Repentance Revival

Repentance Revival

Repentance Revival

Acts 19:18 – “Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices.”
By: Jeremiah Morris, Lead Pastor, Seven Mile Road

April 21, 2018

Joseph recently met Jesus. He is a young, gifted and educated guy with everything going for him yet he had a nagging spiritual hunger. As we were taking strides towards new life in Jesus he made a comment that caused me to unexpectedly well up with tears as I realized that the Holy Spirit was truly in our midst. He told me that since he started reading the Bible and praying something strange was happening -- activities he had participated in for some time were no longer enjoyable and, in fact, he felt bad about them. I explained what conviction meant and invited him to repent and believe the gospel. Gloriously he crossed the line of faith and is walking in his new life with Jesus.

As I consider what it would like for revival to break out in our city I am reminded of what went on in Acts 19 when Paul’s missionary journeys took him to Ephesus. New believers who were encountering God’s word and ways were aware of the Holy Spirit’s power and were “confessing and divulging their practices.” They were a people previously marked by magic and the occult and their repentance was costly because they burned books worth about 6 million dollars in present day currency. This change of heart was so stunning that it threatened the economic engine in the city and led to rioting.

Where the gospel is heralded in power and the Spirit of God is on the move there should be increasing vulnerability, repentance, and freedom. Confession was the tool that significantly furthered revival realities in Ephesus and the surrounding area. If we are going to experience gospel revolution in a city, it starts in our hearts and will be seen in the fearless confession of Christians. It was true in Ephesus in the first century and it is true in Houston in the 21st -- when light is shined on darkness, we do not want to go back to the darkness anymore. In other words, my invitation is for us to pray for a revival of repentance. Would you be willing to boldly step into the light and lead your people to do the same? Would you pray for the Holy Spirit to blow through our communities with conviction and cause so many people to divulge and abandon their sinful practices that our city would be transformed?!

Prayer

Lord, would you please reveal your power in undeniable ways among our communities so that people would confess and run from their sin. Make it the case that those who make their living hocking the wares that support our sinful addictions would be worried that supply is going to dry up. I long to see a movement of your power that looks like that. Yes Lord! Bring a Repentance Revival and may it start with my heart. In Jesus name, Amen.

Desperate for More

Desperate for More

Desperate for More

Romans 8:22-25

By: Andrew Johnson, Associate Pastor, Neartown Church

April 20, 2018

22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

On March 16th of this year, The Decemberists released their latest album I'll Be Your Girl. On this stellar record, they bemoan the state of things. The opening track has them crying out, "Oh, for once in my life, could just something go right?" while shouting in another, "Everything is awful!" Through the insanely catchy hooks and 80s inspired synth, they get at a core tenant many of us feel day to day - all is not well in my world! I want it fixed!

Many dismiss these sort of feelings as complaints. "Cry a river, build a bridge, and get over it" logic. Another view, however, is to see these deep heart cries not as whining, but prayers. 

Josh Larsen, author of Movies are Prayers, says in the book, "Whenever I sense something beyond this temporal world - whether the movement of God or the machinations of wickedness - I respond, without formation or premeditation, in awe, anger, or confusion. In these unplanned and impulsive prayers, I'm just a boy standing before God, asking him everything."

Paul writes to the Romans a similar thought here in chapter 8:22; all of creation is crying out to be made whole. People know this world is busted and they know they want to be free. These same people, in unplanned and impulsive fashion, are crying out for it all to be made right because often, "everything is awful!" They pray without knowing it as prayer, wanting someone to intervene. 

Where in this broken world do you see a need for Christ's wholeness? Who in your world needs to know the freedom of Jesus?

Paul then notes that "we ourselves", the ones already adopted (Eph 1:5, Rom 8:15, Gal 3:25-29, 4:4-7) groan inwardly for his full glory and full freedom for all of creation. We, too, aren't complete! We haven't "made it," getting to sit on our haunches and calling ourselves "all good." We ourselves know that many of our passions are misaligned, drawing us away from Him and others who need him. We ourselves are lulled out of action.  

Where in your life do you see weakened passions that lead you to stay bound? Where in your life do you see wounds that need mended? 

Paul closes these 4 verses with a call to patience; but since when does "patience" mean sitting idly? "Patience" is not an invitation to riding the pine (sitting the bench). It's a call to directed hope in the ONE who can move hearts and systems. 

 

Revival rests in the cry for our great Creator who has made us in his image to restore us and make all things new. Let's pray daily, eagerly and expectantly for it! 

    •    Pray for God to correct & renew unjust systems, giving freedom to the oppressed.

    •    Pray for God to intervene & redeem our friends and family that do not yet know him, as they'll continue to cry out for freedom and wholeness until he moves. 

    •    Pray for God to reform our passions to his and live in an active hope of a coming Savior.

Prayer

Lord, we are in need of your present restoration and redemption. This world is broken and will stay that way until you make it whole. In your grace, please intervene in Houston. Bring justice to these broken places that surround us. Allow me to play a part in seeing them made whole. Lord, please bring to mind 3 people to specifically pray for that don't know you. In these 3 lives, Lord, draw them near to you and draw them to repentance. Allow me to see your grace in their lives through salvation. Jesus, thank you for redeeming me; show me where I am too easily satisfied in things and places other than you. Reform my passions to be satisfied by you and you alone. Holy Spirit...please move in the Church of Houston and bring about your revival as you make all things new

 

Being with Jesus

Being with Jesus

Being with Jesus

Acts 4:15
By: Chuck Land, Senior Pastor, Crossbridge Church

April 19, 2018

Revival starts with the leader. As the leader goes in their personal passion for the Lord and the things of God, so goes the church. There is a lot that goes into a leader seeking revival in his soul for things of God, but if you bring it down to one simple statement, it is “being with Jesus.” In Acts 4:15, Peter and John are before the Jewish leaders testifying to the gospel of Jesus Christ after being arrested. The scriptures say, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

I love the description of Peter and John, “uneducated, common men”. A leader does not have to have multiple degrees of being extraordinarily gifted to experience God’s reviving power and presence in his life. The key is that they had been with Jesus. Church leaders, before they are characterized by their incredible vision casting, strategic planning, communication and contextualizing skills, should be known as people who have been with Jesus.

Being with Jesus in His word and prayer is what keeps our hearts soft and minds sharp to the ways and will of God. It is what makes us fear God more than man, so we can be bold in declaring the truths of the gospel. It is what makes us love people and believe that everybody needs Jesus, and we should do whatever it takes for them to know about Him. Being with Jesus is what keeps leadership from being just a job or a duty and helps it stay a fresh calling. It is what stokes the flame of ongoing personal renewal in our lives, and it is what we need most to bring revival to our souls when that flame has started to wither by the worries of life and flurry of our pace.

As we pray, plan, plant churches and pursue revival so that the Houston church might rise in truth, love and good deeds and so that every man, woman and child might have to the opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel, let us remember to be satisfied with His unfailing love (Psalm 90:14), to abide in Him and His love and let His words abide in us (John 15:7). Let us be set on fire by being with Jesus so that we can spread the flame to others and the city will see the warmth, love, passion and joy that comes from a revived church of common people that have “been with Jesus”.

