Jesus says in the Great Commission, "Go and preach the Gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15).
This week, I was inspired by an idea Kevin Senapatiratne wrote about at Christ Connection. It's a great new "tool" for my missions toolbox, and I asked Kevin if I could share it with others. He is delighted to share this idea with you, too, and you'll find it right here:
This is the third entry in a series of blog posts calling for extraordinary prayer for the power of God to sweep the earth. This week I want am writing about a major concern in developed and rapidly developing countries around the world. Our lives become so full of activities that we have no time to devote to prayer. You will not be able to enter into extraordinary prayer without making time to pray.
Jesus prayed all night before appointing the twelve apostles. (Lk. 6:12) Could you do that? He must have planned that into His schedule. In Acts 12 the church had gathered to pray through the night when the Angel delivered Peter from prison where he was to be executed the next morning. That could not have been planned, although it may have lasted several nights. In the garden before the cross Jesus was surprised that His disciples couldn’t even pray with Him for one hour. I think we can draw from our Lord’s response that praying for an hour or more, maybe all day or all night, should be a regular practice for people entering into extraordinary prayer.
You can begin praying in activities that do not take all of your mind. These require little adjustment of your schedule. Do you ever wait in the bank or in a doctor’s office? Start praying for everyone around you. You can also carry a written prayer list with you for times when you are forced to wait. You will also need to memorize a prayer list or two for times when your hands are not free. Do you ever mow the lawn or wash dishes? You could pray for a list of family members or neighbors, church friends or missionaries on the field.
It is good to pray through prayers from the Bible or other Scripture passages. If you use The Lord’s Prayer, for instance, you can expand on every word praying for everything that comes to your mind. If you do not have another prayer or passage memorized yet, pray The Lord’s Prayer through again.
When you have begun working on these disciplines it is time to start adjusting your schedule. Do you start your day with prayer? Jesus did. In Mark 1:35 He turned it into extended prayer that changed His pattern of ministry. Other times of the day are often easier to turn into or even schedule extended prayer. You can start on evenings when you don’t want to watch what is on TV. But if spiritual awakening is important to you, you will have to sacrifice some of your chosen entertainment for prayer.
And be ready for God to prompt you to pray in ways and lengths and times that surprise you. He will encourage and strengthen you as you seek to give more and more time to prayer. There is absolutely no limit to what God will do in you and through you as you pray.
Two days before Christmas in 1776 Thomas Paine penned the words, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” His words like the introduction to A Tale of Two Cities, could apply to almost any period since the fall of man. They describe an appalling reality in our day. Many of us are particularly alarmed by the moral decline that has swept our country. We are seeing the fulfillment of Biblical warnings of the last days. “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”[i]
How are we to respond to such moral and spiritual realities? The prophet Joel responded to the judgment of God that had fallen on Israel in his day with a call for unusual prayer.
“Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.”
Jonathan Edwards, one of the primary leaders of the Great Awakening in America, wrote a little booklet about urgent prayer. It had a long title for such a brief monograph.
A Humble Attempt to Promote the Agreement and Union of God’s People Throughout the World in Extraordinary Prayer For a Revival Of Religion And The Advancement Of God’s Kingdom On Earth, According To Scriptural Promises And Prophecies Of The Last Time
You can find this little booklet on line, http://goo.gl/nMogwY , and I do recommend it. The title itself addresses my thinking. God’s people must consider and, yes, even pray for extraordinary prayer in our day. I believe such prayer, and the thunderous results God would bring about, are promised to us in the last days as much as the terrible things we see.
What would extraordinary prayer look like today? What would it look like in your church? What if such prayer meetings spread from church to church across America? What might happen if extraordinary prayer spread like wildfire from people group to people group, from country to country around the world?
For the next few weeks I want to write about such prayer. As we consider what this would mean, pray with me for God to bring about extraordinary prayer in our time. Share these blog entries adding to them and commenting on them on line and off line with believers anywhere you may find them.
