I am in a lot of communities. As a visiting preacher and revivalist I visit many, many churches, many, many communities. At each of these places, with each of these churches, I find folks intent on sharing the love of God and bringing to the area where they live light and hope to a dying world.
This last weekend I was in an area of India where there is rampant unemployment due to the closure of a local mine. In the years since the husbands and brothers have been pimping out their wives and sisters in prostitution. They head into the city for a days work, returning home each evening. For years.
I was told this information a few days before I was to be the main speaker at a one day missions conference with pastors and their wives. Upon receiving this information I queried, ‘What do I bring in this context?!’
As I prayed and prepared I became even more convinced that I preach the same thing I preach everywhere else, Jesus.
And I preach the same message I’ve been giving out elsewhere, Repentance.
I learned last year that there are three keys to Revival, 1. A hunger for more of God, 2. Repentance, 3. That religious strongholds are broken.
I’ve been challenging churches and individuals to assess their hunger for God. Are we hungry for him? The woman at the well knew her need of the Messiah, and when he revealed himself to her, both her and the life of those in her village were impacted.
If Jesus Christ were a living well right here, right now, before you and I, how big of a container would we bring to this living well? How much of this living water would we drink for ourselves, and how much would we take home to our families. Are we hungry, or are we doing okay, thank-you very much.
I’ve been preaching repentance. Not as something out there, but as an opportunity in our own lives to participate in ushering in the Kingdom of God over our communities and over our nations.
It goes like this.
Come to the Lord and find Him to be the lifter of your head. Come out of agreement with sin and come into agreement with Jesus and the holiness of God. Repent of your sin and turn to the Lord.
But there is more. So much more.
As we do this as individuals, consistently, honestly, in response to the Holy Spirit as a way of living, we find God more than big enough for every single thing that has gone wrong and bad in our lives. Every thing we have done wrong, the regrets, the failures, the losses, all that cannot be made right we find the living God sweeps in and declares it all okay, by his power, by his love.
We also find that every wrong down to us, the hurts, the harms, the abuses, the trauma, the lost and stolen years, every single thing that we cannot make right or fix, we find the living God sweeping in with his love and power and peace and we find that it is all okay. Because of who He is.
Out of this experience, and as we share these amazing ways of the Lord with each other in our faith communities, we grow in trust, we grow in expansive generosity, we grow in assurance, we grow in confidence and a deep knowing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ that none can take away.
Out of this the Spirit begins to show us that repentance is a key to the saving of our communities. It is as we, those who know God as the lifter of our heads, bow our heads in confession and repentance on behalf of our communities, that we begin to usher in the Kingdom of God to those who are smothered in darkness.
Leaders are those taking 100% responsibility for the situations and realities around them. Intercession is opportunity for us as the body of Christ to take on 100% responsibility for the sins of our communities.
Let me explain: Let’s use an example from my own life. A little over a year ago God revealed to me that my heart was not trusting in His goodness for me. Now we know that the revelation of the sins of our heart is a gift given us by the Holy Spirit; we cannot know these things about ourselves without the grace of God upon us.
When God showed this to me I was aghast, but knew it to be true. I immediately went to my knees confessing that I was not trusting God to be good.
“God, I come today in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ. I confess that I have not trusted you to be good. I am sorry Lord, for this insult. Today I renounce this lack of trust and this insult. Today I say “No more” to a lack of trust regarding your goodness. I reach back into my past with the strong arm of my Lord Jesus Christ and I uproot this lack of trust, this disdain regarding your goodness, from where it first began to grow. I unwind it’s chains from around my being and I cancel all authority, curses, and assignments of the enemy that have been at work in my life because of this lack of trust (my agreement with satan), and I send all these things to the place where the true Lord Jesus Christ would have them go. I now receive from you God a renewed knowledge and faith in your goodness for both me and for others. Amen.”
Since that time good things are increasingly happening in my life. Things that seemed confused have begun to be straightened out. Fears that once held me have vanished. Difficult relationships have been smoothed out by the oil of the lamb. Losses are being restored. Now I know the goodness of God. I declared his goodness over my own life and those words are being backed by his action and transformation. My confidence in God’s goodness is solid and growing.
Now I can gather with others who have found Jesus in this very same way. I can agree with one or more other people to the goodness of God, and I can agree with these ones not just for goodness in our lives, but we can begin to declare this for others. Out of our personal repentance and turning, out of our continual-present-tense renewed lives we join in agreement, which is authority, and declare this same goodness for others.
