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Resurrecting a Dead Church

Resurrecting a Dead Church

Hallelujah! Though there are still several steps to go through before it is in print, I have finished writing my latest book. It is called, Resurrecting a Dead Church. Its purpose is to spark a revival in our dead and dying churches and to help strengthen our living churches. I also believe it will be profitable in sparking reveal in one’s personal life. To help whet your appetite, I thought I would share a part of its introduction, which will further explain its purpose. I also ask that you would pray for God to use it for its stated purpose-revival.

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“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:1-6 NASB

            Being the only apocalyptic book in the New Testament, Revelation has often struck fear in the hearts of many with its visions of judgments, dragons, and beasts. Though it speaks of these things with the intent of bringing repentance to the unbeliever, its other purpose was to encourage the first-century church. Though the majority of The Book of Revelation is about an awful and truly fearful future tribulation that will impact the whole world, one of its main purposes is to be a source of strength and encouragement to the church in times of trouble.

The first-century church experienced some of the fiercest persecution the Christian church has ever seen. The Apostle John, who introduced himself in Revelation 1:9 as, “Your brother and fellow partaker in tribulation,” was on a small island called Patmos as a form of persecution in exile because of “the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus.” Though he was a fellow partaker of this tribulation, he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day worshiping the very one of whom he was suffering for, His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

While in the Spirit on the Lords day, John heard behind him a loud voice as demanding as the sound of a trumpet. When he turned to see whose voice it was, he saw Jesus, but in a way, he’d never seen Him before. He saw the revealed Christ. John gives the title to Revelation in Revelation 1:1. It is, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” A revelation is an unveiling. Imagine being at an art exhibit. The newest exhibit is before the audience ready to be revealed, but it has a veil over it hiding what’s beneath. Everyone knows that it is there, but they have yet to see its beauty. It is still vailed. Once everyone’s attention has been directed to the exhibit, the vail will be removed, and all will gasp at its beauty.

The Book of Revelation is the unveiling of Jesus Christ. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ in all of His glory and splendor unveiled for all to see. When Jesus returns, He will not return as the suffering servant. Rather, He will return as the conquering King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What greater source of encouragement is there to a persecuted church than knowing when their Lord returns every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord? Even John, the beloved disciple, fell at Jesus’ feet as a dead man when he saw Jesus in His unveiled state.

Just before John turned to see Jesus, he heard Him say, “Write in a book what you see, 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.” (Revelation 1:11). These were seven churches that existed in John’s day that Jesus had an individual and specific message. There were obviously more than seven churches that existed at this time which was toward the end of the first century. More than likely, most, if not all, of these churches ended up with their own copy of Revelation. Though it wasn’t directly addressed to them, no doubt each church took heed to the message. At the same time, as with all of scripture, the messages Jesus gave to the seven churches are lessons we can, and should, learn from today knowing that we still face these issues.

Jesus wanted these churches to know who He was. He addressed each church individually and disclosed to each church a part of His revelation of Himself that they specifically needed to know. Not only did Jesus want the churches to know who He was, He also wanted them to know that He knew who they were as well. He told the church of Sardis, “I know your deeds.” (Revelation 3:1). When John saw Jesus, he saw Him in the middle of the seven golden lampstands. In Revelation 1:20, Jesus told John that the seven golden lampstands are the seven churches. Jesus is amid His church, and He knows what’s going on. This truth should both encourage us amid trials and convict us amid disobedience.

Jesus had something against all but two of His churches. He had nothing negative to say to the churches of Smyrna or Philadelphia. To all but two of the churches Jesus also had words of praise. However, to the churches of Sardis and Laodicea Jesus had nothing good to say. To the church of Sardis Jesus said, “you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” (Revelation 3:1). Is there anything positive that Jesus can say to a dead church? Of course not. Their message from Jesus was one of the need to repent.

They had a reputation, a name, of being alive, but they were dead. They were dead but didn’t know they were dead. Only Jesus knew they were dead. Everyone else thought the church of Sardis was alive and active. Unless a church is heretical or blasphemous, it isn’t our place to try and figure out who the dead church is. That is not the purpose of this book. The purpose of this book is to make the church look within itself and seek the council of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit to figure out where they are personally. It is a frightening thing to think that our church, though we think it is alive, can truly be dead and other churches, though we think are alive and vibrant, are truly dead.

Well, that’s not very encouraging now, is it? Not if we stop here. Fortunately, Jesus gave the church of Sardis advice to take ahold of if they wanted to live again. He gave them hope. Can a church be resurrected? Can a man be resurrected? Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:16-17, “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” So, let’s stop asking foolish questions and get on with the task at hand, which is seeing our churches resurrected through walking by faith and living in obedience to Jesus Christ.

