Okay, it's your turn! Spiritually, what's your biggest, best dream? When you think about making an impact for the Kingdom of God, what is the deepest desire of your heart? This week, I'd like to help you turn even that distant desire into a reality - through prayer. I plan to set aside more time each day to pray specifically for YOU.
To continue our "Better Together!" series on Corporate Prayer, I want to introduce you to a pastor friend of mine. John Whitsett is the Lead Pastor at Lakeside Community Church of the Nazarene in Hastings, Nebraska. I first met him through Pray.Network, where I read a doctoral thesis he wrote on corporate prayer and revival. John was buried in 15” of snow last week in the Midwest’s “Snowmageddon,” so I had the unusual pleasure of interviewing someone who is normally very busy!
There are some things in life that I just can’t do by myself. No matter how good a pianist I am, I can’t play a concerto by myself. Or fight cancer. Or build a house. Or start a family. For these, I must cooperate with other people under the coordination of a leader: a conductor, a doctor, a foreman, or a spouse.
Some things are meant to be done together!
Prayer is one of them.
November 23, 2015 is the International Day of the Bible. Christians around the world are celebrating the Word of God, which has now been translated, at least in part, into over 2500 languages. In America, we also celebrate Thanksgiving this week, the beginning of our nation's freedom to worship God.
The day before I began writing this post, I spent a few minutes thinking about what I am most thankful for this year. God, family, and YOU - my readers - top the list, of course, but what really creates thanksgiving in me is that there is such a wealth of Christian resources available to so many of us around the world today.
Think about it: in the United States alone, there are multitudes of Bible-believing churches within driving distance, along with Spirit-filled conferences, prayer meetings, and worship gatherings. You can even get a ministerial degree online!
You might also have noticed that thanks to technology, I can link all the Bible verses I use on my website to Bible Gateway, a powerful Bible search engine (www.BibleGateway.com). Bible Gateway, in turn, circulates my blog along with many others to their readers around the world. Online study of the Bible is so common now that even in our church services, we often see people pull out their cell phones when the pastor says "please turn to the book of Hebrews!"
Advances in technology are not just impacting the US. In the 1980's it was prophesied that one day, Chinese workers in the rice fields would have 24/7 access to Christian programming - via a "device like a TV on their wrists." This was long before anyone had conceived the idea of smartphones and smartwatches. Today, Chinese readers make up the second largest group of readers for our "His Inscriptions" blog - outranked only by readers in the United States!
What makes one person thrive while another barely survives? Why do some people seem to live almost effortlessly, while others go through life hanging on by their fingernails? Even Christians are not exempt. We cling to the Gospel's wonderful hope of heaven. But is that all there is? What about the problems in this present life? What do I do between now and eternity?
I believe there is a key difference between survivors and those who thrive in life. Or for Christians, between the survivors and the revivers! It's not just a difference between rich and poor. It's actually a different state of mind.
To describe this, let's look at the law of the jungle.
What is happening right now in Boston is amazingly prophetic. Just two days ago, I was writing about revival after visiting John Adams' rare books collection at the Boston Public Library. (To see that post, entitled "Step Into Your New World", click here). What I did not know was that the same day I was publishing my article, archivist Pam Hatchfield was prying open a 220-year-old time capsule at the MFA, one that had been embedded in the State House's cornerstone by Sam Adams and Paul Revere in 1795. On July 4, 1795, fifteen white horses - one for each state of our union - had pulled this cornerstone and time capsule through the streets of Boston for the dedication ceremony.
Inside the box (which took nearly 7 hours to open), were artifacts from the dedication of the Massachusetts State House on the 20th anniversary of our independence. A silver plate, probably crafted by Paul Revere, displays an inscription for the building's dedication and names Sam Adams, Paul Revere, and Revolutionary War Colonel William Scollay. (See photo above). 23 coins, including one in a half-penny denomination, and a medal of George Washington are also part of the capsule.
‘Tis the season for lights and decorations, trees and candy, hot chocolate and presents!
Our children persuaded us to decorate the tree a few nights ago, just after the Thanksgiving turkey had been consumed. On went the Christmas music, the kettle was fired up for hot cocoa, and the children (please don’t tell them I told you this…) were dancing in the kitchen. Yes, my boys – at least the younger ones – were dancing. All was merry and bright.
Bright, that is, until we tried to turn on our pre-lit tree. You know the kind – the “unscented,” mess-free version of a Christmas tree that comes with lights attached. Unfortunately, certain sections of our tree failed to perform their “pre-lit” duties. The result was a Tigger-esque tree, a sort of half-hearted, striped effect. Not quite what we were looking for.
A search for the defective bulb yielded nothing, and replacing one empty spot with a bulb from another set did not work, since the extra bulb was made by a different manufacturer. This strand was only going to give off so much light.
So in the end, long after my dancing cherubs were dreaming of sugarplums, the only solution was for me to string a second set of lights through the bare spots, using an extension cord. The tree now complete, I joined my family in dreamland.
The next morning, I happened to be praying in the room where we had set up our tree. I also happened to be praying about the power of God to heal, to bring revival, to reach the multitudes with His power. As He often does, the Lord surprised me by connecting the ordinary stuff of my life to the extraordinary stuff of His.
