Tag Archives: revival

Character Building

“It was the best of Times; it was the worst of Times” – this line from Charles Dickens Tale of Two Cities; seems to capture our current state of life. Depending on what you listen to through news programming or social media sites, our perspective of this pandemic and Corona Virus will change. I have many more questions than answers right now, and I will not insult your intelligence by trying to make you think I do. None of us have been through such a crisis on a personal or global level. Our generation may be experiencing our own “Great Depression or Bombing of Peral Harbor” life altering event. Our ancestors came through their own crisis and establish the world we live in today. The question for all of us is “will this be a great character-building time or a chaotic disappointment?
I have tried to talk to people and bring a real perspective to this time in eternity – it is just that, a certain people at a certain time in eternal history. The pandemic is GLOBAL. We must remember that we are not the only ones going through this crisis. Right now, we seem to be dependent on our Governments worldwide to solve this problem. They may help steady the boat so to speak; but the answer is found in our sovereign God!
The bad news keeps getting worse. This pandemic has a mind of its own it seems. Every time I turn around, it has morphed into some other phase. People are dying, industry has stopped; people are quarantined and yet we have no answer for a cure in the foreseeable future. That’s the Worst of Times.
The Best of Times [as I see it] is the mobilization of so many agencies working together to some how soften the effects. There has been a great thrust within Christianity of getting the Word of God out through on-line applications and social media. Many churches are reaching audiences they never touched before. Some churches are launching into the 21st century technology for the first time.
I had a friend of mine tell me that if we don’t experience repentance and revival through all this, then we may have missed the point of the virus happening. That is quite a statement! I know before all this happened millions were praying earnestly for REVIVAL. Simply we may be getting what we asked for! In every Great Awakening and Revival in history it began with Prayer. We all know that our entire world needs the Gospel, and the Church to awaken from its slumber. Our world was in a deep degenerative condition. We had opioid and drug epidemics, Cannabis and CBD oils sales skyrocketing and every imaginable sexual orientation accepted, then the senseless killing of unborn children. Were we in need of revival? Unequivocally yes!
While we could easily get wrapped up into an apocalyptical frenzy, we must stay grounded. Our Faith not Fear is our foundation. 1 Peter 1:6-7, the trying of our faith. We – believers of the Only True God and His Son Jesus Christ have the ability to preserve in trials with overcoming faith as the Holy Spirit gives us strength in our very souls!
I don’t know when this will end, but I do know that our “cure” is from the Lord God. James 1:2-4 is our mandate. Let this be the Churches defining moment to bring great Glory to our Heavenly Father. Psalms 85:4-7; Restore us, O God of our salvation, And cause Your indignation toward us to cease. Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger to all generations? Will You not Yourself [revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your lovingkindness, O LORD, And grant us Your salvation.

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Some things never change

Ecclesiastes 3:15 “That which is has been already and that which will be has already been for God seeks that which has passed by.” I just finished the Winter bible study in Jeremiah. It is a sad book, and quite understandable why Jeremiah is called the “Weeping prophet.” Oh, how far Israel and Judah had fallen from the LORD!  Jeremiah is tasked with bringing the warning of impending judgment from God on the city of Zion and Jerusalem. The people of Judah and Benjamin are all that remain after the Assyrians took Samaria and the Northern Kingdom and disbursed them to the four winds of the known world. The kings of Judah refused to acknowledge that God was behind the discipline and judgment. The Northern kingdom fell along with Samaria in 722 BC. God uses the gentile kings to bring judgment on HIS PEOPLE. Something we must remember that the prophets preached and prophesied against the “Church of the Old Testament.” I wonder why is it that God can get Gentile nations to do His will, but cannot get HIS own people to be faithful? I cannot imagine what it would be like to hear God say – Do not pray for these people, I will not hear or answer your prayers.

