Posts Tagged ‘Acts’

Which side of Acts chapter 1 are you on?

Are you living on the right side of Acts chapter one? The answer will determine the course of your life.

Dell-000050352Every morning when we awaken from a long night of sleep, we stretch, yawn and eventually step into a new day. In the natural we are functioning from a collection of experiences, training, opportunities, challenges and other influences that have helped determine our current experience. Some are waking up in the morning to get ready to operate on somebody’s heart because his natural training provided him that opportunity. Others are headed to classes in a university as a result of healthy planning. Still others are depressed, lonely, fearful, expectant, determined or are experiencing a myriad of other very real feelings due to their position in life. Their natural position.

Spiritually, where are you? Specifically, which side of Acts chapter one are you living on when you wake up each morning?

Acts Chapter 1

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:6-11 (ESV)

Of course, the first chapter of Act’s position on the historical timeline comes after the death and victorious resurrection of Jesus. The question I’m asking is directed toward those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb—Christians—those who have responded to the greatest gift man has ever been offered. Christian friend, it’s possible to be functioning on the right side of the cross and on the wrong side of the rest of the story.

Read the short passage in Acts 1:6-11 again. Let the power of that dramatic moment impact you. Put yourself in the position of the disciples of Jesus.

They had just experienced, to put it lightly, a dramatic season of life that culminated with their hero, their friend, God himself being brutally, savagely tortured and mutilated. They were suddenly alone, fearful and confused. Their holy hope was gone forever—so it seemed. Dead people don’t just wake up and walk out of their tombs after all, right?

Lazarus might disagree with that. So would Jesus. The disciple’s overwhelming hopelessness was miraculously displaced by the impossible. Jesus walked out his tomb.

They were fearful, alone and confused no more. Now the celebration begins! Now plans for the future can be discussed! This was the day the Lord Jesus himself created and it was time to rejoice and be glad!

The obvious next step was for Jesus to set up his Kingdom and to reign! The disciple’s question was an honest yet misguided one:

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6 (ESV)

They didn’t understand at all what the future held. The victory on the cross, in their minds, would result in Jesus doing much more of what they saw him do previously. Jesus was the man of the hour and they wanted to be in the front row for the show.

After all, Jesus had just spent 40 days talking to them about the Kingdom, right?

3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3 (ESV)

Yes, the Kingdom was coming, but not at all the way everyone had presumed. Jesus was about to launch them out of Acts chapter one and into Acts chapter two.

If you’ll remember, Jesus had already given them a mandate that it seems they casually overlooked:

4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4-5 (ESV)

The disciples had necessary teaching about the Kingdom and a mandate to wait for a promise that would enable them to initiate a world shaking mission.

However, in their minds they wondered why they would need a Promise if Jesus was there with them. Why would they need anything else? Jesus was going to work wonders and they would be there as his most fervent supporters!

Jesus Left—AGAIN

9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. Acts 1:9 (ESV)

Again, put yourself in the shoes of the disciples. What type of emotional crisis were they going through? First Jesus died, then he defied all odds and returned in victory. Now their plans for Jesus to build his Kingdom were cut down as they received an inconvenient mandate to pray and wait for some nondescript Promise—as Jesus again left them.

Now, their close friend, their superhero who would protect them from the threats of the many enemies in the land, was gone from them a second time—this time for good (at least in their lifetimes).

The Bible says that they were just standing there gazing into heaven.

My question to you is this: Are you gazing into heaven waiting for Jesus to show up and do what you are yearning for him to do? Or, are you taking action in the power of the Holy Spirit to do it yourself?

On the cross Jesus famously said, “It is finished!” His part is done. We have been left with an extreme mandate and a costly mission that must be in front of us every morning when we awaken, stretch and yawn and move into our day.

So often we are crying out for Jesus to heal the sick when he commanded us to heal the sick. Those on the wrong side of Acts chapter one will gaze into heaven waiting for Jesus to do it. Those who have been baptized with power and who have embraced their spiritual mission will function in the power of the resurrection by looking at someone and commanding that they take up their mat and walk!

True baptism in power results in an inconvenient life.

I’m convinced that casual ‘gazing into heaven’ type prayer is often unanswered because Jesus is putting the pressure on us to get into the prayer rooms where supernatural baptism can be found.

