Was It The Spirit?

I often ask in prayer that God would open my eyes to the powerful works He is doing in my community. I often ask that I would be able to discern where the Spirit of God is moving. I often ask that God would allow me to see the power of the Spirit at work through me.

These are prayers I believe God loves to answer.

There are things in my life that have happened that can’t be explained without the Lord’s involvement. The moments when I’ve been lonely and have been reminded through a song on the radio that God is with me. The moments when I’ve been fighting to move forward in my faith and a friend on the other side of the country has called me at just the right time. The moments when the same theme has exploded off the page in times of personal devotion and study of God’s Word. The moments when I have counseled a fellow believer and knew what to say to encourage and strengthen their soul.

These may seem like ordinary moments in ordinary days, mere coincidences; but to me, they are clear experiences of the Spirit of God at work in my life.

This very topic has come up in my life a lot this past week. Through conversations at Pizza Hut with a friend and personal study at home, I have thought a lot about the work of the Spirit. When it comes to the work of the Holy Spirit in our communities, I’ve come to be reminded of this truth:

What God does, lasts.

For, “all people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you. – 1 Peter 1:24-25

Anything less than a true movement of God in an individual, family, or community will ultimately be shown for what it is, a fraud.

Now let me just be transparent. I’m a skeptic. I’m a doubter. When we see the perceived movements of God at youth camps or my church’s Disciple Nows, I get pumped, but there’s also a nagging doubt. Was this really the Lord, or was it just the emotional pull of that dope bass line? I mean, we’ve all been there. We have responded to the emotions of a moment and we have all made audacious goals. I can’t tell you how many times at Super Summer I made audacious goals to read the Bible in a month or pray an hour every morning. I was moved in the moment. It didn’t last though.

Now I’m not saying that those desires to get into God’s Word and prayer were not from God. The Scriptures make clear that He draws us deeper into relationship with Him. What I’m saying is that my heartfelt proclamations of change most oftentimes boiled down to one thing:

Boredom.

That’s it.

I was bored by my average, run-of-the-mill, ordinary, Christian walk. I was bored and pained by fighting the battle against the same sins day after day, month after month. So summer camps and other mountaintop experiences gave me the chance to try and start out on a new path, one not beset with the harsh realities of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

And I believe that if we were to take down our walls for a moment of brutal honesty, most “movements of God” were nothing more than us trying to manufacture change in an instant.

So, by all means, I pray for revival. I pray that God shows up in amazing and mighty ways in Vernon, TX. I pray that He shows up in amazing and mighty ways all over the world. When a movement of God seems to be hitting a community though, I tend to wait. I wait to see if it lasts.

Consider Gamaliel in the book of Acts. In Chapter five, he tells people to leave the Christians alone. For if it is a man-made movement, it will not last. If it is from God, then there is nothing they can do to stop it.

Or consider how In 2 Kings, we see some of the craziest examples of God’s Spirit at work in the world. Like in the first chapter there is fire falling from heaven to show that the Lord is living. I’ve been reading 2 Kings as part of my personal devotion time, and I have been praying that God would remind me that His Spirit is in me, and that God would do great things in and through me. As I came to chapter two though, I was reminded again of the truth.

Check this out.

The people of the city said to Elisha, “Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive.” “Bring me a new bowl, he said, “and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. Then he went out to the spring and threw salt into it, saying, “This is what the LORD says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make this land unproductive.’ And the water has remained pure to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken. – 2 Kings 2:19-22

Think about this. Elisha, a prophet of God, comes to a town that had bad water. Elisha says with boldness, “This is what the Lord says: I have healed this water.” Now that’s an audacious claim. Elisha is speaking on behalf of God! A man speaking on behalf of God! Now, I get nervous when people claim to speak on God’s behalf. There is a difference in our modern era between re-proclaiming what God has said in His Word, and actually claiming to be a conduit from God. Yet Elisha says that the Lord said He wouldheal the water.

Do you want to know how I know that the Lord truly did move?

Look at that bold part of the passage.

At the time 2 Kings was written, the water was pure. What God did, lasted. That’s how you can tell when God moves. Did the fruit last? Is the water still pure?

It breaks my heart to acknowledge that through the years many students who I have seen make bold audacious claims of allegiance to God have no desire to follow Him anymore. I believe that seeds were planted. But like the parable, thorns came and choked the sprouts.

So when I hear lots of emotional excitement about some supposed movement of the Lord, I wait to see the fruit. I wait to see it in my own life, and in our communities.

