Emphasis in 2014

Yesterday while on a trip out of my city I was asked if I was reading and paying attention to the many prophetic words being posted on the internet during the end of 2013 and the start of 2014. My answer was no. To be honest I have not read one of what I am assuming are many predictions posted. In the past I have spent time looking through them. In the past few years I have simply avoided doing so because I see little purpose in reading them and weeding through all the typical nonsense that gets listed and blamed on the Holy Spirit.

Here’s what I believe to be the emphasis for 2014… based on two things. First, my observations during 2013 in the many places I had the honor to minister. Secondly, these are based on a basic understanding of the New Testament and specifically the words of Jesus Christ. In 2014 the emphasis will be:

1> To actually experience God’s presence and power on a regular basis – in our daily time with Him, in our assemblies during the week and on Sundays, and as we share Jesus with others. No more “going through the motion without the emotions.” No more “holding to an outward form of our religion but denying the power thereof.”

2> To bring our lifestyle and daily lives into line with what we already know. In other words, to apply the Word to our lives also that we continue to live in the world but don’t live like the world. We are to be different and live a life that is remarkably and noticeably different than those who do not know Jesus. In other words, “be doers of the Word and not hearers only.”

3> To actually become a witness for Jesus. Witnessing is not something we “do” – it is something we “are.” Jesus said, “you shall be My witnesses when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…” He did not say, ‘you will go witness.’ So letting others know we are Christ-followers is something that should arise naturally out of who we are “in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is a very important change we all need to make in 2014

4> To see the need and importance of belonging to the local church – to be connected and vitally involved in the life of the church. More than attendance on Sundays – this will mean being relationally connected to other believers in your local church. “Church” is not something extra connected to an already very active life – one more thing to squeeze in. It must become part of our life flow and the place where people come to know the “real person” and hold you accountable and responsible. In other words, learning to “be the church” and not just ‘attend church.’

5> A year when we need to see a change in our prayer life. There needs to be more “life” in the prayers we offer. Prayer needs to become a daily dynamic in our lives where we experience “times of refreshing in the presence of The Lord.” Gone will be the routine, mechanical prayer times. Instead, prayer will become something He initiates and we respond. We will “be still and know that He is God.” In that stillness we will listen and hear His voice as all born again believers are certainly able to do. Then we will respond to what we hear – praying in line with His will and His Words.

This will overflow into the life of the local church where the biblical mandate of “being a house of prayer for all nations” will become a reality. Then, we will see the closure of most “international house of prayer” para-church ministries that have flooded North America and the world doing what the local church was not doing. So, when the local church picks up its God-given mandate we will see less need for these other “houses.”

6> The emphasis in the local church and thus the life of the believer: discipleship (growing into maturity), ministry to others (reaching those outside the church), and missions (gaining a Kingdom focus and seeing the need in the world for many new church plants). This will mean that although your needs will be met by others in the church (body ministry) – your needs are no longer your or our emphasis. We have an agenda given to us by The Lord of the Church and that must take serious priority in the life and direction of the local church.

7> With the further release of apostles (and prophets) we will see the emphasis in the assembly becoming “the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry.” Thus the teaching ministry will become much more practical and applicable. This means that the teaching will become interactive – people will become involved through asking questions, discussing the material presented, and then actually applying the teaching within the context of the meeting as well as afterwards in their life in general.

The Church is entering a year when many things will need to change if we are continuing to follow the lead and move of the Holy Spirit. Of course, many Christians and even many churches will just continue “business as usual.” However, this must not stop those hungry for more of The Lord from moving forward in the things of The Lord. Be prepared to move forward regardless of the cost – and there is always a cost. Be prepared to go with God regardless of the “Red Sea” that you might have to cross and the mountains that you may need to speak to. This is a year of massive change… and many will find new life and new liberty if they will simply take up their personal cross daily and follow Jesus.