[i] 2 Tim. 3:1-4
One needs to look no further than a daily newspaper, an online news source, or even talking to a friend, neighbor, or co-worker, to know some of the many things that make our nation and its people unholy and ill. We see matters like murders, suicides, gang-related matters, drug abuse (legal and illegal), hatred, worry, self-absorption (in seeking endless opportunities to be entertained or to entertain others; be seen, read, or observed... via social media and other outlets), and more. But there's a common thread- a common denominator in all these societal matters. It's an exalting of self over God.
Few people consider prayerlessness as a matter that falls into that category as well. In fact, prayerlessness isn't something that most people think about. We tend to focus on what interests us most in the moment. If what interests us most isn't God, then self is occupying that place.
So, as we pray, and prepare to pray for God to revive and awaken our nation, where do we begin?
Revival is often equated with a Christian who has wandered away from his First Love, Jesus Christ; but it always yields a growing desire to draw nearer to God and be conformed more into His image and ways.
How We Can Pray
Every nation is made up of sizable groupings of people- just as states, cities, or neighborhoods are (in varying sizes and numbers). But before praying a "blanket", all-encompassing, general, prayer for God to revive Christians and awaken non-Christians across our land, let's begin individually- with ourselves.
Withdraw to a place that separates you from people or things that would distract or draw your attention away from God. This could be a car, a park, a quiet room, garage, bedroom, closet, backyard, or any place that helps set time and space apart for God.
Worship God, and ask Him to search your heart. God desires our hearts to be sinless and pure as we approach Him. By asking Him to search us, His Spirit will quicken our hearts to realize ways we've sinned against Him and/or others. As He does so, confess those to God so that the slate is wiped clean. No sin is too great to be covered by Jesus' death on the cross. Therefore there's no condemnation for sins that have been confessed to God.
Psalm 139 offers some simple, yet powerful Scripture to pray:
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. -Psalm 139:23-24
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways. -Psalm 139:1-3
Next, be still. Listen for His reply. He may answer with a prompting to your heart, your mind, or in another way. If you're not familiar with praying, listening, or being still before Him in this way, you may also ask God to help you discern His voice and promptings over others that may attempt to intrude. Remember: God will never instruct you to do anything unholy or unrighteous. He can not be other than who He is- holy. He won't instruct any of His children to sin or be unholy. He will bring conviction of sin; but as a means to draw the heart to confession and repentance. When that happens, that particular heart becomes workable, pliable, and useful in His hands.
As you continue your time with God, ask Him if there is any Scripture that He'd have you read, meditate upon, or pray through. Listen for His voice, then obediently follow as He instructs.
In America, we're quick to pray for matters on our hearts, serve those requests up to God, then dart away like a young child rushing back to play with friends. Yet to receive God's ongoing wisdom, affection, and much more, we must invest our time personally with Him- in prayerful worship, praise, thanksgiving, sharing of requests, more worship, and more time still (even while we're active in daily routines and activities. It's possible!). To unplug from Him, rush off to an event, activity, TV show, movie, game, or something else, is to greatly short-change both short and long-term joy, love, peace, wisdom, relationship, and much more that comes from being and dwelling in His presence!
The same is true when we focus prayer on the revival and awakening of people in our nation. If May 1st is the only day we set apart to pray accordingly, then we dart away from our First Love to other loves competing for our attention and hearts, we lose out on a great deal more than we realize! God is a jealous God, as well as perfect in love, grace, trust, power, truth, wisdom, and much more. He wants us to place and keep Him as our First Love.
So, as you pray today, tomorrow, on the day set aside as the National Day of Prayer, and other days, seek ongoing revival in your heart with God. Seek Him to lead, instruct, and shape your heart, how you pray, and more. You'll quickly find a growing hunger and appetite for His presence and Word- and there's no greater benefit of revival than God Himself!
