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Archive for the tag “Revival of the Body of Christ”

Think About This

Do you ever wonder what it would have been like to live when Jesus walked the earth? What would it have been like to be in the crowds listening to Him preach the Word of God? Would you have walked away when the teaching got hard? I might have. I would like to think I would have been as attentive as Mary sitting at His feet. I would like to believe that I too would have followed Him even if it meant I would die for my beliefs. I know many people followed for a little while then many left because He wasn’t what they had envisioned as their Messiah – a war hero that came to conquer Rome.

Since the Christmas season, something I read during that time has been marinating in my brain. The story of the wise men visiting the baby Jesus is the seed of thought. When the wise men inquired about the place of birth for the King of the Jews, they asked the sitting ruler of the region, King Herod. The King didn’t know the answer, so he called the chief priests and the teachers of the law. The men knew the answer because it was written by the prophet Micah centuries ago.

The wise men told the King the star had risen in the east and they followed the star so that they could worship the king of the Jews. The king was disturbed and all of Jerusalem with him (Matthew 2:3). I understand why the king was disturbed – he didn’t want to be replaced by another king. His lifestyle would have changed; his position would come to an end; maybe even his life if a new king was crowned. But why was Jerusalem disturbed? Also, why is it when the wise men set out for Bethlehem, they went alone? Wouldn’t the chief priests want to see their Messiah and worship Him too? Weren’t they curious?

These were learned men. They had been taught from very early in life and memorized everything written in their Scripture. Yet, they missed the best thing about the Word – the Word came to life that day. The chance passed without one thought toward it because they kept missing Him.

The next time we read about Jesus, we find Him old enough to sit in the temple listening and asking questions of the teachers. Luke records everyone was amazed at His understanding and his answers (Luke 2:47). But no one seems to have been aware that the Messiah was in their midst. If these teachers were in the crowd that day at King Herod’s palace when the wise men came to visit, they didn’t seem to recall the Messiah had been born. Surely the Messiah would show up one day in the temple where everyone was expected to visit – especially during their high Holy Days. They obviously didn’t connect the dots.

The next time we see Jesus, He’s a grown man and ready to change the world. He visits the temple in His home town. But they couldn’t get passed the snotty little kid that they had known from years ago to this learned scholar who knew things that they didn’t understand. And they had no understanding how He came to be so knowledgeable. They missed the greatest thing to ever come out of Nazareth. They missed the Messiah – their King. They actually got angry with Him and tried to kill Him (Luke 4:14-30).

Scripture tells us many were amazed at His teaching. Crowds followed Him eager to hear Him speak and see the miracles He performed. They probably left every time and spoke about Him to everyone they met because word spread throughout the region. Yet, the chief priests got angrier and angrier as the years passed by. Jesus didn’t follow the rules. Jesus came into their midst and they missed His significance even though they knew the Holy Scripture that spoke of Him through every verse they had memorized. How can this be? How can they be so clueless?

Hindsight always gives greater insight so I can’t be too harsh with them. I might have been just as bad. I might not have liked His hard teaching to turn the cheek or give my coat to one who did not have one or any of the other teachings that got me out of my comfort zone. After all, I have those same words before me today and I can be just as stubborn as the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law. I can ignore those teachings just as they did. At times, I am no better than them. And I guess that thought is what is disturbing me since Christmas. I have a lot to consider about my actions or lack thereof if I truly want to follow Him like He desires.

It’s never too late for any of us to consider these things and change. What a different world we would live in if we would truly take these things to heart. I think revival of the church body begins with each of us. We all have to consider where we stand with Jesus. Are we following closely, at a distance or have we walked away feeling let down because He wasn’t what we had anticipated? Where do you stand today?

Jesus is the answer we seek, even though it may be different from our expectation. He is the total package – the real deal. Let’s not miss Him being in our midst. Sit at His feet and listen, then go and do as He instructs. Let’s change the world.

“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:20b-21; 25-26

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One Thing is Needed

Do you remember that simple prayer that you were taught as a young child? Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray to God my soul to take. Seems rather odd today, doesn’t it? But back in the day, children would die in sleep. Epidemics, malnutrition, etc would not allow for a long life. You just didn’t know if you would wake up in the morning regardless of the age of the one praying.