The angelic question in Acts 2 remains for us today:

11 …“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?” Acts 1:11a (ESV)

Those who are living on the wrong side of Acts chapter one have bought into the resurrection power of the cross but have yet to step into their life mission that requires a devotion that will put every other life focus at risk. They want to continue in their day-to-day life hoping that Jesus will be the hero and rescuer they might need in times of trouble. The call to greater consecration is unnecessary since they are already saved and the victory of the cross was complete.

The truth is that the victory of the cross launches our mission. It doesn’t end it. When Jesus said “it is finished,” for us it meant, “it has begun.”

The enemy is moving across the earth stealing, killing and destroying. How could we even begin to think our work is done or unnecessary?

The blood of Jesus doesn’t grant us immunity, it grants us authority—authority to tread on serpents, authority to heal the sick, authority to advance the Kingdom, authority to go and make disciples.

Those living on the right side of the chapter are burning with that mission every single day. They wake up on fire with an urgency to fulfill their extremely important commission.

The life of someone living in Acts chapter two and beyond looks radically different than the lives of other Christians.

PRAYER

The call to prayer was too inconvenient for most everybody who saw Jesus alive after the resurrection. Only 120 showed up in that room. Only 120 determined it was necessary to actually obey Jesus. To them Jesus was more Savior than Lord.

Living on the right side of Acts one requires obedience. It requires us to be people of extravagant, inconvenient prayer.

Acts two started with prayer in an Upper Room and it continued with prayer daily in the temple.

17 pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV)

Today we have innumerable people who are naming the name of Christ who are living in constant disobedience by refusing to live a life of continual prayer.

Corporate prayer is such a clear and obvious mandate for Christians that it is beyond shocking and nonsensical that so many are not investing in it. They are living after the resurrection but before Acts, presuming that all is well and there is nothing left to be done. Both Resurrection power and Holy Spirit power are required before we can even begin to understand our life purpose—much less fulfill it.

The corporate prayer meetings are the most important meeting and every Christian must be in attendance. In fact, In Acts 2 corporate prayer was a daily occurrence. This is what must return to our churches today.

46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day… Acts 2:46 (NLT)

This means we can no longer continue without coming together for Holy Spirit infused prayer every day and presume it’s okay or normal. It’s not. Those living on the right side of Acts one can’t stand the thought of going a day without encountering God in prayer with other Believers.

CHURCH

Acts Christians were radically invested in both corporate church gatherings and planting of new churches.

I’m grieved at the number of Christian “church haters” (is that even possible?) that are on the rise. People are creating theologies that argue against the corporate church setting that are laughable.

Consider Chinese Christians who gather together every morning at 4:30am, seven days a week, to pray and worship together as the church before they begin their day. In America we think a couple hours a week is too inconvenient!

Can somebody explain to me how coming together with other Christians every day to pray on fire is a bad thing? How is that something that doctrines are being created to oppose? Truly those are doctrines of demons.

Some might say that they don’t need to attend church because “they are the church.” They would be incorrect.

From my article, You are not the church:

If we understand the meaning of the word ‘church’ we could never presume that we alone are the church. That idea is contrary to the origin of the word (ekklesia, meaning “assembly”). In fact, that word has secular origins. It literally means an assembly of people who have been called together by an authority in the city or region. Wow! That sheds a lot of light on what the church is.

The church is an assembly of people organized under defined governmental leadership. It’s a regular gathering of people who are deeply agreed and in pursuit of mission advance under God’s apostles, prophets and other governmental leaders.

Further, the pure definition of the word reveals that it isn’t used as easily in the context of the global company of believers as it is in the regional and local gathering of believers.

The definition reveals that it’s a well defined local group vs. a loosely defined larger group of people (who mostly don’t know each other at all). We can’t be a part of the church if we aren’t gathered together with other parts of the church. Church is corporate.

Additionally, the church is a group of people who assemble, fellowship, pray and respond together to apostolic teaching. That can’t happen in a more nebulous global context.

The church has inherent in it’s core call the expectation of assembly and a corporate response so as to ensure the local mission is fulfilled. Again, a fulfilled mission can’t be realized without this type of intentional and faithful participation at a local level where communication and commonality are clearly defined.

Those living in Acts Holy Spirit power understand the need to be rightly aligned with men and women of God. They understand the church gathering isn’t foundationally a social one. It’s a strategic one. Great numbers of people coming together to pray and to receive apostolic instruction is necessary on a daily basis if we are to advance the gospel in victorious fashion.