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. - 2 Peter 3:9,14-15, 17-18
It seems as if a lot of bad things happen to America in September. It is almost as if September is the hangover from summer madness. We all know about September 11, 2001. However in September 1856, the signs were all around the developed cities. New York City was already the financial capitol of the world. Exhibits A to Z are thus: the economy and accompanying social decline were picking up speed. Bankruptcy was high and morale was low. Preachers were just as ineffective as they are today and fast becoming irrelevant. Many of them had predicted doom and gloom and the end of the world which never happened. Politicians were just as horrible as they are today and unemployment just as high as 2012. Civil War talk was in the air. America was in a bad place. The enemy was domestic.
Finally on October 10, the New York Stock Exchange crashed. Did you know that 10,000 immediately showed up for the noon prayer meeting called by Lanphier on Fulton Street?! They had run out of space on Fulton Street, so the prayer meeting expanded across the street to the larger John Street Methodist Church...then all over New York City....and then Chicago, Philadelphia, Louisville (Kentucky) and so on! This led to the greatest Revival ever in America - the Third Great Awakening. There has been nothing like it since, and it began with one layman, like you and I, who was used by God.
Here is the rest of Psalm 35. Choose the verse, or the verses of the passage which Holy Spirit custom fits to YOUR calling as a His Prayer Warrior, then press in. I see several which appear to match up with the situation in America today - terrorism, moral and religious crisis and more. Our enemies are not just the islamic terrorists, but even worse than them are the enemies from within....the kinds we have allowed because of our own sin of sloth, laziness and unfaithfulness to God. The only remedy is Repentance and Restoration. Here is Psalm 35 (NKJV) in full. Therefore, place names in the appropriate verse, in place of personal pronouns. This will not alter the inerrant word of God:
PSALM 35 (A PSALM OF DAVID)
Fight against those who fight against me.
2 Take hold of shield and buckler,
And stand up for my help.
3 Also draw out the spear,
And stop those who pursue me.
Say to my soul,
“I am your salvation.”
Who seek after my life;
Let those be turned back and brought to confusion
Who plot my hurt.
5 Let them be like chaff before the wind,
And let the angel[a] of the Lord chase them.
6 Let their way be dark and slippery,
And let the angel of the Lord pursue them.
7 For without cause they have hidden their net for me in a pit,
Which they have dug without cause for my life.
8 Let destruction come upon him unexpectedly,
And let his net that he has hidden catch himself;
Into that very destruction let him fall.
It shall rejoice in His salvation.
10 All my bones shall say,
“Lord, who is like You,
Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him,
Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?”
They ask me things that I do not know.
12 They reward me evil for good,
To the sorrow of my soul.
13 But as for me, when they were sick,
My clothing was sackcloth;
I humbled myself with fasting;
And my prayer would return to my own heart.
14 I paced about as though he were my friend or brother;
I bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother.
And gathered together;
Attackers gathered against me,
And I did not know it;
They tore at me and did not cease;
16 With ungodly mockers at feasts
They gnashed at me with their teeth.
Rescue me from their destructions,
My precious life from the lions.
18 I will give You thanks in the great assembly;
I will praise You among many people.
Nor let them wink with the eye who hate me without a cause.
20 For they do not speak peace,
But they devise deceitful matters
Against the quiet ones in the land.
21 They also opened their mouth wide against me,
And said, “Aha, aha!
Our eyes have seen it.”
Do not keep silence.
O Lord, do not be far from me.
23 Stir up Yourself, and awake to my vindication,
To my cause, my God and my Lord.
24 Vindicate me, O Lord my God, according to Your righteousness;
And let them not rejoice over me.
25 Let them not say in their hearts, “Ah, so we would have it!”
Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.”
Who rejoice at my hurt;
Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor
Who exalt themselves against me.