I’ll be doing a conference for the next two weekends, one in Hawaii and the other in Fort Worth. Both conferences have to do with renewal and revival of the Church. Looking at the Church today, especially in America, must cause God to lament. It seems that the “local church” is only good for one complete generation – the founding people. Sometimes it may extend to a second or third generation. Church planting was  and I guess still is in some areas of United States the tactic to curb the dying churches. However, that alone cannot be expected to remedy the growing number of closed churches across all denominations. We could blame the people in the church, the pastor, the community or even the culture for apathy and decline in the church. But the real reason is not new – the Church is a spiritual entity and should be handled and treated like the spiritual body it is supposed to be.

Now I realize that not all churches are a product of God in their formation. Many churches have been formed out of spite for other people. Sometimes that is good and necessary, but not always. My work has been with pastoring and church revitalization situations. Trust me it wasn’t my idea! It is difficult and demoralizing at times to try and convince the Church that they are not in tune with God. Change has to happen in the church – but the change I’m talking about is the change in the Church people! Many times the changes that are tried consist of changes music, pews to chairs, lights on stage and dark in the audience, café and atriums and dress down clothing. However, what I see in this attempt is to draw the world into the church – to get attenders that are comfortable – Oh, I forgot you can carry you Big Gulp into the service.

How did we get this so far way from the awe and reverence of God? No way would a high priest go into the Holy of Holies with some of the attire we wear into the sanctuary. My thought – the World has dictated to the CHURCH what is acceptable and what is now in our church services. Sometimes I feel like I’ve just gone to a youth rally instead of Church! We as the Church body of Christ should take out lead from Christ Jesus – Be Holy as I am Holy! Holiness in character, action, behavior and thought. How we do something can be just as important as why we do something.

Now, I have rambled – my thought for today is the origin of why America is in the condition it is in – Judges 2:11-15 explains what happened then, and what is happening now to us. The people of God – turned from God and served Baals [other gods]; the forsook the LORD [rejected HIM] they provoked the LORD to anger and the anger of the LORD burned against them so that HE was not with them, but actually against them – so that they were severely distressed.  Israel and American churches [believers] have left God and served humanism. I mentioned the problems we have today in the CHURCH is a spiritual problem.  REPENT  and RETURN was Jeremiah’s message – they refused and God let Nebuchadnezzar to take them captivity.  What will America do? Refuse until it is too late? Or is it already to late for the Winds of Revival to blow?

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Hezekeiah:Reforms, Reinstituted, and Restoration

2 Chronicles 29-34; I have waited for two weeks before writing the blog on this portion of scripture. I have been enthralled with the passage! We use to play games with the name of Hezekiah, asking people to turn to the book; of course it sounds like a book in the Bible but is not. Hezekiah the King of Judah is a remarkable person. Beginning in chapter 29, we find this 25 year old King sitting on the throne of God’s people – Judah. As a pastor I have always been told “don’t do anything for the first couple of years when taking over a new church;” sounds like great advice. But this is not what King Hezekiah did – it says ” in the 1st year and the 1st month, he opened the door to the house of the Lord; then called the Levities and Priests on the carpet – saying “CONCECRATE YOURSELVES AND THE HOUSE OF THE LORD.” Talk about having some brass! Now in our current climate of Christianity, we have a lot of resistance to the younger generation of pastors and ministers. I found it ironic that the people God uses to bring revival and restoration to Judah and Israel is the kings, not the religious leaders. God used Kings like Asa, Jehoshaphat, Josiah and Hezekiah.

I pray for revival everyday for the church. I keep praying that God will somehow open the eyes and hearts of believers to the urgency of the Gospel in our world. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a oft quoted formula prayer for revival. As I have mentioned before, I see that passage not as prescriptive but descriptive about revival. King Hezekiah didn’t wait around to be given permission to act as king; he jumped in and took command of the situation. What is interesting also is Hezekiah follows a corrupt king in Ahaz. I got to thinking about the revolving door of kings and couldn’t help but draw the analogy of revolving doors of pastors in churches. It seems that whoever follows; begins to deconstruct what was done, and then establish their own leadership system. This makes sense if and only if the previous leadership was in fact corrupt and needed changing. But many times what happen, is pastors and those in leadership scrap the organizational structure for a new one. If this is done enough times, the people grow weary of the constant change and bow out of listening to leadership as a whole.

