Saying Goodbye Part 2

Saying goodbye is never easy! Next week I start a new ministry, but this week I saw goodbye to a ministry that helped shape me. As we saw yesterday, the Holy Spirit unites us together as partners in the Gospel. Regardless of what we have in distinction, we are one through Christ! As Paul continues he reveals that what God begins, he finishes.

God began a good work in us! (Philippians 1:6) being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

We get all the hope for humanity in one verse, God’s work for us began at the cross through Christ, continued through the Holy Spirit’s work in us, and will be completed by Christ’s return to rework the world. We get a promise of progress towards completion. When you want to throw up your hands in frustration, when you are left sighing so heavily it could knock over a small shack, wondering, “Does any of this matter at all?” Here is a promise that your effort is an investment, that when you give of yourself, God is willing to give you more and more of himself! It is a promise that all the work you are called to do is building to something, is actually building you up as a new someone, and that all the effort isn’t all an existential experiment.

This phrase, carrying it on to completion, reminds me of a construction site. In fact, it specifically reminds me of working part-time doing construction. We took properties that were in some dire need of TLC and revamped, reworked, and redesigned them. (By we, I mean the person I was working with, I found out construction isn’t my gift).  Continue reading “Saying Goodbye Part 2”

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BECOME #3- New Harvest

If you are just joining us, welcome! We are in the midst of a look at the building blocks of discipleship. The first week, we looked at what we believe but also how we believe. An identity more than fleeting idea.  Now we are shifting gears to look at the transformation process concluding today in a new harvest.  So far we have seen the process of receiving the Holy Spirit as belief prods us to baptism, and seen how the Holy Spirit works as he cuts through the hardness of heart—counseling us when we are teachable, but as we look at the second building block of a disciple BECOME—we find the beauty of…

Counseling Leads to New Harvest (Galatians 5:22-25) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.  These elements lived out to the full are the very essence of Jesus Christ. He demonstrated God’s love for us. We proclaim “Joy to the World” since we have found the “Prince of Peace.” On and on it goes, in living out the fruit of the Spirit we are actually taking on Christ-likeness. It isn’t a coincidence that God puts application at the heart of each element that goes into a disciple. Relationship with the Spirit of God, leads to relationship with those around us. Against such things there is no law. In fact, where our spiritual ancestors failed to follow God wholeheartedly, that the law’s very essence is fulfilled—loving God and loving the people around us as if they were ourselves. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. When we live by the Spirit we are able to walk in cadence to the symphony of Scripture.

When is this new harvest coming? Where is self-control when I open my mouth and insert my foot? Where is love when I am consumed by anger? Peace when prone to march to war? It reminds me of a conversation between an older Christian woman in her 80’s and a 21 year old that recently had been baptized in her church. For a month after his baptism he was elated, on fire, and excited. Yet, on this Sunday the woman found the 21 year old in the sanctuary praying before service obviously upset and she asked him what was wrong. He told her that he didn’t know what was wrong with him—he was frustrated that he had fallen short of his new life, sinned again, and wasn’t sure of what to make of it—The woman smiled a knowing smile and replied, “Young man, keep in mind that crucifixion is always a slow death!” Jesus had called us to follow him to Calvary—take up your cross and follow me—and yet the process isn’t overnight but on-going. Here is the beauty that unfolds in faithfully and intentionally becoming like Christ!

Lee Strobel, in his book, Case for Christmas shared a story from his early journalism days. He was tapped with writing a story on the poorest family he could find in Chicago. The family (a mother and her two daughters) had nothing on their walls, one cup of rice, one bed, and daughters shared a sweater on their cold early morning walk to school. After publishing his piece, he decided to check in on the family, it was Christmas Eve after all. When he walked into the house it had been transformed. Readers had generously sent the family clothes, gift cards, and toys. Lee was surprised though to find the family boxing up some of the items. He asked if they were disappointed in what they got. The mother replied that they were so grateful for all they had received. She added that she couldn’t keep all that stuff knowing that her neighbors had nothing. “After all, these gifts are great, but the greatest gift comes tomorrow in Jesus Christ.” The comments left Lee shook, as an atheist, he was wondering what is it about this Jesus that caused a family with nothing to give away stuff when they got something. The fruit of the Spirit allowed him to see a picture of Christ.

