In this worship gathering, which includes the Lord’s Supper, we hear a message concluding our series on the book of the Revelation, from chapter 22, entitled, “Come!” We learn some principles that are helpful for our walk with God, and some challenges that remind us of the importance of taking the Scripture seriously. You can watch the message below, or the entire worship gathering below that.
Month: February 2023
Last week, I wrote about the revival taking place in the chapel at Asbury University in Kentucky. There are many opinions circling the Internet about it, and as I said, its legitimacy will be seen down the road by the fruit borne from it. I am praying for great things to happen as a result!
Some back stories are starting to come out about how all this began. One of them comes from the preacher on the day the revival began, February 8. A volunteer soccer coach at the university gave what news reports are calling an “improvised sermon” about real love, and invited students to come forward if they wanted to receive prayer to experience a better love than the world (or, sometimes, even the church) had shown them.
He closed by saying, “I pray that this sits on you guys like an itchy sweater, and you gotta itch, you gotta take care of it.”
The soccer coach-preacher, off the platform, then texted his wife to say his sermon was “another stinker” and that he would be home soon.
As the last couple of weeks have demonstrated, though, that sermon was anything but “another stinker”. God showed up and moved in the hearts of those present, and those who would come later, even days later.
I tell you this to remind you that words matter.
Whether you’re a preacher or not, your words have an impact on others. And when your words are spoken to the glory of God, the Holy Spirit can take your efforts and multiply them many times over.
I’ve experienced this myself. There are weeks, as a communicator, that I don’t think I’ve offered the best I could give. Yet, invariably, when I feel that way, someone will express to me how the Lord moved that person because of what I said (or, sometimes, what she or he thought I said!).
As I often tell students and preachers alike, what happens from the time the words fall out of your face and into the ears of listeners is not up to us: the Lord can do amazing things.
That doesn’t mean we should be less careful with our words, whether spoken publicly or privately; we should always give our best, and speak to the glory of God, all the while understanding that in the end, it’s not up to us.
Who knows? Maybe the Lord will use your words to spark a revival in your home, or your school, or your church, or your community!
“[W]hatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father” (Colossians 3.17, NLT).
Revive us again!
In case you haven’t heard about it, there is currently a revival going on at Asbury University in Kentucky. For several days now, there has been a steady stream of people entering the university chapel to pray and worship God. It all started when a chapel service ended, and nobody left.
That building has now been occupied with worshippers, sometimes a full house, for over a week. Why does this matter?
If nothing else, it demonstrates that God is at work in the world!
At a deeper level, it shows us that the human race has not been forsaken by the Lord.
Among the most socially impactful revivals were the Great Awakenings in New England in the 18th century, sparked in large part by the faithful biblical preaching of Jonathan Edwards.
Even a cursory study of history will show that periodically over time, in various places in the world, movements of the Holy Spirit have taken place that have had an impact on society. Perhaps you remember the Toronto Blessing from the 1990s as an example of this.
A dear friend and colleague and I drove to Toronto one snowy Sunday night to witness this movement. Seated with some seminary professors in the back row, we took it all in. People were laughing, people were doing “carpet time” (as it was called), being slain in the Spirit. It was vastly different from what my service that morning had looked like!
But in all honesty, as one with the spiritual gift of discernment of spirits, I was not alarmed.
While it might not have been “my thing”, I found it difficult to doubt that God was at work in the midst of that.
Revivals are great. Everybody likes a show. What really matters, though, is the fruit that is borne from it. As my friend, John G. Stackhouse, Jr., wrote recently, the revival at Asbury will have been a remarkable work of God if there is some seed of growing discipleship demonstrated among the people affected by it.
Should we pray for revival in our hearts, our homes, our churches, our nations? Undoubtedly, yes! And as we do, let’s likewise pray for the desired result of revival: changed hearts and lives. Otherwise, we will have enjoyed the sizzle, but not feasted on the steak.
God is still active in our world. He has not forsaken us, the pinnacle of his creation. Let’s pray that many, many people are directed to follow Jesus with greater devotion as a result of revival.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15.5, NLT).
Make the ask!
I was at the dentist’s office on Wednesday for a checkup. Some people are not fond of these necessary events, but I’m not bothered by them at all. One can’t hate on dentists and hygienists; they’re just doing their jobs. Even when we diligently care for our teeth and gums, there may come a time when procedures must be done that are necessary and possibly uncomfortable, but the pain we experience in the dentist’s chair is generally more manageable than the pain we might suffer were we to neglect such care.
It may seem strange, but I rather enjoy visiting my dentist’s office, mostly because of the people. They are kind and friendly, and we usually engage in some sort of conversation.
As I was leaving on Wednesday, I mentioned to the receptionist that we are going to have a ‘chili competition’ pot luck lunch on Sunday. As I said this, another patient who was waiting chimed in to say that she had been invited to a chili pot luck, too.
Turns out, it was the same event!
The patient told me who invited her; it was one of our elders, with whom she had a relationship.
I was pleased to see that invitations were being given! Sometimes, a second invitation – which I offered – might just be enough to encourage the person to attend!
Never underestimate the value of the invitation. Whether it’s to worship, a lunch, a small group, or some other event in church life, we can make the ask. The person might say no, but she or he might say yes, too, and you’ll never know if you don’t make the ask.
It might take multiple invitations before the person says yes. You don’t want to badger your friends and loved ones with invitations, but you don’t want to ignore them, either.
A friend of mine was regularly invited to church by a coworker. At that time, my friend was not a Christian and had no interest in going to church. But later, when, by God’s grace, he did become a believer, guess whose church he went to?
Yep. He went with the coworker who invited him so many times.
Persistence without belligerence has a far greater chance of bearing fruit than keeping the invitation to yourself. Make the ask.
Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” And the reality is that God’s people aren’t taking many shots. Make the ask. It could make an eternal difference in someone’s life.
“Come and see what our God has done,
what awesome miracles he performs for people!” (Psalm 66.5, NLT)
Get a new outfit!
It’s not an easy time to be a follower of Jesus.
It seems like virtually every possible establishment intentionally or unintentionally works against the principles of the gospel.
What’s more, the new developments of technology and social media have made it even more challenging.
There are times, if we’ll admit it, when it would just seem easier to throw in the towel and live like the rest of the world, without regard for Jesus or what he has done for us. And lately, those times seem to be more frequent for some people.
If you’re in that place – and even if you’re not in that place (because, one day, you probably will be there) – I encourage you to buy a new outfit.
But this isn’t “retail therapy”; it’s spiritual preparedness.
Put on the whole armour of God.
Read this passage a few times, and let it be a theme for your day, maybe even for a few days. Spiritually arm yourself; it’s a battleground out there.
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6.10-17, NLT)