Are you living on the right side of Acts chapter one? The answer will determine the course of your life.
Every 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Experience a potent prayer culture in your life, your church and your region!
You can view the related video teaching by John Burton HERE.
I regularly hear from people who are passionate about prayer—yet they don’t know how to see that passion develop into an explosive culture of prayer in their lives, their churches and their regions. They crave a continual, intimate encounter with God, and they are zealous for this in the lives of others as well.
God has clearly called us to nurture a lifestyle of never ending prayer that results in intimacy with him and impact in our world—yet it’s rare to find a people who have embraced this most elementary of instructions. Some are apathetic. Others are resistant. A growing number are ready. This article is for them—the ready remnant.
17 pray without ceasing… 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV)
In another article titled “5 Major Changes Coming to the Church” I brought attention to the role that prayer will be playing in the church:
Services will become more like prayer meetings. One of the greatest indictments on the church today is that prayer is not the driving force. Today, people tend to choose churches based on the appeal of the teaching and the worship instead of the fervency of prayer. If the church was a house of teaching, or a house of worship, that would make sense, but it's not. The church is a house of prayer for all nations. Every person in the church will function as a burning intercessor and the services will be marked by this unified groan of fiery prayer.
Like it or not, Scripture does make it clear that the church is a house of prayer for all nations. That’s it’s foundational identity, yet prayer is rare in the church, especially in the Sunday morning service. The Western church seems to be everything but a house of prayer as other activities and focuses tend to take precedence.
17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? Mark 11:17 (ESV)
I’ve often said we’d be much closer to the biblical model of the church if we gathered together and did little else than pray for two hours on a Sunday morning. Add in some instrumental worship over the top of the prayer, some Spirit-driven exhortations and decrees of Scripture and we’d have a furnace of intercession that would transform entire cities! Just imagine if every church in a city did this!
SEVEN KEYS TO DEVELOPING A POWERFUL CULTURE OF PRAYER
A culture of prayer can be developed in most any context, such as our homes or our personal lives as we move from place to place throughout the day. Probably the most obvious context a culture of prayer can be nurtured is in the local church.
We’ll use the local church as our focus as I share some keys to seeing prayer grow and bring the impact it was designed to.
As we do this keep in mind that the ultimate goal of prayer expanding in the local church is not the growth and impact of that church. The goal is the establishment of a Holy Spirit fueled culture of prayer in the city. Biblically, the church isn’t defined by the local expressions in individual buildings but rather it’s known simply by the region it is in.
Revival isn’t revival until it spreads through an entire region and the church of that region is gathering together in prayer and ministry on a large scale level. This is why I believe stadiums are going to be full in the coming years. I see the thousands of people who make up the city church in a particular region coming together regularly to groan in intercession. Can you imagine the multitudes in one place on their faces contending in faith driven, Spirit empowered prayer for hours every single week? That’s the goal! Keep that in mind as you develop a prayer culture whether it’s in your personal life, in your home or in your local church.
Key #1—Senior Leadership Driven
In the context of the local church it’s imperative that senior leadership fully buys in, owns the vision and leads the people into the culture of prayer.
I’ll never forget the time I was waiting to talk with a well known national church leader after a luncheon. An elderly couple was just in front of me and they were excitedly sharing their vision of seeing harp and bowl intercession and worship established in the churches there. They were sharing their vision and explaining how they were going into churches to hold workshops that taught people how to develop intercession there.
As they were talking the leader they were talking to interrupted and simply said, “It will never work.”
I felt so bad for that couple! The life ebbed out of their faces and they were shocked that such a thing would be said. They sheepishly asked, “Why not?”
The leader revealed the truth behind his curt statement, “If senior leadership doesn’t have that vision burning in their veins they will not embrace it. It will not be supported and it will give way to what the pastor chooses is more appropriate to give time and energy to in the church.”
He was right.
If senior leadership doesn’t believe prayer is the main thing it will be relegated to an off night in an unused room in the church. It will be treated as an extracurricular activity instead of the foundational purpose of the church even existing.
Key #2—Tongues & Groans
One of the most misused scriptures in all of the Bible is Romans 8:28:
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (ESV)
When people are going through difficult life challenges a common piece of counsel is to casually inform the afflicted person that they can relax. Why? Because it’s all good!
That’s terrible counsel!
You’ll notice the first word in that scripture is “and.” This should tell us that verse 28 is contingent on what precedes it.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)
When we literally groan in the Spirit in intercession and yield to exactly what the Spirit is releasing through us, THEN all things work together for good!
The counsel to those struggling should not be to chill out—it should be to hit your face and groan in deep intercession!
