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Evangel Tabernacle | December 6, 2021

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A People Prepared for the Lord

A People Prepared for the Lord

A PEOPLE PREPARED FOR THE LORD

KEY TEXT

Luke 1:14-17 (NIV)

 

V14- He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth,

 

V15- for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.

 

V16- Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God.

 

V17- And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

 

We are living in the last days.

 

All signs of the end delineated in Matthew 24:6-14 are evident for all to see: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place but the end is not yet. For nations will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various place: all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another……And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold…….And the gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nation, and then the end will come.

 

As you witness the global current events like the political turmoil in the Middle East, starting with Tunisia, then in Egypt; and next in Bahrain and Jordan and with the ongoing civil revolt in Libya and even in Yemen, you can’t help but be warned in your heart that God is behind the scene, preparing the BIG SHOW. Then the earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand, drawing the world’s attention to the country tucked away down under but then was eclipsed by a bigger quake that hit Japan. The latest March 28, 2011 issue of Times Magazine carries the headline in its featured article, “The Day The Earth Moved”. This is what it reported: “The 9.0 quake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011 was powerful enough to shift the earth on its axis and make it spin a little faster, shortening the day by 1.8 millionths of a second. It shoved the island nation one parking space to the east. But what felt like the end was just the beginning. The sturdy buildings that survived the quake were ravaged by the wave that followed. The three-storey wall of water (Tsunami) dissolved coastal towns, dry-docked boats on the roof of buildings and shuffled houses like playing cards…..But still it was not over; only the earth and sea had spoken. The next danger came from the sky…….When the quake hit, the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi complex did exactly what they were supposed to do: they shut down. But then the Tsunami wave came, breached the seawall, drowned the back-up generators needed to cool the reactors and took out the spare batteries……One by one, the outer building exploded….The best nuclear scientists on the planet raced to avert a total meltdown even as radioactivity levels as far south as Tokyo spiked to 23 times as high as normal. With the menace growing by the hour, the most fateful calculation came down to the most fickle: Which way is the wind blowing?”

 

Japan’s cataclysmic earthquake set out a chain reaction felt around the world. As we witness all these current events, again our spirit should be stirred to be able to interpret the signs of the end. Jesus reprimanded the foolishness of man – we are good at interpreting the signs of the weather but we are bad at interpreting the signs of the end times. Whatever is happening in the natural world will be proportionately matched by spiritual activity.

 

I remember one of the camp speakers invited by Evangel Spore, said, “The move of the Holy Spirit will be in line with any major global event. Example: When there was a global breakthrough of the internet world in the 1990s, there was also a great breakthrough in revival that came down on many parts of the world like the Toronto Blessing and the Pensacola Revival.”

 

I sincerely believe that there will be one more great move of God as great as this 9.0 Richter’s scale Japan quake that will move the earth. If it can move the axis of the hard Japanese nation by one car park space, I believe God will send one more Spiritual quake and tsunami to envelop the hardened nation of Japan to make them bow to the Lordship of Christ and call upon Him to be saved.

 

Yes, there will be a spiritual Tsunami coming that will envelop the world – ONE LAST GREAT MOVE OF GOD TO HARVEST IN AS MANY SOULS AS POSSIBLE INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD. There will be ONE BIG SPIRITUAL EARTHQUAKE that will be so powerful that it will so shake our life that the axis (alignment) of our life will be shifted for the Kingdom King.

 

On March 6, I was doing devotion and I felt that God wants to use Evangel Iloilo to prepare for the second coming of the Lord like John the Baptist prepared for the first coming of the Lord.

 

Luke 1:14-17 gripped my heart and I took it as God’s direction to plunge into intensive discipleship program for Evangel Iloilo.

 

 

God wants to raise Evangel to be a people prepared for the Lord’s second coming. He is coming soon but His coming will be preceded by a great harvest. How is He going to prepare you and me for this great harvest? It will be in the likeness of John the Baptist.

 

So this morning, I would like share a message which I hope all of you will be able to catch the vision and its urgency – A  PEOPLE PREPARED FOR THE LORD.

 

 

How is the Spirit going to make a people prepared for Jesus’ second coming?

 

(1) BLESSED BIRTH

V14- He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth.

 

The special son to be born to Zechariah and Elizabeth would fulfill a predetermined purpose before God. His birth would cause not only his parents to rejoice but many others too. Why? Because John would be the herald (messenger) of the great King and his birth would hasten the coming of the Messiah.

 

Application: There are some who detest your birth. You felt you are an accidental birth of your parents. Maybe you are born out of wedlock. Maybe you are born out the sin of your parents. Maybe you are born unplanned by your parents. Maybe, your birth wasn’t a good news to your parents but an additional mouth to feed and a burden to bear. But brothers and sisters, God is going to make your birth a blessed one. He is going to use your existence to bless not only your loved ones but many others. He is going to fill you with a predetermined purpose and that is to herald and to hasten the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because you are born in this era and in this generation, you’ll get to fulfill the purpose of God – to share the good news like John the Baptists to many sinners and to pave the way for the second coming of Christ. We will be like Esther, whose very presence and existence in the palace was destined by God to fulfill an opportune time to deliver her own people from peril. We are born for such a time as this – preparing the people for the second coming of Christ. Our birth may be spurned and forgotten by men but in the eyes of God, our birth is specially designed by Him to be blessing in the last days to multitudes of soul.

 

(2) GREATNESS BEFORE GOD

V15- for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.

 

In these last days, God is preparing His people to be great before Him.

 

This greatness “in the sight of Lord” is measured by very different standards from the world’s. It does not lie in the qualities that make the thinker, the artist or the poet but such as make the prophet and the saint. The true ambition is to be great after this pattern – great in dauntless witness for God, in self-suppression, in yearning towards the Christ, in pointing to Him and in lowly contentment to fade in His light and decrease that Christ may decrease.

 

In the eyes of the world, John the Baptist is a loser. He wore a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locust and wild honey. What greatness is that? But the Bible declares that what the world deems great is considered least in the Kingdom of God and what is deemed least in the world is considered great in the Kingdom of God. John the Baptist in the eyes of God was great because he kept pointing the multitudes to Christ and he was fearless to demand repentance from the multitudes. He discharged his prophetic ministry fearlessly. He dared to reprimand the Sadducees and the Pharisees coming to him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance and do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:7-10). He was radical in his message and lifestyle. He also recognized that He is not Christ but only a preparer for Him.

 

Application: God is going to make many of you great before His very eyes. God knows that many of you have a very humble earthly station of life – you are poor; you don’t have a great job, a great name, a great family or a great house or a great bank account. In the eyes of the world, you may even be deemed a loser. But God is preparing you to be great in that courageous spirit to preach the word of God to the multitudes; to dare to point the sins of people in between their eyes and to live a life of self-denial, carrying the cross daily in your life and recognizing that Christ is everything and you are only a vessel.

 

E.g. When I was standing up and reaching out to the presence of God in one service and the fire of God came down upon my fingers. I felt it and the Holy Spirit stirred up within the same anointing that I received during the Revival Meeting at Brisbane. I began to laugh even though I wanted to cry more. But the Holy Spirit forbade me to cry. He just made laughed and laughed and then I heard this voice – Go back and read the Book of Zephaniah last chapter. I did and God told me that He “has taken away the judgment against me; he has cast out my enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in my midst; I shall fear evil no more…..Do not fear….let not your hands grow weak. The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing…..I will remove disaster from you so that you will not bear reproach for it…..I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast and I will change their shame into praise…..I will make you renowned and praised among all the people of the earth……” (Zeph 3::15-20). Because of this impending blessing of greatness, God wants me to “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!” Immediately I understood why God wanted me to laugh instead of cry because the day of greatness is coming upon me and my ministry. The promise of making me renowned and praised has to do with the magnitude of the ministry of this church where we are able to gather in the lame and the outcast and like Jesus, able to change their shame into praise because we point them to Christ.

 

You are going to be great before God. This church is going to be great before God but before greatness can come, God wants us to humble ourselves in self-suppression and denial. Then the exaltation will come.

 

(3) WHOLEHEARTED CONSECRATION

V15-He is never to take wine or other fermented drink……..

 

John the Baptist had been forbidden to drink wine as part of the Nazarite vow, an ancient vow of CONSECRATION to God. This strongly marked features in the habits of the Nazarite should be viewed as typically teaching that not only the ministers but all the people of God, should abstain from sin, be temperate in all things, be superior to earthly pleasures and cares and be altogether a peculiar people, distinguished from people of the world.

 

In the last day, God will move in many of our hearts to stamp our lives by the vow of self-denial and abstinence. There will be a hunger that God will arouse within us for more of God and His power. The power of God will be released in proportion to the degree of our consecration.

 

E.g. -I know lately there is a lot of debate whether Christian can drink or not, especially when the medical findings say that red wine is good for the health. So many carnal and unconsecrated Christians love to hide behind the facade of this medical finding to drink. But one day I was reading Leviticus about the high priest and God forbade Aaron to drink in Leviticus 10:8-11-And the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying, “Drink no wine nor strong drink, you nor your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die; it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generation. You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean; and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by Moses”. I shared this verse with Jan and she argued that the verse is only for Pas Toh Nee and me since we are like the high priests of this church. But I questioned her about 1 Peter 2:9 describing all the born again as the royal priesthood and she was dumbfounded.

 

Why God forbade John the Baptist to drink? Because He didn’t want John the Baptist to be intoxicated by the wrong and temporal joys of life. That is why Ephesians 5:18 exhorts – “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery (Msg: Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens life).

 

Many of you drink because you want a temporary boost in your spirit with happiness or that high feeling. Alcohol gives you that effect but after it wears off, the grief and the sorrow remains and worse is when you are intoxicated, you do foolish things that harm God’s name and your family.

 

God is going to birth within many of us the desire for wholehearted consecration, upholding a life of self-denial and abstinence. That will be the last day preparation of the Spirit within your hearts and mine.

 

Are you willing to give up the wrong intoxication and surrender your life to God?

 

(4) FILLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

V15- and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth

 

V16- Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God.

 

This is Luke’s first mention of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. Luke refers to the Holy Spirit more than any other Gospel writer; it is a major theme for him. Luke was thoroughly attuned to the work of the Holy Spirit, as seen in the book of Acts. Luke recognized and emphasized the Holy Spirit’s work in directing the founding of Christianity and in guiding the early church. The presence of the Spirit is God’s gift given to the entire church at Pentecost. Prior to that, the Holy Spirit was given to the faithful for special task. That John would be FILLED with the Holy Spirit, EVEN BEFORE HIS BIRTH, indicates a special choice of this child. This also signals the restoration of the prophetic work of the Holy Spirit that had not been present in Israel for over four hundred years (since the days of prophet Malachi).

 

Application: God is going to fill you with the Holy Spirit in the last day. Instead of you getting intoxicated with wine and strong drinks, God wants you to be intoxicated with the Holy Spirit – to be FILLED with the Holy Spirit [Eph 5:18 (Msg)-Drink the Spirit of God huge draughts of him]. Because there was a special task ahead of John the Baptist, he was already filled in his mother’s womb to prepare him for the future rank. Saul, while tending the herd, remained long without any mark of royalty and when at length chosen to be king, was suddenly TURNED INTO ANOTHER MAN (1 Sam 10:6).

 

In the last day, we will be filled with the Holy Spirit and we will be turned into another man for special task of turning many to the Lord (v16) before our Lord returns again. So your excuse of introverted temperament or your timidity will not be an admissible reason.

 

The preaching of John was one of preparation and turning men’s hearts towards God. In effect, he would do “heart transplants”. Through John’s words, God would take stony hearts and exchange them for hearts that were soft, pliable, trusting and open to change (Ezekiel 11:19-20).

 

Application: Brothers and sisters, God is going to fill many of you with the Holy Spirit. Without the fullness of the Holy Spirit, you cannot complete the special task of this last day harvest. Why? It is the office of the Holy Spirit to convince people of their sin and the Holy Spirit eminently represented the law and the prophets in their work of preparing the way for Christ’s second coming.

 

That is the one thing our church lacks. We don’t lack in evangelism or the equipping but we lack in drawing people to have an encounter with God. We send people who have not been touched by God or people who have lost the touch of God to the harvest field and no wonder our efforts are futile and we become weary. That is why, Pas Toh nee and me are compelled to quickly change the whole organization of this church where many of our favorite old ministries have to go in order to make way for every single weary and struggling soul to come in touch with the Holy Spirit, to have their life ignited by the Holy Spirit; to have them encounter the Holy Spirit; to have them filled with the Holy Spirit so that like John the Baptist, they can turn many hearts to the Lord.