The church is a military. It has a mission.

Church haters have gripes about how they were treated, about disagreements with focus, about not being recognized, about most anything. True biblical Holy Spirit empowered Christians are ready to die to their own opinions and serve. Today when people are rejected they run from the church with complaints in their hearts. Two thousand years ago when Jesus was rejected he died for the church with love in his heart.

CULTURE

Acts Christians are not flowing under the radar, blending in with their culture. They are causing controversies and inciting riots!

40 For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” Acts 19:40 (ESV)

It angers me that so many supposed Christians refuse to declare the offensive Gospel message out of fear that they may lose friends, offend family or put their financial security at risk!

Did you know that’s why there was a riot in Ephesus? People’s financial well being was compromised when Paul and his team of firebrands arrived on the scene!

23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. 25 He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.” 28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. Acts 19:23-29 (NIV)

I absolutely love Acts 19 verse 23:

23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. Acts 19:23 (NIV)

Where is such a disturbance today?

“God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” is not the gospel message! It’s a true message, but it’s not the gospel message. When we start preaching about man’s depravity, our darkness, and God’s holiness and Lordship and his extreme sacrifice on the cross we will begin preaching the gospel. Anything that does not upset culture as it sets people free is suspect as a true message.

MISSION

People on the right side of Acts chapter one will burn with a mission. Others will live normal, low impact lives. Sure, they may enjoy God, say their prayers, go to church, worship him, read their bibles and be people of great conviction. However, the very reason they were born eludes them. The tears over the lost and the zeal for intercession are absent. An aggressive, unwavering daily pursuit of humanly impossible God given projects and assignments is nowhere to be found.

The primary purpose of the Promise in the Upper Room was not to make us feel better as we worship or to help us in our daily lives. The primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to empower us to live free from sin (He’s the HOLY Spirit) and to preach the message of the cross to the world; to expand the Kingdom. How different this is than what the disciples presumed in Acts one!

The Holy Spirit enables us to work and to advance in mission in ways that are not possible via human determination. Jesus is physically gone and we are the ones to do the work!

12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12 (NIV)

When on the earth, Jesus was about his Father’s business. Now that he is gone we are to be about our Father’s business!

49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Luke 2:49-50 (NKJV)

I propose there are many post-resurrection/pre-Upper Room Christians today who also don’t understand what it is to be about our Father’s business.

Acts chapter one where we see disciples of Jesus transition into apostles. In a moment, they went from followers to ‘sent ones’ with a mission.

I want to encourage you, when you wake up each morning, stretch and yawn and get ready for the day that you function as a sent one. Burn with a passion for Jesus and the advance of his Kingdom. Embrace the impossible assignments that God has for you. Pray continually with others. Live and walk in the Spirit. Disrupt the culture you live in. Trouble the lukewarm and awaken the sleepers. Live in great power—power that’s found on the other side of Acts chapter one.

Acts Chapter 2: The Seeker Sensitive Translation

Enjoy reading the Seeker Sensitive version of the Bible!

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In my series, 10 Threats to Revival, last night I shared on threat #5: The Seeker Sensitive Movement. God broke out in power during the service. I’d highly recommend you listen to it here: http://media.johnburton.net/5464525 

