HAPPY AND BLESSED NEW YEAR TO ALL MY READERS
After Deut 19:15 double-strike on Christmas morning upon opening my Bible showing scriptures on the need for new wineskins, I’m reiterating and sticking this special paper onto the blog’s home-page (NB. Thomas starts by quoting Mark 2.22!):
Further to Same Day God-incidence (GPS #90.2)…
E X C E P T I O N A L L Y I M P O R T A N T
NEW CHURCH WINESKIN FOR 2023 & BEYOND
“No one puts new wine in old wine skins or it will burst the skins.” Mark 2:22. The Lord has released a new wineskin for the church and it is a fundamental shift in church culture. It is a blueprint that is essential if the church is going to fulfil the great commission and indeed successfully navigate this new season we are in. The way we have done church has not worked and therefore there has to be a radical overhaul. Revivals have been stopped, churches split, divisions, backsliding, scandals and multitudes ending up in Hell, all because of the failures of the church. The Lord has released a simple but powerful blueprint that will ensure we avoid these old mistakes. It will take humble hearts and transformed minds to embrace it, but to reject it, will be in direct opposition to God’s End Time Harvest and no man can win that battle. Much of this word is focused on the gathering of the saints, churches or fellowships, whether these are in physical buildings, home churches or online. Although it is in relation to the corporate gathering of the Body of Christ, it has huge implications for every believer. This is a word for the whole Body of Christ and it is so serious that God Himself will police this word to its fulfilment. So I urge all believers to carefully read this and ensure we have teachable enough hearts to avoid being on the wrong end of what God is about to do as He builds His True Church in these Last Days. Revelation 3:22 “Let him who has ears, hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.”
THE MARTHA SYNDROME – DISTRACTIONS & WRONG FOCUS ON SELF
Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves.” There is a certain characteristic and wrong focus the majority of the church has had, that is central to the problems we have had. It can be suitably described as the “Martha Syndrome”. The Martha Syndrome is an exaltation of self and self need above God and His Kingdom requirements. This is a term we should all familiarise ourselves with, as it is going to be critical to the reformation of church culture as we know it. Many are familiar with the passage of scripture, but few realize the significance of the personal and corporate application it has for us. Luke 10:38-42 “38 As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried, upset and offended about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed.[a] Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.”
This story has so much in it and many truths and keys. However, there is one primary reality to be highlighted – Martha’s wrong focus. Martha was hosting Jesus, yet she focused on everything but Jesus. Whereas Mary understood this was her opportunity to focus solely on Jesus and Jesus said this is the best thing. Martha was distracted and troubled by so many things and this led to complaining about her sister and even the accusation that Jesus did not care. So we see how blame, trouble, offence, complaining and finger pointing against our own brethren, can all come from distraction and wrong focus. This is exactly what we have seen for years within church culture. Martha was distracted, troubled and busy about carnal things – yet not focused on the one thing she was forgetting – Jesus. This is the pattern much of the church has followed for many years and has been the catalyst for a wrong church culture and failed objectives. Martha accused the Son of God who died for the sins of the world of being “uncaring” – this is the danger of the Martha Syndrome and why we should not be surprised of the chaos it has caused in the church. If even Jesus was wrongly accused – what chance does the rest of the Body of Christ have? Suddenly, the root of much of the slander, backbiting, gossip and division in the church for decades, is seen clearly when the Martha Syndrome is understood.
When believers meet for any form of gathering, the majority of believers do not come with their singular focus on Jesus – or we would not have all the numerous problems we have. When believers gather they come with a wrong focus (self-focus and ambition) and then get distracted by secondary issues, because their hearts are not right like Martha’s and this leads to the chaos we have seen for years within churches. In this season, if a believer has a wrong focus and chooses to continue in the Martha Syndrome – they may receive more than just a rebuke from Jesus – they risk receiving His direct and in some cases final judgment.