 

 

Remember, one of the signs of the end is apostasy. There are so many people who have backslided and left our church. Our strictness, discipline and our words can never bring them only. Only when we are filled by the Holy Spirit will we then be able to turn their hearts to Christ again, just as John the Baptist turned the backslidden people of Israel back to Jesus.

 

The Holy Spirit is going to fill you up with His power and presence. Are you ready? Do you want it?

 

(5) ANOINTING OF ELIJAH

V17- And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

 

The angel explained to Zechariah that John would go before God IN THE SPIRIT AND POWER OF ELIJAH, a great prophet who was known for not mincing words and for standing up to evil rulers (1 Kings 17-19). The ministry of John resembles that of Elijah: both witnessed fearlessly for God; neither was seen much in the public except in the direct exercise of their ministry; both were at the head of schools of disciples; the result of the ministry of both might be expressed in the same term- “many of the children of Israel did they turn to the Lord their God.”

 

John in the spirit and power of Elijah would “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous.” The first part of this phrase comes directly from the prophecy of the Messiah’s forerunner found in Malachi 4:5-6- “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

 

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. With Malachi’s death, the voice of God’s prophets would be silent for four hundred years. Then a prophet would come, like Elijah, to herald Christ’s coming. This prophet was John the Baptist. John prepared the people’s heart for Jesus by urging people to repent of their sins. Christ’s coming would bring unity and peace but also judgment on those who refused to turn from their sins.

 

The meaning of the phrase “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children” may mean that John’s messages of repentance would unify broken family relationships, help fathers in their parental responsibilities, or change the lives of disobedient children so that their fathers would approve of them. In light of Malachi reference, “fathers” may refer to the patriarchs, great men of faith who would be greatly displeased with their descendants’ faithlessness towards God. John’s call of repentance would turn THE DISOBEDIENT TO THE WISDOM OF THE RIGHTEOUS, bringing many of his contemporaries back to God. This would please those faithful ancestors. Those who listened to and obeyed John’s message would become A PEOPLE PREPARED FOR THE LORD. They would be ready for their Messiah.

 

Application: On March 6 however, that morning, when God quickened Luke 1:14-17 to me, the interpretation God gave me was He would release the spirit and power of Elijah upon my people and He would turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, meaning He would create a father heart within us to disciple and care for our spiritual children; He would cause my people to have a mentoring father heart that would extend their love and guidance to the spiritual children and babes of this church. It is through this particular verse that God shows me that Evangel Iloilo must concentrate on WINNING SOUL AND MAKING DISCIPLES.

 

Brothers and sisters, God wants to release right now this spirit and power of Elijah upon you so that you can win, consolidate, equip and send your disciples into the great harvest.

 

A father is a leader and when the spirit and the power of Elijah is released upon us, we will be empowered to become a leader so that our hearts could be turned to our spiritual children and we will guide, instruct and care for them until our children become fathers themselves. That is the preparation of God in your lives for these last days. The goal is to make every member, every new one a leader – a father themselves. When you begin to have this father spirit upon you, you also will be able to turn the disobedient children to the wisdom that God has given you.

 

Are you prepared for that move?

 

God is going to make people rejoice over your birth; He is going to make you great before His eyes; He is going to stir you to make wholehearted consecration; He is going to fill you with His Holy Spirit so that you can turn many to the Lord and He is going to fill you with the spirit and power of Elijah so that you can turn your hearts like a father to the spiritual babes and cause the disobedient children to turn to the wisdom of the just. Remember if we reject this anointing of Elijah to be fathers to the children, then God will strike our land with a curse (Mal 4:5-6).

 

I don’t want Iloilo City to be cursed. I don’t want the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the unction of Elijah to bypass this church. I want the Holy Spirit. I receive the power and the spirit of Elijah – his boldness, his power, his consecration; his sacrifice and his greatness to disciple and mature the many spiritual babes into fathers who in turn will disciple them to win souls for Christ.

 

END OF SERMON

Sermon of Pastor Lily

Preached at EFC Iloilo on27 Mar 2011

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