CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS

We in the West are waiting for a move of God, and yet in many parts of the world, a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit is already taking place that rivals the Book of Acts.

Thank goodness God is revealing to Pastors like Francis Chan and John Comer – see recent post “Do You Really Believe God is in Control”, that the church has deviated from His design for the church, as outlined in the Book of Acts.

Non Biblical Churches, which include many, if not most, of the Institutionalised churches, Mega churches and Prosperity Doctrine churches, to name the principal groups, are not producing disciples of Christ committed to the call of God on their lives. Sadly, what most churches are doing has little to do with what the Bible teaches e.g “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16, What about “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

The model of the institutional church isn’t structured to foster close biblical relationships. In most, you can go on almost indefinitely enjoying your uninvolved routine merely consuming but never contributing to the community you call church.

The church is not a building or a place to go, but a body (ekklesia) of believers.

One of the places, where a great outpouring of God’s spirit is evident, is Iran, the most unlikely place from a worldly, so called natural viewpoint, but typical from a Biblical perspective. View the following video and be challenged or encouraged or both.

DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE GOD IS IN CONTROL?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

When the weight of the world is closing in, transfer that weight to God. Resist the cultural push to hurry and do more; instead, slow down, spend more time with God and in His word.

Don’t fall for the great modern lie: The more you do and achieve, the more purpose you have. In his book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, Pastor John Mark Comer explains how he learned the hard way how to give in to Christ’s easy yoke. 

In his early 20s, he was part of the team that planted Solid Rock Church, a Portland megachurch with multiple campuses. The church was an immediate success. Solid Rock grew by roughly 1,000 people per year for seven years straight. Then the church began to plateau—just as Comer began to burn out.

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Pastor John Mark Comer of Solid Rock Church Portland Oregon

Comer distinctly remembers waking up one morning and thinking, I don’t think this is a healthy way to live—and I’m not practising what I preach.

“I was up there preaching about Jesus’ ‘life to the full,’ yet my life felt less and less like that,” Comer says. “I just felt more and more tired, on edge, always in a hurry and not present. It was difficult to hear God’s voice in the chaos and rush and busyness of life. To put a very long story short, I essentially had an early midlife crisis at 30 years old.”

 The big existential question arose: “What has God called me to do with my life? Because I actually don’t think I’m made to lead a giant church like this. And it was the beginning of a new path for both Comer and Solid Rock church.”

After months of discussion by Solid Rock’s leadership team, the megachurch disbanded. Each site became its own independent church. Comer chose to lead not the largest of the sites—the one in the suburbs—but the little site in the heart of the city: Bridgetown. The church switched to an elder system that split up leadership responsibilities; Comer became “pastor for teaching and vision,” while co-elder Gerald Griffin became “pastor of staff and community.”

I feel like God is using me more than I ever have been used, even though our church is much smaller than the one I used to lead,” Comer says. “I think it’s a myth that more busyness equals more effectiveness. I find that the more I pare my life down and just do a couple of things to the best of my ability—and my ability isn’t even all that great sometimes—the more effective I become. Maybe I’m going deeper, not wider. At the time, it felt like I was sacrificing role, calling and effectiveness. But I think it’s turned out to be exactly the opposite.”

“If you live and have any kind of vocation that you do for a living—whether it’s church or something else—at some point you have to really make peace with both your potential and your limitations,” he says. “Recognise what you can do and what you can’t do, and make peace with that. Let go of comparison, let go of envy and let go of ambition, and just begin to do your work—not out of ego or striving, but really just out of love.”

All I can add to Comer’s advice is to remind you of the truth of this Scripture”

The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord. Searching all the inner depths of his heart. Proverbs 20:27

The lamp requires oil (Holy Spirit) to function as the lamp of God.

Jesus made it possible for our heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to born again believers to be our counsellor, comforter and teacher. He will direct our paths and give us the wisdom we need to make good decisions minute by minute, day by day, month by month… Are we saying as Jesus did: “not My will but Your will be done” or are we grieving the Holy Spirit by quenching His work in our bodies. Remember our bodies are supposed to be the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

John Mark Comer’s story is similar to that of Francis Chan and will be that of many other pastors of mega churches that want to do the will of God in these last days.

CHURCH GROWS UNDER PERSECUTION

For the gospel did not did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, … 1 Thessalonians 1:5

Missionary strategists have been reporting for some time that Iran is experiencing the most impressive surge of church growth on the planet. Elam Ministries in England says more Iranians have become Christians since 1979 than in the previous 1,300 years. Some organisations estimate that there could be as many as 800,000 to 1 million believers in the country.

