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I want you to turn with me in your Bibles to Luke chapter 2, Luke chapter 2. Now, I have messages from the Lord during these occasions, I hope you've realised that - but today especially, I really feel a burning in my bosom (if you know what that means), a prophetic anointing regarding these two messages I'm going to bring today - this morning and this evening. I encourage you to come back tonight. It won't be, essentially, a Gospel evangelistic message - although the Gospel will be in it, enough Gospel to get you to the cross and to Christ if you're not saved - but it's particularly for believers. This morning's message I've entitled 'Welcomers Of The Next Move Of God', and we're looking at Luke chapter 2, and we're going to read verses 36 to 38. You will remember that the context of this is that the infant Lord Jesus is being taken to the Temple for dedication, and they meet a couple of characters in the Temple. This is the first, her name is Anna.
Luke chapter 2 verse 36 just through to verse 38: "Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eightyfour years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Israel".
Let's just have a prayer together, and I would ask you to pray, please, now, that the Lord will speak, and that you will have the spirit of receptiveness to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to the church this morning. I believe there is a message from God for all of our hearts, but it's important that we are in a place where we can hear what God is saying - and that all the garbage, all the blockage would be cleared away in our spirits, our souls, and our minds, in order that He might have free course to speak and do whatever He wants to do in each of us and corporately. So join with me in prayer.
Father, we bless You for all You've already done, and we thank You for what You're going to do right now. I pray, Lord, that what You've imparted to me, that I will be given liberty, unction, and help to deliver it in a way that would be pleasing to You; that nothing will be lost, nothing will fall to the ground of what You intend people to hear and get. Even the things that are not already birthed within my spirit, Lord, that You would put them right there now that they might be delivered and imparted to the people. Lord, we need You, we need You to come and meet with us, we need You to speak to us, we need You to shake our lives, shake this place, and shake the town. So we ask that You will come right now, Lord: speak with the voice that wakes the dead, and make Your people hear that prophetic voice, that sound from heaven, that trumpet of alert. Lord, would You come and do what You alone can do, in the mighty, glorious, victorious name of the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ and You, Heavenly Father - Triune Godhead, Holy, Holy, Holy. Amen.
I'm not sure whether you're aware or not, but many prophetic people - that is, people who seem to have their ear cupped toward God's mouth, and seem to be discerning and insightful in what God is saying today - and some other people, Christians who just have good old common sense; prophetic people and ordinary people alike, are harbouring an unusual sense that God is going to do something seismic very soon. Can any of you say 'Amen' to that? I believe this is going to be on two fronts. Very quickly, the two fronts are: on the front of judgement and the front of blessing. Let's deal with the first, judgement. We believe that God's going to - if He hasn't already, and I would vouch to say that He has already begun judgement. If you read Romans chapter 1, you will see that a withdrawal of His gracious influence on society, and the headlong dive into depravity, is not a sign that judgement is coming, it's a sign that the wrath of God has been revealed from heaven against all ungodliness. So the spiral that we are in, moral degeneration, is testament to the fact that God's judgement has already begun - how could it be anything else? It is a consequence of our attempts, particularly in the Western world, to abolish God. How could anything else be the case? Because of the inevitable lawlessness, the moral meltdown, and the apparent signs of the times that are all around us pointing and signalling to the fact that judgement is beckoning at the door, we are at the threshold of unprecedented days when we will see God's wrath against ungodliness released upon our globe, and indeed in our nation. When we give up God, God gives up those people.
There is no doubt that we are living in monumental days when we are beginning to see the things that can be shaken being shaken, in order that the things that cannot be shaken might remain. What a shaking society and the world is experiencing in almost every sphere of her existence! To put it another way: the weather forecast does not look good at all. We are heading for, we might say, a perfect storm. Do you know what a perfect storm is? Well, it's not the film or the book, but it is a rare combination of circumstances that aggravate a situation drastically. A perfect storm is a scenario where there is a confluence that results in events of unusual magnitude. The term 'perfect storm' has become synonymous with the worst case scenario. The term 'perfect storm' was heavily used during the recent global financial crisis. I believe it's an apt description of what Jesus talked about in Matthew 24 in the Olivet Discourse where, prophetically, He told the disciples what type of signs to expect before His imminent return. He taught on the 'perfect storm'.
