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AFM Pastoral Letter_1st Quarter_2023
Dear AFM Family,
During our time of prayer and reflection at the end of 2022, the National Office Bearers felt led to focus on the strengthening and impartation of the Spiritual Foundation of Missionality in 2023. We resolved to spend time on who we are and how we live as Holy Spirit-filled people and church. During the Regional Empowerment visits, we are focusing on the theme: KEEP THE FIRE BURNING and share about our calling as believers and pastors; our spiritual discipline and ministerial faithfulness including daily time with the Word and in prayer; the character, values and norms of Holy Spirit-filled people; as well as our finances.
All the articles in this edition focus on the spiritual foundation of a missional lifestyle.
The character, values and norms of Holy Spirit-filled people are key aspects of the testimony of our movement, as well as of the lifestyle of every individual follower of Jesus.
- Character refers to the mental, moral and ethical qualities and beliefs of an individual. It is about the way someone thinks, feels and behaves.
- Values are about what you view as important, useful and of worth.
- Norms refer to what an individual or group regard as the standard or acceptable way of doing something.
In the context of the world and society that we are living in, we must ask ourselves whether there should be a difference between the character, values and norms of a Holy Spirit-filled person and a person who is not filled with the Holy Spirit. In other words: Should a Holy Spirit-filled person think differently about life, about what is important and acceptable? Should a Holy Spirit-filled person behave differently? Should he/she handle emotions differently and speak differently? Or is there no difference?
If there is a difference, what should it be?
Looking at history, we see that when there was a need to appoint deacons to serve in the first church in Jerusalem, the requirements given by the twelve disciples, were recorded as follows in Acts 6:3: “…choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the (Holy) Spirit & wisdom.” (NIV)
The New King James Version (KJV) translated it as: “…men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.” The Amplified Bible refers to people with “…Godly character and moral integrity…”. It seems that there was something distinctive and noticeable about people who were full of the Holy Spirit. When you interacted with them, you observed and heard something different.
In Ephesians 3:16 Paul wrote about our spiritual nature, our emotions, our inner being, the core of who we are as human beings, being built up and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. The thoughts and behaviour of Holy Spirit-filled people are under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In Romans 8:9 Paul says that if the Holy Spirit lives in us, we are not controlled by a sinful nature, but by the Holy Spirit. There is a different operating system at work in Holy Spirit-filled people.
“The thoughts and behaviour of Holy Spirit-filled people are under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
In 2 Thessalonians 2:13 Paul mentions the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. This produces behavioural qualities representative of Jesus in Holy Spirit-filled people. These traits are sometimes referred to as “The fruit of the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-23 defines it as: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.
We are living in a world of many imitations. It seems that there is a counterfeit product available for everything true of value. Can it also be so with the Holy Spirit? Can people claim to be godly, but lack the true power and essence thereof? Can it be that their conduct, the way they think, live and behave nullifies the image that they have of being a Holy Spirit-filled people?
This must never be true of us. May our pastors, assembly leaders and all our members be known as men and women who are full of the Holy Spirit.
God’s “call” is an open invitation to salvation to all the lost to come to Him and be saved (Matt 9:13; Matt 9:9-13; Mark 2:17). As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.
“For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Paul’s language echoes the language prophets sometimes used in response to the sufferings they or others would experience as a result of their prophetic ministry and reflects the prophetic call on his life. His experience of preaching the gospel is like the experience of those Old Testament prophets who felt compelled to deliver the divine message entrusted to them, regardless of their own desire, or lack of desire to do so.
Once we accepted the call, the power of God is released into us. 1 Corinthians 1:24: “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor 1:9). The power of God is working in us to equip us for the task ahead to be more than conquerors in all aspects of life as we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
Walk worthy of your calling. For us to stay true to our calling, we have to realise that it is not necessary to “earn our place” anymore. We have been set free from any form of inferior living and are now able to live our lives according to the standard of Jesus Christ. Paul gives the first three chapters in Ephesians to establish the truth that we are found “in Christ” and then challenges us to live according to that calling: “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:1-3, NKJV).
Impacting the lives of others. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life (2 Corinthians 2:15-16, NKJV). The life-giving follower of the call of God, whose heart is ever thirsting for God, whose soul is ever following hard after God, whose eye is single to God, and in whom by the power of God’s Spirit, the flesh and the world have been crucified. Our lives must be like the generous flood of a life-giving river.
I close with a prayer we use to sing: “Touch my life Lord Jesus, with thy nail scared hand, as for Thee I live and daily take my stand, let my life overflow so that others may know, Thou has touched my life with thy nail scared hand.”
As National Office Bearers we have declared this year as a season of keeping the fire of the Holy Spirit burning! Our focused commitment is to rekindle the fire through prayer, fasting and the knowledge of God’s Word. Our spiritual life is tied to devotion to prayer and the ministry of the Word of God, as indicated in Acts 6:4: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
“The order is significant; prayer first, then the ministry of the Word. Without God, there is no ministry.”
The Apostles dedicated themselves “…to prayer and the ministry of the Word.” The order is significant; prayer first, then the ministry of the Word. Without God, there is no ministry.
Spiritual work depends upon spiritual tools. No spiritual tool is as significant or influential as prayer. As Andrew Murray reminds us: “In spiritual work, everything depends upon prayer.” We should maximise spiritual impact by prioritising prayer. Effective spiritual leaders value this spiritual tool, which is prayer.
