Christ’s Continuing Prayers

By Pastor Bill Rowe

person-and-crossDo you ever consider the thought of Christ’s continuing prayers for you?

“Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:34, NKJV).

Isn’t that beautiful?

Robert Murray M’Cheyne said, “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.”

That’s a truth I can appreciate!

Blessings!
Pastor Bill

Drawing near to God

By Pastor Bill Rowe

6 (God) gives more grace. Therefore He says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you… (James 4:6-8, NKJV)

Do you ever wonder how often God would resolve problems for you if you would simply trust Him?

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A parable of the Father’s love
When I consider James 4:6-8, I think of a school child whose mother prepares his lunch and places it in his backpack every morning. When her son takes his backpack and goes to school, he’s met by a bully who threatens the smaller child and steals his sandwich. The little boy is terrified of the bully’s threats and refuses to tell his parents or teacher.

After returning home from school very hungry for several days, the boy’s mother asks why he is always so hungry. But her son keeps the truth to himself.

When he continues to come home hungry, his mother tells his father that he should become involved…something is up.

Trusting the Father
So the father sits down with the son, reminding him of his parents’ love for him, and their concern that he is continually hungry. After a short time, the child tearfully confesses that a bully has been stealing his lunch. The father hugs his son, prays with him, and assures him that the bully would not bother him any longer.

The next day, mom prepares the child’s lunch and the boy goes to school. This time, however, as he walks into school, his father is holding his hand. The bully is nowhere to be found; nor did he ever again steal the boy’s lunch, just like his father promised.

What made the bully flee? It certainly wasn’t the boy who had been victimized. Instead, it was the presence and protection of the father. The child’s problem was solved when he trusted his father enough to tell him that a bully was stealing his lunch.

How often do we fail to tell our heavenly Father of our true needs? Like the child’s parents, our heavenly Father cares very much about our welfare. God is interested in helping us through our troubles. In fact, God delights in helping His children.

Drawing close to God
We can trust our Lord with all things that nag us. But we won’t trust Him if we are not in a close relationship with Him and sharing our hearts with Him. We must draw near to God so that He will draw near to us. That’s the only way the bully will flee!

Robert Murray M’Cheyne said, “Live near to God, and all things will appear little to you in comparison with eternal realities.”

Are you overwhelmed today with troubles that seem insurmountable? Maybe you could take a few moments and tell your Father about them; He promises to listen because He cares for you…

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Blessings in our loving Lord!
Pastor Bill

 

 

‘Sodom had no Bible,’ Part 2

By Pastor Bill Rowe

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Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994)

Last week, we looked at a portion of Leonard Ravenhill’s book, Sodom Had No Bible. It is a convicting call to the Western church to repent from its self-centered, faith.  He calls every Christian to come humbly before God, confess our sins, repent of our self-centeredness, and seek God’s leading toward a revived heart. Ravenhill longed for a modern-day Pentecost as was witnessed in the First Century church. He understood that Christian hearts must first be revived before there can be any expectation that God will revive our churches. Through the churches, God will bring revival to our nation and to the world.

Ravenhill continually challenged pastors, missionaries,  and all ministry leaders who often choose the comfort of title and position over the challenging work of pointing people to repentance and sacrificial commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. His voice echoes such biblical giants as John the Baptist, the Apostles, and our resurrected Lord Jesus who told His disciples in His Great Commission, “…that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47, NKJV).

Sodom Had No Bible
Here is another excerpt from Leonard Ravenhill’s book, Sodom Had No Bible (note that this book was originally published in 1971 so some of the cultural references may be unfamiliar to a contemporary audience. Ravenhill’s point, though, has not been dampened with the passing of time):

“America as a nation (England shares this, too) already has had posted all warning signs, signs that Sodom lacked. The dice is loaded against America.

(1)   What Obligation Has a Holy God to a People . . . who spend one hour in Church on Sunday, then walk to the ball park to spend several hours walking in the counsel of the ungodly and sitting with the blaspheming sinners who profane His holy name?

(2)   What Obligation Has God to a People . . . who allow a newspaper stand to have fifty-seven different magazines sporting nude pictures?

(3)   What Obligation Has God to a People . . . who allow Japanese girls to be imported to stand nude as “wallpaper” for some hot city night spot?

(4)   What Obligation Has God to a People . . . whose government gives millions to support a communist country which, by the very nature of its philosophy, is pledged to kill the hand that supplies it?

(5)    What Obligation Has God to a People . . . who place on their coins, “In God We Trust,” then bar children from singing Christmas carols in day schools and let a half-dozen people get a local law made to stop prayers by millions of children in such schools? (In so doing they let a few local cronies bypass a constitutional amendment.)

(6)   What Obligation Has God to a Nation . . . that is well spotted with poverty but can spend four million dollars in one afternoon on a Florida race track? (The statistic is Billy Graham’s.)

(7)   What Obligation Has God to a Nation . . . who is spending more per annum on dog food than on propagation of the gospel?”

(Above quote from, Leonard Ravenhill, Sodom Had No Bible. Kindle Edition.)

God begins with you
May we expect God’s blessings upon us as a people if we are living individually for ourselves? Should we claim God’s blessings when we are not willing to proclaim our faith to those who are dying in their sins?

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” (Psalm 33:12)

If this nation needs God, you are the first link in the chain that will bring revival. God ignites Revival in the individual before moving outward to the church and then to the community at large.

What would happen if you, right now, bowed your knee before the Lord, confessed all, received His promised forgiveness, and then stood with your mind set on total change in your life for the glory of God? How many others would be impacted by your witness as God transformed you into the image of His Son?

Freedom from bondage
Christ’s image is an image of freedom: Christ provides freedom from sin, freedom from fear of men, freedom from continued defeat.

My prayer is that we all bow our knees before the Lord, humble ourselves before the Lord, and receive God’s grace. I pray that the Lord will revive our hearts and our faith, a true faith in the true gospel of the true God. I pray that revival will spread like a Holy Ghost fire across this beautiful land of ours.

Blessings!
Pastor Bill

 

Life Group Redux

By Pastor Bill Rowe

Though we were iced-out last Wednesday evening, Lord willing, we will gather tomorrow night (Wed., Jan. 18) for our Revive mid-week Life Group. Feel free to show up at 6 p.m.. We will have dinner around 6:15 p.m., followed by prayer and Bible study.

The dinners are always a great time for fellowship and building friendships, but if you can’t make dinner, feel free to drop in any time through the evening.

Life Groups will meet at our home in Aurora (visit the calendar on our Revive website or call 630-667-7693 for exact location!).

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Discovering Joy in God’s Word
Our Bible study is titled Fullness of Joy, and is based on the First Epistle of John (1 John). As you approach this study, I hope you will pray for God to give you an expectation for what He has for you to learn. I know that there are three primary reasons why John states that he wrote the letter, which we will discover as part of the study.

Together we will also learn what this wonderful book of the Bible teaches about different levels of relationship, or, to used John’s word, koinonia, or “fellowship.”

  • Most important, we will learn how to strengthen and deepen our relationship with God through a better understanding and continued application of His Word to our daily life;
  • Second, we will see how our relationships, or fellowship, with one another as Christians, especially those in the same church family, are developed and Christ-centered;
  • Finally, John shows us how we as believers are to view and engage the world.

I trust that you will be blessed, and look forward to seeing you Wednesday night!

Blessings! Pastor Bill

‘Sodom had no Bible’ Part 1

By Pastor Bill Rowe

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Leonard Ravenhill, (1907-1994)

The late Leonard Ravenhill was a Christian revivalist and a shock-force for Western Christianity.

Like his contemporary, A.W. Tozer, Ravenhill’s deepest desire was to see the church abandon its current therapeutic, self-centered, lethargic faith and be revived to the Spirit-powered, world-shaking, self-sacrificing, God-fearing, faithful movement the Lord commissioned in Acts 1. Ravenhill is particularly pointed  in challenging preachers and pastors who have led the church into the gutter of worldliness and self-deception.

He makes me wonder: Is he talking to me?

If he is talking to me, then I must examine myself with the question that the late, great Christian philosopher Francis Schaefer asked us all: If the gospel is true, then, “How Should We Then Live?”

Sodom Had No Bible
The following is quoted from  Leonard Ravenhill’s book titled Sodom Had No Bible (fantastic title, eh?):

“A phrase from the pen of the great revivalist, Jonathan Edwards, is biting viciously into my spirit right now. When Edwards  describes the justice of God as pointing its arrow at our hearts, he adds that ours is ‘an angry God without any promise or obligation at all.’

That phrase is biting me right now. I cannot push it off nor brush it off nor wash it off. It is biting on the inside.

How right Edwards was! What obligations has God to a people like us whose aggregate sin as a nation in one day is more than the sin of Sodom and her sister city, Gomorrah, in one year?

Again, we must ponder the fact that America has advantages gospel-wise that Sodom never had.

  • Sodom had no Churches.   We have thousands.
  • Sodom had no Bible.   We have millions.
  • Sodom had no preachers.   We have ten thousand plus thousands.
  • Sodom had no Bible schools.   We have at least two hundred and fifty.
  • Sodom had no prayer meetings.   We have thousands.
  • Sodom had no gospel broadcasts.   As a nation we are richly blessed with Christian broadcasts.
  • Sodom had no histories of God’s judgment to warn it of danger.   We have volumes of them.

Sodom perished in spite of all these disadvantages. America today is living only by the mercy of God.

The only reason we are not smoking in the fire-wrath of a holy God is mercy-m-e-r-c-y, prolonged mercy.” (Above quote from, Leonard Ravenhill, Sodom Had No Bible. Kindle Edition.)

Seeking a zeal for the Lord
Oh, dear Christians, have we become so casual with our Holy and Righteous God that we no longer concern ourselves with pursuing His will, sharing His Son, and walking with Him in an honorable and holy fashion? Do we assume God’s mercy or do we receive it with humble thanksgiving?

I am praying for my Lord to break my heart to know Him, and to desire Him alone.

I am praying for you, too, Christian. Will you join me in seeking the Lord to fill you as He desires rather than how you desire? Revival begins with you. Revival cannot and will not happen in this nation until the church is revived, and the church cannot and will not be revived until each Christian has completely released his or her will to our wonderful Lord. A faith that serves you first is a faith in a false god.

Pray for the Lord to give you and all Christians the zeal that the psalmist sought when he wrote:

“…zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.” (Psalm 69:9)

Pray that the Lord instills in you a hatred for all that offends God, so that you can be free to love Him with the purity of love that He has for you.

Blessings!
Pastor Bill

Fullness of Joy: Revive Bible Studies kick off Jan. 11

By Pastor Bill Rowe

Revive’s midweek Bible Study Ministry will begin again on Wednesday, January 11, 2017. Fonda and I are looking forward to hosting our gatherings this year. A couple changes for this year’s Bible studies include shifting from Fridays to Wednesdays, and opening the doors a bit earlier (6 p.m.) to allow for dinner together and to share an extended time for prayer before our group Bible study.

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Fullness of Joy
The Apostle John wrote 1 John with a specific intent:

“And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:4).

In his letter, John makes clear that this fullness of joy is developed through relationships, or fellowship, with the Lord and with fellow Christians. The original Greek word for fellowship is koinonia, which is translated at Revive, as “getting all up into each other’s business.” Koinonia means more than hanging out a couple times each week for a church function; it means that we develop friendships that we know will be long-lasting and reliable.

We take these relationships with the Lord and with one another very seriously here at Revive. Your Revive Bible Study group is designed to be the place for you to deepen your relationship with the Lord and to grow closer to your Revive family.

Our inaugural Bible Study of 2017 will be guided by an eight-week study of 1 John, titled Fullness of Joy. The Apostle John was inspired by the Holy Spirit of God to encourage us with the wonderful truths of God’s love, His assurance of eternal life, and the fellowship that He provides His children.

Join us Wednesday evenings in Aurora as we explore the many themes of the Lord’s blessings in 1 John. Through eight sessions, we will discover what God’s Word says about the following themes in 1 John:

  • Introduction to 1 John – Jan. 11
  • The Presence of God – Jan. 18
  • Christ’s Example – Jan. 25
  • Christian Fellowship – Feb. 1
  • Abiding in the Christian Life – Feb. 8
  • The Nature of Man and the World – Feb. 15
  • The Lord, the Christian, and Sin – Feb. 22
  • Eternal Life – March 1

What we do at Midweek Bible Study
While our schedule remains flexible, every Bible Study group includes a dinner starting around 6:15 p.m., followed by a time of prayer and singing. We then engage God’s Word together. These are wonderful times of connecting with one another and sharing our lives together. If you can’t make it for dinner, please feel free to drop in any time of the evening and join in (I’m pretty sure leftovers will be available!).

Please call 630-667-7693 for details and location.

My prayer is that we will bless our Lord through our fellowship, and that He will continue to bless us as a church family.

Feel free to invite your friends, whether they are Christians or not. You will find that your Bible Study Group will be the place to roll up your sleeves and practice the fellowship (the koinonia) that John speaks of throughout 1 John.

I trust that your joy will be full in the Lord!

Blessings,
Pastor Bill

 

‘Gentlemen, this is a football’

By Pastor Bill Rowe

Vince-Lombardi-7.jpgLegendary Green Bay Packers football coach, Vince Lombardi, once insisted that his languishing team get back to basics. Facing a locker room filled with highly paid, seasoned pros, the coach lifted a football in his hands and announced, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” The story goes that several of the professional players started to mock the coach, as they felt insulted by the simplicity of his words. But the coach knew that, while talent and technical plays are valuable, true champions are made by mastering and executing the basics of the game. Considering the Packers’ championship run under Lombardi’s leadership, even Bears fans can’t argue with the coach’s logic.

Drawing on Lombardi’s wisdom, Revive will charge into 2017 focused on getting back to the basics of God’s purpose for His church.

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the quipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:11-12, NKJV)

The function of the church is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry…” and to “…edify the church…” And that’s just what Revive will be focused on in 2017: equipping each of us for the work of ministry.

To do so, Revive will provide four venues designed for us to be equipped as individuals and to grow as a church body.

  1. Sunday worship;
  2. Midweek fellowship;
  3. Discipleship; and
  4. Evangelistic outreach.

Our Sunday worship church services happen every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. at the Persinger Center, 3507 Kaneville Rd., Geneva, Illinois. You will find it to be a tremendous time of conversation, prayer, worshipping in song, and expository preaching through the Bible.

Midweek fellowship is a time for us to get to know one another better and engage life together. We will host dinners every Wednesday evening in Aurora (call 630-667-7693 for details). Together, we will “break bread,” and catch up with one another. This time of fellowship will be followed by an extended time of prayer and praise songs. After we pray and sing, we open God’s Word together. It’s a time for questions, discussion, and a deeper understanding of the glories of our majestic God. Our midweek gatherings begin Wednesday, January 11, 2017)

Discipleship is based on a curriculum that allows us to work through the basic doctrines of the Christian faith together. Discipleship sessions are done in groups of two-to-four people. To move forward as a healthy, vibrant, disciple-producing and disciple-growing church, it’s important that we all understand the doctrines of the church. People who have been with Revive longer, and who have completed the Discipleship curriculum will guide others as they either come into a new relationship with the Lord, or into a new relationship with Revive from another church. All at Revive are encouraged and expected to be praying for God to provide them with someone to guide through this discipleship model.

Evangelistic outreach will be an effort of the church family to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to our community. While we are all responsible to witness to those we live and work with, it is a special blessing to go out as a church family to share the joy we have found in our Lord.

This is a very basic explanation of Revive’s 2017 focus of equipping for the work of ministry. If you have questions or would like more details, please join us at our Sunday or Wednesday gatherings. You can also call me at 630-667-7693.

Many blessings!
Pastor Bill