What Happened to Revival?

It wasn’t long ago that Christians wished for revival, churches held “revival meetings,” pastors would open up the altar after services so that those who were being convicted could come forward and repent of their sins. Although there are churches that still do those things, I do not see it very much anymore. We have grown accustomed to our comfort, entertainment, a feel-good lifestyle, and we really don’t want anything to rock our boat. I get discouraged when I look around and feel like I will never see revival because the hearts of many have grown cold.

I just listened to the audio version of a book that I had read years ago titled Floods on Dry Ground. It focuses on the Hebrides Revival that took place in the late 19th and early 20th century. The stories are amazing. Often, revival began when just two or three people dedicated themselves to fervent prayer, asking God to come and save their cities. This wasn’t just, “And, Lord, if it’s Your will, would You save my neighbor?” This was crying out to God and staying on their knees until He answered. Because of their prayers, even the vilest sinners were changed by the power of God.

A while back, I could spend an hour or two with God no problem. I treasured the time and did not understand why everyone would not take that time each day. Now spending 20 minutes with Him is a chore as my mind is constantly on things I need to be doing, but I long to get back to being content to sit in His presence and hear from Him as well as presenting my petitions before His throne and knowing that He hears me.

Revival is not something that makes people feel good. It is a move of God that shows people what they are really like without Him and convicts them of their sins. They realize that no sin is small in the eyes of God and that they are worthy of judgment. They can’t think about their neighbor’s sin because their own sins are glaring. But they also know that God is faithful and just to forgive every sin so they confess them to Him and leave a different person than they were. When was the last time you have been in this kind of meeting?

If you attend a church that still focuses on holiness and repentance, thank God for it. If your church has lost that focus, intercede for the pastor and the church leaders, that they would have a greater hunger than ever before to walk with God and to challenge others to do so. Pray for a burden for your church, your community, lost souls, and then share that burden with others. You may find that you are not alone.

I think of the old song we used to sing that said, “Lord, send a revival, and let it begin with me.” That should be our continual prayer.

Thirsting For God

Psalm 41:1-2 To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah. As the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

The years have come and gone and I see myself not much wiser than I was when the Lord first brought me to Himself compared to actual years of a person. For instance, I was saved 25 years ago and yet I have to wonder about my spiritual growth. As I’ve contemplated life and it’s difficulties, I’ve also contemplated why it seems I’ve hardly grown in that amount of time. Yes, there have been times where I’ve been fervent and desired change but was it for the right reasons?

Not too long ago, Sony Elise posted about sin and holiness. In it she said, “I feel like, in many churches, more emphasis is placed on God’s forgiveness as opposed to His holiness. I am so grateful for God’s mercy and forgiveness, but there are often still consequences to the fleshly decisions that we make. This is one reason that it is important to walk in the Spirit so that you do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).” This can also be said about each true believer within their personal lives.

hart_for_god_wide

Why is holiness so important? It’s because God hates sin. If we love Him then we should love what He loves and hate what He hates. How can we pant for the Lord and long after Him if we are willing to entertain sin within our lives? Is it easy to get caught up in daily living and forget the Lord is sovereign and in control of each situation we are involved in? Yes! Is it easy to live as if we were atheists and completely shut out the Lord except for Sunday? Yes! Is it easy to get angry at those who hurt us and aren’t willing to make things right? Yes, again! And it’s so easy to fall over and over again!

We are all sinners but if we are true believers then we should seek to make things right! What if they aren’t willing to do so or even listen to us? Then we must forgive and move on! We can mourn over what happened but there comes a time when the Lord says, “It’s time for you to love me even more! Who do you have in heaven but Me? There is none on earth that you should desire except Me. Your heart and your flesh fail continuously but I am the strength of your heart. I am your Portion forever.”

My heart should respond with, “Yes, Lord! You are all that and more! My heart pants for You as the deer pants for the water and even more than that! My soul thirsts for You and I cannot be satisfied unless You fill me to overflowing with You! I want to do Your will no matter how hard it is, no matter what persecutions and sorrows I will go through, no matter who stands with me or doesn’t because I love You beyond life itself!” Yes, it will still be easy to fall and live that life without the Lord but let those of us, who are true believers, beg for God to give us such a love for Him that we hate what He hates and love what He loves.

