God is at work

God is at work among us.  I’ve lost count of the number of people who have said to me there was something special about our last two Sunday morning gatherings.  The presence of God was very real, and he spoke clearly to many.  I believe this is the latest stage in a movement of the Spirit which has been building since the summer.  Our Sunday morning series on Ephesians has been a catalyst for this: inspiring us, challenging us, and changing us. 

A month ago now we heard a rallying call from Steph preaching on the first part of Ephesians 2, reminding us of our high calling as a community who are here-and-now seated with Christ in the presence of the Father.  The next week we considered how the church is the temple of God, that he dwells among us as we meet to worship, with the challenge to consider how we prepare for Sunday mornings as a result.  And this has borne fruit as there has been a change in the atmosphere of Sunday morning in subsequent weeks. 

Then Peter reminded us from Ephesians 3:12 that we may “approach God with freedom and confidence,” and asked the question why so few felt able and willing to pray during times of open prayer in worship.  Service leaders have picked up on this, and encouraged us, and new life has been breathed into our prayer together.  Building on our successful Day of Prayer last month we are beginning to grow in this vital but struggling area of our life together.

Last week God moved many of us powerfully as we reflected on the sheer unimaginable scale of God’s love for us, and simply scratched the surface of what that means.  A very special service where God’s presence was felt in everything that was said and done.  There is always a sense of nervousness after such an occasion, as the next week can feel quite flat by comparison.  But this morning’s service too was special, and used powerfully by God in many ways, not least the challenge to humility towards one another as we make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit.

And it hasn’t just been about Sunday mornings.  One recent week seemed to be particularly hard for many in the congregation.  But it was really encouraging to see how readily people rallied round to help those in need, and the love and support of the church community – a very tangible outworking of that unity of the Sprit. The doors that seem to be opening to work more closely with the Cherry Tree Centre and through them to the community of Swinemoor are another example of God at work.  And I’ve already mentioned the Day of Prayer.

All of which leads me to say God is at work among us.  I don’t know the fullness of the plans which he has for this stage of the life of our church.  But I do know that if we continue to seek and expect his presence with us in worship, to spend time before him in prayer, and to live out our unity in loving compassion for one another and the world, there is much more that he can and will do in us and through us.

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6

Would you like someone to pray for you?

As I mentioned in a previous post, as part of the National Prayer Weekend we at Beverley Baptist Church will be seeking prayer requests from our community in a number of ways.  Some may be sceptical as to the likely response.  We read the stories about Christians being sacked for offering to pray for people at work, and hear the rhetoric of the neo-Atheists, and expect that anyone who does not already have a faith will at best decline our request, and at worst be highly offended that we have even offered.

Two things this week have encouraged me that this is not the case.  The first is a member of our congregation describing the response at a local food-bank when they offer to pray for people, with somewhere up to half of people being willing to be prayed for, and I hope we can hear a little of this during next Sunday’s service.

The second is connected to the Prayer Weekend.  This week I emailed our local MP and 3 councillors seeking their prayer requests.  I was worried that I had left it a little late to get a response out of such busy people in just over 4 weeks, and would they even bother to respond at all.  Within 24 hours I had an email from one councillor and the MP’s office were on the phone, only too willing to be prayed for even though our MP would not claim to be Christian.

Which encourages me that there are others too who will value our prayers, and I trust that as we lift them to God he will answer and lives will be transformed as a result.