Back in the day, women would die during childbirth. Back in the day, life was short with no guarantees of tomorrow. I think we have forgotten how risky life really is. Medicine is keeping us alive longer. We say someone who has died in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s or 70’s how young they were – taken in their prime. However, not too long ago, it was the norm. Prosperity has brought a new perspective. We believe we’ll live forever. At least, that’s my perception of today’s thinking. But we just don’t know how long we have on this earth. God teaches us through His Word to number our days; to make each day count.

One thing has been made clear to me over these first weeks of this year; prayer is foundation for a successful year. We might not know what this year will bring, but prayer puts us in the right place to hear from God to make this year successful in His sight. We don’t know how many of these years we have left, but we do know that God has a work designed just for you and for me. The only way to succeed at this thing is to be on the same page as Him. He designed the page, He holds the pen. He has a story to write through us, but do we know it unless we sit with Him in prayer?

I struggle with this thing called prayer. It’s not that I don’t pray. I do – every day and often throughout the day. What I struggle with is not the mechanics of prayer but the heart of prayer – being sensitive to the Holy Spirit as I pray. The Holy Spirit is our guide. He is our intercessor between us and God. God speaks to us through that still, quiet voice which is the Holy Spirit whispering the words of God into our spirit. The trouble is the quietness of prayer – being still in His presence in order to hear Him.

This week, I listened to Jim Cymbala’s teaching on My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer. This teaching reminded me how devoted he and his church are to prayer. The Tuesday night prayer meetings are legendary. In his teaching, he noted a response from a Korean about the state of the church in Korea. The Korean was asked why the church is growing so rapidly in that place and the Korean noted that the American church relies on programs; the Koreans rely on prayer. That’s significant.

In the original gathering of the disciples in the upper room after Jesus ascended, prayer was the underpinning of the movement. It all started as the Holy Spirit fell upon that room when the disciples were praying. The only way to bring revival in this land is to lay the foundation of prayer to bring the movement into this season. Churches have fallen away from “prayer meetings” as it was called back in the day. Very few feel the need to attend such gatherings, but how much more is it needed today?

I am inclined to believe there are certain things that are done only by way of prayer. God isn’t going to move big in our lives unless we ask for Him to do so – that we devote our time to persistent prayer for God to do big things – not because we’re so great, but because He is and He will get the glory for it.

A.W. Tozer said “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” When we have a small view of God, we have small prayers. When we believe in a big God who is bigger than the biggest hurdle we face, God can do greater things in us and through us.

We have heard that prayer changes things. It can shake the heavens. It can rock the earth and cause prison doors to fly open and chains to be broken. It can heal the sick and cause the blind to see. All these things will bring glory to God when we bring it before our Father in heaven. Jesus said that we have not because we ask not. We have to be before Him persistently until we hear the answer – yes, no, or not yet. Don’t give up on that prayer that you’re offering today. Continue to circle it until God sends the “rain.” If you believe in one prayer is the will of the Father, then be sure to pray it with passion that will move God to act on your behalf.

These are the things I am learning – it may take a lifetime to learn, but God knows the length of my days. God is faithful to fulfill everything He has started in me. Let’s not waste another day without going before the Father to bring His will to earth.

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:9b-12

Two Minute Warning

As we wake up on this Wednesday morning, things have changed for us as a nation. When this blog posts, we will know who will be our next president. Half of the nation will not be happy about the outcome. There may be quite a bit of anger involved. My hope is that we can move forward regardless of the outcome and become united again. But I am afraid unity isn’t going to happen. There just seems to be something different “in the air” with this election cycle.

I don’t put my faith in the political process. God is still on the throne this morning. Nothing has changed in His plan. Everything is going along as He has seen it from the beginning. Our world may be rocked, but His isn’t. He has had His hand on the process from the beginning. Things may change for us, but God still works out good for those who are called according to His purpose. We will still have opportunities to do good in this day and in this time – may be even more so now than ever before.

My heart is burdened this day because of something I heard Monday night. I like to check in every few days with a YouTuber who gives a prophetic word or two. Of course, I don’t know if it’s true or not until it comes to pass. But just in case it is true, and I feel strongly about the word; I would like to share my thoughts this morning.

I believe the Word of the Lord tells us we are in the Last Hour. Since the beginning of time, we have come to this point on God’s clock. Since Jesus returned to heaven over two thousand years ago, the last hour has been ticking. I might even hesitate to say that we may even be in the last quarter of that hour. I believe since Israel has become a nation again; the people of God living in land God gave her; I believe the clock has been racing toward the final stroke of the clock. Things seem to be coming together at a rapid speed.

