This Easter Holiday will be one we will never forget. That may be an understatement as life globally continues to grind to a halt. We are getting messages daily from Nepal, India, Paraguay, and Lebanon, telling of the difficulties facing the people. To think that just 6 weeks ago I was in Nepal and we gathered, we ate in abundance, we hugged, we laughed. How we are prone to take times like that for granted. In a moment of time it has all changed.
I would think the disciples has similar thoughts over 2000 years ago. As they sheltered in place in fear for their lives, the message was clear it will not be as it was. The man they had followed for 3 years was outside the city hanging on a cross. Days before they gathered, they ate, they hugged, they laughed. Even with Jesus telling them change was coming, human nature gets locked into the moment and change seems to be a distant mirage.
When you read the words Resurrection and Revolution your first thoughts generally were to the rising from the tomb of Jesus and an overthrow by force. True statements and thoughts but I want to give these definitions for thought.
Revolution- A complete or drastic change in conditions, ways of thinking or acting.
That makes the life of Jesus clear, He came to bring a revolution. Human conditions, ways of thinking, and our actions all needed a crucifixion. The resurrection of Jesus was not to bring back old customs and practices. It was for a new way of life, it was for an abundant life as Jesus promised.
This temporary pandemic will soon die and fade away. A time and season of resurrection will be in our midst. Will we as blood bought, Spirit filled followers of Christ be content with our old customs and practices or will we receive the revolution this pause has offered?
The pause that occurred over 2000 years ago released the greatest force upon the world ever, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The disciples received and accepted the revolution given to them. We stand at the threshold of a great awakening. Let's allow this event to completely and drastically change us for the Glory of God!
I woke this morning to the old Bob Dylan tune, "For the Times They are A Changing". I, of course, went to Youtube to listen to the song and was amazed at some of the lyrics and how they are relevant for today. In some of your extra time you now find yourself with, listen to this song.
It seems with each passing week this worldwide event escalates before our eyes. What was hoped for, now seems impossible. What we all prayed for seems to be delayed. The atmosphere of anxiety is intensifying before our our eyes. Human wisdom seems to have met its match. Could this be the turning point to where a broken, hopeless humanity cries out to God? I have an inner sense that we are about to see something of this nature. This has shaken the world. We get communication form all parts of the world and it's the same story, 'fear, worry, and uncertainty is at an all time high'. Yes, the media hype has not been much help either, but as the days roll by and more and more victims are added, reality hits with deepening gloom.
Last Sunday, as I sat before an empty sanctuary, I gave this assurance from the Word of God that "The Times They Are A Changing". Times and seasons are promised from God, what we have hope in is that times and seasons are temporary, they are not permanent. What IS permanent are the promises of God. A crisis is never permanent. This all shall pass. When this does pass, what will we as the human race have learned from this experience?
My prayer is we will be a more humble, compassionate, unified people. May you go to God's word and find a promise to stand on today. That promise is the rock to stand on, all other ground truly is sinking sand. May the Rock of all times, seasons, and ages bring you peace while we go through these times that are A-Changin!
I have been reading John Maxwell's new leadership book, "Leadershift". What a timely message he shares in this book. I love to follow his messages on leadership, and this may be one of his best. One thought in the book that is so key for this day is how to become transformational leaders. In this time of upheaval, turmoil, and uncertainty, this type of leadership must rise to the occasion to steer our homes, businesses, and churches through this storm.
Transformational leaders have these characteristics:
-They see things others do not see
-They say things other do not say
-They believe things others do not believe
-They feel things others do not feel
-They do things others do not do
History's greatest leaders were conceived in the crucibles of turmoil, war, persecutions, and cultural meltdowns. What we see before us is an opportunity to see a new breed of leaders arise out of the rubble of this event. It is needed in all 7 mountains of our culture. What a multitude of challenges and opportunities we have before us.
I have, around my desk, post it notes with quotes that speak into my life. This one really got my attention this morning, it is from Bob Hazlett and he says this:
"The impossible challenges facing you today are actually an invitation to experience a part of God's power you haven't seen yet."
What a great promise! I am convinced that we will see some amazing miracles in the coming months.
1 Corinthians 2:9
Allow the Peace of God to help guard your heart's and mind. We are going to see a victory!
