Monthly Archives: February 2013

River of Life Day Retreat Report

Aboriginal Advancement League - 22 Feb 2013

Something beautiful took place at the retreat. There was a fresh expression of heaven on earth involving pastors, intercessors, worship leaders, Christian Organisation leaders and marketplace leaders from across the city.

There was a River of Life Convergence at the headwaters at the Cross. The Holy Spirit was flowing from the innermost being of his people with worship ascending to heaven with a winsome beauty unique to the love of God (John 7:37).

The rivers of living water was also a confluence of streams. As the Holy Spirit is one so are we one in his presence. This is a beautiful expression of the Kingdom of God come, his will being done on earth as it is in heaven.

The retreat started and finished with the call of the prophet Joel -
“Even now” declares the Lord,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.
Rend your heart and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
Who knows? He may return and relent
and leave behind a blessing -
grain offerings and drink offerings
for the Lord your God.
Blow the trumpet in Zion,
declare a holy fast,
call a sacred assembly.
Gather the people,
consecrate the assembly;
(Joel 2:12-16)

Sean Morris took us on a journey of inspiring hope through this scripture which was also foundational to the Irish revival that swept through Europe. Following this the intercessors shared their heart on how great is our God and that this is the time to rend our hearts to be consecrated to the Lord as one body.

Bishop Sandy Millar flew in under the radar and filled the room with joy in the pleasure of Jesus presence and purposes in our midst. From Ezekiel 37 Sandy invited us to speak out with prophetic voice to the dry bones and then to speak out with prophetic voice to the breath that the church might become a vast army. Lawrence Hirsch then led us into prayer for the city to the North, South, East and West. We came to these prophetic acts at the headwaters of the river.

As the prophet Joel called for the trumpet to be sounded for a sacred assembly so Lawrence blew the Shofar. In the midst of both Lent and the 40 days of prayer and fasting a sacred assembly gathered in the presence of God. We came with no agenda other than to rend our hearts to him that we may die to ourselves and live for Christ (Gal 2:20).

Over dinner Lawrence led us in Shabbat Shalom to give thanks for the bread of life and the wine of his pleasure. We continued in happy fellowship through to the conclusion of the consecration of our assembly in a communion that was beautifully led by our host Esme Bamblett. We went home with a sense of joy, success and fulfilment.

The retreat turned out to be a confluence of streams of the spirit meeting at the headwaters at the Cross. As with the prophecy of Ezekiel this trickle will progressively grow into a mighty river that brings the life of Christ to the city. We are honoured to live out a local expression of these prophecies of Joel 2 and Ezekiel 47.

To gain a big picture view of the river of life we can see it flowing from Genesis 2:8 where it waters the garden through the Bible from cover to cover. Its destination is Rev 22:1 where it flows as clear as crystal from the throne of God down the middle of the city – with the fruit of the tree of life on its banks bringing healing to the nations.

In Melbourne the Yarra likewise flows down the middle of the city beckoning the bride of Christ to become as clear as crystal to release the fruit of the tree of life for the healing of the nation.

This conference will also bring back to Melbourne the steam of the spirit that started in 1889 when the founder of Caulfield Grammar, Joseph Henry Davies, left Melbourne missionary as a missionary to Korea, where he laid down his life for the Gospel. This subsequently led to some 172 other missionaries taking the gospel to Korea.

Fifty years ago the Lord raised up Dr David Yonggi Cho as a leader of a Korean revival that has continued unabated in the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer. It has won some 40% of the South Korean population to Christ.

In May 2013 Dr Cho will come to Melbourne to return this expression of grace back to our city. Accordingly our retreat day and our fortnightly city wide prayer meetings are preparing the way for this return.

Melbourne also experienced a great revival under R. A. Torey that concluded on 10 May 1902. Now 111 years later to the day, we are invited to come together on the heritage and sacrifice of our forebears so that Jesus may be honoured and glorified in our city and nation.

Accordingly let us come together to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ on Ascension Day 9th May 2013. This is the very day we celebrate Jesus enthronement as King of Kings and Lord of Lords over every other power and authority that exists.

Following the conference we look forward to the river of life progressively increasing its flow to bring the life of Christ to our city. This is the river of the Spirit that emanates from the innermost being of the people of God T the Cross and progressively gets deeper and wider through unity, love , purpose and prayer.

After May 10 it will no longer be a River of Life Conference but a River of Life Convergence of the streams of the spirit flowing together to bring life to the city.

In Preparation for the Conference

It is a great pleasure to be able to share with you what we are learning from the Lord in preparation for the conference.

This week the following scripture has come up four times in the Holy Spirit:

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity”…

Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, (Joel 2:12-13 and 15).
The concern of this prophecy is to be worshipers without a disconnect between spirit and truth. This is about integrity in worship in both church and everyday life. This is also a call to come together in retreat before the Lord.

Recently a pastor said to me that he would not go to any more pastors retreats because he found other pastors were so competitive in measuring success by metrics and trying to build numbers with upbeat contemporary worship. Another indigenous pastor who was raised from the dead told me personally that God was angry with churches who built on foundations of sand - and that he was sent back with this message.

God is very concerned that we worship him in spirit and truth without disconnect.

This is the point of Jesus’ remorse over the luke warm church in Rev 3. We so often hear Rev 3:20 used in evengelism - “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock”…

But the shocking context of this statement is that Jesus was bringing rebuke and discipline to a church in need of earnestness and repentance. In this call to transformation Jesus is actually located ”outside the house”… knocking on the door of the church seeking repentant and responsive hearts that will invite him in!In the West we have often tried to reverse this by holding worship services that call to intimacy before we respond with submission to the Lord’s correctives. How often have you found Christians defensive and resistant to correctives for righteousness sake?

