Jesus Forgive Us: There Should Have Been Power, There Should Have Been Witness (When Churches Closed & Pews Were Emptied)

Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches of Galatia. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters four through six of this New Testament book. SONS NOT SERVANTS! FRIENDS NOT SERVANTS! “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. HENCEFORTH I CALL YOU NOT SERVANTS; FOR THE SERVANT KNOWETH NOT WHAT HIS LORD DOETH: BUT I HAVE CALLED YOU FRIENDS: for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whastsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the wordl hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:11-19). “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heris; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And now only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:12-23). “But as man as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

            NO MORE SERVANTS, BUT FRIENDS! NO MORE SERVANTS, BUT SONS! When we come to this particular portion of Scripture found within the epistle the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches which were in Galatia we find similar language to that which is found in the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome. What’s more, is that not only do we find language similar to that which we find in the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome, but we also find language similar to that which was written and recorded in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John. It is in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John that we not only find the account of Jesus speaking unto His disciples in the upper room on the night in which He was betrayed, but also the language that is found in the opening chapter of this gospel narrative. I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs recognize and understand this language, for I believe with all my heart that in the days in which we are living there is a great need—a need for disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ, but also for something that transcends even disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus the Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that when you look at the generation and days in which we are living there is a great need for the manifestation of the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ—those who have made the decision to forsake all and rise up that they might walk with and follow Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this tremendous truth, for perhaps one of the single greatest hopes for the days in which we are living is not the emergence of political figureheads and leaders, nor those who have been dually elected within local, state and federal governments.

            I sit here this morning thinking about the days in which we are living and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and tremendous truth that the hope we are looking for in the days and generation in which we are living does not rest, nor does it lie within rising, emerging and up and coming political leaders and figureheads who have been elected into public office. Over the past several weeks and months there has been a tremendous emphasis placed on who would win the Presidential election of this nation and country, and while there is a presumptive President-elect the media is presenting us—we dare not and must not be so deceived into thinking that the next person who serves as Commander and Chief within this nation is the answer to all the social woes and dilemmas we have faced within this nation. It is a tremendous tragedy to think and believe that those whom we elect into public office—regardless of whether it’s at the state level, or the national level—are going to be those who are able to solve all our problems and miraculously turn this nation around. There were indeed men and women who voted for public figures to serve in public office—not necessarily because of the political views of that person, but the hope of what that person might indeed and might in fact bring within this nation and country over the next four years. Oh it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for the more we think about the days in which we are living the more we must needs recognize and acknowledge the fact that politicians and those who have been and those who will be elected into office have not been, nor will they be the answer to the woes and issues which are plaguing our country. It would be very easy to think and consider that the politicians which have been elected, and those which have already been manifested among us within this nation are indeed the answer to the troubles this nation has been facing, and the troubles this nation continues to face, and yet the truth of the matter is that I believe there is not a single politician within this nation who has the answer, nor is the answer to the social, political, racial, and economic dilemmas which are facing this nation.

            I fully realize and recognize that making such statements go against the grain—particularly against the grain of those who look to politicians and government officials to somehow produce the change that is so desperately needed within this nation. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which Gandhi emphatically declared within this generation, for it was Gandhi who declared that we must needs be the change we want to see in the world. Would it shock and surprise you to think and consider that if you want to experience change within this nation and during these times you yourself must needs be the change? Would it shock and surprise you to think and consider that if you want to see and experience change within this nation during the days and generation in which we are living it is absolutely necessary that we realize that change begins with us ourselves and not the person next to us? I realize that this might seem like a strange and foreign concept for those who would be reading these words, however, I am absolutely convinced that if you want to experience change and transformation within the days in which we are living—that change must come from within. What’s more, is that we dare not and must not think and expect change to come from the person next to us within this nation and generation. It would be very easy to think and consider that change would indeed need to come within the hearts and lives of others, however, one of the greatest truths we must needs realize and recognize is that if you want to experience true and lasting change within these days and within this generation it must needs begin with and within you. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss it on this particular point, for one of the greatest dangers facing this generation and this nation is thinking and believing that the change needed within these days starts and comes from the person next to us. Such a way of thinking is incredibly dangerous and tragic, and only has the ability to continue and perpetuate that which we have been experiencing over the past days, weeks, months, years—even decades and generations.