Though we wouldn’t normally attribute resurrection to a church if a church is dead and comes to life again what greater word is there? Most of the time we would call this revival or renewal. I will mostly use the word revival in this book. Regardless of what you call it, the point is clear, to those who place their faith in Jesus, there is resurrection and life-restoring power readily available. No doubt, this is clearly the will of Jesus for His church. That’s why He advised the church of Sardis to repent. His heart was to see them come to life again and thrive. So, take courage. If your church is dead or dying, know that through faith and obedience in Jesus, it can not only live again, it can thrive.

As previously stated, statistics today are grim and outright depressing. Baptisms, attendance, service, commitment, and giving are all at all-time lows. Many of our church have already closed their doors never to open again while many are on the verge. Countless churches are simply in a state of existence with no vision or focus. Many of them have been stuck in this rut for decades. Many of them are in a rut and don’t know it. This isn’t what God had planned for His church. Something needs to change; and soon. So, what do we do? Where do we turn? Who will show us how to climb out of this rut? Jesus!

Jesus gave the church of Sardis five commands that if acted upon would turn their church around. It would bring revival and resurrection power breathing new life into their dead church. In this book, I am going to take a close look at these five commands so we can learn from them and apply them to our churches today. No doubt, these are timeless principle that is still able to breathe new life into our dead churches in our day. Even if your church isn’t dead, these are principles every church should live by to ensure its continued vitality.

If a church can be thought of as alive by all yet considered dead by Jesus, how can we genuinely know a dead church from one that is alive? We will no doubt find the answer by taking an in-depth look at the letter Jesus gave to the church of Sardis in Revelation 3:1-6. There, we will see why Jesus considered Sardis a dead church, though they had a reputation of being alive. By doing this, we will see through the eyes of Jesus, rather than the eyes of the world, what a dead church looks like and more importantly, through the instruction of Jesus, how to be a vibrant living church that honors Jesus and lives in obedience to Him.

A healthy vibrant church should be of the utmost importance to every Christian. If our churches are healthy, we will have a heart to raise the spiritual atmosphere of our church and our world, and we will send out workers into the field with the power of the gospel reaping a great harvest of the lost. Once the lost are saved, they will bring those new believers into a healthy church to be properly discipled where in turn they will be sent out as workers for the kingdom as well. Every Christian personally benefits from a healthy church, as do our families, our communities, our nation, and the world. At the same time, everyone suffers from unhealthy churches. Satan’s kingdom thrives when our churches are dead and ineffective. Our passion should be to see our churches healthy, vibrant, and full of life. Then, and only then, will we honor Jesus, and for the glory of God, have a true, lasting, and eternal impact upon our world.

A good doctor will look at the symptoms of their patient to know what type of sickness they have so they can properly treat them. In the same way, we need to look at the symptoms of an unhealthy church to know what it needs. The purpose of this isn’t to be grim or negative. The ultimate purpose is to bring a restoration of life and good health. Fortunately for us, we can learn from the prescription of life and good health that Jesus gave to the church of Sardis so our churches can live again and be healthy.

Jesus told John in Revelation 1:17-18, “I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” Immediately after telling John this He told John, “Therefore write.” Jesus wanted His churches to know that He, and He alone, has authority over life and death. There is nothing a doctor can do for those who have died but praise God; Jesus is more than able.

Rusty Kuhn

www.rustykuhn.com 

 

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2019 in Bible Study, Book, Uncategorized

 

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A Clear Biblical Mandate

A Clear Biblical Mandate

Clearly the church is failing in regards to evangelizing this lost world. Thom Rainer, the CEO of Lifeway, recently wrote in a blog titled, Where Have All the Baptisms Gone? “I recently reported the latest statistics for our denomination. It’s not a pretty picture. Our membership declined again, this time by 105,708. And our baptisms were down to 314,956, the lowest level since 1948. But in 1948, we only had 6 million members. Today we have 16 million members. We are reaching less people for Christ, even though we have 10 million more members than we did in 1948.”

Lifeway isn’t just a great book store, they are also an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention and collect data from all of the churches within the SBC. Therefore, the denomination he speaks of here is the Southern Baptist Convention. More recently he stated that 93-94% of what many SBC churches call church growth is from transfers and not conversions. That isn’t true church growth. That is simply taking fish out of one pond and putting them in another. He also states that only about 90% of SBC churches are intentionally evangelistic. How sad. The other sad reality is, the SBC’s statistics are better than most other denominations.

Even the most spiritually blind person among us today can see that this world is becoming morally bankrupt while it slips further from the Lord. Immorality of every sort is socially acceptable in almost every facet of society, even in many churches. Bible believing Christians are left asking the question, why. Why is this world slipping further and further away from God’s righteous standard?

