Across the world the church is being persecuted and everywhere it happens the church grows at a rate that alarms religious people, it’s as though persecution is the life blood or at least the catalyst of a growing church.
The church in the so called civilized west needs an outpouring of such trials so that it will shout the victory in the face of persecution instead of shouting praise from the comfort of comfortable pews and carpeted halls.
Many of our churches have ‘forms of godliness but deny the power thereof’ (2 Timothy 3:5) they are whitened sepulchres full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness (Matthew 23:27)
The early Church; (Acts 4:23-30)
‘And when they had prayed, the place was shaken’ (Acts 4:31) the situation was as bad as it gets, persecution was rife, Peter and John the Apostles had just been imprisoned; they had been judged by the self-righteous righteous and had been threatened with punishment if they ever preached using the name of Jesus again.
Having been let go they went and reported to the family of God all that had happened, they told with excitement of ‘how Jesus through faith in his Name had made a crippled man walk’ (Acts 3:16) and of how they had been threatened with punishment if they dared to speak in That Name again.
Did fear grip the hearts of these believers? No; they lifted up their voices to God in one accord and began to praise the God of the entire universe; they ignored the enemy’s works and looked instead at what the Lords name had achieved.
I wonder how many today would take such a report so lightly. How much praise, how many songs of worship would ascend to heaven?
If as in China and other countries church leaders were being shot and tortured, if church buildings were being burned down around us how many hearts would grow fearful? How many would there be in the pews on Sunday if they knew that the result of being there would be imprisonment?
How many would be like the early church and indeed some of the persecuted church today, how many would pray; ‘Lord behold their threatening; and grant unto us your servants that with all boldness we may speak your word’ (Acts 4:29)
How many who sit in comfortable heated church buildings today would be left standing asking God to ‘stretch forth his hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of his holy child Jesus? (Acts 4:30)
Were the disciples always like this? Were they always found shouting the victory? No; for among these same men was doubting Thomas, denying Peter and others who once cowered behind closed doors. They had once been filled with fear more than with faith, they quaked in their sandals and their minds were flooded with recent events which sapped their joy and robbed them of strength and boldness
Jesus Christ their constant companion for three and a half years had gone, they had watched from afar as He was falsely accused, beaten, mocked, spat upon and finally crucified. Throughout these years they had walked, ate and slept along side Gods son, they drew from his strength, they drank in his promises, they tasted of his power and now he was gone.
They were a people emptied of faith and filled instead with fear; it was so much easier to believe for miracles and to have boldness when the master was with them but now all they had was themselves and their tormenting thoughts.
They had seen first hand how evil man could be, how vicious mankind could become and knew that they too were in great danger of suffering the same fate, hence the closed doors and heavy hearts.
So what changed them? What caused them to become men and women of God of whom it was written ‘these are they who have turned the world upside down’ (Acts 17:6) what turned these losers into winners? From being fear filled to being faithful and careless about dying?
Closed hearts and a closed door gave them no such security; numbers gave them no such comfort, no; peace arrived through closed doors and hearts as Jesus stood before them, resurrected alive and well.
He even came back again to ‘show himself to Thomas and to do many other signs in their midst so that they would believe that He was indeed the risen exalted Son of God’ (John 21.)
‘For 40 days after that wonderful resurrection morning he was seen of them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, he proved that he was indeed alive by many infallible proofs and then told them to go to Jerusalem until they be baptized with the Holy Ghost’ (Acts 1:3-5) He instructed them that they ‘would receive power after that the Holy Ghost would come upon them, power to become witnesses of Christ’ (Acts 1:8)
It was that first Pentecostal outpouring that changed fear to faith; it was the Holy Spirit flooding their entire beings so that they were so buried in Him that changed them from wimps to warriors, it was the power that created the universe that re-created, re-birthed them as children of God in Christ.
It was the Holy Spirit that fulfilled the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4) before this day they had the breath of the Holy Spirit to walk in now they were filled to overflowing, baptized, immersed in his power to take on the world and to win it for Christ.
From that day they walked in the same power that raised Jesus from the tomb, rolled the stone away, disappointed the Pharisees and scribes and robbed Satan of victory.
They lived and moved in resurrection power, in resurrection authority and resurrection victory, no longer defeated they became heavens front line troops enforcing the Kingdom victory won by Christ.
They began to run the race with patience (Hebrews 12:1) they became over comers (1 John 5:4) more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) world changers and world beaters they became not just followers of Christ but did what they had seen him do when he walked with them in the flesh.
‘They went forth and preached every where and the Lord worked with them confirming His word with signs following’ (Mark 16:20) ‘They preached to everyone, everywhere at all times, they cast out devils, they spoke with new tongues, they laid hands on the sick and the sick recovered’ (Mark 16:16-18) all because Jesus commissioned them to do so.