I believe Sunday morning services should be marked by people laid out all over the room in travail, groaning in otherworldly intercession! Now that would be a prayer culture, wouldn’t you agree?
This call is for everybody, not just those who are outgoing or those who consider themselves to be intercessors. Every Christian wants things to work together for good, right? Then every Christian has the glorious opportunity to tremble under the weight of the Spirit of God as audible groans from the depths of their spirits rage out of them!
Don’t worry about the visitors who might get freaked out by such a display. The church isn’t a vehicle of evangelism, it’s a vehicle of intercession. But even when those who don’t know Christ enter in, the intensity must get hotter not cooler! The Holy Spirit will absolutely captivate the seekers with fire!
A promise I’ve made to every ministry I’ve given leadership to is this: I refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry.
It’s time to groan, church.
Key #3—Prayer Must Be The Main Thing
I’ve spoken to this already, so I won’t give too much more time to this point right now. But, I do want to communicate again how critical this is.
The culture of prayer must be the primary focus every day in order for it to truly be considered foundational. This is something that should dominate our lives.
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, Ephesians 6:18 (ESV)
The leader of a very effective prayer ministry once introduced small groups into their ministry. These groups took on a life of their own and people were giving time and energy to them. This seems like success, right? No. The small groups that met each week were drawing people out of the prayer room. The main thing, the call to continual intercession, was compromised by another successful, more appealing ministry focus.
The leader shut down the small groups and reemphasized the very reason their ministry was there—to prayer for the nations night and day.
Years later small groups were reintroduced in a different format so they became a great support system for the prayer room and those who were giving their lives to intercession.
Basically, the goal is this—everybody who is involved in the ministry or church must be ready to embrace a lifestyle of fervent, fiery and continual prayer as their primary focus. From that foundation there will be much room to do everything else God is calling people to such as evangelism, teaching, missions, family life and more.
Key #4—Eradicate Unbelief
15 What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’ Job 21:15 (ESV)
God isn’t resisting us, yet so much of prayer sounds like begging. Prayer that takes the form of convincing God to do something is prayer that won’t last. We must know God’s will!
In our prayer meetings we must boldly decree, declare and command as we fight the enemy, advance the Kingdom and move mountains. When we are convinced of our authority and what God has already resolved, our times in corporate prayer become electric!
11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, Colossians 1:11-13 (ESV)
We have been delivered from the domain of darkness! We have access to all the power of God! This should change our prayer lives like nothing else! We have an incredible level of authority and it’s time that we move forward with faith!
As we decree the Word of God there should be a Rhema strike from the Spirit of God that causes us to believe what we are declaring.
I’d encourage you to spend time in prayer wrestling with this point. Unbelief will diffuse any prayer meeting, and it will certainly kill any hopes for a prayer culture.
38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38 (ESV)
Key #5—Reject an Addiction to Petition
Prayer is not mostly asking God for things. It’s so much more than that!
It’s time we stop gazing into Heaven hoping for God to do something that we ask him to.
I almost never bring a list into my prayer meetings. It’s important that we are Spirit led and that we release the decrees and declarations that God puts on our spirits. From a place of praying in the Spirit God will highlight things he wants us to focus on. It never makes sense to pray for something that logically makes sense to give attention to if God reveals there is something more pressing to deal with.
There is much that God is ready to pray through us that has nothing to do with what we can intellectually understand.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, Ephesians 3:20 (ESV)
Again, this is why any prayer culture must be driven by groans and tongues. We must allow the Spirit of God to pray through us exactly what God is saying in that moment.
A primary goal is to see a sharp, prophetic atmosphere develop. People will be impacted by the very voice of God as we focus on hearing him and responding.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 (ESV)
Key #6—Implement Ongoing Training
Developing a culture of prayer requires a constant focus on it from the pulpit. The thread of prayer must weave through most every teaching that is given so people will understand the connection to the foundational call to give themselves to continual intercession. The why must be answered or prayer will cease.
Important topics that must be taught effectively include intimacy, identity, authority, faith, warfare and others.
In order for prayer to become dominant it will be necessary for people to be together often. If Sunday mornings are mostly prayer meetings (which I think they should be), then when would the training come? People will have to come back Sunday evening, Monday, Tuesday and other nights of the week.
When I was leading a church in Detroit I also encouraged people to grow very fast, independently. I’d encourage them to read books on prayer, watch or listen to sermons and attend other churches and ministries in the area that are going hard after revival from a foundation of regional intercession.
In fact, one of the most powerful ongoing workshops we had looked little like a typical classroom setting. People from our church and many others from churches in the region would gather together every Friday night for two hours of intense praying in the Spirit. We’d be in a different church every week and the Holy Spirit would teach people, in the moment, how to endure in prayer, how to break off fear and how to functionally lead such a dynamic type of event.