No, I am not referring to the old Aerosmith song from the 70's, I am reading this in the book of Isaiah 8:11.
11 For the Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of those people
The Lord is speaking through the prophetic voice of the day and instructs him NOT to walk in the way of the people. How were the people walking? In fear, stumbling in spiritual darkness, seeking advice from ungodly & worldly advisors, driven to chaos. Walk this way says the Lord; let Him fight your fear, seal the Word of God in your hearts, put your hope in Him. Then He says by walking this way I will use you as a sign and a wonder in the land.
My understanding of this passage in Isaiah 8:11-22 tells me there is a way the Lord wants us to walk, especially in times like this. To be a beacon of hope in a world that is being shaken; church we must walk this way! Our walk is one of faith not fear! Our walk is one of confidence that ALL His promises are YES and we agree with our amen!
Our walk will not imitate the world because we walk to a different sound, a different command! The world is watching the church in this epic event, how will we respond? As for me and the house the Lord has entrusted me with, we will talk this way!
Today at sunset the Festival of Purim begins, marking the Jewish nation's deliverance from the evil plans of Haman. This is one of the most beloved stories in the Bible, a book that has the imprint of God all through it, yet never mentions God by name.
This story, as do several other bible stories, has a certain element we as believers sometimes struggle with, the 'who knows' element of our faith. That unknown factor causes many to pause and count the cost, Esther knew the cost of 'who knows'. She spoke it facing the consequence of death if it did not go well, yet in the face of this outcome she walked in obedience and an entire race of people were saved from genocide. Jonathan, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azeriah, and an innumerable amount of herbs of the faith throughout history have been faced with this question 'who knows'?
Rhonda and I have stared at this question as we follow the dreams that seem to continue to push us into new countries. What we all 'can know' is the promise of a helper, the Holy Spirit, who will be our companion, guide, and instructor. So even though our walk of faith has many 'who knows', it would not be necessary to have faith if our walk was certain. At the urging of her spiritual guide Mordecai, Esther took the dangerous path of 'who knows' and today that courage is celebrated.
Who is waiting for deliverance on the other side of your 'who knows'? Lets help others celebrate the greatest deliverance of all!
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrated His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Now that should raise a Hallelujah!
I have just returned from a missions trip to Nepal, the people as always were hungry for the Word, served with passion, and wept as we departed. The culture of honor, the agape love, and the heart of servitude continues to be the power behind the growth of the ministry we have partnered with for 17 years now. It was a joy to begin our 20th year in ministry in the country it all started. Nepal has forever captured out hearts.
The headlines of the day point to a trust issue we have in the church. Do we really have faith and trust in God? It would seem it becomes an issue when the media releases such sobering news. There is no denying a virus is spreading to physical bodies. We live in a broken, diseased world that will only see more deterioration as we watch darkness escalate. But the believers promise is much greater!
Isaiah 60 says to arise and shine for your light has come. Yes a deep darkness is on many people but the Lord will arise over His people, yet fear seems to be the emotion of the day. Fear is a terrorist, fear is no respecter of persons, fear is our enemy! Much is said about fear in the Bible. Over and over God commands His people to not fear but trust. Where is your level of trust today? It has a target on it. Satan wants to break down your trust, he is using two extremes in the media- the far left liberal media and the conspiracy camp.
Isaiah 8:12 Don’t believe their every conspiracy rumor. And don’t fear what they fear—don’t be moved or terrified.
I recall a scripture song from the 70's & 80's that we used to sing, Psalm 20:7 "some trust in chariots, some trust in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord!"
Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.
If you feel your trust get hit, run to God's word. God has a covenant with us- Haggai 2:5 "My spirit remains among you, do not fear! May the Peace of God rule in your heart today.
Surrender! It is amazing where a surrendered life can take you. I sit writing this on a plane starting the long journey to Nepal. This year will be our (my wife Rhonda and I's) 20th year in ministry. When I was driving home one cold February night 20 years ago, I said a very simple but sincere prayer. "God I am yours". Seven months later I was on a plane heading to Nepal unaware of what the future looked like but excited to be in God's capable hands.
So much has happened in these 20 years. Rhonda has written books about some of the travels and newsletters have brought some of the stories to life. What started out as missionary work has now encompassed pastoral duties. All from a very simple act of obedience. Yesterday morning's message I shared these three thoughts in Luke from the story of the young man who took his inheritance and went on a prodigal journey. The scripture says one day he came to himself. In other words, he woke up! Then he evaluated his situation and realized his fathers servants were eating better than he was, so he took action, he responded.