Anyway, Hezekiah spends no time in restoring the LORD’s house, and tells the religious leaders to “clean up their act.” We have been taught that the Church or Christianity is the secret to restoring a nation, country, community or church back to God. Hummm? Really, then why is it that God had to use those outside the Church to fix the church? Revival is for the people who know God but have become disobedient and apathetic towards God and His requirement of obedience.

The condition of the religious leaders is disheartening; they were unclean – filthy, yet they stood in the honorable place of intercession for the people. The Church/Lord’s house had been neglected and was in ruins. The religious leaders cowered down and gave into Ahaz and Baal worship. Today as then we must have men of God who will stand in the Gap and stand up against the garbage of culture and Satan! Where are all the men of God today that will speak against the sins of the world and the sins of the congregation?

Hezekiah brought a wonderful revival to the land. He got the religious leaders right, cleansed the Lord’s House, then called people to come worship. There was something to come worship about now. Restoration of the Passover, a feast that was to be perpetually observed, hadn’t been for years. Hezekiah did what Revitalization Leadership does – make pastors and churches do what they already know to do, but aren’t!

A single word is repeated over and over in these chapters – CONSECRATION, CONSECRATE, CONSECRATED. The word means is more than -separated or sanctified. It carries the concept of cleansing that which is filthy, to purify, to make holy for the use of the Lord. Hezekiah wouldn’t let the religious leaders conduct services until they personally were consecrated. Here is this 25 year old King standing up to the vile filth of Baal worship and apostasy of the religious leaders and orchestrating an awesome revival, that the people wanted to extend another week. Oh, that we would hear a prophetic voice of God today for consecration before God. DO we really want revival? It starts with us!!

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Judah Cast from Yahweh’s Presence

2 Kings 24-25; the end of the road for Judah. Fallen is Samaria and Israel – the Northern Kingdom [Lost 10 tribes]; a 150 later noting has been learned by Judah. Assyria and Egypt had been fighting for control of the “Promised Land” – somehow through pay-offs and treaties Judah was able to live in relative peace. Kings like Uzziah and Hezekiah who did right in the eyes of the Lord extended their existence. Judah was not without sin; but God was faithful to keep His covenant that he made with David even though Judah deserved the same judgment as Israel for their idolatrous ways. I think that Israel/Judah felt they were exempt from the judgment of God that He displayed on the Canaanite tribes. However, Israel and Judah followed the sins, iniquities, transgressions and abominations of the nations God had expelled out of the “inheritance” of Israel.  This is not the first or the last time that arrogance and pride will cause Judah/Israel to be led into captivity. Jeremiah and so many other prophetic voices warned Israel and Judah to repent and return to the ways of the Lord. Jeremiah preaches 50 years, yet all he gain was deaf ears to his message.

After faithful King Josiah is killed, there is a series of kings with a very limited reign and influence. The world power shifts at this point from Egypt and Assyria to Babylon, more specifically to King Nebuchadnezzar. Because Judah persisted in rebellion and idol worship, God allowed Babylon to come to power and lead them [Judah] into captivity and make the Promise Land desolate except for the poorest of people. The Promise Land laid waste!!!!!!!   Why?  Easy answer Judah and Israel left God for gods – But I think that the Promise Land had become so polluted, God and to “Purge” the land of the people and idols so He could restore it again under Ezra and Nehemiah. Sometimes I think that there needs to be a purging of the Church Body before God can do His work in the lives of the Remnant.