We were in over 100 churches in the Colorado Springs area and in over 70 churches in the Detroit area. That weekly, ongoing training in the classroom of the Holy Spirit was powerful!
I’d often call people together for a quick 2-3 minute instruction in the moment to explain what was happening or to give them a new tool of intercession.
Regular, weekly events like this will train a ready army of intercessors much more quickly than a teaching will.
Key #7—Practical Advice
While I could never communicate all of the various nuances and suggestions that help establish a culture of prayer, I’ll hit on a few.
In all of my years of ministry I’ve always held prayer one hour to every service. I would be the one, as the senior leader, conducting those prayer meetings. I think that’s very important as it communicates to everybody that it’s important. If the senior leader doesn’t lead those meetings, I believe he or she should be there and be extremely active.
I heard a story once about a very high ranking official from another nation wanted to meet with Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer. It was an extreme honor for that meeting to be made possible, yet Mike declined. The only time the official had time to meet was during Mike’s scheduled prayer shift. Mike already had a meeting with a higher ranking official, so he could not cancel it. I think we must have this type of commitment.
Over time I found myself getting a bit disturbed with my one hour prayer meetings before the services. Yes, they were extremely fervent and fiery. People were undone and praying boldly in the Spirit. It wasn’t the content that troubled me. It was the timing. If the church is, by definition, a house of prayer, why was the prayer meeting taking place before the church service started?
So, we changed things. We still prayed before the service, but we also moved it into the sanctuary. We didn’t stop praying when the service started. We didn’t bring on the worship team. We kept praying and launched the service with intercession. The first 15-20 minutes of the service was nothing but intense prayer. People would take turns boldly declaring the Word of God on the mic while the rest of the people would be on the faces or pacing around in raging prayer.
We’d then mix in worship and teaching, but prayer was the dominant force during the entirety of the service.
I’d encourage having one or two sessions of rapid fire prayer during your services as well. Invite people to line up and to pray bold prayers on the microphone, one after another. These are 5-10 second prayers that give everybody in the room a chance (and a challenge) to participate.
There’s a lot more I could share, but I’ll leave you a little hungry for more!
I’d love to hear about what’s going on in your church or region. Are you moving toward a prayer culture? What stories do you have? What questions do you have?
I’d love to come to your region to teach more on this. A weekend workshop could do wonders in your ministry!
Watch me teach on prayer and revival, learn more about the ministry and contact me at www.thefurnace.tv. Let’s connect!
When did we stop talking about Hell?
Isaiah 5:13-14 (ESV) 13 Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honored men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst. 14 Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure, and the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude will go down, her revelers and he who exults in her.
If ultimate, eternal judgment would visit God’s very people, Judah and Jerusalem, due to their drinking and partying ways, what is to become of those who openly rebel and reject God and his mandates?
The church has done itself a grave injustice by refusing to connect sinful living with the clear expected outcome of eternal torment. Our arguments against the homosexual movement and the horrifying evil on display at Planned Parenthood clinics in our nation have been reduced to a debate about morals and human rights. It’s no wonder we are accused of hatred when we are standing in the way of behavior that so many argue has no real impact on society. We have been forced into a position of analyzing metrics that reveal debatable negative trends in our culture that are a result of the behavior that we abhor.
For pro-lifers it’s extremely easy to be sickened by abortion—and certainly by what’s been uncovered in the recent undercover videos that have exposed the evil practices at Planned Parenthood. However, the pro-abortion crowd is convinced that legal abortion is healthy and appropriate. Is our best, most effective tactic trying to convince them that the baby is a person or is there another approach that would be more impactful?
Homosexuality has an even stronger position that their behavior is personal and private and what happens behind their closed doors has no impact on you or me. Of course, I disagree that their behavior has no impact on my life or on our nation. Their agenda has been possibly the most aggressive in recent history by forcing their beliefs on us through parades, sitcoms, legislation and other advances. However,the church’s response can easily be seen as selfish and hateful as it demands everybody adhere to a code that doesn’t even apply to those not in Christ.
I do feel there is a place to meet the mission of Planned Parenthood, the homosexual movement, immorality in Hollywood, corruption in government and the innumerable other strategies that the spirit of the age has been pushing on our nation at various more natural levels. We can and should support the defunding of Planned Parenthood. We absolutely must reject impurity that comes through movies and other media. We should be wise and understand that our liberties as Christians are at risk when we can’t even refuse to bake a cake for an event we don’t support. It’s important that we vote for political candidates that will help restore our nation to its Christian roots by confronting the advances of various special interest groups.
Additionally, as many Christians propose, we should function in great love when dealing with others who don’t support our biblical world view.