If you read John Grisham or like law dramas, think of what happens as double jeopardy, Double jeopardy is the law that it is illegal or unjust to try and/or punish a person for a crime that they have already been convicted of. We find that Jesus Christ has already been crucified on the cross for the sins of the world—and that as we receive the Spirit, embrace the counseling and live out the fulfillment of the law—we take on the Image of Christ—meaning that we no longer can be tried or convicted of what Christ bared on our behalf.

I like the quote by John Owen who builds off the foundation of belief: Every time we say we believe in the Holy Spirit, we mean we believe that there is a living God able and willing to enter human personality and change it. Nowhere along the way were you meant to stay exactly the same through relationship with Jesus Christ. Stagnation has no place when the Holy Spirit is given space. Growth isn’t an option, it is an outlet. Relationship isn’t a responsibility it is a natural response. If you aren’t being changed, it isn’t because God doesn’t have the power to change you, it isn’t because God doesn’t have the desire to change you, it isn’t because you don’t have excess to what can change you, for the disciple of Jesus Christ—we have to embrace the Holy Spirit and put the second building block in place.

BECOME #1

Tim Hawkins is a Christian comedian who often uses church sports stories for his routines. Within his routine he shared about what he life was like, where he had been, what he had seen, struggles and setbacks and finally he told the audience, “I’m coming off a few years of backsliding. Every night it was drunkenness and fighting and foul-language. Finally I said, ‘Ya know what? I’m quitting church softball!'”

If this isn’t your first time dealing with church people or Christians, you probably aren’t surprised the phenomenon which I call Christians behaving badly. Pastors fall from grace, congregations divide, or you accidentally sat in someone’s family pew (they let you know it).

An older guy found out the hard way when approaching a street light. He was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection. The tailgating woman hit the roof, and the horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection. As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger-printed, and photographed, and then placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the ‘Choose Life’ license plate holder, the ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ bumper sticker, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday School’ bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car!” (Unknown authorship)

Over the last few days we have been looking at the Big Picture of discipleship. We found that Christ’s mandate is commonly quoted– “Go and make disciples of all the nations” but unfortunately, rarely implemented. 70% of people raised in the church are falling away (LIFE WAY RESEARCH). Last week we looked at the first building block is what we BELIEVE—Not just what we belief, but how we believe—belief as an identity rather than just an idea. We looked at how our faith is grounded in fact rather than just a rosy fiction, and how belief allows us to live distinctly. Yet belief alone isn’t sufficient. James wrote about belief alone—“Even the demons believe and tremble.” In other words it isn’t only about what we believe, but where our beliefs take us. We are going to focus on the second building block—BECOME—seeking to be transformed.

Belief Leads to Action—In Acts 2:37-38- After the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples as promised, Peter rose up among the crowd and preached the first church sermon confirming Christ identity and allowing their belief to become the bedrock for something more: 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

He uses their belief “they were cut to the heart”—and prods them to start becoming something more. He tells them the process– “Repent and be baptized”—An internal and external step towards holiness—repentance is an internal turning from sin towards the Savior, and baptism an external sign of obedience and trust. It is turning from sin that allows us to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. In fact, what is cool is the imagery here reveals that we aren’t just starting a process of becoming better versions of ourselves, but actually becoming more and more like Christ—following in the death, burial, and resurrection through the darkness, depths of the water and replacing it with the divine new light.

