Those of us who still go to church lament the fact that most of the folks out there are no longer interested in what's going on in here.  They're convinced that we're wasting our time, singing our little songs and going through our religious routine.   And even when we persuade a friend to come with us to worship, most of the time they walk away with a few polite words, and never come back. 


What's wrong with those people?  Don't they see the importance of worship?   Do they really believe there is no God? 


Of course, there are a few places in around town where they get good crowds on a Sunday.  But even there, if you check it out, there still doesn't seem to be anything to set your heart on fire.  


So what's going on?   Is God letting the gospel of Jesus Christ fade and wither?   What happened to the Kingdom of God?  What happened to the power of the Word?   Is Jesus just another casualty of this pagan world?


It may sound strange, in the face of all this spiritual barrenness, to say that   we're actually on the verge of something quite new.  Something very different from the spiritual awakenings of past generations.  


I'm talking about something that God is doing, not something that we try to cook up.  Just as surely as God raised up those dry bones in Ezekiel's vision, I'm convinced that God is even now raising up a new thing that will draw people, fill them with awe, bring many to repentance, and turn many into prophets of his Kingdom.


Here's what I believe:  I believe that very soon this earth is going to see the love of God as it has never seen the love of God before. The living Lord Jesus is going to cover this planet with such powerful manifestations of God's grace that one will be puzzled to understand why the whole world doesn't fall to its knees and repent in dust and ashes.  And this new thing---which could well be God's final gift before the coming darkness--- will happen at God's initiative, not ours.  It will take many by surprise.


Back at the beginning, when Jesus came out of the wilderness and announced that the Kingdom of God is here, it was like a blast out of nowhere.  Nobody planned it.  Nobody set it up.  It just burst on the scene like a flash of lightning out of the sky. 


After Jesus announced that the Kingdom of God is here, the first thing he did was gather disciples to share in this new thing.  And he wasted no time in putting them to work.   

And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal.
And he said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.
And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.
And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them."
And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

                                                Luke 9


Notice, Jesus did not say to the disciples, "Now I'm going to give you a training course on healing.  After that we'll study how to cast out demons.   And then I'm going to give you some pointers on how to preach."


No, he just sent them out, using the authority of his Name.  He commanded them to travel light (don't be taking your i-phone and your GPS and five credit cards.  You won't need them) and told them to preach the good news and heal the sick.  And out they went.  And everywhere they went, the power of the Kingdom of God went with them, and people were drawn.  Young people, old people, rich people, poor people.  Good people, bad people, religious folks, and hard-nosed sinners.  They came and tasted the glory of the age to come.


And  after the resurrection, and especially after Pentecost, this thing  began to spread across the empire. Again, nobody planned it.  Nobody set it up.  It happened at God's pleasure, with God's power, under God's direction. 


And now, after centuries of ups and downs, good seasons and bad seasons, wars and famines and persecutions and false prophets, it appears that God is preparing us for what could be the final chapter. 


So while the world gets crazier, and the institutional churches are getting weaker, God is causing this Omega season to match the Alpha season---so that the end looks like the beginning, only more so.  This earth is going to see the love of God as it once saw the love of God on the shores of Galilee, only multiplied by a thousand. .  And the Lord is doing this through ordinary people, people who meet one requirement:  Simple obedience.   Simple obedience, nothing more.


You don't have to go to seminary.  You don't have to have a doctorate in theology.  You don't need the gift of gab.  You don't have to look like a movie star. The Lord Jesus will anoint you with power from on high and move you out among ordinary folks, and especially the forgotten ones to reveal  his kingdom….and manifest his unspeakable love, touching lives  here and there, with healing.   God will make it happen.  All he requires from us is simple obedience.


He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me, she who loves me,  will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and manifest myself to them."
Judas (not  Judas Iscariot, the other Judas) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?"
Jesus answered him, "If a person  loves me, they will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

                                                                                    John 14


"If a person loves me, they will keep my word."  They will not only believe my promises; they will obey my commands.


When the Charismatic Movement began spreading through the churches a half century ago, it was like believers suddenly discovered the supernatural.  They woke up to the fact that healing and visions and signs of the Kingdom were not confined to "Bible Days," but were meant to be part of the life of the Kingdom right up to the end of this age.  A spurt of energy came into many churches---signs and wonders began to appear, as believers opened their hearts to the life of the Spirit. 


John Wimber, a rock musician who became the founder of the Vineyard Church, actually taught a course on "Signs and Wonders" at the famous Fuller Seminary in California.   His object was to help believers understand that signs of the kingdom were meant to be a normal part of the life of the Body of Christ today.  Who can knock that? 


But our Lord also made clear that signs and wonders can be dangerously misleading, if performed apart from simple obedience to his words.

"Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'
And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'"                                           Matthew 7

This new thing that God is doing will certainly be attended by signs of the kingdom.  There will be healings.  Imprisoned souls will be set free.  But these things will happen at God' pleasure, through men and women who have learned to walk in simple obedience to the Master's commands.  Simple obedience to him is all the training they need.   Obedience to such words as these:


"…Love your enemies, and do good and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons and daughters of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish.
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back."                                       Luke 6:35-38


God is raising up, across this earth right now, an army of servants who will manifest his Kingdom with such grace, and such love, that people will be drawn.   The young, the old, the rich, the poor, the religious and the hard-nosed sinners---they will be drawn to a living Word, to living evidence of the Kingdom of God.  And the men and women through whose power they will be drawn, will have but one thing in common:  they will be focused on walking in simple obedience to the Master.


So what do we mean by simple obedience?  Three steps, three steeps which we take every day:


Step One:  We put ourselves at God's disposal.   Every morning we open our hearts to the Lord Jesus and say, "Here I am, Lord, I'm here to serve at your pleasure."   Every day anew, we turn our minds away from the darkness, open them toward the light of God's Spirit, and put ourselves at his disposal.


Step two:  We put our Isaac on the altar.  Most of us have an Isaac of some kind, a love, an obsession, some dream we cling to at all costs.   Abraham put his son Isaac on the altar, and God gave Isaac back to him, like a resurrection, because Abraham made clear to God and to himself that God came first in his life.  The rich young ruler, on the other hand, couldn't let go.  His possessions meant too much to him.


Martha loved her kitchen, and Jesus had to remind her of the "one thing needful."  And when Jesus said to Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these fish?" he was calling Peter to decide what came first in his life.


Sometimes our Isaac is a grudge, we just won't give up.  We'll forgive everyone else in the world, but not this guy.  He's had it.  And this unforgiveness becomes an unsacrificed Isaac that hinders our walk.  Sometimes our Isaac is a streak of vanity that runs far deeper than we want to admit.  Simple obedience to the Lord Jesus is only possible when Isaac is given up, even if we have to give him up afresh every day.


And finally, simple obedience means that we start doing things God's way instead of our own.  Most of us are busy doing "God's will" on our terms, with a few "improvements."


 Can you picture Jesus saying, "We're running short of money, fellows, we need a fund raiser."   No.  He simply said, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and  all these things shall be yours as well."  


Nor do we find Jesus, saying, "Let's hold a seminar on how to get the Holy Spirit."  He simply said, "If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him."  All you have to do is ask. 


Once we give up trying to do things our way, and set our hearts to doing  things his way, the Spirit of God begins to guide our steps.  Most of the time, we know what to do.  We just know the right way to go.  But sometimes the Lord Jesus will put his finger on an attitude that needs to change….or something that needs to be done his  way instead of ours.    Guidance may come through an inspired thought, or through the words of a stranger.  But the Master will make it clear.  And now we know what we have to do.  As we obey----in comes a rush of life from heaven to confirm us and strengthen us.  


Simple obedience means….

We put our lives at God's disposal.

We put our Isaac on the altar.

We start doing things God's way, instead of our own.


Simple obedience to the Spirit of the Lord Jesus puts us into the Kingdom of God in all its power.  And as we live our days in the Kingdom, we will find ourselves part of this new thing which God is doing.  


For soon this earth is going to see the love of God as it has never seen the love of God before.    It's going to hear the call to wake up and get ready.  A harvest of souls will come into the Kingdom like those fish flopping into Peter's boat.  There will be unspeakable joy in this final roundup, before the skies become dark and the moon turns to blood.


Peter fished all night and caught nothing---until Jesus said, "Now launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."


Peter wasn't convinced, but he obeyed.  And because he obeyed he brought in a catch that blew him away.  This catch wasn't Peter's thing, it was God's thing.


This is exactly what we're about to see.  A harvest of souls which is not our thing at all.  It's God's thing.  It will happen with us or without us. 


But if we are to be part of it, if we are to actually fit into this thing, there is only one lesson we need to learn.


We don't need to learn how to heal.

We don't need to learn how to preach.

We don't need to develop our spiritual skills.  All we need to learn is to obey.


To put our lives at God's disposal.

To put our Isaac on the altar.

To start doing things God's way, instead of our own.


"I'm here to do your will, your way O Lord."