I think we all get this to some degree. However, I don’t think we truly get that Jesus stands at the door waiting for the word “go” from His Father. People have been waiting for Jesus to return for two thousand years; and we have gotten used to His delay. We don’t really think about the ramifications of how close we may be to the end.

The message I heard on Monday evening has given me much to contemplate. The message was brought forth from a man who coded and came back to tell the message he heard from Jesus. Jesus told him to share this message. The man is a big football fan. In his “in-between” state, he was shown an empty football stadium with the clock standing at 2:13 and was told this is the two-minute warning. Jesus told him that the church is not ready; because if the church was ready, then we wouldn’t be living the way we’re living. (Jesus instructed the man to read Titus 2:13.)

Over the last couple of weeks, I have posted my own thoughts on this matter (Letters to the Churches; It’s Inevitable). I do believe something is about to change for us as the Body of Christ. There was a quote I heard on Sunday from the Pastor in Hawaii who said “it takes a shake up to wake up.” We may not want to hear this, but I think we need to heed these warnings. There are “watchers on the wall” who see things that we may not see. Jesus tells us that those who have ears to hear let them hear. The watchers see, but we are to hear the warning they issue and take action.

We may not like to hear; it may be hard to hear; and it may not be the end in our lifetime; but regardless we are to live as if it is. Who knows when Jesus may come for us as the church or as individuals whose time has come? Someone will take their last breath today. We just never know when that day will happen.

If we live as if this is our last day, it should change how we view this day. We would love differently. We would offer kindness instead of anger. We would be more generous with our resources. We would be more intentional with our time. When we do live differently, we will be ready to meet Jesus. The church will be ready for Jesus to come and take His bride home. What a glorious day that will be! But in the meantime, pray for the nation; for the leaders in the nation, state and communities; and for your family to be right with Jesus. When we’re right with Jesus, we’ll be a better witness in this dark world. For those with ears, this is your two-minute warning.

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. Titus 2:11-14 (NLT)

Preach It!

Over the last few days, I have been listening to the Code Orange Revival from Elevation church in Charlotte, NC. There have been some great speakers with an inspired word given. However, it doesn’t remind me of the old revivals I went to as a child. The preaching I remember in those old revivals got into my business. It stirred up in me a great confession and a cleansing spirit. There were many times the altar would be filled with people coming before the Lord confessing their sins; asking for the cleansing spirit to wash them white as snow. At least, that was my prayer back in those days. Different time; different message.

On some Sunday’s, my pastor will speak a message that will mess with my heart. When he gets into that meddlin’ mood, we have a man in our midst that will shout out “Preach It!” and that just encourages the pastor to go deeper into my mess. When this happens, I know it’s time for confession and cleansing. It’s good to have an inspiring word to encourage, but we should also have a word that meddles in our business. We need to have our toes stepped on every once in a while.

One comment that was made last night that has left me a bit unsettled. The two pastors were kidding one another about their text messages back and forth to each other. The comment was that if their congregations saw their messages, the members would leave their churches. And they chuckled as well as the audience. It reminded me of a saying I have heard too many times lately “boys will be boys.” That too leaves me unsettled. It’s an excuse for anything that is done that would not be done before the Lord. And that’s what it’s all about.

Everything that we do as Christ followers should hold up in front of the Lord. I am reminded over and over Christ could be here at any time. If we are doing anything that would not be good when Christ returns, then we have some things to get right before that Day. If a text message is sent and Christ showed up right after we hit “send” would we face Him ashamed or confident that we were right before Him at that moment? Is our language God honoring or is it something that needs to be changed to reflect our true nature in Him? What about our actions? Are we doing anything that would not be good when Jesus shows up in His glory to take us home? Will we shrink back in that moment? We may not have time to confess those sinful actions when Jesus calls to us in those clouds.

James MacDonald is preaching about prayer breakthrough in his current series. One of the reasons we may not be experiencing breakthrough prayers is because of our hearts. The story is from Luke 18:9-14 about the Pharisee and the tax collector offering prayers in the temple courts. Pastor James points out two things that the Pharisee was showing that the tax collector wasn’t. The Pharisee was self-righteous and self-important. Pharisees were all about keeping the rules but their hearts weren’t right before God. Whereas the tax collector, knew his heart wasn’t right and had true heartfelt confession. He beat his breast showing his sorrow before the Lord. Pastor James point was that “True contrition results in a change of direction, which proves a change of heart – that person is ready for a breakthrough.”

