HOW TO BE PART OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

God is reviving His church, to restore it back to the church as described in the Book of Acts. This is a must watch video for those interested to know what God is doing at this time in the USA. People selling their homes and going as God leads, to make disciples as God instructed. The barriers of the institutional church are being broken down and true, John 17 unity is being restored. It is exciting to hear the testimonies of these transformed Christians. I hope you will be inspired to get in step with what the Holy Spirit is calling you to do in these last days before Jesus returns.

CHURCH AFTER COVID19

Most of you know what I believe God has already revealed to us in His Word about church. He initially set it up as described in the Book of Acts. Church was held in homes and small groups which is ideal for making disciples who in turn will make disciples. This is how church will be, once again, in the coming tribulation prior to Jesus return.

Phil Miglioratti • The #ReimagineFORUM Pray Network has provided a useful guide for church leaders to use post Covid19.

This guide is all about what God calls the church to do: disciple its members and impact its community with the Gospel.

Resist the temptation to merely reopen your church. Instead, reimagine how a church lives out faith, hope, and love in the shadow of a pandemic. Invite the Holy Spirit to take you (pastors, lead teams, affinity groups, congregations) on a journey of rethinking by:

  1. Assessing how the new normal impacts the calling and gifting of your congregation
  2. Blessing your constituents but also the diverse peoples in your community
  3. Confessing your fear and declaring your faith to move into the future

Make a fearless assessment of the new normal.

  • Have we made meaningful connections with every member? Attender?
  • Have we developed systems to identify practical needs of our families? Our community?
  • Are we identifying the degree of difficulty each person/family has experienced?
  • Have we surveyed our membership to know how to serve their:
    • Practical needs?
    • Emotional pains?
    • Spiritual status?
  • Gather (virtual, if not safe to meet in person) leadership to prayerfully discern:
    • Strengths – what new capabilities have we discovered in our people?
    • Weaknesses – in what ways has our ministry capacity decreased?
    • Opportunities – which needs or new options are we facing?
    • Resources – what undiscovered, unexpected resources have surfaced?
    • Risks/Rewards – have we counted the cost of making changes? Doing nothing?

Begin to daily ask for the mind of Christ so that you (personally but also with congregational ministers) discern how to reimagine how to develop:

  • Experiential worship
  • Enthusiastic (“in; theos/God”) fellowship
  • Equipped leadership
  • Extreme discipleship
  • Extravagant stewardship
  • Engaging citizenship

Pursue a Spirit-led, Scripture-fed journey. God always wants to move you on to a new level of service. Therefore, it should lead you to begin a new chapter of ministry. Your congregation or team may be called upon to make a radical change or to re-calibrate systems or reorient programs. Focus on Jesus. Fear less. Fear wisely. Follow Jesus… to the places where Almighty God is already at work; He is inviting you to serve in the power of the Holy Spirit. As you step out miracles will follow.

CHURCH NO LONGER THE AUTHORITY ON MORALITY AND ETHICS

Why is this so? No doubt it is the work of Satan who has undermined Scripture in the Body of Christ. With the teaching of evolution in our schools and universities as the origin of life and the universe, Satan has destroyed the foundational book of the Bible and it has led to cultural relativism and the denial of absolute truth.

It is in Genesis where we get answers to all the big questions of life: WHY, WHEN, WHERE & HOW. Answers to; why death and suffering, life’s meaning and purpose.

Bible colleges have swallowed the lie and tried to incorporate evolution and billions of years into Scripture. Once Genesis, the foundational book of the Bible was jettisoned, other portions of Scripture have followed, to the extent that God’s commands on marriage, homosexuality and gender are no longer considered good, in fact, are considered evil. In the main, it has turned our pastors into silent, timid shepherds who are afraid to touch any question that culture has deemed “political,” which includes almost all moral questions. 

It used to be that the Church was the authority on morality and ethics. Now, the clinical culture has said, these are political issues, and anyway, the Bible is full of errors, it is not the truth, so the Church has nothing to contribute.

Heresy is not only teachings that are wrong but includes deliberately omitting essential teachings. Carving out a portion of the Scripture and teaching that it does not apply and can be ignored today is a heresy. God’s Word provides the only true history of this planet. It is inerrant and the number of fulfilled prophecies demonstrate this truth. What’s going on today is just a new twist on an old practice, where people will cite a single passage of Scripture to make their case, and then ignore all the other scripture that speaks to that matter. And what some have done by fencing off a portion of the Old Testament is exactly that. And we must have the courage of our convictions to call it what it is, heresy.

God has raised up ministries such as http://www.creation.com and http://www.answersingenesis.com for such a time as this. If you need answers to the big questions on how to defend your faith then don’t hesitate to go to these sites.

We need to move forward with wisdom in the power of the Holy Spirit, we must understand that “darkness is the divine setup for light. Sickness is the divine setup for healing. The current crisis is the divine setup for the church to arise and shine and make a difference. We must seize the moment so that His Kingdom might come and we bring glory to God.

