Tag Archives: revival

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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Afflicted on Every Side

Psalm 119: Heth – Lamed; I know that is a weird way of starting this blog entry, but with the 119th Psalm and its construction, I didn’t know of a better way. As we continue reading this Psalm, it is evident by the repetitious words of “statutes, Word, Testimonies, Ordinances and Precepts usage, the focus is the Law -Bible. Repeatedly, the writer makes metaphors to the Law and describes it with various similes. I want to draw attention to the fact that the writer, loves the word of God; he knows that it is “like a two-edged sword” because when he reads it, like a knife it cuts with conviction and truth.

In verses 67, 71 and 75; the word afflicted is used and the writer is pleased to have been afflicted; knowing that his affliction has brought great benefit and restoration with the Lord. This makes a point for every believer; during the good times, we can become lax in meditating and reading the Word of God. In Hebrews 12:4-6 we find that God disciplines those whom He loves. Now I grew up during the time that it was not only right, but expected to correct/punish children and adults for improper behavior. In fact if my neighbors saw me doing something that was wrong [community law] he corrected me and told my dad. Without correction and or discipline, there is a vast amount of unruly children who someday become adults that act just like children, whining and bellyaching about not getting their way. Does this sound all too familiar of our present day culture?

The Psalmist understands that to be admonished, punished, corrected and disciplined was to be loved. We all have heard the phrase – spare the rod hate the child. While there does need to be more firm discipline and correction of obvious bad behavior, the whole point of discipline is to use the correct amount of punishment to bring behaviors back into alignment. I don’t know what the Psalmist did, but whatever it was “he was afflicted by God and he knew it.” Being afflicted can be for various reasons; it may be for wrongful actions, but also may be for strengthening, as was the case for Apostle Paul in 2 Cor. 12:9

Verse 75, in faithfulness you have afflicted me. In other words we will find God faithful in executing His responsibilities are our “heavenly Father.”  Something I learned, being a parent doesn’t have it limitations. After the children are married and gone with children of their own, I am still just as much a parent to them. The reason for the affliction is found in verse 65 – the child had gone astray – went their own way, as an act of rebellion. The Psalmist knows the Word of God; He knows it is Truth, it is righteous and that it is eternal – it won’t change with the winds of society or culture. There are times when the only way to teach a child a lesson is to allow them to endure hurt or hardship. God does the same to us, He isn’t a tyrant or an evil Father; but there are times when like the Prodigal Son who had to be let go so he could learn just how faithful and loving His Father was. Many believers do not grasp the mercy, grace and goodness of God until they are out in the world on their own – usually in direct disobedience.

Restoration is the purpose of the affliction in this case; having drifted away, the Father “nudges” us back. Obviously there are times when the nudge, or hint doesn’t work and more drastic measures have to be employed.

The Apostle Paul endured much hardship; not for doing wrong, but for the refining of his nature. Someone once told me that is God would have healed Paul’s affliction in the flesh, He would have lost Paul. So the thorn was used to keep Paul close to the Lord in dependency. The Psalmist desired the Word of God, to meditate and to gain discernment and understanding. The Psalmist see the treatment of affliction to have as its reward – Personal revival. A renewed joy of salvation.

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Repentance and Renwal = Revival

Psalm 51 is my focus this week. Our church just had a week of revival services. It was well attended and the Gospel was proclaimed clearly and delivered with passion. The seeds of revival have been once again planted in the Church. I have learned that almost nothing in the Kingdom of God happens by accident. This is most certainly true of Revival. I have asked several different audiences ranging from churches to pastors, if they had ever experienced revival. To my dismay, almost always the answer is no. I can remember years ago when revivals were held for a minimum of two weeks. I often wondered why two weeks? The Answer makes all the sense in the world. The first week is to revive the church members; the second week is to bring the lost/unredeemed to Christ. The point is revival is for the Church and if it occurs, then there will be an awakening to the lost.

In our Psalm 51, we find that David has been approached by the prophet Nathan, that story is unfolded in 2 Samuel 12 in the aftermath of David’s adultery and murder with Bathsheba and Uriah. It was almost a year before Nathan approaches David, and then only at the prompting of God. Everyone knew that David had sinned grossly before the people. Yet no one said a thing until Nathan is sent by the LORD. Known sin is makes miserable believer and brings public discredit upon the LORD God.

David repents having been confronted about his sin. The remorse in Psalm 51 is evident. David is call “a man after God’s own heart,” yet he is both an adulterer and a murderer. If revival is to occur in our personal life and the life of the Church, there must be a confrontation about the known, yet unconfessed sin towards God. David himself tells us the “against you, You only have I sinned and done evil in your sight.” [[verse 4]

David knows the LORD, He also knows the misery he has dealt with in his bones because of unconfessed sin; for it was ever on his mind. God is merciful and compassionate. There is a genuine repentance about his sin; there is evidence that David turned away from his iniquity. David did not have “kings privileges” to go into Bathsheba. Pastors and believers know what God requires of them – holiness. David was not tricked with Bathsheba; in fact David had shirked his duties as king, for he should have been on the battlefield.