We are quick to make excuses that it is a sign of the times we are living in. We say the Lord is coming back soon and we are therefore seeing the apostasy. There may be truth in these statements, but this truth should cause us to work even harder for the kingdom and not less. We are even quick to pass the blame on everyone else. We say that the government, the judicial system, the news media, and the entertainment industry for the most part are anti Christian liberals who stand against us. We say things like, “If we can get Washington right we will reclaim this nation for the Lord.” However, there is a major problem with statements such as this. It is not the government’s job nor responsibility to lead this nation to the Lord-it is the churches. It is the churches, and only the churches, responsibility to evangelize this lost world.

The clear picture that statistics such as this, and many more like it, show is that the church is not doing its job in evangelizing the lost. God has given a clear biblical mandate to all Christians to share the gospel. Just prior to His ascension Jesus gave the final instructions to His disciples to go into all of the world and proclaim the gospel. (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:47-49, John 20:21). Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” He said, you shall be, or you will be, My witnesses. Jesus intention for His church to share the gospel is abundantly clear. Since the gospel, and only the gospel, is the power unto salvation, only the gospel of Jesus Christ can transform society. Don’t you think it’s time we start sharing it?

We can sit around and mope over our sad state, or we can get up and do something about it. I prefer the latter. For this reason, I am starting this series of blogs titled, Missions, Ministry, and Evangelism which I will post every Monday that will focus on practical ways we can personally share the gospel along with ways we can challenge our churches to get beyond the walls and into the community to be intentional in missions, ministry, and evangelism, for the sake of reaching this lost world with the gospel.

Stay tuned and go share the gospel. Feel free to share.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2018 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Only God Can Make America Great Again

Only God Can Make America Great Again

Tomorrow, January 20th, 2017, the United States of America will inaugurate its 45th president, Donald Trump. He was elected in large part because of the record number of evangelical voters who turned out to vote for him. They showed up to vote for him for two reasons. First, because they were sick and tired of his opponents party flag burning, God hating, sin loving ways. Second, though they had concerns about Mr. Trump’s character, they knew they could stand behind most of his policies. But, let’s be clear, Donald Trump cannot make America Great again, only God can do that.

I do not say that as a means to put down on Donald Trump. I personally believe that he has the potential to be a great leader; and, I hope he is. However, only God can make America great again. If Solomon were to be inaugurated tomorrow with all of his wisdom he would not be capable of turning this nation around. Let us not forget that Solomon lost his focus on the Lord resulting in his kingdom being divided. Today, our nation is more divided than ever and the election of Donald Trump only polarized it more. And, let’s be realistic for a moment, if he is successful he will only infuriate his opponents, who have a powerful voice, all the more, causing further division and harm to our nation. God alone can heal this nation.

My fear is that Christians think that Donald Trump’s elections is a victory for them. It isn’t. The only way we will see victory is when a mighty revival spreads across our land. I firmly believe that we need revival and spiritual awakening in our nation more today than we’ve ever needed one in our history. It was for this reason that I left the pastoral ministry and surrendered into full time evangelism. My heart burns to see revival and we are in desperate need while our nation is in grave danger if it doesn’t take place soon. Donald Trump’s election did not, and cannot bring about this needed revival. Again, only God can do that.

I firmly believe that God has given to us His formula for revival in II Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” The biggest word in this verse is the first one, if. God said “If my people who are called by my name.” Not if Donald Trump, or Washington DC, or the media, or judges, but God’s people called by His name. God is saying here, if my people who are called by my name do their part, I will do my part. And God is not a man that He should lie. If God said it, He will do it!!!

It does excite me to see how energized bible believing Christians were to turn out and vote against a candidate who was opposed to them and for a candidate who said he would stand for them. But again, that’s not the victory. Imagine for a moment if Christians were just as energized to be God’s people, humbling themselves before Him, praying, seeking His face, and turning from their wickedness for the purpose of seeking God for revival and spiritual awakening. We cannot force the hand of God to bring revival. Only He in His sovereignty can bring it about, but, I can’t help but believe that He would certainly be moved.

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of imagining it. I’m ready to see it. But it will only happen, “IF”, if God’s people who are called by His name seek him for it. Let us now start a new campaign. Let us start a campaign of seeking God’s face for the healing of our land; for revival and spiritual awakening. I’m game, are you? Share this with others as well to challenge them and pray that this will be a movement that spreads throughout this parched land like a raging wildfire.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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How to Prepare for Revival

How to Prepare for Revival

How to Prepare for a Revival:

After years of planning and preaching revival meetings I have learned a few things. The first thing I have learned is that a revival meeting isn’t necessarily a revival-it is often times only a meeting. In fact, I am thoroughly convinced that only a handful of people in our generation have experienced true, ground shaking, sin breaking, heart piercing, life changing revival. True revival doesn’t end at the final amen of the week. In fact, when true revival comes, that is only the beginning.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in meetings. I am interested in seeing a God glorifying, church transforming revival that leads to a spiritual awakening of even the most hard hearted within the community. Keep in mind, neither you nor I can bring about revival. Only God can do that. But, we can prepare ourselves, and the church, and petition our almighty God for such a revival within the church and spiritual awakening in the community. If you are planning a revival meeting here are my suggestions to help prepare your church for true revival.

