God's Dream

Day 1 of the All In Devotional

Day 1: God’s Dream
April 1, 2016 John Carter


“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has forcefully advanced, and the strong take it by force.”

Matthew 11:12


When I was 16, God interrupted my own life-plans and called me into the ministry. One of the first things I did to prepare myself for ministry was to read the New Testament, starting with the book of Matthew. I will never forget what happened when I got to Chapter 11 and read verse 12 for the first time. “… the strong take it by force!”. I had never thought of Christianity as a forcefully advancing kingdom. The church that I knew was mostly made up of sincere but defeated believers who were struggling to hold on until the Lord’s return.

But Jesus’ words awakened something deep in my heart.

I began to see that God’s dream was to raise up a powerful and con dent church – one that was not intimidated by the world, but committed to transforming it! At that moment I decided to devote my entire life and future ministry to building a powerful local church that would advance His Kingdom and manifest His purposes in the earth.

God modeled the ALL IN church in the book of Acts. On the first day, 3,000 people were added to the church (Acts 2:41). Everyone had to do their part to prepare and make room for expansion. That rst “mega-church” continued to grow to over 10,000 believers who brought the Gospel of Jesus to their generation. They gave their lives, treasure, and talents to bring God’s love to the world.

Developing a church like Abundant Life has taken 26 years of intense devotion to this vision. I have seen what God can do beginning with a handful of believers who are willing to go ALL IN for Jesus. But the future mission of Abundant Life requires that we all show up and do our part.

God has given Pastor Lisa and I a vision to equip His people, expand our reach and engage the Next generation.

He expects each of us to be in the game, doing our part to advance this vision. In my heart I keep hearing the Lord challenge me to once again fully commit myself to His vision for our church. I keep hearing Him say, “son, I’ve blessed you and multiplied your ministry. Now I have more for you and my people to do for my Kingdom. But I need you to be ALL IN.

The world needs to again see what an ALL IN church can do. What would happen if every person who considers Abundant Life their church home were fully committed to Jesus’ purpose for their lives? What would happen if we were fully committed to our marriages, to our families, to purity, to sacri ce, to serving others with our spiritual gifts, to prayer and to ful lling God’s dream for our church?

Finally, what thoughts, fears, or circumstances are keeping you from being ALL IN? Take a moment think about these questions. Then write your responses here and bring them to God in prayer. The Kingdom of God awaits. Let’s prepare our hearts together and take it by force!


Father, prepare our hearts as a church family to go ALL IN together. Help me to identify any thoughts, beliefs or habits that are robbing me of strength or focus and to lay those things down before you. I thank you for the passion and the vision to do my part. I believe that as we go all in together, the kingdom of Heaven will more forcefully advance from Syracuse, into all nations.