Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Revival & Awakening: You Must Be Present To Win

Some of my preacher friends went to a preaching conference last weekend. Apparently I missed a great conference. At the very least I missed some great door prizes. The preachers who went said they gave away vacations, iPads, gift cards, and $100 bills.

They were giving one of my friends a hard time. You see he went to the conference, but left early. After he left, they drew his name for one of the $100 bills. He wasn't there, so they gave it to someone else. I felt a little jealous for not having gone to the conference, but at least I didn't leave early since you had to be present to win.

During some of the great revivals in history (the Hebrides and Welsh revivals), there are reports that people were overcome by the Holy Spirit and fell to their knees while working in the fields. However, these are far and away the exception to the rule. The movement of God came when the people of God were gathered together. Revival and awakening is very much a "must be present to win" situation.

I have lost count of the times God moved powerfully in a worship service, someone had been absent, and later asked, "Tell me about it. I wish we had been there." Even now, as we prepare for services that we hope turn into a great move of God, many have told me, "Well, we will not be able to attend."

Over a year ago, we scheduled a series of meetings in the hope that God would work a great revival and awakening in our midst. For months we have encouraged people to prepare. Nearly 40 days ago we began to pray and fast earnestly. For over a month, the messages on Sunday have been to prepare us for these days. There can be no doubt about our need personally, locally, and nationally for a great move of God. Yet, some Christians who are part of our church may choose not to attend.

Yes, God moves in many ways and in many places. But, sometimes, He moves in a group of people only when they are gathered together. Read the book of Acts beginning with the group praying in the upper room before Pentecost, and you will see God moving powerfully almost exclusively when the people of God were gathered.

Before you decide what you will be doing with your time this next Sunday through Wednesday, ask yourself this. Where do I need to be for God to do a great work in my life? We can tell you what happened, or you can be present while it is happening.

God, gather us for revival.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Louisiana Day Of Prayer For Law Enforcement

The governor of our state declared this day a day of prayer for law enforcement, and that is a very good thing. It's good, not just because thousands of men and women serve our society as law enforcement, but because this is part of our good God's plan for us.

God used Paul to make it clear that "Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God's command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do good and you will have its approval. For government is God's servant to you for good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God's servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong." (Rom. 13:1-4)

Imagine a world without civil government. God cannot, and so He has planned a world in which governing authorities rule for our good.  And so He used Paul once again to encourage the church  "First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2:1-4) So, today as we pray for law enforcement officers in our state, we are praying in the middle of God's will, for the accomplishment of His purposes, and the spread of the Gospel.

One last thing. If you really want to bless those who serve in this way, do two things. First, thank an officer for their service. Second, help make their day a little less busy by obeying the law.