Connecting with God in 2019

Isn’t it wonderful to know that God never once left you in 2018, and He never will in 2019. You can count on that, no matter what comes. (Ps. 73:25-26)

And it gets better – it’s not that God passively stays hanging around. It’s that he wants us to be with Him; for us to rest in Christ, with our Heavenly Father! This is the kind of love the Father has given us (1 Jn. 3:1); this is the grace and mercy of God that can be ours (Eph. 2:4-7).

How will you come to God this coming year?

At our third Equip session, back in May 2018, we looked at the topic of spiritual disciplines. (We’d been studying this challenging book in the weeks preceding our session.) As part of that morning, we reflected on what the most urgent needs were in our church family regarding engagement in the various spiritual disciplines. Prayer and fasting came through clearly, as did the importance of time soaking in the Scriptures (with silence and memorisation getting special mentions).

Perhaps you’re doing great in these important matters? If so – wonderful! (By the way, if that’s you, maybe you could even share a testimony this Sunday of how God has blessed and directed you in this over the last year?)

But for some of us – certainly myself included – I sometimes need a little nudge. So…

Two invitations

1. Fasting and prayer

You are hereby invited to embrace the first Wednesday of each month* as a day of prayer and fasting.

Here are a few thoughts as to ways you might engage in this:

  • We already meet for prayer in the lounge at 10:15am on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month – we thought it made sense to build on something that’s already happening.
  • To the extent you’re able (e.g. given health or work requirements), perhaps you could skip at least breakfast and/or lunch on the first Wednesday of the month – and you could give those minutes, those rhythms, that hunger over to God in prayer.
  • (If you know you can’t fast from food, perhaps you can find another way to channel your focus into deeper communion with God throughout the day.)
  • You could engage in this time on your own, finding a way to make this sacrifice work given your own particular schedule.
  • Or if you can manage, starting with a morning in January*, then alternating each month, there will be an open gathering in the Hillview lounge – for either a morning (7:15am-8am) or a lunchtime (12:15pm-1pm) slot. These will just be open, unplanned times for crying out to God for more of Him and His Kingdom in our lives, our church and our communities.
  • If you use Google Calendar, click here to view/add the recurring event for the lunchtime gatherings; and click here to view/add the recurring event for the breakfast gatherings.

* given the New Year holiday, for January only, we’ll push this back a couple of weeks to the 3rd Wednesday, 16 January, meaning a 7:15am-8am open time of prayer that day for those who can make it.

2. Scripture reading plan

It has been good to hear different bits of feedback from the Read Scripture journey many embarked on through 2018. I know some started and didn’t manage to keep up – no condemnation! – but I have also spoken to many who have found it an enriching experience. Indeed, one of those who was baptised recently mentioned in her testimony what a blessing it had been to her.

There was enough positive feedback around this shared journey, that we thought we’d offer that again. As with the above issue of prayer and fasting, I’m very conscious that you will have your own preferred rhythms and routines – that’s totally fine – but for any who are not sure of their plan yet…

You are hereby invited to the YouVersion Bible Project New Testament reading plan.

This plan will be at a much slower pace than 2018, with typically less than one chapter each day. (It still includes the excellent videos along the way.)

We’ll start together on New Year’s Day. You can either search for the plan individually in your YouVersion app (or online), or you can join in the group via this link.

A prayer

Hillview and Kintore church family, whether you dive into these opportunities or simply meet God in your own time and way, here’s a prayer we can pray for one another (from Eph. 3:14-21)…

May God make you strong through His Spirit, as 2019 approaches, so that Jesus Christ will come close and rest in your hearts through faith; and may you – being rooted and grounded in his love – be given strength from God to know the immeasurable love Jesus has for you – to know it even though it’s beyond knowing! And in that, may you be ever-more-fully-filled-up with all the fullness of God.

He loves us! May we know – truly cherish and embrace – that incredible love!

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.”