Who favor my righteous cause;
And let them say continually,
“Let the Lord be magnified,
Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”
28 And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousnessAnd of Your praise all the day long.
- A change of place or position or posture
- A trend or tendency
- A discernible, measurable and lasting stirring of God’s Spirit in a life, a church, a city or a country
If you follow these kinds of things, you may know by now that there is a genuine movement of God stirring in many cities in the US. This movement is very much still in the early stages, but its presence is undeniable. Here’s what it looks like.
There are multiple cities with:
- Increased unity among churches across denominational, racial and theological lines
- Churches are coming together to address needs in their cities and using their massive volunteer bases to address problems that have previously been unaddressed
- Attendance in churches is increasing in cities that have previously been known for being largely unchurched
- There is significant increased activity by Christians and churches in the social justice arena
Stated more directly, what many of us have been praying for over the past 30-40 years–a third great awakening in the US–is showing encouraging signs on being well on its way.
And that means three very important things for you:
1. Living for Jesus is going to get easier. With movement comes momentum, and momentum means that we will all have an easier time living lives that honor Jesus. Think of it like running with the wind at your back. When movement comes, the wind of God blows to such a degree that crime drops, violence decreases, fidelity and faithfulness increase and morality actually becomes cool. That’s we can look forward to.
2. There has never been a better time to talk to people about Jesus. Depending on where you live, you may find unprecedented levels of receptiveness on the part of people who previously showed no real interest in hearing about Jesus. Movement means that the hard soil of people’s hearts is going to get softer, that they are going to be more open to talking about Jesus, and that countless numbers of them–millions and millions, are going to embrace Christ.
3. Hostility toward Christians and the Church is also going to hit unprecedented levels. Movement produces friction, and friction always comes with true spiritual awakening. As God’s Spirit continues to move across our land, you can expect that the enemies of God will become more vocal and emboldened in their resistance to his movement. Satan will see that his strongholds are being threatened, and he will pull out all the stops to resist the advancement of God’s Kingdom. This is one of the main reasons I believe that true awakening is coming–because those who really are hostile to God are fighting tooth and nail to hold their ground.
Followers of Jesus, take courage. Our best days in this country we love are still ahead. That’s not a political statement, it’s a theological one.
Read more at willdavisjr.com
This topic has been on my mind for quite a while. I first delivered this talk at a missions conference in Montreal several years ago. It came to mind again this week after I was asked a question about the Second Coming during a question and answer session at Cannon Beach Conference Center in Oregon. I have been thinking and praying about what we should expect as we consider the call of Christ to take the gospel to the ends of the earth in light of the end of the age. It’s not just a question of missions and it’s not just a question of Bible prophecy. It’s a more focused question. “What should we expect as we do the work of evangelism in light of the Second Coming of Christ?"
There are several ways to get your hands around this question. Here are two preliminary observations:
1) What we believe determines who we are and what we do.
We can never separate theology and practice nor can we divorce doctrine from daily life. Belief matters because ultimately whatever is in the heart comes out in what we say and what we do.
2) Our view of the last days shapes our view of evangelism and world missions.
Perhaps a better way to say it is that our whole view of the future shapes our hopes and prayers for what God may yet do around the world. Obviously there are missionaries scattered in many places who hold a variety of views regarding the end times. It is not necessary (or likely) to suppose that Christians will come to a general consensus regarding the rapture, the tribulation, the millennium, the eternal state, the place of Israel in God’s plan, or the proper way to interpret Revelation. We’ve been discussing those things for a long time, and there is no end in sight. What would seminary students do late at night if they couldn’t argue about the fine points of Bible doctrine?
And I suppose that one’s evaluation of the future depends greatly on where and when you make your judgment. Christians living during a world war are likely to view the future much differently from those who live in a time of peace and prosperity. No one does theology in a vacuum. To Christians in Muslim lands facing severe persecution, the hope of the Second Coming may seem much more real than it does to happy, well-fed Western Christians whose biggest worry is how much they can spend for Christmas this year.
With that background, I would like to focus the question a little bit more. Are there any reasons to believe that we will yet see great spiritual awakenings around the world? I think the answer is yes, for reasons I will set forth in this message.