Let holiness and grace reign in our hearts so completely that when people are around us, even though we sin regularly, they can say, “He or she has been with Christ!” They may not like us for the conviction within their hearts but we need to be like Him.

I long to be like the Lord Jesus but I fail miserably on a daily basis and yet…I want to be holy as He is holy. I want to thirst for Him to fill me in such a way that I seek to love Him and do what He wants in every way!

Let me see my sin, dear Lord,
as though I were looking through Your eyes,
My heart and the blackness that is within,
the sin for which You died
Let Your horror of sin be my heartbreak
Blur mine eyes with tears of agony
For if once I could see my sin the way You see
I would seek to hate my sin for love of Thee.

Change my sin sick soul, dear Lord,
so that I will become more like Christ
Make me pure and white within, dear Lord,
give me strength to follow You in this fight
May I stand for truth whatever happens
Give my heart holy tenacity
For Your death on the cross is what gave life to me
Now I want my life wholly given to Thee.

A Burden for the Churched

This morning, as I listened to Greater Vision sing “Just One More Soul,” I began to reflect once again on the message of that song. It was the perfect encouragement I needed, as I prepare for another year of conferences and ministry. For those who don’t know, I have the blessing of traveling with my brother as he ministers to people and challenges them to examine their worldview and make sure everything they do is from a Biblical perspective.

Although he has done some street witnessing, prison ministry, etc., most of our outreach is to professing Christians, and those are often the ones I have the greatest burden for. In our travels, we meet a lot of neat people, some of whom are on fire for the Lord and are striving to raise their children to have that same fervor. But many seem to be stressed and depressed, weighed down with the things of this world. Then there are those who are just biding their time, waiting for the service to be over so they can go get together with their friends or go home and watch TV.

gospelchurch

It seems like so many today don’t really care what the Bible teaches. “If it feels good, do it” still permeates our society. If you want to watch movies filled with sex and violence, that’s fine. It’s just a movie. If you’re tired of your wife and you find someone else who will make you “happy,” go for it. But let me interject here that nowhere in the Bible does it say that God wants us to be happy. It does say He wants us to be holy, and that is missing from the lives of so many who claim to be saved.

Hebrews 6:4-8 says, “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.”

I believe this speaks to those who say, “Lord, Lord, did we not do all kinds of things in Your name?” And, yet, the end result is that they did not live for Him on earth, so He had to turn them away from the gates of Heaven.

As I write this, my spirit is heavy. I see a world lost and dying, and I feel helpless to do anything about it. The truth is, however, that I can pray. I can live a life that pleases God so that He can use me for His glory. I can be faithful in the little things He has entrusted me with so that He can eventually trust me with bigger things. I can draw nearer to Him every day so that His voice becomes ever clearer. The answer is not to give up, but to press on with more determination than before.

God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, and this repentance must begin in the house of God. You may have sung as a child, “Lord, send a revival and let it begin with me.” May that be our prayer today. If the church begins to see true revival, I believe it will spread to the rest of the nation. Lord, hasten that day!

Yet Still Stinking

Dear readers,

We live in a day and age where false doctrine and heresy becomes more and more rampant within the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. In any and every way possible, the evil one seeks to undermine the Scriptures with the oldest question in all of history spoken to the minds of people of all walks of life, but particularly to those who claim the name of Christ.

“Yea, has God really said?”

sinlessperfection

In this excellent video by Pastor John MacArthur, he deals with the false teaching propagated by many in mainline evangelical denominations and by those who in the Charismatic movements. This message entitled, “Spiritually Living, Yet Still Stinking” he deals with the false teaching of sinless perfectionism and that we can live a fully sanctified life before being redeemed from this corrupt flesh. This form of Arminianism was taught and spread by false teachers such as Charles G. Finney, who is considered the father of modern-day revivalism.

