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“The One Prevailing Promise of the Church”—Pt. 1 CHURCHES PREVAILING AGAINST THE DARKNESS

Flying in an airplane at night, and looking out the window, I am struck by the profound darkness that envelopes the Earth. Yet, in the midst of the darkness are pinpricks of light; homes, businesses, and places of worship, that pierce the darkness and provide a sharp contrast  to their surroundings. Some of the lights are clustered together in small luminous communities, and in some places the lights are so numerous, and the glow so great, as to virtually prevail against the pressing darkness.

Churches, yours and others, are like those pinpricks of light, placed in the midst of the darkness by the hand of God. Your church exists to pierce the darkness, poke holes in it, push it back, to prevail against it; doing what Christ, commissions, equips, empowers, and expects the church to do.  Needed are churches that will not stand for evil, but rather stand against it, communities of faith not holed up inside their holy fortresses, holding out until Christ returns, but holding forth the word of God like a beacon in the darkness. Prevailing churches don’t wring their hands in frustration, or shrug their shoulders with indifference. Instead, prevailing churches faithfully resist the forces of darkness, and rescue the perishing in the name of Jesus.

But, how does a church become a prevailing church? Whether newly planted or long established, a church shines in the darkness with the same basic elements. Building a church that prevail against the darkness is not easy, but it is basic as 1-2-3.  There is one prevailing promise, two prevailing priorities, and three prevailing principles that are key in building a prevailing church. Lets deal first with the one prevailing promise.

The experts have much to say about church growth, the life cycle of churches, and why and how they die. While no expert, I have for 35 years, studied, observed, and experienced church growth and non-growth. I love celebrating with churches that are reaping a harvest of souls, and experiencing a season of divine blessing. But, I am also familiar with the plight of plateaued and failing churches. I strategize and sympathize with churches, stuck in a downward spiral, and numerical free fall. I ache with pastors who hear, and vaguely understand, that the church they serve will probably never turnaround unless they are replaced. While human expertise is of value, and experience can be a wonderful teacher, I most of all want to hear from the word of God. Is there any hope for the failing church? What does the Bible say about prevailing churches?

Of course, the Bible has much to say about the church, but there is one overriding statement, a soaring promise, that glows brighter than all others for the church. The promise is simple but powerful; THERE IS VICTORY IN JESUS! Jesus said, “…I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). What hope! What a help! What encouragement for the church! The church belongs to Jesus. He is its foundation, founder, architect, cornerstone, and builder. Jesus, who gave sight to the blind, healing to the leper, legs to the paralytic, sanity to the maniac, life to the dead, and new life to those who trust Him, promises that His church will prevail against the darkness.

“Hound and Bear” was a book we often read to our children when they were young.  The hound was a mischievous, and silly character, while his good friend Bear was gentle, serious, and sensible. One day Hound decided to play a trick on Bear. When Bear went to sleep in his little house, Hound painted the bedroom window black. The sun was shining brightly when Bear woke up the next morning and looked out the window, but all he saw was the blackness. Thinking it was still nighttime Bear went back to sleep. After a while Bear became hungry, but because of the darkness he believed it was only 12 o’clock midnight instead of noon. Bear went back to bed and slept all day and the next night. The following morning Hound knocked on the door, and laughingly revealed the trick he had played on Bear.

Satan, too, is into tricks. But his schemes are no laughing matter. Satan has painted all the windows of the world black so no one can see the light. Without the light of the gospel, people exist in darkness, wasting their lives, ignorant of blessings of God. But we have the great promise of Jesus that Satan’s schemes will not prevail. The Lord has given the church the keys of the kingdom, with which we are to bind the darkness, and loose the light (Matt 16:19). If by faith, we trust Jesus to build the church, believe in His promise, follow His plan, and depend on His power, the church will prevail against the darkness of evil and the designs of the enemy. THERE IS VICTORY IN JESUS!

Part 2 will deal with 2 prevailing priorities of the church.

THE EYES HAVE IT……………by Robert Beike

“Peter, along with John, looked at him intently…” (Acts 2:4)

     What you see is what you get passionate about. Needs that are unnoticed tend to stay unmet. That is why Jesus told His disciples, including Peter and John, “Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest” (John 4:35 HCSB). Scientists estimate that the human eye is capable of seeing a light from a candle twenty miles away on a clear night. Even more remarkable is the ability to see, with God-given perception, real human need around us.