When will you be with Jesus, Friend? Is it on your calendar? Is it a priority? Oh, how we long for real revival by the power of the Spirit in our city, and may it start in you and me from being with Jesus.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, because You came to be with us and give Your life for us, we can be with You. Draw our hearts and minds away from the hurry and flurry of our frenzied culture. Help us to put down our devices so we may take up your word and let your Spirit breathe life into us. How we need You Lord! We need you to revive, sustain, strengthen and satisfy our souls in Your unfailing love. Meet us as we seek to be with You. In Jesus name we pray,

Amen

Re-Vival: The Painful Part of Building a New Life

Re-Vival: The Painful Part of Building a New Life

The Painful Part of Building a New Life

Psalm 39:7 " So now Lord, what should I be waiting for? My hope is set on you."

By: Rebecca Harrison

April 18, 2018

The thing about revival that is challenging for me is the "re" part. Whenever we see "re" in the prefix of a word, we know that there is something that we need to do again. Something once was, but is not any longer, and now we seek to re-do, re-start, re-store, re-awaken, or re-vive it; To bring it back to life and we are hoping that as we revive it the life we bring back will be a new life.

The problem with the "re" part is that it means that we must start again. We must go back to a beginning point. To restore something, we need to strip it down to the bones and look at the thing for what it is. We need to see it naked and exposed before we can build it back up again to what is was supposed to be. And that is not comfortable. To seek revival, is to seek new life. So, we strip down the life we have and look at it for what it is. And that is especially not comfortable.

I love the new life part. The already restored part. The part of the re-vival that is just the "vival"! I love the Psalm 40 part where we hear the words, "He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise for our God!" Unfortunately, to get to Psalm 40, we have to go through Psalm 39. We have to strip it down.

In a moment of clarity, after lamenting the pain he has endured while remaining obedient in the face of those who stand against him, the Psalmist declares, 39:5-6 "Yes, a human life is nothing but a puff of air!" Yes, people wander around like shadows; yes, they hustle and bustle but pointlessly; they don't even know who will get the wealth they've amassed."(CEB)

As pastors and church planters, we know this feeling well. It is the "What the $#@!" moment. We know what it is to feel the pain of frustration. The pain of holding our tongue. The pain of disappointment over what we waited and hoped for. The month is too long and the money is too short. We can do everything "right" and the bad diagnosis still comes. The job can still be lost. The hurricane can still wash away all of what we thought was security. In a moment of gritty, raw, honesty the Psalmist says, (v.7)" So now Lord, what should I be waiting for?" In light of the fact that my days are numbered and we all seem to be consumed with busyness that ultimately doesn't matter, now, Lord, WHAT SHOULD I BE WAITING FOR? WHERE IS MY NEW LIFE? WHERE IS MY REVIVAL?

Then the answer comes. "My hope is set on you." There is the key. Stripped down, new life begins with, "My hope is set on you."

But this hope is not for any of the things that we used to look to in the old life. In fact, to build this new life, God has disciplined us in our sin. We have felt the "blows of his fist" on us and he has and poked holes in all of the things that we once treasured exposing their worthlessness,"like a moth, you ruin what (we) treasure. [39:11]" This stripping down is a painful process, and it often makes us want to join in with the Psalmist and tell God to "turn his face away" from us so we could be "happy" with the days we have left.

But then we get to Psalm 40. When everything has been stripped down to the core, if we can have the courage to truly set our hope on the Lord, we will get to Psalm 40. "I put all my hope in the Lord. He leaned down to me; he listened to my cry for help. He lifted me out of the pit of death, out of the mud and filth, and set my feet on solid rock. He steadied my legs. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise for our God!"

Re-Vival!

Prayer

Lord, as we seek re-vival during this time between Easter and Pentecost may it be that we will allow you to give us clarity about what needs to be stripped down in our lives. As we stand before you, admitting that the things we have treasured are full of holes, may we open our hands to you in surrender and say, "So now Lord, what should I be waiting for? Lord, may my new life begin with the declaration that, "My hope is set completely on you," and my new song be one of praise for your amazing love and eternal faithfulness!

Pray for your pastor/preacher

Pray for your pastor/preacher

Pray for Your Pastor/Preacher

“Preach the Word.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

By: Mitch Maher, Lead Pastor, Redeemer Community Church

April 17, 2018

Some years ago I preached a sermon gleaned from various verses throughout 2 Timothy entitled, Praying for the Preachers. The mandate for pastors is found in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the Word!” Faithful preachers take the task of proclaiming God’s Word seriously and increasingly feel the need for God’s people to intercede on their behalf. I thought the HCPN: 50 Days of Prayer would be a great place to remind you to fervently pray for your pastor/preacher in very specific ways.

  1. Pray for Passion (1:6). The necessity of preaching for the life and health of the church cannot be overstated. But often, pressures from within and without threaten to dim the “fire” burning in a preacher’s soul. The passion for preaching must be continually kindled in order to blaze with splendor. Pray that your pastor/preacher would remain forever-fervent for God’s glory through preaching!

  2. Pray for Courage (1:8). The call to preach is a call to confront sin as it manifests itself in the culture and the church. Whether its immorality, materialism, divorce, or the like, the preacher is charged with calling sin “sin” and, without blinking, proclaiming God’s truth on these matters. He must herald truth that’s not politically correct, upholding God’s Word about eternal hell, homosexuality, the exclusivity of Christ, abortion, and more. Doing so often courts disdain, opposition, and even attacks. Pray that your pastor/preacher would resist the temptation to hush, and continue to courageously preach the truth.

  3. Pray for Accuracy (1:13; 2:15). The preacher must get it straight before he ever gives it straight (Kent Hughes, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, p. 209). He must be faithful to the Word of God, not mixing into his preaching error or his own speculations about this or that. Literally, that’s what Bible exposition is... it’s taking the position of the Bible and accurately lifting it out for the audience to hear and obey. Pray that your pastor/preacher would remain faithful and true to the teaching of the Bible.

  4. Pray for Diligence (2:6, 15). Accuracy requires diligence. As DTS Prof Howard Hendricks was fond of saying, “This Book will not yield its treasure to the lazy eye!” Accuracy in exegesis, theology, and homiletics demands that the preacher not let his fleshly tendency toward slothfulness get the best of him. He must study hard. Pray that your pastor/preacher would balance well the demands of church planting/leadership with the priority of diligent, methodical, and meditative study of the Word.

  5. Pray for Tact (1:13; 2:24-26; 4:2). Preachers must be tough, but they must also be tender. Strong cries against sin and forceful exhortations to holiness must always be coupled with what Paul called, “love... kindness... gentleness... patience.” Pray that your pastor/preacher, while remaining strong on the truth and fervent in the faith, would live the wisdom which knows, “... sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.” (Proverbs 16:21)

  6. Pray for Endurance (4:5-8). Over time, preachers who remain true to their task have to preach through personal adversity like sickness and loss, disappointment from those they’ve poured their life into, verbal attacks from those they offend, and countless other sorrows along life’s way. It is one thing to live through such adversity, but it is quite another to faithfully preach through it. Pray that your pastor/preacher would “endure hardship... fight the good fight... finish the course... and keep the faith”... all the way until the end!

