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Lord Send the Wind of a Fresh Pentecost/ J. LEE GRADY

In the days leading up to the Global Day of Prayer, let’s bombard heaven on behalf of the United States.

Twelve years ago a South African businessman, Graham Power, felt God nudge him to organize a prayer gathering in the city of Cape Town. About 45,000 Christians responded to the call by jamming into a rugby stadium in March 2001 to intercede for their nation.

That was the beginning of the Global Day of Prayer, an event that will likely involve millions of Christians in 220 nations on Pentecost Sunday, May 27. This year organizers are encouraging people to extend their prayers for 10 days prior to the event, beginning on May 17. They are also urging pastors to fuel the prayer with sermons about the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s power.

“One breath of the Holy Spirit can bring life to dry bones! Lord, send the refreshing wind of Your presence into lifeless congregations.”

It’s obvious the Holy Spirit is orchestrating this grass roots movement, and I hope you will join it, either by attending local gatherings during the next 10 days or by focusing your personal prayers on the need for a fresh Pentecost. I believe we are on the verge of a new season of spiritual awakening, and the concentration of prayer this month is a key to unlock it.

During these next 10 days I will be meditating on the first chapters of the book of Acts and praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the United States. If you’d like to join me, you can use the following prayer points as a guide:

1. Lord, send the wind of sincere repentance. The original outpouring at Pentecost triggered a wave of repentance that resulted in 3,000 conversions. This level of raw conviction is never the result of eloquent sermons, staged events or man’s programs. Only the Holy Spirit can do this. The greatest miracle on earth occurs when a sinner’s heart breaks before God and he or she is born again. Lord, unleash a flood of conversions in America! And as sinners repent, let backslidden Christians, disillusioned believers and weary saints return to You.

2. Lord, send the wind of spiritual renewal. Many churches in the United States are feeble and powerless, and some are dying. Many denominations are paralyzed by the spirit of religion. Many pastors are battle-scarred and discouraged. But one breath of the Holy Spirit can bring life to dry bones! Lord, send the refreshing wind of Your presence into lifeless congregations. And with Your wind, send a flame on every Christian’s head—especially those reluctant Gideons and timid Timothys who know they are called but need Spirit-inspired confidence.

3. Lord, send the wind of a youth awakening. When the winds of Pentecost blew the first time, Peter preached from the prophet Joel, saying, “ ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions’ ” (Acts 2:17, NIV). This promise is still ours to claim. A huge percentage of America’s youth are fatherless, addicted, abused, sexually confused or somehow at risk. Lord, raise up and strengthen ministries to reach our schools and college campuses. Give students the courage to stand for Christ and speak for Him. Send another Jesus Movement to this generation.

4. Lord, send the wind of supernatural demonstration. The most pitiful heresy ever hatched was the idea that God stopped doing miracles after the Bible was written. Forgive us, Lord, for limiting You! We need the power of Pentecost today more than ever. When the first Pentecost occurred, normal people were “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49), and they began to heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out demons. Forgive us, Lord, for being so smug and sophisticated that we pulled the plug on Your power. (And forgive us, too, for misusing, merchandising and exploiting the Holy Spirit’s gifts for personal gain.) Unleash the miraculous in the American church. Let the same miracles that are occurring in Asia, Africa and Latin America become common in our nation.

5. Lord, send the wind of bold evangelism. When the first disciples were touched by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they declared “the mighty deeds of God” (Acts 2:11, NASB) to every racial and ethnic group that had gathered in Jerusalem. We need this boldness in the United States because we have become the largest English-speaking mission field in the world. Many of our communities have no gospel witness—and many Christians never share their faith with anyone. The true anointing of the Holy Spirit always results in evangelism. Lord, turn up our volume! Raise up laborers to touch every sector of American society, including our forgotten and ignored Native American reservations. Send immigrants to this nation who can reach their own ethnic groups. Let the gospel be preached in every language spoken within our borders.

6. Lord, send the wind of divine intervention. Our nation is in desperate crisis. Families are disintegrating, morality has eroded, perversion is celebrated, and our culture is becoming hostile to biblical faith. Unless the Lord answers with His holy fire from heaven, we are sunk. Lord, deliver us from evil! Extend Your mercy and send a Third Great Awakening. Amen.

J. LEE GRADY is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. You can find more details about the Global Day of Prayer at globaldayofprayer.com.

 

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Question: “Should Christians celebrate Christmas?”

Answer:The debate about whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas has been raging for centuries. There are equally sincere and committed Christians on both sides of the issue, each with multiple reasons why or why not Christmas should be celebrated in Christian homes. But what does the Bible say? Does the Bible give clear direction as to whether Christmas is a holiday to be celebrated by Christians?

First, let’s look at the reasons why some Christians do not celebrate Christmas. One argument against Christmas is that the traditions surrounding the holiday have origins in paganism. Searching for reliable information on this topic is difficult because the origins of many of our traditions are so obscure that sources often contradict one another. Bells, candles, holly, and yuletide decorations are mentioned in the history of pagan worship, but the use of such in one’s home certainly does not indicate a return to paganism. While there are definitely pagan roots to some traditions, there are many more traditions associated with the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of the Savior of the world in Bethlehem. Bells are played to ring out the joyous news, candles are lit to remind us that Christ is the Light of the world (John 1:4-9), a star is placed on the top of a Christmas tree to remember the Star of Bethlehem, and gifts are exchanged to remind us of the gifts of the Magi to Jesus, the greatest gift of God to mankind.

Another argument against Christmas, especially having a Christmas tree, is that the Bible forbids bringing trees into our homes and decorating them. The passage often cited is Jeremiah 10:1-16, but this passage refers to cutting down trees, chiseling the wood to make an idol, and then decorating the idol with silver and gold for the purpose of bowing down before it to worship it (see also Isaiah 44:9-18). The passage in Jeremiah cannot be taken out of its context and used to make a legitimate argument against Christmas trees.

Christians who choose to ignore Christmas point to the fact that the Bible doesn’t give us the date of Christ’s birth, which is certainly true. December 25 may not be even close to the time Jesus was born, and arguments on both sides are legion, some relating to climate in Israel, the practices of shepherds in winter, and the dates of Roman census-taking. None of these points are without a certain amount of conjecture, which brings us back to the fact that the Bible doesn’t tell us when Jesus was born. Some see this as proof positive that God didn’t want us to celebrate the birth, while others see the Bible’s silence on the issue as tacit approval.

Some Christians say that since the world celebrates Christmas—although it is becoming more and more politically correct to refer to it as “the holidays”—Christians should avoid it. But that is the same argument made by false religions that deny Christ altogether, as well as cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses who deny His deity. Those Christians who do celebrate Christmas often see the occasion as an opportunity to proclaim Christ as “the reason for the season” among the nations and to those trapped in false religions.

As we have seen, there is no legitimate scriptural reason not to celebrate Christmas. At the same time, there is no biblical mandate to celebrate it, either. In the end, of course, whether or not to celebrate Christmas is a personal decision. Whatever Christians decide to do regarding Christmas, their views should not be used as a club with which to beat down or denigrate those with opposing views, nor should either view be used as a badge of honor inducing pride over celebrating or not celebrating. As in all things, we seek wisdom from Him who gives it liberally to all who ask (James 1:5) and accept one another in Christian love and grace, regardless of our views on Christmas.

Recommended Resource: The Case for Christmas by Lee Strobel.


Related Topics:

What should parents tell their children about Santa Claus?

What is the true meaning of Christmas?

How should Christians respond to the “War on Christmas”?

Should a Christian celebrate Hanukkah (Christmaskah)?

What does the Bible say about the three wise men (Magi)?


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