            As I sit here today thinking about and considering this awesome and incredible truth I cannot help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that one of the greatest necessities within this generation during these days is the emergence and the manifestation of the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more, is that I am not only convinced that there is a great need for the manifestation of the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ within this nation and generation, but also for the movement and ministry of those disciples. There is not a doubt in my mind that if the Church—the true Church and body of the Lord Jesus Christ—actually lives and moves within the earth as was the original design and intention in the New Testament book of Acts, we can and will experience true and lasting change before and all around us. We dare not and must not think that it is up to those around us, nor those whom we might vote and elect into office to solve all our woes, all our issues, all our problems, all our troubles, and all those things we have been facing for years. Is it possible that while the church itself might not be to blame for the issues, the troubles and the dilemmas that have plagued and faced our nation over the past several years, it can and must be stated that what we have been facing has been permitted to become much worse than it actually needed to be? Oh I would dare say that the Church has been given a tremendous place within generations and within nations to bind on earth—and that which is bound on earth will be bound in heaven. What’s more, is I am absolutely and completely convinced that the Church has been given a tremendous place within generations and within nations to loose on earth—and that which has been loosed in the earth can and will be loosed in heaven. We must needs realize and recognize that the Church has been given authority, dominion and power within the earth to push back the darkness and to allow the light of Christ to be manifested in shine brightly in the midst of the land. It was Jesus Himself who referred to us as the light of the world, the salt of the earth, and a city set on a hill which cannot be hid. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we have been moving, operating and functioning in that role, or whether we have been allowing ourselves to become irrelevant within the nation and generation in which we are living.

            If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find certain of the Jews which were present within the city of Thessalonica rising up against the apostle Paul, and against Timothy, and against Silas. What’s more, is that as you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find them speaking something absolutely incredible and astonishing concerning the apostles and the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus the Christ. In the sixth verse of the seventeenth chapter you will find them speaking concerning “these that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of that absolutely remarkable and powerful statement, for it demonstrates and points to something which we must needs realize and recognize when considering that which is so greatly needed within this generation and within this nation. Those in Thessalonica spoke of the apostle Paul and those who traveled with him—and not just the apostle Paul and his companions, but in essence the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ—as having turned the world upside down, and having at that time come unto them. We must needs pay close attention to these words and the statement which was made by the Jews of Thessalonica, for it presents a tremendous challenge concerning the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus the Christ within this nation and generation—namely, that if the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ “turned the world upside down” during those days then the same manifestation and reality can indeed be found among us within our days and within our generation. Oh we dare not and must not ignore this powerful truth, for there is a great commission and mandate that has been given unto the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ—not only to be endued with power from on high, but also to be witnesses for and unto Christ in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.

            I am writing these words and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the fact that there are countless men and women among us who want and desire the endowment of power which the Lord Jesus Christ spoke about, and yet they don’t want the second part of Jesus’ statement. There are those who will earnestly pray and entreat the face of the living God for the manifestation and endowment of power within their hearts and lives, and yet they have absolutely no room, nor any space for the underlying purpose for that power. There are many among us who want the power without the witness, and would much rather experience the endowment of power within the four walls of the church. Oh a question I can’t help but ask myself concerning the days in which we have walked through—and the days in which we are presently walking in—is when the church buildings were closed and shut down in recent months, what was released into the earth. When the church buildings were closed and shut down and men and women were no longer able to worship and gather together in the midst of the sanctuary and church building—what was released into the earth? When the one hundred and twenty came forth from the upper room they came forth having been filled with the Spirit, having been given the ability to speak with other tongues, and undoubtedly having been endowed with the power which Jesus the Christ spoke about. This is incredibly important and necessary to recognize and understand, for we know what emerged from the upper room and what was released on the day of Pentecost after the Holy Ghost had filled the room where they were, and as cloven tongues of fire rested upon each and every one of the one-hundred and twenty which were present in the midst of it. We know that all those from the various nations, lands and peoples of the earth heard the glorious and wonderful truths concerning the kingdom of God being proclaimed and spoken in their own tongue, and it caused a tremendous curiosity, chaos and confusion to be manifested in the midst of the city. It would be in the midst of this chaos, confusion and curiosity the apostle Peter would rise up and preach Christ unto them—and not only preach Christ, but also preach Christ crucified, Christ buried, Christ risen from the grave, and Christ ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven.