They not only preached by the power of the Holy Spirit they ‘were doers of the word and not hearers only’ (James 1:22) they simply did what they had seen Jesus do when he was with them, they were copy cats so to speak and it shook the world around them.
Today we can praise God that the glorified Jesus is the risen Christ. Those of us who have tasted the power of the indwelling Spirit know something of the manner in which ‘the hearts of the two disciples burned as they walked to Emmaus with the Lord as their companion’ (Luke 24:32)
We have the whole bible to set our hearts aflame, we have the finest of teaching from men and women of God and yet there is something missing…
We are living far below the standard of Christ’s power, we are only eating crumbs at the banqueting table of the Lord laid out before us, and we are drinking what amounts to stagnant water instead of the pure water of victorious life we have been given through Christ.
Instead of being partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) many partake of dead religious icons and man made traditions and teachings which are stale and ‘make the word of God of no effect’ (Matthew 7:13) many follow dead teachings of men instead of the life changing words of the risen Christ.
The power of Pentecost as it came at first came to loose men from fear into victory, from being self centred to being Christ centred; from being controlled by the flesh to controlling our worst desires. God wants us free in every part, not just partial freedom but total liberation from the bondage of sin.
People across the world and in the church are tired of imitations; they want reality; they want to see Gods people who have the living Christ within, and are filled with Holy Ghost power. The world needs to see men and women of God filled ‘not just with enticing words of mans wisdom but in demonstration of the power of the Holy Ghost’ (1 Corinthians 2:4)
The world is not waiting for a new definition of Christianity it is waiting for a demonstration of real Christianity, creation itself awaits for the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19)
Jesus Christ is not dead he is risen. He is the living Christ who indwells us not just in theory but ‘Christ in us the hope of Glory’ (Colossians 1:27) we need to fully know and fully show that Christ is indeed risen in us by the power of the Spirit.
The power that raised Him from the dead should move us to do mighty exploits in His name (Daniel 11:32), and as this glorious resurrection power surges through our being, it frees us from our own weaknesses enabling us to ‘become strong in the Lord and in the power of His might’ (Ephesians 6:10)
In Romans 4:17, we read of Abraham, ‘(I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickens the dead, and calls those things which be not as though they were’
Would God that we would understand this for it is time His people knew how to shout in faith as they contemplate the eternal power of our God for whom it is nothing to quicken and raise the dead.
This same God dwells in us, the whole of the God head bodily dwells in Christ and he in us (Colossians 2:9) such an awesome thought, what a victorious shout to be heard among the worlds sick and dying.
The one who raised Christ from the dead empowers those who were dead in their trespasses and sins to be re born by the Holy Spirit, to become what God intended Adam to be, people who have dominion and power over everything that moves on planet earth.
‘We are crucified with Christ: nevertheless we live; yet not us but Christ lives in us: and the life we now live in the flesh we live by the faith of the Son of God who loved us and gave his life for us’ (Galatians 2:20)
We live by the faith of Christ, ‘we live and move and have our being in Him’ (Acts 16:37) ‘He has given us power (the right) to become the sons and daughters of God’ (Ephesians 6:10) we are ‘heirs and joint heirs of the kingdom of God’ (Romans 8:17) friends of Christ’ (John 15:15) we are not orphans ‘we are adopted’ (Romans 8:15) ‘we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the Excellency (super eminence, superabundance) of the power may be of God and not of us’ (2 Corinthians 4:7)
We have enough and more than enough; a superabundance of God’s power to stop the devil in his tracks and to be victorious in every battle whether it be our own battles or when we take up the cause of righteousness on someone else’s behalf.
Many of Gods children would be giants in the power of God except that they have no shout of faith no declaration of victory; they have little or no understanding of where they stand in God.
They declare themselves hell deserving sinners instead of ‘the righteousness of God in Christ’(2 Corinthians 5:21) they see themselves as worthless instead of children of the most high God, they see themselves as failures in spite of being made in His image and likeness.
We were those things and more, but beloved we are in Christ, ‘we are new creations, old things are passed away and behold all thing have become new, and all things are of God who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ’ (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)
Kingdom Victory cannot be a partaker of defeat any more than darkness can dwell in light, it cannot reign in such a swamp of lies and half truths, it lives and thrives in a life which not only agrees with what Gods word says but does what it says.
It is only when men have learned the secret of prayer, of power, and praise, that God comes forth. I’ve heard people say, "Well, I praise God inwardly, because I am a quiet person," listen if there is an abundance of praise in your heart, your mouth cannot help speaking it for ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Matthew 12:34)
When there is a shout of victory in a believers heart it always makes an appearance even in quiet people, it’s the outworking of the inner working of the power of God the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who changes the heart, sanctifies and transforms the life, and before there is any real outward evidence there must be the inflow of divine life.