An undertone is how God is Merciful even in His judgment. There were three deportations by Babylon – the land was stripped of all the royalty, educated, skilled and craftsmen. Judah was also allowed to continue [return] to worship Yahweh. The exile of Judah was prescribed and implemented under the Hand of God. Jeremiah told Judah “don’t resist the Babylonians, but go into the land, build houses and live among your captive masters. Isaiah 45-66 is called the Post-Exilic chapters of Isaiah or better known as Deutro-Isaiah. Many prophets foretold of the return of God’s people after 70 years in exile.

As bad as it was in the destruction and deportation of Judah, the siege of Jerusalem and the starvation of the people; God was still merciful in that He did not destroy all the people, but left a remnant. We may be looking at a similar situation here in our own USA; the condition of the Church is deplorable; the Gospel has been polluted; we worship our worship not God in our services. I truly believe God is not pleased with the Bride! But there is a remnant that hold to the Truth of God’s Word, it will be the Remnant that God will use – like the Church in Sardis there are those who have not “soiled their garments.” We the Church today must take heed to the warning given to Strengthen what remains, to Hold fast to the Truth.

Years ago America thought it was invincible from attack from an enemy on its own shores – thinking that the distance was too far for the enemy to attack unnoticed – then Pearl Harbor happened and took away the arrogance and pride of invincibility. God is doing a great work among many other “pagan” nations. The Chinese and the Muslim countries are experiencing great numbers of converts to Christ. Yet here in America the church is dying and has gone into apostasy in much of the land.

Will America be restored? Will there be a revival? Will the Church heed the warnings of Israel and Judah? Will America have to Fall before it returns to the Lord? All questions we must answer personally and collectively.

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Prayer of Dedication

1 Kings 8 [parallel passage 2 Chronicles 6/7] This chapter was to impacting to just lump in with our other reading. This is a major chapter in the life of the Church and the nation Israel. The prayer of Solomon at the Dedication of the Temple is so inspiring and yet so sobering to anyone who reads it. After nearly 1000 years a promise of God to Abraham [Genesis 22] come to completeness. Think about that! Not is the days of Abraham, Isaac or Jacob; not even in the days of Moses, Joshua or Samuel – but in the days of King Solomon the Promise of a land to people as multiplied [1 Kings 4:20] as the sands of the seashore, the fulfillment of God’s Promise rings true. Oh, how the people must have longed to see the day when God’s promise was fulfilled.

The Promised Land – described to Abraham is now the “peaceful land of Israel.” Solomon didn’t do it, all that came before him accomplished the work as they followed the LORD God. The Temple was built-in such grandeur and extravagance, the whole world takes notice. On that monumental day when all the people are assembled – King Solomon, the wisest man in the world ever; articulates a Prayer of Dedication to the LORD God that rings continually in any ear that hears it. A Place for God to put His Name has been constructed. Now the Prayer of Dedication and hope that the LORD is pleases to “PUT HIS NAME” there. Over and over again Solomon pleads that God would inhabit the Place built for Him, understanding that the true dwelling place in heaven. “There is NO GOD LIKE YOU.” Solomon with as much reverence and awe, tries to capture the moment by blessing the Lord for His might attributes.

The Prayer of Dedication becomes a “supplication prayer” to the LORD to hear the praying done in the Temple. Many “IF  . . . Then” statements are made by Solomon. The failure of Israel to continue walking in the statutes and ordinances of God are assumed. Solomon knows the people, He also knows his own heart. Solomon outlines various situations of when the people of God, Israel will not be obedient – He knows that God will discipline through famines, wars and such to admonish HIS PEOPLE to come back to HIM. Solomon knows the people, and even we today are like wandering sheep.

