The Will and Power of God

Isaiah 55:11(NKJV) 11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Today we continue our study of the biblical idea of promise and how it can affect us and the city in which we live. It is important to remember that a promise of God is simply the Word of God that has been spoken to us personally. There is much that we will look at during this week however, I want to begin with an insight that I believe will help you. The promise of God is the will of God for your life and it contains the power of God to bring itself to pass.

Today’s verse is from one of my favorite sections of scripture. It speaks of God’s thoughts and ways. It tells us they are higher than our thoughts and ways. I have heard this quoted to say that we just cannot know what God will do. However, if we read verses 8-11 of Isaiah 55, we find that it is saying exactly the opposite. God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours are but that does not mean we are unable to understand them. It says in verse 10 and 11 that as rain and snow come to the earth to bring forth fruit, God sent his word to the earth to bring forth fruit in our lives. We can know God’s thoughts and God’s ways by his word. That is why he wrote it in a book and sent it to the earth.

If we have a desire to know God’s thoughts and God’s ways, we must accept God’s word as just that. It is God’s word. It is the revelation to man of God’s thoughts and ways. If we do not accept his word as truth, we will never know God’s ways. We cannot know God’s thoughts or ways through man’s wisdom. We must accept the Word of God as first and final authority and absolutely correct. When we do, we will know His thoughts and his ways as they apply to our life.

Once we accept that the Word of God is absolute truth, we can see it as a promise in our lives that can change everything. We see two things about God’s word, his promise, in verse 11. First, God sends his word with a purpose. God wants his word to do something for us. God’s word is a revelation of his will. That means that when we find a promise in the Word of God it is the will of God for our lives.

We read in the word how Paul promised the church at Philippi that God would meet their need because they had given to meet Paul’s. We might say that this is a promise to the Philippians not to us. However, when the Lord thought enough of Paul’s letter to put it in the bible it became a message to every believer. In the case of the Philippians, we know they gave to Paul’s ministry. When it became a message to all believers, the promise is simply, “If you give to the gospel, you can trust God to meet your needs.” It is no longer a promise from Paul to the Philippians but a promise from God the Father to every Christian who gives in support of the gospel. If this were not the case, God would not have allowed Paul’s statement into his word.

If we apply Isaiah 55:11 to this word that God has sent forth in the earth we must ask ourselves what purpose God intends for it to produce. The answer can only be that it is God’s will to meet the needs of every believer that gives to the Gospel. When I apply that thought to my life, I must conclude that since I have given to the support of the gospel all over the world, it is God’s will to meet my financial needs. It is not God’s will for me to go without the things I need. It is not God’s will for me to struggle financially. I may not have all the money I would like to have, but I have a promise that somehow God will meet my needs.

Why is this so important? It is important because we will never have faith for something if we are not sure if it is what God wants for us. The devil will use any voice he can to convince us that the promise of God does not apply to us. He will say, “It might not be God’s will to meet that need. He may want to teach you something. He may be punishing you for that sin you committed. You can’t really be sure if it is God’s will to meet your need.”

Satan is by nature a liar and a deceiver. He is very good at this. Let us examine his argument. First, God may indeed want to teach you something. You may have to learn some things in order for God to meet your need. You also may have some sin in your life. That sin may be keeping God from moving to meet your need. However, neither of those things changes the fact that it is God’s will to meet your need.

If you need to learn something, God is there to teach you. Learn what needs to be learned. The devil wants you to sit there and complain about how God will not meet your need because he is trying to teach you something. If you give in to that thinking your need will go unmet and you will not learn what you need to learn.

If there is a sin in your life, repent of it. Get your life straight with God. The devil wants you to think it is unfair that God does not want to meet your need because of sin. The lie is that God does want to meet your need. It is sin, which comes from the devil that is hindering him.

In both cases, it is still God’s will to meet your need. The fact that God has given you a promise says it is his will. He is bringing conviction of the sin because it is his will to meet the need. Once you repent of the sin, the Lord will meet the need. God is trying to teach this thing to you so he can meet your current need and any similar need in the future. It is God’s will to meet the need. That is what is important. Learn what you need to learn so he can do just that.

The second thing we learn from Isaiah 55:11 is that the power to meet the need is contained in the promise itself. God says his word will accomplish what he sent it to do. That means it must have the power within it to get the job done. If I choose to believe the promise and do my best to act on that promise, the power to bring it to pass will come from God.

These two thoughts are very powerful if we grasp them. Any promise I read in the bible is the will of God. There may be conditions. I may need to learn something or even repent of sin, but the promise is what God wants for my life. Learning and repentance are within my power. Meeting the need may not be, but it is in God’s power and his promise tells me it is his will.

Once I do my part, the power of God is contained in the promise itself to bring it to pass. We do not have to work up the power. We do not have to provide the power. We do not even have to convince God to pour out the power. It is contained in the promise itself. All we have to do is believe the promise.

