We are so blessed to be working in partnership with Evangelist Michael Gott. He sent this wonderful word to all of us. It is too good not to share with you, our Prayer Partners.
It is a challenge and convicting word on God’s great timing and sovereignty . Perhaps it will speak to a situation or circumstance in your own personal life.
From Michael Gott
I wholeheartedly treasure the story that comes from East Africa. Several years ago a mighty revival broke out there that continued in full flood for almost forty years. An effort was made to trace it to its source; what started it at the beginning and who were God’s instruments in the outbreak of this sweeping spiritual awakening?
For a long time there had been missionaries in that part of Africa preaching the Gospel, but there was very little movement of the Holy Spirit and churches grew very slowly. The congregations that were started by the missionaries never showed fervor and freshness. They were lacking in purpose, worship was superficial, giving was done grudgingly, and growth was almost minimal at best. Spiritual vitality was the missing element—simply, they were without life.
But then suddenly the Holy Spirit brought people under deep conviction and the numbers skyrocketed. Almost out of the woodwork people were everywhere; and almost overnight, for every Christian there was the high priority of evangelism. It was a revival that produced passionate evangelism—a literal groundswell. It all started with a renewal of God’s people, but suddenly came a desire to see others come to Christ who had never known Him. Evangelism, then, was the fruit of this revival.
One of the English speaking researchers asked the Africans, “Did not the first missionaries preach the Gospel faithfully?” All of them said emphatically that there was no question they had done so. There was not one word of criticism of them. The researchers asked, “Then, why did years pass and so little happened?” One of the newly converted, who had long been a church member without true heart knowledge of Christ, said, “God’s time for us had not come. When the time came, He opened our eyes.” The researcher then concluded, “The Spirit has His time.” There is a mystery, there is an incalculable dimension to the outbreak of revival among God among people.
This “God moment” is often dramatic, but it is in direct relation to the work of others who faithfully labored without great success. Remember Paul said “some plant, some water—but God gives the increase.” (I Corinthians 3:6-7)
Today we are witnessing that very thing in Eastern Europe—Moldova, Ukraine, and parts of Russia. For many years pastors labored with great restrictions, and all was often curtailed, even prohibited. Many saw very little success; most of them even died never having seen anything of great significance happen. Jesus spoke of that very thing, saying, “Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” (John 4:37-38, NIV) I believe today it is possible that we have been chosen by God to reap the benefits of the labors, prayers, and sacrifices of those who came before us—they never lived to see this hour. Listen to Jesus, “Others have done the hard labor … I sent you to reap what you have not worked for.” We could almost say, “We stand on holy ground!”
What is the great lesson that we are to learn? It is this; first and foremost God calls us to be faithful to proclaim and present His Word. We are to obediently present the Gospel, leaving the results up to Him.
But surely there is more, and there is—sometimes God allows people to reap where they have never sown! And today in Eastern Europe I believe that is very much the situation. May those of us to whom God has entrusted that special privilege understand and grasp the situation Biblically. Why is this so important? It guards us against pride. This is a sovereign move of God, and it has very little to do with “your” song or “my” sermon. God has chosen to move. As the African said, “God’s time has come, and He opened eyes.” Thank God we are allowed to have a part in it. The Spirit of God blows in power, the dry bones rattle, and the people of God stand as an exceeding and great army.
The power of Jesus comes by the Spirit, and He has “broken down the middle wall of partition” (Ephesians 2:14). Oh, for a mighty move of God—let someone cry, “the God that answereth by fire, let him be God” (I Kings 18:24)and let the fire cascade down!
So in this connection we say, God is never in a hurry, but He is always on time!
Now, we must not rush off the deep end on this matter of God’s sovereignty. This has often caused some confusion among some. God’s sovereignty does not negate our personal responsibility to work and witness, to pray and promote, but rather it makes it possible to go in the flow of God. When we sense God’s presence at work, we do everything with a greater confidence; it puts wings on our feet.
God’s sovereignty means that God does not deliberate or consult with any human. He has once and for all secretly decreed what He will do. God does not answer to us, and He does not need our opinion. Some people are frightened by this idea of a powerful God who does as He wills, but to those who love Him and are in fellowship with Him—it greatly stabilizes us. Charles Spurgeon said that there is no feature of God’s character “more comforting to His children than the doctrine of divine sovereignty.” How wonderful to realize God’s own plan will continue to unfold on God’s own schedule.
It surely indicates God holds the title deed to the entire universe. He has absolute right to do as He pleases in His own good pleasure as He chooses. To believe this creates a holy awe of the Lord God Jehovah.
So, what is the result? It should be a new vision of the majesty of God. Not only is He merciful but mighty, not only is He patient but powerful—He is the God of glory, and He moves forcefully. Too many Christians today have a warped caricature of God; we seldom think of Him sitting on a throne high and lifted up with angels bowing in reverence before Him. J. B. Phillip’s phrase comes into play—“Your God is too small!”
When we feel overwhelmed and powerless by the strong tides of evil—we remember we have a God that made the mountains and can also move the mountains. The forces of evil seem to be gathering for a colossal assault on all that is of God. Yes, it does seem that the devil has unleashed his power in a way that is perhaps unparalleled in human history. But our God can thwart the plans of Satan and his legions because He is God. We never forget, God always has the last word.
Satan may do all he can, but God does what He wills. And today He wills to work in Eastern Europe, in astounding grace. What a day to be an active Christian! Just think of it. Our heroes such as men like W. A. Criswell are gone, and D. L. Moody is gone, Charles Spurgeon is gone, and dear Billy Graham sits at home today unable to walk or hear—but the kingdom of God advances mightily!
It seems that today all over the world God is using the unnamed and the unknown. Old Matthew Henry said centuries ago what is still true today, “Those whom God will employ are first struck with a sense of their unworthiness to be employed,” and that is so evident now—God is using an army of the unknown and unnamed.
But again, we are so privileged to be alive at this unique moment of history. Maybe we don’t realize how fortunate we really are. The Bible says that many good people, even prophets, desired to see the things we now see. For sovereign reasons known only to Him, your life and mine are intersecting with all these unprecedented events. Glory to God, we are allowed to have a part in it. What an honor.
And what is the source of our confidence? It is this, “that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.” (II Corinthians 4:7) We look and see the least, the lonely, and the lost—they number in the millions. The task is humanly staggering, and yet God goes before us, and we follow with confidence taking the whole Gospel to the whole world with our whole hearts.
With Him and with each other we are laborers together. We do not go forth in fleshly arrogance but in the spirit of David, and boldly say, “I come to you in the name of the Lord of the armies of heaven … the very God whom you have defied … the whole world will soon know there is a God, and furthermore all will know that the Lord does not depend on weapons to fulfill his plans—he works without regard to human means!” (I Samuel 17:45-47, Living Bible) For He is God, and this is His hour! It’s God’s time.
Let God be God!