For years when I have prayed- “Thy Kingdom come,” I only a vague idea about what I was praying for. Usually my focus was on the end of history when Jesus comes back and sets up his Kingdom and rules the World. Other times I viewed the Kingdom as merely another word for the church.
However when you look at the original Greek word used here for ‘Kingdom’ it seems to offer so much more that could apply to this life. The Greek word is: ‘Basileia’. It doesn’t necessarily refer to a geographical location like a country, but means: ‘rule’. So wherever God rules, there is his Kingdom. So when we pray for his Kingdom to come, we are really praying for an extension of his rule and authority. Continue reading →
The “Hallowed” part is something I glossed over quickly for years without understanding that it was really a declaration of worship. I knew it meant that God was ‘holy’ but never gave it much thought. I was always in a hurry to get to the “give us” part.
Notice, Jesus didn’t say “my” father or “the” father, though most of the time we look upon God as being ‘The’ Almighty God and Father of creation. But Jesus specifically said “Father of us”–“our” Father and included his disciples as part of his family—the family of God.
It was a cold rainy winter’s evening in January 2010 (Cold for Southern California).
I was running later than I planned to be, rushing to be on time for a Prophetic/Marketplace Conference at church (Vineyard Community Church, Laguna Niguel CA). I was part of the Ministry team that was supposed to be available for praying for folks during and at the end of each session. We were expecting a full house and had seats reserved for us at the front. But if I got there late, after the start of the service, I would probably have to sit way out in the back rows.
Still half a mile away I impatiently waited for the light to change and then took off for the next. Before I got half a block ahead to the next light, The Lord had downloaded to me a better understanding of the Lord’s Prayer. After that I was no longer in a hurry. My priorities had changed and all I wanted to do is get into a seat and write down what I had been given.
In essence the Lord told me:
“You have been praying the Lord’s Prayer all of your life…now it’s time to live it!”
The Lord told me that within the prayer itself is a summary for victorious ‘Kingdom living.’—that it contained keys for revival and for walking in the Kingdom daily.
Since then I have not only used the Prayer as an outline to direct my daily prayers but also as a reminder of how I need to live daily.
This is the Introduction and first article in a series on the Lord’s Prayer: ”Victory in ‘Living’ The Lord’s Prayer”
In this series, I hope to share some of the insights given to me about how to incorporate the prayer in our daily lives.
Also we will look at the use of the Lord’s Prayer in early Christian history and explore the meaning of the words themselves and the implications for us in daily living and maintaining a closer relationship with the Lord. Continue reading →
Kris Vallotton,of Bethel Church in Redding CA, in a Charisma article lists 2 core values that are necessary for a culture changing revival (Link NLA):
1. Extreme Giving
2. Trust and Honoring Leadership
Response: I can imagine that not all of you will be all that positive to what Kris Vallotton has to say. Some will probably protest that it sounds too much like ‘religion’ rather than grace.
This I can affirm for sure- the Lord has called the church in the past to take care of the poor, the orphans, and widows; still calls us to do so, and will in the future right up until the end. Unfortunately the church in America has surrendered most of that task in the last 50 years or so to the government. Now the federal government and some state and local authorities are even trying to stop or restrict what the church is still trying to do through onerous regulations and forced obedience to the new LGBT sexual orthodoxy.
Nevertheless, I can confirm by experience that churches involved in ministry to the poor are being blessed on many different levels. Plus they actually become part of the community and part of the answer to the problems faced in that community. I have even seen a revival environment that has brought hundreds of miraculous healings and conversions to Christ all housed in a building where the poor are being fed and clothed.
Extreme giving can also help in taking the gospel to the far corners of the world by supporting missions, ministers, and organizations involved in the ongoing world harvest.
But what about leaders? The enemy continues to divide America churches through leadership divisions, jealousy, and direct attacks by a Jezebel spirit. Also note that past revivals have been stalled and stopped over attacks against the leaders by the enemy. We really do need to support our leaders any way we can, particularly through prayer.