The political, economic, and spiritual situation in Iran resulted in a deep spiritual hunger for truth. Iran may be a closed land, but the people have open hearts. Iranians today are seen as the most open Muslim people to the Gospel in the world. As Elam reported, more have become Christians since the revolution than the previous 1,300 years put together.

But Iran is also one of the most difficult places on earth to be a Christian because of persecution from the hard-line Islamic government. Believers are jailed and tortured. Churches are forced to meet in secrecy. Yet one ministry there has reported that so many people are being converted they can’t keep enough Farsi Bibles in stock to give to new believers.

Iran-church

Elam Ministries says Iranian churches typically have between eight to 12 members only. To stay safely off the radar, the small churches multiply quietly. But this method of small-group discipleship actually produces stronger Christians than a bigger church would. Elam also reports that many people make decisions for Jesus after watching Christian television broadcasts.

In May of this year, Iran’s intelligence minister, Mahmoud Mahmoud Alavi, gave a speech to Muslim clerics in which he publicly decried the alarming growth of Christian faith. He announced that mass religious conversion to Christianity is “happening right before our eyes.”

Iran’s revival is also gaining more attention because of the new film Lambs Among Wolves, Vol. 2, a documentary produced by Frontier Alliance International Studios. One unidentified church leader in the movie asks: “What if I told you the mosques are empty inside Iran? What if I told you no one follows Islam inside of Iran? Would you believe me? This is exactly what is happening inside of Iran.” If you have not seen Lambs Among Wolves Vol 1 & 2 then do so and spread the word amongst your Christian friends that these videos are great evangelism tools. Joel Richardson (Joels Trumpet and The Underground) works with Frontier Alliance and I am confident that I have promoted these videos on previous posts.

GOD HAS RAISED UP SPIRIT-FILLED MESSIANIC JEWS FOR THIS HOUR

This article is by Ron Cantor. He is the CEO of Tikkun International, a global family of Messianic congregations, leaders and ministries dedicated to the restoration of Israel and the church.

“For the past few years, a wave of healing and prophetic evangelism has been taking place in Israel. I know this because I’ve witnessed it firsthand.

In Hebrew, the word for “preaching the good news” or “evangelist” is mevaser. About a year ago, I was in the Mevaseret Mall—which could also be translated as the Gospel Mall—on my way to a meeting, and I thought, What better place to share Yeshua? I was in the drugstore when I noticed the woman in front of me point to her back as if she were in pain.

The woman in pain inexplicably stopped outside the pharmacy (as if God made her wait for me) while I paid for my item. Clearly, I was supposed to pray for her.

I ran out of the pharmacy just as she was finally walking away.

Slicha (excuse me)!” I greeted her. “Did you tell the woman at the pharmacy that you have pain in your back?”

“Yes,” she said. “Can I pray for you?” I asked. “I believe God will heal your back right here.”

She was a little stunned. After all, asking a complete stranger if you can pray for them—who does that? But when you are in pain—especially lower back pain—you will do anything to get the pain to stop. Looking curious, she said I could pray for her.

I asked her if I could put my hand on her back, and she said I could. I prayed for her in Yeshua’s name in the middle of the public mall, with plenty of onlookers, and asked her to check her back. Clearly shocked, she reported that all the pain was gone. I explained that God healed her back because He wants to know her and for her to know Him. She was very grateful, and I asked if she could just wait a minute. I ran to the car and got my testimony booklet and my book Identity Theft—both in Hebrew. I wondered if she would wait.

I ran back in, and there she was. She took both items and again thanked me. I explained that God loves her and the healing was just the beginning. He wants more. She had no idea what I was talking about, but she now has all the information she needs.

This is just one example of the miraculous healings taking place across Israel. It all started when two young men began watching Todd White and other ministers on YouTube. These ministers would go out on the streets and pray for the sick, often after getting words of knowledge—information about someone that you could not have known naturally.

These young men didn’t know anyone in Israel who was doing this, and they wondered if they could go out on the streets of Tel Aviv and do the same thing. Being Israeli, they did not ask for permission. They began to ask people what was ailing them. Then they would pray. To their shock, a high percentage—roughly 80%—were being healed and touched by God.

They came back to our congregation and testified, and then more people started going out and praying for the sick—and more people got healed. Finally, they started getting invitations to come and share their testimonies in other Messianic congregations. Even more Messianic Israelis were emboldened to go out on the streets.

