Monday, April 02, 2012
Today’s Topic: The Real Triumphal Entry
Today’s Text: Isaiah 63:1 (NIV) Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.”
Ninety minutes. That’s equivalent to watching one half of a football game. It’s about the time it takes me to mow my lawn every week. It’s how long worship went at our church yesterday.
It was an action-packed service, authored by the Holy Spirit of God. Thirty or more small children marched down the aisles waving palm branches as the congregation sang the Paul Baloche version of “Hosanna.”
Announcements were filled with adventure as we took a video tour of our vacant property where God will soon provide for us to begin a building project for a new ministry center.
Two heart-wrenching scenes brought tears of joy to the eyes of many. The first was when we heard the testimonies of two young women who were making their public profession of faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior by being baptized by immersion. The crowd erupted in cheers for the second week in a row as people came up out of the water having demonstrated their death in Christ and their resurrection to new life.
The second tear-jerking scene happened during the personal preparation time for communion when one of our members who had rebelled against the Lord and deceived our church came forward and confessed his sin to the congregation and asked for forgiveness and restoration to fellowship. The Elders embraced him and extended to him the grace and forgiveness that each of us has received from the Father.
By now forty-five minutes have passed, and everyone is entranced by what is being played out by God before their eyes. During our congregational prayer time which we call SELAH, taken from the Psalms, the Elders were called forward along with the members of the Missions Team and we celebrated the commissioning of a young woman who is leaving this week for full-time mission work with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) on the campus of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. What a joy it was to covenant with her as her sending church as we fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to observe all the things Jesus taught us. It was especially meaningful to have her dad, one of our elders, pray over her as we laid hands on her and sent her forth to do God’s will.
The transition into the next scene was smooth, as the members of our two short-term missions teams to the Bayou were called forward to give their reports. We rejoiced as we celebrated the ministry God has given us to serve the people of Louisiana whom we have come to love so much.
Finally, after seventy-five minutes, I was alone on the platform to share God’s Word with people still hungry to hear from Him. The room was heavy with the presence of the Holy Spirit. I preached very simply from the story of the triumphal entry, focusing on these words of Christ in Luke 19:44 – “…because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” In twelve minutes I was done, but the Holy Spirit wasn’t. An invitation was given, and two people who had been brought by a faithful family from our church raised their hands to receive Jesus Christ as Savior. After the service, in our prayer room, the couple that brought them had the privilege of witnessing their repentance and the forgiveness of God offered through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Hallelujah!
In all my years of ministry, I have experienced a move of the Holy Spirit like this twice before – once in South Dakota twenty-eight years ago, and once here in Wisconsin twenty-three years ago. It is happening again. There is a movement of the Holy Spirit in our church that is outside of the control of man. It is not the result of anything we have done except one thing – we have obeyed the Lord and we are doing what He said. In both the previous cases I learned something important – to stand back and not touch the glory of God that is being revealed. But while He is moving, we will join Him and we will enjoy Him.
Ninety minutes. That’s how long the service went. Not exceptional for our church. That’s the heart of God’s people for their Lord.
Now, let me ask you – out of everything you just read, is it possible that the words “ninety minute worship service?” are so stuck in your thoughts that you missed the significance of what God is doing?