However, as I said, stopping there compromises our efforts.
We will always look like haters if we demand people adhere to our code of values.
We will always look passive and with little concern if we simply grin and tell people that Jesus loves them.
The reason we so passionately sound alarms and alert homosexuals, abortionists, pornographers, liars, thieves, murderers and others who are living outside of God’s brilliant plan for their lives is simple—we are broken over the fact that they will be tormented non-stop, forever with no relief in Hell.
We need to let them know that Heaven won’t be the same without them! Hell must not win on the day of their physical death!
Matthew 3:12 (ESV) 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
I had an encounter of being dragged toward Hell by an invisible demonic entity over twenty years ago. I almost went mad in that indescribable, horrifying experience. I can’t even think of that moment for more than a few seconds before I have to shut the thought down. It’s that terrible.
After I came out of that life-changing, uninvited revelation God spoke clearly to me: “John, many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.”
Just like those addressed in the passage I shared above from Isaiah, today many professing Christians will soon be in Hell with no chance of ever leaving. Some of those are people who are convinced they are Believers but who are following Jesus in an unsaved condition. Others are truly saved and will one day choose to fall away. That falling away will be great—and terrible.
If this is true for Christians, what than is to be expected for those who openly defy God?
We must see a return to Holy Spirit anointed preaching on Hell. We must warn people, with tears in our eyes, that they are headed there!
Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV) 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
GOD DOESN’T NEED A PUBLICIST.
I’m dismayed by the radical shift away from full counsel preaching of the Word of God.
I don’t know how often I’ve heard people say that preaching on Hell results in fear—and there is no fear in love—and so we must avoid it at all costs.
This demonically twisted wisdom has resulted in a massive resistance to large segments of the Bible in the hopes that highlighting the benefits would be enough to woo people to Christ.
Luke 12:5 (ESV) 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!
Today we have evangelism that communicates how much God loves people without communicating how great their sin is, and what the result will be if they do not repent. This results in a new breed of deceived religious people who believe they are safe but are most likely not. Repentance is non-negotiable.
God does not need you or me as publicists, carefully reframing his words so they are received by the greatest number of people. We are preachers not politicians!
When people see how convicted we are that they are on a path to a place as horrific as Hell, they will at least see our love for them. They all won’t agree with us but they will say, “Wow, they may be nuts but I really think they are convinced that harm is coming to us. They don’t hate us after all.”
When we use more natural tactics alone to confront the various evil agendas in the land we communicate that we are more interested in the preservation of the society that we prefer—one fits into our definition of appropriate.
However, if we have the courage to take the battle to a higher level we can boldly preach the reality of eternal damnation as a passionate yet heart broken church. Our identity will be transformed from one that watches out for our own interests to true watchman—those who are invested in the eternities of others.
Ezekiel 3:17-18 (ESV) 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.
Our cry must be, “No! Please! Understand that your lifestyle will result in a horror that you can’t even imagine. You will never have even a moment of relief. Please, repent, turn, let God’s love overwhelm you!”
Some might suggest that I’m suggesting that behavior modification is the key to salvation. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The keys to death, hell and the grave were retrieved by Jesus Christ, the only one who could do what was necessary to save mankind from destruction.
Revelation 1:17-18 (ESV) 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
However, it does remain true that unrepentant participation in sin absolutely does disqualify us from a relationship with Jesus. The fact that homosexuals unapologetically confess to participating in behavior that is forbidden by God is a clear indicator that they are not saved. The fact that those who are pro-abortion are set in their ways and determined to keep murder legal in America is evidence that they are clearly not in a legitimate relationship with Jesus.
It is fully appropriate to preach without apology that continuing in those (and other) sins without repentance and without making Jesus the Lord and Master of their lives will end terribly for them.
People need to hear the prophets shouting the alarms of eternal destruction that comes to those in rebellion to God!
Luke 16:24-29 (ESV) 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’
WHAT ABOUT SIN IN THE CAMP?
The next argument is that a focus on sin in the world while avoiding dealing with sin in the church is the perfect definition of hypocrisy. I agree.
As I shared above, many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day. It’s a reality that haunts me every day.
Those who live in sexual sin outside of the camp will be judged as will those who live in sexual sin in the camp will. Unforgiveness, hatred, lust, gossip and many other sins will have the exact same result as those in the world who we would call wild and deviant.
Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
However, the truth that we must deal with sin in the camp doesn’t erase our responsibility to preach the full counsel of Scripture to all. It highlights it.
Hell is awaiting millions of people, both in and out of the church, and we must make that known! So few actually even know or believe that Hell is their future. They presume all is well. My God! So few are letting them know that they are but a breath away from horror!