Prepare by Preaching:  

Naturally you need to plan the when’s, the where’s, the who’s and things such as this. But that’s the easy part. Once those tasks are accomplished you as the pastor need to plan on preparing the church for revival; plan on preaching, plan on promoting, plan on praying, and plan on seeking the favor of God. The church will only be as enthusiastic about revival as the one behind the pulpit and will only be as prepared as the pastor prepares them and as they pray and trust in God to be.

Start off by preaching a series of messages that will prepare the church for the up coming revival. Preach on getting spiritually prepared, the need for prayer and fasting, the need for seeking God, the need to go and tell others, the need for revival in and of itself, among other things the Lord may lead you to preach on in this time of preparation as you seek His direction. Through the preaching and the promises of God’s word build the church up for an anticipation and expectation of revival.

I firmly believe that we aren’t seeing revival in our day because the people of God are not hungry for it. They aren’t hungry for it because they don’t see the true need for it. Therefore, the pastor should, through the Word of God, convince the congregation that they truly are in need, and that God can, and will, bring about revival if we are truly hungry for Him and sincerely seek Him. Through the proper preparation of preaching the truths of God’s word, revival should be desired, prayed for, and expected within the congregation prior to the actual revival meeting.

Prepare by Promoting:

Let everyone, and I mean everyone, know you are having a revival. There are countless ways to get the word out. As a pastor, you already have too much on your plate. For this reason, I highly recommend forming a promotions committee/team. They can make posters, purchase yard signs and banners, arrange advertisement, organize community canvassing and form a plan to get the whole church involved in a variety of ways.

For churches that can afford it, radio, television, news paper, and social media advertisements are a good means of promotions. However, I have found over the years that word of mouth and personal invitations are always the best means of getting folks to come. We have a whole host of ways to invite people these days. I know social media has it’s downsides but it has proven to be a great resource for promotions as well.

Be sure to get your Sunday School classes, R/A’s, G/A’s, Awana’s, and youth groups involved. Find some innovative ways to get the whole church plugged into promotions and personal invitations. This is not only a good way to invite people to your revival services, it will also unite the church in its anticipation for the revival. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have revival start prior to the evangelistic team showing up?

Prepare by Prayer:

We don’t simply want a house full of people-we wan’t the power of God. No revival has ever occurred apart from prayer. Prayer is fundamentally the most important aspect of revival. In truth, it only takes one or two to seek the face of God for revival. However, prayer doesn’t just petition God for revival, it also prepares the prayer warrior for it. The sad reality is the majority of Christians will never seek God for revival. However, I am thoroughly convinced if we can gather the church to pray we will have it.

I have preached revivals where droves of sinners were saved and a multitude of church members were moved to the alter in prayer and repentance. I have preached the same sermons with the same personal preparation in other churches where the only one’s who moved were the ushers passing the plate. What was the difference? The churches preparation for revival by prayer. When I know a church is prayed up, I know the fire will fall. God will always honor His people’s prayers. Just look at God’s promise of II Chronicle 7:14. In essence God said if you do your part, I will do my part and “I will hear from heaven.” Strongly emphasize to your church how important praying for revival is and get them on their face before a holy God praying. Pray and believe that God will rise up prayer warriors.

Plan a minimum of a month in advance for the church to start corporately praying for revival. Set aside a time in the week where praying for the revival will be the only focus. Train a prayer team consisting of mature Christians how to pray through the revival services by praying through the points of the messages that God would pierce the churches heart with His truths and bring repentance to the sinners. Train them how to pray through the time of invitation for the Holy Spirit to have His way. As an evangelist, I will always recommend a time to be set aside everyday for the pastor and the revival team to pray together. Invite the whole church to come 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or an hour prior to the revival to come in and pray with and for the revival team as well as the revival meeting itself.

Prepare by Petitioning God’s Favor:  

I know many churches have spring and fall revivals because that’s what they do and that’s what they’ve always done because that’s what the church expects. If you are having a revival because you want to fill a spot on the calendar-don’t expect one. It probably won’t happen. Or, if you want a revival because you believe God needs to come straighten your church folks out over some issues, or if you are wanting a revival to fill more pews, don’t expect it. Why? Because none of those things honor God and none of those things are seeking Him.