In our congregation, a woman from a kibbutz (a collective farm community) came to faith. She was under demonic oppression, and when they baptized her in the Jordan, she came under attack. She stepped into the water but then could not move. When they finally got her in far enough, she was immersed, and immediately, the demons left. Suddenly, all the cute nibbling fish that you endure during a Jordan River baptism began to attack! It was like when Yeshua cast the demons into the pigs (Mark 5:1-20).

One Friday, this woman came to share her testimony. One of the young men she grew up with came to hear her speak. He was deeply moved, but not convinced. He wore a prosthetic on his leg. One leg was an inch or two longer than the other. Noticing this, our senior pastor, Gil Afriat, prayed for him, and suddenly his leg grew out. The young man got rid of his prosthetic and is now born again and sharing the gospel.

A few months later, White himself came to Israel on a tour. Most tourists in Israel have no idea there is a growing, thriving expression of the body of Yeshua. There are over 200 congregations and more than 20,000 Messianic Israelis who love Yeshua. Overnight, we arranged for a meeting where White could encourage the believers in healing and prophetic evangelism. We had a crowd of 300 (which, for context, would be like gathering 30,000 in Dallas).

The next few days, I walked around with White throughout Jerusalem and received a master’s course in praying for unbelievers.At one point, a group of teenaged Israelis surrounded us as White prayed for each one to be healed. It was amazing. But I returned to my hotel angry and jealous. I thought, How could this man so freely share Yeshua in my city and see such results?

When I walked into my room, an Arab man named Mahmoud was cleaning the room. Without thinking, I asked him, “Are you in any pain?”

“Yes, my knee,” Mahmoud replied.

We prayed. He was healed. Over the next three days, I saw five workers at the hotel get healed—three Muslims and one atheist. They were all overwhelmed. On the last day, as we were departing for Tel Aviv, the Jewish front desk manager asked me, “Excuse me—can you heal people?”

“Well, God can,” I said. “What is hurting?”

She had hurt her knee. The woman asked for prayer, and God instantly healed her. She was overcome. (For the skeptics out there, yes—we have video of these healings.)

Later, we brought White back to Israel with Tom Routoto and Robbie Dawkins for three days of training and evangelism. We had 300 people at one time on the streets of Jerusalem praying for the sick and sharing Yeshua. The results were astounding.

I have discovered that if you don’t fan the flame, the flame goes dim. We had hoped that more evangelists moving in street healings would want to come to Israel to train believers, but we have not yet been successful in getting them to come. Many do not understand the biblical principle of Romans 11:12, which says, “Now if [Israel’s] transgression means riches for the world, and their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fullness mean?”

Paul is saying here that the key to world revival is Jewish acceptance of Jesus. He says if the Jewish people’s rejection of the Messiah resulted in the riches of the Book of Acts, then imagine what type of move of God will come when God’s chosen people finally receive the Messiah and fulfill their calling to be “a light for the nations” (Isa. 42:6, 49:6, Acts 13:47)?

In Romans 11:15, Paul repeats this point: “For if [Israel’s] rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?”

We are seeing this happen in our lifetimes. You can trace the revival in China to 1948 when Israel became a nation (again). Back then, there were roughly one million believers in China. Now, there are over 160 million! The greatest revivals are happening now in China, South America, Africa and India. Every miracle in the book of Acts is taking place. And I tell you, this is prophetically connected to Abraham’s seed after the flesh coming back to their Messiah.

When Paul addresses this, he tells the Romans (who had already adopted negative attitudes towards the Jews) that the issue of Israel and the church is a mystery, and if you don’t understand it, you may become proud. He tells the Gentile believers not to give up on Israel, as God will send a massive Jewish revival once the gospel hits every nation—the fullness of Gentiles.

For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, lest you be wise in your own estimation, for a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25-26).

The more we see revival in Israel, the more we will see revival and spiritual riches in the nations. When we do our Israel tours at uptozion.net, we not only show people the dead stones of history but the living stones of the modern-day Messianic Jewish apostolic movement.

What began in Jerusalem is coming back. God has raised up Yeshua-loving congregations in the Galilee, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and even in Abraham’s desert hometown of Beersheva. The Israeli body has a Bible school and is producing indigenous Hebrew worship music. We live in amazing times—and we need you to stand with us!

