John Wesley, whose followers eventually founded the Methodist Church, was controversial in his day. Eggs and tomatoes were often thrown at him as he walked the streets of England, sharing what God had shown him in His Word.
One of his controversial statements concerned prayer:
I am convinced that God does nothing on the earth, except in response to believing prayer. –John Wesley
Let’s think about that for a moment.
In Genesis we see that God gave man authority (dominion) over the earth – and He also gave him free will. He doesn’t force you to obey Him, and He doesn’t control your life apart from your permission. God places great weight on people asking Him for His intervention. We can choose to run our race with Him – or not!
So what was Wesley saying?
Wesley’s point was that when God is ready to put a new piece of His plan in place, He first impresses upon the hearts of His true prayer warriors to pray for it. And He always has those who are willing to pray for His purposes.
Sure, God’s ways are so much higher than ours, He will surprise us with His methods and details. But I am talking about God’s overall plans. For your life – and for your world. The plans He reveals in the Bible.
The Word is full of examples of this concept.
One of those we can find in Daniel 9:2.
In the first year of his (Darius’s) reign, I, Daniel, observed in the Books the number of years which was revealed as the Word of the Lord to Jeremiah the Prophet for the completion of the desolation of Jerusalem, namely seventy years. So I gave my attention to the Lord to seek Him by prayer and supplication.
Interestingly, Daniel saw in God’s Word that their captivity was to be for 70 years. And the 70 years were complete! So Daniel prayed for this promise to be fulfilled.
And it was!
In Ezra 1, we see that God stirred up the heart of Cyrus the King to facilitate the return of God’s people to Jerusalem. Cyrus was not even a believer, but God still impressed upon him to grant favor to the Jews. And thus the return to Jerusalem began – just as Daniel had prayed.
Let’s look at one more example.
If there was ever anything which God would have done without any prayer from man, it would have been the birth of Jesus. That was God’s design from the very beginning. So did He have people praying for that?
Indeed, in Luke 2 we can see that He did. On the 8th day after the birth of Jesus, His parents brought Him to the temple to be circumcised. There He met two of God’s Prayer warriors who immediately recognized Him as the Messiah. First, Simeon, who was told by God that he wouldn’t taste death until he saw the Messiah.
When he saw Jesus, he proclaimed:
Now, Lord, you are releasing your bond servant to depart in peace, according to Your Word,
For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples.
A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the Glory of your people Israel
Next comes Anna, a prophetess.
Anna was an 84 year old widow, who stayed in the temple night and day fasting and praying. When she saw Jesus and heard Simeon, Anna rejoiced greatly, thanking God for the Messiah having been born.
God always has His intercessors. While many of the church leaders were parading around in their priestly robes, trying to impress their subjects, God had some seemingly less significant people praying for His purpose.
Yet to God, they were the most significant! These intercessors were the ones who saw and recognized Jesus when He was only 8 days old.
Neither of them was a person of high position or great honor; they were simple people. Both of them were advanced in years and both spent lots of time praying. These two were the first in the community to recognize the Messiah because of their prayers.
Each of these people had seen in God’s Word that the Savior would come, and they were praying for it to happen. The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he wouldn’t see death until he had seen the Christ, and that’s exactly what took place.
The joy which came from this man was evident as he recognized Jesus and proclaimed God’s Word. Overhearing these words, Anna agreed, and her joy exuded to others – the Savior had come!
God’s methodology hasn’t changed. There are many today who parade around in their pride and arrogance, ignoring God’s plan, and even discounting his Word. Even some leaders are caught up in their own importance, and ignore God’s desires.
Then there are others. There are those who love God and His Word, and who spend time praying for it to come to pass. Sometimes these people are unrecognized, even by those around them. But God knows what they are doing, and He is pleased.
Our world is in great need of awakening – a promise God has made to His people. There are those who believe God, allowing Him to direct their prayers, and increasing in their ability to pray. Those are the ones who will recognize what God is doing, as they work with Him for His great plans to come to fruition.