When we have a true heartfelt change, that’s when revival begins. The rah-rah of revival will only get us so far. Once the revival is over and we’re back into the rhythm of life, the only thing that holds true is the word that made us beat our breasts and drop to our knees in confession before the Lord. We are to be committed to become who we are meant to be in Christ. Alive. Forgiven. Righteous. Holy. Living with the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to do what is right in God’s eyes. No shrinking back for His people. And the breakthrough happens when confession is real.

But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. Ephesians 4:20-24 (MSG)

Revival is Now!

I like to listen to prophecy experts. I’m not sure if they are prophets or just teachers who pay attention to what’s going on in the world. Either way, I find it very interesting. One of the things I hear from a variety of sources is a possibility of a great revival happening here in the US. There are many who believe Jesus will be returning for His church in the near future. There are many who think there will be a revival before that day of Jesus’ return. Someone mentioned that the revival will come as a result of this political craziness that we are experiencing. Many talk about martial law going into effect and there will be no “changing of the guard” for the presidential seat. Many visions have been seen revealing devastating earthquakes, tsunamis happening on both coasts, and even a great divide splitting the US at the Mississippi. Only God knows what’s really coming. I do believe judgment is coming one day.

People come back to church when their world has been shaken. But as it was with 9/11 with only a few weeks of returning, will it be a true revival or just a stepping back to family traditions? What will it take for a true revival?

Many times, Jesus spoke of persecution happening because of Him. In John 15, He said that if He was persecuted, then His disciples would be as well. As we have seen in the Book of Acts, the church body grew with persecution. Today, there are many who are being persecuted in different parts of the world. They ask us not to pray for the persecution to end, but for them to be bold and strengthened during persecution; to stand firm in their commitment to Jesus.

Recently, I read a couple of books concerning the persecution of the church. It’s difficult to read about what people have experienced, but what faith they exhibit in the face of persecution. As one who has never experienced such a trial, I cannot imagine how they endured it all. If persecution grows the church, then this could explain why the American branch of the church is showing signs of decline. Our population is increasing exponentially, but our churches are not seeing the same increase. In other parts of the world, the church is increasing even in the midst of great persecution. At the beginning of the church age, found in the Book of Acts – persecution brought the scattering of the church. As persecution continued throughout the next couple of centuries, the growth of the church exploded.

From 120 to 3000 to 5000, then persecution began. My pastor said recently that by the end of the first century there were approximately 25,000 believers. By the time that the Roman Empire “legalized” Christianity around the middle of the third century, 33 million were believed to have been Jesus followers.

So what would it take for us to have a revival today that would show this kind of increase? Do I dare say it? One of the speakers I listen to fairly regularly is a pastor in Hawaii. He gives a prophecy update every Sunday. This past Sunday, he spoke of a revival as well. He said on Sunday that we may have to face persecution like we’ve never experienced it here in the US. The revival may come not of the natural disasters or the man-made disaster from the political fallout; it may come at the expense of what we believe. Because of Jesus and His teaching, we may find ourselves in a position to either stand up for Him or deny Him.

At times, I have wondered if my faith is strong enough. Could I withstand persecution? Would I deny Christ as Peter did at his first persecution? Of course, that was before the Holy Spirit took hold of him and radically changed him. The Holy Spirit gave him such boldness that nothing deterred him from proclaiming the name of Jesus. That’s what the ones who are facing persecution are asking for today. Boldness. Maybe that’s what we all need to be asking for regardless if we are under persecution or trying to reach our friends and neighbors.

Suffering for the sake of the message of Jesus is considered a joy to those who experience it. Suffering helps us identify with Christ. He suffered for us. Jesus said the greatest gift of friendship is dying for one’s friends. If we consider ourselves a friend of Jesus, then we should be willing to die for Him – physically as well as just die to ourselves; losing those things that we hold on to that have no eternal value. So whatever happens in the future, my revival begins now. It starts with me ready to face whatever is in store, with boldness and with the strength God gives me through the Holy Spirit living in me. My revival is now – how about yours? Are you ready?

“I’ve told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead. They are going to throw you out of the meeting places. There will even come a time when anyone who kills you will think he’s doing God a favor. They will do these things because they never really understood the Father. I’ve told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you’ll be well-warned and ready for them.” John 16:1-4 (MSG)

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