Matthew 13:24-30 (ESV) 24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
It’s time for us to preach truth and to see the planet shaken by the fire power of God’s Word again.
It’s true love that will give people an opportunity to decide where they will spend their eternity.
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 (ESV) 7 …the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might…
Isaiah clearly revealed truth and people had a choice. They scoffed at the idea that they would go to Hell, but at least blood would not be found on Isaiah’s hands.
Isaiah 28:14-15 (ESV) 14 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers, who rule this people in Jerusalem! 15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement, when the overwhelming whip passes through it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter”;
PEOPLE MUST HEAR THE TRUTH ABOUT HELL TODAY.
Matthew 13:47-50 (ESV) 47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
2 Peter 2:4-14 (ESV) 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!
Contrary to popular belief, a revelation of Hell absolutely does result in people running into the arms of a loving God.
When did today’s popular teachers presume it was appropriate to deemphasize clear, pure truth in favor of what is more pleasing? It’s truly an abomination!
Revelation 20:15 (ESV) 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Human wisdom would say we should focus on the benefits. Listen, we aren’t selling a time share. We aren’t trying to convince someone on the fence of buying a new car of how much their life will be better by driving it.
The truth is that outside of Christ we are evil people who should burn forever in Hell—and who will without an admission of our deviance and rebellion. Our decision shouldn’t be based on benefit. How selfish that is! It should be based on the reality of the punishment that is awaiting us and the revelation of God’s intense rescue mission to save us from torment.
God’s love is made more evident when contrasted with the truth of Hell.
The bottom line is simple: We cannot erase the Word of God. It must be preached in fullness. The result will be many current homosexuals, liars, adulterers, murderers and others falling desperately in love with Jesus.
Revelation 22:18-19 (ESV) 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Revelation 21:5-8 (ESV) 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
That’s the contrast we must have in today’s preaching. Reveal the spring of the water of life and the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. It’s how Jesus preached after all.
In the midst of an intense life of contending we can experience great and continual joy!
First, I want to encourage you to read my two latest Charisma Magazine articles. They are receiving a lot of feedback and one has nearly 30,000 shares from the Charisma Magazine site alone:
- Many in the church will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.
- Ancient and Emerging: 5 Major Changes Coming to the Church
Sometimes its easy to think that a call to contending means that we have to be grim and intense with no joy. This couldn't be further from the truth! We can experience joy, peace, life and an amazing relationship with Jesus always! Joy is strength and it is necessary for us as we advance in our callings.
It should be easy for us to smile, laugh, rejoice and experience abundant life even as we contend with a sobering, end-time calling.
6 keys to living free from the torment of sin
I’m encouraged by so many of the replies I received from my recent Charisma Magazine series of articles.
People are becoming awakened to their own depravity, and instead of hiding behind the false comfort of unbiblical grace, they are aggressively dealing with their sin. The grace of God absolutely can set us free not only from the penalty of sin but from the act of sin. We can be fully free indeed!
I’m finding myself responding to email after email with the same response to the same question. People are yearning to be liberated from the prison of sinful patterns in their lives—patterns that absolutely do put our salvation at risk if not met head on with the grace and blood of Jesus.
This is why a life of repentance is so beautiful! It leads us right to the cross of Christ. His applied blood completely eradicates every impurity!
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:28 (NIV)
I hear from a lot of people who testify to the power of sin in their lives. They proclaim that they are sinners saved by grace, and that Christians can expect to sin often, every day, for the rest of their lives. No! This is a doctrine of demons that has been embraced by multitudes of defeated Christians.
We are saints saved by grace! We have been given the power to live free from the traps of sin and we can expect to walk in daily sanctification unto holiness. We can absolutely, without question, be free to decide against sin. We should not—must not—sin regularly. What a disgrace to grace that would be!
So, just how can we take steps toward a life free from sin?
It’s simple, but not easy:
1. RESOLVE THE LOVE ISSUE
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:9-11 (ESV)
It’s shocking how many people question and doubt the absolute truth that they don’t have to earn God’s love. The true is that we don’t earn it, we abide in it.
When they sin the immediate accusation is that we have failed to the degree that God is now angry, offended and aggressively building walls around his heart so we can’t get near—until we prove to him that we are again worthy of his affection.
What a horrid way to live! When we fail, God is not surprised. He doesn’t approve of our failure, but he doesn’t pass out from shock. He’s not gossiping behind our backs about what we just did. He’s not shunning us until we pay our dues to get back into the club of the redeemed.
Yes, sin is serious and sin is deadly but we have to know that God is burning with passionate love for us and is there to restore us! If we understand this we won’t have to spend a “sufficient” amount of time feeling guilty and shamed until we can crawl back up into his lap.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2:1 (ESV)
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV)
2. PRAY ALWAYS
…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. 6:18 (ESV)
This one is simple but not easy. Without having a life of continual, fervent prayer that’s driven supernaturally by the Holy Spirit, our hope of living free from sin is slight.