Like everyone else, your pastor/preacher’s flesh is intense, prone to wander into fear, laziness, harshness, and more. And our Adversary is real, always prowling about to deceive, discourage, distract, and disqualify. Please labor for your pastor/preacher in a ministry of prayer as we carry out our responsibility to preach the Word!

Humility before god

Humility before god

Humility Before God

Isaiah 6:1-5

By: Mike Ayers, Pastor, The Brook Church

April 16, 2018

The first two years of life are all about the struggle of learning to walk and talk. These are the basics at this age. Learning to talk is rather cute and harmless. Learning to walk, on the other hand, can be a bit treacherous. My oldest son cut his eye open doing so. My other son kept a knot in middle of his head for six weeks during this process.

Despite the danger, we as parents have them do it because we know we have to teach certain things first. There are basic prerequisites to functioning in life and some things come before others. We walk, then we run; we learn the alphabet, then we read; etc.

In the spiritual life, there exists a fundamental prerequisite for relating to God, and if there is any single key condition for spiritual awakening it would be the virtue of humility. It is, in fact, a quality from which all other dimensions of revival flow.

Saint Augustine said, “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist, there cannot be any other virtue.”Can one receive salvation without humility? No. Can one develop in character, love, be reconciled to others, or worship without humility? No. This is why humility

is such a high value in God’s economy. From it, everything in our relationship with Christ flows.

In 2 Chronicles 7, the Bible describes prayers and worship offered to God at the dedication of the temple upon its completion. In response, God gives commands for relating to Him and provides promises for blessing when those commands are heeded.

Contained is this passage is likely the premiere verse for spiritual revival in all of Scripture.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

The very first phrase— that is, the very first condition for God’s response, forgiveness and healing of His people is humility. God says that we are to humble ourselves before Him.

As a prerequisite for relating to God, humility is like one of those required classes in college. You know, the ones you don’t choose because they’re not as fun, as easy or as relevant in your mind as the others. If you flunk this kind of class, you have to take it again. Well, we who have lived long enough in Christ know that we don’t really have a choice when it comes to humility. It is required by God. So, we can humble ourselves: that is, willingly posture ourselves before God without pretention or pride. Or, we can do it the hard way— that is, experience pain in our lives as a result of pride that eventually leads to humiliation. In other words, we can be humble, or be humbled. In fact, it may be true that one cannot be humble before God until one has been humbled by God. After some of my own experiences of pain resulting from arrogance and independence, I’d like to choose the former, thank you very much.

But what is contained in humility before God? I believe there are three dynamics at work that leads a person to humble themselves.The first is PERSPECTIVE. Humility flows from a perspective that I have about God, and then about myself in relationship to Him. Let’s look at Isaiah’s experience:

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.” Isaiah 6:1-4

Wow! Isaiah had a vision of God where He clearly came to grips with the majesty, holiness, righteousness and purity of His character. What was Isaiah’s immediate response?

 

“Then I said, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5

Do you get a picture of what the Bible is describing? It is a vision of God’s holiness. Holiness includes God’s complete moral purity and perfection, i.e., His righteousness in character. More than that, God’s holiness primarily points to what some theologians have called His infinite “otherness”. To say that God is holy means that He is transcendentally separate and distinct in His purity and goodness from us.

As a result of this vision, Isaiah was “undone” before God. Have you ever been completely undone before God? This word could be translated “ruined”, or “utterly lost”. His perspective was, “I don’t measure up. I don’t deserve to be in God’s presence, let alone to be a recipient of His grace and mercy. I am unworthy.”

You see, when we have an accurate understanding of who God is, we will then have an accurate understanding of who we are. The result is humility. The perspective is that there is no way we could stand in God’s presence with any sense of right to do so or pride in what we bring. It is the deep understanding that He is God and I am not.

Therefore, when we are allowed to be in His presence (as we are) and be loved by this holy God, this fact produces the second component of humility: gratitude. Because of who He is, in light of who we are, and for yet being received by Him, we worship this infinitely other God with hearts full of gratitude and praise!

The Book of Revelation paints the greatest picture of humble gratitude in eternal worship.

9 “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 7:9-12

See the angels around the throne? The multitudes falling on their faces before the God? They are beings who are overwhelmed with the reality: “We are not worthy, yet we are chosen.”

Here’s our human problem. Familiarity breeds ingratitude. What we are used to, we take for granted. Therefore, revival requires an awakening to what we have in Christ. It means remembering the preciousness of the gift of our salvation, the unending presence of the Holy Spirit within, and that fact of our destiny in eternity.

But humility doesn’t end with perspective and gratitude. Most think it does. If it did, humility would only be a product of the mind (perspective) and the heart (gratitude). It would be a great thought or a fleeting feeling. True humility is manifested in one’s life. Upon recognizing God’s holiness, and being grateful for His love and acceptance, there results an innate desire to do what He wants, to seek His ways, to trust His commands, and to believe that His way is truly best. So thirdly, true humility requires obedience.

In this sense, disobedience to God is not so much rebellion, as much as it is a lack of perspective and gratitude.

As parents, we want our children to obey us, not out of legalistic allegiance, but out of perspective of who we are to them, and out of gratitude for all we have done for them. The same is true for the Father in Heaven.

Perspective, gratitude, and obedience. These are the marks of humility before God.

Billy Graham’s death recently occurred. The week of his death, I read many articles about him and his ministry. Time and again, there was one trait that was expressed by countless people about him who knew Reverend Graham and had worked with him. It was humility.

Come to think of it. Every godly person I have ever known in my life, regardless of their respected positions, great achievements or considerable power they held, were humble people.

If we want to see true revival in our lives and churches, we must be too.

Revival is God’s idea

Revival is God’s idea

Revival is God's Idea

“I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.” Isaiah 42:8
By: Jason Shepperd, Lead Pastor, Church Project

April 15, 2018

Revival is the gracious intervention of God, interjecting His glory into dying and apathetic souls and situations, and bringing an awakening that leads to salvation and ultimate alignment with His mission.

We want Revival. But we want it because God made us to want it. Our old nature doesn’t want this. Our old nature is about us, our glory, our elevation. Our new nature in Christ is what makes us want to be a part of a move of God. Our new nature wants us to decrease, so that Jesus may increase.

Apart from God’s gracious intervention in our selfish sinful heart, and His Spirit initiating our regeneration with a new nature, we would care nothing about Revival. God initiates all of this!

And He wants Revival more than we do. Salvation and mission and new life are His ideas, His work. So, why is it not happening more? If God wants Revival, what might He be waiting for? Is He waiting on us? Or are we waiting on Him?

God is waiting on us to be waiting on Him. God desires our dependence on Him. God desires our desire for Him.
God deserves this.

Until we deeply desire and completely depend on Him, there is a danger in God sending a revival to us. A mighty move of God could compromise His glory, if His people would take any honor or credit for what God might do.

God will not share His glory. He will not initiate a glorious revelation of Himself in a place where someone else will want the honor for His work.

Let us make sure that God is receiving the glory in our lives. Let us ensure that we are submitted to Him, honoring Him with our hearts and conduct. Let us seek Him, asking Him to move among our congregations, and in our city, confessing our dependence upon Him for any work of the Gospel. Let us be careful to search our hearts, and honestly express to God our desire for His fame, His name, His glory alone. Let us desire to decrease, so that He might increase.