Find a promise in the Bible. Any promise will do. The bible is full of them and they speak to any need a person can have. Whatever area the promise speaks to, that is the will of God for you in that area. If it says, “By his stripes you were healed.”, that is God’s will for you where healing is concerned. If it says that Jesus gave you his joy and the world cannot take it away, then joy is God’s will for your life.

All the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ Jesus. All the promises of God are the will of God for your life if you are born again. The power of God resides in each one to produce itself in your life. Receive them today. Believe them today. God will go to work immediately to bring that promise into your life.

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More than Conquerors Because our Champion Conquered

1 Samuel 17:37(NKJV) 37Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

(This week we are privileged to have Dr. Eldon Wilson with us for 3 days. Here are some thoughts about his messages.)

I love the story of David and Goliath. I have preached on it from many different perspectives. I want to share another one with you today. Many times, we look at this story with Goliath in the role of our problems and we play the role of David. We can overcome the giant in our lives just as David overcame the giant that faced him. I believe this is perfectly valid and we can receive great encouragement from looking at the story this way. However, to understand David fully in scripture we must remember that he is primarily a type of Jesus, not of the believer. If we look at this story with this in mind, we can learn even more that will help us walk in victory.

Most of us know the story of David and Goliath. The armies of Israel and Philistia are facing one another. They each occupy high ground and neither wants to abandon this advantage to fight the battle. Philistia proposes a solution to the stalemate. One of their number, Goliath of Gath, comes out in front of his army and issues a challenge.

1 Samuel 17:8-10(NKJV) 8Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”

Israel was afraid of this challenge. The problem was that Goliath was a giant. Some say he was up to 9 feet tall. Even by NBA standards that is huge. If you read the description of his size and weaponry in verses 4 through 7 it was very intimidating. It was a simple enough request. Let one man fight me and we will settle the whole war. No one else needs to die. However, no one in the Israeli army including Saul believed he had even a slim chance against this monster. To risk the future of the nation this way was unthinkable. This went on daily for forty days. The two armies held their respective positions and Israel looked like cowards for not taking the challenge.

Into this setting walks a teenage boy named David. He is there to bring some supplies from home to his older brothers who were soldiers in Saul’s army. David arrives as the armies are proceeding out to the battle lines for the day. They are all in battle gear, the philistines on their hill and Israel on theirs. Verse 20 says, “the army was going out to the fight and shouting for the battle.” David expects to see a major battle but before it can begin, Goliath comes out and makes his daily challenge.

David looks around wondering who is going to go out against the giant. Surely, King Saul, who was head and shoulders above every other soldier in the army, would champion Israel. On the other hand, this was just an uncircumcised philistine. It probably would not take someone as important and powerful as the King. Any soldier of Israel could defeat this philistine.

As David looks around no one steps forward. Instead, the army disperses back into their camp. The philistines cry out in derision at the fear of the Israelites. David hears the soldiers talking about how big and powerful this philistine was and what Saul had promised to anyone who could defeat him. David’s ears perk up and he asks them to repeat what the reward would be.

David’s older brother begins to rebuke him. “You’re just a boy. What do you care? You’re just trying to get a look at the battle. Go home where you belong.” David’s answer was twofold. First, he says, “I’m not doing anything wrong.” He knew his brother was embarrassed because he was not going out to fight Goliath. Second, he says, “Is there not a cause to fight for.”

In these words, he is really saying two things. There is a reason to go out against the giant and this reason is backed by God. This Giant was standing in the way of the will of God. Since they were fighting for God’s reasons, they could expect God’s intervention. David saw this battle from a completely different perspective than everyone else including Saul.

The King calls David and listens to what he has to say. Then he does something very strange. He accepts David as the champion for Israel against Goliath. Remember the stakes here. If David goes against Goliath and loses, Israel is supposed to lay down their arms and serve Philistia. If you look at David and Goliath in the flesh, David has no chance. Saul represents the strength of the flesh in the scripture. Saul knows the flesh cannot defeat this giant. There was something in what David said that convinced Saul that the whole fate of his Kingdom was safe n David’s hands. What was it.

It was his staff. We know that the shepherd’s staff was a tool for the care of sheep, but it was more than that. The shepherd also used his staff as a type of diary. He carved on it all the exploits he had done. David undoubtedly showed his staff to Saul when he told him how God had delivered him from the Lion and the bear. Saul knew David could not do those things in the flesh. Something greater was working for this young man.

We all know the rest of the story. David goes out o face Goliath. He declares that Goliath’s giant weapons were no match for the power of God. He defeats Goliath, takes his head and displays it before the enemy. Israel attacks the philistine army and wins a great victory.

