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Expect Encounters that birth the Unexpected

At times we get so used to coming to Church that it almost becomes like a routine task that we either look forward to or are obliged to carry out.

We can become so rehearsed that as you enter church your expectation is Church will start with praise and worship then go into offering and announcements before receiving the word and maybe going into worship again before we end the service and get to connect with others as we leave. Week in and week out our religious engagement can slowly be everything to do with what the church service program looks like or feels like and we can lose the essence of actually engaging with God, experiencing God and being in God's presence.

That is why times such as the Prayer and fasting week that we have had brings a fresh perspective and calls us back to a place where we can once again be intentional about genuinely engaging God, and encountering His presence as we re-kindle our relationship with Jesus.

I am reminded of a story in the bible where a priest called Zechariah must have seemingly gotten into a groove of serving God but was probably not really paying attention to who God was, and the magnitude of what God could do.

One day Zechariah was on duty in the Lord's sanctuary. Only one person could enter the sanctuary and that particular person had to be chosen by lot. This meant that all the priests had to be ready to encounter God according to the priestly culture as they would not know who would be chosen to go into the Lord's presence until the lots were cast

On this particular day, Zechariah was chosen and of-course as a priest he was ready to enter God's presence. Let's face it, he was trained for this, and he knew the ins and outs of how to carry out the task. It however seems on this day while he was prepared for worship duties, he was not really prepared to encounter God Almighty. If he had been expectant and prepared, surely things would not have gone down the way they did.

Zechariah then enters the sanctuary and begins the worship procedure of burning incense. While in the midst of performing his routine worship protocols he unexpectedly encounters God through the appearance of an angel of the Lord.

Eventually after he settles down from the shocking encounter, the angel Gabriel lets Zechariah know why he has come. He announces that Zechariah's desire to have a child was known in Heaven, and that God was granting this request; soon he and his wife would be blessed with a baby boy! Not just any baby, but a child who would grow into a man who would be the like the Elijah of their time, and herald the coming of the Messiah.

The angel announces that this development is a direct result of Zechariah's prayers. Wow! Amazing that prayer can usher us not only to encounter God, but to bring to birth the impossible - Zechariah and his wife were now advanced in age and his wife was barren.

To show that Zechariah's conduct was close to one of religion without true expectation of encountering God, he questioned the veracity of the angel's words.

I would like to think that when I pray, I am expectant in faith; that I am ready to receive that which I have been seeking God for. Not so for our dear brother Zach! He was so dumbfounded to the point of not believing that this encounter was actually happening, and so he questions the authenticity by asking for a sign to show that this would really happen!

Understandably, the angel becomes a bit annoyed but nonetheless gives Zechariah a strange sign: because Zechariah had dared to question God's declaration of what was about to happen, he would become mute, unable to talk until the time his son would be born! And it was so, when John the baptist is eventually born his Father Zechariah's temporary inability to talk over 9 months is suddenly healed. The first thing Zechariah does is encounter God again, as the Holy Spirit fills him and he starts to prophesy! It took nine months of being mute for Zechariah to surrender fully to the fact that he had truly encountered God so that he could be a part of a great story!

Zechariah encountered God, and the unexpected happened to him and his wife, Elizabeth, but also impacted the world around them.

My prayer is that having gone through this encounter week of prayer and fasting, that we would not be like Zechariah and just go through the motions - not believing that God has a purpose in doing the unexpected as we encounter Him.

Our attitude should be to wait expectantly, believing and trusting that when God shows up, He will do exactly what He set forth to do. Let us hold on to the encounters we have had this week and wait on the Word he has spoken to us, believing that He will do the unexpected by birthing the impossible.

As we finish the fast tomorrow, expect great things because God has a reason for why you participated in the fasting week.

Let us hold on firmly to the faith that God has set us apart during this time to launch us pp into a great new season as individuals and as a Church Family.

Looking forward to worshipping with you at the Sunday Services Tomorrow in Camps Bay, Melkbos and Table View, closing out with the 6pm combined celebration worship service at the Table View location, as we break the Fast together.

Get ready to encounter God's unexpectedly awesome miracles!

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