Prayer

Father, you alone are God. There is no other worthy of being worshipped. We confess that we ourselves are not worthy of adoration. Only by your gracious intervention in our lives have we received salvation, and by your Son the privilege to even speak your name. Thank you for the gracious invitation to serve you. Help us know how to humble ourselves, how to decrease. We ask Holy Spirit that you would draw the lost among us to salvation. Awaken the hearts of your followers to lay down our lives, take up our cross, and follow you. Whatever work you choose to do, we will elevate you above ourselves as the source and purpose of all that we do. Jesus, bring revival to our congregations and to our city, for the honor and glory of your name.

Revival and Mission

Revival and Mission

Revival and Mission

Acts 1:6 - “So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (ESV)

By: Jaime Jimenez, Assistant pastor – Spanish ministry, Christ the King Presbyterian Church

April 14, 2018

The well-known promise of Jesus that we find in Acts 1:8 - “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you...” - is preceded by a question raised by the disciples about the kingdom. At this point we might assume the disciples had a clear understanding on the nature of the kingdom after being with Jesus for three years. And even more in light of the fact that the resurrected Christ had been appearing to them during forty days speaking about the kingdom of God and asking them to wait for the gift of the Spirit (Acts 1:3-4).

But the question they put to Jesus in verse 6 reflects a clear lack of perception. As a famous theologian once said, “there are as many errors in the question as words.” The verb “restore” suggests a political idea on the nature of the kingdom. The adverbial clause “at this time” expresses the expectation of an immediate fulfillment. And the noun “Israel” communicates a narrow and nationalistic understanding of the kingdom. Why were they exhibiting so much doctrinal confusion?

I believe the disciples still struggled to be willing to follow Jesus in mission toward the unbelieving world. As Professor Richard Lovelace explains, “Still gripped by the common vision of immediate peace and prosperity through the Messiah’s reign, they are unconsciously trying to evade the long period of spiritual warfare needed to spread the kingdom, to gather the elect from all ages of world history, and to allow followers of Jesus to become like him through sharing the way of the cross... The apostles were revealing the natural gravitation of their hearts away from outward mission and toward self-centered enjoyment of kingdom blessings.”

It shouldn’t surprise us that the same self-centeredness that characterized the people of Israel in the Old Testament, that prevented them from being a light to the nations, was a present struggle for the disciples, just as much as it is a struggle for us. Therefore Jesus responds by pointing his disciples to the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Only the Spirit, by continuously driving us to the cross, is able to transform self-absorbed people into self-sacrificing.

No doubt the disciples needed the presence and the power of the Spirit in order to be able to follow Jesus in a costly mission. And as we clearly see in the book of Acts, it is precisely in the context of mission that they would experience the Spirit’s empowerment in its fullest way. Again, Richard Lovelace explains, “Jesus responds by telling them that the greatest blessing they can know within ordinary history – the full empowering of the Holy Spirit – will only come to them in the context of outward movement in mission.”

When we pray for revival, we are praying that by the work of the Spirit, people would be converted and believers would be spiritually renewed as the gospel continues to sink deeper into their hearts. As an outcome we expect an intensification of the church’s participation in the mission of Christ in the world. But, interestingly, it is precisely in this outward movement of mission that the church also experiences revival. For when the church seeks to follow Jesus into the world, it learns to abide in Him and grows in experiencing His presence (2 Cor 2:14, John 15:5).

Prayer

Help us, oh Lord, to experience a deeper conviction of sin and a growing enjoyment of your grace. And help us to be moved from self-centeredness to self-sacrifice as we seek to follow Jesus in this world and as we learn to abide in Him.

Finding Satisfaction in God

Finding Satisfaction in God

Finding Satisfaction in God

Psalm 63:1

By: Sammy Ramos, Lead Pastor/Planter, Cistern Church, HCPN Finishing Resident

April 13, 2018

Psalm 63:1 -
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you,

as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

David wrote this Psalm while was in the wilderness of Judah and far away from the presence of God. We’ve all sensed at one time or another that we’re far away from where we are meant to be, in our own wilderness. I think one big difference between David and us, is that he recognized what was missing: the presence of God. We can get so caught up in our routines and systems that when the presence of God is removed from our lives or churches, we simply think that a tweak to the system is all that is needed to get everything back on track. We just need to fix our processes, get a little more sleep, liven up the worship set, or get friendlier greeters. David didn’t just want a working system. More than anything, he longed for the presence of God.

A few weeks ago my wife heard a sermon on Psalm 63 and began praying for personal revival. She began earnestly seeking God and prayed to tangibly feel God moving and working in her life as she had in other seasons. While driving the kids to school, listening to the local christian radio station, a song came on that she found particularly annoying. She was about to change the station, but before she could even reach over she heard a little voice singing along with the song. She looked over to the passenger seat and saw my 8 year old son, not only singing along, but sobbing as he struggled to get the words out. “What’s wrong?!” she asked. He replied, in between sobs, “Nothing...it’s just...God is so good!” God answered my wife’s prayer in the car that day. She saw 8 years of gospel ministry and faithfulness beginning to bear fruit in the life a young man. For a mom whose soul was thirsting for the presence of God in her own life, seeing a little stream of God’s goodness spring up in the car seat next to her was enough to begin to satisfy her soul.

As we, the Church in Houston, begin praying for revival, I pray that we will be as united when these prayers begin to be answered as we were when began this journey praying together. When the church down the street begins to experience revival before our congregation does, will our hearts be satisfied and even overjoyed knowing that God is moving and answering prayer, or will we begin tweaking our systems out of envy? If revival is going to come to Houston it is going to start somewhere. I pray that it begins with me. I pray it begins with my church! But even if it doesn’t, if revival breaks out in the car seat next to me or even in the church next next door, will I quench the Spirit’s work or will I be found faithfully fanning the flames of revival?

Prayer

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you, my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen your power and glory in my own life. You have saved me. I’ve experienced, first hand, your steadfast love and it is better than life. For that, my lips will praise you. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to boldly proclaim the name of Jesus to every man woman and child you have called me to. In fulfilling this gospel call, may my soul be satisfied, not by the work or the ministry or even the fruit, but in You and in You only.

Revival of Unity

Revival of Unity

Revival of Unity

Colossians 3:13-14 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (14) and over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
By: Jonathan Slade, HCPN Functional Resident

April 12, 2018

The Apostle Paul writes the book of Colossians as a response to the issues being brought to his attention, one issue is that while the gospel was spreading in the city of Colossae there were Judaizers trying to attach legalism with Christianity, another was that a form of heresy was modifying the Gospel message to a point of danger and bringing confusion upon people. There were fights, riots and divisions happening through out the city and I can’t help but see that today our nation is having these same issues arise at an alarming rate every single day within the church amongst brethren and unbelievers with different philosophies of life especially when it comes to topic of race all of which somehow being thrown around with Gods name related to it.