Some Bible scholars and global observers have suggested that this perfect storm that Jesus spoke of, it will combine five factors. First of all there will be religion, there will be religious deception, a false religious movement, and ecumenism. It will also combine politics, great political movers and shakers will come to the fore. It will also have economic factors that we are seeing already in world crashes. There will be war - there has always been wars and rumours of war, but there will be worldwide war on a global scale that has never been seen nor will be surpassed. There will also be geophysical events that will take place, earthquakes, pestilence, various natural disasters on a level that is unprecedented. This perfect storm, and these five factors, will all have national and international effects. Jesus says there is a time coming, if it's not already here, when men will be so gripped by what is going on around them that their hearts will fail them for fear. Stress will grip hold of them and they will take heart attacks, to put it bluntly.
We are living in very uncertain, precarious times. But I want to pronounce to you - and this is the message from God today - that this need not be a time of fear or a time of despair, because on the contrary, for the Christian, this time of all times, we upon whom the ends of the earth is coming, it is a time of hope, it is a time of excitement, it is a time for those who know their God to not fear and to do great exploits for Him. You see, this isn't just a time of judgement, this is a time - I believe - of impending blessing. To put it another way: it is a time to shine God's light even greater under the menace of the darkening storm clouds around us. If ever there was a time to be bold, and be strong in the strength of the Lord, it is now! If ever there was a time to know that God is for us, and nothing can be against us, it is now! Though the earth be removed and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, we can know that God is our refuge and our strength, the God of Jacob is with us, He shall be our guide even unto death - we can be still and know that He is God!
I read a rendering, and I can't for the life of me find out what translation it was, of Psalm 46:2 I just quoted. It goes like this, I really like it: 'Even if the world blows up, and even if the mountains crumble into the sea; though the seas roar and fall, and the mountains shake, we won't fear!'. Amen? Maybe you're sitting there and thinking: 'Aye, dead on, who are you kidding? Is that really the way you expect me to react to all that is going on around us?'. I'm not going to recite it all, you've been watching the news over the last weeks, haven't you? The advances in genetic engineering, the laws that are being passed, the moral degradation and depravity that is on every hand, the pressure and persecution that is on Christians for taking a stand - you can see the storm clouds gathering, and you're thinking to yourself: 'How is it possible that we don't get our eyes on what is going on? It's so obvious, and it does strike fear into the very depths of my being!'. Well, here's the answer: don't focus on the storm, welcome the Son! Welcome the Son! Judgement is approaching, but there is blessing coming - and Jesus is at the threshold of the door!
Hebrews 12 and verses 28 and 29 says: 'Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. For our God is a consuming fire'. We are the people of a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. I love 1 John 2:17: 'And the world is passing away, along with its desires; but whoever does the will of God abides forever'. Do you remember how Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount? He talked about the wise man and the foolish man. The wise man built his house on the rock, the foolish man built his house on the sand; and when the storm came it was the man who had built his edifice, his building of his life, on the solid rock, his house stood firm and endured the storm. This storm is judgement, that's what Jesus was talking about - you need to make sure that your life is built on the rock, Christ Jesus, 'On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand'. Otherwise when the judgement comes, when the storm clouds gather - Christian - you're not going to stand!
Though we are living, I believe, in a time of impending unprecedented chaos that is intensifying, we are also living in a time just on the brink of unprecedented blessing. I believe this - do you believe this? - that we are nearing the endtime harvest, that there is a revival coming, a time of outpouring, a time of latter rain that the world has not seen since Pentecost (and many believe will surpass, to some degree, Pentecost). Now Acts chapter 2 was where we were last night, looking at God's new thing again. You remember that Peter stood boldly on the Day of Pentecost, and he said: 'This is that that was spoken of by the prophet Joel', and he quoted Joel chapter 2. Part of what he quoted was this, listen, Acts 2:17-20: 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh... before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD' - it's coming! Not just the judgement, it's here, it's started; but I believe the blessing has started as well.
The question before you today is: will you be a storm forecaster, you know these storm chasers - a shilling short of a pound, aren't they? Looking for a thrill, and there are some prophetic people are like that, prophetic preachers who are like that. They are fear-mongers at times. I'm not saying we shouldn't read the signs of the times and go by them, Jesus taught us to do that, but we have to be very careful: are we storm forecasters, or are we Son-welcomers? That's what we are meant to be, I believe, and that's what God is saying: that He wants to raise up a generation of welcomers of the next new move of God, a radical remnant who will host what God is about to break forth and is already breaking forth in parts of the earth. Men and women and young people like Anna, will you be like Anna?
Look at chapter 2 of Luke again for me, verses 36 to 38, this is the only mention of Anna that we have in the Bible - it's all we know about her. What Luke records is that she was a prophetess. Now a prophet and a prophetess are people who receive insight from the Lord. By the way, if you go back to the book of Amos, you find out that God does nothing except that He reveals it to His prophets - did you know that? That's what the Book says: God never does anything before He reveals it to His prophetic people. She was a prophetess - and I have to say to you today that there are many women in the church of Jesus Christ, and I've discovered this, who are more receptive to the Holy Spirit's insight than men. Now that's an indictment to men.
Anna was a tragic figure. We read here, didn't we, that she had been widowed early - but it's very interesting that she didn't let her suffering early on in her life and marriage drive her from God. That's often what we are prone to do: when something goes wrong we blame God, and we allow the enemy to use that to accuse God and drive us away from God. But on the contrary, Anna allowed her suffering to drive her to her knees, and to give her life in complete devotion to the Lord - this was a radical wee woman! She completely surrendered herself to the Lord! Why has the domain of the radical become something that is associated with youth today? Now, God bless you, but why does that have to be? Here was a radical senior citizen - Amen? She was determined to give her whole life, and perhaps as many as 60 years she spent serving in the Temple, in fastings and prayers - you thought 40 days was hard, here's 60 years this woman is serving the Lord in constant devotion of fasting! Like all the great lovers of God, she abandoned herself to devotion. Many would look on at this wee woman, and maybe even some Christians, and say: 'She wasted her life!'. Is that what you think? She didn't marry again, she went into the Temple and just sought God for His Messiah, for His Anointed One, for the next move of God. She did waste her life, but she wasted it at the feet of Jesus, just like Mary and the alabaster box - she was broken and poured out at His feet. That's what He loves, that's what is a sweet fragrance in all the earth.
But I want you to see that fasting, for Anna, was not some kind of crisis secret weapon - and that's often what we do. We pull fasting out of our back pocket when there is something wrong in the family, or in the finances, or in the business, or something like that - but that's not the way it was for Anna, and indeed that's not the way it is for all great men and women of God. Fasting is a way of life! Do you remember when Peter, James and John were up the mount of transfiguration with Jesus? They came down from that great beatification, or whatever you want to call it, where the glory of Jesus burst forth momentarily, and they saw Elijah and Moses with Jesus - what an experience that must have been! They came down off the mountain, and they hit the floor with a bump, because of the bottom of the mount of transfiguration the other disciples who were left there waiting on them were grappling with a demon in a wee boy, and they couldn't cast it out. Do you remember that story? The father of the wee fella said to Jesus: 'What's the problem with these boys of Yours, because they can't solve my problem and cast this demon out?'. Listen to how Jesus responds to that father: 'Because of your unbelief' - He says to the disciples, now, not to the father; He says to the disciples, 'Because of your unbelief you couldn't cast this spirit out, for surely I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there', and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting'.
There is a bit of a debate about that verse, and I'm not getting into it here this morning, but there is even a debate about its application. Did Jesus mean that such demons don't come out without real prayer and fasting, either for discernment or power? That could be. Or some scholars believe it means this: your unbelief, your unbelief won't go out without prayer and fasting. I'll leave you to decide on that one, but I'll say this much: Jesus cast it out. Do you know why? Because Jesus didn't approach fasting as an emergency secret weapon, but Jesus lived a culture of fasting in His life. Jesus lived a fasted life, and do you know what that meant? He was ready for anything! Do you understand? He was always ready for the new thing that God was going to do. I want to tell you today: if you're going to be one of the welcoming party for the new move of God, this season of 40 days and this weekend will not end your fasting, it will only be the beginning!
Now, I know that's not what you want to hear - but if you're seeking a supernatural acceleration in usefulness for God, if you're wanting an atomic effectiveness in your prayer life, you're going to have to make fasting part of your lifestyle. If we want to see our marriages healed, if we want to see the divorce rates cut in the church, if we want to see our children converted and the prodigals come home, if we want to see our town and indeed our nation transformed by the grace of God, we need to take on fasting as not some kind of little season that starts the year in a nice way and gets all the Christmas fat off, but we need to see it as a thing that we use as a way of life to be ready for what God does! It has to be more than a religious ritual of abstaining from food, because fasting strictly is abstinence from food - but it's more than that. You can fast from many things, and fasting - if you like - is a demonstration of the sacrificial life of love that breeds freedom. If you want to be free from the flesh, you start fasting - nothing will kill the flesh like fasting, nothing! If you want to see a breakthrough in some kind of temptation, you start fasting. If you want to get deliverance, you start fasting. If you want to see it in your own life, if you want to see it in your family, if you want to see it in your church - but, wait till I tell you, if we are really going to see freedom break out in our town, we're going to have to take on fasting as a way of life - a sacrificial lifestyle.
It doesn't just mean giving up food. Do you know what God's chosen fast is? Do you know what God's chosen fast is? It's found - don't turn to it now - in Isaiah 58, I'm going to read it from The Message, listen, God says: 'This is the kind of fast day I'm after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I'm interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am''. It is for freedom, and it calls for more than just giving up food, it's a sacrificial life.
I believe that what Anna was doing was to welcome the Messiah. Her faith expected him, and her faith was rewarded - God is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. She was the first to welcome in Jesus into the Temple. Now there may well have been a band of prophetic intercessors in the Temple, there probably was, praying over - imagine it - the many promises, messianic promises in the Old Testament. They, along with Anna, just spent their days pouring over these scriptures, and offering them up to God. But because she expected Him, she was in a position to recognise Him when He came - and she had a wonderful, glorious revelation of Jesus Christ, God's New Thing.
Your expectation will determine how radical you're prepared to be. Did you hear that? Your expectation will determine how radical you're prepared to be, and what sacrifice you're ready to make, to welcome the new move of God. In these unprecedented endtimes, God is calling out another band of radical intercessors who, hearing the voice of God, are devoted in radical abandonment and wasted lives to welcome the blessing, and indeed the second Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, just as Anna did the first coming of the Saviour. Before the second coming, the Spirit of God is calling out a faithful remnant of Simeons and Annas to minister to Him in the Bridegroom fast - not only to welcome the Bridegroom, but to prepare the bride to make herself ready for the Great Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
I believe this is the explanation for the global prayer movement that has now taken strides right across the world. I believe this is the reason for Houses of Prayer springing up everywhere, including Portadown. I believe this is the reason for the 24/7 prayer movement right across the globe. What is God doing? He is restoring His Temple in preparation again for the presentation of the Messiah. The Bridegroom fast will be intrinsic to welcoming His presence as He comes to us again. Will you turn with me to Matthew 9 till I show you this Bridegroom fast? I think I mentioned it last night or the night before, Matthew 9, let's read it again, Matthew 9 verse 14: 'Then the disciples of John came to Jesus, saying, 'Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?'. And Jesus said to them, 'Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast''. Now is that time! The Lord Jesus, bodily, has been taken away from us - I know we have the Holy Spirit, and He has come to us in the power of His Spirit - but nevertheless we are meant to be fasting for the Bridegroom's return. The disciples had got so accustomed to His bodily presence, that they didn't want to fast when He was with them - but when He went, they would yearn for His presence again. You see the Bridegroom fast is a fast of love-sickness!
Oh, I think that's what's been going on these 40 days. Am I right? We haven't just been fasting to get things done. Certainly, the ones I know who have been fasting, have been fasting with lovesick hearts, yearning for Jesus, yearning for more of Him. I want to tell you: we are in the age of the absent Bridegroom, we await the cry: 'Behold the Bridegroom, come out to meet Him!'. This is not meant to be merely a mourning because Jesus isn't here, it's meant to be an act of preparation for His return, to welcome Him and to welcome the blessing that will precede Him, such an outpouring of the Spirit that this world has never seen. I believe it is such a radical remnant that will usher in a great harvest just before the Lord returns. I want to ask you today: are you going to be one of the welcomers of the next great move of God? There is the sound of abundance of rain, there is a cloud on the horizon the size of a man's hand, there is the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, there are many prophetic signs of impending doom - but more than that, and greater than that, signs of promise outpouring. I want to ask you: are you personally positioned, church, are we personally positioned to welcome the next great move of God?
In World War II the American General, George Patton, addressed his troops before battle. He knew that many of his men would make the supreme sacrifice of life, or the lesser sacrifice of limb - great sacrifice that that is - and they would do it in exchange for the freedom of the nations. Before they went into battle, the General gave them this speech, you listen carefully to a paraphrase of it: 'Men, one day when your grandbaby climbs into your lap, and looks up at you and asks, 'Grandad, what did you do in the great war?', you will not have to hang your head in shame and say, 'I was shovelling manure in Louisiana'. You will be able to look at him in the eye and say, 'Honey, I was right in the midst of the battle when the nations of the world were hanging in the balance''. That's what I want to say! Right in the midst of the battle when the nations of the world are hanging in the balance!
Let us pray. Tonight I will be preaching on 'Where Is Jesus Now?', but I want to make an appeal right now. First of all I'm going to make an appeal to backsliders, anyone here and you have wandered far from the Lord, anyone who has wandered from the Lord and you're not walking with the Lord. If the Lord was to come quickly and suddenly, you wouldn't be ready. You realise - you'd need to be blind and deaf - watching the news and reading the reports around us, you know that the storm clouds are swiftly gathering, and you know that you're not right with God, and you're not ready to meet Him. You can have all the evangelical cliches that you like, but you should not be sitting in passivity in some kind of false security, thinking you're all right before God, and you're living in known sin. I want to call upon you here, because the Kingdom of God is near, to repent. Is there anyone here this morning, and you will just, where you're sitting, raise a hand to say: 'I need to come back to the Lord right now. I need to come out of my sin, I need to come out of my lukewarmness, and I need to return to the Lord'. Just slip your hand up where you're seated, as an acknowledgement of your need - whether you're up in the gallery or down below, and you're not right with the Lord, and you need to repent, or you need to forgive someone, or you need deliverance from some particular bondage, and you want to be free here today. Don't tell me there are no backsliders in the meeting here, don't tell me that everybody is ready to meet the Lord - whether you die or He returns - don't tell me that! Is there anyone here that wants to repent and surrender afresh to the Lordship of Jesus, and get the freedom that you need to live this Christian life and blaze a trail for Jesus, and be a part of the welcoming committee for the new move of God and the second coming of Jesus? Just raise your hand where you're seated. God bless you, God bless you, God bless - backsliders, God bless, God bless.
Now, you talk to the Lord, you folk, and you just say to the Lord - you repent of whatever it is, the sin in your life, you just repent. It's between you and the Lord, confess your sin. He died for it at the cross, just ask Him to cleanse you of it and set you free, and to give you this life to the full right now. You just do that where you're seated, whoever you are. Is there anyone here this morning - God bless you - is anyone here this morning and you're not saved? You're not ready if the Lord was to return, you wouldn't be ready. Is there anyone who wants to be saved here this morning right now? Just raise your hand, young or old, anyone who wants to be converted and born again, wants to repent and trust Christ for salvation, and be ready for what's going to be broken upon this world very soon. Is there anyone, and you're not ready yet but you want to get ready? Just raise your hand so that I can see it, and we will pray with you and pray for you. Are there any? Wherever you are, just raise your hand, confess your need of the Lord, and we will lead you in a prayer - anyone, young or old? Come on now, God is speaking, I believe, to some people. Don't fool around with God. Anyone who wants to get saved right now, young or old, some of you young people are fighting - what are you going to do? Take your chances? Rather you than me! Things are getting darker and darker week by week, why not take a leap into the light, and trust Christ? Anyone who wants to get saved before I move on?
Now this is my final, and perhaps most significant appeal. I don't want just doing things for the sake of it, OK? I'm not interested in that, so I would ask that people close their eyes and bow their heads. We're not interested in counting, we're not interested in quantity - it's quality the Lord wants. I want you to stand to your feet if you want to align yourself and position yourself to be a welcomer of God's new thing in Portadown and Ireland and in this world. Right now stand to your feet.
Father, Your eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth. You have got a book that is open for those who name Your name. Lord, I ask You now to look down on this congregation, and those who are meaningful and sincere from their hearts. I ask You, Lord, to meet with them and transact with them as they choose to say: 'This God shall be our God, God of Bethel', and that You would open a veritable portal over our heads now, that an angelic ladder would fall and upon it would ascend and descend angels upon the Son of Man - that You would make this a gateway to heaven, that You would make this the very House of God. Lord, that You would make us not a building of stone and mortar, no building can contain You, O God - but, Lord, that You would make us Your Temple, and that You would come suddenly into Your Temple, and that You would do a work in us that we will be again a Tabernacle of David to welcome You. Arise, O God, Thou and the Ark of Your Strength, into Your dwellingplace, that there will be a resting place for God to come in our lives, to welcome the Lord Jesus Christ in. Lift up your heads, O you gates, be lifted up you everlasting doors, that the King of Glory shall come in. Who is the King of Glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, mighty in battle, the Lord of Hosts is His name. He is the coming King, and we raise our gates, we raise the heads of our gates to welcome Him into our town in anticipation of His bodily presence. Even so, come Lord Jesus Christ, we await You - come Lord Jesus.
Don't miss the follow-up message: “Where Is Jesus Now?”
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at Portadown Elim Church in N. Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording titled "Welcomers Of The Next Move Of God" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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