What does that have to do with us and taking our city for God? David is a type of Christ. The Israelites won their battle because they knew that their champion had defeated the best the enemy had to offer. Jesus is our champion. He defeated our enemy. The bible says he made an “open show” of him. (Col. 2:15) Because of the victory of our Champion Jesus, we have victory over the enemy of our city. We have already won the war because Jesus won the most important battle.

Look at what Paul says in Romans 8.

Romans 8:37(NKJV) 37Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

We are more than Conquerors through him who loved us. Our champion, because of his great love for us, defeated the champion of all that stands against us. Because of that, we are more than conquerors. This term means we win overwhelming victories through our Champion Jesus Christ who is our strength.

David could not use Saul’s armor of the flesh. He used the weapons of his testimony. He used the weapons of the spirit that had served him against the lion and the bear. You and I cannot depend on the weapons of the flesh either. We must lean on the weapons of our testimony. We must lean on the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Those are the weapons that won our salvation and with them we can take down any giant and free the souls bound by him in our city.

What is the Tabernacle of David 2

Amos 9:11-12(NKJV) 11 “On that day I will raise up The £tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old; 12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” Says the Lord who does this thing

(This week we are privileged to have Dr. Eldon Wilson with us for 3 days. Here are some thoughts about his messages.)

Yesterday we began looking at these verses from Amos as quoted in Acts 15:12-17. The context in Acts is a dispute about who can be a Christian and what conditions they must fulfill. The conclusion of the apostles was that God had called all people to relationship with him in Christ and that it was not necessary for them to observe the Jewish law or tradition. In other words, the way to the Lord is open to all people at all times

However, in recent times the term “tabernacle of David” has been applied to the restoration of praise and worship in the body of Christ. There is no doubt that there has been a surge in the quantity and quality of worship in the church over the last 3 decades. I am part of a generation that majored in the experience of praise and worship in our Christian walk. I believe it is an important element in releasing a great latter day harvest of souls in the earth. However, this is not what the bible is speaking of when it refers to the tabernacle of David.

Today, I see an increasing emphasis on music styles and how well musicians play and sing in our teaching on praise and worship. There are seminars on how to write songs, instrument techniques, sound and many other technical aspects of praise and worship. How to praise and worship has become very important. There is nothing wrong with this if we understand the place “how” holds in the praise and worship. However, when “how” becomes the focus we have a problem.

How always excludes someone. Let me explain. If we define quality praise and worship by how well the music is played or sung, we exclude those who do not play or sing so well. You may say, “We are just talking about the platform and those called to music ministry.” That is true and I have been one of those people for more than 35 years. Certainly, we want those on the platform to have some ability and to strive for excellence. What we must understand is that musical excellence is not the point of praise and worship. The worship team has one major responsibility. That is to bring the people of God into the presence of God.

How well we play or sing can enhance that process. If we play or sing poorly, it can hinder the process, but if our heart is not right it does not matter how well we play or sing, we will not enter the presence of God.

Psalms 24:3-4(NKJV) 3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.

When it comes to music ministry, we should do our best to play and sing skillfully, but we should place the priority on our heart and our lifestyle. Many local churches do not have great musicians, but that does not need to hinder our praise and worship. If it does, the emphasis is in the wrong place. It does not matter how well we play if we truly worship God with our whole heart, we can come into his presence. We may make a “joyful noise”, but to the Lord it is beautiful when it comes from our heart.

This emphasis on quality praise and worship is often referred to as restoring the Tabernacle of David. That is not what the tabernacle of David is. Yesterday we looked at 2 Samuel 6. It is here that we learn of the tabernacle of David.

This term refers to the tent David set up in Jerusalem when he first brought the Ark of the Covenant, the presence of God, to the city. This was not like the Tabernacle of Moses that housed the Ark in the wilderness. There was no wall surrounding this tabernacle. There was no gate to enter. There was no courtyard, Holy Place or Holy of Holies. David’s tabernacle was a simple tent open on one side. Anyone who wanted to could come and see the Ark. There was no priest between the people and God’s presence. It was open to all.

The Tabernacle of Moses was very different. The Mosaic system was different. The Ark was in an inner room of the tabernacle called the Holy of Holies. A wall that kept everyone out surrounded the tabernacle itself. Many were never allowed to enter the place where God’s presence dwelt. Women were not allowed to enter into the tabernacle at any time. Children were also excluded from this holy place. No one who was not ritually clean could enter the tabernacle. The rules for what was clean or not clean were extensive.

If you met all the other qualifications, you still could not enter unless you had the proper sacrifice. The sacrifice had to meet specific criterion or it did not qualify. There were priests whose job was to make sure no one who was not qualified entered the presence of God. Even when all requirements were met, the common man could not go all the way into the presence of God. Only the high priest could go there once a year.

