INDIA: Pandemic Brings Unprecedented Growth

From Open Doors.

As India begins to ease restrictions on the world’s largest lockdown, millions of Christians remain side-lined as many local businesses and churches stay closed. Yet, the Indian church is rejoicing as more come to know Christ during the pandemic.

Open Doors local partner, Heena* says that Christians are continuing to struggle without stable income or fellowship with other believers. “People here do not even have money to buy food for their families. It’s really sad. It’s not just one story or four or five such stories, but the story of almost every family.

“Many people depend on small businesses or work as day laborers or small church services. All of them are affected and all of them don’t have food.”

Despite these hardships, God is using this pandemic to bring revival to His church in India. As Open Doors and local partners deliver emergency relief to the vulnerable and as churches broadcast their services online, the Indian church is seeing unprecedented growth.

“I believe the pandemic lockdown is being used by God to use His church in a new way,” one local pastor said.

See here for full source article.

End Time Revival?

While many are looking forward to great national and worldwide revival that will turn their nations to the Lord. I find the expectation of revival described in the article and video below has a much more sound biblical foundation, and has been my view for many years.

Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. (Luke 21:10-13) NKJV

Revival or Persecution? Unmasking What Revelation Tells Us About the End Times.

One of the most precious promises in the Bible is Acts 2:17, that “In the last days it shall be,’ says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh” (Acts 2:17). We understand this to be a promise of a world-wide revival in the end times. (Yeshua also said that the “harvest is the end of the world” (Matt. 13:39).

Some people do not believe in such a revival in the end times. They point to the prophecies about persecution and tribulation and the Antichrist in the end times, and conclude (reasonably enough) that there could be no widespread revival.

So which is it? Revival or persecution? Victory or tribulation? The answer of course is both. There is revival in the midst of persecution; victory in the midst of tribulation.

https://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/35474-revival-or-persecution-unmasking-what-revelation-tells-us-about-the-end-times

Beware of Which Voice You Are Hearing.

“Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.”
(Luke 6: 39-40) NIV.

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Yesterday I woke with the following phrases in my head:

“Removing the glory of the ‘shepherd’, replacing it with the glory of God”.

And

Learning to recognise His voice.

I saw these had something to do with the current situation that has led to the closing down of churches and our enforced isolation.

Depending on where our priorities and affections lie, those restrictions potentially give us more time we can spend in the word and in prayer – strengthening our relationship with God, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
There is an opportunity to grow beyond reliance on those ‘shepherds’ and church systems that keep people dependent on them instead of leading them to maturity.

A few days ago I watched a short video of a man criticising the proclamations of several “prophets” given at the end of last year, who all predicted the wonderful things ahead in 2020. None of them had anything to say about the health and economic crises caused by Covid-19, but several of them spoke of increased prosperity and stadiums full of people – a prediction the presenter happily contrasted with footage of the abandoned sporting arenas, empty now that all sporting events and gatherings (large and small) have been brought to a stop.

I could have posted the video here, however despite the presenter’s gleeful, and deserving, exposure of the false prophets, his own theology was no less flawed in some serious areas. And I suspect that his opposition was not only to the false proclamations he was addressing in the video, but it extended to dismissing the validity of any prophetic gifts in the present day, contrary to instruction in scripture.

With so many false prophecies and teachings pervading the church, we need to be certain we recognise HIS voice above all other voices. Even the voices of our favoured teachers. It’s easy to be dismissive, even condemnatory, of those outside of our particular church settings, but we often don’t scrutinise our favoured teachings to the degree they deserve.

There are big problems across the whole spectrum of the church – from a far too casual approach to prophecy, to the dismissal of large sections of scripture by those who ironically insist scripture alone is the foundation of their belief. (The kind of people who insist the complete canon of scripture removes the need of the very spiritual gifts that the scriptures tell us to ‘earnestly desire’ Emoji [1 Cor 12]).

Many who claim their theology is bible based are not really believing and promoting what the bible says, instead they follow and preach the doctrines of their favoured theological systems or church traditions. So maybe it’s long past the time that we all should have become more diligent in seeking God for ourselves.

That’s why I see the current situation, where we’ve all been distanced from church meetings and programs, is offering the perfect opportunity to spend more personal time in the word. For many who find themselves unable to go to work, there is even more time to fill, some of which can be used for extra bible reading and prayer.

It all depends on how much people want to know God and serve Him, instead of being satisfied with sticking to what they’ve been taught about God.

