It’s here but not yet!

“‘The time promised by God has come at last!’ he announced. ‘The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!’” Mark 1:15 (NLT)

The Kingdom of God is here but is not yet! John the Baptizer, as well as Jesus and His disciples preached that the Kingdom was here, near and is coming. Sound confusing? We are sensing revival, but not like anything we’ve ever experienced before. It’s here, but not yet! God is definitely moving, stirring, awakening and preparing. As we pray this month, please press in with great intensity. This is like the travailing before birth. The baby is coming, and what currently is, won’t be for much longer. The birth process is simply a transition from one phase to another. From the hidden place to the visible world! We will soon see, touch and experience the Kingdom of God like never before! This requires persevering believing prayer, because it is not necessarily what our eyes are seeing right now. Please keep pressing in and don’t give up!

Kingdom Unity!

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3 (NIV)

Unity is not based on the lowest common denominator. Biblical unity comes from the common thread of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. And for those who want to obey Christ, unity in His body is not an option! This past year has really strained “unity” across the body of Christ. Our unity is about the kingdom of God and not in the political party or color of skin. We are told to bear with one another (Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:2), but instead many have allowed offense to divide us. Paul told us that we were to endeavor to maintain the unity of the Spirit. In other words, do whatever it takes to keep (maintain, preserve, and guard) the unity through the bond of peace between each other (Ephesians 4:3). Instead of cancelling one another, let’s pray for and bless each other. We may not be like each other, or even like each other, but we are His children. Jesus strongly commands us to do this. In fact, this is the utmost important thing we can do, to love one another like Christ loves us (John 15:12)! And probably the greatest thing we can do in loving one another is to pray together. The word is pretty clear that we are not to neglect our coming together as some have gotten into the habit of doing (Hebrews 10:25). And this has been a season where that has definitely been neglected! Lovers of Jesus, please do whatever it takes to pray together!!!

Please pray for pastors to begin being gripped once again by the power and impact that our praying together releases. Where there is unity God commands His blessing (Psalm 133). Those are pretty strong words, with a powerful promise. But on the other hand, where unity is lacking, when we choose independence, offense and division instead of togetherness, His blessing is also missing! Cry out for God to restore what was lost, stolen or damaged last year across our city and nation. Plead for Him to once again establish the unity of the spirit over our city! Ask God to show you personally how to “bear one with another in love.”

Beyond revival!

“From then on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.’” Matthew 4:17 (NLT)

Though we have been actively, fervently and intentionally praying for revival in Athens over these past ten years, we are going to begin focusing elsewhere as well. We are not going to stop praying for revival, because it is absolutely necessary. But it is HERE! We do not simply want a visitation by God! We long for habitation. We desire sustained, systemic change, transformation… REFORMATION!

Both Jesus and John the Baptizer said the kingdom of God is here, yet it is coming (Matthew 4:17, 10:17, Mark 1:15, Luke 9:2, 10:9). Revival is here, but it is coming. Over the past decade we have seen God do mighty things. Change is happening. Former porn shops are closing and being occupied by the church! Southern Video on Broad Street recently was occupied by Phoenix Community. Fantasy World and Chelsea’s on Baxter Street have been closed and cleaned up. In fact, Chelsea’s is in the process of becoming a center of freedom and worship. Be praying and watching what God does. And this is just a sampling!!!

Revival is about people being revived. By definition revival is restoration or awakening to life. But Reformation is about things being reformed. It involves the systems that are changed to sustain the impact of revival.

Culture is made up of seven mountains, or spheres. And for sustained impact we must advance the kingdom of God in each of these. The seven mountains include family, media, economy, arts & entertainment, education, government and religion. I will unpack these in the days ahead and focus prayer into each of them!

Please be praying that God would stir up, organize and begin intentional prayer and Godly invasion into these seven mountains. Pray for a new level of kingdom unity within the Church, specifically in our city. Pray for pastors (starting with your own) to see this city is their congregation and that every sphere (mountain) of this city is just waiting for the Kingdom of God to advance in it. Ask the Lord to begin stirring you in regards to what mountain He was called you to invade!!!

A dreadful thing!

“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:31 (NIV)

The writer of Hebrews tells us that it is terrible (NLT), dreadful (NIV), terrifying (TPT) and fearful (ESV) to come under the judgment of the Living God! Yet, too many presume that His grace is sufficient for me to do whatever I want and He will still love me! There is a lie permeating through the church that equates God being pleased with us and His love for us. God’s love for us never changes, though He definitely is not always pleased with what we do, or say, or think. That is why John, addressing those who follow Jesus, says we must confess our sin (1 John 1:9). He is not talking to those outside the family of God, but to Jesus followers. He goes on to say those who follow Jesus should not keep sinning because “he is born of God” (1 John 3:6&9). Peter spoke similarly when he wrote that “judgment begins in the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). God is calling us deeper into His presence, but our sin, which we excuse because of His grace, actually prevents us from coming close. Gordon McDonald wrote that “there is no bit of hell allowed in heaven.” So why should we expect sin to be allowed in His presence now. Remember Ananias and Sapphira actually died when they lied to the Holy Spirit. And as a result, “great fear seized the whole church” (Acts 51-11).