The difference between David’s tabernacle and Moses’ tabernacle is obvious. Moses Tabernacle was the system required by the Old Covenant. David’s tabernacle did not follow that system. It was open to all. There was one sacrifice offered at the opening of this tabernacle, but that was the only sacrifice offered via David’s tabernacle. Once that was done the presence of God was available to anyone who chose to come.

The tabernacle of David was only a temporary thing. The tabernacle of Moses was in another city. David had rescued the Ark and wanted the presence of God in Jerusalem. This temporary open tent was only to house the presence of God until the Temple was built in Jerusalem. Once that happened the presence of God was once again hidden behind walls, priests, offerings and ritual.

Amos speaks of a day when David’s tabernacle would be restored and, as a result, God would draw people from all nations. The Apostles in Acts 15 recognize that the tabernacle of David had indeed been restored in their day. What was this tabernacle? It was the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Tabernacle of David is the Body of Christ made up of all those who believe in Jesus Christ. The Tabernacle of David is the “new and living way” into the presence of God purchased by the blood of Jesus. (Heb. 10:20)

It is salvation in Christ that once again opens the presence of God to all people. There is no priest standing between you and the presence of God. There is no sacrifice to bring because the blood of Jesus has paid the price for all people. There is no wall to keep us out. The veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the world was torn from the top to the bottom indicating that the way into God’s presence was now open to all who wanted come.

Because this tabernacle has been restored people of all race and nationality are free to come into relationship with the Father God through Christ Jesus. Thank God for the restoration of this tabernacle. Does this have anything at all to do with praise and worship? I believe it does, but not what we have been teaching.

The praise and worship in the tabernacle of David has nothing to do with how. The tabernacle of Moses had strict rules as to how you had to come. The tabernacle of David says come because you are grateful. Come because you love the Lord. Come because Jesus opened the way. You may sing beautifully or make a joyful noise. It makes no difference. You may sing the newest praise song or the oldest hymn. That is irrelevant. You may have an orchestra or, as I have witnessed in Africa and India, a simple drum and it will make no difference. Praise and worship in the Tabernacle of David is not about “how.” Praise and worship in the tabernacle of David is all about why! Why is the love of God and his free gift of salvation in Christ Jesus.

What is the Tabernacle of David?

Acts 15:12-17(NKJV) 12Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. 13And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: 14Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: 16 ‘After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; 17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things.’

(This week we are privileged to have Dr. Eldon Wilson with us for 3 days. Here are some thoughts about his messages.)

In these verses, there is dispute addressed by the leadership of the church concerning the need for gentile believers to be circumcised once they receive salvation. Both Peter and Paul address the issue by testifying that God accepted the gentiles as they were. Peter cites his experience at the home of Cornelius, a Roman, when God filled the gentiles there with the Holy Spirit. If God would fill people with the Holy Spirit who were uncircumcised, surly the Jewish believers should not require it either.

The conclusion put forth by James, the pastor of the Jerusalem church, was that God had opened the door of salvation to all people and he quoted an Old Testament prophecy from Amos chapter 9. We read that prophecy in verses 16 and 17 above. In it the Lord speaks of the rebuilding the Tabernacle of David. Just what is the Tabernacle of David?

In 2 Samuel 6 we find the story of David bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. We know that David tried to bring it to the city on a cart, but this was not the way God had commanded the Ark to be carried. After a man named Uzzah was killed trying to keep the Ark steady on the cart, David left with another man, Obed-Edom. When David heard that God blessed Obed-Edom’s house by the Ark’s presence, he went and this time carried to the city on the shoulders of the priests as God had said it should be carried.

We read in this chapter about David’s dancing before the Ark as they came to Jerusalem. We know that David was so exuberant in his praise that it offended his wife. We also know that David told her that he would be even more extreme in worship because God was so deserving of praise. He did not care what she thought or what any person thought. David praised God with all his might.

He put the Ark in a tent prepared for it. This was not the Tabernacle built by Moses. That was in another part of the country. This tent, which was open to all people, was what we call the Tabernacle of David. Today we tend to use this term to speak of Praise and Worship. It has become quite popular to say that the prophecy quoted above from the book of Amos is speaking of the establishment of true worship in the church of Jesus Christ. However, is that what the Tabernacle of David really represents?

Of course, we identify David with praise and worship. In David’s epitaph, God calls him the “sweet psalmist of Israel.” (2 Samuel 23:1) He is famous for singing, playing his instrument and writing words of praise and worship that we sing to this day. It is natural that we would gravitate toward this aspect of David’s life when we see the term “tabernacle of David.” However, that is not the significance of the tent David pitched for the Ark of the Covenant.

Because of the thought that the tabernacle of David represents a certain type or level of worship, the teachings on this tabernacle have done exactly the opposite of what David intended when he brought the ark there to begin with. I believe praise and worship have a pivotal role in the life of any believer. In our church, praise and worship is the element that keys everything else that happens in the service. There is really nothing else that the Lord could not take from us if he so desired. The one thing that must be given freely to God is our honest praise and worship. It is very valuable to him.