But of course, before we can declare this for others, before we can stand in agreement with God’s good heart for others, we must lay down our religious spirit. We must lay down our condemnation and our paradigms about how the world is supposed to work. We will have had to lay down our goodness in order to take on God’s goodness, and we have to lay down our expectation of other’s goodness in order to declare God’s goodness over them.
But as we lay off (confessing again as need be, again and again) our religious spirits against people, we are then able to pray agreement to the goodness of God over our communities. It begins by taking 100% responsibility for the sins of the people.
“God WE come together today in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, today WE confess the sins of our community. WE confess that WE, as a community, this entire area, have not believed or trusted in your goodness. WE are sorry Lord. Today we say ‘No more’. In the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ WE bring this insult to the foot of the cross. Today, in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ WE bring our and our communities disbelief and lack of trust to you. We reach back into the past and wherever this first took root in this community, today we pull it up, completely, carefully, leaving nothing behind. We unwind the chains of this sin, this lack of trust in your goodness, from off of our community. We cancel its authority, assignments and the curses of the enemy that have come to us because of this sin (our agreement with satan) and we declare that all things not of you God must go to the place where the true Lord Jesus Christ chooses to send it. Today God WE receive your goodness, your light, your revelation, into and over our community. Begin to filter in today God and show us the way to life.”
And we do this, again and again, and again, with every single individual agreement we have made with the enemy. Both personally and corporately we confess our sins, we take 100% responsibility, both personally and corporately and on behalf of those who do not yet know God to be the lifter of their heads, on behalf of those who do not yet know Jesus as Lord, on behalf of those who are smothering in the lies of the enemy.
By our repentance as a body of Christ we begin to pull the threads of that blanket so that bit by bit fresh wind of the spirit begins to blow, so that bit by bit fragments of the light of Christ can shine in, and so that oh so gently the love and grace of God is experienced, is know, is revealed.
And by our repentance, on behalf of our communities, more threads are pulled, more air is brought in, more light shines, more gladness is known; we become a refreshed, healed, whole people. Bit by bit, ever so slowly but ever so steadily, until we look back one day and realize we are changed, transformed.
We confess, taking 100% responsibility, for the sins of our communities and we usher in the Kingdom of God.
This is the salt and light we are called to be. This is the work of our lives alongside the Lord.
And by it our communities will be healed. Revival will begin to sweep in. Where lives have been caught by despair and loss, God will begin to show a new way, fresh hearts, forgiveness for all, and more. Who can know the depths of God’s love for us?!
Even in, especially in, an area where prostitution has become the daily bread and butter, we rise as those who know Jesus and we repent of the sins of the community, one by one, sin by sin, attitude by attitude, belief by belief, as the Spirit reveals and leads, consistently, regularly, by the power of the Lord.
It is why we gather. To agree together to the life of the Lord over our own lives, and over our own communities, and then, over our nations. It (repentance) begins with us and flows out from there. Repentance and healing, by the hand of the Lord for all of us. A feast of grand proportion.
To do this work we must refuse to remain the older brother. In the story of the prodigal son the older brother represents a religious spirit. He had worked faithfully, had kept his head down, and been good, had served, and done all the right things, but was not able to enter into the rejoicing of the Father over the lost one being found, being restored.
We will not be able to take on the spiritual authority required to come into 100% responsibility, confessing and repenting the sins of our world, this ushering-in of the Kingdom of God, if we are pointing fingers and have our noses out of joint. If we are incensed that the one who screwed up the worst is getting better treatment than us, we will miss out on the feast. I fear for all eternity.
The work of the Lord is the spirit of the Father. Jesus wasn’t just telling a nice story when he shared about the prodigal son, the father and the older brother. He was sharing profound truth with us. In Sulha the Father runs toward the son to intercept the attack of the villagers. So great was the son’s insult that the village would have been justified and right to stone the son before he ever made it back home.
But the father runs, throwing off his self-importance (important men in the middle east do not run), casting all propriety to the wind (culture would have demanded that ankles be hidden), to take the stones unto himself.
God ran toward the world to take on the stoning.
We, by our repentance, carry on this work. We, by the love of the Father, confess the sins of our communities as though they are our own. By this, we usher in the forgiveness and the light of Christ.
It is a work in the spirit realm. Strongholds cannot stand against this great love of God. Territorial spirits cannot remain where peace is ushered in. We are called to come in a different way, as lambs, not wolves – unassuming, but hearing the shepherds voice, wrapped in his profound care, led forward by his spirit.
By him, by our agreements with him, by our advocacy for our communities and nations, we are all healed.
Make sure, you are not the elder brother, for you don’t want to miss out on the feast.
Rather, we run toward the world, we step into the gap, taking on the responsibility, accepting the stones, for their restoration, their healing, their freedom, their life.