            It is absolutely necessary we pay close and careful attention to these words, for these words call and draw our attention to what happens when church buildings are emptied and when the doors are locked and shut behind them. Oh if you are reading these words I implore you to mark what I am about to say and mark them well—You were either released into the earth with power, or you weren’t. I can’t help but sit here today thinking about and considering the awesome and powerful truth surrounding our church buildings being shut down and the pews and seats being emptied—and not only this great emptying, but also the great release. The question I can’t help but ask myself when writing these words is what was indeed released into the earth when the pews were emptied after and as the church buildings were shut down. THE GREAT EMPTYING! There is not a doubt in my mind that one of the greatest acts which took place in recent weeks and months was not merely church buildings being closed and church buildings being shut down, but also a great emptying that would take place. Please note that what I mean by “the great emptying” is essentially the church being emptied of those which worshipped and gathered together in the midst of it. When I write and speak of the great emptying I am speaking of and referencing the pews, the chairs and the seats being emptied of those which previously sat in them—and not only their being emptied, but also that which was once present within them being released into the earth. With this being said, however, the question I can’t help but ask myself is when this great emptying took place—what was released into the earth. We know for a fact that there was a great emptying which took place when the church buildings closed and shut down, and yet the truth we must be willing to ask ourselves is when that emptying took place—what was indeed and what was in fact released into the earth?

            I sit here today thinking about and considering that which took place in recent weeks and months—specifically with the closing of church buildings and the emptying of the pews and seats—and I am finding myself asking what was truly released into the earth. When the one-hundred and twenty came forth from the upper room they came forth filled with the Holy Spirit, endowed with power from the Holy Spirit, and speaking in tongues that they might be witnesses during those days and within that generation. Later on in Thessalonica we find the Jews which were present there speaking of those who “turned the world upside down” having come unto them. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close and careful attention to this, for it draws our attention to something which must needs be recognized and understood during the pandemic which has rocked and shaken the world. Perhaps the single greatest question we must needs ask ourselves is what the witness of the Church was after the pandemic began. What’s more, is we must needs be willing to ask ourselves what the testimony of the Church was once the great shutdown and the great emptying occurred. Not only this, but we must needs ask ourselves what the world saw concerning and saw of the Church during the days of the pandemic. In all reality, I am convinced that by and large the witness and the testimony the church had since the days the pandemic began has not only been weak, but also severely anemic and lethargic. In all reality, if you look at the witness of the church in the days immediately following the closing and emptying of our church buildings is so-called “Christians” taking to the streets in protest against government citing a violation of rights. If you are truly willing to be honest with yourself as you read these words you must be willing to admit that what the world witnessed when the church buildings were closed and the pews emptied was so-called “believers” rising up claiming they would sue state and local governments that church buildings might be opened once more. What’s more, is that you will find the two arguments which served as the foundation of this being their rights as citizens of the United States of America, and the fact that churches and church buildings were essential.

            In all reality, I am convinced that countless “Christians,” countless “believers,” and countless “churches” need to fall on their faces and ask the Lord for forgiveness for how they reacted to and how they handled the pandemic in recent months. I firmly believe that when church buildings opened up—even if they opened up to a limited capacity—those who entered into the midst of them needed to spend their time at, before and upon the altar crying out before the living God for mercy and forgiveness. There is a not a doubt in my mind that in the days of the pandemic, and in the days of church buildings being shut down and pews being emptied there have been countless “Christians” and countless “believers” who have not only grieved, but also offended the very heart of the living God. What’s more, is that if you look at what took place in recent weeks and months you will find countless “Christians” and “believers” crying out to return back into and unto the church buildings, and even resorting to protests and threats to bring it to pass. Eventually and ultimately the President of the United States publicly declared on live television that church buildings and churches were essential businesses and therefore could be re-opened. In all reality, however, I have to admit that I was grieved when this happened—not because of the President’s remarks, but because it was almost as if the Lord gave unto people that which they wanted. When church buildings reopened there is not a doubt in my mind that it was the Lord allowing it to happen—not that He might bring the people back into the church building, but to give them that which they wanted and that which they desired. Much like the LORD of hosts gave the children of Israel so much quail in the wilderness that it eventually made them sick, so also the LORD would allow church buildings to reopen—not because and not that He desired to bring the people back inside, but rather to give them what they wanted.

