Paula Sandford is a founding leader of the Elijah House ministry and co-author with husband John of books on emotional and inner healing.
The glory and fear of the Lord
will be known all over the world
I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids; until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob. … Let us go into his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool. Arise, O LORD, to thy resting place; thou and the ark of thy strength. Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy godly ones sing for joy.
Though we are one body, as seen in Ephesians 4:4-6, we in the church have come together with many individual agendas. This generation of people has often been called the “bless me” generation. We need healing, comfort, wisdom, spiritual and emotional nurture, material provision, protection, ability to overcome problems in our lives, power to defeat the enemy, answers to our questions, direction, a place to belong, an opportunity to serve in a way that would somehow make a difference, and much more.
We also come to worship and praise the Lord. But how diversified our expectations and priorities can be! How disappointed, critical, and angry we can become when our personal agenda is not fulfilled.
The Lord is returning for His Bride, the Church. That’s us. A husband should be able to rest in His wife’s heart. He laid down His life for us – and we wear His robe of righteousness. But He also called us to lay down our lives for one another. Only as we let Him purify our hearts can we come into unity and the kind of harmony in which the Lord Himself can rest in us, individually and corporately.
Many in the Body of Christ are beginning to change their focus, repenting of self-centred seeking, and consciously choosing to seek God’s presence and to bless the Lord for His sake. The Lord is doing something that even goes beyond those personal choices, and blessing a new kind of “fellowship” in Him.
From June 27 through June 30, 1996, I attended The Gathering of the Nations, at the Memorial Arena in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. More than 2,000 people from many nations, races, cultures, and denominations came together to worship and seek the face and glory of the Lord, to tune into His heart, to listen to His voice, and to respond to His leading.
A meeting without an agenda
Personal agendas were set aside. No musicians were appointed beforehand to lead worship, no speakers invited, no topics chosen, and no projects planned. A group of “fathers in Christ” and other leaders met daily to pray for session-by-session direction. They also reviewed and discerned which words should be shared from the larger body.
Musicians were chosen who were young and old, native and white, representing varieties of cultures. Speakers were appointed on very short notice, and the order and content of their messages were built well, one upon another, always with exhortation to focus on the Lord: “We are here to bless the Lord and to follow His direction.” By divine direction, the Holy Spirit indicated at a 6 p.m. leaders meting that He wanted communion served to the entire gathering; it was done in reverence and order less than two hours later.
A chief of the local indigenous people gave a gracious welcome to the assembly. He was not a Christian, but he spoke appreciatively of the spirit he felt in the worship, unlike what he had experienced before in Christian meetings. Prayers of blessing were said for the Indian children, and people who chose to give for the education of Indian children – including the restoration of native language – came to tables at the front of the auditorium to leave gifts totalling nearly $27,000.
A crowd of teenagers sat on the concrete floor in front of the stage, attentive and prayerful during 2- and 3-hour sessions. When the Indian member of the Canadian parliament greeted the gathering, the young people came up on the stage to pray blessing for him, and he prayed blessing for them. The teens then prayed for the babies in the congregation.
The days progressed with repeated encouragement to drop agendas, focus on the Lord Jesus, and to seek the face of God in preparation for the return of the Lord. There was strong emphasis on humility, trust, honour, and the glory of the Lord. Anointing was increasingly powerful, and I think that some half-expected a cloud or pillar of fire to appear, or a heavenly bomb to drop, leaving nothing but ashes. In a sense that did happen on the final day.
During the final evening session, two pastors spoke on fathering. I also spoke, but on the topic of mothering, with emphasis on nurturing, repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, freeing young people to become all they can be, and what it is to honour parents. Two powerfully anointed teen-age boys stood to repent on behalf of the teens for rebellion, and to express forgiveness toward parents. Fathers and mothers all rose to repent publicly for sins against their children. Then the Lord broke people open wide, and repentance was spoken for all manner of sins. Gut-level weeping and wailing was heard all over the auditorium. Some were on their faces on the floor, while many were praying for one another. Then parents prayed blessing for their children, and children for parents. This continued until after midnight.
After prayers of forgiveness and healing, the musicians began to play celebration music, and when I left with others to go to bed there were still 500 to 600 people dancing in the ashes of repentance for joy in the Lord. The agenda of the Lord’s seemed to be fulfilled, without our help at all! May He continue to do that in all of our lives, and wherever His Body gathers together.
Gems from the last day of The Gathering of the Nations
Maturity comes from discerning the Spirit of God and walking in a healthy fear of God.
- The Lord is taking us into a revelation of who He is.
- Our emotions must be brought into the purpose and will of God.
- We need a teachable heart, ever growing, and listening, and welcoming correction.
- Counsellors must lead to the centrality of Jesus.
- You can’t function in authority if you carry a spirit of rebellion. Repent for your generation.
- The enemy hits you in the area of your anointing.
- Whatever your abuse or wounding, the Lord will transform it into your power.
- The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
- The glory and fear of the Lord will be known all over the world.
The world will not take note of who you are, but when the Spirit moves they’ll know God
Used by permission from Elijah House News.
(c) 2011, 2nd edition. Reproduction allowed with copyright included in text.
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