For many years I’ve read about great revivals in the past. Note the last three words. “In the past.” Sometimes those stories sound so amazing that you wonder if such things could happen in our day.
Could there be another Welsh revival in our day?
Could there be a Third Great Awakening?
Could there beanother Laymen’s Prayer Revival?
Could we see whole nations shakenand changed by the preaching of the gospel?
Instinctively we know the answer is “yes.” Of course those things are possible in our day. God is not limited by the moral decay around us nor is he bound by our unbelief. My sermon hones in on one key point. If these truly are the Last Days before the coming of the Lord, could these things still happen?
In order to answer that question let’s back up and answer another one first. What will the world be like in the Last Days? Here are two lines of biblical evidence to consider.
1) It will be the worst of times
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days” (2 Timothy 3:1). The word translated “terrible” occurs only here and one other place in the New Testament. In its other occurrence, it refers to the two violent men who were possessed by demons in the region of Gadara (Matthew 8:28). They were wild, uncontrollable men who lived among the tombs. The “last days” will be fierce, violent, dangerous and frightening. Savage times will come as men cast off all moral restraint and society begins to disintegrate.
Two decades ago evangelical philosopher and theologian Carl Henry predicted that as America progressively loses its Judeo-Christian heritage, paganism would grow bolder. What we saw in the last half of the 20th-century was a kind of benign humanism, but he predicted that by the start of the 21st-century, we would face a situation not unlike the first-century when the Christian faith confronted raw paganism–humanism with the pretty face ripped off, revealing the angry monster underneath. His words have come true, and we see the proof with every passing day. So Paul warns Timothy, “After I am gone, things are going to get worse before they get better. Buckle up, Timothy. Terrible times are coming.” That’s why Paul said, “Mark this,” or “Understand this,” or “Pay attention to this.” Don’t be naïve and think that everything is going to be okay. It’s not all going to be okay. But forewarned is forearmed. If we know what is going to happen, we won’t be surprised when it does.
Consider two more verses:
1 Timothy 4:1 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”
2 Peter 3:3 "Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.”
We can summarize this line of biblical evidence by saying that the entire age will be characterized by unbelief and religious apostasy as men continually reject the truth and follow their own desires. There is a sense in which these things have always been true for the last 2000 years, and there have been many periods of extreme spiritual darkness. When Jesus uses the image of “birth pains” in Matthew 24:8, he may be telling us that we should expect these hard times to increase as we near the end of the age. The moral collapse of the end times will be like labor pains before a new world is born where Christ reigns as king.
But that is not the end of the story. There is another line of evidence we need to consider.
2) It Will Be The Best of Times
Let’s look briefly at two lines of evidence:
First, consider these words from Joel 2 that are repeated by Peter on the Day of Pentecost:
But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Acts 2:16-21).
This passage is extremely important because of where and when Peter uttered these words. It’s as if Peter is saying, “The Age of the Holy Spirit is now upon us.” It certainly means that God intends to pour out the Holy Spirit across a wide swath of humanity. What Joel predicted and Peter preached not only characterizes this entire age, it will come to a climax in the final days of human history. There will be amazing signs in the heavens and on the earth surrounding the Day of the Lord. And there will be a great movement of evangelism in the last days, starting 2000 years ago on the Day of Pentecost, continuing through the Church Age, and coming to a vast climax just before Jesus returns.
Second, we have the parable of the wheat and the weeds in Matthew 13. Jesus told a story about a farmer who sowed wheat in his field, but during the night his enemy came and sowed weeds (sometimes called tares) among the wheat. The farmer had no idea what had happened until weeks later when he discovered the wheat and the weeds growing together. When his servants volunteered to pull up the weeds, he told them to leave the weeds alone lest they accidentally pull up the wheat at the same time. They were to let the wheat and weeds grow together until the harvest, at which time he would have the reapers gather the weeds for burning, then the wheat would be gathered into the barn (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). Later his disciples asked him to explain the story.
