Bill Johnson teaches us how we can pray for our nation.
We need voices of truth who will not be intimidated by the political or religious spirit. It’s time to restore righteousness to our land!
This is a summary prepared by Karen Schneider and Sue Tinworth of Bill Johnson’s message from Sunday, 28 June 2015, 8:30:00 PM | firstname.lastname@example.org (Bethel Church)
Go to Acts 19 …and keep it open…
Things were stirring in my heart for a while before Supreme Court made their decision this week. I want you to appreciate the seriousness of the days we live in without reacting or responding in fear.
Homosexuality – everyone on planet can vote and it doesn’t make it fine. It is always going to be wrong. It is a violation of the design of our bodies. Greed… Adultery… distortion and perversion.
All sin is a violation of design and it will never fit the design. It will never be ok. The big issue is a court has made it legal but it still violates the law in the heart. And you can silence every voice on the planet that address the issue and take every life of every person that still believes the Bible… there will still be shouting from the heart of humanity that says something is not right with it… And the guilt and shame that goes along with it… It’s insane.
The devil actually doesn’t mind what side of the conflict you are on – as long as you react at it with the religious or political spirit. The political and religious spirit thrives on division to collect popularity and divide or separate, isolate other individuals and demonise them. The church has done that too. It’s the religious spirit operates from a fear of man. It celebrates the popular vote. Power is everything. -the power of popularity. Political correctness is just evidence that stupidity is contagious. LOL Ponder that! The enemy doesn’t care what side of the issue you are on – as long as you react in a way that is as wrong as the issue you are addressing.
Jesus is mind boggling… He is invited into a house of a thief named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus invites him to his home when he knows he’s guilty. What do you have going on inside of you to want someone who thinks completely different to you to come to your house? There is a passion for the authentic that supersedes my personal need to be right. There is something about self-will. The emotional gratification of self will is often perceived as the voice of God…
Scripture talks about warfare: 2 Corinthians 10 Ephesians 6. [Summary only:] Your loins girded with truth (not against people). You love and embrace someone whose thoughts are completely different to you; are unoffended… Jesus loves and values people but does not ignore their stuff. He says, “Go and sin no more.” Sin is never ok. Gossip…. Doesn’t matter what is law of the land – the law of heart cannot be erased. The law of the church is seen as the voice of the conscience but the law of God is the voice of conscience.
Acts: gives insight into seasons. Years involved in unfolding of the story of Acts. You see patterns.
Acts 2 mighty outpouring of Spirit and almost immediately opposition and persecution comes. Power always threatens those who are in power. The power of God always empowers those who don’t want it for themselves and those who do are threatened…
Healing led to opposition and persecution. Peter’s prayer in Acts 4:29: God, Take note of their threats and grant that your bondservants can speak your word with all boldness while you extend your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of your Holy servant Jesus. Here’s the interesting feature: right before this statement, ‘God give us all boldness’ the scripture says that Peter preached the word with boldness. So what is he doing? He’s saying, God we operated in boldness. It got us into trouble. Increase what got us into trouble’ God, increase what makes us annoying to the powers and principalities but not to people who need help.
Next, the apostle Paul was converted- a key ringleader in the opposition of the church. That boldness broke something in the unseen realm until finally there’s this visitation on the key man that was leading the persecution and literally the martyrdom, the killing of believers, and he gets born again. He gets dramatically radically saved. Right after that at the end of Chapter 9:31 “then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee and Samaria had peace and were edified, walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. They were multiplied.” Before this, the church was being added to daily. After they survived the second level of intense opposition and persecution, held true in their love for God, their love for people, but the resolve to maintain integrity and truth, then they went from addition to multiplication.
The Lord never tells us to pray for the harvest. He says to pray for the harvesters, because the harvest is always ready. It’s the condition of the harvesters that determine the size of the harvest. This is the issue.
In this passage on warfare in Ephesians 6, he says warfare is not against flesh and blood, it’s not against people that have problems, because we’ve all got issues. The warfare is against principalities and powers.