EXAMPLES OF MARTHA SYNDROME IN THE CHURCH
1 Corinthians 3:3 “You are still worldly [controlled by ordinary impulses, the sinful capacity]. For as long as there is jealousy and strife and division among you, are you not unspiritual, carnal, fleshly and are you not walking like ordinary men [unchanged by faith]?” Paul highlights that divisions and strife comes from fleshly desires and carnal focuses like we see in the world. This wrong self-focus makes believers focus on the secondary issues, get distracted and then cause strife and divisions. As we can see with the example of Martha, when people are distracted from Jesus and troubled, they will cause all sorts of problems for themselves and others. This is the equivalent of believers who come to the House of God with their sole focus being themselves and how their needs can be met. Instead of focusing on Jesus and advancing His Kingdom or how they can bless others. This imbalanced focus on self means believers come to the House of God seeking self satisfaction, rather than meeting with God and blessing others. This Martha Syndrome then manifests in many ways as the self focused believer goes on to cause chaos in the church. This applies to leaders also, who lead the church with a self focus instead of a God focus. This too has the same disastrous outcomes that we have all seen with countless scandals.
The Martha Syndrome makes believers come to the House of God and focus on secondary issues, which leads to frustration that their needs are not met. Just like Martha was angry that Mary was not helping her meet the need of preparing food. This is why you hear of believers complaining, gossiping and causing church problems, simply because no one greeted them, someone took their seat at church, no tea and coffee at the end or because they receive minimal biblical correction. Such believers hate correction and want church to be a social club for them, not a place to grow, build God’s people and advance His Kingdom. Those things may sound petty but they are responsible for causing chaos in the church. Those same believers will also complain about the worship style, the length of the sermon and genuine Holy Spirit manifestations like laughing or shaking. This is not an excuse for churches to be uncaring or undiscerning, however, these things are secondary issues and should not be allowed to cause chaos, split churches and destroy moves of God – but they have.
The church needs to take corporate responsibility for coming with a mentality of “give me, give me and meet my needs” and then when that need is not met, that’s when people begin to get frustrated. This is when gossip, slander and wrong focus has come in. Instead of the focus being on Christ, it is on self and all the standard complaints come in like: “you didn’t satisfy my needs”, “that church didn’t do this for me,” “this person didn’t do that for me.” Then all the problems happen due to this mentality that we have had of people coming to church just to receive, just to take, just to have their needs met. Look at all the problems that overflow from that. Do we really think the early church got distracted by such things to the point of church splits? The church has spent much of its time putting out internal fires, fixing scandals, chasing backsliders, regrouping after splits and mourning over stopped Revivals. Consequently, there is no way for God’s people to find enough momentum to actually fulfil the Great Commission, be taken seriously by society and disciple nations. This failed church culture must change and God is instituting a new wine skin for His people that will be much more like the successful pattern of the early church, but enhanced due to greater levels of glory promised in the Last Days.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE MARTHA SYNDROME – CHURCH CAPITULATION
Now that the Martha Syndrome has been highlighted, it is important to briefly look at the severe consequences throughout church history. Once we see the full extent and consequences of what the former failed template has done, we will then be far quicker and open to receiving God’s new model. Please note that the Martha Syndrome is not solely to blame for all the church issues. There has also been structural issues within churches, compromise, hypocrisy, false teachings and teachers. However, it has been central to many of the church issues. Here are the key consequences:
Revivals and Moves of God stopped
Countless Church splits/division
Large numbers backsliding
Churches run more like a business than a House of Prayer
Multitudes lost for eternity
Name of Jesus reproached
Great Commission not accomplished
The list could actually go on and on, such is the damage done. These failings caused by a failed church culture will no longer be permitted in this new season and the Lord has revealed a new pattern that addresses these issues. As we begin to embrace this new church culture, believers will see just how much of a difference it will make for the Body of Christ. Many issues that we have had over the years, are immediately eradicated when we begin to flow in this biblical blueprint for the church.
NEW PATTERN FOR THE CHURCH – SOLE FOCUS ON JESUS & HONOURING OTHERS
Exodus 25:40 “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” The Lord reveals certain patterns and blueprints that are required to obtain His highest standards and blessings. This new blueprint is all about our heart approach and mental focus as we gather with other believers. We all have to shift in some shape or form to reflect the heart of Mary who’s heart and focus was completely on the most important thing – Jesus. It sounds straightforward but the unsuccessful current church culture and failure to accomplish God given objectives show it has not been straightforward to implement. When the church was first established as revealed in the Book of Acts, there was a certain type of culture that was essential for their success. There was a certain way they went about church, family, fellowship and advancing the kingdom of God. There are key foundations from that highly successful culture that are part of the blueprint.
The blueprint has 3 keys and they are in priority order, as without that, believers end up imbalanced.