            There is not a doubt in my mind that there were two things which grieved the heart of the Father during the days of the pandemic. First and foremost was the witness and testimony the churches in this nation had during a time of unprecedented and unparalleled trouble and tribulation. Secondly was the church buildings being reopened and people clamoring to return to the church buildings and to the pews. I am absolutely and completely convinced that what the Lord witnessed and what the Lord beheld during recent months when church buildings closed down and the pews were emptied greatly grieved His heart—and perhaps even made Him angry. What’s more, is I am absolutely and completely convinced that there were countless “Christians” and countless “believers” who missed that which the living and eternal God was seeking to accomplish as a direct result of the pandemic, and much like the children of Israel desired to return unto the land of Egypt, so also countless men and women desired to return to the “Egypt” of church buildings and pews. I am writing these words and there is not a doubt in my mind that during these recent weeks and months the heart of the Father was greatly grieved and greatly sorrowed because of the witness that was released in the earth as a result of the pandemic. PROTESTS INSTEAD OF POWER! SUING INSTEAD OF SERVING! Oh dear reader, please recognize and understand that what this nation—and what the world witnessed—as a direct result of this pandemic was not the power of the Spirit, but the protests of the flesh. What’s more, is that what this nation witnessed and beheld was not selfless and sacrificial serving of the church, but rather the selfishness of those who threatened to sue state and local governments to cause the church buildings to be opened. Oh how I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that during recent weeks and months there have been countless “Christians” and “believers” who have grieved the heart of the living God. There have been countless “Christians” and “believers” who have greatly offended the heart of the Father when He closed church buildings and emptied pews because they focused more on their rights than they did on the needs of others.

            WHAT IS OF GREATER IMPORTANCE—YOUR RIGHTS OR THE NEEDS OF THOSE BEFORE AND AROUND YOU? I am writing these words and I feel a great sorrow and pain within my heart for how churches and how “Christians” and “believers” handled and responded to the pandemic and the events which took place as a direct result of it. I sit here today thinking about and considering the fact that there is a great need for sorrow, a great need for remorse, and a great need for repentance within the hearts and spirits of countless men and women within our churches and church buildings—not only for how they handled the pandemic, but also because of the lack of witness and testimony within their hearts and lives in the midst of it. The truth of the matter is that when the great emptying occurred, and when the great shutdown occurred there was neither a witness, nor a testimony that was manifested in the midst of the streets. What’s more, is that even when civil unrest began to plague and consume the streets of our cities the church was nowhere to be found to step into the void, to step into the hurt, to step into the pain, to step into the chaos, to step into the confusion. In all reality, I am convinced the church was given two great opportunities in recent months—perhaps even three if you consider events which have taken place during the current month we are living. I firmly believe the church was given an opportunity to be a witness and a testimony after church buildings were closed and pews were emptied—an opportunity to be a witness endowed with power from the very Holy Spirit of the living God. I believe the Church was given a divine opportunity when this nation was rocked by civil unrest, riots and protests which took place after the death of a black man under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis. The church was given an opportunity to rise up and step into the midst of all that chaos, all that confusion, and all that turmoil, and yet if we are truly willing to be honest with ourselves we were nowhere to be found. What’s more, is in the wake of the Presidential election the Church has been given another opportunity to step up as witnesses endowed with power from on high—power from the Holy Spirit—to step into a time of great distress, confusion, chaos, anger, frustration, and the like.

            THE WITNESS OF THE CHURCH IN AMERICA! What I can’t help but think about when considering the events of recent weeks and months is how even as a direct result of church buildings being shut down, and even as a direct result of the pews being emptied men and women were forced out of the comfort and convenience of gathering together, there was very little witness and very little testimony which was present in the midst of the earth. Not only this, but I am convinced that there were a number of church leaders, a number of pastors, a number of church-goers who played a dangerous game before and in the presence of the living God when they thought they had the right to take to the streets to protest the shutting down of church buildings. What’s more—and I realize I might offend a lot of people when I say what I’m about to say—is that there were even countless Christians who played a dangerous game when they joined in the civil unrest and protests which took place in recent weeks and months. There have been countless church-goers and church leaders who have spent so much time focusing on their “rights” as citizens within the United States, and potentially the Constitution being violated by the shutting down of church buildings, and as a direct result of this they abandoned, forfeited and lost their witness in the earth. It’s so incredibly interesting to think about and consider that Jesus sought to send His disciples and followers into the world as witnesses endowed with power from on High, and yet when we look at recent weeks and months we must needs acknowledge that there has been anything but witnesses endowed with power from on High that have been released into the streets of our cities. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the Church was given a great opportunity during recent weeks and months to be a great witness endowed with power from on High—not only during a time of a global pandemic and plague, and not only during a time of great civil unrest, but also during a time of political intrigue and confusion. There is not a doubt in my mind that the Church—specifically the Church within this nation—was given three different arenas and three different environments with which to be a witness and testimony, and yet the truth of the matter is that instead of being a witness in the midst of these times the Church was either passive bystanders, or active participants.

            Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that we have not been called, nor have we been permitted to go along with culture and society, but rather we have been called to go against the grain of culture and society. I write these words, and I can’t help but think within myself that there are a number of men and women who desperately and earnestly need to fall on their faces before a living and holy God and ask for forgiveness, and ask for grace, and ask for mercy for how they handled and how they reacted and responded to the events which took place in recent weeks and months. I am convinced that there is a great need for Christians and for the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ to repent and ask the Lord for forgiveness for not being a witness during three incredibly powerful opportunities and moments of crisis and need within this country. I firmly believe with everything that is in my heart and spirit that there are countless men and women who need to repent before the living God for grieving and upsetting His heart when they demanded return and entrance into the church buildings. What’s more, is that I am absolutely and completely convinced that we missed the true meaning and invitation of “return” that was given during these days. We thought that the greatest need of and for return was returning to the church buildings, and the truth of the matter is that this is not, and this was not the case. We thought that the greatest need of and for return was returning to the work place and to our places of employment, and yet the truth of the matter was this was not the case. It grieves me to write the following words, however, I believe that we spent more time focusing on returning to restaurants, returning to jobs, returning to church buildings, and returning to those things which were shut down instead of returning unto the Lord our God. It was the LORD of hosts Himself who declared that if His people which were called by His name will humble themselves, and pray, and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways, then would He hear from heaven, and forgive their sins and heal their land. Oh what’s more is that there were countless men and women who focused more on the healing of the land than they did on the forgiveness of sins, and they allowed themselves to get caught up in the need for the healing of the land than for forgiveness of sins, trespass, iniquity and wickedness in the sight of the living God.

            We thought that the greatest need was the return to church buildings, and yet the truth of the matter is that the need was never to return to church buildings, nor to pews, but rather to return to the Lord. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that the living and eternal God allowed church buildings to be closed and pews to be emptied that He might thrust the Church into the world as a witness during a time of global pandemic and plague. With that being said, I feel it is absolutely necessary to state that I do believe that the pandemic was the opening act and a prelude to the great trouble, trial and tribulation that can and will come upon this  nation—regardless of whether we want and/or are ready for it. We thought the church buildings were closed and the pews were emptied was a violation of our rights, and yet the Spirit of the Lord was thrusting us out of the church buildings and the pews into the streets that we might be a witness and testimony within our streets, within our communities, within our neighborhoods, and within our cities and states. What’s more, is that there was a great need for there to be a witness coupled together with power from on High that was manifested in the streets of our cities and states, and yet there was anything but that manifestation and demonstration among us during recent weeks and months. We thought the church buildings were closed and pews were emptied was a violation of our rights, and we failed to realize that what the Lord was doing was thrusting His church, His followers, and His disciples into the world that they might be a witness and testimony endowed with power from on high. The tragic part is that in recent weeks and months there was neither witness, nor was there power from on High. It was Jesus who emphatically instructed His disciples and followers to tarry in Jerusalem and wait until they receive the promise of the Father and be endowed with power from on High. It would be as a direct result of their being endowed with power from on High that they would be witnesses unto Him in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria, and in the uttermost parts of the earth. What we must realize is that that is exactly what happened what took place, for there were one hundred and twenty who tarried in Jerusalem and waited in the upper room until they were endowed with power from on high.

            THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN POWER! THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN WITNESS! I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which I am writing, and I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that there should indeed have been power of the Holy Ghost manifested in recent weeks and months, and yet there was anything and everything but the power of the Holy Ghost. When church buildings were closed and the pews were emptied there should have been a witness that was manifested in the midst of the streets of our cities and nation, and yet the truth of the matter is that there was anything but witness and testimony. I cannot shake the absolutely incredible truth that the Church experienced its buildings being shut down, its pews emptied, and being forced out into the open that it might be a witness and testimony in the midst of the earth. We were invited to step into a moment that was permitted by the living and eternal God that we might rise up as a witness and testimony in the midst of the earth during a time of great fear, during a time of great anxiety, during a time of great confusion, during a time of great sorrow, during a time of great sadness, and yet most and much of the time we absolutely and completely missed it. There is not a doubt in my mind that we are given a divine opportunity to step into a divine moment to minister in the midst of the sorrow and sadness of loved ones and friends dying as a result of this pandemic, and yet we failed to step into the manifestation of that moment. We were given a tremendous opportunity to step into a divine moment during a global pandemic that we might be a witness and testimony endowed with power from on high, and yet what countless men and women did instead was raise and shake their fists at state and local governments for shutting down church buildings, and closing the doors. There were countless men and women who focused more on their rights than they did the needs of others, and as a direct result of this there were countless needs which went largely unmet and unfulfilled.

            Oh as I sit here writing these words I can’t help but be brought face to face with the fact that we as the Church within this nation desperately and earnestly needs to ask for forgiveness and mercy from the Lord for missing the divine moment and opportunities which were right before us. We have great need to fall on our faces for not being witnesses endowed with power from on High who were willing and able to step into the confusion and chaos, and who were willing to step into sorrow and sadness. We have great need to ask for forgiveness for thinking and believing that the need was to return to church buildings rather than returning to the Lord, and unto His Word, and unto His statutes. We have great need to ask for forgiveness for thinking and believing that we could somehow align ourselves with protests in the midst of this nation and country, and become like the culture and society before and all around us, and yet the truth of the matter is that we have been called to be counter culture and counter society. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand this, for when the church buildings were closed and the pews were emptied there should have been a demonstration of Holy Spirit power in the midst of the streets of our cities. When the church buildings were shut, and when the pews were emptied it should have been a manifestation of witnesses, it should have been a manifestation of disciples, it should have been a manifestation of followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it should have been a manifestation of sons and daughters of the living God, and yet the truth of the matter is that it was anything but this. We dare not and must not try and excuse, ignore, debate or dispute this absolutely tremendous truth, for it would be absolutely and incredibly futile to do so. What’s more, is I can’t help but wonder within my heart and spirit if the Church in this nation and country wasn’t given a divine opportunity to step up as witnesses and testimonies who would minister unto the hungry and the thirsty, who would minister unto the naked, who would minister to those in prison, who would minister to those who were sick, and to minister to those who were in need, and instead of stepping into that moment they shirked the responsibility and burden that was before them.

            The more I write these words the more I am brought face to face with the absolutely astonishing truth that when the church buildings were closed, and when the pews were emptied there should have been such a presence of power, and such a manifestation of witness in the midst of the earth. The truth of the matter, however, is that there was anything but this manifestation and demonstration among us. What if—what if, in the midst of church buildings shut down and the pews being emptied the Lord of hosts sought to show us just how powerless we truly are? Oh please note and please understand that I do believe there are those who are moving and operating in the divine witness and power of the Holy Spirit, but by and large there are a great number of men and women who were forced out of the church buildings, and were forced out of the pews without any power and without any witness. What if as a direct result of this pandemic and crisis the Spirit of the Lord sought to show us just how powerless many of us truly are, and how little witness and testimony many of us truly have in the world around us. Oh it is true that we have been thrust into a virtual environment and have taken part in Zoom fellowship(s) and gathering(s), however, even with this manifestation among us there has been very little witness and very little testimony. Not only this, but there has been very little of the divine power of the Holy Spirit being demonstrated and manifested among us within our streets and cities. I fully realize you might try and argue and debate this with me, and yet I am absolutely convinced that within recent weeks and months there has been very little activity of the Church, very little witness and testimony, and very little power of the Holy Spirit. I firmly believe that in recent weeks and months there have been countless “Christians” and “believers” who have spent more time focusing on returning back to the church building and back to the pews—even unto those places the living God had thrust them from that they might be manifested in the midst of the world—than they have being witnesses and having a testimony in the midst of the earth.