Acts 2: Seeker Sensitive Version

Disclosure: Not an accurate translation

The First Seeker Church is Born

Acts 2:1-47 (SSV) 1 When the day of fellowship arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from the espresso machine a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and the aroma of ground, organic coffee beans filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And the warmth of friendship touched each one of them. 4 And they were all appreciative of the Holy Spirit and began to speak about the challenges of life as their human spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in the nation religious people, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak about the same life issues as they had. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking church goers? 8 And how is it that we hear them talking about the same things we talk about? 9 Chicago and Los Angeles and South Carolina and residents of Dallas, Denver and Orlando, Kansas City and Paris, 10 London and Amsterdam, Switzerland and the parts of Tijuana belonging to Mexico, and visitors from Australia, 11 both church goers and seekers, Americans and Europeans—we hear them asking in our own words their questions about God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They have had way too much coffee.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of America and all who dwell in Detroit, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not over-caffeinated, as you suppose, since the coffee bar has only been open a short time. 16 But this is what was uttered through the story teller and great motivator Joel: 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will encourage human wisdom to be poured out, and your sons and your daughters shall share relevant stories, and your young men shall create media presentations, and your old men shall not get in the way; 18 even on my guys and gals in those days I will give them new fashion sense, and they shall be hipsters. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, light shows, and pyrotechnics, and smoke machines; 20 Sunday School stories will be told about the sun turning to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the hard to believe, but great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that the mention of salvation will be subtle and culturally relevant.’ 22 “Men of America, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty human difficulties that he overcame, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, happily traded his life for yours. 24 God raised him up, as you have witnessed in your Easter stage productions. 25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, with great encouraging principles to help me stay strong; 26 therefore I was thrilled and really happy; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you, we don’t want to talk too much about Hell, which shouldn’t be a concern. 28 You have made known to me the six step plan for a happier life; you will make me full of gladness with your principles of victorious living.’ 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the old guy David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a great motivator, and knowing that God promised that he would set someone in his family in his position, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the suspenseful drama of Jesus, and because of this you can be happy. 32 This Jesus God really appreciates, just like he appreciates you. 33 Hanging out with his Dad, and having received from him awesome wisdom, he has poured this out that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David couldn’t see into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “let’s hang out, 35 you have no more problems at all.”’ 36 Let all the Christians therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus who traded his life for yours.” 37 Now when they heard this they were happily encouraged, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “This is pretty cool, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Simply know that God appreciates you just like you are and, over time, you will slowly start walking the direction he walks, and you will receive the gift of understanding and awesome living. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Make better choices than the others in this culture.” 41 So those who received his word received a free latte, and there were added that day about three thousand church attenders. 42 And they devoted themselves to the life coach’s stories and hanging out together at the mall, to the buffets and the low key talks about God. 43 And apathy came upon every soul, and no wonders or signs were being done through them. 44 And all who had questions were together and focused on happiness. 45 And they were buying new possessions and belongings and giving to social causes as they felt led. 46 And once or twice a month, listening to the leader’s stories together and watching football in their homes, they enjoyed eating, 47 thinking about God and being pretty much the same as all the other people in the world. And they added to their number day by day those who were being anesthetized. 

Another Disclosure: This is really, really not an accurate translation. Thank God.

Here’s the real version. Notice any difference?

Acts 2:1-47 (ESV) 1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17 “‘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; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Revival: Seven excuses that legitimately threaten revival

Revival is not a guarantee. In fact, the chances of revival breaking out are extremely low.

imageDetroit is marked for revival, yet revival is not here. It’s delayed. We have a problem. This is an issue not only for Detroit, but for the nations of the Earth. God has planned revival, but we have not.

First, I have to qualify the comments you are reading in this article. The driving force of my mandate is revival and reformation in the church. As a prophetic messenger, a primary focus of my ministry is calling the church into the fire of revival. That fire will only ignite as the church becomes flexible and ready for momentous change. The church must agree with an inconvenient revolution.

Revival Is A Corporate Mission

Church is corporate. Revival is corporate. Ministry is corporate.

The first point we have to understand is that the pursuit of revival requires a corporate strategy. The mission of the entire church requires the participation of the church. Church is defined by the corporate gathering. It's the ministry of many. Personal desire, personal prayer and personal pursuit does not result in revival—unless it first spreads to a larger unified group of people. 

Acts 2:1 (NIV) 1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.

This is why being together corporately and continually in the church is so important. Satan used God’s principle of unity to start building his church, the Tower of Babel, and God surprisingly revealed that they would accomplish their task—unless he attacked their unity and scattered them. Now, Satan is trying to pay God back by attacking the unity of the church and causing people to scatter. He has also been successful. What is maddening is that God’s strategy of Kingdom advance and revival would also be unstoppable if Christians simply gathered in unity. That’s all it takes! Go to church, minister with passion, embrace corporate mission and go after revival!

Now, many Christians who are unwilling to battle through personal struggles are now convinced that revival can come without devotion to corporate gathering and unity.

Revival is threatened by:

  1. Inflexible focuses: We live in a society that is extremely independent, and this results in people locking into their own plans with little regard for the dynamic and demanding development of the church. Revival demands our attention.

    Acts 1:4 (NIV) 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.