However, we are a society that has put music and musical forms in a place that they really should not occupy. We have a musical competition on television that we chose to call “American Idol.” We do not call it “American Musician” or “American Singer.” We know that the best, or at least the most popular, musicians and singers among us take on idol status in our society. This is not something to be proud of. It reflects a real problem in our attitude toward music.

This attitude has found its way into the church as well. We have Christian musicians who have gained the “idol” status. We exalt them for their talent, but sometimes we find that their lifestyle does not warrant our devotion. By elevating their talent, we endanger their personal growth and character. We do not want to hear that they are less than perfect. They are great musicians. That should be enough. When one of our “Christian idols” falls into sin, one of two things will happen.

We may be devastated that one of our heroes is not all we expected. Some will follow them into the same sin. More troubling is that they are often excused and not held accountable for their sin. Talent or ability becomes a substitute for character and holiness. God uses the former but demands the latter.

There was a time when praise and worship music was separate from Christian performance. Praise and worship was about participation and coming into the presence of God. Today, praise and worship music is big business. Unfortunately, the same attitude that surrounds other kinds of music has come into praise and worship as well. More and more we hear about how we should worship. There are seminars that tell us how to write songs, how to play them so they will be affective in stirring emotions. We have technical workshops about playing instruments and singing.

All of this is fine in its place, but some tend to think that this emphasis on the “how’s” of praise and worship is the establishment of the tabernacle of David. We quote the Prophet Amos and say that because our praise and worship is of such high quality it will produce the great end time harvest of souls as the “plowman overtakes the reaper.” (Amos 9:13) It is true that the rebuilding of the tabernacle of David in verses 11 and 12 will lead to a harvest of souls from all the earth. It is true that the plowman, or the one who prepares the earth for seed, will overtake the reaper because the seed will grow and be harvested so quickly. Jesus pointed to this in the promise for our city that we quoted last week.

John 4:35(NKJV) 35Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!

However, what is the tabernacle of David. Is it a certain skill level of praise and worship? Is it a certain type of worship? To require either means some cannot enter in. That is the antithesis of what praise and worship should be. Praise and worship is an offering that anyone must be able to give. It is an offering that the worst singer or the one who cannot keep time must be free to bring to the Lord. Types and forms exclude, but true worship includes.

In today’s verse, we see no mention of the praise and worship. In Amos, we see no mention of praise and worship. We need the tabernacle of David to be functioning in our day if we will see the harvest. The question remains. If it is not a type of praise and worship, what is the tabernacle of David? Come back tomorrow.

The Fields are White Unto Harvest

John 4:35(NKJV) 35Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!

This week we are discussing the connection between the promises of God and taking our city for Jesus. The Church of Jesus Christ has a mandate from the Lord himself to go to the whole world and make disciples of all nations. Acts 1:8 tells us we must start with Jerusalem, which signifies our local area, and progress outwardly to include the uttermost parts of the earth. For most Christians, their city will be the main focus of ministry throughout their life.

Yesterday we looked at one of the promises we can stand on to build faith to take our city. We found it in John 12.

John 12:32(NKJV) 32And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

As with anything we do by faith in God, we must take this promise. Meditate on it until faith arises in our hearts and then act on that faith. When we do, we will see the promise manifest in the natural world. This is the same whether we need to believe for some personal need or for the salvation of souls in our city. Everything in the kingdom of God works by faith in the promises of God. It seems we often forget that when it comes to evangelism.

Today let us look at another promise for our city. The first is in today’s scripture. The context of this verse is Jesus’ ministry to the Samaritan woman at the well dug by the patriarch Jacob. There is a great deal we learn about this woman as we observe Jesus minister to her, but one thing that comes through to me is her desire to find God and some answers for her life. If we look around today and take some time to talk to people, I believe we will find that many people have the same cry in their heart today.

John 4:19-20(NKJV) 19The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

Her tradition told her that you found the Lord at this well, but she had gone their every day for many years and she did not seem to meet God. She recognized that Jesus was a prophet and she knew he was a Jew. She knows his people say you have to go to Jerusalem to meet with the Lord. I hear a cry from a hurting woman who needs an answer for her life. “Where can I find a God who cares?” There are people all around us in the same condition.

The answer Jesus gave her was simple. You do not need to come to Jacob’s well or go to Jerusalem to meet the Lord. Jesus tells her, “You met him when you met me.” We can tell those today who need an answer, “I can introduce you to the one who has all the answers. His name is Jesus!” This woman’s life was transformed by this brief encounter with the Lord. There are Samaritan men, women, boys and girls all around you today who need the same transformation.