When true revival comes it is messy, ugly, painful, and sometimes humiliating. But, the end result is always beautiful and glorifying to the Lord. What is revival? Revival is when God shows up, and God takes over. It is when God has His way in our personal lives, our churches, and our community. So, what/who do we want for revival? God! God, we want You, God, we need you, God, we are not sufficient without You, dear Jesus, we can do nothing apart from You.

Again, we can’t bring about revival. The best churches, the best prayer warriors, the best planners, the best musicians, nor the best preachers can bring about revival. Only God can. But we can, and we should, seek His face and His favor, and only His face and His favor, and, when He chooses to bring about revival He will do what He sees fit to do. He is God after all. Remember, He is a rewarder of those who seek Him! (Hebrews 11:6)

I also believe in the power of praying through God’s word. How better do we know His will? In most of my revivals, I preach through the principles of II Chronicles 7:14, therefore, I give this suggested prayer guide of praying through II Chronicles 7:14.

Pray through II Chronicles 7:14

For yourself and for the church

“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

  • Ask God to revive yourself and His people
  • Ask God to rise up workers called by His name especially evangelists and teachers.
  • Ask Him to strengthen, anoint, embolden, and encourage those who are working.
  • Ask God to humble yourself and the church to trust only in His power and live in obedience.
  • Ask God to give yourself and the church a strong burden to pray for revival in the church and salvation to the community. Ask Him to rise up prayer warriors.
  • Ask God to give yourself and the church a strong desire and longing for Him; that we would seek His face. Pray the the church would only be satisfied with the power and presence of God.
  • Ask God to bless the church with His presence, Sunday School, prayer services, and the revival meetings. “Do not hide Your face from Your servant.” Psalm 69:17
  • Ask God to reveal any sin within yourself or the church and that the church would turn from any wicked ways.
  • Ask God to convict the church of righteousness that the whole congregation would live holy before Him.
  • Ask God to hear from heaven and send revival upon our church.
  • Ask God to forgive yours and the churches sin, then cleanse, and restore to righteousness to the church, and nation.
  • Ask God to heal our land and send a mighty spiritual awakening into your community where many will be saved. Ask that it would spread near and far.
 
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Posted by on October 12, 2016 in Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Day 11 Praying for Revival

Day 11 Praying for Revival

The Plagues and Pestilence

When the church fails to be the church, it lays a wake of devastating consequence within society. It doesn’t take the most spiritually discerning individual to see that society is rapidly becoming hardened toward Christianity. I dare say that in the United States, a nation that was founded upon Judeo/Christian principles and has been known since its founding as a Christian nation is becoming increasingly hostile to true biblical Christianity. Sometimes we use the excuse, “These are the signs of the times”, or “Our nation is undergoing judgment.”

There may be truth in both of those statements; however, I am firmly convinced the reason society is becoming increasingly hardened toward Christianity is for the simple fact that the church is not being the church. Paul urged the church in Ephesians 6:19, “and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.”

Paul’s simple request of the church was to pray for him as he proclaims the gospel. The sad reality is that Satan has convinced the majority of all Christians not to proclaim/share the gospel although the Bible clearly teaches that it is every Christian’s call and duty.  What is even more frightening is the fact that so few are willing to take the time to till the ground through the power of prayer for those who are sowing the seeds of the gospel. A prayerless church is a powerless church.

In Matthew 13 we find Jesus telling the parable of the seed and the sower. Jesus tells of one who is casting seed everywhere he goes. As a farmer, he would be a bad steward of the seed. However Jesus tells us that the seed He speaks of is the Word of God. Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”. In other words as you go, cast your seed everywhere and to everyone making disciples and teaching God’s Word. The result is not ours but God’s. We are simply being good stewards of the gospel seed, casting it as we go and leaving the result to God.

Although the end result is God’s, Paul told the church of Ephesus to pray as he proclaims the gospel. The sower of the seed sowed seed on the roadside, on the rocky places, in the thorns, and on the good soil. As we begin to pray, we begin the process of tilling up the soil for the seed to be sown in the good soil.

A farmer who does not prepare the soil prior to the sowing of the seed is not only foolish but also a bad steward of the seed. Every farmer knows that preparing the ground is the most vital element in producing a good crop. When the church fails to prepare the spiritual soil by refusing to pray, they are likewise foolishly being bad stewards of the gospel seed.

The stony, thistled spiritual soil of this modern day has proven difficult to sow the seed in. However this should encourage us all the more to pray. Our hearts should be so stirred with the compassion that Jesus had when He cried out to the stony-hearted inhabitants of Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.”