“The more we pray, the more God works.”
The more we pray, the more God works. When we pray, things begin to change, “…as he (Jesus) was praying, heaven was opened…” (Luke 3:21b, NIV). Elijah was very committed to prayer and “…was a man of like passions to us, and he prayed with prayer that it should not rain; and it did not rain upon the earth three years and six months…” (James 5:17, DARBY). We should always pray and not quit, “…pray always and not become discouraged…” (Luke 18:1, HCSB).
“Prayer is the determining factor…if we don’t, He won’t.” – Jack Hayford.
The substance and exercise of fasting and prayer are critical to our spiritual lives; note the following four reasons and benefits:
- Fasting has the power to please God by causing righteousness to shine, healing to come, and God’s glory to surround you. It leads to answered prayer (Isaiah 58:6–14).
- Fasting increases spiritual power and prepares for greater impact. Jesus experienced forty days of prayer and fasting. Immediately after that, we see him preaching with the power of the Holy Spirit. (Luke 4:1–14).
- Fasting is a powerful aid in spiritual warfare. After his disciples failed to cast out a demon, Jesus did so easily. Then he explained, “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21).
- Daniel’s twenty-one days of fasting and prayer were needed to aid the angel’s assignment to deliver the answer to Daniel’s prayers (Daniel 9:3–10:3).
Ministry of the Word (Read and Reread the Text)
The former Pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, G. Campbell Morgan, would read a book of the Bible 50 times before he lifted his pen in preparation for his sermon. At that point, he began to see things in the text that he overlooked the first few times reading through. As Servants of God, we are mandated to study, teach and preach the Word of God. The relevant three-fold ministry of the Word includes:
- The studying of God’s Word (Ezra 7:10), “For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” (NIV)
- The teaching of God’s Word for making disciples (Matt. 28:20a), “…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (NIV)
- The preaching of God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:2), “…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (ESV)
In conclusion, we say, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1), and as God’s servants, we should always be nourished and sustained by God’s word, as “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4, ESV).
Many of us are feeling the pressure of the financial situation in our country. Our country is not in a good spot and many decisions that were taken in the past, are having detrimental effects on all of us. But that does not mean that we have to be the victims of what is happening around us. We are children of the Mighty GOD that created heaven and earth and we are living in HIS presence and under HIS promises. He is fully aware of what is happening in our world and is working in this situation to benefit us. But we need to seek His face and follow His leading in our financial conduct.
The soft voice of the Holy Spirit and the principles of the Bible can and will lead you and me through difficult times. Our country had situations that looked unsurmountable in the past, but the men and women of GOD trusted in Him to guide us through.
Principle 1: Tithe
Some of the principles are to be faithful in your tithing. Tithing is not a money issue, but a trust and faith issue. By giving your tithe, you declare that you trust God to provide for you and help you to go much further with the remaining 90% than you would have been able with your full salary. Matt 6:21 says “…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. Tithing tests where my heart is. I’m sure that many of you have wonderful testimonies of miracles that God did in your own life and the lives of people around you. In difficult times, the thought will come to mind to stop tithing as times are changing. Please don’t fall into this trap, because your tithe is also the seed that will come up and will be your provision of blessing in the future. If you eat your seed, you kill your future blessing.
“Tithing tests where my heart is.”
Principle 2: Spend Wisely
In times like these we should also stick to the habit of spending wisely. Be careful how you spend your money and don’t run after every new fad or flavour just to be in with your crowd. Rather be more conservative and buy things that you need and will last long. Be very careful of slick sales tactics that want to convince you that your life will not be the same without this product or service. We have the God of heaven and earth in our lives and that helps us to live content lives. Hebrews 13:5 says: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Sometimes we need to be reminded that this earthly world will one day pass, and we will take nothing with us to the grave, but our crown is waiting for us.
Principle 3: Save Diligently
Saving diligently is another good habit that we need to keep in place. If we save diligently, we will always have enough when difficult times come. For most of us, saving doesn’t come naturally. We have to plan and execute that plan, but if the habit kicks in, you get the wonderful sense that you are ready for a rainy day.
Principle 4: Live Generously
Lastly, live generously. It will kill selfishness in your life and help you to be a blessing to others. If you can help someone, help them! Don’t turn a blind eye because what you do to the least, God will reward you for. My prayer is that 2023 will be a year of abundance in your life.
On the 25th of May 2023, we will be celebrating our church’s 115th Birthday anniversary. Like the previous year, we are again planning an AFM Logo day where we would like to encourage all our assemblies and members to share, showcase and display the AFM logo everywhere! It was such a blessing last year to witness the high level of participation and response from our church.
This year we are adding a further element together with the AFM Logo day – on this day we are also requesting that every member of the AFM Family reaches out to just one other person to share the love of Christ. It can be an in-person encounter or a call over WhatsApp. It can be someone you know or a complete stranger. One can only imagine the impact when every AFM member takes up his/her calling as a messenger of Christ – sharing His love with just one other person.
The National Office Bearers will release five video clips that will provide practical guidelines on how to share Christ with another person. We are looking forward to celebrating the AFM of SA’s 115th Birthday anniversary and planning to keep the fire burning!