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Friday, January 30, 2015

"I've seen and testify!" Prayer for Revelation to the lost

Lamb-of-God-Domechino.jpgDear Praying Friends:

We struggle to find an answer when people ask us, "How should we pray for revival?" There is no concise answer that I know of. It is more a learning process of the heart. Yesterday I was deeply touched by another step along the way.

Comparing Mark's brief description of Jesus' baptism with the versions of the other Gospel writers, I was really struck when I read the story in John 1:29. "The next day John [the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him..." I didn't get past this point but was so moved upon that I just had to stop, and wept profoundly. There was something about John's seeing Jesus that was sky high!

John continues, "... and said, 'Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, "After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me." I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.'"

John saw Jesus through revelation of the Holy Spirit! He saw Him for Who he was, The Lamb of God. What had swept over me as I read the word "saw" was at once a powerful recollection of the first moment that I too saw Jesus, and a recognition of the fact that when we pray for revival, we are praying for others to receive this very revelation from heaven. This beautiful painting by Domenichino seems to capture this in the detail where the man on the right sees the angel pointing to Jesus.

There can be the best of preaching, the most powerful testimonies and even miraculous healings, but all remains incomplete until that moment of divine revelation happens. Just as John declared in verse 31, "I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed...", it is that revelation that generates saving faith, which is an indispensable gift of God. When Peter preached in Jerusalem at Pentecost, that moment of revelation coming to the multitude in Acts 2:37. "Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do?'"


John's Gospel continues in verses 32-34, "And John bore witness, saying, 'I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, "Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit." 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.'"

Moments later in the story when John actually baptizes Jesus, he has an even greater revelation when he sees the Spirit descend and remain on Jesus. And this empowers him to boldly declare, "And I have seen and testified..."

So this "seeing" by revelation seems a to be a key element in prayer for revival. As I was so powerfully moved upon and wept, I was reminded of "seeing" Jesus with my heart and spirit when I was first saved, and then countless times since then of seeing Him and experiencing His presence. And then almost immediately I was overcome with an intense sorrow for the lost and an anguished longing for them the also "see" Jesus too.

This scripture seems to capture both that depth of prayer and the height of revelation that we can pray for the lost. "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn." Zechariah 12:10

May the Lord truly empower all of our prayers as we cry out for the lost to see Jesus and also be enabled to say, "I have seen and testify that He is the Son of God!"

Dick & Gladys


Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Worldwide Transgenerational Concert of Blessing!!

lambsatcilfowyr.jpgDear Friends and Prayers:

When I stepped outside the chapel this morning, I heard the bleating of a single lamb. It surprised me because we've never seen small lambs here before, and it is unusual to hear just one by itself. So of course I went to have a look around.

I thought maybe one had strayed up into the wood from a field below, but was delighted to see that several ewes with their new lambs had been put out in the field below the chapel. Usually there are a lot more put out together, but no matter, here they are now. "Hmm", I thought. "A portent of things to come?"

My readings in Genesis this week have taken me through God's calling of Abram and the various interchanges He has with him. Here we see God's initial and amazing promise to him in chapter 12:2-3. "I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."lambsatcilfowyr-2.jpg

A little farther along in the story God has changed his name to Abraham and given him the promised son, Isaac. And then after Abraham passes the unimaginable test of sacrificing Isaac, the Lord says to him 22:16-18, "By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son ... I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and ... In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."

Through these wonderful promises of God, each one of us are where we are now as a direct result of Abraham's faith and obedience! We have become part of his descendants by faith in Jesus. Paul makes this very clear in Ephesians 2:19. "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God."

hailnflowers.jpgWhat really struck me about this is that because we are part of this great and eternal family of God, we are also part of being the blessing to all nations! What a privilege, and also what a responsibility. In particular I believe that prayer is a major part of the way we exercise that element of blessing. We have been acquired by God with the purpose of glorifying Him and blessing others through praying for them and making space for His light to shine through us.

Especially when we pray we are never alone, but rather are among a great company of praying saints from around the world at any given moment. We are actively joining in with this great family of blessing to nations with saints spread across the nations. Although we may not be aware of it, the Lord hears and responds to each of us simultaneously. He not only attends to but orchestrates this global concert of prayer.

Several years ago a recording was made of musicians around the world singing together over the internet. To bystanders in each place it would have seemed incomplete, but the whole picture presents a different perspective. If you've never seen it before, take a look at the video of this Song Around the World. In a very limited way it gives an idea of what I'm talking about, and is a good reminder of Who stands by us!

As a part of God's household of blessing, from one generation to the next down through the ages, our prayers have a massive effect. We ourselves are the fruit of countless prayers, and our prayers and blessings too will bear fruit for eternity!

Remember the words of Daniel 11:32, "... the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits."