I would add 2 more core values that are essential for culture transforming revival:
1. Extreme Trust in God
2. Thankfulness for Everything
We are living in times when our nation desperately needs a new awakening that brings change to our culture. So many of us have placed our hopes in the political process to make some of the changes we long for in our country. The 2016 election season seems to have dampened that expectation for most evangelical Christians. I see so many grasping for reasons to vote for one candidate or another. We should all vote but our real hopes should be elsewhere- in God.
So many of our leaders have betrayed us. Just last year the highest court of our land declared in no uncertain terms that the Bible and Word of God is wrong and actually discriminatory. How does our nation come back from that without a culture changing revival? Continue to pray for Revival.
We live in ‘interesting times.’ Sometimes considering all of economic difficulties, cultural changes, wars and threats of terrorism, along with weather that is extreme to the point that some are calling it ‘Biblical’, I wish I was living in a different generation when life might have been easier for a Christian.
However what is happening in these times can also be exciting. Christianity around the world is growing faster than any generation before and I recently read that the were more Christians living today than all of the previous generations combined. Here in America and in the West we seem to be in decline but in reality we are seeing a great harvest with revivals happening in many countries, some of which are somewhat secret.
On Sunday during church I thought about all of the moves of God that have happened in my lifetime along with some special men and women of God that came and gone ministering in special ways. The tent revivals following WWII, the Charismatic Renewal that touched mainline churches, the Jesus People movement that touched at least a million folks, the charismatic movement that followed along with The Vineyard, KC, Toronto, and Florida and many others. Thinking about all of the moves in this generation including what is happening in China, Africa, and Iran, I came away with a new conviction that what we have seen in the past we will see again and maybe even greater things since the difficult times before us may call for it.
I spent 2015 praying the Psalms asking for revival in our land and started 2016 with the same conviction. I have prayed for the Kingdom to come down and touch the church and awaken it as never before. Now on Sunday came the inspiration to pray for every miracle and healing I come across while reading the Scriptures to happen again. What God has done in the past he can do again in this generation.
Today I ran across the following article and account of a dream in Charisma with the same message: Prophetic Dream: God Did It Before and He Will Do It Again(Link NLA)
Here’s a short quote from the article:
I heard a second phrase in these dreams. … “If I did it then, I will do it again!” Every miracle we have ever read about in the Word, every revival or awakening from a past season, every example of a city or nation turning towards Christ becomes a foreshadowing of what God desires to do again!
Amen! I am praying to see it all again and even more starting in 2016.
And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. –Mark 6:5 ESV
Several weeks ago following the Jewish (Biblical) New Year we began to see some changes at VCC Church in Laguna Niguel, California. Almost immediately healings began to increase exponentially with 32 coming during our services the first weekend following the new year. The words that clearly came to me when I tried to discern what this might mean for the future were these:
Paradigm shift and Time to leave Nazareth.
What I believe that it means is that it is now a new ball game for our church and I believe it could also be for every church in America that the Lord has been preparing for revival.
The enemy intends to marginalize the American church, and contain it within four walls while bringing actual cultural condemnation upon it but God means for us to become the light shining in the darkness with a contrast that can no longer be ignored or denied.
The American church has lingered in Nazareth far too long and we have become satisfied with decreasing expectations and have even marveled at a few healings in our midst. We have become comfortable with the picture of Jesus reading and teaching the scriptures in the Synagogue and have accepted that as a major vision for the ministry of the church. Even the few wonderful healings we have had are considered exceptions and we call them ‘supernatural’ when they are supposed to be a natural part of our DNA. But Jesus did so much more on the road and in the marketplaces on the way to Jerusalem- major healings, miracles, and the raising of the dead- all life changing events for those involved and demonstrations of the reality of the Kingdom.
Meanwhile there is an unprecedented world-wide harvest going on all around the 3rd world with millions coming to Christ with miracles and signs following. Tragically most American Christians are not even aware of the major breakthrough of the kingdom in far away places while America and the West are increasingly becoming secular in the dominant culture and world view and rejecting the very Biblical foundations on which this nation and civilization were built.