This brings us to the promise. When his disciples returned from shopping for food, they encouraged Jesus to eat. He tells them he has another kind of food that they do not yet understand. In confusion, they wonder if someone had brought Jesus some food from somewhere else. His answer is one of the promises we must believe for our city. He says to them, “The fields are white unto harvest.”

I live in upstate NY. In late August, the sweet corn crop ripens. We have many cornfields and for most of the summer, the corn is growing. In July, the plants are quite tall. You can see many acres of fields full of corn plants along our many country roads. Through early August it is evident it is getting closer to the day when the farmers will pick the corn and we will have fresh sweet corn on the table once again. We will find stands with corn from local farms for about a month and then it is done for another year.

Around the third or fourth week of August, it will begin. You will see piles of corn on roadside stands. It is there in abundance. No sooner is the stand sold out than a pickup truck comes with another load. The reason we have so much corn at that time is that the fields are ready for harvest at that time. The corn grows for a number of months but when harvest time comes, the farmer begins to reap. He does not have to wonder if he will find corn in the field. He knows he will find it. He can tell by how the field looks. He can tell because he picks a sample and can see that it is ripe. Harvest time has come and I can tell you by experience it is going to be “good eatin’” for all of us in this area!

Jesus tells his disciples, “You say the harvest is three months away, but I say the harvest is ready now.” He is not talking about corn or wheat. He is talking about souls. He is talking about the hearts of men. We tend to look at the natural to determine the time of harvest. The farmer knows when the corn is ready by what he sees. However, Jesus is telling us we cannot look to the natural to determine when the harvest of souls is ready.

When we look at the natural, we conclude that there is no harvest at all. We witness and we hear people reject the gospel and we say it must not be time. We look at society and we know that there is great need but it does not feel as though people want Jesus at all. Many in politics, the media and entertainment want God out of the equation all together. If we allow our natural mind to determine what we believe about the harvest of souls, we can expect we would say, “Either the time for the harvest has not come or it is going to be a lean year.”

What Jesus is telling us as well as he is telling his disciples is that the same rules do not apply to the harvest of souls that apply to a natural harvest. The natural brings us to the conclusion that there is no harvest or there might be a small harvest. Jesus gives us a promise to the contrary. He is speaking to his disciples in his day but his words are recorded for all ages. The promise contradicts the natural. “The fields are white unto harvest!” When a field is white, it is ripe and ready for a large harvest. That is a promise from Jesus to you concerning your city.

We need to take hold of this promise and declare it over our city. Past failures in the harvest are irrelevant. We cannot judge what our efforts to take the city will be based on what people say or what the culture seems to look like. We must go to our city knowing that, based on this promise, we are ready for a great harvest right now. He told us not to say, “It just isn’t time yet for a harvest.” He said the time for harvest is now and it is a great harvest.

We must stand on this promise. We must continue to meditate on it and confess it over our city. We must continue to act on this promise. You may say, “Pastor we tried, but there just weren’t any results.” That does not change the promise. Jesus says the fields are white. He said they are white now. We must believe his promise above all other evidence. We must continue to believe it and continue to act on it by speaking the word of God to any and all that will listen. If we do, we will see the harvest Jesus promised.

The problem is that we try, get discouraged and quit. That is why the promise is so important to the process. When we get discouraged John 4:35 will still say the same thing. When we go out and do not see the results we would like, John 4:34 will still be a promise from Jesus to us. We must go again, but go with faith in the promise. Continue to build faith by confessing and meditating on the promise. We must not let go of the promise until it comes to pass in our community. There are people whose eternity depends on our faith in these promises. We cannot let them down.

If I be Lifted Up

John 12:30-33(NKJV) 30Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33This He said, signifying by what death He would die.

The Lord has given us wonderful promises in the bible. Through faith in these promises we can obtain anything we may need in life. This week we have been looking at them from another perspective and that is how they apply to taking our city for God. To take the city simply means to win the lost and make disciples in the geographic area for which we have been given responsibility.

We know that to receive the power of God to meet personal needs we must have faith in whatever promise matches the need. If we need physical healing we need to find promises in the bible that concern physical healing, meditate on them, confess them and build them into our hearts until faith rises and healing results. That is how the kingdom of God works. However, when we think of witnessing or evangelism we seem to think the rules change. They do not.

Most of the time we believe the reason we do not see more people saved is because we have not done enough. That is certainly true. Witnessing has always been an area that is difficult for most of us. We get fearful, we try, fail, and get disappointed or we just get lazy. Knowing this is true can lead to condemnation. This may come from our own heart or from the leadership of the church. Condemnation is always a poor motivator. It makes us focus on our lack. The only way to succeed with God is to focus on his ability.