They take the Word which God impresses to them, and they pray it back to Him. They thank Him for the manifestation – and they decree that Word into the atmosphere. And they don’t give up!
Great moves of God can take time, so patience is necessary. Yet significant change is on the way.
We have already begun to see trickles of it, but we will see more. We will see God move in the hearts of people, calling them to a greater life in Him.
In Luke 10:1 We see Jesus commissioning 70 (or some translations say 72) of His disciples to go into God’s harvest field. We can take these verses and apply them to us today. As you read, notice how applicable they are.
The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field.
That Greek word for “workers,” is ergates, and it’s also translated “ones who do.” Doers.
Doers. I like to think of them as Those who do what they pray. Doers of the Word.
So what is the harvest field?
The next few words will give you the clue.
v. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.
Does that sound familiar? Does that sound like your office or your school? Your neighborhood association?
Have you thought of those people as your harvest field? Well, they are! That’s who you can impact the most. The people you see every day or often. Even the mean ones and those that seem like they would never be interested in Jesus.
Sometimes we think of evangelism as big meetings with powerful preachers. Or altar calls at our local church.
Yet the most effective evangelism is friends impacting friends. Or sometimes not-so-great friends.
I heard an evangelist talk about an encounter he had. He was guest speaker in a church, and had called for those to come forward who needed special prayer. One girl in her 20’s came up and asked him to pray for her to find a new job. She said that she was the only Christian in her office. She wanted to get away from the cussing and dirty jokes.
The evangelist put his hand on her head and said, “Dear Father please forgive this selfish little daughter of yours. And release her from that part of the Word which says go into all the world and preach the Gospel.”
More than likely, this didn’t really happen, but the evangelist was making a point.
The world will never receive the Gospel if we just want to hang out with other Christians. We are to go into the darkness of the world and take the light of God. That’s the only way the world will be changed. That’s the only way many will ever know the Lord.
If you ever hear testimonies of some of the greatest ministers, you will hear how someone never gave up on them. Someoone kept coming back with love and prayer. So never be led by what you see in the people themselves.
Now how can you handle these dark places?
Look at the next verses.
v. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; do not greet anyone on the road.
He wants you to be totally dependent on Him. In all things. When you are dependent on the Holy Spirit, you will be listening to Him and not to other men for your directions.
To be a true Doer for God, you must be able to hear His directions and not be bound to the worldly way of doing things. Not bound to natural reasoning. Or man’s provision. Count on His Spirit to guide you and provide for you.
That’s important because, if you think in natural terms, you will want to lash out at those who lash out at you. You will want to ignore those who ignore you. However, God may direct you to continue with patience to sprinkle the salt of God’s love and forgiveness on the meanest ones around you.
Verse 16… Whoever listens to you listens to Me; whoever rejects you rejects Me.; but whoever rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.
As “Doers,” we learn not to take rejection personally. Those are people who are being led by Satan and his demons to turn away from God. But if the Holy Spirit is leading you to sprinkle some more love. More word. More forgiveness.
You return love for hate. Good for evil.
As Jesus sends out the seventy disciples, armed with His delegated authority, they return with a tremendous report. His plan is truly working. People are being healed and demons are fleeing as they go in His name.
Jesus rejoices that He sees Satan fall from heaven. This one who has tortured mankind will soon be thrown from heaven for good.
Jesus says something which many even today don’t understand.
v. 21 I praise you Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.“
Obviously the 70 He called were not wise and learned. They were simple people. Perhaps not educated. Why would that be?
Humility is required in God’s kingdom. Only those who are willing to listen to Him are to be His representatives in the earth.
The wise and learned are not very teachable, because they want to believe only what they can learn with their minds. They get caught up in their own reasoning and leave God out of it. In fact, often their pride blocks what God would like to do for them and through them.
God wants people who will allow Him to teach them. People who know that they need to depend on Him. These are the ones to which He can delegate His authority. These are the ones He can send in His name.
