Some would say we are living in the worst days of American history. I’m not sure I totally agree with that, but nonetheless, these are definitely trying times…and may even get worse. But this I know: God has not left His throne!
I recently heard one of the most timely messages I’ve ever heard, but before I share it, I want to fill in the back story. Bear with me…
Following the Passover/Easter season, the Lord drew my attention to Pentecost. Everything I read, heard and thought seemed to ultimately point to God’s giving of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church on Pentecost. I even shared some of those thoughts in a series in April (on this blog) entitled Looking Toward Pentecost.
Meanwhile, I became disillusioned with the “science” being presented regarding COVID-19. What I was seeing wasn’t matching up with what I was hearing from the “experts.”
How did this all fit together? As I wrestled it all out before the Lord, I was struck overwhelmingly by the idea that, though the pandemic was real and a certain demographic of people were losing their lives, it was also a tool Satan and the liberal left were using to strike fear in people and keep them isolated, robbing them of hope. Yet, Pentecost was a time of gathering people together and empowering them. So, I asked God to show me truth and guide me as to how to combat the evil scheme.
One night (early-May), soon after I finished the Looking Toward Pentecost series, I awoke in the middle of the night with an overwhelming sense that perhaps God wanted to pour out the Holy Spirit in a fresh and powerful way, and re-ignite the church on the upcoming Pentecost Sunday (May 31). That night, an entire study outline formalized in my mind, so over the next several days I processed and wrote the VISION 2020 study guide Coronavirus and the Emerging New World Order.
In it, I did my best to communicate what the Lord seemed to impress upon me so mightily during that late-night appointment with Him: the church needs to once again become the church! Services online were great for a season in which we had to be cautious, but it was time for believers to stop wavering in our hope, and to no longer forsake gathering together, as commanded in Hebrews 10:23-25.
I wasn’t looking for agreement or disagreement, but was simply sharing what I believed the Lord impressed upon me. However, there was backlash about violating Romans 13 orders regarding submitting to government authorities. Two problems with that: 1. the governor of Arizona (my home state) never issued orders that churches couldn’t meet, and 2. even if he had, there is a higher authority to be obeyed if/when that Authority (God Himself) guides us. God simply encouraged me as I thought about His ability to re-ignite the church and fill us afresh with the Holy Spirit. As a result, I felt compelled to share that encouragement. How thankful I am for His ability to lead.
(Note: church leadership is given authority and responsibility to make decisions regarding their specific church, so if the Lord is not leading them to do so, so be it. Also, church is not a building! It is the body of believers following the will of our Lord. The point is…when the Lord leads, do as He says! I’m happy to say, along with many believing friends, we had “church” that Pentecost weekend, though for most of us, our church buildings were not open!)
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me at the time, Pastor Jack Hibbs (Calvary Chapel Chino Hills CA) was spearheading a movement in California to get places of worship back open. As I learned in mid-May, he too was impressed by the Lord that He would do a profound work on Pentecost Sunday! Many churches in CA opened their doors that day.
This is not about anyone being right or wrong…this is about the faithfulness of God to lead, guide and direct us, and about being obedient to what God calls us to do…even when others condemn us for it!
Here is Pastor Jack’s very encouraging message to his congregation on Pentecost Sunday. He had just finished a series on the 7 churches in Revelation 2-3 and transitioned focus to CA churches, but the encouragement is for us all! Enjoy!