Repentance becomes the preparation for God’s transformation to start working. One Christian business man, saw this idea play out when he least expected. He was actually on a tour of a large manufacturing plant noticed a man using a fiery torch of high intensity to work on huge slabs of steel. Operating from a blueprint on a nearby table, a pointer traced the pattern and then by a clever system of levers enlarged the design as it was burned into the metal. There were times, however, when the flame would not make any impression. When this happened, a chemical substance was applied to the resisting patch, and immediately the cutting could be resumed. The worker explained that although the torch was able to go through clean steel 8 inches thick, if it encountered the slightest film of rust on the surface, the flame would not penetrate it. (http://ministry127.com/resources/illustration/sin-hinders-the-work-of-the-holy-spirit)

Transformation most of the time isn’t a matter of God’s power, but a question of our resistance or receptivity. Don’t be shocked when you aren’t changing when you are giving change lip service, but not lee-way in your life. Don’t be surprised when you don’t feel close to God and haven’t made time for God. From time to time it is necessary that we look at our lives and seek out areas that are out of line with our heavenly Father.

BELIEVE #2

What we believe matters, but we all know people who believe things that aren’t based on truth. I once worked with a hilarious guy who only drank bottle water because he was certain that the government was trying to  control everyone with fluoride in the water. Unlike believes which are just based on whims, worry, or wishful thinking, Jesus never once asks us to follow anything that isn’t fact. Actually, he equated himself to truth saying, “I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life.”Being a disciple isn’t only about believing something that we want to be truth. As we continue in our series focusing on the BUILDING BLOCKS OF DISCIPLESHIP we find that…

As a disciple of Jesus our Beliefs are based on FACTS (1 Corinthians 15:13-14) But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.

Paul takes us to the crux of the Christian faith, Jesus Christ and the Good News, that Jesus Christ as man, died and experienced a bodily resurrection. He grounds what happened solely and firmly in reality. He turns to the Holy Spirit’s resurrection of Christ not only as confirmation of his identity, but also as the cementing for our continuing faith. Defeating death was a defiant proclamation that proved had the authority and the influence to fulfill his promises to us! Perishable would be replaced with imperishable, dishonored raised in glory, weakness replaced by power, and the natural elevated to the spiritual.

Sometimes, I listen to NPR when I feel like getting riled up or want to hear something off the wall, and a week before Christmas, I wasn’t disappointed. In honor of the Christmas story, the radio host from HERE AND NOW had an archeologist from the University of North Carolina on as their guest. The first question was simple, how might of Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem. After giving the three routes that were possible, the archeologist quickly threw in a caveat—“I don’t think they ever took a journey at all. It is all just a made up story.” It was her opinion. You gotta love when something fires you up and you try to call in…luckily they didn’t answer…who knows what I would have actually said. What is ironic about the situation is what the archaeologist failed to mention is, well the archeology and history. That censuses were common, inscriptions were found that indicated that Quirinius was governor of Syria twice once in 6 AD and one time prior to this right around the time of Christ, as Luke indicates. An Egyptian papyrus dated from AD 104 reports the same practice of families going back to their home city for taxation-census. 2015 brought evidence of King Hezekiah and King David when experts said they were fictitious. The evidence for the Bible continues to mount.

At some point facts will only take us so far and faith has to carry us into the arms of Christ, but we also have facts which we can rightly stand on, defend, and deserve a hearing in the market place of ideas. Proverbs 30:5 declares, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.” Jesus Christ as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, as Immanuel who interjected himself into history, stands before us as fact. Not a fact that can be relegated to the confines of private gathering, or just a private opinion, but demands a public confession. (www3.telus.net/trbrooks/firstcensus.htm)

Timothy Keller in his book Belief in an Age of Skepticism recorded the testimony of a young man named Kevin: “While sitting in a coffee shop reading C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, I put down the book and wrote in my notebook, ‘the evidence surrounding the claims of Christianity is simply overwhelming.’ I realized that my achievements were ultimately unsatisfying, the approval of man is fleeting, that a carpe diem life lived solely for adventure is just a form of narcissism and idolatry. And so I became a believer in Christ.” (Kevin, New York City, from the book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, by Timothy Keller.)

