Jeff and I pray on Friday nights, asking the Lord to revive His church. We pray always for revival, but this is a more formal time. He and I look separately at the Word, seeking a lead from the Lord on what Scripture to pray.
Last night, my Scripture was from Acts 27, verses 6-44. I meditated on it for a while before our prayer time, praying for revelation from the Spirit. When we prayed together, I read a paragraph or two and then stopped to pray out what the Lord showed me. Here it is:
In verses 6-10, I see that Paul represents the Holy Spirit and those who are Spirit-filled who are in the church. The ship is the church. We know that if the church makes decisions contrary to the advice of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of God, damage and great loss, even loss of life occur. This is the precarious position of the church right now. She is, by and large, off on her own, making plans and doctrinal changes that are contrary to the Spirit’s lead and God’s wisdom. We grieve for her and intercede on her behalf. Let’s go on.
In verses 11-13, I see that the centurion (a type of pastors in the church) are persuaded by captains and pilots (a type of those above them in leadership positions) to do what is contrary to the Spirit’s instruction. There are many reasons why leaders do this: a desire for more people in the pews, or greed, or because they really think they have a better idea than the Lord (spiritual pride). The church has thus launched out into a storm, contrary to the Lord but in the strength of man’s wisdom. I see that she is in the midst of the storm even now.
In verses 14-20, I see that in the storm, the church continues to use man’s strength to try to secure the ship which is the church. They expend much energy and money to shore it up against the storm, but nothing seems to work. The ship continues to be imperiled. There will come a time when all hope of saving the church will be abandoned. Some in the church already feel that way.
In verses 21-26, I see that the Spirit is reminding the church that He warned her against going out in her own wisdom. She has now incurred damage and loss. What’s more, food is running out. We already have experienced a famine for the Word of God in thousands upon thousands of churches in the U.S. and around the world. Just a few crumbs or some milk (snippets of Scripture that tickle the ears) are offered, rather than the sumptuous banquet that should be taught and preached, the feast that grows Christians up in the Lord and makes them hungry to be filled with righteousness, even filled with the Holy Spirit. But look! God is compassionate and full of mercy, gracious and slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness! Those filled with the Spirit have seen a vision. God has spoken to us supernaturally, saying He has granted to us all who are on the ship. We believe God, that it will turn out exactly as we have been told. But we know the church must run aground at a certain point. All of those man-made plans and doctrines must come to an end, and God will do it.
In verses 27-32, I see that some are afraid that the church will run aground, even though in verse 36, we saw that the Spirit says she must. They continue to try to use their own strength to keep from being wrecked. Some, seeing the impending shipwreck, are trying to secretly escape. But be careful! Unless we remain with the ship, we cannot be saved. This is a warning to those who want to flee the church. Do not go; you’ll imperil many if you do. Believe the Spirit, for He says God has granted life to all who stay with the ship! Let the ropes down and let your means of escape fall away. [
In verses 33-36, the Holy Spirit calls those in the church to take spiritual sustenance, for their preservation (the Greek soteria, which means physical or moral rescue, deliverance, salvation). They must eat the Word so they will be strengthened. Not a hair from the head of any of us will perish. Let us take the Word in. Let us begin to eat in the midst of the storm, in the midst of what seems like a hopeless situation. Take and eat, just as those on board the ship with Paul took and ate! You will be encouraged!
In verses 37-44, I see that the end of the journey is nearing. Now it is time to discard anything unnecessary. We have eaten, we are satisfied. Let us cast aside whatever would hinder the journey’s conclusion. It’s time to make for the beach! The church will run aground and will be wrecked; the Spirit says it must (again, see v. 26). Satan will seek to kill us so we cannot escape to the shore and freedom. But pastors will recognize that the Holy Spirit’s instruction was wise and that leaders’ ideas were unwise. They will keep Satan from his intention. They will guide some to reach safety because they are spiritually equipped to do so, and will provide pieces of the church upon which others will float to the safety of the beach, which is the ultimate destination of the church — the true Promised Land.
What happens next? Look at the first part of Acts 28. Before the end of things, I see revival, healing, empowerment and the church’s full use of her authority to trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of Satan.
NOTE: Please do not interpret this as me saying we are saved through the church or a denomination; we are saved by believing in Jesus Christ. But I see that many are abandoning ship (church as we commonly know it here in the U.S.) these days. I believe we need to continue meeting together as Hebrews 10:25. I do not believe we are to continue with a church if it is in obvious theological error. But don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater! Find a church that is dividing the Word of God rightly.
Jeff was in 2 Samuel 6. Here again, Jeff sees that the Spirit speaks of not following the Holy Spirit’s instructions. Even out of love for God, the church goes off on her own to bring His presence into our places of worship. Disaster ensues for Uzzah and for those in the church who believe they must help bring in God’s presence in their own strength. The plan is shipwrecked, as it were. Then the church follows the Spirit’s instructions and successfully brings God’s presence into her midst. The joy of those bringing His presence will be outrageous, and some will scorn it. But beware — those who scorn will be barren all of their days.
Take what you will from this word; we believe it is from the Lord. May it outrage, bless and encourage, just as the Lord desires.