The wheat and the weeds represent believers and unbelievers in the world. The Lord sows the good seed that produces believers while the devil sows bad seed that produces unbelievers. That’s the world as we see it today. Christians and non-Christians live and work and play side by side. We shop at the same stores, we eat at the same restaurants, we drive on the same roads, and we work in the same companies. Very often we watch the same programs on TV, and we may even send our children to the same schools. The real point of the story is that you can’t always tell by looking who is a Christian and who is an unbeliever.
Superficially we may appear to be much the same. And when we die, we are all buried in the ground. I’ve walked through many cemeteries, and you can’t tell much about the spiritual state of those who rest six feet below the surface. The saved and the lost rest side by side. We are much the same in life and in death. But a day of final separation is coming when the Lord himself will send his angels to separate the righteous from the unrighteous. Since he alone will be the judge, there will be no mistakes.
What does this parable teach us about the Last Days? I think it suggests that there will be parallel harvests of good and evil in the days preceding the coming of the Lord. Evil will be more outrageous than ever before, and the good will easier to spot. Evildoers will become more brazen, and there will be a corresponding harvest of righteousness in the last days. The Lord’s work will prosper in the midst of continuing moral decline. This leads me to believe that the greatest revivals in history are still ahead of us. We’ve all heard it said that the darker the night, the brighter the light shines. When a jeweler wants to convince you of the brilliance of a diamond, he places it against a black background.
If we are indeed living in the last days before the return of Christ, we should expect things to get better and worse at the same time. I think we should believe God for amazing answers to prayer, culture-shaking moves of the Holy Spirit, and unprecedented open doors for evangelism. We should pray for the gospel to spread like wildfire across India and China. If there is going to be a final harvest of righteousness, then we should expect to see hundreds of millions of people coming to Christ in the years to come. And at the same time, the devil will do all he can to ignite an explosion of evil around the world.
As we rush headlong into the final days leading up to the coming of Christ, we should expect hard times and good times, increasing opposition and amazing open doors, trouble ahead and glorious gospel victories. All these things go together just before Jesus returns to the earth.
What Difference Does It Make?
As I travel to various places to speak, I sense worry and uncertainty everywhere I go. Last week during the question and answer session at Cannon Beach in Oregon, I talked about trends that may be leading to the events of the Last Days. At one point a person in the audience raised her hand and said, “If all of this is going to happen, what can we do about it?” Excellent question.
So I shared a short summary of this message and said, “I think these are great days to be alive. Think of it! We may be the generation that sees the return of Jesus Christ.” And that’s truly how I feel. I’m optimistic about what God is doing in the world today.In light of all this, how should we live?
The last days will be a time of confusion and spiritual delusion. Don’t be sucked in by the spirit of the Antichrist that is already in the world. That spirit tries to make us think that sin isn’t really sinful and that there is no such thing as right and wrong. It also seduces us into silence when we ought to be speaking out. Ponder the words of I Peter 5:8 (ESV), “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Don’t let that “someone” be you. A great deception will come to the earth in the last days. Many will be deceived. It’s easy to say, “That would never happen to me.” Don’t be too sure. Many will be deceived who today would laugh at that suggestion.
Don’t be Naive!
This is a time for the people of God to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Don’t be naive about the true nature of sin in the world. Bad things happen because evil people cause them to happen. They hijack planes and fly them into skyscrapers. They mail anthrax to public officials. The strap bombs on young people who then blow themselves up on crowded buses. They loot and kill and destroy and defraud and break the laws of God and sometimes they go on TV and gloat about it. If we are indeed living near the coming of Christ, then we ought to brace ourselves for further outbreaks of hideous evil. The worst is yet to come. No matter how good the world seems to be in terms of technology, the moral compass is pointing in the wrong direction.
Don’t Be a Pessimist!