What do we need to take our city for God? What will provide both motivation and the power we need to win the lost and make disciples? We need the same thing for this task that we do for any spiritual work. We need faith. Where does faith come from? Romans 10:17 tells us. Faith comes from the Word of God generally and specifically from the promise in the Word that applies to what we need. Where can we find faith to take the city for Jesus? We find it by finding promises that apply to what we need to do. We meditate on those promises and make them a priority in our lives. We fill our heart with these promises until faith for winning the lost rises and then we act on that faith and take our city!

Today’s scripture is one of those promises. I want you to take note of the fact that Jesus speaks these words about himself. He says that if he is lifted up he will draw all people to himself. The context of this statement is a voice heard from heaven in response to a prayer Jesus prays. Jesus tells the people that the voice did not come for his benefit but for theirs. The Father wanted them to know that that they were about to enter a new era in God’s dealings with man. The statement itself is pointing to the crucifixion, but it contains a truth that carries beyond the initial act of lifting Jesus on the cross.

Jesus says that when he is lifted on the cross it will set something in motion. All people that see him in this state will be drawn to him. Once the work of the cross was accomplished, this promise remains. If he is lifted up, he will draw all people to himself. On the cross, he was displayed in humility and suffering and that act made a way for all people to be saved. If we lift up his grace and mercy by telling the world what his death burial and resurrection accomplished, all people will be drawn to him again.

I believe this is a promise for our city. If we lift Jesus up before our city, he will draw all kinds of people to himself. Jesus is irresistible to the hungry heart. If we make the real Jesus know to our city, with real faith in this promise, we will see people come to him. It is a promise.

One of the reasons we do not see this promise fulfilled is that too often the church does not lift up Jesus. We often lift up religion, church, or doctrine. There is no promise that people will be drawn to any of those things. If they are drawn to them, they will not be converts to Christ; they will be converts to those things. There are some wonderful bible principles that have changed my life. Even lifting up these principles does not contain a promise to draw men to Jesus. They may come to receive the benefit of the principle but that does not guarantee their salvation.

This promise for our city is very simple. If I want to see people come to Jesus, I need to lift him up. I need to declare who he is. I need to demonstrate his character. I need to show forth his care for people by becoming a channel for his power. I need to be like him in every way that I can. I need to show him to people with my words, my acts and my lifestyle. If I do that, people will be drawn to him.

I know that we may have tried lifting him up before and had few results or even abject failure. However, that does not change the promise. When standing by faith on a promise for our personal life, we need to let the promise become the deciding factor in what we choose to believe. We cannot allow past experience or present circumstance to decide what we believe. The promise is the Word of God. God and his word are one. God is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He is the first word and the last word in any situation. His must be the final word in determining what I believe.

I must also maintain that faith. I cannot quit when I do not see things happening the way I want them to. I have to keep believing the promise. I must confess the promise over my life. I must act on the promise in any way that I can. I must not give up until I see the manifestation of the promise in my life. The promises that apply to our city are no different. We must approach them in the same way. Jesus said if he were lifted up, he would draw all people to himself. That is a promise and we need to continue to believe it, confess it and act on it until we see it happen in the world around us.

The key to faith is the promise and the key to successfully seeing the power of God in the natural realm is faith. See your city through the eyes of faith in this promise. Ask yourself, “How can I lift Jesus up before my city. What am I doing that keeps him from being lifted up? What can I do that will let my friend, neighbor or coworker see Jesus?” That is your part. God’s part is to do the “drawing.” You cannot do the drawing and God cannot do your believing. When you do your part, God will always do his.

As you answer these questions, keep this promise in your heart. Do not answer them from the perspective of condemnation. Answer them from the perspective of faith. When we do the former, we always conclude that we are lacking. If we answer them with faith in our heart for the promise, we will be excited because we know that the answer will result in lifting up Jesus. Our faith will rest assured in the promise that when we do that, all kinds of people will be drawn to Jesus. It is a promise!

This is only one promise we can stand on for our city. Tomorrow we will look at two more. The important thing I want you to remember is that the key to winning our city is faith in these promises. Find them for yourself. Meditate on them. Go about your day confessing them over your city as you drive through it, work in it or shop in it. Think about what the promise means to your city. Let the hope that something will really change in your city rise in your heart. Faith is the substance of things we hope for. Do not let the voice of doubt and unbelief hinder you. Trust in the promise with your whole heart. Your city needs you to life up Jesus by faith. All kinds of people will be drawn to Jesus when you do.

What we Really Need to Take our City

Hebrews 11:6(NKJV) 6But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

As we began this week, we tied together the statement by Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:20 with various promises the bible says God has made to us. Paul says all the promises of God are yes and amen to those who are “in Christ Jesus.” This simply means that the answer God gives to any Christian who asks for anything promised in the bible is always yes. However, we have also been looking at our responsibility to the city. Does the bible contain promises concerning the city as well? I believe it does.