How can we get people ready for revival if we cant even get them is the same room with each other, I have personally seen pastors ready to come to blows with each other when arguing about race. If it was anything that stirred The apostle Paul up more to a holy anger I believe it was devise people and heretical teachers, He had strong words when dealing with them and I believe that it burned him up because he understood Gods plan to have unified people to love and to love through, and what better sabotage to destroy a recipe for Holy unity than division. May it be far from us as Gods’ chosen people to burden the lost with personal agendas yet clothe them in love, for the Father has first loved us and forgiven us in our most hostile state of mind. May it be far from us to build political walls up than be hospitable to our neighbor and love them as we love our selves. May it be far from us to let that ancient serpent masquerade behind the riots and injustice of racism that’s ripping our churches apart but be the church that Christ died for and deploy disciples who just don’t tell the truth but shares the truth in love.

Prayer

Father we love you, we thank you and we praise your holy precious name. Lord, as we fixate our hearts towards revival, would you ever so lovingly remind us that our ultimate goal is to not recruit those of same creed, color , social and or economic class but to beckon those who are most different in every way to lay and down our burdens before the throne, Lord we ask that our homes and our churches would be but glimpse of what Heaven looks like, Lord give us courage to do all in our might to reconcile with each other and put whatever is that’s holding us back under the cross for your redemptive purpose , that we would unite as one organism . Father we need your Grace and your mercy. Amen.

Preparing for Pentecost

Preparing for Pentecost

Preparing for Pentecost

Psalm 46:10a: Be still and know that I am God.
By: Mary Lu Campbell, Chief Operating Officer, The WorkFaith Connection

April 11, 2018

How did Jesus prepare Himself day in and day out for the work to which His Father called Him? Many times we see Him drawing away to be with His Father alone. Richard Foster says, “Jesus lived in inward “heart solitude.” His ministry began after spending 40 days in solitude in the desert, and before His greatest sacrifice, He drew away alone at the Garden of Gethsemane. He tells us in John 5:19: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” I suspect He drew away to see what His Father was doing so He could know what He was to do. Can we expect as His followers to do any less?

If we are to be prepared to do the works of Jesus in anticipation of revival, even greater works than He did (John 14:12), we must hear from Him and

see what He is doing. We must also draw away to be alone with Him, to hear His still small voice and be filled with His Spirit and love. Henri J. M. Nouwen says, “Silence guards the inner heat of religious emotions. This inner heat is the life of the Holy Spirit within us. Thus, silence is the discipline by which the inner fire of God is tended and kept alive.” Richard Foster says: “Though silence sometimes involves the absence of speech, it always involves the act of listening. Simply to refrain from talking, without a heart listening to God, is not silence. The purpose of silence and solitude is to be able to see and hear.” When we sit in silence, we are brought to the present – leaving the past behind and letting the future remain in the future. This is a discipline that requires practice, but the rewards of silencing the talkative voices surrounding us, including our own, will allow us to hear His voice, making it all worth the effort.

When I was raising our four children, I struggled to find the time to sit quietly before the Lord. I remained in bed as long as I could rather than getting up early to be with Him when the house was quiet. But God was gracious and He met me during the dinner preparation hour. As the children played or did homework, there was noise and activity all around me; but I “drew away” into a place of “heart solitude” and He would meet me there. He spoke truths to my heart, giving me wisdom of how to move forward, convicting my heart of sin that needed to be repented of, speaking words of love and acceptance or giving me His prayers to pray for loved ones, my church, my city, nation or world. These are sweet memories and the times that fueled my spirit and soul. But now that my four are grown and moved out of the home, do I find I have more time to be with Him? You would think so, but the distractions and demands for my time and attention are there, just different. I still have to be intentional to exercise the muscle of sitting in silence and waiting on Him.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 says, “Be not be rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few.” Proverbs 10:19: “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” Before I speak, I should test my words to make sure I am speaking His words of Life and not fleshly words of Death. I want my cries for revival to be His Heavenly utterances spoken here on earth!

When and how He brings revival to Houston will be according to His sovereign plan; we are His partners here on earth praying for revival and preparing our hearts to receive Him; maybe we should be preparing our lips as well! Isaiah’s words when he saw the Lord on His throne were “Woe is me, for I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts!”

Today, I challenge you to practice the discipline of silence and solitude in order to hear His voice. Be filled with His cleansing and love in order to be His ambassador here in Houston.

Prayer

Lord, still our hearts today to hear Your voice and see what You are doing. We want to be your hands and feet to all in this city and to join You in your redemptive work here in Houston.

Uncrowd my heart, O God,
until silence speaks

in your still small voice;
turn me from the hearing of words, and the making of words,
and the confusion of much speaking, to listening,
waiting,
stillness,
silence.

-Thomas Merton

Revival and Diversity in the Church

Revival and Diversity in the Church

Revival and Diversity in the Church

Acts 11:21 – “And the hand of the Lord was with [the church in Antioch], and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.”

By: Jason Tarn, Lead English Pastor, Houston Chinese Church

April 10, 2018

Twenty-first century Houston and first-century Antioch have much in common. Both cities could be described as multi-national, multi- cultural, and multi-ethnic. Now the growing diversity of Houston has been well documented, but you may not be as familiar with Antioch. It was the third largest city in the Roman Empire. Among its population were Romans and Greeks. But due to its location within the cradle of civilization, the city was filled with Syrians, Phoenicians, and Jews. There were also Africans, Arabs, Persians, and Indians among the inhabitants.

In fact, there were at least 18 different ethnic quarters. The builders of the city recognized that a growing diversity would lead to growing tensions. So not only did they build walls around the city to protect the people of Antioch from outsiders, they built walls within the city, separating these ethnic quarters, to protect the people of Antioch from each other.

But according the book of Acts, when the gospel was introduced to Antioch and the disciples began preaching the Lord Jesus to the Hellenists (Greeks), something new happened. Revival broke out. We’re told in Acts 11:21 that “the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.”

And all of a sudden, people from all the various quarters of the city began walking past those dividing walls to congregate and worship the same God. How do we know this was happening? Because Acts 13:1 introduces us to the leaders of the Antioch church. There was Barnabas, a bi-cultural Jew from Cyprus, and Simeon, a sub-Saharan African, called Niger (Latin for black). Then there was Lucius, a North African, of Cyrene. There was also Manaen, a social elite and member of Herod’s court. And of course there was Saul, whom we know as Paul, a Jew of Jews. If these were their leaders, then imagine the makeup of their congregation.

This is why in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians (11:26). It’s not a name they gave themselves. It’s likely their non- believing neighbors who coined the phrase, Christ-ians, since these disciples were always talking about a man named Christ. You

couldn’t peg them with normal labels. They didn’t fit the normal categories. Up until that point, every nationality or ethnicity had its own religion. If you’re Roman, you have your Roman religion. If you’re African, your African religion. And of course if you’re Jewish, there’s Jewish religion.

But now, in the church of Antioch, a mixture of different nationalities and ethnicities were all worshipping the same God together. Their neighbors were at a loss for words. They didn’t know what to call these people since there was no one nationality or ethnicity that stood out as dominant. They had to come up with a new label. Those are Christians. The one dominant feature among them was an allegiance to Christ. That’s what unified them.

This kind of unity among a multi-national, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic people is what Barnabas saw when he arrived in Antioch. In Acts 11:23 it says, “When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad.” What did the grace of God look like? Like a diverse church

united, not by a shared culture, but a shared Christ. Barnabas recognized that that unity is only possible because of God’s grace in the gospel. That’s what made him glad.

What makes you glad about your church? What would you say is your church’s dominant feature? If your neighbors were to give your church a label, what would it be? Let’s pray for the same kind of revival to break out in the city of Houston. Let’s pray for a growing diversity in our churches, so our neighbors can catch a glimpse of the grace of God uniting a disparate people in Christ.

Prayer

Father, may your grace in the gospel of Jesus shine all the more brightly as a Spirit-filled revival breaks out in our city. By your grace, let a growing diversity take root in all our churches – where old lines of division are erased and a new humanity in Christ is established. May disciples come to appreciate their nationality and ethnicity. To value the culture in which they were raised and seek to redeem aspects of it within their own life and family. But in our churches, may our allegiance to Christ be the dominant feature that binds us together. May our unity in the Spirit transcend our differences and prove, to the watching world, the truth, goodness, and beauty of your gospel. Amen.

Revival- For the Longevity of Our Joy

Revival- For the Longevity of Our Joy

Revival- For the Longevity of Our Joy

Hebrews 10:32-36

By: Broun Stacy, Director of Teaching & Equipping @ Grace Presbyterian Church

April 9, 2018

Heb. 10:32   But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

Before honestly considering the claims of Christ, as a punk-15 year old I was convinced true and lasting joy could be found at the bottom of a bottle or in the embrace of a girlfriend. At the same time I knew plenty of moral-church-attending folks who occasionally talked about Jesus but not in a convincing or compelling way to my high-school ears. They might have quoted Ps 16:11 saying “in your presence there is fullness of joy” but it sounded hollow and landed dull on my already-hardened ears. 

As Christ radically broke into my life and flipped everything I thought I knew upside-down entirely new categories opened up for me. I genuinely tasted that the Lord Jesus was good and there was nothing, not-one-thing, in all of Creation that can meekly resemble the joy of what it means to be in relationship with God. At the same time, that rugged incomparable, robust joy can endure and even miraculously multiply amidst tragic circumstances, dire pain, and real meaningful loss. Consider those mentioned in the Hebrews passage above: They had come into beautiful joyous relationship with Christ, and then almost immediately they are thrown into suffering, being publicly humiliated or humiliated through association. They had all their hard-earned money and property unjustly taken from them and shockingly they “accepted it joyfully” because they knew they had a better possession and an abiding eternal inheritance in Christ. That is the kind of joy that characterizes revival. That is the kind of joy that flips the paradigm of an on-looking world wondering what kind of Savior would instill that kind of longsuffering joy. May our hearts and minds joyously bubble over always in all our considerations on revival. That has to be a mark of true revival, God graciously sending His Spirit and marking His Church with lasting, deep, palpable joy.  

Prayer

Lord, if you desire to send revival to your church in Houston, may we your people, be marked by an unflattering, un-flinching, abounding joy and delight that cuts against so many of the glib portrayals of happiness. We want our joy to be infectious so that those from every tribe, nation, and tongue here in Houston might come to know you. May you give us thick-skin and joy-fueled hearts that can accept any trial or circumstance, suffering or plundering, that might come our way. Glorify your name in our city, for our joy unto Eternity. Amen. 

 

What Do You See?

What Do You See?

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

By: Josh Ellis, Associate Director, UBA Houston

April 8, 2018

In April 2002, Starbucks launched an advertising campaign to promote their new “TazoCitrus” drinks, a new line of frozen smoothie-type drinks. Under the tagline of “Collapse Into Cool” were the two large cups, resting in a bed of grass with butterflies all around and a dragonfly looking as if it was about to land on one of the large cups. You can Google the posters, and in 2018 they look innocent enough. However, in 2002, people started to notice that the cups looked a little too much like towers, the dragonfly a little too much like an airplane, and the blades of grass to much like smaller buildings below the towers. In other words, once they saw an image that conjured up recollections of 9/11, just a few months before, they couldn’t see anything else.

When Jesus appears on the scene and words like “Messiah” and “Savior" are ascribed to him, some people had a hard time seeing the Messiah as being anything other than the nationalistic hero they had longed for. The religious leaders of the day were largely consumed with thoughts that Jesus would rob them of their prominence and authority. Once assigned to a box, many had trouble seeing Jesus as anything outside that box. And what’s worse, many people missed what God was truly doing in their midst because they just couldn’t see past their own preconceptions.

Once a person publicly declares their faith in Christ, they become an imperfect reflection of a perfect God. No one can measure up to a sinless existence like our Savior did, and yet there is an overwhelming temptation for those outside of the faith to discern the nature and character of God by looking at all of us fallible believers. For believers, there is an opportunity there to explain grace, mercy, forgiveness, and what it looks like to seek His kingdom everyday. Undergirding that effort is a belief, which is key for revival: We must see Jesus.

John 12:20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”

Packed in the middle of John 12 is the unassuming request of some Greeks who were in Jerusalem for Passover. They could’ve pulled the disciples aside and inquired of them, but they came seeking Jesus because they knew he was the best person to learn from.

My hope is that in these days of seeking revival, that we as the body of Christ would collectively point to Jesus and help others see and experience Jesus. Believers are to represent Christ as well as they can at all times. However, there is real power when believers say to a watching world, “Don’t look to me. Look to my savior. Look at what he has done for me, not because of me.” And then we as believers graciously and lovingly lead them to the cross, because that is where we all belong.

PRAYER

Lord, open our eyes to see you and your work in our city. Deliver us from our temptation to draw attention to ourselves instead of you. Help us to point others to your word, your life, your cross, and your empty tomb. Lord, give us the humility to seek forgiveness when we have wronged others or become a distraction from people having an authentic encounter with you. Lord, may our legacy be that we brought people to you. 

Rebuilding with God's Word

Rebuilding with God's Word

REBUILDING WITH GOD'S WORD

Nehemiah 8:1-10
By: Rev. Richard Harris, Senior Pastor, Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church

April 7, 2018

The great construction project on the city’s walls had been completed a few days before Nehemiah 8:1, and then all of the people gathered together in the city square. We are told “all the people gathered as one man into the square” (8:1), and this gathering was comprised of “both men and women and all who could understand what they heard” (8:2). Why were they there? They were there for one reason – to hear the Word of God.

The whole city was there, and “they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded” (8:1). The people had to hear the Scriptures. They needed to hear the Word of God more than they needed the rest, relaxation and comfort from a vacation, even after the hard work of rebuilding the wall.

What happens next is extraordinary!

“And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose....They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading” (8:3 – 4, 8).

Ezra read the Bible to the people all day long as they stood there with attentive ears. What an image of the people’s collective submission to God’s Word as they stood there all day looking up at God’s Word being read and explained to them instead of looking down at God’s Word in judgement!

The result of this ordinary reading and explaining of God’s Word was truly extraordinary, “For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law” (8:9). The people wept because they knew God was speaking to them, reading their hearts, and convicting them of their sin as Ezra read the Scriptures. A city’s shared conviction of sin is a mark of revival.