What were you chasing after? Instead of trying to stand firm in the sinking sand of a broken society, I finally found, like Kevin, the opportunity to stand on the facts of God’s word. Will you stand with me in truth?  As we continue at our look at the Building Blocks of Discipleship–we are going to cover another aspect of BELIEF tomorrow. Join me as we look at the implications of living out our faith in Christ as an identity rather than just another idea and a faith of fact rather than fiction.

What has your testimony of a transformed heart and mind looked like? I’d be honored if you would share your stories! God bless until next time.

 

 

Empowered: These Ain’t Your Momma’s Results

Encounter

Continuing through the events of Pentecost have revealed some amazing transformation in the face of simple tradition. Through the power of the Spirit, we see the radical changes that take place in an instant—changing a ritual into a way of life, and moving the presence of God from the walls built by man to the walls of our heart built by God, and finally we see that…

THESE AIN’T YOUR MAMA’S RESULTS (Acts 2:5-13)Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

When the unexpected occurs, it causes bewilderment, shock, amazement. I have seen this even in Franklin—They see flashing lights, excitement, hear a loud noise, and they all come flocking to see what happened. Sometimes you’ll even have a traffic jam, not because a lane is closed, but because everyone is driving by peering off and slowing down to see the wreckage on the side of the road. In the same way the people have heard the noise, seen the tongues of fire which have rested on the people, indwelling in the first believers with amazing results- Suddenly they are speaking in tongues—languages that are foreign to them.  In fact, the results although a shock to the first Christians, were predicted by Christ who said in Mark 16:17- “These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages.” As they speak suddenly, the diverse listeners hear the message of Jesus Christ in their own distinct dialects, languages, and tongues.

Wives if your husband looks at you at times like you are speaking another language the results are in! A UK experiment found on a test of 40 men and 40 women, that men were more inclined to hear “masculine” words such as beer and football—the words peaked their memory and stayed with them longer. Yet, ladies before you go elbowing your husband in the ribs to punish them for this selective hearing, the experiment found that women are just as likely to have selective hearing for “feminine” words such as chocolate and shopping.

In truth, the experiment found that with all the competing messages vying for are allegiance, we only hear the messages that we find appealing or credible. Think about your friends or family outside of church— During these same hours—something else won out—extra sleep, work, exercise, family time—Yet just as God used the Spirit to add credibility and credence to the cross of Christ and unify the believers in the first century—allowing the miraculous to invade the everyday…. Paul in 1 Cor. 6:10-11 shows us how the Spirit still adds credibility to the message today—: 9Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. (That use to define us—sin which would lead to death) But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God… 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.

Although the changes that happen around us, some slow and some fast, may rock our world—-in Christ, the greatest change of all is what happens in your heart—your allegiance, conviction, your worldview. As we move forward as the body of Christ, there will be times where you might be frustrated with changes, you might be angry with new initiatives, you might be frightened by unique directions, but know that THIS AIN’T YOUR MAMA’S CHURCH—and that is okay—because it is Christ’s church—that as we change, we do so to fulfill the same unchanging mission, with the same unchanging mission, and that the methods—-whether we join together on two wheels or in a tin hut, are only momentary—while the changes of the Holy Spirit are forever.

Empowered #7: THIS AIN’T YOUR MAMA’S CHURCH!

thisain'tyourmama's

Last week we looked at the periods of waiting that sporadically invade our life and yet more often than not, if I had to guess I bet—you probably spend more time racing (around) rather than resting with things constantly changing around you. Sometimes change is slow and steady other decades like in music—as we moved from Elvis Presley to the Beatles with the British Invasion—to today’s classics—“What does the Fox Say?” Other times change happens in an instant—from the calm of September 10th to terror of September 11th—-Despite the speed at which it occurs, a social scientist rightly quipped, “The only thing constant in life is change!”  Even the church is getting in on the action– One church in particular- located in Merced, CA- have gone out of their way to embrace change—called aptly, “This Ain’t Your Mama’s Church.” Meeting each week not in a church with four walls, comfy chairs or padded pews, no soft-spoken messages, but instead on two wheels, with lots of horse-power, chaps, leather and angels to spare, but that is only because some were former Hells Angels. It is a motorcycle church! So today we are going to look at what happens when the waiting is over!