            It is absolutely necessary that we pay close and careful attention to this, for there is not a doubt in my mind that one of the greatest things that has been needed and continues to be needed within this nation and generation is for the manifestation of the sons of God. What’s more, is that there not only needs to be a manifestation of the sons of God, but there also needs to be a manifestation of the friends of God—those who know the living God of heaven and earth, and those who are willing and able to rise up and be witnesses in the midst of the earth. The underlying trouble I find myself encountering and coming face to face with is that when the church buildings were closed, and when the pews were emptied—instead of the world seeing the manifestation of the sons of God and friends of Christ they saw that which the apostle Paul rebuked and sought to correct within the epistle written unto the churches in Galatia. During a time when there needed to be a great demonstration and manifestation of the sons of God and the friends of Christ that which the world before and around us saw was a people who were thrust out of the church buildings and out of the pews in the world who were completely and utterly powerless. What’s more, is that not only did the world witness a people that was absolutely and completely powerless, but also a people that might have begun in the Spirit and yet were continuing on in the flesh. As if this weren’t enough that which the world witnessed and beheld in recent weeks and months was not even the true gospel of the Lord Jesus the Christ, but rather another gospel which neither has Christ, nor His cross at the heart and center of it. I firmly believe that what the apostle Paul rebuked and sought to correct when writing this epistle written unto the churches in Galatia is exactly what the world witnessed and beheld when the church buildings were shut down and the pews were emptied. Consider if you will the following words which are found within this epistle beginning to read with and from the first and opening chapter:

            “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-10).

            “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:1-5).

            “But now, after that ye have known, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain” (Galatians 4:9-11).

            “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them. But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:16-20).

            “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offence of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off which trouble you” (Galatians 5:7-12).

            REMOVED FROM HIM THAT CALLED YOU INTO THE GRACE OF CHRIST UNTO ANOTHER GOSPEL! PERVERT THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST! WHO HATH BEWTICHED YOU! NOT OBEY THE TRUTH! ARE YE SO FOOLISH? HAVING BEGUN IN THE SPIRIT, ARE YE NOW MADE PERFECT BY THE FLEHS? HAVE YE SUFFERED SO MANY THINGS IN VAIN? HOW TURN YE AGAIN TO THE WEAK AND BEGGARLY ELEMENTS, WHEREUNTO YE DESIRE AGAIN TO BE IN BONDAGE? YE DID RUN WELL! WHO DID HINDER YOU THAT YE SHOULD NOT OBEY THE TRUTH!

            I AM AFRAID OF YOU! I STAND IN DOUBT OF YOU! Pause and consider the tremendous importance and significance of those words which were written by the apostle Paul, for those words are incredibly challenging and indicting when you take the time to truly think about and consider them. Stop and think about what it would have been for the apostle Paul to write unto these churches and to declare of them that he stood in doubt of them—and not only that he stood in doubt of them, but also that he was afraid of them. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were in the churches of Galatia, for not only did the apostle Paul write and speak of their beginning in the Spirit, but also of their running well. Clearly there had been something that had entered into these churches that had caused them to be bewitched—and not only be bewitched, but to also seek those things which would engender them unto bondage once more. BEWITCHED CHURCHES IN BONDAGE TO THE FLESH AND ELEMENTS OF THIS WORLD! Oh I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found within this gospel, for these words bring us face to face with that which much of the world before and around us saw when church buildings were closed and when the pews were emptied. We would like to think that the world witnessed and beheld the true and genuine gospel of the Lord Jesus the Christ, and yet the truth of the matter is that I am convinced what the world saw was another gospel that was not a gospel at all—a gospel that was contrary to the true gospel of the Lord Jesus the Christ and His cross. We would like to think that the world before and around us heard the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit demonstrated and manifested among them, and yet that which they saw was a people thrust forth from the church buildings which followed another gospel, which desired those things which engender them to bondage, and which began in the Spirit and yet were now continuing in the flesh. What’s more, is that which many in the world saw was those who initially ran well, and yet now were being hindered, being cumbered about and weighed down with many things. That which the world saw was men and women who needed to lay aside the sin which did so easily beset them, and yet what they witnessed was a people engendered to bondage and engendered to captivity.