Then he says ‘your loins are girded with truth.’ Why? Because spiritual warfare is all about assaulting truth. We are no stronger in our stance for Jesus than our recognition of what is true. A billion people can vote on something and it doesn’t make it true. It just makes it popular.
The spirit of the day is the lynch mob of the Westerns (movies). …pretty soon you have a lynch mob ….. taking a rope to hang a guy. A lynch mob was called justice. I’ve seen it. It’s happening right now in the political world but it’s happening also in the church. You just get people stirred up to your agenda, your issue. Remember the enemy does not mind if you are in the religious camp or the political camp. The religious environment is ‘God is at the centre but he’s impersonal and powerless.’ The other one is the political spirit which is humanism. They both need to be right – need the popular vote and they cause division to get it. The enemy doesn’t mind which side of the issue you are on as long as you function with one of those spirits.
The other option is the one Jesus lived in and it’s called “leaven of the Kingdom of God”. The leven of the Kingdom is what gets Jesus, the most perfect beautiful example of righteousness to ever live, invited into the homes of the seriously unrighteous because they were not threatened by his purity. Everything that they were created to be, leaped at the opportunity to connect with this perfect example of what they longed to be.
Eph 6 describes the loins girded with truth, the breastplate of righteousness. Warfare is always against your righteousness, your identity in Christ as righteous. So Jesus said on the sermon on the mount, ‘seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”. The righteousness issue is not separate from the Kingdom. Romans 14:17 says ‘the Kingdom of God is not meat or drink, but righteousness, peace and joy” so the Kingdom is righteousness. So why would he emphasise ‘ seek first the Kingdom and righteousness?’ In other words, seek this, but put special emphasis on this. Why? Because the powers and principalities are assaulting that sense of personal manifestation in character and that sense of personal identity. [My edits stop here]
Acts 19 is one of the two greatest revivals in the bible – the first one being Nineveh (Jonah), and the second one in the city of Ephesus. The city of Ephesus was an occult centre. It was where the temple for the goddess diana was. They believed that this thing fell out of heaven as a gift from Zeus. So Paul goes to Ephesus and he plants himself there and there’s such an extensive, massive revival that the church becomes so established in purity and in power that some years late when Paul writes back to address the church at Ephesus, he has no words of correction. In every other epistle there is something to correct, but in the hell hole of hell holes, there’s such a massive revival that these people get it… in verse 11 it says “now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons were brought from his body to the sick, the diseases left them, evil spirits went out.” In John 12 Jesus says “greater things than these shall you do”. With Jesus, they touched the hem of his garment, with Paul, they were able to take the garment and send it somewhere. Some people are trying to protect the high water mark of Jesus, thinking he’ll be insulted if we surpass it. It was his idea! So here we’ve got this massive revival. Now what happens is – do you remember what we started with? – outpouring, persecution, increase because of the problems increases persecution, and then finally key people are saved and the massive revival goes from addition to multiplication. Now we’re back in persecution mode because we’re in a new territory. So now here’s this revival and the creators of these little idols are very angry because their business is hurting. Verse 23 says “about that time, there arose a great commotion about The Way (that’s what the church was called at that time). A certain man, named Demetrious, a silversmith who made silver shrines of diana that brought no small profit to the craftsman, he called them together with the workers of similar occupation and said, ‘men you know that we have our prosperity by this trade’ moreover you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but throughout almost all Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned many people away saying that ‘they are not gods which are made of hands’ verse 27, So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute but also the temple of the great goddess diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed in all Asia. So you see we’ve got a little conflict here. So Demetrious stirs up a riot, so we’ve got the lynchmob – we’ve got the political spirit. It doesn’t matter what the issue as long as we get a whole bunch of people all stirred up and provoked and demonise the person who disagrees with them. The political world does it, but so does the church. the religious community without the presence and power, the issue of purity and power at the centre.
Verse 35: when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, ‘men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess diana and of the image that fell down from Zeus? Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly’ Now the Lord begins to speak through him. ‘ for you’ve brought these men who are neither robbers of your temple nor blasphemers of your goddess. Therefore, if Demetrious and his fellow craftsmen have a case, the courts are open.’