We have defined our “city” as the geographical area for which we have been given responsibility. God has spoken to us about a fifty mile radius centering in Greene, New York. For you the city may be the city in which you live or part of that city. If you live in a rural area as we do, you may find that your “city” encompasses a number of towns, villages or small cities. Whatever area God shows a church as the area and the people they must preach the gospel to is their city.

God loves you as an individual and he fills his Word with promises that apply to your personal needs. However, Christianity is not just about our personal needs. Jesus sent us into the world with a mission.

Matthew 28:19-20(NKJV) 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

The first place God calls us to to fill this commission is our city. From there he calls us to our region, our country and the world. Nevertheless, it all must begin with our city. We must take our city for the Gospel. That means we must preach the gospel to it until all who can be saved are saved. Once they receive Jesus, we must teach them to be his disciples. This assignment will not end until Jesus comes back to the earth.

Most Christians know about this assignment. They know they should do more to fulfill the great commission. Some Christians and churches try to fulfill it. They go out to the community, they speak to people at work or school or wherever they may encounter unsaved people in their daily life. They may offer to pray for people and even lay hands on the sick they encounter. Sometimes they have success and even great success. I find that more often than not they try for a time, become discouraged and quit. Christians often feel condemned because they have failed to fulfill the great commission to preach the Gospel to their city.

I know that many of us simply are too frightened and intimidated to reach out to the city. Others simply do not care enough about the city or the commission to obey it. They are so caught up in their own lives that they simply do not make the effort to reach out to those who are on their way to an eternity separated from God. Still others are dealing with such sever trials they do not feel they can reach out to anyone else. All of these conditions are real. Some are understandable and some are just disobedience, but I believe there is an element lacking that will help us overcome them all.

Over the last number of weeks I have come to realize that everything God does in us or through us is based on promise. We know that the personal promises of God unlock the power of the divine nature to meet our needs. (2 Peter 1:3-4) If we want to see the divine nature to heal our body released, we must find healing promises, meditate upon them, pray them and believe them. If we do so consistently and faithfully, we physical healing will result. The same is true of promises concerning finances, emotional wellbeing and success in any area of life. If we do not access the promises of God, we will never consistently see the power of God in our personal circumstances.

When it comes to taking our city for the Gospel, we often think all we need is to work harder or be more bold and willing to speak out. We do need those things, but if we just do them in the flesh, we will never take our city. As leaders, we sometimes get so frustrated with the people in church that we can tend to try to drive them to reach out to the lost. We chide them and even shout at them trying to get them motivated. We may be tempted to condemn the congregation for their lack of response.

Another approach to motivate the people in a local church for evanelism is to look to all kinds of programs and plans. Indeed, God will give us plans, strategies and programs, but if we think they are the answer to taking our city, we will usually be disappointed. Inviting evangelists to come to our church to hold meetings or train the people in witnessing techniques is a good thing to do and can help, but long experience convinces me that none of these things in themselves will produce a long term change in the results of our evangelistic efforts.

One element is required for success in any spiritual endeavor. Without it, it is impossible to please God and if we do not please God, we will never take our city for him. Without this one thing, we will never have the power we need to overcome the forces of darkness that bind our city. Without this force functioning in our minds and hearts we may go through the motions of fulfilling the great commission, but we will never succeed. We may get some results with plans, training or evangelists who come to preach for us, but it will not last. What is the one thing we must have to be successful in taking our city for God?

We read what we need in today’s verse. We must have faith if we are going to take the city. How can this faith come to us? Will it come because we work harder to preach the gospel? Will it come if the leaders push the people to preach the gospel? Will this faith come by criticism or condemnation? Will faith come with the latest and greatest program or even because a great minister of the Gospel comes to our city. I do not believe any of these things produce lasting faith. The bible is clear as to where faith comes from.

Romans 10:17(NKJV) 17So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Faith comes from the Word of God. More specifically, faith for anything we want to see manifested in our personal life comes from faith in a specific promise of God. Faith for healing comes from healing promises. Faith for prosperity comes from prosperity promises. Faith for peace, joy, relationships or any other thing we need comes from meditating in and believing promises from the Word of God in those areas. Why do we think it will be different when it comes to taking our city for the Lord?

Condemning ourselves for not witnessing may get us to try, but it will not produce results. We need to repent of not caring or being lazy. We need to confront the disappointments of the past where these things are concerned. All of that is true. However, what we really need to do is find what God has promised us concerning taking the city, meditate on those promises, confess them with our mouths and do whatever else we must until they produce faith for the city in our hearts. Then we must act on that faith. When we do, we will see results like never before.

God has given us some powerful promises concerning our city. If we want to have the power to win the lost in the city, we must build those promises into our lives. I believe that is the most important area in which we need to be motivated. We are going to look at some of these promises and let faith for our city rise in our hearts until we see the power of God move, the lost won to Christ and disciples for the kingdom growing strong in our churches.