    Their leader, Jesus, invaded their personal space and their personal plans. He demanded flexibility and that they cancel their plans. Their ideas of ministry were challenged by Jesus and the call was to drop them. Jesus needed all of them to go in another direction, to cancel their plans, to respond even though the reason was not at all clear.

    Today, when leadership calls on the church to turn on a dime, to respond corporately, they are usually faced with unresponsiveness due to other personal life focuses. This is a threat to revival.

  2. Family:When confronted with the call to gather as the church, a very easy excuse is, “I have a family activity to attend.” Little League games, family fun, movies and other family activities are pulling people out of the corporate mission of revival. It’s often said that we are to put God first, family second and ministry third. I strongly disagree. That model leads to a separation, to division, when God is calling for unity. We don’t compartmentalize God, family and ministry. We involve ourselves with all three at the same time.

    There used to be a time when families would be in the church every time the doors were open. That was the model. God, family and ministry all happening together, all the time. The revival fueled 24/7 church is coming, and we have to discover now how to implement this model in our families. We’ll be together most every day of the week. This is how it started, this is how it must be again. In fact, if you are intent on prioritizing these three focuses, check out Jesus’ viewpoint in the second passage below! If anything, God and ministry come before family.

    Acts 2:42-47 (NIV) 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

    Luke 14:25-33 (ESV) 25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

  3. Time & energy: American culture has won. Or, at least it is winning by a huge margin. Revival and the church has lost. Cares of life have nearly destroyed any hope of people having the time and energy to fulfill their call as revival soldiers in the church. The culture of society is driving the church schedule. Churches have waived the white flag of surrender by cancelling and shortening services. This is absolutely tragic. The church’s warriors have willingly gone AWOL due to wrongly prioritized daily focuses. A worn out church body now uses the church for something it was not designed to do—be their servant. They are tired and they use the church to recharge. Only when we take dominion over our schedules, turn off the TV, shut down time and energy thieves and refocus on the main thing will we have the capacity to personally charge up so we can serve the church mission. Check out this powerful warning:

    Luke 21:34-36 (ESV) 34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

  4. Church conflicts: It’s better to unify around an imperfect church vision than it is to divide & argue about what is the perfect vision. It’s common to pull back from our devotion to the mission of the church when we don’t fully embrace their strategies. We want it to be done our way, and if it’s not, then we presume we have the option to lessen our commitment. That results in a weakened and threatened mission. In order for revival to come, we must understand this is an ‘all hands on deck’ level mission. Revival needs us. The church needs us. Revival is waiting. We can’t use the church for personal gain, we must serve the church to ensure there is corporate gain and full blown revival. The church struggles because those who are called to serve it are making demands on it to serve them.
     
  5. I’ll wait and see: People who adopt this strategy are deeply loved by God, but will most likely miss the full thrust of the impact of the revival and outpouring. The issue is not one of love and acceptance, but rather of function. If we presume that God is going to do the work of revival, our perspective is flawed from the beginning. Our follow through will then also be compromised. Revival is dependent on our determination to initiate it. We aren’t waiting for God, he’s waiting on us. We aren't waiting for revival, revival is waiting for us. We are called to minister, to serve. Revival is calibration to Kingdom life, and that life is marked by Believers doing the work. We heal the sick. We preach the Gospel. Not only do we initiate revival but we also facilitate it. We work and serve God as opposed to expecting ourselves to be served.

    Deuteronomy 23:21 (NKJV) 21 “When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you.

    Psalm 119:60 (NKJV) 60 I made haste, and did not delay To keep Your commandments.

  6. I don’t fit in: If we understand the definition of ministry, we’ll find there is always a place for us. To minister is to serve. Simply serve and you will find acceptance! The church needs you! Revival needs you! You fit in revival and you fit in the church!

    When I was 15 I got my first real job. I was a busboy in a tiny country restaurant. I’ll never forget my first day. It was awful! For those of you who know me you’ll be shocked to know that I was tragically shy and not outgoing whatsoever. There were a few other workers there the day I started my job and I found myself just standing all alone presuming rejection from my new coworkers. One of them looked at me and said, “Hey, you don’t have to stand over there by yourself. Come on over here.”

