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Powerless Disciples

This is the second in a series of articles on Revival. Exhortations to believe for, to prepare and pray for revival!

Revival is a spontaneous and sovereign work of God, yet not without some participation from man. Revival is something that most, if not all of us have prayed for, sought, still seek and prepare for. I think that we are never really ready for revival despite our best efforts of preparation. Nonetheless, to prepare is not a wasted effort. In fact I believe we should at least be prepared as much as it is possible from our side.

On the other hand let us not be so future focussed that we miss what God is doing right now. Too often I’m told, “we are not ready” and that is true. But will we ever truly be ready? Jesus said, “The harvest is ripe” (John 4:35) and we know that revival is about bringing in the fullness of that harvest. So yes, let’s prepare for a great harvest, but not be so focused on preparation that we lose sight of the harvest on our doorstep.

Nonetheless, you can have all the structures, mechanisms and plans in place, but miss the one single and crucial aspect of preparation for revival; our heart attitude. Revival is not about skill, talent or even gifts. It is about the hearts of men and women captured by God’s love and surrendered to Him.

In this edition there are some challenging thoughts presented on crucial heart issues by our guest writer, Robert (Bob) Craft. We hope and pray that they are informative and liberating, blessing you and your ministry. Robin.

Introduction

Have you ever had one of those moments when you hear something which just resonates within you and as you listen to it unfolding, you say to yourself, loudly, “Yes, yes! I believe that, I know that. Oh I wish I had said it just like that!”

This article originates from one such moment. Last November, when I was back in Cambodia, I met Bob Craft. We knew of each other, but had never met. Our connection for the past few years has been a mutual friend and associate, Pastor Vibol Uong, the leader of the National Christian Churches Network Cambodia.

We were sitting together in a café, drinking coffee, talking about the work, getting to know each other and making plans for future ministry there. As we talked about things, shared backgrounds, common interests and similar challenges that we all face, Bob began to share with me some thoughts from chapter nine in the Gospel of Luke. Immediately I knew the Holy Spirit was using this dear brother to sow some seed thoughts that were actually answers to questions which I had about certain situations; past, present and probably which I would face again. More than that, I saw how important these observations are; fundamental to a healthy attitude to sustain a long term and fruitful ministry.

I asked Bob if he would write down all that which he had just shared with me and allow me to make it a part of The Exhorter series this year. The truth contained and communicated in this article is not only excellent for preparation for revival, but a solid exhortation and sound practice for our ongoing lives and ministry.

Bob identifies three crucial faulty attitudes displayed by the first disciples of Jesus. Unfortunately, such attitudes are still prevalent among believers today. I don’t say that in a critical, self righteous manner, as that would make me a hypocrite, because I too, at one time or another (past), identify with these attitudes.

They are three toxic and crippling attitudes which, if not dealt with, will certainly keep us from experiencing the depth of revival that the Lord has planned for us to enter into.

Powerless Disciples

By Bob Craft

Ever wonder why Peter, James and John fell asleep on the mountain as Jesus was transfigured while communing with the God of the universe and with Moses and Elijah? Luke 9:28 – 36

While on top of the mountain, Peter, James and John dozed off with heavy eyes during the most important period of prayer in Jesus’ life. When they awakened Peter, as usual, fumbled for something to say and came up with the bright idea that a building program was in order! Tabernacles, shrines and temples … Jesus didn’t even acknowledge such foolishness of man’s thoughts and God Himself interrupted with a thundering proclamation of the divine nature of Christ and commanded them to listen to Him. (Not to their own half-baked ideas.)

Then they headed down the mountain only to face more overwhelming issues. How could these mighty apostles, who earlier in the chapter, had cast out demons and healed the sick when Jesus sent them out, be so powerless to help the little, demon possessed boy, writhing at the foot of the mountain, at the feet of the disciples and the feet of his desperate father?

In fact all the apostles had successfully been sent out on their first solo mission and returned with great stories of victory. Great crowds of people followed them back to Jesus and he fed the 5000 on five loaves and two fishes. Yet look at the disciples now, at the foot of the mountain! So shortly after such powerful experiences of sharing the authority of Jesus over demons and death, they all stood powerless and defeated.

What had gone wrong? What had zapped their faith and their power?

I have the privilege of helping train church planters and evangelistic teams. As I studied this passage the Holy Spirit revealed something that I had never seen before. The real answer to the problem of these powerless disciples was something Jesus dealt with in detail over the next stage of training His disciples.

During the incident with the demon possessed boy, Jesus made a simple statement regarding their lack of faith, prayer and fasting to deliver the boy from demons. But the disciples already knew that. That’s why He said, “How long do I have to put up with you?” Luke 9:41 This power failure is not just about prayer or fasting or faith! Look at the next verses! Look at the events that were to follow! Therein lays the root of the problem of powerless, clueless, prayer-less, disciples.

Three stunning revelations come out about the attitudes of the disciples. There was something toxic going on among the disciples. Something Jesus needed to get to the bottom of quickly if they were to regain victory and power. These three attitudes would kill the church planting movement that had just begun. These attitudes would render the disciples powerless to carry out the great commission and the will of God.

  1. Who is the Greatest? Luke 9:46 “Now an argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest.”Ah! We get to the heart of the problem of powerless disciples! They were proud and competitive, grasping for power and position. These features are guaranteed to stop church growth and give Satan the upper hand. The fruit of this attitude is quarrels and arguments, discord and disagreement. It does not make them united it makes the u-n-t-i-e-d. It breaks the bonds of brothers, but not the bonds of Satan. Here’s where Jesus brings a little child into the scene! Who gets to stand at the right hand of Jesus? An innocent, blameless child becomes the eternal example of greatness in Jesus Kingdom.
  2. He is not one of us.   Luke 9:49 “Master,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”No sooner than Jesus addresses the issue of greatness, the disciples open their mouths again proving that they have deep issues that will hinder their effectiveness and zap their power. “He is not one of us!”  Now what kind of spirit would you call that? In one of the training sessions in Myanmar, a worker cried out, “That’s the denominational spirit!”  Yes, if it is not individual pride and competition, it is the sectarian, group spirit.  We are all so prone to think that God can only speak to us or work through our group. Does anyone have a corner on God, His Spirit or His Son?  We cry that if someone is not for us they are against us.  Jesus said, “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “For whoever is not against you is for you.” Luke 9:50 (NIV) Jesus revealed the kingdom point of view. The sectarian spirit will truly hinder a movement of God and stop the expansion of the church.
  3. Destroy them! Luke 9:53 & 54 (NIV) “But the people there did not welcome him …When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”The disciples had bad attitudes toward each other, (“Who is the greatest?”), bad attitudes toward other groups of workers, (“They are not one of us!”), and now we see that they had bad attitudes toward those who do not welcome Christ! (“Destroy them!”) Jesus soundly rebukes the disciples for such a judgemental attitude toward the lost! Jesus just takes them on a journey to yet another village!

    In my estimation, these three spirits are the greatest hindrances to the work and movement of God in the church and in the mission’s world.  They hinder church planting, church growth and church unity.  They must be rooted out by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit and be dealt with openly and deeply if we are to carry out the great commission and take the gospel to every village.  Jesus had to deal with these issues before he could ever multiply and send his disciples on another mission described in Luke chapter 10.

Next time we find ourselves lacking spiritual power, I suggest we do a quick check of our attitude in these three areas. We will probably find the problem.

Conclusion

This article may have simply brought some clarity for you, as it did for me. Therefore, you may now be able to help others affected and struggling with like attitudes. Or possibly you were convicted; you identified all or some of these toxic attitudes in your life.

Please remember, Jesus is compassionate, loving and forgiving. The Holy Spirit convicts us because He wants us to fulfil every plan and purpose which He has called us for.  A change of mind and a simple prayer of confession, in Jesus name, will bring about freedom and release into you life and ministry. Then you will be better positioned to enter into the greatness and success to which you have been called in Christ.


 

Rev. Robert Craft

Robert Craft has a ministry background of 42 years as a pastor, denominational missionary and evangelical missions leader. Robert is serving as the Servant-at-Large (AKA -President) of Firstfruits International Ministries / Reach A Village.

Bob has been involved in evangelism and discipleship ministry in the Philippines helping local churches reach out to their own communities and beyond. He has served in ministry throughout SE Asia for the past 24 years helping train local pastors and Christian workers in their efforts to grow and establish new churches. He has been involved in multiple projects to develop training curriculum as well as discipleship / bible study curriculum. Bob has a degree in Christian Education and is a Graduate of Prairie Bible Institute in Alberta, Canada with a focus in Bible / Missions.

www.reachavillage.org

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