Category Archives: Revival

Obedience (Revival – Day 4)

Obedience

And Samuel said, ”Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”  -1 Samuel 15:22 (ESV)

Word Study

  • delight (willingly taking pleasure in something)
  • better (to make good; to do well; to adorn)
  • sacrifice (an offering)
  • obey (to hear)

How refreshing that our God, unlike other gods, does not rely on our sacrifices to be who He is or to reveal Himself to us.  God willingly takes pleasure in our obedience first and calls this a greater thing when compared to the sacrifice.  It doesn’t matter how grand our sacrifice, if it’s done without obedience it gains nothing.  But, oh, how tempting it is for us to sacrifice rather than obey.  We struggle with obedience because our flesh contends for self-magnification and idolatry, which ultimately rejects the Lord and makes gods of ourselves.  Obedience requires the intentional work of our will toward reflective, analytical and spiritual worship.

It’s interesting that the word obey here means to hear.  Even more interesting is that in many parts of the New Testament the word means to trust.  Hearing God, then, is closely related to trusting Him and visa versa.  God does not need our obedience for His purpose to prevail.  He will continue to glorify Himself and reveal His purpose whether we obey Him or not.  Our failure to hear and trust Him leaves us in a state of disarray.  We will not be under God’s protection and will fall prey to every evil temptation under the sun.

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.” –Deuteronomy 28:1-6

Here in Deuteronomy 28 we see the glorious, life-giving blessings of obedience.  They are both temporal and spiritual.  They glorify God and give Him power as the HOLY GOD as we are blessed! They reveal Christ and the work of His Holy Spirit in our lives.  And through our humility there is faith, grace, purity and godliness.  Foreign to the life of a Christian are anarchy, chaos, disobedience, and disrespect.  Brethren, if you are ruled by any of these traits, it’s time to seek the face of Christ and beg His sweet forgiveness so that you may be filled with His blessings and live a life of unaltered joy and peace which surpasses the understanding of man.

If we love God enough, we will obey; we will keep his commandments. Let us so think of the temporal and spiritual blessings that He has showered upon us, and His constant, surrounding loving-kindness that out of appreciation we will hear Him, trust Him and love Him enough to do what He asks. Our gratitude to God can be expressed only in loving, humble obedience to his will.

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Bitter Reflection

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” -Philippians 2:3 (ESV)

I was having lunch recently with a group of ladies and found myself in a lively conversation with a friend across the table about bread.  I had just received a bread maker for my birthday, and was getting ready to share a really funny story about the first loaf I made, which ended up looking somewhat like fried chicken.  Clearly, it wasn’t what I was expecting, and I was having fun retelling my experience.  But there was someone sitting with us who is a bread expert and began sharing a litany of reasons why my bread turned out so terribly.  Of course, I knew it was probably this or that, and truthfully I have made great loaves since then.  I was simply sharing a funny story.

The woman continued talking about her experience as a bread maker, using her own grain, milling it, making bread often for her family, etc.  She definitely knew her stuff and received a lot of respect for her knowledge.  But what she didn’t know was that I’ve been there, and I’ve done that.  As a matter of fact, I believe I still have a 10-gallon bucket of Prairie Gold Wheat stored away in my basement somewhere.  When I had more time for such domestic pursuits, I enjoyed the labor of making bread from scratch.  And it’s not that I don’t agree that freshly milled wheat is healthier than anything store bought or otherwise, it’s that my story was washed under the table by a bread baking expert, and I was left feeling as if I just lost a battle of domestic one-upness with the resounding, unspoken opinion that one isn’t a serious bread baker unless she mills, kneads, forms, punches and bakes her dough by hand using the Bread Beckers’ no-fail 5-loaf recipe.  I assure you, competition is fierce in the kitchen!

But this is one example of many that I’ve noted these past few weeks.  I wonder why I’m just now beginning to see things from this lens?  I don’t read the KJV, therefore I’m not a real Christian.  I take my car to an automatic carwash, therefore I’m ruining the paint.  And occasionally I accidentally grab the dinner fork to eat my salad.  Sometimes I just like living dangerously.

Last year I have been told that I don’t breathe right, that I should let my hair go gray, and that I should not wear heels.  I’ve also been told that my camera is mediocre, that I work too hard and don’t weigh enough, that I should have more children, that my children are sheltered (really?), that I’m too old to run, and that I must turn off all electronic equipment as I board the plane.  Okay that last statement was a rule, not an observation or opinion, but what consistently amazes me are the people who feel brazen enough to express such opinion of what I need to do to be a better person, or at least a person who is good enough for them.