Today we continue in our Empowered Series, through the book of Acts. We move from the church being called on to Wait to seeing that when God is ready—change can transform everything. In our text from Acts 2:1-13, we will see the three major changes in the life of the early church which still impacts our faith today!

We begin in (Acts 2:1) When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.

Pentecost had come, let the party begin. But what are we celebrating? Sometimes it is easy to forget that the Jews practiced this event before Christ and still after Christ in the festival called Shavout- (Sha-voo-ot). Originally, it marked God giving Moses the Law on Mount Sinai, and annually celebrated by the Israelites honoring God’s provision, blessings, and concern by bringing the first fruits of the harvest to the temple. Yet here in our text, we see that after the every year being the same that this AIN’T YOUR MAMA’S PENTECOST- Look what happens in Acts 2:2– Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. In fulfillment of Christ’s promise, like a trumpet sounding announcing the arrival of royalty, or a major decree, the blowing wind acknowledges the arrival of the far greater power and presence-the Holy Spirit!  As God bottled his love for humanity in Christ (Romans 5:8), he pours out that love through the Holy Spirit—leading John to say “It is the Spirit who gives life.”

The change in the church can easily be taken for granted, the spirit came at Pentecost and the church was formed and we turn the corner,” but don’t miss the explosive change– It would be like a farmer waking up each morning—hooking up the old plow to the old horse who has seen better days. Every inch of progress would come at the price of blood, sweat, bulging arms, and lots of naying. The contrast of Pentecost would be waking up in the morning, walking out to your field and finding the latest and greatest planter from John Deere, fully equipped with GPS, air conditioned cab, and precision planter. When we try to live on our own power—we barely break the surface, each step forward only comes at the expense of our blood, sweat, and tears yet the infusion of power, precision, and the presence of God changed the entire landscape and offers to change our entire lives.

Look what happened here, God took a long-standing tradition and turned it into a moment of transformation. Not simply the memorialization of God’s law– into a true moment of interaction with God’s grace allowing us to be real with God—breaking the surface–no fake smile, plastic halo, or hollow words. Just as God did with Pentecost, he can do in your life. What things do you do everyday nearly on auto-pilot, stopping at the coffee house for a cup of joe, meeting with your friends, maybe God is calling you to take your tradition and start using it as a moment of transformation.  Usually though we avoid change as much as possible—change messes with our schedules, our sanity, and our sociability—yet sometimes only change will catapult us towards Christ! It took Moses seeing a burning bush that wouldn’t be consumed to get him out of the literal rut he probably walked in following the sheep! When is the last time you’ve tried growing in your faith by serving in a unique way, or read something that might solidify your conviction or reached out to someone new, or strived to disciple the next generation of believers? If the answer is never, or not for a long time, lets allowed the Holy Spirit to wake us up as it woke up the first Christians.

ACTS #4-WAIT!!

WAIT
A good portion of life is spent waiting! Have you noticed that? Think back to a universal feeling—you are sitting in a classroom, meeting hall, or driving home and you start to feel your eyes get heavy, not just a little heavy, but more like you have 1 Ton Weight hooked to your eyelids. Nearly every muscle in your body is telling you to sleep, it feels so good, the most satisfying sleep you can imagine, but your brain is telling you what?—as cars go whizzing by—or as your boss glances your direction—as the teacher turns around from the blackboard—That 4-letter word jumps into your head: WAIT, always seemingly standing in between what you and what you want! All throughout life from waiting to get out of school for summer, to waiting for the driver’s license, or waiting to find that special someone, get married, have kids, get a job, get a different job, get a promotion, go on vacation, get enough quarters racked up for Social Security so you can retire, at each stage of life we are forced to WAIT!