From MacArthur’s message found in the video below:

It was J.C. Ryle in his marvelous epic book written in 1879 by the title of Holiness who said, “Sudden instantaneous leaps from conversion to consecration I fail to see anywhere in the Bible.” And the reason J.C. Ryle didn’t see them is because they’re not there. That was an utterly unbiblical concept. He knew what all accurate theologians know, that justification and sanctification are inseparable. They both come at the instant of salvation. Justification is immediate and sanctification is progressive, but they cannot be separated. And sanctification is not some experience subsequent to salvation.

Paul claimed to be the chiefest of all sinners, and 1 John is clear that if anybody says he or she is not a sinner, then they are calling God a liar.  We will never achieve sinless perfection in this life. However, we can give thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that one day He is coming back and He will change our corruptible bodies into that which is incorruptible. What a glorious day that will be.

“Blessed is the man”–Psalm 1:1

Psalm 1_1

There are at least 50 places in the Bible that use the word, “Blessed.” Or “Blessed be…” Psalm 128:1Blessed is the man who fears the LORD. Matthew 11:6“Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” And of course, all the Beatitudes begin with the phrase, “Blessed are…” Matthew 5:3-8“Blessed are the poor in spirit…they that mourn…the meek…those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” 2nd Corinthians 11:31Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he who has a part in the first resurrection.

When referring to God, the word “blessed” means “glorified, revered.” When referring to a person, that word “blessed” can also be defined as one who is “happy,” or “to be congratulated.” Today, we’re going to look at what type of person is truly “blessed,” and is deserving of “congratulations.” We’re going to read the first two verses of the first Psalm, and look a little deeper at what the psalmist is saying here.

If we want to be blessed in this life—and especially in the life to come—there are some things we need to avoid. Some people just don’t get that. They think that true joy and happiness come from the things we do and the things we get right now, here in this life. But we’ll talk more about Joel Osteen some other time. And when things don’t quite work out the way they expected them to, and their lives start crumbling around them, and they wonder how it happened, and how they can fix it. And how many times, when we tell them that if they would just stop doing things the way they’re doing them, and trust God, and follow His ways that they will be better able to deal with their situation. It doesn’t mean that their lives will suddenly turn to sunshine and unicorns, but they’ll have a more lasting and true peace about those things.

But, they usually want to hear about how they can keep doing the same thing they’ve been doing, the same way they’ve been doing it—even if it’s the wrong thing to do, and the wrong way to do it—they want to keep doing the same thing, but get a different result. And that is the definition of what? Insanity. Instead of turning to the LORD. When we turn to God for answers—He may not FIX our problems, but He will give us the strength and the patience we need to endure until those storms pass. So, how does one find true blessedness?

Psalm 1:1Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. We are blessed when we avoid the ways of the world. What we see here in verse 1 is a progression. When we get caught up in sin, is it because we charge right into it? Do we wake up one day and say, “It looks so nice outside. I think I’ll get hooked on meth today!” I can’t imagine that sentence has ever passed through anybody’s lips. But how many times—especially for believers—is it very gradual, and very subtle? How many times have we wound up somewhere doing something that we were so absolutely sure “that would NEEEVVVER happen.” And then you look up one day and you think, “What the heck am I doing here!!”

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade
–Casting Crowns, “Slow Fade”

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly. We need to be really careful about who we look to for advice. There are many psychologists and psychiatrists, and therapists, that—they have all these years of school, and college, and you walk in and they have these fancy diplomas on their wall—and they don’t know a thing about how to help you get through your problems. Other than, “Here, take this pill! It will make you happy!” Many times, our problems—whether they are physical, or emotional, or psychological—most of the time, the root of that problem is spiritual. We may be looking at our problem through our own eyes, and the problem looks impossible—to us. But is anything impossible with God?

Another example: when somebody does something to us, what does the world say we’re supposed to do? Get even with them. What did Jesus say to do? Yeah, you know, that whole “Turn the other cheek” thing.

“You don’t know what Naomi said about me!” They blasphemed Christ.
“But Joseph’s been cheating with my girlfriend!” His people committed harlotry with other gods.
“That drunk driver killed my baby daughter!” And your sins nailed Jesus to the cross.