            Untilled land unsown with the gospel seed that has the power unto salvation will only produce a crop of pestilence. The pestilence of sin plagues the unevangelized land leaving the citizens hopelessly lost to live out their lives in the immorality and the lusts of their flesh. So often we fuss about the ways of the unevangelized, but how should a lost person act other than as a lost person? “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14,15).

The condition of the spiritual soil within the land is no doubt a direct result of the spiritual drought within our churches that has opened the door wide for the devourer leaving the land desolate for the pestilence of sin to settle in. We fuss about the immorality and sin that has plagued our society. Sexual perversions of all sorts have become the norm; families are being torn apart; and drugs, crime, violence, and overall disregard for humanity are now a part of daily life. However, the plague of sin is simply the symptom and not the cause. It is the fever that allows us to know our bodies are sick. Clearly, the biblical cause is the spiritual drought that has gripped so many of our churches. The time for revival is now! The fields are white unto harvest. Let’s stand up and reclaim this land in the name that is above all names, Jesus.

Day 11 Prayer Guide

  • Ask God to reveal any sin or mindset that would prevent Him from hearing your prayers.
  • Repent of any such hindrance and ask for God’s forgiveness.
  • Ask God to remove any doubts and keep you focused on Him.
  • Seek the Holy Spirit to consume you during this time to lead you. Be obedient to Him.
  • Ask yourself why you serve God. If it’s not out of love, repent.
  • Spend some time praising God for the fact that He is able. Quote some scriptures or some of His characteristics to Him in praise.
  • Pray that the people of God will repent of sins and mindsets that dishonor and hinder Him.
  • Pray that the people of God will seek the presence of God in their lives and their churches life.
  • Pray that the people of God would hunger and thirst for Him and therefore, seek His face.
  • Pray that our churches understand spiritual warfare and engage in it.
  • Ask God to raise up a mighty army of prayer warriors.
  • Pray that the people of God will stand in faith knowing God can reclaim this land.
  • Pray that our churches would be devoted to, and peruse the things that honor God.
  • Pray that our churches will be a house of prayer.
  • Pray that our churches will be a shining light upon the hill.
  • Pray that the people of God would see the need for revival and begin to seek God for it.
  • Pray specifically for revival in your church. Pray for your pastor and church leaders.
  • Pray that the people of God will be broken hearted over the lost.
  • Pray that the church will be a gospel centered church with a heart to evangelize the world while starting in their own back yard.
  • Pray that the church would stand up to their calling and loose heaven on this earth.
  • Pray that the power of God would fall on the church moving them to prayer and sowing the gospel seed.
  • Pray as a result that the plagues and pestilences in society will be reversed.
  • Pray for a great awakening in your community. Name off streets and neighborhoods.
  • Do not be judgmental in this, but pray that if there is any within the church who do not have a genuine relationship with Jesus that God would convict their heart and save them.
  • Make a list of individuals who are not saved and begin petitioning God for their salvation.
  • Pray for repentance of sin and a great awakening in our nation.
 
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Posted by on February 28, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Day 10 Praying for Revival

Day 10 Praying for Revival

The Destruction of the Devourer

            The reality is that we are at war-not a physical war but a spiritual war. Ephesians 6:12 tells us who the battle is against, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” It is a war that started in heaven as seen clearly in Isaiah 14 and was brought down to this earth resulting in the fall of man.

This spiritual battle continues to this day and is fought for the souls of mankind. Satan found that he could not steal God’s glory and was greatly humbled for trying. Therefore, he will stop at nothing to blind mankind from seeing and responding to the glory of God through salvation. II Corinthians 4:3,4 says, “if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

            Satan’s strategy is threefold. First, he will do everything he can to prevent individuals from responding to the gospel. He will distract them in any way possible to prevent them from paying attention to or seeing the need of the gospel within their lives. Second, he will send false prophets to proclaim a false gospel deceiving people into the gates of hell. And third, he will stop at nothing to prevent the church from proclaiming the gospel message so people cannot hear.

If a church has entered into the realm of spiritual drought, they will turn from being a gospel centered church to a self-seeking, self-honoring, and self-centered church. As a result, the church of spiritual drought has opened the door wide and rolled out the red carpet for the devourer to come and destroy. As far as Satan is concerned, a silent church is a successful church.

In Matthew 16 we see Jesus telling His disciples that He is going to give the church the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said with those keys the church will have the ability to loose and bind things on earth and in heaven. Keys are symbols of authority. Jesus was teaching His disciples that He will give the church the authority of heaven and that the authority (gates) of hell could not stand up against it.