After all, this is what you signed up for when you made Jesus Lord and Savior. He said to you at that time “Follow Me…” and this is what He is still asking of us in 2014.

Resolution or Revolution

I am on the road today – 600 Km out and back during daylight hours. So, I wrote this blog yesterday as I sat quietly in my study contemplating 2014 on the first day of the new year. A year like a clean whiteboard is in front of us. And, we get to determine what is written on the board during the next 364 days.

Many will write down a few New Year’s resolutions – some might even do something with them making changes that are long overdue and that will be personal beneficial. I have made a list of things I want to see change in this new year. I don’t call them “resolutions” because, in my mind, that places them into the “wish list” category. They become part of the “it would be nice if…” list. And, then they simply don’t happen and fade quickly into the background and are soon forgotten.

My short list of “professional” and then “personal” changes were written knowing that I will need to revisit them weekly, make major changes in what I do and how I do it, as well as work first on the “personal” as these changes will form the basis or foundation for the “professional” or work changes that need to be made. I work on the simple understanding that if I always do what I have always done I will always get what I have always gotten. Poor English but true nonetheless. And, I work from the understanding that what I need is not a resolution but a real revolution in the way I see things and the way I do things.

Revolutions by their very nature are very disruptive, bring massive and permanent change, require sacrifice and a willingness to die. Revolutions are usually birthed out of a total, overwhelming dissatisfaction with what is current reality which brings a resolve to “do or die” because death is better than what you currently have that defines “life.” Revolutions require total commitment, serious focus, and a 110% investment of who you are and what you have. You must place the “cause” before personal comfort and safety.

I need a revolution and not just a few resolutions.
I believe that most Christians need to commit to a personal revolution
I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ – at least the ones I know – need a revolution.
I believe that nothing less than a revolution will impact the Church allowing it to influence and impact the part of the world in which it is located.
I believe that this is not new and is, in fact, well overdue and has been the cry of the Father’s heart for some time now.
I believe we follow the most wonderful Radical Revolutionary ever known – Jesus the Christ.
I believe it is time to sell out and do more than declare that He is Lord – it is time to follow Him and do as He has commanded and commissioned – making whatever changes are needed to do so.
I believe it is time for a revolution.

Will you join me and many others who want to make a difference – throw out those limp new year’s resolutions and stand up for what we believe and declare war against the darkness that surrounds our loved ones and the communities in which we live?

5 Christian New Year’s Resolutions For 2014

Have you made New Year’s resolutions before? Have you kept them? What ones would you like to keep in the new year of 2014?

Set the Alarm Clock 10 Minutes Earlier

I hate when I set the alarm clock with just enough time to take a shower, slam down some toast and chug a cup of coffee just before running out the door. I did that for so many years before I finally started setting the alarm clock back to 10 minutes earlier than before. Now, I get up and the first thing I do is to pray to God and spend time reading my Bible. I pray and read the Bible before I eat or even take a shower. If I don’t start my day off with this as my priority then I am showing God that my own routine takes precedence over God’s. I do not honor God when I don’t’ give him the first portion of my day. John Wesley who was the father of the Methodist church rose up every morning at four o’clock. He spent the first part of his day on his face before God prayer and in the Bible. His church grew so rapidly because he was growing so rapidly and he disciplined his body. I believe that if every Christian woke up at least 10 minutes earlier every morning and they devoted at least five minutes for prayer and five minutes for Bible reading, they would not only grow spiritually but they would also be blessed and be a blessing to others. That routine is almost certain to make your day not only more productive but also more blessed.

