Ephesians 5: 14
‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’
Acts 8: 1-8
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralysed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.
What an incredible weekend we have just experienced at Encounter More. We worshiped Jesus together, were challenged and inspired by messages from some great speakers, learned and applied the distilled wisdom of leaders in the seminars, and hopefully made some new friends. We even had the opportunity to be part of a live album recording. This week I thought it might be helpful to remind us of some of what we heard in the main morning and evening sessions of the conference.
SUMMARY OF ALAN SCOTT’S MESSAGE ON THURSDAY EVENING
Some of us are getting ready to give up on something that God is about to move on. This could be our marriages, our churches – even our cities.
What if these aren’t our darkest days – but God’s finest hour?
Samaria was a place that everyone had pretty much given up on. Acts 8 shows us a moment where God is going to reshape a city that has a history of depravity and immorality. Even small towns in the middle of obscure places can experience the awesome God showing up in awakening. That’s what Philip begins to bring to Samaria.
He comes at a time when the church is very low in confidence. It’s been silenced, marginalised, oppressed and is under immense pressure. Jerusalem, the epicentre of faith, has been shaken by persecution. This should have been the day when the Christian faith died. But this was the day when our faith began to transform entire cities.
In these days as the nations wonder and ponder – does the church have a future? – could God move again and we see our churches transform whole communities?
God had always wanted to move in Samaria but He was waiting for the church to move with Him. They had stayed gathered in Jerusalem but the moment they moved to Samaria everything began to change.
The living God who had shown up and moved upon the church on the day of Pentecost was now moving through the church on the day of persecution. As the enemy thought he was pushing the church back into extinction, he was actually pushing them into the divine catapult where God was getting set to release them into the nations.
The days of adversity for the church have historically been the days when the church has done its best work. Don’t give up on church yet.
We haven’t really 'encountered more' until those outside the church encounter hope in Jesus. The Spirit of God is not poured out for more experiences but for broken humanity, not for bigger services but for better cities.
We want to 'encounter more' so, like Philip, we can go out and proclaim and demonstrate the Kingdom, that every corner of the city where we walk would come alive.
Broken cities need so much more than bigger churches – they need people saturated in the presence of God who show up and bring transformation. Broken cities need everyone, everywhere, everyday showing up with compassion and authority.
The supernatural wasn’t given for church renewal but to restore cities.
When you show up you will feel inadequate and unprepared but God hides His treasure in jars of clay. When you step out, He will do something small, there will be signs of movement, but when God breathes on it, there is an awakening.
These are days when whole regions are coming alive. There is an upsurge of power coming in the nations of Europe. At the same time there will be unprecedented heartache. God has a people who will begin to arise and declare, “Wake up sleeper!” Things are going to get both darker and better until the end. Nations which have previously been impenetrable will become vulnerable to the story of God.
Just like with Philip, the next great move of God is the same old move of God. It’s not a move in the church, but a move of the church rewriting the stories of cities and calling out their divine design. The first wave has begun with a recovery of evangelistic fervency. Evangelism is not the ultimate goal though. It’s the restoration of everything, everywhere.