TODAY’S CHURCH NEEDS TO EXPERIENCE GOD’S PRESENCE

This article by John Burton in Charisma News will not be well received by pastors of most churches. It reveals the truth about the sad state of the church even in those churches that see themselves as alive and well. Churches that are great places to raise a family, to connect with other believers and to worship and even grow in God. Sadly, they are not reaching out to the lost. Nor, disciples making disciples.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has given his support for transition within marriage (Picture: PA)

Fortunately, there are some, even in these churches, that realise there is something desperately wrong. The world around them is getting darker and the church is no longer seen relevant by the majority, in fact, the church is seen to be in opposition to all that he world sees as good; gay marriage, no longer male and female in a life long loving commitment before God., abortion on demand, sex whenever and with whomever, gender is fluid and a matter of choice, family is whatever you choose,

“And when Solomon finished praying, fire came down from the heavens and consumed the burnt offering and sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests were not able to enter into the house of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. And all the sons of Israel saw when the fire came down and the glory of the Lord came on the temple, and they bowed their faces low to the ground on the pavement, and they worshipped confessing, “The Lord is good, and His mercy endures forever” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).

Prayer and sacrifice resulted in fire coming down from heaven and the glory of the Lord filling the place! When that dramatic, supernatural event impacted that building, nobody could enter. They all hit the pavement and worshipped and declared God’s goodness!

We need God to turn up and His power to be evident in church in this hour. A revelation-driven church will be filled with prophetic decrees, biblical declarations, groans of intercession and messages that shift atmospheres. The church as revealed in the Book of Acts.

THE VOICE OF TRUTH WILL NOT BE SILENCED

Be bold and truthful says Pastor Shane Idleman. The world wants to silence preachers of God’s Word. Sadly much of the church has abandoned God’s Word, denying its inerrancy, its inspiration by the Holy Spirit.

Fortunately, Jesus told us in Matthew 24:14 that “the major sign of His coming and the close of the age” will be:

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then the end will come” Matthew 24:14

The climax of the age will not be brought about by the actions of secular government or military power, nor by the floods of satanic deception and lawlessness. The final decisive activity will be the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom accomplished by the church of Jesus Christ.

Quoting from Derek Prince in “Shaping history through prayer and fasting”

Scripture is very precise about the message that will be preached in the last days. It is to be the gospel of the Kingdom. It sets forth Christ in His kingly victory and power. It will be true and effective witness to all nations.

“Where the word of a king is, there is power.” Ecclesiastes 8:4

“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” 1 Corinthians 4:20

The kingdom gospel is supernaturally attested “with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit ,,, Hebrews 2:4

The “last days church” will be like the church described in the Book of Acts. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

God will bring together the various resources that are needed: the human resources of Spirit filled people of all ages but particularly young people, and the material resources of wealth and technology.

 

GOD IS BUILDING HIS CHURCH IN INDIA DESPITE PERSECUTION

Source Premier News Service

The number of converts to Christianity continues to rise across India, despite growing acts of violence towards believers after Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi was re-elected as Prime Minister.  Pastor Kumar Swamy of the All India Christian council said “One particular incident took place in the state of Pradesh where a church were having their prayer meeting, which was disrupted. ” Around 50 Hindu extremists were trying to stop the prayer meeting and harassed and manhandled the pastor.”  Pastor Swamy recalled the struggle of sharing the gospel in Indian villages.

He said: “I shared my testimony and a group of people started attacking me with stones, I got hurt and was bleeding.  That’s the scene almost every day in the country as we share our faith.”  He continued: “But today in the same village, by God’s grace, we have around 15 churches planted.

“On one hand, there is attacks, threats and bloodshed but on the other hand, God is growing his church in the midst of this persecution and this will be the story of India.” 

Christian leaders have joined together to raise their concerns for the safety of India’s Christian community following the recent election results. Plans have been made to meet with the Prime Minister to request increased security for religious minorities.  Pastor Swamy said: “The Christian Council is planning to lead a delegation of Christian leaders, to meet our Prime Minister, and our Home Minister, to give us protection and freedom.  “We feel it’s important to enlighten our Prime Minister, and assure him that we will be praying and standing with him that God will give him the wisdom to rule this nation with peace.”  According to Pastor Swamy, education and an ongoing dialogue between the government and religious minorities is needed in order to bring about lasting change.

CHURCH IN THE END TIMES

“Realise this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (2 Timothy 3:1-9)

NOTE WELL: “holding to a form of godliness although they denied its power.” That line is not a description of the world; it is of a faithless, powerless, fruitless church! The light went out in the Church and the world got dark.

Image result for picture to illustrate Jesus is the light of the world

“If the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:23)

One of the most destructive lies preached in many churches today is “In the last days the church will get brighter and brighter while the world gets darker and darker!