It is time to leave Nazareth and head toward our destiny in the New Jerusalem with the Kingdom breaking out in our midst all along the way. What this means is that the old preconceptions about the church and what is possible are about to change. It can no longer be contained within the four walls of the church but the Lord is calling on us to take it to the streets, neighborhoods and marketplaces.
It isn’t going to be about few gifted leaders that people come from afar to see but like Jesus sending out the 70 (or 72):
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. –Luke 10:2-3 ESV
It will not be about professional ministers except God has raised up pastors all around America with a vision for preparing his people- regular Christians to be involved in the coming revival and as they participate their testimonies will be just like those 70 (or 72) that Jesus sent out:
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” –Luke 10:17 ESV
Put it to the test and see if it is not a brand new ball game where you are. Just start praying for the sick around you and see what happens. Pray for the guy that doesn’t have a job and see if he doesn’t finally get the position of his dreams. It is a new day on the road to New Jerusalem. Not everyone will come but those who do will be blessed and they will receive a new vision for the American church and Kingdom ministry.
Last year was an extraordinary year at VCC Laguna Niguel and 2013 seems to be even more so. ‘More’ is the key word. The church is experiencing the Kingdom breaking through in a number of different ways especially in healings and miracles.
One thing that we have decided to do in the last several years is to continue to pray for healing until proven otherwise –death proving the otherwise. Some of our congregation have finally received remarkable healings after years of prayer with no results. This has encouraged us to keep on keeping on.
Along the way we are also learning to rejoice and celebrate even minor victories when God brings any kind of relief or partial healing. Some Christians seem to find partial healings to be somewhat controversial nevertheless we are dedicated to always celebrate what ever God gives us. Yet we also continue to pray for even greater blessings.
The most important change for us came when we began to notice that healings or miracles in one area seemed to open to door and dial up the faith for others to receive similar blessings. We started calling these ‘Gracelines’ since a whole line of similar healings, miracles, and testimonies have followed.
For 5 years or more our church had become a ‘migraine free’ zone where a large number of people in our congregation who used to suffer from severe reoccurring migraine headaches had received substantial healing. Doesn’t sound like much unless you are plagued and occasionally disabled by that malady.
Then this last year one of our key leaders in our healing rooms received a remarkable healing of his eyesight in one eye which had severely degenerated. Then later he and others had prayed for a lady who was legally blind and her sight impossibly began to increase over a week or so until she could actually read again. More remarkable healings in eyesight have followed and continues to this day. In my own case, I had one eye with distorted vision. When I looked upon a straight line or board with my one eye it would look crooked to me with a jagged line in the center but after prayer one day in church that went away. Still need glasses but at my age I am truly thankful for the blessing of better eyesight.
Then another brother who had continual pain in his shoulder for 5 years was healed and it has opened to door to many others with shoulder trouble and severe pain to be healed. The testimonies are still coming in on that one. Then there was another with knee problems with similar results and breakthroughs.
Another Graceline opened when a pastor’s wife testified that she had lost a necklace that was really dear to her and prayed for its return for several days. Then one morning it just appeared around her neck. I know that is a strange one for many and I have no theological explanation for it but it has opened a door for others to pray for lost things with amazing results. Many have received dreams or visions of the location of what they had lost after prayer.
On one occasion I could not find my keys after looking everywhere I could think of for 30 minutes or so. Finally time was up and I really needed to get going to work. Usually at that point in the equation I would have been fuming and yelling at my dear wife and blaming her for moving them but then I remembered a couple of the Graceline testimonies and turned to prayer instead and immediately had a picture of myself working in the garage the evening before and found my keys right where I left them on the work table. All this may sound trivial to some but believe me my wife is even more thankful for this blessing than I am.
Then there was a couple early last year who are worship leaders/musicians who testified that they had prayed for money to pay their rent and while driving down I5 Freeway money rained down on their windshield and when they pulled over and picked it up they found that it was just enough to pay the rent with $10 left over which they gave to a homeless person the next day. Then after that another lady testified that when she went to buy a car, the vehicle she really needed was several thousand more than she knew she really had but the Lord told her to buy it anyway and when she handed over the cash she had in an envelope it somehow had multiplied and was exactly enough to complete the sale. This not only opened a door but a deluge has followed with new testimonies nearly every week.