There are a number of requests David makes of Yahweh – wash, purge, purify, create, deliver, restore, make me, blot out, and cleanse me from my iniquity. Iniquity is that sin which we deliberately do, knowingly. David has come clean about what he has done. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 we find how revival occurs. “If my people who are called by name, humble themselves, seek my face, turn from their wicked ways and pray – then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.” This is not so much a formula as it is a description of what happens when revival occurs.

Repent and believe and you will be saved. Repent and turn from evil and sin, and you are revived. Both require prayer, humility and repentance. For a believer our sin causes breach in fellowship – sins have been forgiven already, but “new sins” break fellowship with a daily walk with God.

After David repented and was restored – the Joy of his salvation returned. As a result of his Joy – David said I will tell others, I will teach them of your ways. A witness returns to the believer! Out of repentance and renewal revival comes. The Church returns to its task of sharing the Gospel and the Lost are saved!

I wonder what it will take for the Church today to become humbled? I have said many times “that unless the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of change, nothing will happen in our lives or the life of the Church. Let us be the sacrifice that David indicates God will accept – verse 17 – a broken and contrite heart you will not despise. May revival began today!

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Awe of the Almighty

I am going to deviate from our Psalms this week. In my church we are preparing for Revival services in a few weeks by walking through a 30-day prayer vigil. This week in one of our reading, Isaiah 64 was used, I was overwhelmed by the reading of this chapter in Isiah, I felt it was better to write on it for anyone who has forgotten how great is our God.

Actually the Psalm 85:4-6; came to my mind – the psalmist cries out for God to revive the people – to Do It Again! Something is wrong with the Church and people in the pulpits and pews; we have lost the Awe for our God. Revival is for the believer not for the unbelieving. Revive is to restore or bring back to life. This can be seen in restoring an old car or piece of furniture – but as it applies to the believer – it indicates a condition of the soul that has grown cold or indifferent.  I know when restoration is needed, there has been some build-up or deterioration to the object. As this relates to the believer, church and even humanity as a whole, it shows an apathy for moral and ethical restraint – this happens as the depraved minds of mankind no longer fear reprisal for their actions. Ultimately this means,  no fear of God. The story in Exodus when God comes down Mount Sinai, He displays great thunder and lightning [Exodus 20:18-19], so much so that the people asked Moses to speak to God for them; and whatever He said they would do. They were terrified of the Holy God of Israel. The problem with this is not 12 chapters later in the absence of   Moses, the rose up to play harlotry with the Golden Calf! If revival is to come again to the Church and believers, we will have to return to the fear and awe of the Lord. God is righteous and holy – as His children He expects no less from us. The Church today I believe is anemic; I know there are pockets of great activity, and many mega-churches that run thousands; but if they Churches were empathic about the things of God – a great revival would be happening. I believe that are a lot of kingdom builders in Christianity – but they are building their own kingdoms. In Isiah 64, the plea is that God would come down again; that there would be great evidence of His presence. The chapter is obviously post-exilic in that it was written after the return from Babylon exile. No one sought God, no one revere His power or right to be sovereign over them. It speaks of the great devastation to Jerusalem and the Temple. While there were warning from numerous prophets – Jeremiah specifically; the people didn’t heed the warning but believed they were exempt from the discipline of God.

In revival, the people of God return to God on His terms – He “gives” revival, we do not pray it down or manufacture it by formulas. The people MUST be broken over their corporate and personal sin. The Church is guilty of “coasting” through the years. In America we have let opulence ruin us. When I think of the barbaric behavior being displayed today from “so-called Christians” it nauseates me, I can’t imagine what it does to the Father!

I want revival, I have tasted of revival before , I want it again – I am praying for it daily, for me, my church, Christianity and the world. God has sent revival numerous times – but conditions had gotten so “gross” with sin and rebellion, people – some [usually a small band] began to pray, really pray, their cries were heard and the Lord God moved in miraculous ways.

We are trying to fix the declining and dying church situation by discipleship and planting more churches. Both absolutely need to be done. But if Revival doesn’t come, if “the Lord doesn’t build the house, the laborers work in vain.” We are the clay, Jesus Christ is the Potter, sometimes the potter has to “break” the clay and rework it to a vessel He can use. It is time for believers, pastors, and  churches to wake up! If we want our world to change, then the change must start with us by quit being “nominal, cultural” Christians! So often all the commentary is our world is so bad; but I recall reading in the Book of Acts how a band of believers turned the world upside down – Oh, Lord Do it Again!

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