Solomon prays – LORD will you hear when Your people Pray? LORD will you forgive their sin? If he sins against You, his neighbor or himself, will you HEAR IF he Prays? When people drift off to idolatry and call on other gods; when they commit heinous immorality and when they are defeated by their enemies because of their sin against YOU – Will you HEAR their cries, confession, laments to forgive their sin against you? Over and over Solomon cites situations where Israel [and us] will fail the LORD. But there is a hope, not just in the judgment of sin, but the restoration of man from his rebellion against the ONE and ONLY TRUE GOD.  Solomon asks God to “maintain their cause” three times in this chapter. There is even a hint of Babylonian captivity found in the words of 1 Kings 8:46-52.

In church circles we have used the Prayer of Dedication and the answer by God as a formula to try to “call down” revival. It is interesting that through the years so many have tried to “cause revival to happen” instead of drawing close to God and let HIM SEND IT. God id answer the prayer of Solomon, but it was conditional – IF YOU 1 Kings 9:2-5; while the prayer was for the people and the place – the conditional “I will hear and forgive” was personal. “as for YOU Solomon” – you must walk. . . . . THEN I WILL.

If the people of God individually and collectively WALK away from God – 1 Kings 9:6-9 gives us the vivid description of what will happen to the Temples we have erected for our so-called worship of God. Church of today – the house lays in ruins!!!

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Settling into Life

The last few chapters of Nehemiah capture for us the reality of living life back in the Promise Land. The work of establishing a place of common worship, the restoral of daily sacrifices and offering and the reading of the word of God daily in the Temple all have resumed. The Temple and the city of Jerusalem are secure once again. Those who had rightful inheritance live within the walls. The scribes, priests, gatekeepers and singers are developing a “routine” in life. Man it feels good to be back home after a long absence! Coming out of chapter 9 which was a REVIVAL of the people. There is then chapter 10, with the identification of the signers of the Covenant. I couldn’t help but think of the USA and the original signers of our Constitution. I have often thought of the similarities of Israel and America. No I’m not talking politically! God has blessed people for their worship and obedience to His Word. When we fail to remember that HE is God and WE are not; then a resulting downfall is imminent. Far too long America has banked on the blessings of God, without any corresponding obedience to Him and His Word. I have heard some pastors even exclaim that America is GOD’s gift to the World. There is a definite arrogance about Americans. It wasn’t until I was overseas did I come to the reality of the expression “Ugly Americans.” For the very same reasons of disobedience and pride that brought Israel into a tumultuous time, even so I believe America is headed in the same direction. We cannot count on just the Blessings of God; we must also know the divine correction of God. The Father in Heaven loves His children, but He will not tolerate “brats.”  There is a great need for a Holy Ghost, spirit breaking, confessional, repentant of sins, glorifying God revival; In the CHURCH. I’ll be doing a study on the Seven Churches’ in Revelation 1-3 soon. Something that must be noted, every church has problems. Mainly self-induced problems. If warnings are not observed when pronounced by God – through His Word and prophets, then there is a reality that the “Lamp” will go out. Jesus will extinguish the Lamp.

Israel discovered that their existence was in jeopardy when carried away into exile. They got and woke up for hundreds of years. I do not know what it will take for the Church in America to wake up? As a Church Revitalization person, I see churches that are ready to die. They don’t care; all they know is that they will not do anything to stay alive. Long before the Church doors close; the Holy Spirit of God has left. The Holy Spirit does not inhabit “dead people!” The problem with Israel before the captivity is the same problem with Churches today – we think we are bigger than God. We think that the CHURCH is ours! They may own the building – but the building IS NOT THE CHURCH. Enough preaching.

As a result of the Holy Spirit driven revival the people – Jews made changes in their living. Sin was no longer acceptable. It wasn’t just about doing the right things as it was also not doing the wrong things. When revival occurs, it affects every aspect of life. Just as Jesus indwelling our bodies through the Holy Spirit saturates our lives. The Work of living was the focus of the people. It is one thing to rebuild – quite another to live out on a continual basis what was covenanted during the revival. Sure all the rituals of worship were restored, the practices of the people and the labors to keep and sustain the place of worship had to be accomplished. But, having an awesome worship experience isn’t all God wants. He wants ALL of you and me! Ever detail of every area of our lives. Just as Jesus told the rich young ruler, “there is one thing thou lackest, go and sell all that you have and come follow Me.”  All In- is the minimum requirement of following Jesus. There was a lingering problem of “unequally yoked marriages.” Israel had been told NOT to do it, they did it anyway. In Nehemiah 13- Solomon is the bad example and warning against mixed marriages. Please rise above RACIAL prejudices. This is a spiritual problem even today. Believers are inter-marrying with unbelievers and becoming casualties. DO NOT DO IT!

The problem stretched from the lowest social class to the priests. If revival is really going to be a lasting revival – we must continue the work of renewal as Nehemiah. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are not solely about repairs and building of the Temple and Walls. It was about building and restoring the Faith and obedience of God’s people. Nehemiah says at the end of the book; “Thus I purified them from everything foreign.” May we have purified lives before our God!

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Do it Again LORD!

Psalms 119:107, 149, and 156 speak of being revived by ordinances, and Word. An ordinance is a decree, law, order or rule. I have read more than a few books on revival; two that have been most beneficial are Lewis Drummond and Walter Kaiser’s books. Kaiser indicates more of a pattern or formula for revival; while Drummond speaks of a “God revealed, driven revival.” Wilt thou not revive us again? Psalm 85:6-8 The Psalmist asks the question, will you oh Lord revive us according to you Word? it is apparent that many today do not even know what revival is. I have asked pastor and congregations “how many have ever experienced “God directed revival?” I have been astounded of how few have ever experienced it. We have debate today as in days past, is revival something that man can orchestrate or is it the Work of God only?

I have heard for years in the ministry of churches having revival services. But when I ask did revival come, there was the pathetic No. In John 3, Jesus says the wind blows where it will and no one knows. G.K. Chesterson has been credited with the saying about revival “Set the sail and wait for the wind to blow.” This makes sense for two reasons, we never know when revival will come; yet we must be prepared to receive it when the “Spirit blows.” This would appear that revival is more “caught” than brought.

The psalmist seems to know the answer of how revival occurs. Through the Word of God. Revival must be prayed through, the purpose may not be so much as to get revival, but to immerse oneself into the Word of God, and as a result of meditation, praying and consecration. Verse 105 – a well-known verse taught in children’s Sunday school classes – Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. In my previous blog entry, there was the discussion of departing from God in acts of rebellion which resulted in punishment and affliction. As a people, we are prone to wander, especially in good times or lack of conflict in our lives. It takes adversity at times to “drive us” back to the bible. I know even in my own life time, when a national or personal crisis occurs, man I beat feet back to the bible and God. However, our nation and churches are guilty of relaxing, or better said return to laissez-faire  lifestyle.

I am concerned for our present day culture, communities and churches; it seems that instead of running to God in distressful times, we have hardened our heart and refuse to return. Judgment looms for every person and institution if we will not return to our Lord.

Revival hurts, it means that repentance has occurred and that I am admitting that I have sinned and drifted from God. The Word of God has the power to restore, but also to cut with conviction. If there isn’t conviction for sin, repentance is not real. We can feel bad for what we have done in a moral sense; but unless we admit that our sin is a result of who we are and our hard heartedness; it’s just feeling bad, but not bad enough to do anything about it.

Revival has often been described as a formula from 2 Chronicles 7:14; however, I do not see this verse and a prescription for revival as much as I see it as a “description” of when revival happens. “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and heal their land. Sin is singular; sin of rebellion and unbelief – sin is a nature which produces sins in the flesh. There is a lot of work on the part of the believer before God hears our prayers and responds. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear my prayers.” Conviction [Word of God]; Confession with our mouth; Repentance  with our heart and restoration by God’s mercy and Grace.

If we neglect the Word – If the Word is not in us – why do we expect God to deliver us? People there is work to be done – and it begins with you and me!

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