            Please realize and recognize that I am not saying that everyone in our church buildings and pews fall into this category. I firmly believe that there is indeed a powerful manifestation of the sons of God which are present among us within the pews of our churches. I firmly believe that there are truly and indeed friends of Jesus the Christ among many of our churches. We must needs recognize and understand that there is a true Church of Jesus the Christ present in the world today—that body of Christ which is made up of many members and which is united with each other and with the Head. Even with this being said, however, I am absolutely and completely convinced that what is so absolutely necessary and critical among us within these days and within this generation is the manifestation of the sons of God and the friends of Christ. It was the apostle Paul when writing unto the churches in Galatia wrote concerning their no longer being called servants, but rather their being called sons. It was when Jesus spoke unto His disciples that He declared He no longer called them servants, but called them friends. It’s incredibly powerful to think about and consider that when the eternal Father sought to produce and bring about His greatest work within and upon the earth—He did not send a servant, but rather He sent a Son. In fact, even when you read the parables which Jesus spoke concerning the kingdom you will find Him speaking of the King sending servants initially and at first, and how those servants would be cruelly mistreated and shamefully entreated. Eventually and ultimately the King would send his own son thinking they would honor and respect the son. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this, for when the eternal Father sought to produce His greatest work in the midst of history He didn’t send another servant, but rather He sent a Son—and not only any Son, but the eternal and only begotten Son of the Father. It was indeed the Word which was in the beginning with God, and the Word which in the beginning was God which dwelt among us as the Son of the living God, however, we must needs recognize and understand that we have indeed been called sons of the living God as well.

            It is in the fourth chapter of this epistle we are brought face to face with the powerful truth concerning and regarding Jesus the Christ, and how He was sent born of a woman and born under the law that He might redeem them that were under the law that we might receive the adoption of sons. What’s more, is the apostle Paul would also go on to write that because we are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. What the apostle Paul writes next must be carefully understood, for the apostle Paul goes on to emphatically declare that we are no more a servant, but a son—and if we are a son then we are an heir of God through Christ. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful truth and reality, for when you read the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find Jesus speaking and declaring unto His disciples that He no longer called them servants, but rather He called them friends. What we must needs understand is that there was indeed a stipulation and requirement to this friendship, for Jesus would go on to emphatically declare that we are His friends IF WE DO WHATSOEVER HE COMMANDS US. It would be very easy to focus on friendship without and apart from the responsibility of obedience to the words and commands of the Lord Jesus the Christ, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. We dare not and must not think that we can be friends of Christ without and apart from doing that which He has commanded and instructed us. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize that in this hour, in this generation, and in the days in which we are living there is a great and tremendous need for the manifestation of the sons of God. In this hour there is not a need for politicians, nor for elected officials who have been placed into positions of authority by men according to the permission of God, but rather there is a great need for the sons of God and friends of Christ to be manifested in the midst of the earth. Even the apostle Paul when writing unto the saints which were at Rome declared that creation groans in eager anticipation for the manifestation of the sons of God in the midst of the earth. Oh we must needs pay close and careful attention to this, for this nation is groaning in eager anticipation and desperate need for the manifestation of the sons of God and the friends of Christ.

            As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary and imperative that I call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the fifth chapter of this epistle, for it is what we find in the fifth chapter of this epistle we are brought face to face with what is so desperately needed within this nation and within this generation. While there is indeed a great and powerful need for the manifestation of the sons of God and the friends of Christ—those sons of God and those friends of Christ need to such who not only bear and produce the fruit of the Spirit, but also those who love one another. The greatest demonstration of friendship with Christ is obedience to His commands, and the greatest evidence of being a disciple of Christ is our love one for another and for others. Oh dear reader, I am absolutely and completely convinced that what is desperately needed in this hour is the demonstration and manifestation of the power of the Holy as the apostle Paul wrote concerning his not coming with eloquent and persuasive words, but rather with the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit. I firmly believe with all my heart that what is desperately needed in this hour and in this generation is the manifestation of the sons of God and of the friends of Christ who not only demonstrate the power of the Spirit within the earth, but also who produce and bear much fruit of the Spirit before and unto those all around them whom they encounter on a continual and regular basis. If you want to truly see change in this nation in the hour and days in which we are living you must needs be the change you want to see, and you must indeed be vessels and conduits of the power and fruit of the Spirit within your life. There can be no lasting change in the midst of the earth without and apart from the sons of God, the friends of Christ, and disciples moving and operating in the midst of this hour in, with and by the power and fruit of the Holy Spirit. With this in mind I leave you with the following words as a clarion call and challenge in the upcoming days, weeks and months ahead:

            “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth much fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another” (John 15:11-17).

            “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:22-26).

            “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

            “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behalf itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).

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