for the following events, one for yourself and one for each of your friends:
- Sat 17th March – St. Patrick’s Night Celebration with the New Irish Choir + Orchestra
- Tue 20th March – Men’s Night with Ulster Rugby’s Charles Piutau and CEO Shane Logan
- Thurs 22nd March – Ladies Fashion Night – ‘The Fashion Edit’
At each of these events the good news of Jesus will be shared. Let’s invite our friends to these great events!