    There are two takeaways from this story. First, I was disqualified relationally by myself, not by the restaurant. In fact, the restaurant welcomed me! Not only was I welcomed, I was hired! I wasn’t rejected, I was accepted! Second, and more importantly, I wasn’t there to develop relationships! I was there to clean dirty dishes off of tables so others could enjoy their stay. I was there to serve. So, the excuse that I didn’t fit in simply didn’t have any bearing on my responsibility. There was a job to do, people to serve and a mission to fulfill. The same is true in the church. Never let this excuse cause you to stop serving. The cause of revival needs us to serve with passion.

    If Jesus’ goal was to avoid rejection in the midst of his mission then he would have never made it to the cross, and you and I would be destined for Hell.

    Psalm 118:22 (ESV) 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

    Matthew 8:34 (ESV) 34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.

    John 1:11 (ESV) 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

  7. I don’t want to: This is the most honest excuse. However it’s rooted in unbelief and a misunderstanding of the importance of the mission. If we truly believed that revival was the biblical norm for all of us, we’d give everything, every moment in the pursuit of it. An apathetic church is putting the mission of revival at great risk. It’s time to awaken to the call of God for the fire of revival to ignite in our nation.

    Ezekiel 22:30 (ESV) 30 And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.

    Haggai 1:4-11 (ESV) 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5 Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. 7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. 9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”

The religious system’s fight against revival : A threat is coming to the church

Revival is a serious threat to the prevailing church structure as it will put at risk every comfort zone we know.

imageThe reformation that revival will facilitate will cause quite a resistance even from many of the most devoted Believers due to some significant threats to their comfort zones.

It’s important to understand that it’s a religious spirit that is the force behind anything that might resist a costly revival.

Religion is: man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants

Jesus threatened the church of the day—so the church killed him. They got what they wanted.

Today, it’s normal for many to attempt to use God or to use the church to get what they want. They want life to be comfortable and convenient. They want the church experience to be a certain way. They might shop around until they find the spiritual experience that meets their desires and demands. If people aren’t careful, they can unwittingly embrace a spirit of religion while minimizing the cost, the cross and the mandate to surrender all for the sake of Kingdom advance.

As revival approaches, here are some of the issues we will have to wrestle through:

  • All traditions are at risk: Traditions have the power to void the Word of God (Mat 15)! It’s no wonder God is so intent on resolving this issue. The coming reformation will impact many traditions that have become signatures of church as we know it. It’s imperative that we don’t resist the change that will affect the days and times we gather together, the style of worship we’ve become familiar with, programs, etc. The coming church will look nothing like the church we know today. Kim Clement said recently, “The church as we know it is being abolished.”
  • Pastors will have to face the risk of losing people, money and their reputations: The pressure for church growth, and the temptation to compete with other pastors and churches for the best ministry, is pretty extreme. Additionally, drastic change to the familiar church experience will be a serious threat to pastor’s salaries and retirements. The fear of loss will hit many. If people who are unwilling to buy into such a drastic change and such a zealous experience decide to leave the church, their money leaves with them. Further, if people leave the church, accusations of pastoral failure will start to fly. Reputations will be lost. The question is, is a move of God more important than security and position?
  • Local church missions will have to adjust: When revival lands, it will probably land in a single location. That location most likely won’t be our specific church. This means that local church leaders will have to have open hands and and be quick to release the people in their church to participate at a high level in the revival. The pastors will need to lead the people out as they join forces with the greater city church. When I went to the outpouring in Lakeland, Florida I was saddened that no church marquee gave any indication that they were cancelling some services so they could participate in the revival. Not one. I wonder if the threat of that revival caused them to lock everybody down and keep them far from that tent where the fire of God chose to manifest.
  • Investment will increase radically: The time, money and focus required to steward a revival is off the charts. Cares of life must finally be dealt with and preparations to spend day after day and dollar after dollar must be made. Lesser priorities will have to take a back seat to the coming ‘all hands on deck’ season.
    • Acts 2:46 (NKJV) 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple…
  • We will have to release control: The Holy Spirit is going to manifest in such bizarre and extreme measure that those who are nervous about such environments will be tempted to shut it down.
    • Acts 2:12-13 (NKJV) 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?" 13 Others mocking said, "They are full of new wine."
  • Most people don’t like change, and that is a problem: Leaders tend to shy away from alienating the people they are leading, but a crisis is coming. The change that’s coming to the church will cause most to vehemently resist. Will we as leaders respond to God or man? Peter, interested in man ahead of God, unwittingly renounced the great change and cost of the cross, and Jesus gave him one of the strongest rebukes in scripture. Peter was embracing religion, the desire to use God and eliminate the cross. This religious disposition is a serious risk to revival.
    • Mark 8:31-33 (ESV) 31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
  • Sharp yet love filled prophetic messages must be preached: In Acts 2 direct and prophetic teaching was a direct result of the outpouring. The days of sloppy grace and tickled ears must come to an end.
    • Acts 2:36-37 (NKJV) 36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"

