Your church...in fact, the church is standing at a threshold, beyond which awaits a new great awakening...a great out-pouring of the Spirit upon Godís people and through His people to the world. The church is being called outward.
There has been a season of powerful and life-changing teaching in the body. There has been teaching on Christian community that has stirred us to new levels of relationship with one another. There has been teaching on prayer that has drawn us into a more intimate relationship with Christ. Teaching on gifts that has built up the body and released people for ministry and service. There has been teaching on worship, study, ethics and character. It has been a fruitful time of building and equipping. Yet, I believe that God is about to do a new thing. It is not that powerful teaching will ever be out of season, but I believe the Lord has been preparing us to receive His power. All down through church history there have been revivals and awakenings that have resulted from a supernatural out-pouring of Godís power onto a people whose hearts have been turned from selfish to selfless.
God has been teaching us through anointed leaders to shed all self-glory, all self-righteousness, and all self-everything in favor of living for Christ. God wants to pour out His spirit in power. He has been teaching us that it is not a mighty army with polished armor and shining swords that best serves the King. Rather, it is a totally committed people whose only goal is to serve their King with humble spirits and available bodies that can best yield this power and win the day. God is not looking for Sauls...Heís looking for Davids. He is looking for soldiers of prayer and warriors of worship.
It has always been this way: farmers against pharaohs, choirs against chariots, fishermen against Pharisees and a carpenter against a Caesar. This is Godís way. This is where He displays His power:
1Samuel 16:13 The Lord came upon David in power...as a shepherd.
Luke 9:1 Jesus gave His disciples power and authority...as fishermen.
2Timothy 1:7 Jesus give us a spirit of power...as students and workers
Luke 12:32 And a kingdom of power...as mothers, fathers and children
So God wants to give us a Spirit of Power and He is pleased to give us the kingdom, which has come in power. Why? Because there is a war to be fought...against new age influence, materialism, hostile media, secularism...but ultimately against the principalities, against the powers, against the world ' s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12)
So what is it that we must do to prepare ourselves to be appropriate vessels for this holy power? God calls us to do two things: be a prayerful people and be a worshipful people.
What does it mean to be a prayerful people?
From every city of Judah people hurried to Jerusalem to ask the LORD for guidance, and they and the people of Jerusalem gathered in the new courtyard of the Temple. King Jehoshaphat went and stood before them and prayed aloud, "O LORD God of our ancestors, you rule in heaven over all the nations of the world. You are powerful and mighty, and no one can oppose you. You are our God. When your people Israel moved into this land, you drove out the people who were living here and gave the land to the descendants of Abraham, your friend, to be theirs forever. They have lived here and have built a temple to honor you, knowing that if any disaster struck them to punish them---a war, an epidemic, or a famine---then they could come and stand in front of this Temple where you are worshiped. They could pray to you in their trouble, and you would hear them and rescue them. "Now the people of Ammon, Moab, and Edom have attacked us. When our ancestors came out of Egypt, you did not allow them to enter those lands, so our ancestors went around them and did not destroy them. This is how they repay us---they come to drive us out of the land that you gave us. You are our God! Punish them, for we are helpless in the face of this large army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but we look to you for help." All the men of Judah, with their wives and children, were standing there at the Temple.
We acknowledge who God is as a people...we recall all He has done for us in the past and declare our trust in Him to care for us no matter what may come. This is the essence of all prayer: thankfulness for all He has done and faith in His ability to take care of all our needs that are to come. In acknowledging who God is, we also acknowledge who we are not:
The Jewish authorities in Jerusalem sent some priests and Levites to John to ask him, "Who are you?" John did not refuse to answer, but spoke out openly and clearly, saying: "I am not the Messiah." "Who are you, then?" they asked. "Are you Elijah?" "No, I am not," John answered. "Are you the Prophet?" they asked. "No," he replied. "Then tell us who you are," they said. "We have to take an answer back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" John answered by quoting the prophet Isaiah: "I am ' the voice of someone shouting in the desert: Make a straight path for the Lord to travel! ' "
And what will be the result of becoming a people of prayer? Two things: First, having the glorious privilege of watching our prayers be answered. And second, seeing the power of God unleashed in our behalf.
Our God is a prayer-answering God. He delights, like any father would, in supplying the needs of His children:
The spirit of the LORD came upon a Levite who was present in the crowd. His name was Jahaziel son of Zechariah; he was a member of the clan of Asaph and was descended from Asaph through Mattaniah, Jeiel, and Benaiah. Jahaziel said, "Your Majesty and all you people of Judah and Jerusalem, the LORD says that you must not be discouraged or be afraid to face this large army. The battle depends on God, not on you.
And our God is a God of power and might. And that power is manifested on our behalf, according to His will and for His glory:
Attack them tomorrow as they come up the pass at Ziz. You will meet them at the end of the valley that leads to the wild country near Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Just take up your positions and wait; you will see the LORD give you victory. People of Judah and Jerusalem, do not hesitate or be afraid. Go out to battle, and the LORD will be with you!"
As soon as Peter and John were set free, they returned to their group and told them what the chief priests and the elders had said. When the believers heard it, they all joined together in prayer to God: "Master and Creator of heaven, earth, and sea, and all that is in them! By means of the Holy Spirit you spoke through our ancestor David, your servant, when he said, ' Why were the Gentiles furious; why did people make their useless plots? The kings of the earth prepared themselves, and the rulers met together against the Lord and his Messiah. ' For indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together in this city with the Gentiles and the people of Israel against Jesus, your holy Servant, whom you made Messiah. They gathered to do everything that you by your power and will had already decided would happen. And now, Lord, take notice of the threats they have made, and allow us, your servants, to speak your message with all boldness. Reach out your hand to heal, and grant that wonders and miracles may be performed through the name of your holy Servant Jesus." When they finished praying, the place where they were meeting was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to proclaim God ' s message with boldness.
Remember, we prepare for power by praying with power. A truly prayerful people can ďshakeĒ a place up. And a truly faithful people will expect it to do just that. Those are the vessels God is looking to pour His Spirit of Power into.
Even as God is seeking a prayerful people...He is also seeking a worshipful people. Not Sunday morning sing-a-longs or praise by appointment, but true warriors of worship. A people who are ever ready to lift praise and thanksgiving for all He has done:
Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low, with his face touching the ground, and all the people bowed with him and worshiped the LORD. The members of the Levite clans of Kohath and Korah stood up and with a loud shout praised the LORD, the God of Israel.
And to proclaim before the congregation the love that compels us to fall upon our knees because of who He is and because of the great love He has for us:
Early the next morning the people went out to the wild country near Tekoa. As they were starting out, Jehoshaphat addressed them with these words: "People of Judah and Jerusalem! Put your trust in the LORD your God, and you will stand your ground. Believe what his prophets tell you, and you will succeed." After consulting with the people, the king ordered some musicians to put on the robes they wore on sacred occasions and to march ahead of the army, singing: "Praise the LORD! His love is eternal!"
God dwells in the worship of His people. And from that dwelling place He moves against His enemies in power...confounding them even as He rewards His worshipping children:
When they began to sing, the LORD threw the invading armies into a panic. The Ammonites and the Moabites attacked the Edomite army and completely destroyed it, and then they turned on each other in savage fighting. When the Judean army reached a tower that was in the desert, they looked toward the enemy and saw that they were all lying on the ground dead. Not one had escaped. Jehoshaphat and his troops moved in to take the loot, and they found many cattle, supplies, clothing, and other valuable objects. They spent three days gathering the loot, but there was so much that they could not take everything.
And then He moves in power in ministry to His people...providing shelter, security and peace:
On the fourth day they assembled in Beracah Valley and praised the LORD for all he had done. That is why the valley is called "Beracah." Jehoshaphat led his troops back to Jerusalem in triumph, because the LORD had defeated their enemies. When they reached the city, they marched to the Temple to the music of harps and trumpets. Every nation that heard how the LORD had defeated Israel ' s enemies was terrified, so Jehoshaphat ruled in peace, and God gave him security on every side.
Prayer and praise are the one-two punch of the Christian Warrior. It is in prayer and worship to the One who possesses true power that we can come to share in that power. It is through prayer and worship that we can prepare ourselves to receive the power of God: that great power that gives sight to the blind, causes the lame to walk and sets the captive free. Having prepared ourselves through prayer and praise...it is now in His presence that we can receive that power.
Jehoaphat knew that:
' If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you--for your name is in this house--and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save. '
Moses knew it:
Moses said to the LORD, "See, you say to me, ' Bring up this people, ' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ' I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight. ' Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people." And he said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." And he said to him, "If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?" And the LORD said to Moses, "This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name."
Paul knew it:
...since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
And we should know it. The presence of the Lord is the place of ultimate fulfillment. In His presence we become all what we were meant to be and receive more than we could have ever dreamed.
It is commanded...Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! (1Ch 16:11)
ItĎs our protection...When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before Your presence (Psa 9:3)
Itís our joy...You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is
fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Itís our provision...You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (Psa 23:5)
Itís our reward...But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever. (Psa 41:12)
Itís our dwelling place... Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.
And it is the place where prayer and praise find their fullness:
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
Through prayer and praise we will, as a people, become more aware of His presence and therefore be able to move in His power.
It is, or should be, our greatest joy as Christians to fellowship with our Lord. It is an offering of great value. One that the Lord rewards:
If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
We as the church stand at the threshold. But we do not stand alone. The Lord stands before us beckoning us to follow Him through. He promises to fight with us, through us, in us and for us. This is a battle we cannot lose. As the songwriter said:
Truth has defeated the Deceiver
There is no power can move the Son
So why do we fight like weíre losiní the battle
When the victoryís already won!
Let us receive the power that comes from God with the confidence that comes from His spirit. And use it for the glory of the Father for the expansion of His kingdom. There is no hero that has gone before that possessed gifts unavailable to you. Moses, David, Solomon, Peter, Paul...the same stream of living water that flowed through them passes by your door. Kneel and drink. Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Wilberforce...the same light that burned in their hearts, stands ready to light your way.
If you are living a defeated life...beaten, frustrated and thwarted at every turn...filled with a sense of failure it is not because power is not available to you. All the power the Spirit can impart, all the gifts that are stored in Jesus Christ are waiting to carry you farther than you have ever dreamed. It makes a difference when the solitary Christian understands this...it can change the world when the Church does.
People of prayer and warriors of worship...these are the world-changers God seeks for the work that lies ahead. Tap into the power that awaits you...the power that God is anxious to bestow. And the rusty gates of hell will crumble before you. But hurry...