Long ago as a young burning one for Jesus I worked at a car wash along with several yet to be redeemed people. Everything about that job was negative. The pay was awful, the work was hard and every day was monotonous and boring. In addition to that I had to continually walk way from the small groups of employees when they started sharing dirty stories.
Yet, I remember that season as a breakout one for me. I learned how to be free and full of joy in a vile and miserable atmosphere. I sang worship songs under my breath and prayed nearly non-stop. I learned how to deeply enjoy Jesus and to be jubilant in the face of misery! It was easy to talk to people about Jesus as I was burning hotter and hotter for him every day. It was easy to walk away from inappropriate discussions and to stick out as a zealot—because I was one!
One day, in that season of continual prayer and worship a particularly large and threatening man who worked there approached me. He said, “If you ever mention the name of Jesus to me again, I will kill you!” I simply smiled and said, “I can’t stop. He’s everything to me.”
The favorite part of my day was when I got off of work. Sure, it was nice to be finished washing cars, but that’s not what motivated me. The pastor of the church I attended had given me a key to the building so I went there every evening, all alone, and prayed. I turned on the worship music in the sanctuary, dimmed the lights and paced around and fell deeper and deeper in love with Jesus.
In that type of intentional prayer driven lifestyle it’s quite easy to say no to sin. Life starts “working together for good” as the famous verse in Romans proclaims. It’s interesting to note just what triggers a life where everything works together for good:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28 (ESV)
When we pray in the Spirit with deep groans of intercession our love of God explodes and our life becomes ordered and full of power.
3. TURN IT OFF
Media is killing the church. I’m saddened and sickened when Christians make excuses to watch immoral and unholy activity on the screen, whether its the movies or the television.
How can we allow ourselves to be entertained by sins in media that required the slaughter and murder of the one we say we love? Foul language, nudity, sexual situations, violence and coarse joking required Jesus to be brutalized and killed—and Christians are gaining enjoyment from it.
If you want to be free from sin, you have to turn it off. Shut it down. Stop watching what is abominable.
Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace. 2 Corinthians 1:12 (NIV)
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)
4. TURN IT ON
Try an experiment. Eliminate all music, even most Christian music, for a month. For that month listen to nothing but anointed worship music. Have it play night and day in your home, your car, your headphones. Discover a life of passionate worship that never ends!
I love this verse:
And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” Matthew 28:9-10 (ESV)
Is this not the cry of our hearts? What would it be like for Jesus to appear to us and say, “Greetings!”
What would it be like in that moment when Jesus shows up in our life in a life changing way? We would fall at his feet as though dead and worship!
Check out this long passage. Read it all. This is the God who we have the free and glorious privilege to worship!
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Revelation 1:10-18 (ESV)
Do you want to be free from sin? Be in the Spirit on the Lord’s day! Be ready for an encounter! Worship him with abandon!
5. BELIEVE THE WORD
The Bible becomes amazing when we believe it!
And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. Ezekiel 3:1-3 (ESV)
Often people are encouraged to read the Bible through in a year. That’s good, but I prefer to read, lets say, a verse for a month. Pray for the lightning hot power of truth to strike me through just one verse that it captivates me for hours, days and a lifetime!
When our life source and enjoyment truly comes from the very Word of God instead of through media and entertainment, the power of sinful desire is diluted. Diffused. Defeated.
…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, Ephesians 6:17 (ESV)
The Word of God is a weapon. God’s very Word, when received, believed and acted on, becomes a sharp sword against the enemy. Sin has no chance!
6. GATHER TOGETHER
Be deeply connected at a life giving, Spirit filled church on fire. Be teachable and accountable and let your iron sharpen others as well.
When we live in a community of holy, burning ones the resulting unity is a force against evil that is something to behold.
Worshiping the lover of our souls with others is something we should never live without!
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD. Psalm 27:3-6 (ESV)
Piece of Cake is now available for order! Discover how to quickly launch new life projects!
I started by designing the cover and then outlining the book and starting into the first couple of chapters on Thursday, July 18, 2013—just 19 days ago. The entire project was completed and made ready to order in just over two weeks!
This book was written according to the principles it communicates—launch into new ministry assignments, projects and other endeavors immediately upon conception.
Now, two weeks later, I can move on to other projects instead of letting time slip away as I continue to wrestle through this one.