The systems that we have developed are about to be destroyed as God paves the way for the coming church. The revival that’s nearly hear will be both great and terrible. It won’t be a series of nice meetings, but rather it will break a lot so that the love and abundant life of Jesus can be felt in much fuller measure.

An offensive church

There’s a way to develop a church that will provide extreme opportunity for offense—and also the promise of great power.

FIRST—the situation in this nation is extremely serious. Pray with us for favor and open doors to get the prophetic message of revival, reformation in the church and city strategies out to the masses. Some have come to us feeling we must get on the radio or on television as soon as possible. If you can give toward this, please do! www.detroitrevivalchurch.com/donate. (15 minutes a day on a popular radio station in Detroit will cost around $2400 a month)

AN OFFENSIVE CHURCH

In a hyper-grace church world, the type of message that I was rocked with on Sunday night might be dismissed or even renounced. Our ministries have become conditioned by the perceived needs and demands of the seekers instead of the demands of scripture for radical surrender. Even when discussing the concept of revival, most believe that it will enhance their churches, while in reality revival brings us back to the cross—and anything in our churches that doesn’t embrace the cross will be crushed.

Revival, when it comes, may actually result in many churches closing down under the pressure of the offensive demands of the cross. Other churches will remain open but lose a lot of lesser committed people. Finances might plummet. Everything will be at risk. If we want God more than we want our churches to grow and our own personal security, then get ready for our paradigms to be violated and calibrated.

At Revival Church Sunday night, God wrecked me.

He said that churches could be birthed and developed from one of three different places:

  1. The Board Room—In Acts 15 we read about the Jerusalem council. The simple parallel here is that we can meet and discuss how church should be done. Come up with a great plan, follow clear wisdom, appoint leaders and let them run with a plan of action.
  2. The Upper Room—This one surprised me when God started talking about it. Of course, I love the idea of functioning out of a white hot atmosphere of prayer and prophecy. My book 20 Elements of Revival outlines this in detail. However, it’s true that there’s a certain temptation to participate in a movement that has the hopes of some power encounters, signs and wonders. We can inappropriately focus on the outward explosion while forsaking the true cost of participation. We can have upper room style conferences and churches that gather together the masses, but we’ll have limited impact if we don’t consider the next place that God spoke to me about.
  3. The Cross—Where two or three are gathered, He is there. This was never more literal than at the cross. The offensive call to full surrender, to the terrible cost of the cross, must sound louder than any other alarm. It’s rare to find churches that emphasize the extreme cost of a life in Christ. The call to the cross is inconvenient, extremely costly and wildly offensive—and few will respond. Many are called, but few are chosen. Our churches must be driven by repentance, by surrender to a fearful call. As we launch our churches with people who refuse to scatter (remember, even devoted disciples ran away from Jesus when confronted with the cross!), and with people who actually sit at the foot of the cross in the face of severe threat to their very lives, it will be a church that cannot be stopped.

STOP TRYING TO GROW HUGE CHURCHES—AND YOU MAY FINALLY GROW A HUGE CHURCH

The point? Start the development of your church, and continue it’s process, from the cross. Raise the bar as high as Jesus did. There’s a false doctrine in the church that rightly emphasizes that Jesus paid the price that we could not pay, but wrongly communicates that we have no part to play in the process.

I’m radically concerned that MANY, MANY people in the church…in really great, Spirit-filled churches, have chosen to avoid the cost of following Jesus, the cost of the cross (Jesus isn’t the only one assigned to a cross—we are as well), the call to deep intimacy, and due to a false grace message are convinced of their salvation when, in fact, they are not saved.

If we build churches around the cross, the crowds will be VERY small. Maybe only a few. Only two were at the cross with Jesus. But, the resulting victory and power will explode the church into the nations.

Then, we’ll move into the upper room, and into the board room as the Church develops in wisdom and power.