God’s word does reveal good news about the end times darkness and one of my favourite Scriptures in this regard is in Isaiah.

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness
of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:1-3)

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

We need to consider how we can serve others in extraordinary ways. How can we do ordinary things in extraordinary ways? Perhaps for business people, it is how you serve your customers. Workers how you go the extra mile for your boss, so that he asks you why you are doing it, and as a result you have the honour of bringing glory and honour to your heavenly Father.

Maybe this will light up the darkness, illuminate cities and shift atmospheres? Might it be that meeting the simple, felt needs of our cities in extraordinary ways is what will drag communities out of the cesspool of despair into the wellspring of hope?  I believe it will! Jesus told us “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14

 

WHAT DOES A GOD INSPIRED REVIVAL LOOK LIKE?

A few years ago, Pastor Shane Idleman prayed, “Lord, bring revival to the churches.” Read the response God gave him.

“I was not ready for the response that followed. I felt impressed with these words: “You don’t want revival—it will ruin your schedule, your dignity, your image and your reputation as a person who is ‘well balanced.’ Men will weep throughout the congregation. Women will wail because of the travail of their own souls. Young adults will cry like children at the magnitude of their sin. With the strength of My presence, the worship team will cease playing. Time will seem to stand still. You won’t be able to preach because of the emotions flooding your own soul. You’ll struggle to find words but only find tears. Even the most dignified and reserved among you will be broken and humbled as little children. The proud and self-righteous will not be able to stand in My presence. The doubter and unbeliever will either run for fear or fall on their knees and worship Me—there can be no middle ground. The church will never be the same again.”

Pastors, do you truly want revival?

What about Christian leadership? Is it ready for revival?

Shane Idleman was recently asked for his take on the controversy surrounding Francis Chan speaking at what some call “questionable events.” He took time to pray while driving three hours to one of these events to meet Chan and hear him speak. Once again read the outcome.

Shane Idleman, left, with Francis Chan.

“When I met Chan backstage, I found him to be very humble and eager to listen as we talked about these issues. True to form, he also delivered a powerful message on repentance. Isn’t that our goal as preachers? The event moved me deeply during worship, and I had the opportunity to meet some of the other speakers such as Corey Russell and Derek Carr. Their passion for the lost and their heart for “genuine” revival was evident, as thousands came forward to recommit and renew their relationship with the Lord.

The irony is that when I try to tell it like it is, heresy hunters are not open, humble or teachable. The old adage “Don’t confuse me with the facts” comes to mind.

Why are emotional worship nights of prayer, and pressing into God, viewed as fanatical when these things are actually biblical? Why do I never see the heresy hunters at all-night worship services or broken by the Lord at the altar? This question demands an answer—and the answer is that many have never been filled mightily with the Holy Spirit. They can’t say, like Jeremiah, that God’s Word is in their heart like a burning fire (Jeremiah 20:9). 

DISCIPLE MAKING CHURCHES IN THE LAST DAYS

As mentioned many times previously on this website, I believe the end times church will be like the church described in the Book of Acts and it is wonderful to see many Disciple Making Movements starting up. I have promoted Francis Chan (Multiply Movement), David Platt (Radical) two of the most notable Disciple Making Movements as well as Oikos Australia in my own country.

This article from Oikos and a short video from DMMS Frontiers Mission are worth considering for your church.

At Oikos, we are thinking about multiplication. With 25.5 million Australians, only 52% identify themselves as Christian – this opportunity is one we are passionate about impacting!

Did you know that one pair of rabbits can end up with 4 million offspring in only 4 years time? That is rapid growth!  Does your group, simple church or disciple-making strategy – have a clear plan where those in your group, clearly know how they can train to equip others to disciple new people and plant new groups/churches.

“If not, your strategy may need to be adjusted. Everything you do in disciple-making must pass the test of reproducibility. When we make things too complicated, we don’t get rabbit churches that multiply quickly” – DMMS Frontier Missions

Does your group know how to share the gospel, invite people to Jesus and know what to do if someone says yes? Do you have a vision for growth & raising up others?

2 Timothy 2:2 is our guide. Paul trained Timothy. Timothy trained faithful men. They trained many others.

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2 Timothy 2:2 

That’s multiplication. That’s generational growth. It’s what we do to see Oikos become a Disciple-Making movement!!
Who are you developing as under you? Who are you passing the baton too? Effective disciple making involves multiplication of simple churches and disciples.