Immediately after Jesus shared these amazing truths to the disciples, Jesus began telling them what was about to happen to Him. Matthew 16:21 says, “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 be raised up on the third day.” Peter gladly accepted the message of authority and was even blessed by Jesus for responding to a revelation from the Father. However, Peter would have nothing to do with these teaching of Jesus. Matthew 16:22 shows Peters response. “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You”; Wow! Peter rebuked Jesus and said, “God forbid it” to the very plan of God. Jesus immediately let Peter know who he was speaking on behalf of as seen in verse 23, “But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s”.

How often do we say in our hearts (whether directly or indirectly): “I don’t care what God has said in His word; I’m simply not going to do it”. God has told us to go, give, teach, preach, pray, share, sacrifice, and love; yet, we continually tell God “no”. Why do we tell God no? We do so because we are not setting our minds on God’s interests but man’s, and we have played right into Satan’s hand.

God has given to us the message to proclaim that is the “power of salvation to those who believe.” (Romans 1:16). He has also given to us the power of the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8) along with the authority to loose heaven on earth. Yet we stand amazed at the lostness of this world through the deception and distraction of the devourer while we have at our disposal the divinely powerful weapons of God to utterly defeat him.

Jesus said in John 4:35, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” When Jesus said that the fields are white unto harvest, He meant that if you do not harvest the field immediately, the field will be left to ruin. Clearly, the harvest is plentiful; yet, so many Christians idly sit by allowing the devourer to destroy the crop.

Day 10 Prayer Guide

  • Ask God to reveal any sin or mindset that would prevent Him from hearing your prayers.
  • Repent of any such hindrance and ask for God’s forgiveness.
  • Ask God to remove any doubts and keep you focused on Him.
  • Seek the Holy Spirit to consume you during this time to lead you. Be obedient to Him.
  • Ask yourself why you serve God. If it’s not out of love, repent.
  • Spend some time praising God for the fact that He is able. Quote some scriptures or some of His characteristics to Him in praise.
  • Pray that the people of God will repent of sins and mindsets that dishonor and hinder Him.
  • Pray that the people of God will seek the presence of God in their lives and their churches life.
  • Pray that the people of God would hunger and thirst for Him and therefore, seek His face.
  • Pray that our churches understand spiritual warfare and engage in it.
  • Ask God to raise up a mighty army of prayer warriors.
  • Pray that the people of God will stand in faith knowing God can reclaim this land.
  • Pray that our churches would be devoted to, and peruse the things that honor God.
  • Pray that our churches will be a house of prayer.
  • Pray that our churches will be a shining light upon the hill.
  • Pray that the people of God would see the need for revival and begin to seek God for it.
  • Pray specifically for revival in your church. Pray for your pastor and church leaders.
  • Pray that the people of God will be broken hearted over the lost.
  • Pray that the church will be a gospel centered church with a heart to evangelize the world while starting in their own back yard.
  • Pray that the church would stand up to their calling and loose heaven on this earth.
  • Pray the church will understand the urgency.
  • Pray for a great awakening in your community. Name off streets and neighborhoods.
  • Do not be judgmental in this, but pray that if there is any within the church who do not have a genuine relationship with Jesus that God would convict their heart and save them.
  • Make a list of individuals who are not saved and begin petitioning God for their salvation.
  • Pray for repentance of sin and a great awakening in our nation.
 
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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Day 9 Praying for Revival

Day 9 Praying for Revival

Spiritual Drought

The warning from Jesus to the church of Ephesus was simple: Repent or I will remove the golden lampstand from your midst. In Revelation 1, we find the beloved disciple, John, banished to the Island of Patmos as punishment for proclaiming the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus. We find him in the Spirit worshiping the Lord on the Lord’s Day when Jesus appeared to Him with a voice as the “sound of a trumpet.” After hearing this demanding voice Revelation 1:12, 13 proclaims, “Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man” He saw Jesus standing in the midst of the lampstands.

With the symbolic portrait of Jesus in Revelation 1 we have to decipher the meaning behind the symbolism. However, in regards to the lampstands, Jesus gave us a full description. He says in Revelation 1:20, “the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” For Jesus to remove the lampstand from the church of Ephesus would then mean that Jesus removed the very fact that they are a true Holy Spirit-anointed church.

I can’t help but to wonder how many meeting places there are in this world that have the name church on a sign just outside of their building. They function as a church. They call themselves a church. Others more than likely view them as churches. They are likely members of a denomination that have many true Holy Spirit-anointed churches within its ranks. However, they chose at some point in their history not to heed the warnings of Jesus and repent. For that reason, they gave the Holy Spirit an eviction notice because they are more in love with their ways than they are with God’s. It is not our place to judge churches as to whether or not they are true Holy Spirit-anointed churches. However, the frightening fact is that I believe the above stated scenario is played out in cities, towns, and communities all over the world.