New Years Day is not a magic day : Prophecy : A call to continual communication : Please respond

A key step in the pursuit of revival and reformation in the church is to steward the call for continual communication.

FIRST: Revival Church REALLY needs you. We are advancing, yet we are in a serious financial position. We must immediately raise an extra $2000 a month… to carry on with the mandate here in Detroit. DONATE before the day is done and you’ll receive a 2010 tax receipt. Thank you so much! www.detroitrevivalchurch.com/donate


imageNew Years Day is not magical. Everything in life doesn’t just get better. It’s up to us to bring the change. We must work. It’s time. Check out a new video podcast (I do about one of these per day…and am seeking a company of people who will follow along and dialogue with me) at www.youtube.com/johnburtonministries.

Listen closely. The scattered, disjointed church is deeply vulnerable right now. I wish we could truly understand how serious this is. Families, individuals and entire regions are at risk due to the scattering and distraction that has impacted millions of Christians.

It has been accurately spoken over our ministry many times that there’s a unique anointing of communication—and that doesn’t mean that we just write books or preach or shoot out emails. There an anointing to advance the call for the church to break out of a private, unfocused way of living and into literal continual dialogue.

It’s a prophetic call to a prophetic life in a corporate environment.

We know from Amos 3 that God does nothing unless he reveals his secrets to his servants the prophets. However, those secrets, which are being revealed continually, have no real system to land in most churches and regions and to be watched over and responded to.

The technology is there. Except for the hours when I’m asleep or when I’m in certain meetings, there’s rarely a moment that I’m not available to receive urgent information that God has revealed through people. Via email, texts, Facebook, video podcasts, phone calls or whatever… it’s possible to receive instruction and information at any time… and we should be expecting it!

I’m ready to hear from people locally here in Detroit, or those who have insight in the mission in Detroit. I’m waiting to hear from you. To receive your emails. Your texts.

I have my phone with me. I’m ready to hear from my staff and other people who need to pass God infused revelation to me.

Are you alert? Are you available? Are you responding to what God’s doing every day?

Example: What if I, as a leader of Revival Church, received a mandate from God to call an all church prayer meeting tonight? Would people receive the message that I send? Would they respond in an instant? Would the church tonight be full or empty? How many would come on Sunday and admit that they didn’t check their email until it was too late? Who isn’t even on the email list? Who would check their email and decide the apostolic/prophetic call to action was too inconvenient? How many excuses would rise up? Would a Joel 1 call work today?

Joel 1:14 (ESV) 14 Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.

Consider the call to gather in Acts 2. 120 responded, and isn’t it interesting that what resulted was tongues of fire?

Acts 2:3 (ESV) 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.

  • Tongues= communication
  • Fire= the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of prophecy

We can’t presume to have the presence of God in our midst if we don’t also have communication, prophecy. God is prophecy! He is the Word! He is a tongue! He is communication! If your life is void of prophetic communication then you have to ask how much of God’s presence you are encountering. Are you in the midst of God’s action and mission?

Consider the story of the Tower of Babel. It was communication that was the power in that story! Communication would make it possible to accomplish the ridiculously improbable goal. So, God confused their communication. The devil is doing the same thing today as God is calling the church to be in constant communication.

Genesis 11:5-7 (ESV) 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

Here’s what’s necessary. Every day, sometimes several times a day, every person connected with the mission… people who are in the church, others who are connected online… must develop the discipline of being instant. We must all get used to shooting out emails in response to blog posts, podcasts, etc. We must be in a place of hearing God and being so deeply invested in the mission that we continually and strategically respond to prophetic insight.

I have people that email me several times a week regarding what God’s doing in Detroit. That tells me that they are alive and alert and on task! What a powerful blessing!

I wish I could share how critical this is! We can’t sit back and wait any longer! The calls to action are going to escalate RADICALLY and we must learn now how to be accountable and responsive on a low level—even if that low level seems extreme.

It’s time to gather night and day. It’s time to respond through active communication day after day. There is no guarantee of revival… the new year brings nothing in itself. Tomorrow is not a magic day where everything gets better. We must bring the change. It’s on us to respond. Today. Right now.

**Your next step? Respond to this message… share your heart… what’s God saying? What’s burning in you? Are you one of the pioneers that Revival Church is looking for? I can’t wait to hear from you! john@johnburton.net.

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