GOD IS PRUNING HIS CHURCH

More great wisdom from Francis Chan. Since Francis Chan walked away from the church he had in California boasting of over 5000 members I knew Francis was hearing from God. Church from then on for Francis was no more buildings, no paid pastors and accountability of all members.

God is using the coronavirus pandemic as a time to “prune the Church and cut off branches that aren’t bearing fruit,” ultimately allowing the Body of Christ to become more “fruitful,” according to popular speaker and author Francis Chan.

Chan, former teaching pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, on Wednesday participated in the Q 2020 Virtual Summit, an annual event that equips Christian leaders to thoughtfully engage culture from a Christian worldview.

“I hear a lot of talk of people being concerned about whether their church is going to survive,” Chan, speaking via Livestream, told host Gabe Lyons. “The illustration I think of is, if I had a diamond right here, and I just smash it with a hammer, what would happen to that diamond? Nothing. If it’s a real diamond, if it shatters, it wasn’t real.”

He pointed out that in Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

“This is going to be a group that the gates of Hell can’t stand against,” Chan explained. “No virus, no government, no economic this or that, life, death, nothing. And so we as believers are supposed to trust the words of Jesus and go, ‘The Church is going to be fine. If anything, this is the time where God is going to prune the Church and cut off branches that aren’t bearing fruit, but it’s only going to become more fruitful.’”

“And so with that type of confidence, we have to move forward and go, what’s the worst thing that happened to me? I die and receive the award I’ve been … longing for my whole life. We can be fearless.”

Statistics from a recent Barna Group survey found that six to nine percent of pastors are unsure or not confident that their church will survive the coronavirus pandemic. Forty-two percent of pastors said giving was “significantly” down and 28 percent said it was “slightly” down. Only around a quarter said it stayed the same.

Additionally, nearly a quarter of American churches (22 percent) have already reduced staff hours, reduced compensation, or laid off employees.

In this unprecedented time of uncertainty, the Crazy Love author stressed that “God knew you and I were going to be alive at this time, adding: “We were literally made for this, prepared for this.”

SID ROTH GETS IT RIGHT: CHURCH! IT’S TIME TO REPENT

“The major mark of this next move of God’s Spirit is repentance,” Roth said. He urges Christians to use this time in quarantine to do two things: repent and pray in tongues “without ceasing.”

“I’m excited about the new beginnings God is giving the church, and it starts with us as individuals living in rapid repentance,” Roth said. “It flat doesn’t matter what’s going on in the world. It’s what’s going on with you. It’s, ‘Are you living in rapid repentance? Are you praying in tongues every moment you have?’ That’s what’s more important because all things work together for good if you are praying in tongues and living your repentant life.”

“I think this is God’s time to have believers operate in all of the promises of the New Testament. The truth is we know how to stand on the Word. We’re experts about that. But what about the power of God being manifested as we speak, that is what occurred for the early Christians as expressed in the Book of Acts, that is what we will see evident in the “last days” church.

Roth said that despite the chaos happening in the world, God’s glory is “erupting now” and the church will be invited to fulfil Jesus’ words in John 14 that his followers will do greater things than He.

“I believe many should set their day to operate in the glory because it’s not going to be a superstar movement. It’s going to be one where the church knows we already have a superstar. His name is Jesus or Yeshua, and it’s Yeshua in us the hope of glory.”

CHURCH NOT A BUILDING – FAITH TRIUMPHS

“In the middle of this pandemic there is hope, that there’s strength, and that we will make it through this because He has risen – so will we,” said an emphatic Andre Chambers of Hampton Roads.

A dozen churches in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia put a unique twist on a traditional Easter message during these challenging times. Some directed traffic. Others lined up each car just right as members of 12 Virginia churches rolled up with masks on and maintaining strict social distancing guidelines, to send the world an Easter message.

People gather at the Mount Davidson Cross in San Francisco, Sunday, April 12, 2020. Mount Davidson’s annual Easter Sunrise Service was cancelled for San Francisco’s shelter in place orders over coronavirus concerns.

As Christians around the US and around the world are forced to practice social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pastors and believers are adapting to the loss of Sunday gatherings. These powerful photos prove that the Church of Jesus is not a building, it’s His people. And the God who offers salvation for each individual is still able to meet with you one-on-one, whether it’s the middle of a parking lot, or in your own living room.

BUILDING YOUR KINGDOM OR THE KINGDOM OF GOD?

An important video for pastors but also for all saints. It will help them understand what has happened to the church in becoming an institution. A long way from the church in the beginning, as described in the Book of Acts.

A great testimony from a former Methodist pastor who eventually had to resign from his church. A holy spirit filled pastor, speaking in tongues, and intent on taking the church out into the marketplace was not wanted by most of the church. The good news is that before he resigned many in the church became spirit filled believers and of course a church split resulted. You need to listen to his story and understand what is wrong with the institutional church. Hopefully, it will challenge many to get into prayer to find out what God is calling them to do at this climactic time in the history of His planet. The Bible reveals that we are in the “end times”. Two important “end times” signs given by Jesus to His disciples in the Olivet Discourse; 1. rebirth of Israel as a nation has occurred and 2. apostasy in the church is happening.

