Our Lenten Journey is finished but this is just the beginning. We saw that scripture shows us there is so much more to church than we are presently seeing. John described the power of Jesus when He said, Luke 3:16 “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” That happened at Pentecost. Acts 2:1 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.” We also saw this happen at the temple 2 Chronicles 7:1 “When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. 3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.” Ezekiel also saw the glory. Ezekiel 44:4 “I looked and saw the glory of the Lord filling the temple of the Lord, and I fell facedown.” Remember that we are now the temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”
2 Chronicles 7:11 “Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, 12 the Lord appeared to him at night and said: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. 13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. 17 “As for you, if you walk before me faithfully as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, 18 I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to rule over Israel.’ 19 “But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 21 This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 22 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’” This passage also applies to the church.
The church has not walked faithfully and we have paid a heavy price for our rebellion. Jesus warned us Matthew 24:22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time” It is only due to God’s grace and compassion that we are still alive. When Daniel prayed he said Daniel 9:4 “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land. 7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you.”
The good news of the great salvation we talked about yesterday is that God gave David a promise He would never break. We saw it in the verses above when God spoke to Solomon, yet even he refused to obey. The church has also followed other gods / gospels and has turned away from God’s word which means we have also trampled on Jesus therefore loosing all the power and authority intended for the church to have. We saw in the Gospels and Acts the power and authority that was available to us. Jesus showed us and then told us to do the same. Because of this great rebellion we have not seen so great a salvation and the church remains powerless against our enemies but this is not the end. If this was the end, very few would hear well done my good and faithful servant and only would hear depart form me I don’t know you. Jesus himself even questioned whether Luke 18:8 “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
There is hope for us as we return to God’s word. If you believe in Jesus, you will follow His words. When we follow His words, power returns just as we have seen throughout scripture. Pentecost was just the beginning of a powerful church standing against the prince of this world. The church still should be going out in power, healing the sick, casting out demons and proclaiming the kingdom of God. Nowhere does the bible say this power was only for the few at the beginning. Satan does not want you to wait because he knows what will happen if you do. Jesus told His disciples to wait. Luke 24:46 “He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Acts 2:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” They waited and they were clothed with power from on High. Acts 3:6 “Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk. 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”
When you read these accounts of the Holy Spirit filling disciples with power, you can only conclude that the church is pathetically disillusioned about the power available to them. The church has given up on the power that Paul prayed we could all see. Ephesians 1:18 “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” We were told to seek and we would find. We were told if we would return to God He would return to us but the church kept going their own ways and went backwards. Jeremiah 7:24 “But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.”
Repentance means to turn around. I trust if you are reading this you have turned around or are in the process. If we do repent the kingdom will come near. Jesus said Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” The good news is still available to those who wait. Now that you know what you are looking for, you wait with expectation. You know because when you read the Gospels and Acts, you expect the church to look the same. These verses will help you understand that by waiting you can anticipate what God is going to do. Isaiah 8:17“I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in him.” Proverbs 8:32 “Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. 33 Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. 34 Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. 35 For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord. 36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.” Luke 12:37 “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.” Isaiah 64:4 “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” Psalm 5:3 “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” Lamentations 3:22 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Micah 7:7 “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” Hebrews 6:13 “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” James 5:7 “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” Habakkuk 2:3 “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” Isaiah 30:18 “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”
Waiting on God is not futile. Malachi 3:14 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’” Israel refused to wait for His plan to unfold and they paid for their disobedience. Psalm 106:13 “But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold. 14 In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wilderness they put God to the test. 15 So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease among them.” Be patient in your waiting because God’s timing is always perfect as are His plans. Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Our enemies have decimated the church but their days are numbered. Power will return to the church and we will do as Jesus did when we are clothed with power from on High.
I have been waiting a long time. As I talked about in Saturday’s blog Day 46, our journey has been long and at times very difficult but God has always been faithful to our desire to know Him more and more. We have had to make some very difficult decisions but God has promised to bless us. We persevere by standing on His word. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you, declares the Lord, and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Most people do not realize they are in captivity. They have been taught this is just how church is but it is not. It is just a form of godliness that denies power. I made a decision to follow God at all costs just as He told us to do. I did not always know where He was leading us to but I knew He was leading. God doesn’t want lukewarm followers. We must serve Him with everything we have. Luke 14:25 “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Obviously to hate is in the context of total commitment to God. Nothing comes before Him. We are also promised that if we do follow Him wholeheartedly, Mark 10:29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
A long time ago this verse Psalm 27:13 “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” was on my wall above my desk in Bracebridge. Little did I know then the journey we would take as we waited on God to fulfill His promises. God has revealed much over these years and we anticipate all that He has promised He will do. Years ago a friend of mine had his truck stolen. I was travelling with Him and in his truck was my bible. I hope that whoever stole the truck actually read the bible and maybe the verses I had underlined would change their lives as they changed mine. One day while going through my files I found a couple of pages that had torn out of my bible. Very thin paper has a nice feel but not very practical if you are actually are going to use it daily. I don’t even remember how this happened but on those pages is Psalm 27. Yes I am still waiting and will never give up. Job 27:5 “ I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. 6 I will maintain my innocence and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.” As we wait we all need Job’s fortitude and belief. All I know is the plan God has for us is a lot closer than when we started. Psalm 33:11 “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”
As you wait, stand firm and don’t give up. Hebrews 10:35 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” Jesus told us Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”