The Year of Expansion and Penetration
1998 was a transitional year that “drives” the momentum of 1999. It was a year in which we witnessed the consolidation of ministerial and business operations. It was also a year where wrong moral foundations and heart attitude were addressed. Stephen Hill, an evangelist, once remarked, “Be careful about your work. Make sure you’re involved in what God has planned. If not, you might stand on judgement day knee-deep in ashes.” Those in submission to the will of God are going to have a good jump-start for 1999.
1999 will be a year of penetration and expansion. It is going to be the expansion phase for churches and ministries. Many shall experience the enlargement of their ‘coasts’ (1 Chron. 4:10) through God’s kairos time (opportune time). Many Christians shall also experience a fresh new phase in their walk with God. They will be compelled to ‘run’ the race set before them as a new season of awakening dawn — a season of prayer and repentance.
A new era has dawned and a fresh impetus of prayer shall gain momentous acceptance within the Body of Christ. God has quickened the passage of James 5:17-18 to me. As Elijah prayed much in the span of the three and a half years famine, likewise in the same figurative sense the church shall be in the Spirit of prayer from 1997-2000 A.D. The summer ’98 Church Growth magazine published by Dr. David Yonggi Cho, contained an article by Randall Kittel where it mentioned: “In a recent conference, Paul Cain declared that the next move of God will not be one of falling on our backs laughing but falling on our keens weeping. We have laughed and played and now the Lord is calling us to weep and pray!”
Rev Leonard Ravenhill once said, “The church at this hour is more like a nursery than an armoury ... The Laodicean church of Revelation is like many churches today:
Self-satisfied, so it does not need to pray.
Self-sufficient, so it does not want to pray.
Self-righteous, so it cannot pray.”
Indeed, the church is still in the infancy stage of maturity.
Truly, the pollutions of materialism and lusts are still embedded deep in the hearts of many believers. Many are eager to find solutions to economic woes in Asia, but God is also after the attitude of our hearts. Many are seeking for self-preservation (safeguarding their investments) while God’s desire is that we lay down our lives (including our finances) for the kingdom.
Presently, we are still caught in the web of materialism, but God will turned the rudder of our hearts towards Him. The church will go through a period of fiery trials washed by the fires of sufferings (Mal. 3:2-3). She will be refined and purified as she goes through the valley of Baca — the valley of weeping (Ps. 84:6). Suffering are good tonic for the soul as they deal with the waywardness of our lives.
“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” (1 Pet. 4:1-2)
Sufferings also bring a new depth of character to be fortified in the moral fibres of our souls: “...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character ...” (Rom. 5:4). There is glory in suffering, “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb 5:8), “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him...” (2 Tim. 2:12).
The book of Joel is a significant book that prophetically points to the present pathway of the church. She will experience a time of weeping and seeking the face of God afresh at the altar as in Joel chapter one. The heartfelt repentance will be echoed from many contrited souls. Apostle John who penned one of the last message in Revelation admonished seven times for the church to repent. Surely, repentance is not going to be an obsolete word in these days. There will be a fresh understanding of what passionate prayer is , namely the singleness of heart in the love pursuit of God in prayer. Aftermath, the church shall experience the wondrous result of Joel chapter two - the great end-time outpouring of the Holy Spirit ushering in the glorious revival of these last days.
In a vision which I had, a huge cloud pervaded above the globe and the Holy Spirit whispered, “Spiritual darkness shall increase in this coming year.” “For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people...” (Isa. 60: 2). The second word ‘darkness’ is araphel which means thick darkness in the absence of light. There will be a revival of sin in these days.
The Canadian Dominion magazine stated that in the month of September, there was a big ‘Gay Games’ event drawing a crowd of 15,000 participants and a quarter million visitors in Amsterdam. Corporate Sponsorships include KLM, the Dutch Airline, IKEA-the Swedish furniture store and Pizza Pizza. But when God’s people earnestly pray, His glory shall prevail and triumph over the forces of darkness!
The Lord has indicated that this year there will be an increase incidence of pestilence (disease) preying on the human race. Last year, there was an out break of the Coxsackie virus in Malaysia and the enterovirus type 71 in Taiwan. In August, the London Times reported about an epidemic outbreak of a devastating livestock pest. Last year, AIDS alone killed 2.3 millions people, and 30 millions are currently infected with HIV virus. Globally it is estimated that seven thousand young people acquire the HIV virus everyday. According to the UN figures, 91% of AIDS deaths occurred in 34 countries. 29 countries in sub-Sahara Africa and Cambodia is facing the highest rate of increase in AIDS. Recently, the United Nation has revised its long-term world population forecast downwards by 400 million due to AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. New strains of viruses and diseases will also become resistant to many medicinal cures (just as some viral flu are resistant to antibiotics). In northern China this mid-December (1998), there was a report about a new strain of flu creating havoc. Moreover, a new strain of malaria that is resistant to quinine is also found. The church will become the ‘hospital’ where Jesus will be sought after as the chief physician bringing healings to the afflicted masses.
The year 1999 will see churches and ministries enlarging their boundaries and penetrate into new areas. There will be a greater emphasis on net-working of ministries and churches as well as church-plantings and outreaches. This will be a new wave of penetration of gospel efforts into the harvest field. Yet behind each expansion lies the driving force of awakening and heartfelt repentance. It is only when the church of today turn away from their materialistic pursuits will revival truly break out. Let us not follow the ways of the Laodicean church — full of self. Seek His face and His kingdom! The time to repent is now !