Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, "At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation." Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

         II Corinthians 6:1-2


The word we're hearing from committed believers every­where is that there is a spiritual awakening going on all over the earth at this hour, which may well be the last one this world will ever see. Judgment has already begun at the house of God. The Spirit is calling forth and raising up a new kind of church and a new kind of people. I don't mean a church different from what we see in the New Testament .... but certainly a church radically different from what we seem to consider normal in present-day Christendom.


When we hear about a spiritual awakening sweeping over the earth, the thought of it sounds exciting until some­one walks up to us and points their finger at us and says,


"O.K., it's time for you to enter into this thing with all you have.


- God is calling for things from you that you haven't given....


- God is offering you a power and a grace and a vision in his Spirit such as you haven't  tasted...."


When people start to talk to us like that we always get nervous, and we say to ourselves inwardly,


"Maybe they're right. Maybe that's true. Maybe I only have one foot in and one foot out, but, I'm not going to jump in with both feet until I'm absolutely sure. I want to see this spiritual awakening with my own eyes."


It's like being invited to a banquet that you're not quite sure whether it's worth going to. So you wait to see who else goes. If the right people go, if enough people go, if the band starts to play, then we'll go too.




- I've married a wife and I cannot come.


- I've bought five yoke of oxen, I'm going to test them out.


- I've bought some land, I've got to look at it.


That's how it was in Noah's day. Here's Noah building this giant boat miles away from any water .... and people come and watch. And they listen to Noah as he preaches righteousness. He stands up on the bow of this great big boat and cries out to people,

"Judgment is on its way! ..... Repent! Give your lives to God! .... turn around!"


And people say to themselves,


"Yes, he's probably right. But I think I'll wait a while until I see who else goes. I want to see more evidence of this judgment he's talking about. I want to see something."


And nothing spectacular happens until the day that Noah stands again on the bow of this great big boat which is now filled with animals and his family. And he cries to the people and begs them to repent.....


"Don't just stand taking pictures of my boat!.... repent!"


People smile, turn and go to McDonald's for lunch..... Noah enters his boat. God shuts the door. A thunder­storm starts .... nothing unusual, just a thunderstorm.... except that this one won't quit until Noah's boat is bobbing around on the water all by itself.


Lot used to sit at the gate in the city of Sodom and talk to the elders there about the kingdom of God. Sometimes he even passed out tracts. He would call them to repent­ance and talk about God's righteousness. And people would say,


"That Lot, he's crazy! .... but, he probably is right. There probably is going to be judgment, and maybe I should make some changes in my life. But I'm not going to do it yet until I really see something."


One evening two strangers come to the city of Sodom where Lot is and the only one who recognizes them is Lot.... he falls on his face before them. He urges them to come and stay the night at his house. Pretty soon there's a riot around Lot's house ... it's mobbed with people who say,


"Send those guys out to us! Who do you have in there Lot? We want to have a little fun with them. Send them out!"


And Lot says,


"Go away! .... go away! You don't know what you're saying. You don't know what you're doing. Go on home!"


In the morning the two strangers drag Lot and his family out of the city of Sodom. A rain of meteors falls down on the city and it's destroyed.


That's how it was with Jesus:  Jesus has a handful of followers. Everybody else stands at a distance and listens and watches.


"Maybe he's right. We've never heard any­body talk like this. We've never seen things like he's doing. But first we want to see this kingdom of God."

Actually they're looking right at it and they don't know it. Jesus is the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is Jesus calling them to repentance, offering them new life.


When the kingdom of God is being offered as a gift to us in sheer mercy, no matter who we are or what we've done, and we turn our back and walk away, what's left is judgment. The door closes. And once the door is closed, even if we come back and pound on the door, and say,


"Lord, open to us! Don't you remember us? We ate at your table .... we took communion. You taught in our streets."


He answers,


"Depart from me, I never knew you, you workers of iniquity."


Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, 'Lo, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you."

            Luke 17:20-21


There's not going to be a bandwagon. No fire trucks to ride .... It's here now! Now is the time to get into it!


And he said to the disciples, "The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, 'Lo, there!'

or 'Lo, here!' Do not go, do not follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man. They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was in the days of Lot --- they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and brimstone rained from heaven and destroyed them all - so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed. On that day, let him who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away; and likewise let him who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot's wife. Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it and whoever loses his life will pre­serve it. I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together; one will be taken and the other left." And they said to him, "Where, Lord?" He said to them, "Where the body is, there the vultures will be gathered together."                                                                                Luke 17:22-37




The kingdom of God, the spiritual awakening is already here. Now is the acceptable time ... now is the day of salvation. The evidence, the proof, the bandwagon that everybody's waiting for will not appear until the door closes on the ark and the rain starts to fall. The evidence that the gospel that Jesus gives us is true, will be here on that day when judgment is clear to every eye and the knees of every devil have to bend in terror.


But the time to enter the kingdom is now! Most of us think of ourselves as already in the kingdom. Yet we cannot deny that we've got one foot in and another foot out ... that there's something more that we're being called to. All too often we're like the ladies who met the fire chief at a tea. He had this uniform on and he looked so handsome. Everybody was drinking tea and having a lovely time together, until the alarm goes off. The fire chief takes off. Just across the street a hotel is burning down. Fire trucks fill the street. Here come all the ladies with their tea cups. They want to help. The fire chief becomes rude and shouts,


"Get out of here with your tea cups! This is a fire!"