What would revival in Houston look like? It would include a deep awareness of and sensitivity to our personal sin, both generally and specifically. Revival would mean that calloused hearts were penetrated by Spirit-filled, faithful and clear exposition of the Word of God from the pastors of our city. Revival would mean that Houston’s pastors believed that God’s Word was what their churches and neighborhoods needed most, and that we believed God’s Word was all we actually had to offer.

When revival begins with a corporate conviction of sin, then our pastors can say along with Nehemiah and Ezra, “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” You see, the conviction of sin is a means, not an end. The Holy Spirit uses the faithful preaching of the Bible to bring us to repentance, so that we will turn from sin and toward God and his grace, which was purchased for us by Jesus’ life, death and

resurrection. We can proclaim this assurance of pardon and comfort all the louder from where we sit in the history of redemption because in Jesus “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

PRAYER

Father, please give the pastors of our city the conviction that there is nothing more powerful in the lives of people than Spirit of God working through the Word of God. May every pastor in Houston present himself this Sunday “as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). And please give the people of God in Houston a hunger to hear the Bible preached passionately and faithfully. We ask this in the name of Jesus, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. Amen 

We Need God's Hands on Us

We Need God's Hands on Us

WE NEED GOD'S HANDS ON US

Acts 11:19-21 “And the hand of the Lord was with them...”

By: Billy Bernhard, Lead Pastor, Acts Community Church

April 6, 2018

We are in great need of God’s hands on our life, family, church, communities, cities, and nation. The brokenness, darkness and lost condition of this generation seems only to worsen. Acts 1:8 is very clear that God will empower His people to be witnesses when they share the Gospel not only to Jerusalem and Judea, but also Samaria and to the ends of the earth. The majority of God’s people, I believe, long for revival, long to be empowered by God the Spirit, and long to see the hand of God on their life in such away that it causes many to turn to Jesus in their community and city. Acts 11 is a great place for us to see an example of this.

In Acts 10, Jesus rebukes Peter for not grasping that the Gospel and God the Spirit is not just for the Jews, but the Gentiles also. In Acts 11, Peter gives reports to the counsel of what Jesus showed him. Leading to show the down in Acts 11:19. There was a group of men who had been “scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen” and “traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except the Jews”. This is tragic family. These men would only share Jesus to those who looked like them, thought like them, and believed like them. Scripture will never mention these men again. God’s hand was not on them. Family, if we truly want to experience revival, being filled daily with the power of the Holy Spirit, and experience God’s hand on our life, then we must be willing to share the GOSPEL TO ALL PEOPLE! We cannot not let race, politics, economics, convenience, or anything else hinder us from sharing to ALL PEOPLE.

Acts 11:20-21 is one of the most beautiful two verses in all the Bible. There were some men from Cyrus (Greek, European) and Cyrene (Africa) that upon coming to Antioch, they shared the Gospel to ALL THE PEOPLE. These men of different races had the heart beat of God. God saw these men sharing to all people and in verse 21, the Scriptures tells us, “AND THE HAND OF THE LORD WAS WITH THEM”. What happened? Revival! A great number turned to Jesus and the church of Antioch was birthed and planted! This Church in Acts 13 would send out the greatest church planter of all time, the Apostle Paul. Man cannot dictate revival. What we can do is be faithful to God and make sure we are doing things that gets His heart beating, such as sharing the love of Jesus Christ to all people and making ALL PEOPLE FEEL LOVED AND WELCOMED IN OUR CHURCHES. Do you share Jesus to all people? Do you have 5 unchurched people that you are intentionally sharing Jesus with? Do you allow race, politics, ideology, and convenience to hinder you from loving and sharing Jesus with all people? It’s the men of Acts 11:20-21 who are remembered throughout Scripture and saw a mighty Revival, not the men of Acts 11:19.

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, forgive us when we have allowed race, preferences, politics, ideologies or anything else to hinder us from sharing your Gospel message to all people. Father, help us to have your heart beat and your love for all people no matter what. Holy Spirit, please empower us to be your witnesses not only in our backyard, but to the ends of the earth. Lord, we desperately need revival and for your hands to be upon our lives, families, churches, communities, cities, and our nation. Lord, let us see your glory fall out all over our land. However you choose to use us, we will submit. We just wanna say thank you! In Jesus name Amen! 

Revival in Ministry

Revival in Ministry

REVIVAL IN MINISTRY

"My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power." I Cor. 2:4

By: Leigh Kohler, Co-Founder and Executive Director Freedom Church Alliance

April 5, 2018

Richard Owen Roberts defined revival as “an extraordinary movement of the Holy Spirit producing extraordinary results.” In the last few years of ministry, if there’s anything I have learned, it’s how much I need the Holy Spirit to carry out the assignment God has given me. I’ve also learned that ministry requires hard work and perseverance. It sometimes feels as if my sail is up, and I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, but I’m having to row and row and row to move forward. But then, suddenly and often unexpectedly, the wind catches the sail, and all I can do is hold on and let the wind of the Spirit carry me along. These are awesome jaw-dropping moments because I know I’ve just witnessed the miraculous power of God come and do what I could not. I do not want to be part of ministry that can be carried out in the flesh. Despite the discomfort, I want to be part of something that requires God to show up. My prayer for us is that during this 50-day prayer journey, we would see God do the extraordinary.

These divine and extraordinary moments come as a result of crying out to the Lord in prayer. Persevering prayer precedes revival because it’s what opens the door to the power of God. Let us keep hoisting our sails and yearning for the Spirit of God to work powerfully in us and through us. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Without the Spirit of God, we can do nothing. We are as ships without the wind, branches without sap, and like coals without fire, we are useless.” We desperately need the power of God, and the wonderful news is that God can do more in five minutes than we can do in five years. Prayer brings rest into our work.

A real and present danger we face in America is putting our hope in our many resources, connections, and abilities to run our churches and our ministries. How tempting it is to be constantly looking around and comparing our ministries to others. How easy and subtle it is to keep ourselves busied with conferences, meetings, seminars, books and podcasts. These are all useful tools and gifts that the Holy Spirit uses to encourage and strengthen us, but they are not substitutes for personal prayer and intimacy with Jesus Christ.

We will not affect the brokenness of this world without the Spirit of God breathing on what we do. He doesn’t need the most talented or capable servants, He delights to use those who fear Him and walk with Him in humble dependence and faith. He can trust the man or woman who knows that it’s when the knees bow that the wind begins to blow. May we not go another day attempting to do anything for God without first praying, “Holy Spirit come.” I believe that our best days as the body of Christ are just ahead.

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of prayer and thank you for your Holy Spirit who is precious to us. I ask that you would deeply touch each one of us with the power of your Spirit in these days. Revive us Lord, and quicken in us what needs quickening. Set our hearts ablaze with passion for you. Father, we don’t want what is man-made, man-manipulated, or man-sustained. We want You and we want Your movement and fullness in our lives and ministries! May your Kingdom come and Your will be done through us today. We love you. Amen. 

Children of Light

Children of Light

CHILDREN OF LIGHT

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” Ephesians 5:8
By: Terrence Campbell, HCPN Functional Resident 2017-2018

April 4, 2018

It’s been said that the average person sleeps about a third of their life away. If a person lived to be eighty years old, with an average of 8 hours of sleep per day, that would be over twenty-six years of pillow-snuggling snoozing!

