Identifying God’s Activity
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. (Isaiah 46:11)
God is at work when you see someone coming to Christ, asking about spiritual matters, beginning to understand spiritual truths, experiencing conviction of sin, or being convinced of the righteousness of Christ or of God’s judgement.
God wants to use you to influence others for the kingdom. When you want to know what God is doing around you, start by praying. Only the Father knows what He has purposed for the people around you, and He knows the best way to accomplish His will for them. After you pray, watch to see what God does next. Take note of what people are saying when they approach you. Make the connection between your prayer and what happens next.
Then ask questions. Ask the kind of probing questions that will reveal what is happening in people’s lives, without being intrusive or aggressive. Listen attentively. And be prepared to respond. If someone confides a personal need, pray for that person and ask God how you might minister practically in response. Be ready to share clearly how Christ’s presence has made a difference in your life and how Christ is ready to enter their life and change them as well. Be ready to make whatever adjustments are required to join God in what He is doing.
Keep in mind, the final completion of God’s work may be a long time off. He does this on His timetable, not ours.
He’s the One who is already at work in our world. When He opens your spiritual eyes to see where He is at work, that revelation is your invitation to join Him. You will know where He is working when you see Him doing things only God can do. When God reveals His work to you, that is the time He wants you to begin adjusting to Him and His activity. What God purposes, He guarantees to complete.
Henry and Richard Blackaby
Consistency in an inconsistent world and stability in an unstable environment are the things we seek. Water can be something we swim in with pleasure or something we drown in in despair. This is life. The consistency of God and His purposes never changes nor is effected by anything that is happening. His purposes and plans never change due to circumstances. More sure than the sun rises, even on cloudy days, so
is the sure plans of God. Through time, God has a single plan. That plan is that He would bring humanity near Him in relationship. Nothing has nor can thwart that plan. He is so intent on fulfilling that plan that He holds nothing back even to giving His only Son to die for our sins. The church’s sole purpose is to be the instrument to carry out this plan. Jesus was clear in this.
“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed [in Me] and has been baptized will be saved [from the penalty of God’s wrath and judgment]; but he who has not believed will be condemned. 17 These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.” So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord was working with them and confirming the word by the signs that followed.]”
Out of the gate the church was challenged to carry out this mission. Like us they huddled in their little group, not knowing how to carry out their mission. So God intervenes for He always provides what is needed to carry out His purposes. To that little group of 120 gathered to seek God’s purpose, He sent the Holy Spirit. From that group of fearful, doubting, struggling believers came a visible and bold proclaiming of the Gospel accompanied by miraculous happenings. Persecution followed but couldn’t quench the flame. Legalism and inward focus attempted to limit their effectiveness but again God intervenes and sends Peter to Cornelius’ household and calls Paul as a missionary to the Gentiles. And the church expands until it touches large portions of the world. It does so without any of the modern means available to us.
Beloved, we may have lost our purpose in the midst of the pandemic, but God has never wavered. Our purpose as the church is still His purpose. While it’s important to address things like how we gather, what activities can we continue, and how do we function as the church in this present environment; we cannot, must not forget our true purpose. We must look for the activity of God and involve ourselves with it. Maybe some of our familiar ways of sharing the gospel no longer exist. Since, however, God’s plan hasn’t changed, we must look to see where and how we can still carry out that plan. When the Communists took control of China, they banned and closed the churches. They persecuted Christians and outlawed Christianity as a religion. They forbade any Christian gatherings. On the surface this looked like the complete annihilation of the church. But here we are decades later and the Christian church in China is alive and growing. It is doing so in a hostile environment. This church no longer gathers in large groups in a designated building. Instead it transformed into small groups that meet sporadically. Most of the formalities are gone and only the essentials of worship, witness and discipleship remain.
The emerging church may take on a whole new look but the church of Jesus Christ will have at its center of activity, the activity and purpose of God. My prayer is that the final outcome of the pandemic will be to redirect our activities and work to the stated purposes of God. I pray that the emerging church will Christ-centered rather than human-preference driven. I pray we will be more intentional in pleasing Christ than we are about satisfying human desires. May God grant us an awakening and a renewal and may we touch our communities with the liberating, life changing, message of the gospel.
“Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.”
Dr. John Thompson