So be blessed and encouraged in your prayer times in Jesus' name,

Dick & Gladys


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Now we officially belong to a church family!

preselisnow.jpgDear Praying Friends and Saints:

It is suddenly starting to feel a lot more like winter now. We have had a couple of days of rain and hail, and there is snow on the nearby Preseli Hills. There was a great view of them from the hills above the chapel this morning, and I found myself once again awed by God's handiwork.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.                             Psalm 121:1-4

We had a special time last weekend, and what follows here is Gladys sharing about it:
Last Sunday during the monthly meeting at Cilfowyr Chapel I noticed that the pastor shared a few more things in English during his sermon than the usual service which is normally almost all in the Welsh language.

At the end of his revmorris-pulpit.jpgmessage, he invited Dick and me to come to the front in the large curved pew where the deacons usually sit. I remember being surprised last month when he told us about this, because when a new member joined previously this was not done. He then called the rest of the small congregation to come up to the front rows.

The pastor, Gareth Morris, gave us the official welcome, expressing his pleasure that we had accepted the invitation to become members of the Chapel. (They have invited us after nearly ten years of attending here.) He then read aloud a portion that was like a blessing for new members, which I quote below.

"According to the Scriptures our God is a God who saves. Through God's grace we have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be to the glory of his name. Through the spirit of God we have been born anew to be children of God and citizens of God's Kingdom. The continuation of the church is dependent upon the spirit's work of calling people, granting them faith to believe the promises of the gospel of God in Jesus Christ."

As he read, I was overwhelmed by an internal joy springing up, a feeling of happiness and contentment. I frevmorris-us.jpgelt so very touched and privileged to become part of them even though we don't speak their language. And then during the Lord's Supper it was very different to be seated directly in front of the large table and be served by the pastor himself rather than one of the deacons.

At the end of the service, the members present came around us to shake our hands and give us their welcome. One of the ladies who plays the organ came and gave me a big hug and was quite emotional, and said, "Thank you very much for your faithfulness." I too was very moved by her affectionate welcome.

So now we are no longer just "the Americans" but formally part of the congregation. What a blessing! And we will see what the Lord has in store for us in the coming year.

We send you blessings in the wonderful name of Jesus our Lord,

Dick & Gladys


Thursday, January 08, 2015

How can we pray in this New Year ahead?

2015newyear.jpgDear Friends of Wales Awakening:

Happy New Year! It seems hard to believe another year has just gotten underway, but that's the fact of the matter. And because we have our hope in God and His word as an anchor for our souls, we know with surety that there will be sufficient grace and mercy to handle whatever lies before us. It may not be all blue skies ahead, but His faithfulness is everlasting!

Starting out on my annual journey through the scriptures, I came across something in Genesis 4 that deeply pulled at my heart. After Seth was born to Adam and Eve, verse 26 says, "And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord."

Of course we don't know what thing or things caused this to happen, but we know that it did take place. And what an awesome turn of events! And that is exactly what we are is such dire need of today—that men would begin once again to call on the name of the Lord.

I believe this is a big part of the coming Welsh Revival we are praying for. And as we look ahead to a whole new year before us, isn't this a wonderful direction and focus for our prayers? And it is not just us and Wales, but the entire world around us that need to turn our attention heavenward. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Mat. 6:33

2015januarywkids.jpgAs I mentioned last month, Gladys and I were looking forward to the visit from two of our children. And what a wonderful time we had of it! We picked them up the day after Christmas and spent ten great days together. True to form, the Welsh winter weather gave them a fair sampling of rain and grey skies, a couple of frosts, and some sunshine too. It was great to just spend time together at home and out and about too.

There was a little snow in North Wales, but thankfully not enough to affect our mobility. Both Richard and myself have our birthdays quite close together in the last days of the year, and that made it even more festive and fun for us all. That included a trip north to Blaenau Ffestiniog for a special treat. When we visited there in August I saw a zip-line that had been set up, and wanted to give it a try.

3flyers.jpgWhen a friend sent me an early surprise birthday gift, I knew exactly what to do with it. So for my birthday on the 31st the kids and I took the ride of our lives. It was so much fun. It made me remember when I was about 7 years old and wishing that my swing went on forever. And here was what I 3flyersonwires.jpghad been waiting on for 60 years!

Gladys stayed in our friends' warm house while we braved the elements. If there is a next time, I won't let her miss it if it's warm enough! As much fun is this was however, the very best part was just having a relaxed time and being family together again for a while. On Monday Richard headed back to Boston and Grace took off to Rwanda for rest of the month.

We are so thankful to the Lord for providing us with such a special time. And we are very much looking forward to the year head, and wonder what the rest of the ride with look like!

We wish you and your loved ones the very best of God's blessings in this still new year. May the reality of His kingdom and presence be more and more evident to you with each passing day.

Dick and Gladys


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