The book will be available on Amazon AND Kindle within a day or two, but you can order it from my publisher site RIGHT NOW here: https://www.createspace.com/4392044
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
An Apostolic Freak
I often feel like a freak in the Kingdom. It’s not because I don’t fit in, or because I don’t have great friends and connections in the ministry. Rather, it’s because I’m continually provoked by the possibilities to change the world through various ministries, projects and endeavors—and that results in a lot of action, shifting, trial and error that takes many beyond their comfort zones. As a visionary, my heart is to provoke and awaken a generation to the greatness of God, and I am seeking any and every vehicle I can find, or invent, to get that message out there.
Apostolic people are pioneers who go where no man had dared to go before. They tear down, plant and build. God is awakening leaders today who fear nothing and respond immediately to his commands to shock the planet with the fire of his Spirit! This lifestyle will trouble the status quo and irritate the hesitant.
God is looking for people to blaze a new trail—people who won’t delay and who won’t wait for others to affirm them with a vigorous thumb’s up. He is seeking people, like Paul, who have the confidence to run the race and call people to follow them as they follow Christ.
People are longing to launch into ministry, and to initiate ministries and projects—and this is good! We are living in an era when the Lord is vigilantly identifying critical end-time ministries and the laborers who will give leadership to them. I am regularly contacted by zealous men and women of God who know they have been tapped by God to make a difference, yet are unsure about how to take the leap into ministry.
This uncertainty results in dreams and desires that feel like little more than a vapor of gasoline that’s unable to get the engine started. The hope gets deferred and the heart gets sick. I can’t even count the number of potential Earth shakers who are experiencing defeat without even making an attempt at success! Fear of failure results in actual failure!
Whether you are starting a church or a ministry, an important life project or even a minor endeavor, the message is the same: Get started! Starting a ministry that is birthed by God is truly much simpler than you may realize—it’s a piece of cake! And, there’s icing on the cake! And there’s fire on top of that!
When I am awakened to a fresh ministry idea, I’m instantly invigorated. Often, I will actually begin developing the ministry immediately—within hours or minutes! It’s important to let the vision activate and gain traction immediately upon conception.
ORDER TODAY https://www.createspace.com/4392044
Life with John and Amy: Easily connect with the Revival Church family THIS SATURDAY at our home!
First, tonight is going to be HOT! I’ll be teaching on “Fire—Fervency and Friction.” Tonight’s emphasis is on friction. What should we expect as end-time warriors in the Kingdom of God?
Revival Church meets at CENTRAL CHURCH, 1529 E. 12 Mile Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071.
Life with John and Amy
Every month we will gather together as a revival family at John and Amy’s house for a FULL night of food, fun (like ping pong!), worship, prayer and discussion on fulfilling your ministry!
Bring food to share! We’ll enjoy eating together! It could be fried chicken, nachos, dessert, an appetizer or anything else!
This is for you if you desire any of the following:
- Discovering how to fulfill your ministry
- Eating a lot of food with new friends
- Playing ping pong
- Prophetic ministry
- Learning the ins and outs of ministry leadership
- Worshiping with other zealots for Jesus
It all begins THIS SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2ND, 2013 at 6pm at the Burton homestead! 64639 Tara Hill Drive, Washington, MI 48095. Invite anybody you want, bring food and get ready for a fun filled night! (Oh yeah, bring the kids!)
A crisis is coming to the church…in fact, it’s the church who must initiate it.
Matthew 26:73-75 (ESV) 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
He invoked a curse on himself
From the Life Application Commentary: While Peter may have hoped to seem a natural part of the group by joining in the conversation, instead he revealed, by his speech, that he did not belong there. This was too much for Peter, so he decided to make the strongest denial he could think of by denying with an oath, “I don’t know the man.” Peter was swearing that he did not know Jesus and was invoking a curse on himself if his words were untrue. He was saying, in effect, “May God strike me dead if I am lying.”
Peter was running for his life. In the church today the prevailing focus is on our experience and the affirmation and protection of our lives and lifestyles. People go to church to enhance their lives. When their lives, or even their lifestyles, are threatened, people will begin to run for their lives. They will run to safety.
This clear and extreme denial of Christ will invoke a curse!
Jesus was so indignant about this type of reaction that he dealt with Peter in fierce fashion before this event even unfolded:
Matthew 16:21-23 (ESV) 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Peter denied the cross, and Jesus rebuked Satan who was working through Peter (who Jesus had just identified as the rock, the CHURCH!). He made the point clear: Peter was mindful of thing things of man and not the things of God. Jesus than said:
Matthew 16:24-25 (ESV) 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
A crisis of the cross
Apostles and prophets must step into their positions of authority and release a great crisis to the church!
This is a necessary crisis as it will result in the true, abundant life of multiplied millions. The offensive, bloody cross must return to the church—and now!