Here’s the point I want to make: The Lord wants voices of reason in every circle of influence. This whole thing of christianity or pentecostalism or whatever for being anti-intellectual, nothing can be further from the truth. In Paul’s conversion, you see him instantly immediately, sitting together with other people, reasoning with them over the issues of their life. Over the issues of their faith. Reasoning together. The great need of the moment is true intellectual giants to rise up who have the foundation of the Word of God as the primary influence of their thought. Not so that they can quote scripture and preach at people but so that they think biblically and draw from that to address the issues of the day. There are very practical and extremely intelligent arguments (if I can use that term) for and against the issues of the day. And what the Lord did here, he did two things that we already looked at, the first thing is that he took this guy, the genius of the day and he literally, the Einstein of his day, was the apostle Paul. He was Saul. He hated the church. He hated everything to do with Jesus. And Jesus invaded the man’s life, chose him, showed him the price he would have to pay. When he realised he had been fighting against God he repented and received this Christ, sat there blind for three days until he was delivered from his blindness – it’s a bizarre story but what happened is that God wanted a voice of reason raised up and so he took this man with a God-given gift of intellectualism and raised him up to represent the King and His Kingdom. And it was following that event, that the church was multiplied. A voice of reason. The voice of reason is not intimidated by the political spirit. it is not intimidated by the lynchmob. In this story, if you read through it, Paul is wanting to get into the middle of the lynchmob. Because the voice of reason understands. And so we see the Lord drawing a Paul, a Saul, and turning him into a great apostle as a voice of reason into the land. But then he did something unusual. During a riot when Paul was not given the opportunity to articulate well, the one statement that was made, the crowd just went crazy and began to scream ‘great is the goddess of diana’ for two hours, this intense demonically-inspired passionate proclaimation. If ever we’ve seen the political spirit in operation, it was right there. And Paul had no voice in that environment. So what did the Lord do? He raised up a voice of reason from within their camp and in this case, at least to the point that we read, someone who did not, and would not, repent. He raises up the city clerk who is still devoted to diana who says ‘everybody knows she’s the great goddess who fell down from heaven from Zeus. Everybody knows that’ and then he begins to speak with a voice of reason so that the believers that were about to get massacred, their lives would be spared.
The voice of reason. You see it in the gospel of John 11(?) where Caiaphas the high priest, is wanting Jesus dead and he unintentionally prophesies ‘it is supposed to happen that one man would die for the nation. And he begins to prophesy about the death of Christ for the nation of Israel. Not knowing that he was prophesying the redemption of his own nation. So the Lord can speak through whoever he wants.
The prayer directive that I feel is the focus for today is those two stories and I’ll add one more. In Acts 12(?) James, in the first two verses, is imprisoned and he’s killed, he’s beheaded, for his stands for Christ. One verse, two verses later, Peter is imprisoned. Why do I mention this? I mention the imprisonment thing, the persecution thing, because you cannot expect to take a stand for Jesus and not have persecution. Jesus made it very clear that the student is not above the teacher. I don’t want to prophesy this, I just want to express it as a concern. When the issues of guilt and shame don’t go away even though the voice of believers have been silenced, they’re still going to want to take it out on somebody. So that’s where we need key people, (not wanting to isolate this one issue of homosexuality) but the key parts of society, the political leaders, the key people in these realms need a visitation of God. Just need a visitation of God. They’re not going to be voted into the Kingdom. They won’t be debated into the Kingdom. As Leif Hetland told us years ago, ‘deception is so deceiving’.
Key people converted. But secondly, God: capture the voice of the key people who won’t yield and let them prophesy over our nation. Let them speak the word of the Lord. Let them speak a voice of reasoning to bring peace when the lynchmob has been assembled. We need them. We need it right now. We need it.
But the third story is with Peter and James. James died, he was beheaded. Peter, a verse or two later, was imprisoned, just like james. In fact, it says the motivation to imprison him was because of what happened with James to please the people. So they imprison Peter and the Bible adds this one phrase, ‘but the church prayed for Peter.’ The implication is ‘oops’ they didn’t pray for James. God can use martyrdom as he did with James but that’s not plan A, that’s plan B. He would rather use the voice of Peter throughout Church history, so the church prays and Peter was released from Prison.