Please invite God to deal with sin in the church, starting with your own. Ask Him to increase the fear of God over His people! Cry out for Him to awaken those who have been deceived by this “hyper-grace” message that is operating in some parts of the body of Christ. Ask Him to show you any place where you have been presuming that He was ok with something in your life, when actually He is not. Ask God to show you how to come into alignment with His mind, will and holiness. And ask all these things for the church across our city!

Choose Worship!

“After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising Him for His holy splendor. This is what they sang: ‘Give thanks to the Lord; His faithful love endures forever!’” 2 Chronicles 20:21 (NLT)

We are in an epic battle, and the enemy would have us focus on him instead of the Lord. I recall a conference where we had been invited to set up a prayer covering for six days and nights. We felt that we were to make it more worship than prayer. In fact, we knew the enemy would show up and attempt to get us to fight him instead of worshipping the Lord Most High! And demons did manifest, trying to pick a fight with the worshippers watching over the conference, but they all stayed focused on Jesus. The result was God’s presence over the conference was tangible and astounding. This whole experience ultimately changed the course of our future ministry.

As the church chooses to worship, the enemy goes into confusion and devours each other. That is what happened for Jehoshaphat. Instead of engaging the huge multitude of enemy warriors that was attacking them, King Jehoshaphat sent the worshippers out first. The result was, God brought confusion and slaughter to the enemy, and delivered Judah!

In our day, as the battle rages against us, choose to worship instead of worrying about what’s happening. Worship expresses your faith and trust in God. Even as the world rages, be still and know He is God, exalt Him among the nations (Psalm 46). Know that God has given you praise and His word as your primary weapons (Psalm 149:6). May worship be on your lips and a double-edged sword in your hand as you engage the world and battle around you!

Ask God for the grace to focus on Him throughout your day. If you are not already doing this, create an atmosphere of worship in your home by having worship music playing in the background all the time, day and night. Ask God to lift the high praise and worship level in your church.

Come clean!

”Yahweh, You can scrutinize me. Refine my heart and probe my every thought. Put me to the test and You’ll find me true.” Psalm 26:2 (TPT)

The weight of hidden and secret sin is much heavier than most people imagine. It usually isn’t until it is out in the open that we see how much it was weighing us down. God is shaking the earth, both the physical and the spiritual. What is hidden will soon be made known, not just in the government or the supreme court, but also in the church. Now is the time to bring into the light any unconfessed sin, addictions, attitudes and “secret stuff” that we have been carrying. The church needs to come clean, and this starts with pastors and leaders who carry it, even if it is “little” in their eyes. David wrote that only those with clean hands, pure hearts, no idolatry, or falsehood can climb the holy hill and receive the blessing God wants to pour out (Psalm 24:3-6). Now, as we are on the edge of revival, it is time to come clean and be ready for what God is about to do!

Ask God to show you any and every hidden and secret sin that is resident within you. Ask Him to do the same in your pastor and church, and across our city and nation! We cannot carry our sin and expect God to move the way He wants to move in our homes, churches and nation!

A Remnant Church!

It is time to bring back the Ark of our God, for we neglected it during the reign of Saul.”  1 Chronicles 13:3 (NLT)

By definition a “remnant” is a remaining portion, usually a small part, a fragment. Much of what is known today as the church, is simply an organization that has that name, and at one time was a vessel of God’s presence. The remnant church and the organized religious body church can be likened to Saul and David. And there is the difference between the Saul Church and the David Church.

Today, God is separating the Saul Church from the David Church. Saul didn’t value the presence of God. Saul represents another time when God moved. At one time Saul had the anointing. He was God’s choice, until he chose to do things his own way. He sought comfort over obedience. He disobeyed God’s commands. Then when he lost the anointing, and it was given to someone else, he did not like it. He became obsessed with hunting down and destroying the new anointed one.

David was anointed king as a teenager and the devil came after him through Saul. Though it was many years (like 17) until David actually sat on the throne, his anointing started way before then. What set David apart was that he longed for and sought with all his heart God’s presence. One of the first things David did as king was to bring the ark to Jerusalem. The ark represented God’s tangible presence among His people.

God is raising up the house of David in our day. He is looking for a church, a people who will seek His presence as top priority, more than anything else. We are in a time when God is withdrawing from Saul and moving toward David. Anointing will challenge and convict. The David Church seeks God’s presence and will deal with everything that is hindering it. But sadly, the Saul Church won’t simply let go. Just as Saul pursued and hunted down David, the Saul Church will persecute the David Church. But God’s hand is moving from Saul to David! 

People are no longer looking for comfort churches, with entertainment and a slick program. Instead they are looking for “presence” churches. These are churches where God loves to come and do His stuff. When God shows up, things get messy. Programs get tossed, people get humbled… saved, delivered and healed! When God shows up, lives are changed, miracles happen, demons are cast out! David Churches experience both God’s presence and His power. Saul Churches are simply a form of religion without the power (2 Timothy 3:5)!