Memorize One Bible Verse per Week

If you’ve always wanted to memorize key Bible verses, here is a simple technique that works extremely well. Each week, write out one Bible verse that you really think is important and put it on a 3 by 5 index card where you can see it every day of the week. Perhaps it could be on your bathroom mirror, maybe on the refrigerator door, or even on a sticky note in your car. For example, I wrote down a very important scripture that I wanted to memorize. It was 1 John 1:9 which says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I don’t know how many times I have used this in giving others hope that God is a forgiving God and that we need to learn to forgive ourselves. If we don’t forgive ourselves, then we are holding a higher standard than God does for forgiveness. So write down one Bible verse per week and in one year, you will have memorized 52 Bible verses. Some of my favorites are, as I said already, 1 John 1:9, but I have also memorized 2 Cor 5:21, John 10:28-29 (okay, that’s two), Hebrews 9:27, Romans 5:1 and many more. Most of my memory verses are ones that I wanted to memorize so that I can share the gospel of Jesus Christ without needing a Bible.

Create a Prayer Journal

I should have done this long ago but a few years ago I bought a 5 subject, wide-ruled notebook that I write down prayer requests and I put down the date so that I can look back at the results months or years later to see exactly how God has answered my many prayer requests. Here is what I put at the top of the heading:
Date
Prayer Request Details
Person’s Name or Thing I Prayed For (even if it’s me)
Date Answered (when it comes)
Amazingly, I can look back now and see just how trustworthy God is by all the answered prayers in it. It builds my faith and it also makes a great prayer list so that I don’t forget who or what to pray for. Some things that I put on the inside cover of the notebook are those things that I pray for daily, like to glorify God, pray for my family, pray for our nation and the leaders, pray for our church family, and so on. These are permanent but the pages of the notebook have all those other people and things that I pray for. I use a new page for each day and put the date on the top of the page.

Share the Gospel Daily With at Least One Person

At first, this was a very hard one to do but I got this idea from D.L. Moody and this was one of the reasons that I so admired this man’s faithfulness and example in fulfilling the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). Yes, there are times when I have failed but I keep hundreds of Bible tracts with me at all times so that I am continually leaving Bible tracks everywhere I go and handing them to people I don’t even know. D.L. Moody promised God that he would witness to at least one person every day for the rest of his life and he kept that promise. This man truly had a heart for the lost and he showed it. He led many people to Christ by his faithfulness and this may be why God blessed this man so much that after his death the Chicago Bible Institute was renamed the Moody Bible Institute and the Chicago Avenue Church was renamed the Moody Church. If you can’t seem to do this every day, then try to do this at least once a week. I have discovered that the more times I do it, the easier it becomes and it will come more naturally to you every day and the feeling that I have in my heart for being obedient to this is indescribable.

End Each Day with Prayer and Bible Reading

This may sound easier than it actually is because many Christians do just what I did for years. I climbed into bed each night and prayed sleepy-time, bed-time prayers but I frequently fell asleep before I finished them. Then, I started a routine of reading my Bible and then praying to God just before bedtime. What I found were pleasurable benefits such as having no more nightmares, falling to sleep much easier, and sleeping more soundly. The routine of reading the Bible and praying just before bed are the bookends to my day. I start the day with prayer and Bible reading and I end the day with Bible reading and prayer. I can assure you that this is going to make your life a lot richer in many ways. When I start out the day with prayer and Bible reading, I find that things seem to go much better for me. When I fail to do this, I seem to fail at other things during the day too, so I begin each and every day with prayer and Bible reading and end it the same way. What you’ll discover is that you go to bed with so much more peace of mind and research indicates that the human brain rehearses the last things that you were reading or thinking about before you go to sleep and so the Word of God can be more instilled into your thinking while you drift off into a more peaceful sleep. Reading and meditating on the Word of God and then praying for others and for yourself and finally asking for God’s forgiveness is a sure way to have a more peaceful sleep for God “gives to his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2c).

Conclusion

Resolve to make 2014 a more productive year by disciplining your body and mind to take in the Word of God and to consistently pray for others and yourself. If you spend more time reading the Word of God and praying, you will begin to not only have better days, but you’ll also grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ. That is a winning proposition that will pay benefits into eternity.

Guest blogger: Jack Wellman who is Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible.