What Is the Spirit Saying to the Churches?

THROUGHOUT┬álast fall, I had the privilege of scripting and narrating an amazing video called B… Hope for a New Millennium. A project of Promise Keepers in conjunction with Fresh Air Media, the video features respected messengers on revival such as Tony Evans, Jack Hayford, Billy Kim, Anne Graham Lotz, and Henry Blackaby The video was sent, free of charge, to every church in America. It’s designed to help Christians engage the new millennium with intensified prayer, specifically tackling the question “What is the Spirit saying to the churches across America?”

During the probing and debates that characterized the preproduction of the video, a consensus on what Christ wants us to hear emerged. To be sure, the central issue is “hope.” (Interestingly, other national prayer events in 2000 have decided upon the same theme. The slogan for this year’s National Day of Prayer is “America’s Hope for the New Millennium.” November’s Fasting & Prayer 2000 will use the banner “Hope for the New Millennium.”)

Seven statements from the video specifically reflect what the Spirit seems to be saying. (See the video for fuller details!)

1. America is at a crossroads. As we look across the landscape of past millennia, we can identify turning points for various peoples and civilizations-moments or events at which nations either recovered or disintegrated. Today, America is at such a decisive point. We will experience either massive revival or moral anarchy and judgment based on how we respond. We can either continue with “business as usual,” or we can become a part of the new thing God is doing in His church. Like Israel in Joshua’s day, we can either cross over into the greater works of God in revival (the Promised Land), or we can find ourselves, and our nation, sent into the desert of God’s judgments. The crises inside and outside of the church call us to prayer and to action.

2. Our nation is in crisis. As God looks across America, what does He see? What is the “state of the empire”? Surely He sees our moral bankruptcy, our 50 million urban poor, our greed, our loss of valuing life’s sanctity, the disintegration of the family, rampant racism, violence in schools, etc. There’s a crisis out there! And God will not tolerate it indefinitely

3. The church is in crisis. What does God see as He looks at the American church? Are the most sobering crises inside our churches? As many leaders observe, the shortfalls in our culture are mirrored dramatically in the life of God’s people. The desperate state of the nation is directly related to the unrevived state of our churches. What would a fresh fulfillment of God’s promises look like if it were poured out on believers in America and then across the land?

4. There is only one hope. No matter what term is used in your tradition-renewal, revival, awakening, reformation, outpouring, visitations, refreshment-the great hope God holds out to Christ’s body in our nation is a fresh encounter with the living Christ Himself. Christians must sense undeniably that Christ is alive and working in their midst as the unchallenged Lord of the church. That’s the only way we can be revitalized, so that churches grow, worship rises, ministry multiplies, society is transformed, powers of darkness are shaken, and the unreached get reached. The good news is that He’s already begun!

5. Signs of hope are everywhere.There are pockets of renewal everywhere: Lighthouses of Prayer; pastor prayer summits; city-reaching prayer movements; Mission America; the Christian Community Development Association; massive spiritual movements among youth, laymen, laywomen, and within whole denominations; broad collaborations in world evangelization. God’s power is being poured out in significant measure. These are the first fruits of the full revival God wants to send us. We must pray and prepare accordingly.

6. The time has come to get ready. It’s time for all of us to drive a stake into the ground and say, “From this moment on, I heed the warnings. I want to embrace the hope. I will act as if I really believe God is ready to awaken His people afresh to Christ and His kingdom. I will get ready by how I pray and how I live. I will get back to the cross. As Josh. 3:5 teaches, I will consecrate myself, convinced that tomorrow God will do amazing things among us. I will call others to join me.”

7. Christ is the center of every hope. This is the most important aspect of the message. God says “yes” to all His promises, but He does so only in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20). Christ is the ultimate hope of the new millennium. He is “the hope of all the glorious things to come” (Col. 1:27, Phillips). He is our “Joshua,” who goes before us. He’s the hope of all the ages. He’s the only hope for our nation.