So please be aware (and beware), that the previous generation of church where God blessed, where God moved, but is not moving now, will oppose the new move. This is the historic reality!

We’ve never been in such a perilous time like we are right now. But neither have we ever been so close to the outpouring of the greatest revival this world has ever known! We are blessed to be alive for such a time as this! 

Please pray for your pastor to make seeking God’s presence and all that comes with it more important than having slick services where people are comfortable, happy and there are no messes. Pray for your church leadership to have boldness to let go of old wineskins and be willing to embrace the new things that God is doing and is about to do beyond our imagination. Pray for the David Church to arise in our city, where our label (denomination and/or church name) and method (how we do things) gets laid aside for us to “be” His Church in our city. You know many will not like this, so pray that we will not respond to the persecution, rejection and slander that the Saul Church will dish out at us. Ask God for a grace within the remnant to pray for and bless those of the Saul Church. Ask God to awaken the David-like passion within you!!!

A city of prayer!

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14 (ESV)

I have heard Athens called a city on the hill. My cry has been that God would make it a city of prayer on the hill! One of the key components of birthing and sustaining a move of God is mobilizing citywide prayer. Over the past ten plus years, we have been stirring up prayer across Athens. Today we are seeing many pockets of prayer, plus churches including prayer in more than just an “opening” salutation. Nevertheless, we still have a long way to go. Please join me in praying that God would awaken His people in our city to the absolute need for becoming a praying church.

While a prayerless church is a powerless church, a praying church releases God’s kingdom, will and power in that geographic region. God calls for us to be a house of prayer (Isaiah 56:6-7). A praying church has the priority of prayer in every aspect of its life. A praying church is led by a praying pastor. A praying church is filled with praying people, including children, students and all, not just a few “prayer warriors.” A praying church doesn’t happen accidentally and isn’t without cost. But a praying church is crucial in ushering in His kingdom.

Wherever you and/or your church is at today, God is calling you deeper in the journey of becoming a house of prayer. I have been publicly leading prayer stuff for over thirty years and I am still learning more about prayer!

Cry out for God to make you a house of prayer and to continue to teach you “how to pray” (Luke 11:1). Ask Him to awaken your pastor to lead, first and foremost, from His knees, as he cries out to God to revive His church and awaken our city. Ask God to release a grace to pray in your church and that prayer would become a vital component in everything it does. Ask God to do this across our city and make Athens a city of prayer on the hill!

Holy like Him!

“Instead, shape your lives to become like the Holy One who called you. For Scripture says: ‘You are to be holy, because I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:15-16 (TPT)

So these days, who’s defining ‘holiness?’ Too often we look at others to define, but you can’t get the answer by looking horizontally. Somehow, much of the church feels we need to dumb down God’s holiness so people will feel comfortable. After all, His grace is sufficient and He is a God of love. But the reality of it, God calls us to more than this!

By definition ’holy’ is beyond our comprehension, it’s beyond our understanding. Holy isn’t just taking our best and making it infinitely better. God’s definition of holy is… something other! Holy is mysterious. But God is holy and He calls us to be like Him.

What we do with God’s holiness impacts the fear of the Lord in our lives! Is the holy too familiar to you? Where is the fear of the Lord in your life, in your church, in our city and nation? You can’t look at porn and then expect to understand God’s holiness. If you are trying to you have grown calloused to God’s presence! Are you nonchalantly worshiping God? What are you thinking about when you worship the King of Glory?

Do you take time to prepare yourself before entering a house of worship? Are you obeying what you know is His will for you? When was the last time you got on your knees, if ever? When was the last time you fasted, because you were so desperate to know God better?

Bottom line is, if you don’t fear God you will fear man! If you are not pressing into be holy like God is holy, you are missing out on His presence!

Cry out for God to redefine what it means for you to be holy like Him. Beseech God to stir your church to be gripped by God’s holiness, and His call for us to be holy. Pray that there would be a wave of holiness sweeping across our city and nation! Ask God to pour out a whole new level of the fear of God over this nation, starting with you!  Ask God to make you holy like Him!

Alignment!

“Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.” Ephesians 5:10 (NLT)

There is a divine alignment going on! A car is out of alignment can wobble, pull it off course and actually damage the tires. The crazy thing is it doesn’t take much for a vehicle to get out of alignment. Obviously, most car owners will try their best to keep their vehicle aligned. But it is easy for us to neglect staying in alignment with God’s will. When we are aligned with God’s will, His heart and His ways, His kingdom is advanced in our midst. This is what Jesus was referring to when He taught His disciples to pray for the Father’s will to be done and kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). When our lives, our ways, our prayers line up with God’s, heaven is released, prayers are answers and miracles happen. And this is a season when God is calling His people to get aligned with Him!

Cry out for God’s alignment in your life. Ask Him to show you the little things that He is not pleased with, or are not His will for your life. What was acceptable in the previous season may not be in this new one. Ask Him for an alignment for today. Pray this pastor, your church, this city and our nation.