February 7, 2020 | by: 0 Comments|
Times of Refreshing
Twenty years ago this month we hosted our first Life Action Summit under the leadership of Steve Canfield. As I reflect back on my tenure at First Baptist Church Gonzales, LA (FBCG), the Summit of 2000 was one of the most significant moments in the life of our church. That encounter with the Lord was a vital time for us as a congregation. It was a time in which God dealt with us in many ways. It was a season of repentance and obedience in our walk with Christ which prepared us for challenges and growth in the coming years.
The Elders, in anticipation of this anniversary, led the church in hosting another Summit which we have just completed (January 19-February 2, 2020). Steve Canfield and the team returned for what was an incredible fifteen days together. On the road to heaven there are some people who make deposits into our lives in which we owe them unpayable debts. This is by God’s design, of course, as none of us in the family of God were created to do it alone. Life Action has provided such ministry to my pastoral work and to the spiritual life of FBCG.
Over the last few months in preparation for the Summit, I spent time reading in church history about special visitations of God’s presence that brought transformation to millions and monumental change to entire nations. Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge have written a helpful work to that end, A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories that Stretch and Stir (Zondervan, 2010). I was gripped by one particular sentence that became my prayer as we approached the Summit this past month, “During genuine revival, the Holy Spirit contends and convicts, but he does not manipulate as he grants Christians a new experience of God’s presence and power.”
I believe we have experienced the Lord’s goodness among us and “a new experience of God’s presence and power.” I am grateful for the response of FBCG as the attendance for nightly worship was equal to our Sunday Connect Group attendance for the entire Summit. I thank God for His gracious hand upon our gatherings. The teamwork in ministry and the refreshing we have experienced together will no doubt be a spiritual highwater mark for future years to come. I sense a renewed energy for the things of God, and my prayer as we move back into the routine of our schedules is that we would bear much fruit. Fruit that remains. (John 15:1-17)
Our Ancient Foe
Coming through this time of refreshing, we must not forget that we have an enemy who is a deceiver, a liar, and a destroyer. His intent is always to “undo” the refreshing of the Lord, and he employs effective strategies to put us into the slough of despond. Like a wet blanket, Satan brings waves of discouragement when we descend the mountain to assume routine duties of life. He seeks to weaken our resolve as we battle the world, our flesh, and his stratagems.
The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:11, “…we are not ignorant of his (Satan’s) schemes.” Paul knew well the souring effects of Satan’s lies upon a believer’s life. He was well aware of how the devil’s methods wreak havoc in the church rendering her weak, tattered, and confused.
To my FBCG family, do you think the evil one would want to undo in our lives the work God has done in recent days? What plans would he employ to derail us off mission and undercut the spiritual clarity many have received?
For the next few weeks I will write a post or two in an effort to warn and encourage as we seek to live for Christ post Summit. May God be pleased to show His power and presence among us as we continue to seek Him. In these posts, I would like to mention several strategies that are common weapons from the arsenal of Satan:
Temptations Come From Unfulfilled Expectations
In times of revival and refreshing, we can think that somehow all our problems are solved, and we won’t have to contend with the circumstances of life. That of course, is unrealistic and not the picture we find in the Scripture. Such thinking can expose us to disappointment which can lead to a spiritual drift. Our expectations should focus on the Lord and our walk of obedience to all he has commanded. How important it is in the Christian life to “begin again” every day.
Our rekindled devotion to Christ should lead to service marked by joy even in times of trial and suffering. There are valleys we must walk through, and there are mountaintops that refresh us with God’s richest blessings. The Christian life is a mingling of these experiences, and we should not expect differently. Our walk with Christ is not mastered by religious “silver bullets” that we believe will somehow remove struggles. Leave your expectations with Christ who is sovereign and good. He who has begun a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
Satan is a master of chaos and confusion. From the first temptation in the garden of Eden until this very moment, Satan is always seeking to confuse with wrong thinking and false doctrine. However, Christ is the Lord of peace and order. His word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. (Psalm 119:105) Sometimes we can slip into disillusionment and think that there is relief in the offerings of the world. The grass may look greener in the pastures of the world, but it is astroturf. It’s not real. It will not bring the joy and fulfillment promised. Remember the truths God has revealed to you in recent days. Keep your eyes on the Lord and pursue Him with all your heart, for godliness with contentment is great gain. (I Timothy 6:6)
Our church has experienced wonderful unity for years. We have found that unity in Christ is hard work requiring forgiveness, patience, courage, humility, and deference. However, unity in Christ is one of the great blessings of body life. (Psalm 133:1)
We must never forget that Satan is always sowing seeds of discord among God’s people. He loves to sit in the corner and grin when division comes among the people of God. How important it is for us to love one another as it provides the most authentic of all commendations. Jesus said in the upper room, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
At a time when our church family has experienced tremendous spiritual renewal and excitement, and as our hearts are full of gratitude for the joy of these days, let us not forget the strategies of the evil one as we press on to the high calling of Christ. Expecting great things…Attempting great things.
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