The victory over sin and hell is yours but you must learn to take the victory and shout in the face of the devil, "It is done!" ‘It is finished’ you need to learn to make a show of the devil openly, to laugh him to scorn as you take your authority in Christ over your enemies plans.
That’s what the disciples did in Acts 4 they refused to be threatened by the so called religious leaders, they were so full of Joy and so full of the Holy Spirit they mocked the attempts of the devil to stop them.
They were saying in effect ‘we do not care what is sent to harm us we will preach Christ crucified and resurrected until he comes; is it any wonder then that the Holy Spirit turned up and shook the place, he found people living in victory and grace.
When the people of God begin to pray and praise as did these early disciples there will be a fire lit among them, people will come to see the flame of Gods glory as they did on the day of Pentecost. They will catch the fire and will want to come again they will have never again have an interest in a place where everything has become formal, dry, and dead any more than Christ has.
In Acts 4 verse 24 we read, ‘They lifted up their voice with one accord’ That’s one prayer meeting I would have loved to have been in for God means us to have such an overcoming life.
No dissent in this prayer meeting, no clock watching, no empire builders here, no one seeking his own, except for men and women of God who desired to see their Lord move in power and shake their world.
Oh Lord, help us to be intoxicated with the Holy Spirit help us to fall in love with the Christ of Calvary and not just the cross of Calvary, Lord come and flood our very being with the same power that brought light to your closed eyes and that caused your heart to pour forth life.
‘Thanks be to God for he has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:56)
It is God who has given us the victory, he does not have to give it to us again we need to live in it, we need to enforce the victory that Christ won at Calvary. That’s why we can be steadfast, unmovable and always abounding in the work of the Lord, that how we know our labour is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58)
When you are counting on the presence of the living Christ within, you can laugh in the face of adversity even when things appear to be getting worse. ‘Continue in the faith, be settled and be grounded in Christ and don’t be moved away from the hope of the gospel’ (Colossians 1:23)
Your victory was blood bought, it cost God the Father His most precious Sons life to gain it, so hold on to the profession of your faith in Christ (Hebrews 10:23) the living all conquering Lord.
Christ is raised indeed; he is not dead as some may argue. He is more alive than most men with collars who stand preaching dead words to dead men who have forgotten how to live in Christ.
Many church buildings are whitened sepulchres filled with dead men’s bones, places which have locked their doors to the Holy Spirit and closed their hearts to Christ.
We were not saved at such a cost to slide into obscurity, we were redeemed to take authority over the devil and to lay hands on the sick and command them to be healed.
Many so called churches are museums were past victories are repeated and past glories spoken of instead of the Gospel of life for today, many live hundreds of years before their time, wishing to be in the place and time were now dead preachers lived.
Away with such foolishness, away with living on memories of past good days, away with peeling back the dusty curtains of past glories for it is today that victories are to be won.
Away with reliving a past victory for Christ is our ‘today’ victory and he has commissioned every believer to be a witness unto him in all places to all people ‘today’
Away with fear, for God did not give you a spirit of fear but of power and of love and a sound mind, (2 Timothy 1:8)
Away with unbelief, for we have the same assurance that God gave to Joshua when he said to him, ‘Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go’ (Joshua 1:9)
‘Awake you that sleep, arise Oh church arise from the dead and Christ shall give you light’ (Ephesians 5:14) Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand (Romans 13:11)
The ‘lot’ has fallen on us as it did Jonah, we are called, we are appointed and we have been sent, our Nineveh our neighbourhood awaits our visitation, souls are dying for whom Christ died; we can either sleep and go down with the world under the storm of sin that threatens every life or we can fulfil our destiny in Christ.
The lot has been drawn and you and I have been elected by God; we have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28) we are pre- destined called, justified and glorified (Romans 8:30) called with a holy calling (2 Timothy 1:9) that God would count us worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness and the work of faith with power (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
The lot has been drawn and it has our name on it, we are today’s Joseph sent to make provision for the hungry, we are Moses called to bring people out of bondage, we are Gods Joshua’s, chosen to tear down the walls of the enemy and to bring the lost, the weary and the weak into the promised land.
We are His Caleb regardless of our age, well able to take any mountain and to destroy every giant who would dare offend our God with ranting and ravings.
We are His Gideon’s, small in our selves but mighty in the Lord to destroy the enemies of our God, we are today’s Samson’s, strong in the Lords anointing even when we take our last breath.
We are His David, well able in God to destroy the enemies of God, well able to pursue and to recover all that has been stolen from us over the years.