Physical sleep is necessary for a healthy body because it helps to rejuvenate us. However, a healthy spirit is one that is awake, alert and aligned with the light of truth. Sadly, over time many of us can become bored, casual and indifferent about our call to be “light in a dark world.” We live in a culture of comfort that often lulls us into a state of spiritual sleep-walking; but thanks be unto God for revival! Revival is God’s way of “turning the light on”, demanding that we snap out of our drowsy disposition, that we would lead others to the light of truth found only in Christ Jesus.

Paul challenges the church at Ephesus, ‘For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light!” (Ephesians 5:8). Our job is to be awake and stay awake and lead a life governed by the truth of the Word, and not by the predominant perspective of the world system. From a grimy prison cell, Paul further urges the readers in Ephesians chapter 5, verse 11, that the children of the light should “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” God reproves darkness by the Light, (the truth of His Word), and He desires to use us to share this Light by living!

As we ponder the significance of this season, let us remember that we are the light of the world; that we are the salt of the earth. People that are “awake” emit a light so brilliant, that those that are asleep can’t help but notice. May the love of Christ burn so furiously in and through us, that others stand in awe of the God that we serve. Jesus said, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds, and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). Revival brings glory to God, and stirs the heart of those in darkness to seek the Light. It defies worldly wisdom and empowers us to walk in a way that honors our Daddy.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, during these 50 days of prayer and reflection, may we as the body of Christ be stirred to walk as children of the light among our families, friends, co-workers and neighbors. May we discern the significance of the role that we play in the lives of others. Lord help us to depend on Your Word to make decisions and not popular opinions, because “Your Word is a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path.” May we be spurred unto good works, inspired to love abundantly and extend kindness graciously to all that we meet. May the love that we have for You oh God, be evident by how we treat one another. In Jesus name we pray, Amen. 

Revival and Corporate Devotion

Revival and Corporate Devotion

REVIVAL AND CORPORATE DEVOTION

Luke 14:33 - ...any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

By: Marshall Dallas, Pastor of Preaching and Vision, Sojourn Montrose Church

April 3, 2018

In Luke 14:33 Jesus says one of the most challenging things he ever said. Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Those words are a stronger wake-up call than the coffee we’re probably both drinking as we consider these words of Jesus here in Luke. When we zoom out and look at these words in their context, the picture only gets more clear, more challenging. Jesus wants us to choose him above our families, above our own lives, and above all our possessions. The death of self is the inevitable and non-negotiable journey of every disciple.

It’s ironic that Jesus says this when he does. He has the raptured attention of the crowds, and they are lavishing their favor upon him. Strategically, these words fly like a lead zeppelin. However, knowing Jesus, there’s a reason he’s saying what he’s saying when he’s saying it. Jesus is followed by a crowd, but he is not at all convinced it’s a revival. There are many followers, but few disciples. Jesus’ point then is that if we claim to be disciples and love anything more than him, our loves are disordered.

Disordered love is the source of most, if not all, damage in our lives: the father who loves his job more than his children, the husband or wife who loves independence more than their spouse, the employer who loves profit more than his employees. Augustine says that disordered love is the essence of sin. Conversely, one could say that rightly ordered love is the essence of godliness. Our corporate devotion to Jesus above all other loyalties is the soil in which the seed of the Spirit plants revival.

Jesus calls us to hold our earthly family loosely because in him we’ve been given a better family, his family! Jesus calls us to hold our life loosely, because in him we’ve been given a better life, his perfect, pleasing and eternal life. Jesus calls us to hold our possessions loosely because in him we’ve been given better possessions, namely him! He is ours and we are his! This sheds light on the meaning of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33: seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

What gives Jesus the right to demand this kind of allegiance? Well, he’s king, so that’s one reason, but beyond that he’s the king who suffered first what he asks us to suffer. Jesus gave up family by leaving the Father and the Spirit with whom he had been engaged in perfect, harmonic union from eternity past. He gave up his life, not only in being made into the form of a man, but by being obedient even to death within that form. Jesus gave up his possessions by vacating his throne, only to retake it in glory and majesty greater than before. This is a savior worth reordering our loves for!

Brothers and sisters, we don’t want another crowd. We want a revival, and revivals are sparked by the Holy Spirit through the lips and hands of disciples. Are we followers, or disciples?

PRAYER

Lord, you are worthy of our full-hearted corporate devotion. We’re asking your Spirit to work in such a way that brings that devotion about, and that in so doing, revival would reverberate throughout the halls, homes, and hearts of our city. In Christ’s name. Amen. 

Revival of Generosity

Revival of Generosity

REVIVAL OF GENEROSITY

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”—2 Corinthians 9:6
By: Steve Bezner, Pastor, Houston Northwest Church

April 2, 2018

If you read accounts of the New Testament church, you are immediately struck with the overwhelming generosity described among the early believers. Acts 2 describes a church that sold property and possessions, sharing houses and food so that everyone among the early community of faith had no needs, making certain that everyone was cared for. Acts 4 reiterates this spirit of generosity, describing what sounds to modern ears something akin to a commune or kibbutz. One of the early heroes of the faith, Barnabas, was commended for selling a piece of property and laying the proceeds of the sale at the feet of the apostles.

Early believers willingly gave so that needs were met. But they also gave so that the gospel might move forward.

In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul shares a moving account of generosity with the church at Corinth. Scholars believe the early church in Corinth was among the wealthiest of churches. Meanwhile, the church in Macedonia was in great financial need. The gospel had just reached Macedonia, and Paul hoped to establish leadership in the church that might be able to stay for some time and teach solid doctrine so that the church in Macedonia could thrive. Consequently, he needed funds for these leaders to stay in Macedonia without being a financial burden to the congregation. His solution? To ask the brothers and sisters in Corinth to consider being generous.

As best we can tell, the church rose to the occasion, at least partly because of Paul’s expert admonition. Paul teaches a principle present throughout not only the New Testament, but the entire Bible—our generosity is rewarded and blessed by God when it is directed towards Kingdom pursuits.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, many churches rediscovered the heart of generosity inherently implanted within their hearts by the generous grace of God. Congregations gave, served, sweated, and worked so that our city might have the opportunity to recover. Estimates vary, but the work given by churches was estimated to save Houstonians over $100 million!

Our city is ripe with the nations. People groups across our area need to hear the name of Jesus. Millions are bound for a destiny apart from Christ. The mission is plentiful, and the need is great. For many of us, rediscovering the beauty of generosity is part of what the Lord desires from us. As Paul wrote, “God loves a cheerful (the literal word is hilarious) giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) How good would it be if we prayed that a spiritual revival would lead to a revival of generosity so that the church plants throughout Houston would have no lack as they engage new pockets and communities with the good news of Jesus?

PRAYER

Lord, it is so good to know your grace. You have lovingly rescued and richly provided for each of us. Father, would you awaken a spirit of generosity in the churches of Houston, stirring our hearts to willingly give to those who are taking the good news of Jesus to the least-reached communities in our city? Lord, would you please inspire provisionaries to supply the visionaries? Would you move us to hear your voice and to know how we might support the work of new churches in our city? We desire to see your gospel and your power spread through Houston—for your name. Amen.