We have started to call these- ‘mail box miracles’ since so many of the testimonies that followed have revolved around folks receiving needed prayed for unexpected money in the mail. In these dire economic times, many in our church are living from week to week trusting in God like never before to bring what is needed to support their families. One week I was a couple hundred dollars short of the expense money I needed for an out of town business trip. I had prayed for help in that area but still was completely surprised when I received a $200 check in the mail from a Christian contractor I had used for referring him to a neighbor across the street for a job. Amazing.
We have a lot of business owners in our congregation and these have been particularly tough times for small businesses but God has been faithful through it all. I will save that for another post. But another door which has been particularly significant is the ‘job’ Graceline. So many of our folks have lost jobs in this economy and have been out of work that we started actually taking time on Sunday morning to pray for those who needed new jobs or business with remarkable results. While the jobless rate in our county is still above 10% nearly everyone in our congregation is now working and paying their bills.
Bottom line- this is not revival but it is better than we have ever seen before and I have already posted about the even more remarkable things happening in our outreach ministries. But there is nothing happening here that isn’t happening or can’t happen elsewhere. It is just now happening more often. It is a matter of our faith and expectations being dialed up and increased exponentially in certain areas in response to the testimonies and experiences of other brothers and sisters in Christ.
Our understanding of ‘Gracelines’ is that when you take the time to acknowledge and rejoice in what God is doing he seems to open up the door to The Kingdom breaking through even more in the same areas. We have also found that including testimonies in our regular Sunday services has encouraged our people to live by faith and include God in their everyday living. Blessings have followed, miracles and healings have increased, Gracelines have continued, and our faith, expectations, and thankfulness have gone to another level.
Last February VCC Laguna Niguel sent a team to India and had incredible results during the 2 weeks or so that they were there with 10’s of thousands coming to Christ, along with hundreds of healings including a number of miracles which featured lame folks that now walk and blind who now see.
On the plane on way back, Pastor Mike pleaded to the Lord for similar results back home in South Orange County, California. At the time we were hopeful for revival to break out in our church. While our services at VCC seemed to dial up considerably in 2012 most of the healings, miracles, and salvations that one would associate with revival actually began to happen among our people ‘outside the walls’ of the church at Starbucks, Walmart, Costco, at the malls and at high school games. Even at the federal ‘Ziggerat’ building across the street but particularly at our Mercy Warehouse Ministry just across the parking lot.
The Kingdom started breaking though in the food warehouse in March. Since then as far as we can tell over 403 people have come to Christ along with several hundred healings and miracles which continue to happen nearly every time we open the doors of the 24,000 square-foot facility. Meanwhile the faith of the warehouse volunteers for talking to folks about Christ and praying for healing in that ministry has risen to another level entirely. It is no longer Nazareth in that place but far closer to India.
It wasn’t until the last few months of the year after numerous accounts and testimonies that it began to dawn on us that the Kingdom was breaking through and God was doing some extraordinary things among our people ‘outside the walls’ of our church.
“The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is welcoming more than 6,000 Christian pilgrims from up to 100 nations for its annual celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, which begins Thursday evening at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center.
Also called Sukkot or Feast of Booths, the Feast of Tabernacles is a biblical holiday and one of three mandated Jewish festivals to return to the temple in Jerusalem. The weeklong festivities mark Israel’s largest annual tourist event and the largest solidarity mission to Israel this year,…”
The International Christian Embassy was founded as an act of support and solidarity with the 3,000-year-old Jewish claim and connection to Jerusalem. It is considered the world’s largest pro-Israel Christian organization, with branches in 65 nations and a reach into over 130 nations around the globe.
Response: What a great opportunity to show support for Israel in the face of all of the Muslim opposition surrounding them. Also the International community right now seems to be looking upon Israel as a burden that can no longer be tolerated.
Unconditional love and support provides a needed positive Christian witness to the Israeli’s at a time when it is beginning to look like they are all alone.