For those confident that their church and pastor are beyond reproach when it comes to the doctrine and practices they teach, what is there to lose anyway in devoting more of your time to strengthen the foundation they have helped build in your life?

And surely, the stronger prayer enhanced, bible based, Spirit led faith we ALL have the opportunity to develop in coming months, can only be of benefit to our fellowships when we are able to meet with them again.

“I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 

“…when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” 

Jesus in John 18:37 and John 16:13 NKJV

Urgent Call to the Church

A passionately delivered sermon containing a lot of what the Lord has been addressing in my own life in recent months.

I don’t know anything about the preacher. I’m just presenting the content of this message as something worth noting.

Again the idea of “revival” is brought up within this talk, so firstly I’d like to share the following personal thoughts and observations.

  1. “Revival”  is centred on God’s people  bringing the church back in line with His Kingdom.
  2. It will lead to an awareness of who we are and what is required of us in Christ.
  3. It requires a turning from other allegiances, whether to nation, politics  and political solutions, or the pleasures and distracting entertainments of this world. We can only serve one Master.
  4. “Revival” won’t make the gospel more acceptable to the wider world, it will put us more at odds with the world, creating an increased contrast and greater conflict between the people of God and those who reject God.
  5. “Revival” will be an outcome of refining/pruning within the church to make it more fruitful.

COVID-19 and “Prophecy”

I’ve hesitated to post this because it involves something I’ve not previously experienced, and something that I’ve seen abused and misused in the past by others who have made “prophetic” claims. I can only submit this for consideration, in the hope that I’m not going off track. I’ve also been reluctant to jump on the corona virus bandwagon, considering it’s been given more than enough publicity everywhere else.

In recent months I’ve occasionally woken in the morning with particular phrases stuck in my mind.

The first time it was straight from scripture and related to a cancer diagnosis I’d been given: “To live is Christ, to die is gain”.

I’ve shared some of that on my blog recently, how I came to the understanding that God’s will relates to the first part – that life in service to Christ here and now is the preferred option, over the “selfishness” of going to be with the Lord.

The second time it was again scripture: ” God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. This led me to study the context, which took me into some realities of the new creation we have become, that requires us to take off the old and put on the new. I’m still learning the consequences of that and how it SHOULD be reflected in our lives and ministry of the gospel. I’ve also been sharing some of that.

Most recently it wasn’t a phrase of scripture, but a simple and seemingly obvious statement, considering what’s happening in the world at the moment. “Things are going to change”.

The following morning, there was a “flood” of thoughts continuing on from that, the first was “things are not going to return to ‘normal’, along with the term “tipping point”.

I got out of bed to write these things down and the phrase “bringing down nations” was added.

Then finally, “revival has started, but not in the form expected” brought an end to the morning “flood” of phrases.

I shared these things with a few trusted brothers and sisters to get their impressions.

To me there seems to be a flow – starting with something I personally needed, then on to truths applicable to the wider church, regarding our identity and God’s equipping of His saints for ministry. Then finally (so far) putting those things into a context of urgency.

I can only see my health diagnosis and the medical prognosis as part of a personal shake-up I needed to get me on track in preparation for wider change in the world.

It’s now a week later and I’ve come across a few claimed prophetic views of the current virus situation. Most of them are predicting that it will all be over very shortly – prior to Passover, which is only about two weeks away. That’s a message that seems to  have been grasped by the US President too – looking at returning business to usual by Easter. All of that in spite of what’s evident in the world right now, and particularly in the US which has just been reported as currently having the most cases of COVID-19 in a single nation. An end within two weeks would clearly be a miraculous outcome.

Those prophetic views have been expressed by several high profile individuals who all expect “revival” to come out of the current crisis. However their views of revival tend to focus on NATIONAL revivals – a turning around of nations (the US in particular since that’s where those expressing that “prophetic” insight are located).

While the optimistic outlook of a miraculous end to a world health catastrophe would be very welcome, and I would be pleased to be proven wrong, I don’t share that optimism.

One reason is that I find the “revival” they expect is based on a false hope. Revival has been on the minds of many in charismatic/Pentecostal churches for as long as I can remember, since my first association with them in the mid 1970s. I recall how much I longed for revival – basically because I thought it would make it easier for my family to hear the gospel and be saved, without me having to say much to them.

I see no reason for expectation of national revivals in scripture – apart from the many clear prophecies about Israel turning to the Lord AS A WHOLE NATION in the very last days. I suspect some of the expectation for revival in our own nations has been fuelled by a misapplication of promises made to and about Israel.

One example of this is the common reference to 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

That is a promise/directive given specifically to Israel, a people of God who actually HAD a land to be healed – a land given to them by God Himself.

While disciples of Jesus are God’s people, we have no land to which that promise can be applied – the nations in which we live are not ours. We are part of God’s Kingdom and His Kingdom is not of this world. And can we really consider that anyone with current “wicked ways” could be thought of as a disciple of Jesus?

In this world believers will have trouble, not acceptance and comfort, something that we in the west seem to view with aversion, having never really suffered in the way those in the early church did and those in other nations currently do.

It seems to me that the current emphasis on national revival is focused on politics and political outcomes. I believe that contrasts significantly with God’s focus on His Kingdom and those who claim to represent it. And it is among those representatives that revival  is needed – to stir up, experience and share the abundant life Jesus came to give, to encourage others to migrate from the world’s Kingdoms to God’s Kingdom. There is no answer through worldly politics or politicians, and I suspect that the association of evangelicals with partisan politics will backfire as the sandy foundation of their political expectations are exposed.

Things are going to change and will not return to “normal”, no matter how much some people may expect and insist that we’ll push through the current situation and get things back on track on the other side. Whether that change is in process now or not, scripture makes it clear that it IS eventually coming, and in a much more disastrous way than anything we’ve experienced so far.

As for the term “tipping point”, it’s one I came across a few times over the days following my own reference to it, I assume it refers to the earlier two statements regarding change.

There will be a bringing down of nations – whether politically, economically, or in any other natural way, I’m not sure – but hopefully it will mean a bringing down of nations in the esteem and expectation of Jesus’ disciples, redirecting their attention and hopes solely upon His Kingdom.

Revival has started but not in the form expected – I can only write from personal experience that my commitment to God has been significantly revived, ignited by the need to face adverse personal circumstance in my own life. Maybe others are being faced with similar experiences.

As for revival beyond the personal, and particularly regarding any expected “end time ” revival upon the earth, I’ve long seen that as being associated with the kind of intense persecution against the saints prophesied in scripture. As persecution causes many uncommitted to fall away, this “pruning” of fruitless branches will lead to more fruitfulness in those branches that remain, those who are genuinely committed to Christ.

That increased fruitfulness will lead to a more genuine witness of, and  bringing more people into, the Kingdom.

But that kind of revival OF THE CHURCH is far different to the “glorious” nation-changing move of God that seems to be the expectation of others.

 

 

 

REVIVAL – yet another idol?

(Discussion I’ve seen on other sites made me think it was worth recycling the following article, posted to my older blog site on January 02, 2007 .)

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REVIVAL – yet another idol?

From my very first active involvement with Christianity in the mid-1970s, there has been an expressed hope for (and belief in) an impending revival. And this hope goes back much further than my own experience.

The issue of “Revival” seems to me to be another of those distracting issues that takes our eyes off the Father’s business, and places them on a historical by-product of the obedience of previous generations. It measures the success or failure of the work being done by the standard of whether “revival” is obtained.

I’m not against revivals – it’s a matter of NOT pinning our hopes on them, not expecting that experiences of the past should be repeated merely because they have happened before. Not seeing “revival” as the measure of success or a goal to achieve.

Revival seems to be one of those “romantic” ideals that have happened in the past, or happen in distant nations. If anything happens “here” it is often derided and labelled as false when it produces “fruit” contrary to our expectations.

Toronto and Brownsville have often been dismissed by many for just such reasons *, yet others proclaim these as examples of “revival”. It seems to me that revival is a very subjective term that depends on a person’s particular theology and is therefore a weak yardstick of spiritual reality or success.

While historical accounts may be inspiring they should not be the basis of our faith and expectation. They can provide encouragement but not direction. “Revival” in its historical context is a human concept created to excuse the times when “revival” is not happening. It creates an impression that “revival” and its fruit are ideals to be reached on rare occasion instead of lived in at all times. Why else would 1904 in Wales (over a hundred years ago!) still be such a notable landmark in church history?

Instead of majoring on revival, we should follow Jesus’ instruction to seek first the Kingdom of God. The Lord and His Kingdom should be our desire; not a taste of something experienced by others in the past, no matter how exciting and inspiring that experience may appear to have been.

 

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* Todd Bentley’s Lakeland’s Revival could also be added to this list. 

originall posted here: http://onefiles.blogspot.co.nz/2007/01/revival-yet-another-idol.html