When Jesus was hailed as King at the Triumphal Entry, the masses converged. The focus was self. They wanted Jesus to save them, make their lives better. They were crying out, “Hosanna!” which means, “save us now!”
So, Jesus complied. The only way to save the ones he loved was to face death on the cross. Yet, the rooster crowed and the crowds scattered and turned on Jesus. His closest friends ran for their lives. One cursed himself in his denial. Another betrayed Jesus and hung himself.
Yes, it’s time not to snack on some bread and grape juice, but to eat his flesh and drink his blood.
When the cross is introduced in its full, bloody force again in the church, we will watch this drama unfold another time. People will flee from the church when focus changes from personal freedom to personal cost. Betrayal will skyrocket. Fear will grip those who haven’t surrendered all.
Where will you be when the cock crows?
The generations must come to the cross
Everybody ran for their lives but mom and son, Mary and John (along with Mary Magdalene) remained. The generations converged.
John 19:26-27 (ESV) 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
Luke 1:17 (NIV) 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous–to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
The elder generation must refuse to run. The younger generation must refuse to run. We must converge around the threatening, offensive cross of love. When we do, the harvest will come. The world is watching. The thief was watching and surrendered to the love that could only be revealed at the cross as the two generations deeply loved Jesus together:
Luke 23:43 (ESV) 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Any movement that doesn’t take place at the cross is a false movement.
This is one reason I’m so troubled by some events, certain unity movements in a city, pastors meetings, etc. If a pastor isn’t fully ready to resign his mission, to lose his salary, to surrender his sheep, to shut his church down, I have little interest in meeting. The cross demands everything. When pastors of a city gather around the cross and don’t focus on personal gain, revival will be at hand. Yes, many will be offended, but the Harvest will flood in!
False Love and False Grace
These beliefs are centered around self. The focus is our benefits instead of cross of Christ and instead of the harvest.
I’ve heard it said that we as Christians no longer have to confess our sins. False grace.
Tolerance does not equal love.
Mark 8:34 (NKJV) 34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
Many in the church will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.
This is what God spoke to me after my life transforming encounter with the forces of Hell 21 years ago.
The false grace/false love messages are resulting in entire church congregations unwittingly buying a ticket to Hell, all while they lift their hands and worship Jesus and read their Bibles and pay their tithes. They have an imaginary salvation.
Jesus told five out of seven churches of believers in Revelation that they were lost, on the way to destruction. 5 out of 7 professing Christians were Hell bound! It’s horrific yet easy to believe that this ratio may be accurate in our churches today!
Leaders will most certainly be held accountable for this silent slaughter of God’s children.
It’s time to speak plainly about the truths of scripture, the severity of the hour and the mandate of obedience. Heaven and Hell lie in the balance.
Ephesians 5:4-6 (ESV) 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
The passage goes on to say…
Ephesians 5:10-11 (ESV) 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
We must discern, and then expose darkness. We must not become so focused on pleasure and enjoyment, especially as Christians. In fact, we can’t be primarily focused on being entertained in the name of God. We must take up our crosses, discern what is pleasing to God (not to us) and expose darkness!
Check out this verse regarding focus on self:
Romans 2:8-9 (ESV) 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,
This is the risk the false grace/false love movement presents. This is the fruit.
Watch what happens when true grace is in the equation:
Acts 4:32-35 (ESV) 32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
So, we see those in the church had great grace! Does that mean God’s judgment and holiness is no more? No way. Check out a couple of people who also had great grace on their lives:
Acts 5:1-11 (ESV) 1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. 7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.
Their disobedience in a season of great grace resulted in great judgment. And, then, fear hit the church.
We need this fear of the Lord again!
If we are to avoid a repeat of this, we must renounce the false grace/false love messages and sound the alarm of holiness and death to self!
When the cock crows, will you be running for your life as you curse yourself or will you be at the foot of the cross as the blood of Jesus pours out over you?
Will you be using God for personal gain and experience his judgment or will you embrace the fear of the Lord?
A crisis of the cross is coming to the church again.
What is this revival thing and what do we have to do to get it here?
It’s time to understand that we carry revival! The fire of the Holy Spirit, the most powerful force in the universe, is literally in us right now!
So many are jumping through hoops hoping and waiting for God to finally be convinced that he should show up. That should not be! Jesus is convinced already!
Watch this short video that will open your eyes to the power of life over death. I share a unique perspective on the story of Lazarus that will leave you burning!
Go here to watch the video now! http://www.xpmedia.com/Le4ZLJD8Cbuz
AND, DON’T FORGET TO APPLY FOR THELAB INTERNSHIP!
The deadline for the pre-registration discount is NOVEMBER 30TH. Save $200!
Head on over to www.revivallab.com/apply today!