That's what's going to happen to us, if we don't wake up. Most of our church life is like a tea parlor. We've been playing our little Christian games, but we're called to something much much more. And the time to get into it is now!


So, how do you get into the kingdom of God? Chapter 13 of Luke is the kingdom chapter ... as is chapter 13 of Matthew. First of all, we enter the kingdom by repentance.....


There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."

Matthew 13:1-5


The first step into the kingdom of God and into this spiritual awakening covering the earth right now is repentance. And repentance is very simple. Our heart, our spiritual heart, is like our hand. The hand has a hard side and a tender side. You don't pick up a baby with your fist ... you pick up the baby with the tender side of your hand. If you want to hit somebody in the stomach you don't tap him, you punch him. So ever since the fall of man, the hard side of our heart has been aimed toward God.... and the tender side toward ourselves. To repent is to turn it the other way so the tender side is up toward God and the hard side is down toward us. This is exactly what Jesus means when he says,


"Unless you repent, turn, and become as children you'll never enter the kingdom of heaven."


"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."


We can't see or hear what God is doing on the earth at this hour because we have the hard side out. Repentance means we turn, we become like children. We give up the idea that we have all the answers .... that we know so much .... all our cynicism and all our self-righteousness and become as children. Then we shall begin to hear the voice of God.


The next step into the kingdom is the step of faith in Jesus. Not just faith in some theological premise but in the person of Jesus himself. Reading again in Luke 13...


Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And there was a woman who had had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your infirmity." And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she praised God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, "There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day." Then the Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger, and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?"

              Luke 13:10-16


The woman represents what we are at this time. She's bound .... can't straighten out. Jesus says to her, "You're free from your infirmity." He places his hands on her and her heart responds.  She trusts him, and slowly her body comes up straight for the first time in eighteen years. Her hands go up, and she begins to praise God. That's what the Lord Jesus wants to do to us as we read these words.  The same Spirit that was upon Jesus hovers over us at this instant.   He says to us, whose chains have bound us for so long, "You're free .... you're free from that bondage, you don't have to be imprisoned any more."


To the specific hang-ups and dreads that plague us .... we know what they are.... (we don't have to think about somebody else's bondage we can think about our own).... the Lord Jesus says, "You're free! You're loose! You don't have to be trapped in that hole any more."


All we have to do is believe (Help our unbelief!). If we open our heart and trust him, in rushes the life of God that brings us out of those chains and into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.


Thirdly, we enter and remain in the kingdom of God by bearing kingdom fruit. After we have repented and received forgiveness through the blood and the power of the Spirit we don't  sit around and sing songs and stay out of trouble and comfort each other, sheltered from the big bad world. We go out  and we bear fruit. Any church that is not bearing fruit is under the judg­ment of God.... as we read in Luke 13 again:


And he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, 'Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?' And he answered him, 'Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down."                                                                  Luke 13:6-9

What kind of fruit? He's talking about living souls. We're not talking now about the fruits of the Spirit....

- love,

- joy,

- peace. We're talking about results .... not numbers .... but living souls brought from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. People who are set free from their chains. Victory that we win by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of our testimony and because we love not our lives even unto death. He gives us the Spirit for no other reason than that we bear fruit .... all of us.... without exception!          And so the fruit bearing chapter, John 15 explains:


"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit."                                                                                 John 15:1-2


"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit."                                                                                    John 15:5


"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples."                                                                                    John 15:7-8


"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide....."                            John 15:16


Finally, we enter the kingdom and we stay in the king­dom by allowing the kingdom to have our entire life.... everything! Reading once again from Luke 13:


He said therefore, "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches."

And again he said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened."

Luke 13:18-21


First we have this little tiny seed. Pretty soon we have a tree that fills the garden! We have a bit of yeast, leaven. Put it in that lump and pretty soon the whole thing is leavened.


What we have tried to do for much of our lives has been to keep them compartmentalized


....this little pile is for God,


....this big pile is for me.


We've got Sunday for God, and Monday through Saturday for me. But he has said, "I want it all! I want everything. I want you to open all the doors wide so I can come in and absolutely take possession of,

- your thought life,


- your bodily life ...... all your possessions, all your relationships, your memory,

         your future,

         your hopes,

         your dreams,

                                                                                                                   your fears ..... give it all to me, and I will sanctify it and make it good."


"You will have unspeakable joy!"


There is a spiritual awakening spreading over the earth at this hour- including the place where you are. Judgment has already begun at the house of God. The Spirit of the Lord is raising up a new kind of church and a new kind of people. And we are being called to be part of it.


Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, 'Lo, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you."                                                                                                                    Luke 17:20-21 bandwagon, fire trucks .... it's already here. And the time to enter it is now.


As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man. They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was in the days of Lot-they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and brimstone rained from heaven and destroyed them all-so will it be on the day when the Son of man is re­vealed.        Luke 17:26-30


The time is short .... God alone knows how short... And the hour for us to repent,

to turn our hearts over to him, to believe ...... is now!


Even today we're going to go out, and in the name and power of the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus, we're going to bear fruit. And we're going to let him have everything. If we will do that, we will see such changes in our lives and in our corporate life that a year from now we won't believe it's the same church or that we're the same people.