Focus on Jesus alone – knowing Him and being like Him – Hebrews 12:2
Seek to Serve and Honour others above ourselves – Romans 12:10
God meets our needs as we focus on Him and honouring others – Psalm 133:1
KEY NO.1 – FOCUS ON JESUS ALONE – THE MARY MINDSET
Luke 10:42 “There is only one thing needed. Mary has discovered the good part and it will not be taken away from her.” Mary understood that when Jesus is in the house, there is only focus – Him. Jesus tells us plainly it is the only thing needed. It is this “Mary Mindset” that is lacking in many believers, that has resulted in the numerous issues. If this foundation is not in place, then any gathering will be susceptible to falling back into the previous errors and church failings. When we come to the house of God or gather with believers, our focus has to be Christ and Christ alone. Knowing Him and becoming like Him. We have to learn to follow Mary’s correct focus that Jesus commended her for. We have to shift the focus away from any secondary issues as that is what has caused those problems previously mentioned.
David the greatest of worshippers also understood this and the importance of a single focus in the House of God. Psalm 27:4 “One thing I have asked of the LORD; this is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and seek Him in His temple.” David placed the highest value on the house of God because He understood the primary purpose of being there – “to gaze upon the Lord”. His eyes were focused on the Lord as he went to the House of the Lord – not himself or secondary distractions.
Paul also understood this – Philippians 3:8 “Yes, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” With such a determined pursuit of Jesus, Paul could not gather with the saints and then find himself distracted with secondary church issues. He fully understood the value of knowing and focusing on Jesus alone, whether alone or gathering with the saints. This has to be our heart approach and mindset in this new season.
BENEFIT OF SOLE FOCUS ON JESUS – ENCOUNTER JESUS NO MATTER WHAT
When we approach the house of God with the Mary Mindset, like Paul and David, we can then encounter the Lord no matter what happens in the gathering. Even if they did not sing our favourite worship song, preach a perfect sermon or provide tea and coffee at the end. A correct heart approach will see believers encounter Jesus even as they walk into a gathering and find themselves in tears before a song is even sung and can leave with one bible verse from a sermon that was “too long”, that God uses to deliver them. That is the power of the correct heart approach that many believers have missed out on, but can now experience in this new season.
KEY NO.2 – SEEK TO SERVE & HONOUR OTHERS ABOVE OURSELVES
Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honor” – AMP. Preferring and honouring others above ourselves is a crucial spiritual practice that the church has not made a widespread part of its culture. This is when we humbly put others and their needs before ourselves, which is also the fulfilment of the second command to love your neighbour as yourself. 1 Corinthians 10:24 “Let no one seek [only] his own good, but rather that of the other person.” When properly understood and practiced, it becomes one of the most powerful tools for God’s people. It is the very thing that Jesus demonstrated in the Garden of Gethsemane when He laid down His life by preferring our needs and salvation over the pain, shame and death He was about to endure. We see this principle at work when Job was restored following his terrible trials. Job 42:10 “After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” Please note that Job was only restored AFTER he prayed for his friends and illustrates how this is a powerful spiritual principle when engaged correctly. Despite his pain and tragedy, his priority and focus had to be praying for his friends – THEN he was restored.
Matthew 20:27-28 “Whoever wants to be first among you must become a servant, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for all.” Jesus gives us the true template for Christian life – being a servant for others, just as He did for us. We are to seek to serve others when we gather and in our life in general, rather than seek to be served and focus on our own needs only. This requires a mindset shift and heart transformation to become more servant hearted towards our brothers and sisters in Christ and all people we meet in general. How this looks in a practical sense is perfectly illustrated in 1 Corinthians 14:26 “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you should bring a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.” Paul says “each of you” meaning there is an expectation that all believers should reach a point of maturity to be able to contribute. Believers should be ready to bring something to serve and build up others, as the Lord has given us all talents and abilities to be used to help others.
Therefore, when we gather together, we need to come seeking to serve and honour others, rather than focus on ourselves, our needs and how to receive and to take. Believers have to shift from self-focus to focus on others. Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than receive.” – Acts 20:35. So it is no longer about “I’m coming with my cup of need, come and fill my cup, come and give me.” Instead the approach is “How can I serve and honour the needs of others above myself and use my gifts to be a blessing to others”. Psalm 23:6 “He anoints my head with oil, my cup overflows.” We should come with our cups (overflow of our lives, resources, abilities and gifts) ready to be poured out for others. This practice and mindset has not been a standard part of church culture, hence the issues we have had. However, as we now embrace and flow in this we will see a dramatic shift and improvement of church culture.