Let me again be clear. I pray, I plead, I beg for God to move. I just have a different opinion than most on how that will happen. For me, there’s no bells and whistles. We combat sin, speak the truth of God’s Word, and invest relationally. There’s often no hype associated with it. Sometimes I wish there were. Yet when I see a student, over time grow increasingly more and more in love with Jesus and less and less captive to besetting sins, it’s in those moments that my eyes are opened to seeing God move. Yes, He can save my entire community in an instant if He so wished, but it’s in the day to day ‘coincidences’ that I see Him at work.

I see the fruit.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

 

His Kingdom Comes Through Prayer

I want to see God’s kingdom break through in my community. I’m not alone in this. I hope and wait and strive and serve and lead and hope some more. I see moments where God does beautifully amazing things (just last night we had seventeen students in our home for a student Bible study), but my thirst for more of God’s wonderful works in our community is not yet quenched.

You might have noticed a word missing from my list.

Pray.

It’s frustrating to notice in my own life a lack of prayer when it comes to wanting to see revival take off. I pray quite a bit in popcorn-style, brief, one sentence moments throughout my day. However it’s harder to get alone and get on my knees in order to ask and plead for the Lord to do a great work in my community.

God continues to lovingly call me into a deeper personal and private prayer life.

For the summer I’ve been taking my students on Sunday mornings through the “I Am” statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John. This has been a refreshing and encouraging season for me, as I study these, and I’ve come to notice a lot of what the Bible says about praying for His Kingdom to come on earth.

There are some pretty unbelievable promises in Scripture when it comes to the prayers of those who follow Christ. Consider this small sampling.

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. – John 14:13-14

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. – John 15:7

Okay, let’s be real. If we were to truly take these promises to heart, we would never miss a day of prayerful pleading before the throne. These verses are astounding.

These verses are NOT saying that if I hit God up for a Ferrari and a million dollars in cash, it’ll be waiting for me when I get home today. That being said, unfortunately verses like these have been twisted to be about the prosperity of the believer. So you hear guys say that if we have enough faith, then God will give us whatever we ask. We will be healthy, rich, and wise. We won’t have any problems whatsoever, and if we do, we simply don’t have enough faith because these verses teach us that we can get whatever we want from God. This is a vile heresy that is founded on what to me is the greatest problem we face in our modern church, Biblical illiteracy. If we read our Bibles well and often, we would see how this prosperity gospel is so opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and how the Bible refutes it in page after page (take for example the fact that the people of God, who had not abandoned God, were enslaved for 400 years by Egypt in the book of Exodus. I guess they just didn’t have enough faith).

Anyway, there’s a clear caveat on these promises of God. Jesus says that the Father will be glorified in the Son through the answering of our prayers which are said in the name of Jesus. For me to pray for a Ferrari and a million bucks is not really in the name of Jesus, nor would the answering of those selfish and audacious prayers bring glory to God.

So these verses teach us that God promises to answer those prayers of ours that ultimately glorify Him. He is sovereign, and He knows what is best for us. So sometimes He chooses to not answer our prayers the way we want or in the timetable we prefer. But if our prayers glorify Him, He will answer them. How beautiful is that.

With these verses fresh on my mind, I studied Acts chapter one last Friday with one of my best friends and fellow staff members here at the church. While I learned a whole lot through our conversation about the chapter, I found myself starkly reminded yet again of the necessity of prayer.

All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers. – Acts 1:14 

Jesus had ascended at this point, and all He had left His followers with was a promise that He would send His Spirit to them. While they waited on this ambiguous and confusing promise, they prayed together. They devoted themselves to prayer. In the following chapter, the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit, showed up and revival was born. Prayer was the prerequisite for revival. Now I do not know what exactly they were praying for while they waited, but they prayed all the same.

We have a great number of people who carer about our community and want to see God do immeasurably more than all we could imagine. But when we make it about our strength, our work, our service, our desires, our dreams, our glory, then maybe we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot.

What if our community is poised for the gospel to flow into every home, and it is our prayerlessness that is hindering it, because we’re not making our desires about God’s glory?

Now, God can move however He wills and desires, but this question plaques me regularly.

What if we got on our knees. Not for God to bow to our desires but rather for us to beg God to bring His desires for Vernon to fruition.

Wherever you may be reading this blog, what f you got on your knees daily for your community as well?

I am prone to make audacious commitments, but I am going to strive to make it a point to pray a few times a week for God’s Kingdom to spread in my home. If we pray for gospel growth, truly believing that God is able to answer our prayers, then we may just see more miraculous things come about in the place where we call home.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach