When God visits us, it is often messy, out-of-the-box, and unpredictable. One of the only predictable characteristics of the upper room is that it is unpredictable. We need to understand that our God is creative and unlike coaches in the National Football League who pace up and down the sidelines with their laminated play sheets, our God has an unlimited number of plays He can call. For this reason, we have learned at the beginning of every upper-room prayer gathering to ask God for His leadership and direction. He is much better at play-calling and upper-room leadership than we are, and He always leads us to receive.
The greatest revolution taking place today in the church around the world is an awakening and rediscovery of the distinction between the omnipresence of God and His manifest presence.
God’s omnipresence, or His everywhere presence, is a wonderful reality taught throughout the Bible. It’s comforting to know that no matter where we are, we cannot escape from God’s everywhere presence. We must understand, however, that God’s omnipresence is not what separates the church from the sports bar or fitness center down the street.
The more perplexing question about the disciples’ prayer life is not why they failed, but how did they succeed? If they could not pray one hour on the final night of Jesus’ life, how did they pray 10 days—or the better part of two hundred-forty hours—only a month later?
If you’re not a prayer meeting type of person, let me encourage you—neither was I and neither were the apostles. Jesus’ disciples were no more capable of praying for 10 days than they were to fly to the moon. The night prior to His execution, Jesus urged His disciples to pray with Him for an hour—a mere sixty minutes—but they couldn’t do it. They kept dozing off. They failed miserably. Rather than joining Jesus in His upper room of prayer, they each rolled over, grabbed their pillows, and fell back asleep. Now, only a month later, they can pray like champions. So, what happened?
I think we may be at a point in our history where God wants to develop in us as a district a “culture of prayer?” We’re going to go on that journey for a season. Over the coming weeks, I want to focus on what God wants to do in the Central Pacific District through prayer.
Think of someone who you would describe as a leader. Right away, you’re going to think of all the people you know who are “leadership types.” You know, the corporate heads and movers and shakers. The fact is, just because you’re a mover and a shaker, and you have all sorts of abilities to really get direction and go with it, doesn’t mean that you’re someone through whom the spirit of God can give direction to the church.
Dr. Roy Price has many years of experience pastoring in the C&MA. Many of us have known him for years, and have benefited from his knowledge and wisdom. A favorite preaching topic of his over the years has been the book of Romans. Now he has written a compilation of those messages in a format that can be well-used as a study guide for small groups, or even an up-to-date practical commentary for today's preachers. If you're going to be studying the book of Romans, Roy's book is a must-have. Thank you Roy for being a great example of how God continues to use us over the long haul!
As we’ve been talking about the gifts of the spirit, it reminds me of the man who bought an old VW camper. It was supposed to be blue and white, but the paint was oxidized and there were several gray primer blemishes. The engine wasn’t much good either, so he replaced it with a Corvair engine.
The manifestation of the spirit I want to look at today is discernment – another gift to the church to build it up – that comes through people, to people, so that we can storm the gates of hell.
There are people who, by nature, are more discerning than others. They just have good insight. When naturally discerning people surrender themselves to God, I think the spirit of God manifests through them discernment because they’ve surrendered that dimension of their personality to the spirit of God, allowing him to use it.
Last month, at General Council, Simpson University signed an articulation agreement with LEAD with the purpose of being able to work with LEAD students, enabling them to finish a degree with Simpson University. The program is called LEAD because they train LEADers with the purpose of "Equipping men and women to be ministry leaders."