GOD IS FORCING CHURCH TO CHANGE

How many Christians believe God is bringing this pestilence for His purposes much as He brought the ten plagues on Egypt to force Pharaohs hand?

God, being the sovereign judge over the nations, is the theme throughout the Bible. Christians should have no doubt God is working out His plans and purposes in His world. Much of the Bible is prophecy, almost two thirds fulfilled prophecy so we know that the rest of the prophecies, much about the “end times” before Jesus returns to rule and reign with a rod of iron, will come to pass.

In a short period, God has shut down the activity and economy of the developed nations of the world! Sadly, the world so deceived by an evolutionary world view no longer believes God exists let alone controls all events in the Cosmos. A recent Barna survey revealed most Christians now don’t hold a Biblical world view. They need to be reminded afresh that Yahweh alone is the true sovereign Lord. Let me remind you of what the Bible says is coming.

“For the day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up — and it shall be brought low — They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, from the terror of the Lord and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily.” Isaiah 2:12, 19

The arrogance of humankind, seduced by its self-focused affluence, makes this generational visitation a necessity.

Due to the massive proliferation of this virulent outbreak God has hopefully caused every person to consider their fragility and mortality.

“Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:11

With schools cancelled and parents working from home, God has forced families to spend time together. Hopefully, mothers, fathers, siblings and spouses are connecting in a meaningful manner.

Now, more than ever, church will have to go to another level in faith and dependence upon God for their sustenance. Those who lack experiential faith and intimacy with God during these days will either pursue an encounter with the living God or experience deep despair and failure.

With less emphasis on the large crowd, many church initiatives have collapsed down to personal touch rather than programmatic persuasion. For too long, the term “church” was equated to what took place within the four walls of a building on Sunday mornings. The success of a congregation was primarily gauged by how many people were present for service. We even call the facilities that are being used for service, “church.” The coronavirus pandemic has proven that the church can no longer be defined by a single Sunday morning service. My prayer is; it will get back to holding a Biblical worldview knowing the Bible provides the only true history of God’s world. It tells us the end of the story. What we can expect to unfold in the years ahead before Jesus return. Watch this space and together we will see world events unfold exactly as prophesied.

CHURCH AND THE CORONA VIRUS

The sociologist Rodney Stark has written (in The Rise of Christianity) that one reason the church overcame hostility and grew so rapidly within the Roman empire traces back to how Christians responded to pandemics of the day, which probably included smallpox and bubonic plague. When infection spread, Romans fled their cities and towns; Christians stayed behind to nurse and feed not only their relatives but their pagan neighbours’. Their proffered comfort drew others to the God of all comfort.

You can follow the trail of Christian missionaries by the hospitals, clinics, and orphanages they founded. Virtually every advance in the understanding and treatment of leprosy came from Christian missionaries—not because they were the best physicians and scientists, but because they were the only ones willing to treat that misunderstood and dreaded disease. Following Jesus’ example, they risked exposure by reaching out to the leprosy-afflicted.

Jesus knew suffering up close, as a willing victim of our planet’s brokenness. When Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent his followers into the world “as the Father has sent me,” to be God’s agents of comfort and healing.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

This is the mission of the church in a world full of pain and suffering. Church are you being obedient to God’s command?

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6

IS THE CHURCH NO LONGER RELEVANT?

What are the cultural realities that are crippling the church?

1. Not Holy Spirit led. It is rare to see anything like what you read about in the book of Acts happen in churches today. When’s the last time the Holy Spirit has moved among the people of your church? If you can’t point to something, that may be a sign of a powerless (Acts 1:8) church.

2. Not serving their community. Simply protesting against sin in the world without proactively working for good causes in the community creates a negative impression in the minds of those who drive past your church on Sundays. Also, consumerism has most definitely infected the church and it is reflected in how praise and worship is conducted. When you have Christians (no matter their age) content to sit and attend services (no matter the type) while refusing to stand up and serve others, you have an irrelevant church.

3. Bible knowledge alone equals spiritual maturity. Bible knowledge is foundational to spiritual maturity, but it does not in and of itself equal spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity comes with obedience and love towards others. Paul warned about this in 1 Corinthians 8:1 when he said, “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

4. No John 17 unity. Jesus himself prayed (John 17:23) that his followers would be one, so that the world may know that we are his disciples. The early church brought men and women, Greeks and Jews, slaves and free, all together under the name of Jesus. Do we see that same unity today, or is the church divided along racial, political, theological and socio-economic lines?

Image result for pictures of empty churches
Anglican church in the UK

Regardless, God is still on His throne. Jesus is still building his church. The Holy Spirit continues to do his work. My prayer is that the church will start being part of the solution.

Live a Prayer-Care-Share Lifestyle

In Mark 9, Jesus modeled this for us:

  • Prayer = Jesus said His disciples couldn’t heal the boy because it required prayer
  • Care = Had compassion on the boy and his dad
  • Share = Jesus asked the boy’s dad to proclaim faith in Him before healing his son

Powerful Christians live accordingly, not content simply to invite people to church or stop at “telling their story”.  They understand that bringing people to Christ involves taking personal responsibility for all 3 – praying, caring and sharing.