The Jews for a few thousand years had been dealing with this idea– from Gen. 3:15 (the promise of the one who would crush the head of the serpent) forward they had been waiting for the Messiah— As we continue in our series Empower through the book of Acts we come to Chapter 1:12-26-where we pick up in the aftermath of the apostles being given the greatest mission in the history of the world, the purpose for their very existence–entrusted to spread the Good News of what they had seen and experienced. Finally after so much has happened the waiting seems to be over: man had sinned, been separated from God, Christ-the Son of God has come—fulfilling the penalty of sin, showing the mercy and grace of God—Christ was crucified on the cross, buried in the tomb, and 3 days later he is resurrected from the dead— not for 1 instance or 1 day, but for 40 days, but to the point where over 500 people see him walking around, interacting, teaching, and eating— Yet just before Jesus ascended into heaven he told them, “Wait—you don’t know when it is coming, but you are going to receive the Holy Spirit!”

It is as the apostles waited to get on with their mission—that we get a clear picture of 3 ways to respond to waiting in our life—whether in triumph or tragedy as part of the ongoing life and foundation of the church.

While they waited it was an opportunity for Obedience. (Acts 1:12-14) 12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk[a] from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. (1500 meters) Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
It is as they are gathered together, persistently praying, and united together that we see this is an opportunity for them to be obedient to Jesus’ command and his example—who each time he faced a major decision, life-event, or season of life marked it by first going to God in prayer—first act of the church. *WHEN IN DELAY—START TO PRAY* It is no coincidence that Dr. Luke happens to list 3 groups who were assembled in the upper room showing the results of waiting in obedience.
1. For the Apostles—it was a time of TRANSITION–who had partaken in the ministry of Christ—with Christ’s ascension-the students became the teachers. Going from frightened to the forerunners—leading a persecuted and illegal religion– from 1st century until 313 AD. (When one season of life is over, and another one is beginning—kids ministry–retired)
2. For Mary the mother of Jesus—it was a time to TESTIFY-after everything she experience, from her teenage years giving birth to Jesus, to what she saw watching Christ crucified—her presence was a testament to her faith in her own son as the Son of God! (Waiting on God builds faith in God)/ as we depend on his timing and plan)
3. For Jesus brothers’- it was a time of TRANSFORMATION–we know from Scripture that Jesus—most likely had 4 brothers and 2 sister—throughout his life his brothers rejected him and yet suddenly the 40 days were enough to transform them. From bullheaded siblings—James, Joseph, Jude and Simon were now part of the body of believers!

It is as they waited—gathering in persistent prayers—seemingly inactive that things were happening. This happened not only in the lives of the 120 gathered in the upper room, but also where Fulton and Williams Street met in the heart of New York City. The year was 1857—wide spread unemployment was rocking the city, railroads were going into bankruptcy, and just as fast as the wealth was dwindling the despair was multiplying! Jeremiah Lamphier—a 40 something, businessman, and Christian felt that the men of the city, engaged in active business could/needed to devote a portion of the time usually given to rest and refreshment at mid-day to devotional purposes.” The first prayer meeting at Noon brought in a total of 6 people, 5 of whom were late, and yet within 6 months 10,000 businessmen were gathering daily in prayer, confession of sins, and conviction of the Holy Spirit. Within two years, one million converts were added to the church, this wasn’t just confessions of faith, this was upwards of a million people being added to the local church. Imagine what that kind of influx does to the vitality of the church? REVIVAL was alive—that while man was praying, God was producing, that while man waited, God worked, and when man is obedient—God is faithful.

Waiting can be viewed a lot of different ways—sometimes as inconvenience or a waste—other times we can blow past the waiting game, by just doing something, anything, even if we do it without knowing what, how, or with whom to partner! Instead waiting obediently can be a time of transition, a time of testifying—something that builds rather than breaks our faith, and a time of transformation—our daily opportunity to be changed by communing with God!