HOW DO WE BRING A FULL CUP AS WE GATHER?
We can all bring our worship and pour this out, as committed corporate worship is powerful and brings overflowing blessings. However, we should all seek to bring more as we mature in our faith as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:26. We should all seek to be at the place where we can bring more to the house of God to bless others, but how do we do this? We first have to realize a key principle: We can only pour out what we pour in. If we do not give God time to pour spiritually into our lives, we will have nothing to pour out to God or to others. There are 2 keys to bringing a full cup so that we have something more substantial to pour out.
Daily time with the Lord – If we do not spend time daily with the Lord, in prayer, the word and worship, we can never grow in Christ or become strong enough to have anything to pour out for others. The whole purpose of our faith is to build a relationship with the Lord, so God will never fill our lives to the point there is no space for Him. So if we are too busy to give God 10-15mins a day of our time, our lives are out of balance and we have forgotten the great sacrifice Jesus did on the cross for us. Many believers are spiritually burnt out because they are filling their lives with everything but Jesus.
Living a life of holiness – If we live a life of compromise or secret sin, then our spiritual lives will be limited, have little to pour out and give the enemy a licence to attack and hinder our lives. If we want to grow in Jesus, we have to be holy, set apart and reject the ways of the world. Believers indulge in things they should not be listening to or watching, go to places they should not and engage in ungodly communication both online and offline. The flow of the Holy Spirit and His gifts will always be hindered by a life of sin, compromise and tolerating worldly things.
Without these 2 we cannot be filled and remained filled and then have more to pour out. This is not limited to corporate gatherings, as this lifestyle of diligent devotion and holiness is required for our successful walk with Jesus and then outworks wherever God has placed us, be it work, family or fellowships.
KEY NO.3 – GOD MEETS OUR NEEDS AS WE FOCUS ON HIM & OTHERS
Psalm 133:1-3 “Behold how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. There God commands a blessing.” As we begin to embrace this blueprint of focusing on Jesus and serving and honouring others, we will see a level of blessing the church has never encountered before. It will lead to a new kingdom culture of power and provision that will automatically meet the needs of God’s people as it did in the early church. There is a level of God’s blessing and also an effectiveness of His Ekklesia, that is reserved only for true unity. The church cannot reach its highest potential until this level of unity is established. Jesus prayed for this and all His prayers are answered: John 17:21 “I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one—as You are in Me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be one in Us so that the world will believe you sent Me.” This level of unity is so powerful and unique that it makes the world believe in Jesus.
This unity of the Body of Christ, is not to be mistaken for the false church and false unity that started at the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 and will culminate in the one world religion in Revelations 13. A short account of a dream from many years ago, helps highlight the magnitude of true unity and what the church is about to step into in this new season, as Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is answered in our generation. In the dream, the Lord allowed me to hear a conversation going on in the kingdom of darkness and this is what they said: “If the church comes together as one, as we did at the Tower of Babel, we are finished, we have lost, we have no chance.” They said it with intense conviction and also hopelessness at their plight against a truly unified church. Which is exactly what Jesus says in Matthew 16:18; “I will build My Church (Ekklesia) and the Gates of Hell will not prevail against it.” It is worth reminding ourselves of what God said about that false worldly unity being attempted by man at the Tower of Babel – Genesis 11:6 “Now that they have come together as one people, nothing they imagine and plan to do will be impossible to them.” That is the power of unity and that is outside of God’s plans – imagine a unified church with Jesus at the centre – what is impossible for that type of church? The sort of unity I am talking about here is the kingdom of darkness’s greatest fear. They have never seen it before hence why it looks like the church has failed, but their greatest fears are about to be realized as a true remnant church arises in the earth and once again the world will say: “These people who have turned the world upside down, have come here also.” – Acts 17:6. The church will change the world as we know it – but only through true unity in Jesus.