Thank God 20 years ago I woke up, evaluated my situation and took action. Thousands have been saved, thriving churches have been established, schools, radio stations, wow! Look what surrender has done. The one thing needed to make this trip more of a celebration is my wife by my side, but due to several circumstances she felt it was not best to go on this trip. It leaves a hole by my side, but she will soon be back in the seat next to me following the dream life that began with surrender!
Disturb- To upset the usual order or natural condition of.
Yesterday's message centered around this word, unfortunately it has taken far too many years to get to the place of being disturbed about the issues we face in our nation. Anyone who watched the events from the political world last week had to be disturbed. I am horrified to see our political machine stoop to this level of low. We are better than this! I for one, am disturbed.
Before anything can burst forth in new life there has to be a disturbance. Whether it is a field plowed for new seed, a birthing of a new baby, or the overturning of the status quo, it takes a disturbance. The field has to be plowed, contractions have to start, and the Luke warm church has to have the legs kicked out from our cushy existence.
Disturbance produces a harvest! There are many problems in our society and to solve any problem you first have to be disturbed by that problem. Praise God I hear the sound of the church being awakened. I see the rising up of the army of the Lord to engage in the cultural battles we face.
I think of Esther, who responded in a time of great disturbance. Her obedience to the Lord saved a nation. The evil Hamen was eliminated. The Godly Mordecai was elevated. Tomorrow in Oklahoma City, thousands of disturbed Christians will gather, seeking the abolishment of abortion in our state. May the same be said for Oklahoma. This evil, eliminated. Life, elevated. Praise God.
Last night as the Kansas City Chiefs pulled ahead in the final minutes of the Super Bowl, social media in the Christian prophetic circles lit up with excitement! For days, the word prophesied by Bob Jones about a sign of America's next great revival would be the KC Chiefs winning the Super Bowl made the social media news. Could it be?
Yes, there seems to be a fresh stir in the atmosphere. Worldwide it has been happening in every increasing wave of salvations. The reports we hear first hand from our contacts point to a mighty revival happening globally. Reports coming from Iran suggest that an explosion of the gospel is now taking place. The common theme worldwide is places of great persecution, social hardship, and hopelessness, are where we see the greatest out pouring.
Four years ago, America was at a political crossroads. The freedom we know as a Christian Nation were taken at stake. The hand of God moved in a supernatural way and God's grace and mercy opened a door of favor for the American church. For many this open door has brought an evangelistic zeal to see the fields of America ripe for harvest, but for others sadly, complacency has become the result.
I heard one of Bill Johnson's best quotes ever last week- "Complacency is not a season, it is a devil."
If the prophet is correct, we need all hands on deck! His being poured out on all flesh, young, middle aged, old, we all have a commission from Heaven.
Let us shake off lukewarmness and complacency and go! Because - what if it is?
Nehemiah 4:8 "And all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion."
This verse sums up the day perfectly. As Nehemiah worked to lead the people in a restoration project, the news came to them to create confusion. We all, in times of trying to rebuild our lives, have heard the reports. 'It is impossible' 'let it go' 'the dream is dead' 'you are too old / too young', and it leaves us confused. Most news we hear today has one purpose, to create confusion and doubt.
Psalms 83:5 For they have consulted together with one consent;
The lines of good and evil have never been so clear. God and those who follow God are under attack. World wide persecution of Christians continues to increase. In America, which for so long declared "One Nation Under God", even those words are being attacked.
Nehemiah 4:9 Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.
The following verse starts out with a great challenge. "Nevertheless". This literally means - in spite of that. Taking the stand of "nevertheless" helps clear the air. Nevertheless, I will seek the Lord. Nevertheless I will give praises to Him. Nevertheless I will trust in the Lord.
When Nehemiah and the workers took this stance a great shift took place.
Nehemiah 4:15 And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and thatGod had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work.
May you not be anxious, distracted, confused about anything, but in everything through prayer with a grateful heart, let your needs be made known to God and the peace of God, which goes beyond human understanding, be a hedge of protection over your heart and mind through Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:6-7.
Nevertheless- Our God Reigns!