Drought brings about death, and death is the absence of life. This statement is simplistically elementary; yet for some reason we have such a difficult time comprehending this very truth in spiritual life. If there is no function, there is no life. God has created the church to function. He has created the church to worship Him, to evangelize the lost, and to actively engage in missions and ministry. If we are not a functioning church, are we truly a living church?

I am not making a moral argument for or against artificial life support. However, we need to understand that when dealing with the church, artificial life support is nonexistent. Jesus is the only life support the church needs. Anything else is false fire which is manmade, man centered, and insulting to a holy God. We think having exciting music or excellent orators or an abundance of wealth is a sign of God’s blessings; yet, Jesus said to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:17, “you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”

Exciting music, excellent orators, and an abundance of wealth are wonderful things if they are Jesus centered and used for His glory. However, when we view these and things of the like as signs of life rather than the presence of the Lord in our midst, we are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. We stand in need of repentance.

We have also fallen into the trap of thinking numbers, size, and finances are signs of the life and vitality of a church. An elephant void of vital signs is just as dead as a mouse in like condition. Likewise, a poor man is just as dead as a rich man when he breathes his last. Regardless of the size or wealth of the congregation, the true question is what is my church doing to have an impact for the kingdom of God in the name of and for the glory of Jesus Christ? Is my church functioning, is it moving, or is it simply existing? Jesus didn’t call us to simply exist; He called us to “go therefore”!

A church that is experiencing spiritual drought is not necessarily a dead church. Unresolved drought brings about death, but drought in and of itself is not death. It is a warning that the vital signs of the church are in critical condition and stand in need of action. If the church takes the appropriate action by repenting and turning back to Jesus, there will be revival. However, if the church refuses to respond to the looming reality of drought, death is inevitable.

I believe that God has given to us a great example of a healthy church in Acts 2:41-47. If our churches are healthy and vibrant, they should be devoted to the similar things that the first Christian church was devoted to. A church with the same devotion and passion as the first church is a healthy, vibrant church. However, if our churches are not lining up with the biblical model that God has given, we stand in need of repentance.

Before we move further I would like to give a warning. Often times we view a church that is dead or dying as a lost cause and lose hope for that church. We may then as vocational ministers of the church or as laymen have an inclination to jump ship and move to another church. I believe that this is one of the very reasons many of our churches are in such poor shape. Often pastors will stay at a church just long enough to discover that the church has problems only to go to another church to discover they too have problems. The problems are then left unattended and the church remains unhealthy and ineffective.

If churches were beyond hope, there would be no point in this study. The purpose of this study is not condemnation; it is for restoration leading to revival. Let us not forget that the same Jesus that called Lazarus from the tomb is the same Jesus that is working to restore our churches this present day. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8).

With this in mind let us set in our hearts and minds that we will be the light that shines on a hill and the salt that preserves the life of the church. As the old hymn says, “though no one join me I still will follow, no turning back, no turning back”. With humble hearts set on being the Lord’s servants, let’s set our goal to be the one who is “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord”. And though we may stand alone, let us be the one who stands in the gap! Let us not be a part of the problem but a tool of the Lord for a solution to the problem.

Day 9 Prayer Guide

  • Ask God to reveal any sin or mindset that would prevent Him from hearing your prayers.
  • Repent of any such hindrance and ask for God’s forgiveness.
  • Ask God to remove any doubts and keep you focused on Him.
  • Seek the Holy Spirit to consume you during this time to lead you. Be obedient to Him.
  • Ask yourself why you serve God. If it’s not out of love, repent.
  • Spend some time praising God for the fact that He is able. Quote some scriptures or some of His characteristics to Him in praise.
  • Pray that the people of God will repent of sins and mindsets that dishonor and hinder Him.
  • Pray that the people of God will seek the presence of God in their lives and their churches life.
  • Pray that the people of God would hunger and thirst for Him and therefore, seek His face.
  • Pray that the church as a whole would return to their first love.
  • Pray that the people of God would be passionately in love with Jesus.
  • Ask God to raise up a mighty army of prayer warriors.
  • Pray that the people of God will stand in faith knowing God can reclaim this land.
  • Pray that our churches would be devoted to, and peruse the things that honor God.
  • Pray that our churches will be a house of prayer.
  • Pray that our churches will be shining bright lights on a hill.
  • Pray that the people of God would see the need for revival and begin to seek God for it.
  • Pray specifically for revival in your church. Pray for your pastor and church leaders.
  • Pray for a great awakening in your community. Name off streets and neighborhoods.
  • Do not be judgmental in this, but pray that if there is any within the church who do not have a genuine relationship with Jesus that God would convict their heart and save them.
  • Make a list of individuals who are not saved and begin petitioning God for their salvation.
  • Pray for repentance of sin and a great awakening in our nation.
 
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Posted by on February 26, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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