So allow God to lead you in your mission as a Doer of His Word. He will give you direction – and confirm it with His Word. As you worship your Heavenly Father and stay close to Him, you will grow in your ability to hear His voice and know what He wants you to do.
We have great days ahead as believers. Many mission fields. Many who need to hear about Jesus and to witness ones you walk with Him.
Do you feel insecure in this? That might be a good thing. Dig deep into God’s Word and allow it to penetrate your thoughts. Pray and ask your Heavenly Father for wisdom. Allow God’s Spirit to live big in you.
Then decide you are going to be a Doer of the Word, with all that has been revealed to you.
Christians have often stayed away from politics. The process can be so negative, with all of the mud-slinging, each side seeming to slander the opponent with impunity. It often creates strife – even in families. When debate starts, people seem to dig in their heels on their point of view, and the divide gets stronger than ever.
When it’s so negative, some people just “stay out of it.” They want peace at all costs, so they just ignore the dialogue and pretend that nothing unusual is going on. After all, they say, “This is the world, not God’s kingdom.”
I have a different view. In fact, when I wake up every morning and count my blessings, one of the greatest is that I live in a free society. I don’t have to be concerned about the authorities stopping my Christian worship. I don’t have to dress a certain way, or limit the number of my children, or worry about my daughters and granddaughters being able to attend schools and pursue their dreams.
Because our nation has been blessed by God, there are many more perks we can list. Warm or cool houses, running water, electricity, good sanitation, ample food…the list goes on and on. We are truly a blessed people.
I’m quite sure that the reason for this is that our God has had His hand on our nation from the beginning. Even Christopher Columbus noted in his diary that He felt that Providence had miraculously allowed his small crew to make the journey to the new world. Later, when the first adventurers started coming to the new country, they were seeking a place where they could worship their Christian God freely. Then, when the first settlers signed the Mayflower Compact dedicating the new country to God, our nation was started in covenant with God Himself. What a significant foundation.
The ingenuity and creativity we have enjoyed, the entrepreneurial spirit we have demonstrated, and the standard of living we have come to expect, all have come from God’s blessing. We have had His guidance and protection from the beginning.
So why is it so important to involve ourselves with politics? We have been entrusted with a tremendous responsibility. In our free society, we have the right and responsibility to vote for the people who will lead us, make laws, and activate other decisions which affect our lives. For us not to vote, indicates that we don’t honor our freedom to do so.
And for us to vote the way God wants us to, we need to know what the candidates stand for.
Successful democracy depends on an educated populace. We can’t afford to stick our heads in the sand and just hope that “God’s will is being done.” He is counting on us to pay attention and vote for His will.
So go beyond the surface,and find out what the candidates believe. Don’t just look at what they say, look at what they do.
As you do your research, ask yourself these questions. Do they honor this great country and the constitution, which many believe was inspired by God? Do they honor religious freedom? Do they honor all life – even the defenseless, like unborn babies? (Oops, I’m giving myself away). Do they want to provide opportunities for people to pursue their dreams, or do they want to control the process?
Listen to the debates,and take a look behind the rhetoric to assess the truth.
Then, make your plans to vote for God’s candidates in November. We need to exercise our right to vote. We don’t want to lose the privilege God has given us to live in this free country. A country which is free to strive for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Let’s look at what some founding fathers said about this.
We electors have an important constitutional power placed in our hands; we have a check upon two branches of the legislature . . . the power I mean of electing at stated periods [each] branch. . . . It becomes necessary to every [citizen] then, to be in some degree a statesman, and to examine and judge for himself of the tendency of political principles and measures. Let us examine, then, with a sober, a manly . . . and a Christian spirit; let us neglect all party [loyalty] and advert to facts; let us believe no man to be infallible or impeccable in government any more than in religion; take no man’s word against evidence, nor implicitly adopt the sentiments of others who may be deceived themselves, or may be interested in deceiving us.