Using the “Tigger tree” as a parable, He said this: ‘Tis the season to be connected to My power. Now is the day of salvation, now is the time (see 2 Corinthians 6:2). And it's going to take more than just one strand to light the world!
God is the source of all power, the “electrical outlet” we plug into when we are saved. That divine outlet contains unlimited power and resources, available to anyone who connects with Him. Like my pre-lit tree, our world automatically lights up and shines when we plug into Him. Our connection with the Holy Spirit gives us a measure of His light and power in our lives.
However, there are still areas of our lives where the light does not yet shine. There are areas of the world where His power has not yet been seen. To make sure we ourselves are shining brightly, we must appeal to our Manufacturer to restore any defects or brokenness we may have. But God also wants to extend our reach, just as the addition of an extension cord brought more light to my tree.
Believers are the “power cord” from heaven’s light to earth’s darkness. Several connected strands will bring more light to the world than just one alone. Where we need more power, God can plug us in with others who will help extend our reach.
Next year, I’ll be in the market for a brighter tree. And it’s my prayer that next year, we believers will be more connected than ever – to His power, and to each other. I pray that His power will increase throughout His Body so that we will have a greater impact on our world. I pray that He’ll help us radiate His glory in greater measure.
I'm going back to decorating my tree now. And I'm singing right along with the kids: May your days be merry… and bright!
In the same way,
let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16, NIV
c. Deborah Perkins, 2014
Deborah Perkins is passionate about helping people "connect" with God. She writes about knowing God and hearing His voice at HisInscriptions.com. Follow Deborah on Twitter@DeborahSPerkins, or click here to read more of her blog.
In every major revival, and for every notable Christian, there is a common denominator: intimacy with the Presence of God. Those who have seen an increase in the supernatural power of God are the ones who have allowed for a corresponding decrease in their own personal ambitions. Humility precedes honor.
In fact, to put it in more scientific terms, there is an inverse relationship between our movement and God’s movement. We deliberately resolve to surrender our personal drive and intentions, choosing instead to come to the restful place of prayer and adoration of God. It seems largely counterintuitive and unproductive to us at first. But amazingly, He transforms our stillness into a harvest of abundant fruitfulness.
Why? Because He is seeking intimacy with His creation. A quick look at nature reveals that intimacy is impossible without time spent together. Love is indeed a choice, and a good relationship is one in which both parties have chosen to invest in each other. Two cannot walk together unless they are agreed. Yet if two agree to walk together, there is an unlimited potential to what they might accomplish: “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19, NASB).
Our Maximum = His Minimum!
As we invest in the quantity of time spent in prayer, we will see a yield in the quality of our fruitfulness for the Kingdom of God. Setting ourselves in agreement with the Lord of all creation opens up possibilities that otherwise would not exist for mankind. By ourselves, we have limited energies, educations, and abilities. With God, the maximum limit of our potential becomes the minimum for what He can do with us! Cancer cannot be cured by man, but healing is possible with God. Human argument alone cannot convince someone of the need for salvation, but the conviction of the Holy Spirit can.
I believe that we as a church have settled for far too little. I am not alone; there is a company – an army – of others who have seen this as well. They have understood that the severity of our times requires massive, large-scale revival, and are willing to pay the price to bring the manifest Presence of God to the earth. What is that price? It is the willingness to lay down personal desires in order to meet with God in prayer.
Who is Responsible for Revival?
The burden for revival has for too long been relegated to those who call themselves intercessors, worshippers, or prophets. Our particular gifting within the Body of Christ neither includes nor excludes us from the responsibility for revival, either personal or corporate. It may be that the intercessors hear the Lord’s directions first because they are setting aside time to hear, but all of us are called to take some course of action based on the type of commission we receive.
In fact, I have heard the Lord say that He desires for each of us to find our “specialty” within this end-time army. Knowing what our specific callings and talents are will help us to both find our place and work with others in revival. As we get to know our Commander-in-Chief, He gives us greater understanding of the unique roles He wants us to fulfill. He also shows us what not to do in order to complete our commission.
Promotion comes from submission. Intimacy is the key to hearing. If we are not hearing God, it is only because we are choosing not to. Any leader worth his salt in the Kingdom of God (pun intended!) has learned to spend time with the General, receiving the strategies for his life.
Psalm 19 says that there is no place on this earth where God’s voice cannot be heard! John 10 reveals that there is no sheep in His fold who cannot hear His call. But God has made it so that enlistment in His army is volitional. I like the way Pastor Brian Simmons put it recently: “If revival depends on you, how close are we?”
We all need to hear our marching orders. We are all given, at salvation, a key that opens the door to the war-room of God. We may find that this door is located in an inconvenient place, hidden far below the common-rooms of Christianity. But it is here that strategies are birthed and generals are made. Those who emerge from this place are anointed with the power and authority of the Lord of Hosts to accomplish His will on the earth. My prayer is that in the coming days, many more will hear the call to enter in to this place of divine intimacy, emerging with the radiance of those who have been with Him (Psalm 34:5) .
c. Deborah Perkins, 2014.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.