     Unfortunately, some form of people blindness afflicts most of us, skewing our ability to see as God designed. Prejudice and bias cloud our spiritual vision like physical cataracts. Near-sightedness prevents our seeing those who are culturally or ethnically distant, while far-sightedness causes us to overlook those on our own doorstep. And because of spiritual tunnel vision, people on the periphery of society are marginalized or missed altogether. Obviously, to really see with Christ-like perception we need corrective lenses. As Peter and John approached the temple in Jerusalem they saw this lame beggar clearly, for perhaps the first time, through lenses corrected by the Holy Spirit and polished through regular prayer and worship.

     Every opportunity to make a difference begins with a problem. Vision for ministry is often birthed from a desire to see what is become what must and should be. “Peter, along with John, looked at him intently.” They fixed their attention on this broken man, in the shadow of the beauty of God’s temple, and knew something needed to be different.

     Apart from God, all humanity is spiritually lame, and are pitiful beggars. Suffering from the debilitating condition of sinfulness, they are helpless, and hopeless, trapped in a desperate existence of unfulfilled potential, and undiscovered purpose. Clearly, something needs to be different. Go ahead, look around you–intently.

 

5-G Evangelism Connection

Likely, you are familiar with 4G networks, the latest and fastest way to communicate electronically. But, you may be unaware of the 5G evangelism connection, the most effective way to communicate the gospel. 5G evangelism involves:

1.GODLY PRESENCE

A godly presence is the necessary foundation and framework of evangelism. There is no substitute for “being there,” connecting with people where they are–where they live, work, and play. Jesus provided our pattern when He became flesh and dwelt among us. Now, He has sent us to flesh out the great commission among others. Being missional requires an incarnational, relational, and sacrificial presence. Christians must be good news as well as share the good news. The Christian life is a daily show and tell experience, in which good works must be a normal and vital part.

2.GROUNDED PROCLAMATION

If a godly presence is the foundation and framework of evangelism, proclaiming the gospel is like doors and windows. The sinless life of Jesus, His sacrificial death, certain resurrection, and gracious offer of salvation, is like light shining into a dark room, and provides the way of entrance into God’s eternal family.

Proclaiming the way of salvation, whether verbal, written, sung, or signed, must be grounded in Scriptural authority. Our witness must align with God’s Word. It is the truth that sets people free, not wishful thinking, or worldly opinion. But, our proclamation should also be grounded in cultural sensitivity. When properly understood, culture offers common ground and a conduit for the good news of God’s life changing love.

3.GRACIOUS PERSUASION

Often, a person is unresponsive to a straightforward, and heartfelt gospel presentation. Prevailing spiritual blindness, and a cultural hostility toward Christianity usually requires a persuasive element of evangelism.

Persuasion sounds like arm-twisting, but gracious persuasion is a Christ-like way of leading someone out of darkness and into the light. The Apostle Paul exerted great time and energy persuading Jews, Gentiles, governors, kings, and queens to receive Christ. With speech seasoned with salt, and lives reflecting the light of Christ, we can persuade others to cross the line from death to life. Just as a beggar who has found bread persuades another beggar that it is true, we can convince someone to act on the truth.

4.GOD’S PROVIDENCE

Lest we think evangelism is all about us, God’s providence is the one indispensable key to the process. God removes the scales of spiritual blindness, and readies human hearts for the gospel seed. a sovereign God providentially connects those needing the gospel with those willing to share it.

Winning the world to Christ is a spiritual enterprise, and is possible only when Spirit-filled believers on mission for God learn to trust and obey Him completely.

5.GATEWAY PRAYER

Since evangelism is the work and mission of God, we look to Him for the means to succeed as evangelists. Prayer is the gateway to advancing the kingdom of God. Fervent and faithful prayer reduces strongholds, removes obstacles, and releases those held captive by the enemy. A blanket of prayer can warm a person or people group to the gospel. Persistent prayer can open closed doors and closed minds. Prayer produces boldness in the witness and brings power to the witnessing process.

Gateway prayer asks for God’s blessings, seeks God’s guidance and timing, and knocks on heaven’s door for divine resources necessary for eternal and supernatural transformation of souls and communities.

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