Believe God for great things in the last days. Pray big prayers. Ask God to bring in the last-days harvest in your town, your city, your state, and your nation.
This is no time for compromise. In times like these, Christians ought to be bold and open about our faith. Raise the flag of Jesus high above your head and then take your stand under that flag so that those near and far know who you are and whose you are. Open your mouth and say a good word for the Lord. Speak up for the Savior. Let your voice be heard so loudly that no one can doubt whose side you are on.
March in Tight Formation!
This is no time for believers to wander off on their own. Stay tight with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Stay tight with your local church. Stay tight with your Sunday School class or your small group. Stay tight with your Christian friends at work. Stay tight so you can’t be easily picked off by the enemy. When we march in tight formation, we are a formidable force to be reckoned with. When we try to go it alone, we become easy targets for Satan’s attacks.
Live Without Fear!
If we know the Lord, we are joined with the One who is the ultimate Victor in the battle between good and evil. A friend reminded me that one of the old spirituals says, “My Lord, what a morning, when the stars fall from the skies.” The slaves often sang songs that talked about the coming of the Lord because that great hope contrasted so vividly with the bleakness of their bondage.
If we read about “terrible times” to come and then give in to fear, we have missed the great point that Jesus is the Victor in the end. We live in hope because our God is a God of hope, and in Christ we have great hope for the future. The church has always done its best work in bad days and hard times. When the skies are the darkest, it is then that the glory of the gospel shines the brightest.
Charles Dickens began his epic novel A Tale of Two Cities with these words: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." That stands as a good description of what lies ahead of us as we approach the end of this age. Satan will unleash his full arsenal, knowing that his time is short. Therefore, we should not be surprised when hard times come. But this age will also end with an unprecedented spiritual harvest around the world. I can’t imagine a better time to be alive.
We are fighting a battle we cannot lose.
The Lord is looking for somesoldiers who will serve in his army.
Will you answer the call?
If you don’t believe we are in need of a spiritual awakening in our nation, you are not obsessed the news networks like I am! Seriously, you cannot live in this nation without some awareness that a movement of God is desperately needed.
Historically, this nation has experienced some powerful spiritual awakenings that have dramatically changed the spiritual climate of society. However, we are perhaps 150 years overdue for another nationwide, saturating awakening.
But there are hopeful signs! Before every great spiritual awakening, there were some common indicators that we’re beginning to see emerge once again. Billy Wilson of Awakening America Alliance shared some encouraging observations with me in an interview.
One of the first signs is an increase in the use of revival and spiritual awakening language. In the past few years, great movements of prayer have been rising up, including alliances of Christian ministries devoted to prayer for revival. Eighteen years ago I wrote my first article on revival. I wasn’t quite sure what it was, but I was aware that there had to be something more to faith in Christ than what I was seeing displayed in the Church. Now the call for revival is becoming commonplace in prayer circles.
Another sign is an increase in the fervency of prayer among the “remnant.” These are the pastors and intercessors who have prayed faithfully and sought God for a greater move of His power in our midst. More and more prayer warriors are joining the ranks of those praying fervently for revival. This is one of the most encouraging and hopeful signs, as almost all revivals have started with less than 12 people praying. God loves to work through a remnant!
As we close in on a desperately needed move of God in our nation, there are two more indicators that will increase just prior to revival breaking out:
- There will be an increase in united, extraordinary prayer. This prayer is passionate, fervent, and repentant in nature—and this is increasing exponentially!
- There will be a restoration of integrity to the pulpit. You will begin to hear greater boldness in messages based on the truth of the gospel, and it will include the message of repentance. Not only will the messengers of the gospel proclaim the integrity of the gospel more clearly, they will also experience their own repentance and transformation. This is something we should all long for our own lives.
Keep your eyes on the horizon. Revival fires are not far away. Keep praying; keep repenting. As we humble ourselves in brokenness, God will draw closer and closer to us. Come, Lord Jesus!
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