“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1-2)
“They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.” (Isaiah 61:4)
This is Easter weekend. Churches throughout our region will experience their greatest attendance of the year this Sunday as we remember with celebration how, almost two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ died for our sins and then rose from the dead to become King of Kings, with all authority in heaven and earth. Hallelujah!
My question for us today is whether we will be satisfied this weekend to simply remember and celebrate, or whether we will instead treat Easter 2017 as a call to action.
Will we remember that Jesus came as the light of the world so we would become the light of the world? (John 8:12, 9:5; Matthew 5:14-16) Will we remember that Christ gave us the glory that the Father gave Him, and sends us forth into the world just as the Father sent Him? (John 17:22-23, 20:21)
The New Testament is filled with calls to action, but one of our most powerful calls to action is proclaimed prophetically in the Old Testament at Isaiah 60-62. I urge you to read these three chapters of scripture this weekend, and to understand how relevant they are to the times in which we live.
Spiritual darkness is seeking to cover the earth: chemical weapons used against children in Syria; nuclear weapons brandished in North Korea; Islamic terrorists beheading innocent villagers and using teenagers as suicide bombs; abortions continuing to kill thousands of babies and scar thousands of mothers every day; radical gay lobby groups seeking to destroy every semblance of sexual morality; radical political groups seeking to drive our nation toward either socialism or fascism; and the list goes on.
Spiritual darkness is also right outside your door, if not already inside your home. Addiction to methamphetamine and prescription opioids is at epidemic levels, and our region has some of the highest overdose and drug-related crime statistics in the nation. Our statistics for divorce and domestic violence are also among the highest, and pornography is defiling not only the majority of our men but our grade school and middle school children. Again, the list goes on.
So, what are some ways we can arise and shine, releasing the light and love of God amidst this horribly destructive darkness?
First, in a nation divided both politically and culturally, we must as the Church begin to walk in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-6)
A group of young Christians in our region have been led by the Lord to bring 1,000 churches together for a night of united worship and prayer. This incredible event, called Adoration 2017, will be held at the new ETSU football stadium on October 1, 2017. We all need to be there! Learn more at www.adorationlife.com. Tell your pastor. Make sure your church signs up right away.
The Lord will also bring His people in this region together in the spring of 2018 for a Will Graham Celebration sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Learn more about this terrific opportunity, and how you can be praying for it, at www.tcprayergatherings.org.
And for those in the greater Kingsport area, New Direction Network is sponsoring a second annual “A Night in Unity” worship service on April 29, 2017, at Ross Robinson School. Learn more at www.newdirectionnetwork.com. Be there as well!
Second, as a nation faced with problems too great for our science or politics to solve, we must become the house of prayer God called us to be. (Isaiah 56:7, Mark 11:17)
Thursday, May 4 is the National Day of Prayer, established in 1952 by federal law as the one day of the year when we can officially bind together our love of country and love of God. You would expect a massive turnout of public support, but in past years, that has not occurred.
There will be noon events on the National Day of Prayer in Blountville, Rogersville, Church Hill, Bristol, and Jonesborough. In Kingsport, celebrating its 100th anniversary, there will be a Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast at 7:30 AM at Glen Bruce Park focusing on the powerful role faith has played throughout our city’s history. Then, at 7 PM, multiple area ministries are sponsoring Kingsport’s National Day of Prayer Observance at Higher Ground Baptist Church, where we will worship in song and pray for our nation’s seven primary spheres of influence: the Church, family & marriage, education, business, government, media, and arts & entertainment.
In all these communities, if you are a Christian and a patriot, you need to be there! Arise and shine!
Then, recognizing that we are called to pray not just one day but throughout the year, learn about the Tennessee Governmental Prayer Alliance at www.tngpa.com. Learn about the Watchmen Prayer Network of TN/VA at www.watchmenprayernetwork.com. Join one of the weekly or monthly prayer ministries springing up throughout the region. Organize an ongoing prayer team in your congregation.
There is much more we must do, but this is a start. Christ died and rose for us. It is time for us to arise and shine for Him!
God bless you, and God bless our communities.