There has to be truth about ourselves with repentance and pasison for holiness. This is the doorway to intimacy. This is the basis of humility before God and man. This is the door on which Jesus is knocking.While God accepts us as we are, he also calls us towards holiness - where we are to die to natural inclinations so that we may be empowered in the Spirit.

We are called to worship him in spirit and truth – the truth about ourselves and the truth about who he is.

The River is Flowing

Revival is starting. The River is flowing. Joy and hope are in the air and God is opening up strategic prayers for our city.

We are increasingly aware that the changes God wants to bring to our city are preceded by prayers that are guided by the Holy Spirit to be in alignment with his plans and purposes.

Therefore to process transformation the body of Christ has to first connect with God in prayer empowered by the Holy Spirit. Church together opens up city-wide inspired prayers, teaching and guidance that must be in alignment with the Word of God. This includes Bible teaching, checking and cross referencing, words of knowledge, prophetic insights, the sharing of relevant visions, dreams and stories of transformation. This healthy spectrum of prayer motivates God’s people and releases power to move out of the status quo into the future where God is already moving.

We are learning how God intends to move across our city to bring the domains of the city into the dominion of his son. Domains such as education, health, justice, business, government, the creative arts and media etc. When the domains of the city honour the Lord’s prayer “your Kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” then these domains become Kings-Domains or Kingdom. This is fresh revelation on the nature of the growing renewal across our city and nation. Heaven knows we need it!

These radical changes for good occur as the Holy Spirit guides us into praying the Father’s will into reality (Matt 6:10). This is a process of hunger, humility, consistency and obedience.

The overriding simple purposes of renewal are these:

  • God wants his son glorified in our city
  • Jesus wants his people to know who he really is
  • The Holy Spirit wants to guide us on the journey as our helper.

What Jesus did for us.

We have often read the summation of Paul in Galatians 3:13 – “Christ redeemed us from the curse becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

Here he was referring to the prophetic condition that God gave to Moses in Deut 21:22-23 -”you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.”

It is truly hard to imagine that in heaven before Jesus time on earth God had planned this rescue operation for us. It involved his beloved and uncompromised son, Jesus, who was flesh of his flesh and heart of his heart to become cursed in our place.

God in his foreknowledge planned our rescue through Jesus being subject to a trumped up charge that was cast out of jealousy, corruption, power abuse and control. Jesus love for our situation was so great that he voluntarily and intentionally allowed himself to be framed for a capital offense he didn’t commit

In Deut 21 God gave Moses a law to deal with cleansing of the curse knowing he was setting in place the very condition that his son Jesus would have to pass through vicariously on our behalf.

Brothers and sisters this is the magnitude of our salvation. As St Paul states in Rom 15:3 Jesus took upon himself the curse that was intended for us. He took our sin to death like filthy robes upon himself  to deposit in hell for eternity. In this way through his death on the Cross Jesus separated us from the curse that would otherwise would have defined our terminal condemnation.

Then in his resurrection and ascension we who believe are raised with him from death to life. Let us therefore commit with joy to walk every day in the magnificence of this salvation wrought for us by his divine love.

WHY CHURCH TOGETHER?

In God’s planning for a nation under God he arranged three festivals a year when the tribes of Israel came together:

Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed (Deut 16:16).

These three feasts were Unleavened Bread or Passover, that is now celebrated by the Church as Resurrection Sunday. The Feast of Weeks is 7 weeks or 50 days after Easter Sunday when we celebrate Pentecost (Pente in Greek means 50 – Lev 23:16). The third festival is Tabernacles, which will be held in September in 2013. It was at the feast of Tabernacles that Jesus said:

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified (John 7:37-39).

Why did God want Israel to come together three times a year?

Because it was and is vital to have celebrations that bond the tribes as part of a nation under God. The festivals are separation from self focus to focus on God and his sovereignty over the nation. These three Jewish celebrations were prophetically chosen by God to point to the Resurrection of Jesus (Lev 23:12) and the giving of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost). The giving of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 is also on the same day Israel celebrates the giving of the Law under Moses. Pentecost is the time God moved the world on from tuition under the Law to fulfilment under Grace.

Today the Church does not have a festival when the tribes of Christ (denominations and movements of the Gospel) come together to celebrate a nation under God. But in May 2013 we will have such a celebration at the River of Life Conference.

Should the Church celebrate a Nation under God?

Well the answer to this question is dependant on who we understand Jesus to be?

At the Ascension Jesus was lifted up to his coronation in heaven as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In a vision the prophet Daniel saw the inauguration of Jesus where he was enthroned in supreme authority over everything in both heaven and earth:

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

We should note that this vision is almost identical to the description given by St Paul at Ephesians 1:18-23 and Colossians 1:15-20.

Jesus ascension was 40 days after the Resurrection (Acts 1:2) when his 10 day inauguration was enacted that culminated in the Father giving Jesus the Holy Spirit to send upon the Church to equip it for its mission on earth (Acts 1:4, 2:1 and 2:32-33).

Now it so happens that despite ourselves God has so arranged that the River of Life Conference occurs on Ascension day, 9th May 2013. On this day the Lord has called his church to gather together to honour, glorify and lift up his son.

On this day we will be gathered together in the unity of the Holy Spirit to be uplifted, empowered and celebrate these promises of Jesus:

But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself (John 12:32).

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

So Church let us lay aside every busy alternative and make our sure plans to come together to bond the tribes of Church and Marketplace as intercessors and carers of a nation under God. Let us come together with one accord to bring one united prayer to God:

Oh Lord send your Holy Spirit in reviving power upon your church, not for our sake, but for the sake of this city and this nation.