The Lord knows that as we gather there will be many needs, so we do not have to forget our needs completely. Rather we follow the example where Job prayed first for his friends then was restored. We come to the house of God first focused on Jesus like Mary was, then like Job we seek to serve and meet the needs of others. THEN God’s corporate blessing and provision meets the needs of everyone. People may struggle to believe it is possible for the needs of the church to be met like this simply because we gather as one. However, look at the example of the early church – it is exactly what happened with them. Acts 4:32 “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” The early church fully understood this pattern and it led to great success, harvest, unity and love amongst God’s people. It also resulted in all needs being met, verse 34: “There were no needy ones among them, because those who owned lands or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds from what was sold.” There was continuous provision and harvest because of the culture of unity, love and serving the needs of others above themselves. For those who had abundance and houses, it was more important that a poor brother in Christ had his needs met, than for them to boast in the number of houses they had. Which is the opposite of what we see in sections of Christendom and taught by the false prosperity gospel. Incredibly, what they experienced was a deposit and what we will experience is the fullness. As we are promised greater glory in the last days and God will do this as we follow His blueprint. This radical shift of heart and mentality is required for the church culture to transform and for us to become the force God has called us to be.
A WORD ON TRUE HOUSES OF GOD
Isaiah 2:2 “In the Last Days the Mountain of the House of the Lord will be established above all others and all nations will flow to it.” As part of the End Time Harvest, nations will be drawn to God’s House as it will be a place of refuge, healing, deliverance and provision in the midst of global chaos. However, the world will not flow to the church in its current state and its old wine skin will repel the world and harm the harvest. This new blueprint is necessary to attract the world as they will see love, oneness, provision and the power of God demonstrated. It is not just about receiving the harvest, this new blueprint ensures the harvest is sustained rather than scattered and failed like previous Revivals due to the churches old failed way of doing things. Consequently, the Lord Himself will build and establish true houses of God that reflect His nature and kingdom as they flow in this new wine skin.
Luke 6:39 “They are blind leaders and if the blind leads the blind, they both fall into a ditch.” Jesus warns us many times of false teachers and also warns us that if believers follow such people, they will fall into the same ditch. In normal times, it is essential to ensure we are gathering in the right place, with the right people or our faith is at risk. However, the season that we have now entered is so serious that this issue has become more significant than ever. Every believer should review whether they are in the right place as led by God, as being in the wrong place at the wrong time could now have eternal consequences. Loyalty to a place that does not preach the full truth, instead of loyalty to God and His Word, could lead to a believers faith failing completely as many found during the pandemic. The shaking that we see in the world is only the beginning. There are bigger shakings coming, both in the church and in the world. It is not a time to have your foundation built on sand and be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is a season to make sure that wherever you are gathering, it is a place that believes the whole counsel of God and allows the Spirit of God to move. In past seasons, it may just have been deception and error that can creep in because a believer is not in the right place. Now it is far more serious and to remain in the wrong place, at best a believers growth will be hindered and at worst they miss Heaven altogether. People will wonder how do they know or check that they are in the right place – first and foremost they must seek God’s guidance. Second they should check if that place believes the whole counsel of God as there are clear biblical indicators of a true house of God.
Due to the current state of the church, compromise and false teachings, it is expedient to remind believers of key truths and indicators of a true house of God. The following is the type of culture and beliefs you can expect in true houses of God in this season, in addition to embracing the 3 keys already shared:
Believe the whole counsel of God in Scripture, not only parts – Acts 20:27
Believe that Jesus is the only way to Salvation – John 14:6
Believe the basics of the Christian faith – baptism, communion, repentance – Hebrew 6:1
Believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues – Acts 19:2
Believe in the moving of the Holy Spirit/Power of God – 2 Timothy 3:5
Believe in healing, deliverance and the gifts of the Holy Spirit – Mark 16:17-18
Believe in holiness and righteousness – Christ like character – 1 Peter 1:16
Believes in God’s divine family order – Mark 10:6
Believe in the preaching of the Gospel and reaching souls – Matthew 28:19-20
Equip believers to fulfil their destiny and calling – Ephesians 4:12
Leaders like Christ who teach these truths – Jeremiah 3:15
This is not an exhaustive guideline but will help those who need clarity on what they can expect in this season. If the place you are gathering does not believe these biblical fundamentals then it is time to seek God for the right place. To persevere in a place that only believes or practices half of these things will put a believers salvation at risk. This is the only time the Lord has ever given a clear licence to warn His people to leave places that have not accepted Him and His full truth. Those places are about to be judged by God and those who remain loyal to them, will be judged alongside them, just as Jesus warned about falling into the same pit. Paul says in Acts 20:27 “I have not hesitated to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” It is not a season for imbalance and half-truths, we need the whole counsel of God in this season. Hosea 4:6 “My People are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Lack of knowledge through lack of exposure to the whole counsel of God, will destroy believers in this season. The season ahead of us will make Covid look like a small thing, so to persevere in the wrong place will almost certainly shipwreck the faith of believers.
FIND YOUR GATHERING – GOD HAS A PLACE FOR YOU
Some believers will realize that it is time for them to find a new place or group to fellowship with. This is critical as this is not a season to go it alone. We have all seen the nature clips where the Lion picks off the sole animal after separating it from the pack. The enemy will pick off those who think they can isolate themselves and stand alone in this season. After God created Adam, He said it is not good for man to be alone – that is even with God. So it is not scriptural or God’s best to be alone and isolated. This season is simply too difficult for that. Some have got used to going it alone or being isolated, this has never been God’s will even if it was enforced for a season due to not having access to a trustworthy fellowship. The Lord is able to help believers locate a new group in this season – Psalm 68:6 “He sets the lonely in families.” Believers should not buy into the enemies lies that there are “no good churches anymore” – when there is the internet and access to countless good online churches. Any believer that argues against meeting with others needs to understand that such a view is not only unscriptural but it is almost certainly rooted in rebellion.
A believer can get frustrated and decide they will go it alone but this next season will expose this mistake. In keeping with exposing old church culture, it is worth mentioning that if a believer has been to many churches and continues to criticize all and refuse to go to any – at some point they have to look in the mirror and ask – are all these churches wrong or is it me? Permanent church hopping is old wine skin behaviour and many such believers have had to admit the problem is within them, especially pride as they refuse to submit to authority. 1 Timothy 2:8 “Do not forsake the gathering of the saints – even more so as you see the Day of His return approaching.” Scripture tells us as the Last Days progress it is even more important to meet with others, which highlights the importance of finding a group in this season. At best a believer will not grow or fulfil their destiny, at worst the enemy picks them off and they are lost forever. Trying to stand alone in this season is not the heart of the Lord for believers and may lead to faith failing in the storms. When Elijah was alone and isolated he became confused and suicidal. He believed he was the only person following God and asked to die – so if any believer feels they have the strength to go it alone, meditate on Elijah, as his life ended soon after his self-isolation.
THE RISE OF THE HOUSE CHURCH TO STEWARD THE HARVEST
The Lord has been highlighting the significance of house churches, particularly in relation to the coming harvest. Large corporate gatherings will always be necessary; however, house churches will be crucial for effectively stewarding the coming harvest. When we closely examine New Testament scriptures we find that at the birthing of the church, house churches were central and essential. When Paul writes to many of the churches he writes like this: “Greetings to Nympha and the Church in her house” – Colossians 4:15. Indeed, a lot of New Testament scripture is better understood when we realize the setting at that time was primarily house churches and not large temple or church buildings like people think. While a lot of the house churches were enforced on the early church due to persecution, it was and still is a highly successful model for doing church. Due to persecution and disruptions, there are many places today that successfully implement house churches. There is a depth of relationship, accountability and growing in Christ, that can only be achieved in small house group settings. New disciples will grow far more effectively when they have both a corporate connection to the body of Christ and personal relationships and accountability established through house groups. It is not one or the other in this season, but a necessity for both to be integrated to achieve success in bringing in the harvest. Some are called to set-up new house churches, while others are called to create house or cell groups as an extension to a corporate church gathering. The Lord will grant the church wisdom, grace and leaders after His heart to correctly steward the harvest in both corporate and house group settings.
A WORD OF CAUTION FOR LEADERS
James 3:1 “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” There is going to be a dramatic shifting of leadership both in the church and the world. Judgment is coming upon leaders and we will see many removed as they have not led God’s people correctly. Leaders have to take significant responsibility for the failure of past revivals, church splits, divisions, backsliding and many scandals. In the past season leaders could get away with such things, but in this new season it will not be permitted. Leaders have to be aware of a higher level of scrutiny and judgment upon them, to correctly lead God’s people. May all leaders examine themselves in this season to ensure they are ready to truly lead the body of Christ or His judgment awaits. Jeremiah 3:15 “Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.” Believers can be reassured in this season, that the replacement leaders God has prepared are like David with hearts after God to teach and lead the people with integrity, truth and love. These are leaders that the church can honour and trust to lead God’s people correctly. This does not mean the church does not have some wonderful leaders at the present, but the reality is many have failed the body of Christ and led them astray. God is about to replace many leaders with His own leaders prepared in secret that only desire to glorify Jesus and see His Ekklesia rise up and fulfil their purpose. They will rise in this season from nowhere and lead the church in its greatest hour of need and the world’s greatest darkness.
REMEMBER ANANIAS & SAPPHIRA – CONSEQUENCES OF REJECTING BLUEPRINT
Most believers are familiar with the story of Ananias & Sapphira in Acts 5 and how they dropped dead for lying about the amount of money they sold the property for. The fear of God is going to return to the church like we have never seen before, as we hear of more of such incidents around the world. We should ask a relevant question in relation to their death. Yes it was a grievous sin to lie like they did, but what made their sin death worthy? Around the world today we hear of scandals and corruption within church and therefore we all know there must be countless lies told and deception to manipulate church funds and situations. However, we don’t hear of those people dropping dead all over the world. It is the context of the sin that can help explain why it was so bad that they were judged instantly with no chance of repentance. As it was not only the gravity of the sin, it was the “timing” of it too.
At that particular time as mentioned earlier, the church had just been birthed, there was a certain culture of unity and oneness that was leading to harvest, signs and wonders and everyone’s needs being met. Therefore, such a sin in that context becomes a far more grievous one. If their sin had been tolerated, it could have led to such cancerous behaviour and deception becoming widespread in the church and the well-established and successful new church culture may have been destroyed. At the birthing of the church, that was simply not an option, when there was a whole world to be evangelized. Incredibly we are now in a moment of history that is just as important – the reaping of the final harvest before Jesus returns. In the book of Acts they were at the birthing of the church and the beginning of the harvest, we are now at the end of the church age and end of the harvest. Therefore, this season is simply too significant to allow believers or leaders with wrong and unrepentant hearts to succeed in destroying and hindering the final move of God to bring in countless souls. Just as Ananias and Sapphira were judged instantly and eternally, so will some of those who try to resist the new wine skin and culture God is bringing to His house to bring in and sustain the harvest.
DEALING WITH CONFLICT, DIVISION & MANIFESTATIONS – NEW WINESKIN APPROACHES
Titus 3:10 “If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them.” As described earlier, the enemy knows the power of unity so he divides God’s people. He has been successful in using God’s own people to cause division that stops Revivals and consequently hinders souls being saved. Scripture warns on several occasions that churches will encounter “divisive people” and gives instructions on how to deal with them. They are to be warned and then cut off if they persist or asked to leave if applicable. This may seem harsh but in this season it will be God’s mercy for divisive people to be exposed and told to leave, the alternative is God Himself judging the person and they may not get a second chance. In this season leaders have to take responsibility for prioritizing the harvest over tolerating divisive people who may destroy it. We should not be unaware of the enemies schemes and this tactic has been one of his most successful, so we can be sure he will try again through believers in the final harvest. Leaders themselves may be judged by God if they allow old wineskin behavior to stop souls being saved. If a church fails to act and God has to step in to preserve the harvest, that believer may not get a first or second warning and instead become another Ananias & Sapphira. They were given no warning, grace or mercy. Selah.
In this coming Revival, there will be many strange manifestations, signs and wonders. Believers need to simply accept that and expect it so that they are not offended or become divisive due to genuine Holy Spirit manifestations. Believers have to react differently and maturely in this season to any issues or problems. The harvest will come in all shapes and sizes and it is guaranteed to look messy and chaotic. Imagine what it will look like when witches, prostitutes and others who are full of demons are being delivered in our gatherings – how nice and comfortable do we think that will look? If that offends believers then in this season they need to avoid true houses of God as God will use those places to deliver the oppressed and they will not care what that looks like – Isaiah 61:1-3. For example, if a believer sees unusual manifestations or perhaps there is some fleshly behavior, which has happened in past Revivals. If they really feel that is a problem, they have to first check their hearts as described earlier, but if it is too much of a problem they can humbly and respectfully approach leadership to discuss. If that is still not acceptable for a believer, they can simply and quietly leave with no gossip, slander or disruption and find somewhere they are comfortable with. Gods priority is the harvest, not comfortable services, theological debates, personal opinions or old wine skin behaviour and the sooner that is accepted the less likely a believer becomes a stumbling block that God has to remove. Any believers who fail to grasp that are on a collision course with their Maker in this season.
GOD’S END TIME HARVEST– REMOVAL OF STUMBLING BLOCKS
Isaiah 57:14 “Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstacle and stumbling block out of the way of My people.” The Lord is going to remove every stumbling block to the building of His Church and the establishing of this new wine skin that transforms church culture. Believers will wonder why the consequences are so severe for those who stand in the way of this blueprint and try to keep the church stuck in an old wine skin. The reason is there is an End Time Harvest of potentially billions of souls about to enter the kingdom of God. If we are not aware of this harvest please see Acts 2:17 and Matthew 13:39. Consequently, the Lord will not allow His people to get in the way and hinder this harvest like they have stopped past Revivals. A severe warning is found in Numbers 13 that illustrates the new season we have entered. 10 Spies brought back an evil report of the Promised Land. This report was responsible for spreading fear and unbelief amongst God’s people and an entire nation of millions was disqualified from their destiny. That is the potential negative impact just a few people can have. This was what God thought of the 10 and what their judgement was – Numbers 14:37 “Those 10 who brought the evil report died by a plague before the Lord.” What the Lord has been speaking over and over is simply this – in this new season He will deal with the 10 BEFORE they can stop the millions receiving salvation. Therefore, one of the most dangerous things for a believer to do in this season is to cause division in a true house of God or to slander, gossip about or attack a genuine move of the Spirit, some believers will literally not survive that.
In this season believers have to be very careful and stay silent more often or a wrong decision to attack the genuine work of God may lead to eternal judgment. God will judge those who try to stop His End Time Harvest, for the sake of the millions who would end up in Hell simply because some of His people refuse to change their hearts and instead rebel causing the same old wine skin issues that have been highlighted here that stop Revivals. A shocking revelation was given by the Lord in relation to this. Scripture talks of “Sin that leads to death” – 1 John 5:16. This is not often preached about, but in this season, to be a stumbling block to the harvest will be considered as a “sin unto death.” It does not mean all who do this will die, but some will and those who risk old wine skin behaviour, are at risk of being modern day Ananias & Sapphira’s. I do not recommend any believer tests whether or not this is a sin unto death, as this is as sobering a warning as we may ever hear. Hebrews 10:31 “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Isaiah 26:9 “When God’s judgments are in the earth, the people learn righteousness.” It is a great shame that some only learn through God’s judgments and there will have to be examples of this in His house before believers will realize it is a new season so we cannot operate with the old wine skin culture anymore. The magnitude of the harvest is simply too great for God’s own people to be allowed to stop and hinder millions going to Heaven, simply because they refuse to deny self. Whether our gatherings are large or small, old or new, online or offline, we can all embrace this new wine skin and be part of bringing in the End Time Harvest. May we all begin to adjust our hearts, minds and gatherings if need be, in order to embrace this new wine skin. To reject this scriptural blueprint and risk being a stumbling block to God’s End Time Harvest, will lead to serious and in some cases eternal consequences. Let us focus on Him, reject the Martha Syndrome and not oppose that which the Lord is releasing to His people as a blueprint for success. Acts 15:6 “If this thing is from God, do not oppose it or you will find yourself fighting against God.”
Thomas Harry is the Senior Leader of Mount Zion International Tabernacle in Scotland, UK. MZIT (Formerly Falkirk Full Gospel Church) is an Apostolic Hub and Kingdom Worship Centre with a heart to equip the saints for the works of the kingdom and it has a strong calling towards community transformation. Thomas has been born again for over 20 years and has a heart to see believers rise into destiny and see nations transformed. In previous years Thomas had roles in Pastoral, Teaching and Evangelism in various churches before leading FFGC and now MZIT. He is a kingdom connector and believes in the importance of working in unity to see the Kingdom of God advanced in the earth. Thomas and other kingdom minded believers share more teachings via MZIT’s Prophetic Perspective Bi-Monthly Newsletter available at the ministry website Mount Zion International Tabernacle.