Here’s the point I want to make, shift gears just a little bit: several decades ago missions organisations around the world, I don’t know if they met together, or what happens, how it happened, but somehow the missions organisations of the world decided there needed to be a focussed prayer effort on what’s called the 10:40 window. The 10:40 window is the Islamic realm around Africa, the Middle East, it’s that part of our globe, our international community. It’s that part on the map. So what happened is intercessors, churches, prayer groups, individuals would walk and pray they would meet together and intercede and cry out for God to visit people in that 10:40 window. We have one of the most unusual things happening right now all over the world. You name the biggest hell hole on the planet and we can find evidence of massive outpouring of the Spirit of God there but this is what’s happening: we know of one individual, he just goes to a mosque and he stands at the front door as people come in he says, “have you seen the man in white?” and if they say yes, he says, “stand over here.” If they say no, they go on in. And he waits until there’s a small crowd and he explains who the man in white is. Because countless numbers of people have been visited by Jesus himself. We’ve had testimony here, we’ve had to protect the identity of individuals whose significant conversions through a visitation of Jesus happened – these are the Sauls – and took them out of that realm of deception and bondage and brought them into life, into the forgiveness of sins and brought healing to their personal life and then eventually their families and all of this happened. How did it happen? A whole bunch of people for a long period of time said, “I don’t know what the 10:40 window is, but it’s that chunk there, I’m praying for it.” And Jesus just decided to respond to the prayers because that’s how it works. He’s made a covenant to respond to the prayers of his people. So here’s this focussed place on a map and intercessors would put the map up and they’d lay hands on it and prophesy and they would be in groups like this and they’d say, ‘oh God, we want a visitation in the 10:40 window then they would call out the various nations and their leaders and across the board, these places are being inundated. I know for a fact I think it’s at least 2 million young people, believers, in Iran right now that have been converted through this massive revival just in recent years. It’s extraordinary, in places where it’s not supposed to happen. Places where the name of Jesus is not supposed to be mentioned. Guess what? You can pass a law, you can get everybody to vote yes or no or whatever you want, it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t pay attention to our laws. He wrote laws on the heart of man and he wrote a sense of personal destiny in the heart of every person and to come into that destiny means that we come into His love, into the forgiveness of sin and we get released into purpose and destiny. So Jesus himself chooses to show up in these places. So now I’m saying what happens. Continue the 10:40 window prayer. But how about we have our own 10:40 window in here? In our city, in our nation, where we say, ‘God we can’t do this. You said ‘turning the heart of a king is as easy as turning water.’ That easy. So, God, we have kings all over the land. In industry, in media, in politics, we’re just asking for a visitation. We’re not asking to be proven right. We don’t need the gratification of applause. We just ask, restore righteousness to our land.’
I want you to stand. Is there anyone who will say ‘yes’ to the assignment to pray for the ‘Sauls’ and for the ‘city clerks’- those who won’t turn, but they would find themselves prophesying, the ‘Caiaphases.’ Let’s pray it right now, ask the Lord to heal our land. “God we pray for the Sauls of the land, that you would visit the Sauls of the land, you’d give us specific key leaders in our heart and mind that we would love and have compassion for and be able to pray for visitations, that on their ‘road to Damascus’ there would be an encounter with you that would change everything about them. Now, we don’t ask for them to join our churches, we’re not looking for popularity. We want to see people touched by the love of God and actually released into their purpose to know what forgiveness is, to know what it is to be a part of the family. So we pray for Sauls, God. Visit the Sauls of the Earth. Visit the Sauls of our own nation. But we also pray for the city clerks. Those who, for whatever reason, have put up a barrier to hear and to respond to truth. God I ask, right now, for newscasters all across the land, for political leaders, for those being interviewed, that they would, over and over again, the prophetic word of the Lord would be decreed, even though accidentally, voices of reason, to calm the storm in the heart of that lynching mob, that political spirit. And that you would enable us to be Christ-like. Christ-like. Not accusing, but with the grace to deliver. God we don’t want to lead people in messes. We want to see people free. So we pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen