Follow Signs? | Signs Follow.

Billy Hartman - 5/25/2017 10:18:00 AM

Read the sign!

When driving, a red octagon with bright white letters spelling S-T-O-P leaves little confusion on what to do next.

Go to any mall or shopping center and odds are good there will be signage indicating what stores are there.

And it’s typically a good idea to pay attention to the “No Diving” sign when considering the best way to enter the shallow end of the pool.

What’s the point?

Signs are everywhere. It’s their purpose, however, that is most profound.

Signs are seldom intended to be the main goal or destination – quite the opposite is true. In fact, it’s a bit absurd to even imagine someone who’s been planning a long-awaited vacation or trip, when at last they see the city sign indicating they’ve finally arrived in London, New York, or Los Angeles, only for them to turn around, luggage in hand, and immediately make their way back home.

No!

Signs inform. They guide. They direct. They confirm. They lead or point toward somewhere or something else – an invitation that there’s more to be explored, seen, and understood.

Signs are important, enough so that Jesus brought them up right before He left earth.

“‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues…they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.’ So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven...And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.” (Mark 16:15-20 ESV, emphasis added.)

It’s important to note the roles and actions related to the signs listed in these verses:

In my [Jesus’] name…
They will cast out demons.
They will speak in new tongues.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

They [disciples] went out and preached.
The Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.

In proper balance, the signs that Jesus identified have an undeniable impact in making Him known literally throughout the world. It was true then. It’s still true today.

Take John G. Lake for example. Perhaps his name is unfamiliar. That’s okay. Sometimes the Lord uses stories from the past to illustrate messages that are so old they may seem new.

John G. Lake was a leader in the Pentecostal movement in the early part of the 20th century – the movement to which the Assemblies of God community traces its roots. He’s primarily known for his missionary work in South Africa and his faith healing ministry. At the risk of sounding sensational, Lake was simply a man who God used to alter history.

Today, people are tagged as a #worldchanger for saving puppies from parking lots and drinking whole, organic, fruit-smoothies. Through Lake’s preaching and the Lord’s miraculous healings, millions of Christ-followers today can trace their spiritual roots directly back to his ministry. That’s real, eternal world change.

It all started, though, in a manner that may now seem familiar.

Like what took place in the origin of the Azuza Street Revival, Lake had an encounter with Jesus as a teenager and became hungry to see others experience God. He began to study the Bible, both for the sake of understanding and to prove its reality and power for everyday life.

The next two decades of Lake’s life served as a faith-building foundation. In his own life, his wife’s, and numerous family members, Lake saw God’s healing power displayed.

Debilitating arthritis that distorted Lake’s legs: healed. His legs were straightened.

Lake’s wife, Jennie, paralyzed and on the verge of death: healed. She lived for another 10 years, raising their seven kids while ministering alongside Lake.

Twenty-two years of his brother suffering from internal bleeding: healed. The bleeding stopped.

Cancer in his sister: healed. The cancer was gone and she was completely restored.

Terminally ill sister, unconscious with no pulse and lying on her death bed: healed. She was totally revived in less than an hour.

This was just the beginning. Lake was impacted by the happenings of the Azusa Revival, and through his five-year missionary work in South Africa (1908-1913) and two decades of ministry back in the U.S., the stats surrounding Lake’s ministry read like a plaque in heaven’s hall of fame:

South Africa:
- 1250 preachers produced.
- 625 churches started.
- 100,000 people who came to know Jesus.
- 1.2 million current members in the Apostolic Faith Mission denomination Lake co-founded.

USA:
- 100,000+ confirmed healings between 1915-1920 during his ministry in Spokane, WA.
- In 1918, the city of Spokane was named the healthiest city in the U.S. because of God’s incredible healing work through Lake’s ministry.
- Many more healings and churches started.

Why does all this matter today?

This generation of students is the only living generation in America who hasn’t seen a spiritual awakening.

So, what if…?

What if a group of students – perhaps those who gather in Anaheim – committed to praying and believing for another awakening?

Because of a historical encounter with Jesus and the preaching of the gospel and signs that would follow, how many people’s current realities and eternal destinies would be dramatically changed?

Here’s how one teenager in Missouri is praying and believing God for more:

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for this opportunity to do Your work in Anaheim. Help us to succeed in every way possible for Your glory, Lord. Help the people of Anaheim to notice a difference in us and to want to know more and more about You. You are the rock on which we stand.
In Your precious name, Amen.

Join us in prayer as we prepare to gather at the place where it all began, and consider one question.

What if it happened again?

Registration is now open to give students the chance to experience the same Holy Spirit at National Youth Convention that was at the Azusa Street Revival. For more information and to register online, visit http://anaheim17.ag.org.

Sources:
John Lake Bio Info:
1. http://www.jglm.org/john-g-lake/
2. Liardon, Roberts. “John G. Lake – A Man of Healing.” God's Generals: Why They Succeeded and Why Some Failed. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2003. 169-193. Print.
3. Apostolic Faith Mission Stats:
http://www.afm-ags.org/introduction