We are Gods elect, well able to subdue kingdoms and to do the works of righteousness because Christ is for us, he is on our side and his just cause is our cause, ‘if God be for us who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? (Hebrews 2:3) how will the world see Christ if we neglect to reveal him? Surely God in his eternal grace and mercy will bear us witness with signs and wonders and with different miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit according to his own will. (Hebrews 2:4)
Christ’s salvation was not a thing done in a corner for truly He was the King of glory who went to Calvary for us, in order that He might make us free (John 8:33) He made us free from all that would hinder us in life, that He might transform us by His grace, and bring us out from under the power of Satan into the glorious power of God.
One touch of our risen Christ would raise the dead; can this same touch not transform us today be we dead in our trespasses and sins or dead in our walk for God?
If ever we need another outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon us it is today as we stand on the brink of the last moments of this age.
We need to seek God diligently until we find him working at our side as we minister to the sick, as we preach his word to the unsaved and bring liberty to the bruised and the downtrodden. We need to pay the cost until we find the Lord working with us confirming the word with signs following. (Mark 16:20)
We need to understand that it’s not about us, it is about Christ, we don’t deserve heaven we deserved hell for the blackness and darkness of our sin, Christ did not endure the agony of hell for sinners he suffered it for his names sake.
Listen ‘Christ deserves to receive the reward for his suffering’ he alone is worthy of the souls of men, he alone could pay the price for sin; it is Christ that is the centre of the universe.
I used to believe that I was sent to get people to heaven but the truth is I was sent to tell men and women of the love that forged Calvary’s plan, the love of a God so rich in mercy that he would die for those that deserved hell. I was sent to rebellious sinners who cared nothing for God people who loved their sin and loved darkness, sent to bring them to Christ as His reward for his suffering.
We deserved wrath and because of Christ we received forgiveness and mercy, we deserved hell and eternal damnation instead we are assured of heaven and home.
When we finish our work our only claim to fame will be that we are ‘unprofitable servants’ (Luke 17:10) for without Christ we are nothing, our life is in him, our next breath is a gift from God, we are living on the giving of God.
What a wonderful Saviour we serve, He comes and indwells us to abide in us, ‘know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?’ (1 Corinthians 3:16) He it is who baptizes us with the Holy Ghost and with fire (Luke 3:16) it is Christ that makes all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17)
We are to be his first fruits unto God and are to be like Christ who is the first fruit, walking in His footsteps, living in His power and moving in his victory, Christ like, twice born, created for good works ……
What an awesome salvation this is, imagine having the risen Christ in us, what then else can satisfy? Who or what can ever be worth giving place in our lives except Christ?
Like John the Baptist we ourselves must decrease in order that Christ may increase (John 3:30) for in this way we can live where everything in our lives are under the power of the Spirit. It’s a place were you will never be able to say, "I did this or that." For you will desire to give God all the glory for everything.
Let me challenge you to take your inheritance in Christ and to believe God? ‘If you shall believe you shall see the glory of God’ (John 11:40)
You will be sifted as wheat, for sure you will be tried and tempted, you will be put in places where you will have to put your whole trust in God. There will be no temptation that will come, but God will be with you right in the middle of the temptation to deliver you he will always provide a way of escape that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Every trial you go through will bring you to a greater position in God they will take you upward and onward through the power of the risen Christ within you. The same God that led Joshua and the murmuring multitude into the Promised Land, the same God who delivered them from all their enemies will deliver you from every temptation and trial for His names sake.
As my Pastor used to say ‘you can’t go down for going over’
‘Christ in you’ that’s the hope of glory; he is the reason you will not sink during the worst of life’s storms.
‘Christ in you’ the Lord of Hosts is an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries (Exodus 23:22) you cannot fail for the Christ in you is the Almighty God of all creation.
‘Christ in you’ upholds all things by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3) that’s why you are well able to possess the land (Numbers 13:30) that’s why you will run through the armies of the enemy and leap over walls (2 Samuel 22:30)
‘Christ in you’ is the victory in you!! You are not a lost cause ‘you are more than an conqueror’ you are not a failure you are his, you did not choose Christ he chose you and ordained you that you should go and bring forth fruit (John 15:16)
For years many have been longing, praying almost begging God to come forth in power upon this nation, and now the tide is rising everywhere. All over the world it is the same, everywhere hungry hearts are to be found so to the Lord is with them confirming himself as Lord of the whole earth
As Joel wrote, God promised to ‘pour out His Spirit upon all flesh’ and His promises never fail.
You have the written assurance of God that the victory is assured, what more needs to be said, what more can be added except a grain of faith in the heart of a believer to bring kingdom victory to our nation.