[John Adams, The Papers of John Adams, Robert J. Taylor, ed. (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1977), Vol. 1, p. 81, from “‘U’ to the Boston Gazette” written on August 29, 1763.]
Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.
[Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. IV, p. 256, in the Boston Gazette on April 16, 1781.]
Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the character of public men.
[Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. III, p. 236-237, to James Warren on November 4, 1775.]
Consider well the important trust . . . which God . . . [has] put into your hands. . . . To God and posterity you are accountable for [your rights and your rulers]. . . . Let not your children have reason to curse you for giving up those rights and prostrating those institutions which your fathers delivered to you. . . . [L]ook well to the characters and qualifications of those you elect and raise to office and places of trust. . . . Think not that your interests will be safe in the hands of the weak and ignorant; or faithfully managed by the impious, the dissolute and the immoral. Think not that men who acknowledge not the providence of God nor regard His laws will be uncorrupt in office, firm in defense of the righteous cause against the oppressor, or resolutly oppose the torrent of iniquity. . . . Watch over your liberties and privileges – civil and religious – with a careful eye.
[Matthias Burnett, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Norwalk, An Election Sermon, Preached at Hartford, on the Day of the Anniversary Election, May 12, 1803 (Hartford: Printed by Hudson & Goodwin, 1803), pp. 27-28.]
I have one great political idea. . . . That idea is an old one. It is widely and generally assented to; nevertheless, it is very generally trampled upon and disregarded. The best expression of it, I have found in the Bible. It is in substance, “Righteousness exalteth a nation; sin is a reproach to any people” [Proverbs 14:34]. This constitutes my politics – the negative and positive of my politics, and the whole of my politics. . . . I feel it my duty to do all in my power to infuse this idea into the public mind, that it may speedily be recognized and practiced upon by our people.
[Frederick Douglass, The Frederick Douglass Papers, John Blassingame, editor (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), Vol. 2, p. 397, from a speech delivered at Ithaca, New York, October 14th, 1852.]
[T]he time has come that Christians must vote for honest men and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them. . . . Christians have been exceedingly guilty in this matter. But the time has come when they must act differently. . . . Christians seem to act as if they thought God did not see what they do in politics. But I tell you He does see it – and He will bless or curse this nation according to the course they [Christians] take [in politics].
[Charles G. Finney, Lectures on Revivals of Religion (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1868), Lecture XV, pp. 281-282.]
Thanks to www.wallbuilders.com for providing these documents.
Never forget how important your part is. Our blessing and our responsibility go hand in hand!
As I scan across the internet and see what people are saying, I find certain themes are prevalent. Many – especially young people – are questioning the existence of God. Is He real? Does He speak to us? And what about Jesus? What is He all about? Is He a myth?
These questions are sometimes posed outright, but more often implied in the views which are expressed. Furthermore, peoples’ actions give them away. It’s obvious that the many distractions of our age, whether they are career achievements, sports, or social life, can dull the nudge within a person’s heart. Often it seems that people don’t care.
This saddens me, but doesn’t surprise me. There have been so many mistakes by those of us in “organized Christianity.” Hypocrisy, apathy,and in-fighting sometimes have made us poor role models. But the faults of others don’t have to determine your life. (more…)
What does it mean, exactly to be a part of God’s Kingdom?
In an earlier post we talked about being Born Again. That is the Foundation upon which we build our lives as Christians.
It’s also what distinguishes Christianity from all other religions. All religions have rules of good and evil. Principles for the supposed “Good Life.”
Only Christianity brings us a Savior who died for our sins, and who sent His Holy Spirit to live inside of us. We are changed from within our hearts. Truly a miracle!
Though Abraham wasn’t born again, he can give us a picture hinting at our truth.
By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going…For he was looking forward to the city with foundations whose architect and builder is God. Hebrews 11:8 (NIV)
Something similar happens to us when we receive Jesus. We realize that we have been called to a new “place.” A new paradigm. We don’t know exactly what to expect, but we know that we need to know our God. And we know that His plans are better for us than our own plans.
