by Pastor D. Jay Martin
On Sunday, January 21st we gathered as a church body for a PFC Family Meeting during the 9am Sunday school hour. For me, as a pastor and shepherd, the main goal of the Family Meeting was to communicate spiritual vision and direction for the church body in 2018. As I was preparing and praying for the Family Meeting I sensed a theme and an encouragement from the Lord for PFC in 2018. The theme was this: Get ready for God’s call in 2019 by focusing on His presence and character in 2018!
I believe that God is calling PFC to a mission and ministry in 2019 that will stretch us beyond what we can currently handle. From a leadership position, this is both exciting and sobering. It is exciting because it means that this year, 2018, is to be a year of spiritual preparation and foundation building. I believe that only a church body who is truly rooted and grounded in the Love of Christ, confident in their identity in Christ, and in God’s unfathomable Love can handle what God is calling PFC to in the future. So this year we’re going to focus on who we are in Christ, developing our mutual confidence in our spiritual identity in Him, and developing our love for one another.
It is sobering because it is a call that we cannot walk out in our own strength. Flesh and blood cannot fulfill the plans and will of God. It will only be possible to faithfully fulfill the calling that God has for us through God’s grace, mercy, and power. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith, He is the Devine Potter, and He is God Almighty. God’s people accomplish God’s will by God’s grace and through God’s power. It is a sobering call because it means that Jesus is calling us into His ministry of reconciliation and the ministry of the Cross.
Before Paul was released fully into his apostolic ministry he spent a period of three years in the wilderness growing in intimacy and maturity with the Lord. He speaks briefly of this period in his letter to the Galatians:
11 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. 12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.
13 You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. 14 I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors.
15 But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him 16 to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.
When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. 17 Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus.
18 Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. 19 The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a lie.
21 After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And still the churches in Christ that are in Judea didn’t know me personally. 23 All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” 24 And they praised God because of me (Galatians 1, NLT, emphasis added).
The Scriptures are filled with similar accounts of God setting aside a special period of time to equip His people for the call that lay ahead. Joseph spent years in slavery and prison before he was ready to lead Egypt. David spent years in the court of Saul and then in the wilderness running from Saul. These were both joyful and painful times for David, but God used this whole period to prepare David to become a king after God’s heart. Jesus Himself submitted to His parents and the religious leaders waiting for the time that God had appointed for His public ministry to begin. I would encourage each of us to think of 2018 as a time set aside by the Lord for us to develop and grow. Paul puts it this way, “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15, ESV).
I’m not exactly sure what the call is in 2019. But none of God’s saints – other than Christ – have ever fully seen the future (Hebrews 11). It will undoubtedly be a call to glorify the name of Jesus in our time and in the places He has called us. How exactly that will look and play out I cannot say. But I am confident of this: we have the revelation of God’s Word to guide us, we have the stirring and indwelling ministry of God’s Spirit within us, and we have the community of the saints to help us discern His will.
As I’ve had chance to ponder the unique gifting, identity, personality, and DNA of PFC over the past several months I’ve continually been drawn to Romans 12:6-8, specifically were Paul writes about the gift of giving generously. Paul says, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” (ESV, emphasis added). My sense is that PFC is a local church body, designed by God, to be a funnel of His gifts, His resources, and His generosity. I would not be surprised if part of our call in 2019 is in some way related to this. In fact, I would be shocked if it didn’t include a call to a unique ministry of generosity.
Therefore, I exhort you brothers and sisters, with everything in you, to press further up and further in to the presence of Jesus. Search His Word for His revelation of who He is and who you are in Him. Listen to one another and stir one another up towards love and good deeds, and all the more as you see His day approaching! Be confident of His love for you and become a funnel of His love for others. Know who you are by knowing who He is. Be encouraged and be blessed with His presence. In Christ you have become His beloved.
Please join me in this prayer for the year ahead:
“Heavenly Father, we cannot comprehend the fullness of your plans. But we thank you for bringing us into your family and into the Kingdom of Heaven! This year, help us press ever deeper into your presence. Discipline us as a Father. Grow us as your children. Teach us your Word and your ways. Align us to your righteousness. Hide us in the shelter of your wings. And cause us to grow up into Christ, growing in spiritual maturity, and filled with all the fullness of God. Prepare our hearts and minds and spirits for the things that you have called us to do. We bless You, our Perfect Heavenly Father. Amen.”
Thanks & Blessings,