Breakthrough: Three Rs

I was scheduled to preach at our Church on Sunday 6th September.  The subject was What the Bible says about Worship and I completed my preparation on Friday 4th. Great! However, lying in bed on the Saturday night I felt God was dropping other stuff into my mind and heart, centred around the word breakthrough.

As a Church we’ve been praying for our community for so long, and seeing some fruit, some people becoming Christians. But we long for a breakthrough. It seemed that God was saying that the breakthrough needed to be in us, as a Church and as individual Christians, first of all, before it could be in the community.

And as I lay there in bed, God dropped the bones, very bare bones, of a sermon into my mind. I have to tell you that I am not at all the sort of person who changes their mind at the last minute: a sermon often distils over a number of weeks, I usually spend all day Saturday on it, I usually write it all out, and when it’s done it’s done.

So on Sunday morning I had an A5 sheet of paper with a heading, three words, three verses and a couple of phrases. “Are you sure, God? Really? I don’t do this, God!”

I thought I’d hedge my bets and take my nicely prepared notes on Worship as well as my scrappy A5 paper up to the front when the time came. Up I went, praying madly. Looked down at the nice notes… and the scrappy A5… took a deep breath and began.

Breakthrough, then. We long for breakthrough in our community, we long to see a powerful move of God. Joanna and I long to see a breakthrough in France, a powerful move of God, hence the title of this blog.

But to see a breakthrough in our community, or in France, we need to see a breakthrough in ourselves. Three things that we, as Christians, as Churches, need to do:

Repent. Jesus said “Repent and do the things you did at first” (Rev 2:5). We need to repent of our sin, especially the regular sin, the habitual sin, the stuff that’s ingrained in our lives which God hates. We need to repent of our sin. Properly, to spend some serious time with God and ask Him to show us the areas in our lives which are wrong. Secondly we need to repent of our half-hearted Christian lives. The attitude which says “You can have this much of my life, God, but that’s it. No more.” It’s time to start surrendering, totally, absolutely, without reservation. And to go on surrendering, day by day by day.

Resist. James advised “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Now I am not the sort of person who sees demons behind every lamppost, but the devil and his helpers are real and active. They are active in the world, amongst non-Christians, and they are active in trying to oppose God’s work through tempting Christians. So we need to learn to resist every temptation to sin, lethargy, fear and faithlessness. And we need to learn to deliberately and specifically oppose the devil’s work in our community: do it verbally, using the Bible!

Revive. Jesus said “Your have forsaken the love you had at first.” Doesn’t God send revival, by His sovereign will? Yes, He does. But we need to revive our hearts, to regain the love we once had for Jesus. As Christians we are very fond of putting every responsibility onto God and not taking any for ourselves (except for those areas where we truly need to “let go and let God”, but that’s another story!). Remember that Paul said to Timothy “Stir up the gift which is within you”. God does amazing stuff, but we need to use our will and act. Let’s revive our love, our passion for God.

God would say to us “I am the God of the breakthrough, I am the God who can.” Will we do our part and repent, resist and revive?

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Language

I’ve been thinking just recently about language learning, reviewing in  my mind what has been working well for us and what has maybe not worked so well.

We did around 18 months of Adult Education evening classes, once a week. It was great to meet new people and talk about why each of us was learning or improving our French. We learnt and refreshed some important grammar and vocabulary. What didn’t work quite so well was advancing in French conversation: with the best will in the world, speaking French with other Brits will never be as good as conversation with a native French speaker!

language

Alongside evening classes, we have read French (the Bible, books, magazines, news on the web…) and listened to French audio of the Bible.

In the Summer of last year we had some sessions with a French language tutor, just talking French. We both found this very helpful, giving us more confidence.

So when our evening classes finished in June, we were delighted to make contact with a young French woman who does some language tutoring. In our weekly sessions, we’ve made progress with our grammar as well as our conversation skills. It’s been really helpful to learn from someone young, whose French is very current.

One other thing which has been very helpful for us on so many levels has been French worship songs. Because singing is often slower than speaking, it’s a great way to learn pronunciation at a realistic pace (if you have ever listened to two French people speaking together at full speed you will know what I mean!).

For me, I now spend much more time worshipping in song in French than in English, and it has been such an amazing blessing. God has used these songs to encourage me, teach me, draw me to Himself, challenge me and more. I have found that worship leads me naturally into prayer, and when I’ve been worshipping in French often I move naturally into praying in French, in a fairly limited way at the moment I must admit!

In fact this has made me wonder if it is possible for your “heart language” to change? Already there are concepts, ideas, feelings towards God, that for me originated in French and stay in French; sometimes they just don’t work in English. Could it be that one day the language my heart naturally speaks to God in may be French, not English?