And I guarantee you one thing: what you’re fixin’ to do to that person is a whole lot worse than what they did to you. It’s never about “getting even”, now, is it? Isn’t it always “get even—and then some”? Somebody does something to you, you have to do worse to them, right? No. Walk away. Don’t walk in the counsel of someone who says you need to “get even” with the one who offended you and hurt your delicate little feelings.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners. How many of y’all remember what high school was like? Not every school is the same, but in most, you’ve got your jocks over here, your cheerleaders over here, your science geeks over here, then you’ve got a group made up of kids who aren’t in ANY group. They’ve made their own group. “We are the ‘not-in-any-group’ group!” You could tell what type of person somebody was by the group they hung out with. The same when it comes to us, and which group we belong to—do we stand with saints or do we stand with sinners. There’s no neutral territory. Hebrews 3:12Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. Unbelief is evil. I’m sure we’ve all heard someone say they know a friend who is “walking with one foot in the world, and one foot in the kingdom.” That is an absolute impossibility. One cannot walk with one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom. They will either have both feet in the world or both feet in the kingdom. Matthew 6:24“No man can serve two masters…” James 4:4The friendship of the world is hostility with God. So which path do we stand in? Do we take sides with the world, or with God?

Now, does that mean we can’t have friends who aren’t Christians? No, it does not. We are, in fact, encouraged to have non-Christian friends rather than friends who claim to be Christians, but are living an immoral lifestyle. 1st Corinthians 5:9-11I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. Let me give you one example of this. I found a video while back from a ministry in Los Angeles. A woman from this ministry was talking to a couple of young men outside the BET awards. They wanted to see all the big-name rappers. These men said, “Yeah, we’re Christians.” And during the course of this interview, these men said (I kid you not) that these rappers were—quote—“God-fearing men.” Apparently, in some people’s eyes God-fearing men rap about going to clubs, having multiple sexual partners, drugs. And these men who claimed to be Christians were standing in the same path with them! Psalm 101:3I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. Philippians 4:8Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest…just… pure…lovely…of good report…any virtue…any praise, think on these things. We can have non-Christian friends—we should, so we can let our light shine before them, they can glorify our Father in Heaven—that doesn’t mean we should be imitating them.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. This is the most dangerous of all. Because if you are walking or standing, you can look around and eventually you’ll say, “What am I doing? I’m outta here!!!” But when you sit at someone’s table, you are making yourself comfortable with what they are offering you. When you see a friend—especially one who claims to be a brother—you see them doing something you know is sinful, and not only do you say nothing to him, but you take part in it, you are “sitting in the seat of the scornful.” Proverbs 23:6-8Do not eat the bread of [the greedy], nor desire his delicacies; for as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up, and waste your pleasant words. In other words, don’t partake of another’s evil, because they may act like they’re your friend, but when it’s all said and done they don’t care about you, and you’re going to be in worse shape than you were before.

Another thing to consider: think about how Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons go about their work. Do they just stand outside the Wal-Mart and hand out tracts? No. They knock on your door. They want to come into your house. And what do they want to do? They want to sit down with you. And they want you to be comfortable. And if you know what Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons believe, then you know Satan is coming through that door too, right? 2nd John 9-11He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. When we lived in our last house, we lived about 3 blocks away from a Mormon church. And on 3 separate occasions we had some Mormon missionaries come to our door. And it was cold outside. And we stood at the door. And they tried to tell me all about their polygamous prophet. And I want you to know, they did not step one foot in our house. And they probably about froze. But I was not about to let them in the house. Why? Because I was not a good neighbor? No. Because God tells us not to! You want to preach your false god, you can do it from outside my door. But you ain’t stepping foot inside.

Now, Psalm 1:2 kinda gives us the other side of the coin. It shows us what we can do to find true blessedness. Psalm 1:2But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. What is the Law? It’s all those 613 commandments in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Which is the great commandment? Matthew 22:37-38“‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” This is what we meditate on day and night. Love the LORD our God with everything in us, and our neighbor as ourselves. Where does it teach us to do that? The Law. You can watch talk shows, read all kinds of books written by people who don’t know the LORD—and don’t want to know Him. You can get all kinds of advice from the newest, trendiest pop psychologist. But you will never know how to please the LORD if you don’t read His word.

Charles Spurgeon said,

“‘His delight is in the law of the Lord.’ He is not under the law as a curse and condemnation, but he is in it, and he delights to be in it as his rule of life; he delights, moreover, to meditate in it, to read it by day, and think upon it by night. He takes a text and carries it with him all day long; and in the night-watches, when sleep forsakes his eyelids; he [reflects] upon the Word of God. In the day of his prosperity he sings psalms out of the Word of God, and in the night of his affliction he comforts himself with promises out of the same book.”

He’s saying that “day and night” doesn’t just mean the sun coming up and going down. But the day can also refer to when things are going good, and the night when things aren’t so good. And in it all, we know that God is sovereign over it all, that nothing happens in our lives that He does not allow, and if He does allow it to happen it is so we can glorify Him in the midst of our trouble. Psalm 30:5Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Blessed be Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name
–Matt Redman, “Blessed Be Your Name”

When things look bleak, we have promises from God that He will see us through it. When we have joy, we can find countless ways to praise Him for His goodness! No other religion on earth gives any assurance that you are pleasing that particular deity. Not the Buddhist god, nor the Hindu god, nor the god of the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the god of the Mormons. And especially not the god if the Muslims. But if we know Christ then we can know, without a doubt, that we are indeed children of the One, True, Living God. Let me finish up this quote from Spurgeon.

“‘The law of the Lord’ is the daily bread of the true believer. And yet, in David’s day, how small was the volume of inspiration, for they had scarcely anything save the first five books of Moses! How much more, then, should we prize the whole written Word which it is our privilege to have in all our houses!”

Think about that for a second. When these Psalms were written, all they had was the Torah. They didn’t have the book of Romans. Or Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. They did not know about the cross. They did not know that the sinless Son of God would be made sin for us, so that we could be the righteousness of God in Christ. All they knew was “LAW”. Consider this also: there are some parts of the world where if you get caught with a Bible, you’re dead! There are still other places that have never seen one! Yet how casually do we treat it, we who can go into any Wal-Mart or Target, without fear of prosecution—or persecution—and pick one up, and it’ll cost you 5 bucks. Some countries, it’ll cost you your life! But blessed are we when we take this book, and read it, and study it, and believe in the promises contained inside and understand that this is the perfect word of God, not just a bunch of stories. “Bunch of stories from old Jewish guys.” No, they are not. This beloved book is no less than a collection of 66 love letters from God to His people.

I’ll close with an example of a man who did not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. In Luke chapter 23, after Jesus has given up the ghost it says in Luke 23:50-53

  • Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, and a good and just man—a good and just man, in the middle of that Sanhedrin that wanted Jesus dead.
  • He had not consented to their decision and action—a good and just man in the middle of a bunch of blasphemers—but he voiced his opposition, and did not walk in the counsel of the ungodly.
  • And he was looking for the kingdom of God—His delight was in the Law of the LORD and on that Law he meditated day and night.
  • This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever been laid—When it was all said and done, he took the Word of God, went to great lengths to care for it, and laid it in his own tomb—knowing that Christ’s body wasn’t going to be there forever. And three days later, it wasn’t.

We don’t need advice from the ungodly. We don’t need to imitate sinners and we certainly do not need to partake of and feel comfortable conforming to the ways of those who mock and scorn God. Let us meditate on the Law of the LORD, let it be our guide to living lives that please Him, knowing that our God and Savior Jesus Christ fulfilled all 613 commands contained therein, freeing us from its yoke and giving us life and life more abundantly! Praise Him for His indescribable Gift! (2nd Corinthians 9:15).

Where is the Anguish?

I just listened to this sermon segment from David Wilkerson on anguish. I wholeheartedly agree and have to ask, where is the anguish in the church today? We weep and wail over an election, but where is the weeping and wailing over the sins of the people in our nation, our communities or even in our local churches? We should be driven by anguish to deep prayer and an unquenchable desire to share the gospel, yet the Church is more consumed with making friends with the world. Please watch this video and ask yourself, where is the anguish today?