St. Augustine, who lived in the 4th and 5th centuries had this experience in a dramatic way.
He had lived a raucous life until he was born again. His life was drunkenness, fighting, and unruly living in general. After his born again experience, he changed completely, and went on to be one of the most important Christian leaders — greatly influencing early Christianity.
He was a prolific writer, grasping the significance of the Christian life.
Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.
Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions, 400ce
Every person on earth is looking for love and acceptance. Especially from God.
The interesting thing is that often people don’t know it. They may think that money will satisfy that restlessness. Or fame. Or beauty. Or sex. Or one more vacation.
But none of these fill the void. Otherwise, you would see all the famous rich people living joyful lives. Yet we know that this isn’t the case. Often they drink and drug themselves in order to dull the pain and restlessness they are experiencing.
There is only one thing which will fill that void. Or one Person.
When we meet Jesus — and receive Him as our Savior — we are changed. From the inside out. Not looking to outward things to bring happiness, but looking to inward, as our spirits come alive.
Several things change…
We become aware of God’s great love for us. We realize that He is not holding our sin against us, because Jesus paid that awful price for our sins.
We realize that Jesus is indeed alive — and His Spirit has come to live in us.
As we read the Bible, no longer do we merely see words on a page. These words seem to be written just to us and for us.
As we read and study, we come to know that we have entered a whole new realm. The Kingdom of God.
We will sense God directing us as we walk with Him.
We will be aware of God’s presence and His voice. Sometimes this voice will be audible, but not often. Usually it will be what we refer to as a “still, small voice.” Something like a gentle “knowing” from Him.
We will desire to share our new experience with others.
We have become citizens of a new country. The Kingdom of God.
In II Corinthians 5:16–20 (NIV)
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do no longer.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.
All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting peoples’ sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
We are therefore, Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. God has made Him who knew no sin to be made sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. The old is gone. The new is here.
We are Christ’s ambassadors. Ambassadors of the Kingdom of God.
If you were to become an ambassador of your country, you would have to go through training. You would be expected to learn many things about your country as you prepare for your mission. The history. The methods. The plans.
It’s the same with God’s Kingdom.
God has given us a manual: the Bible. And an instructor: the Holy Spirit within us. As well as other teachers who help us glean the truths from God’s Word.
As born again believers, we read, listen, and learn about our Kingdom.
Just as any good ambassador, we don’t want to represent our own personal interests to others. We want to represent our country — and our King.
We present His plans, and not our own plans, to the world.
Instead of hate, we show God’s love. His mercy. His forgiveness.
Instead of selfishness, we show an attitude of giving.
We are ministers of reconciliation — sharing the love of God with the world.
Over the years, I have seen some of the meanest people turn into the most loving. Some of the most troubled changed to the most stable. Some of the most depressed turned into happy, productive individuals.
God is real and His Kingdom is real. When you and others enter that Kingdom, there are many benefits waiting for you. They are treasures we must dig from His Word and apply to our own lives.
In John 17:14–19 Jesus is praying for His followers down through the ages. He says, They are not of this world, as I am not of this world. But then he says, Don’t take them out of the world, but protect them from the evil one. (John 17:14–19)
He wants us to stay and be His representatives — His ambassadors — to the world. To represent His plans and purposes to those we know.
Thus, we must be listening to God, obeying his word, and allowing His Spirit to be big in us.
With Paul, we say…
II Corinthians 1:12 (NIV) We have conducted ourselves in the world and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and Godly sincerity. We have done so, not relying on worldly wisdom, but on the grace of God
We are representing a Kingdom which will never end. One which is higher than any earthly Kingdom. And one whose King will reign forever — with love, goodness, and power.
What a privilege!
Let’s do this!
Note: This series is an adaptation of a series Ambassadors for Christ, taught by Mickey Estes at Good News Church in Blue Mountain, MS.