MERCY AVAILABLE

Our God is a God of Mercy. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that we can come boldly to the Throne of Grace – or the Mercy Seat – and receive grace and mercy to help us in our time of need.

Jesus said to the Pharisees to “go and learn” what mercy over sacrifice means. They were obsessed with outward religion, but neglected to offer mercy to the weak and the struggling. They hadn’t understood the mercy in the Father’s heart.

Here’s today’s encouragement for our prayer focus.

AUTUMN FASTING AND PRAYER

Today we begin our Autumn Fasting and Prayer in Golden Valley Church.

It’s not a coincidence that we are beginning our season on the Jewish and Biblical “Day of Atonement” [Yom Kippur].

Yom Kippur in the Old Testament was the day when the High Priest entered into the Holiest Place to make atonement for the whole nation. Today it is still the holiest day of all in the Jewish calendar.

We also believe these days to be highly significant as they are part of Heaven’s calendar for the earth. Although as Christians we believe that Jesus Christ fulfilled the Day of Atonement in the sense that He was both the sacrifice and the High Priest, and that He opened up the heavenly Holy of Holies for us to enter boldly through His blood, it is still highly profitable to make specific and special time to draw near to Him on this day.

Yom Kippur ends 10 days of soul searching, repentance, forgiveness, and cultivating the fear of the Lord. Of course, in one sense we should do this all the time, however, it’s expedient and powerful for us align with heaven’s dates and seasons.

Let’s approach the Throne of Grace – the Mercy Seat – with boldness and confidence, and yet with deep humility, repentance, and awe. I believe God will meet us as we do, in this fast time.

Wes Boxall

PRAYING FROM A CULTURE OF HONOUR AND PROPHETIC VISION

God created us with two eyes, not one; two legs, not one. Two eyes provide depth of field and two legs forward movement. Scripture likens the church to the human body on several occasions. The Father has placed crucial picture lessons of life in its design. As God’s people it is important, I believe, to grasp this reality as it applies to how we view and ‘do’ life.

A pastoral eye will often see very differently to a prophetic eye – yet both are vital motivational giftings from God. (It is interesting to recognise that these two are placed at opposite ends of gifts spectrum in Rom. 12). Often a pastoral eye will have a focus on individual care, pain, and needs, and “grace” will be its standard. Whereas a prophetic eye may have its focus on wider issues; for example how the word of God is playing out in nations and cities. For these, “truth” will be their standard. A “two-eyed” approach will bring both together. Jesus uses “both His eyes” – grace AND truth came through Jesus Christ (Jn.1:17).

Things become dangerous when there is all truth and no grace, or all grace and no truth. Both take us off track. God will never abandon either.

I think it’s important that as we particularly mention issues which have political ramifications, in this church, that we still hold to this “two eyed perspective”. For example, prophetically it is vital we have a healthy biblical understanding of God’s commitment to and backing of Israel as His people. Yes, they are for the most part in spiritual blindness and need the Saviour, but still remain a unique nation under God’s covenant and purposes, amongst all the other nations. Scripture is clear. God doesn’t change. In GVC we take a strong stance on these truths and seek to fulfil heaven’s call to be watchman who won’t give God rest until Jerusalem is “a praise in the earth”. Or we may feel it important to keep calling for an alignment of the US with its scriptural role, as the Great Eagle which stretches its protective wings around the “woman” (Israel) while she is in a ‘wilderness state’ (Rev. 12:14).

Yet at the same time, a pastoral eye, may be one that wants to flag up the suffering of individuals, maybe Palestinians, (or indeed Syrians) such as the specific friends we have in Bethlehem. Or it may be one that sees fears and concerns amongst poorer sections of the US who wonder how threatened they will become under a change of Administration, and has deep compassion on them.

Whilst individually we may be stronger in “one eye or the other”, the church overall must have a balance of two strong eyes. The one cannot, and must not, despise the other. Truth must be spoken in love and love must be safeguarded by truth.

We are in a period of enormous political upheavals and changes. This week the transitions continue. On a personal level we may like or we may dislike those changes. That is fine. We don’t have to all agree on the political details. We can’t! We have been given different “eyes” (gifts) by God. But either way it is a time for increased prayer. And the kind of prayer that both releases the prophetic purposes of God in the earth, AND the kind of prayer that honours those in need and suffering.

A CULTURE OF HONOUR will bless both the incoming President Trump, and the outgoing President Obama. We are entitled to our preferences. But we are not entitled to judge another man’s heart. That prerogative belongs to God. I’m allowed to assess a person by their “fruit” but not to judge or rubbish them. I NEVER know what I would do in their shoes. There have been times we – I – have judged one or both of these men. It is God Who raises up one and puts down another. He sees the thoughts and intents of their – and our – hearts. Let’s repent of being judges. Let’s break off criticism and accusation (Is. 58:9). Honour will give thanks for the good that has been achieved, for the good intentions and desires, for every reflection, however weak, of love and kindness.

If you tend towards being ‘pastoral’ – mercy-gifted – pray from that place, but also recognise and honour those who see more strongly from a ‘prophetic’ viewpoint. If you tend towards being ‘prophetic’ – and tend to see world events in the light of what God is strategically doing behind the scenes – pray and decree from that place. But also recognise and honour those who are “mercy-driven” and make room for their ‘side of the face’ too.

One last thing. At the beginning I mentioned not only two eyes, but also two legs. All of this works out not only in how we see life and the world around us, but also how we move forward. I remember many years ago Gerald Coates pointing out that “being unbalanced” is a vital part of motion. That is, every time I take a step I am momentarily putting all my weight on one leg, one side, and I am actually “unbalanced”. Then I take a step with the other foot and again I put all my weight on the other side, and again am “unbalanced”. If you take a snapshot at these moments I will appear to putting all my weight on one area. However, these steps are points of movement. I pray both legs in the church will be working well. I pray we will know when to emphasise one thing and when to emphasise what might appear to be opposite. I pray we will walk out our destiny in the nations, and bring ever-increasing glory to the Glorious One, Who has washed us from our sin in His own blood, and Who alone has the authority to open up the pre-written scrolls of world history! Surely, He is coming back soon!

Wes Boxall