What’s really at the heart of this is that I not only am victim to such judgment and criticism, but I have also been the perpetrator.  How sad, when I look back, that I may have offended or belittled someone because they didn’t meet a standard of living that I should expect of them.  My own comments and observations are no better than those thrust upon me, and I find myself swimming right along with the sharks looking for the next person to give my “good advice” to and form into my image of who I think they should be.  Perhaps that’s why I’ve taken note of these things lately.  Perhaps it’s time to swallow the pill of bitter reflection and chase it down with humble pie.  It certainly doesn’t taste like cheesecake, but it’s good for the soul.

Yet I think we sit in a majority pool of judges. We go to bed with a great idea and wake up with an ego.  We spend weeks perfecting a subject and become experts overnight, elevating ourselves to places no man should ever tread.  We fall prey to sins of aesthetics, materialism, knowledge and ideals.  We judge.  We determine that the Holy Spirit has left the building and it’s up to us to right the world, when in reality, we have kicked the Holy Spirit from the throne and put ourselves in His place.

And who are we to judge?  Evidently, we forget.

There are a lot of theological responses and practical applications I could make here, but the verse which continues to resonate in my head as I form these words is from Philippians 2:3.  Paul warns that we should do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but consider others more important that ourselves.  This is exactly what Jesus is talking about when He challenges us in Matthew 22 to love our brother as ourselves.  But Paul goes further in Philippians to not only look out for our own well-being, but also the well-being of others.  If you define the word well-being, you will see that it means comfort, joy, abundance, and contentment.

Think about life on a pillar.  Judgmental man cannot possibly reach the ground and wouldn’t want to anyway.  He likes the pillar.  It took him a lot of training and hard work to get there.  He earned it.  Plus, you can’t beat the view, especially at the dawning of a new day or the resting of the sun on the horizon.  People are amazed he ever made it up there, so they look upon him in awe, and that’s the part he likes best: to be admired.  It doesn’t take long, however, for him to get a sense of loneliness.  And while he’d love to just climb down that pillar and join the rest of society, he can’t.  He’s an expert, you see.  He has made a name for himself.  So instead of reaching down to his brother, he begins making observations from his place on high.  And then, from his view, he believes that if everyone just lived life the way he does, then they would all be happy.  So he stands tall on that pillar, pulls out his bullhorn and begins making judgments, one after the other.  Some are funny, and people laugh.  But his judgments fiercely grow.  They are brash, bold, determined and presumptuous.  He forgets God because he has become his own god.  He is no good to the people and certainly no good to himself.  Sadly, he has forgotten the God who loves him so and left his first love, trading it for a very shallow love of himself.

Paul was warning the Philippians in chapter two not to become high and lofty, to leave their judgments of others behind.  He uged them to look out for others, providing them with encouragement so that they too could enjoy a life of cheer and abundance.  Oh, how we tear down the frailest of hearts when we wrongly judge or accuse others!  How we rob others of joy and peace of mind.  God forgive us!

Paul gives a few more final commands to be obedient for God’s will and good pleasure, and to do things without grumbling so that we will be made blameless and presented without guilt.  We are to hold fast to the word of life until the end of time, until the day of judgment, so that we will not be guilty of vain pursuits.  We are to shine! And this is the exact recipe for living a life of humility and allowing the Holy Spirit to do His good work not only in the lives of others, but especially in our own lives.

So this is a new year and a new day.  It marks an opportunity for humble reflection and genuine transformation.  Let’s all strive to make it a year of humility and simplicity as we look after the well-being of others, building them up and considering them better than ourselves.  Let’s make it our year to shine!


Humility (Revival – Day 3)

Humility For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the Spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” -Isaiah 57:15

Word Study:

  • says (to declare)
  • exalted (to be lifted up, praised and elevated; extolled)
  • lives (to reside; a permanent stay)
  • forever (perpetuity; eternity; eternal existence)
  • Holy (God’s name is holy, sacred and pure)
  • dwell (to reside permanently)
  • contrite (bruised; humbled; broken; discouraged)
  • spirit (air for breathing; soul)
  • revive (to live anew; to recover)
  • contrite (the “to be” form of contrite (above). Indicates God as the causing agent)

Has anyone ever promised to do something for you or be with you always only to turn back on that promise? Broken promises are powerful. They can leave some people with so much hurt and regret that their entire lives remain suspended in that moment of grief. And suddenly that broken promise becomes the idol, the very thing which keeps someone from knowing God. They simply cannot recover and ultimately choose a life of misery. Very often these people blame God for their misery and they feel that if God really loved them He would not allow this thing to happen. Then God is put in a box of their own making. He is no longer God but a mere figment of something that doesn’t exist.

In this verse we see a solid promise, but before Isaiah delivers the promise of God, he establishes God’s credibility as the Promise-Giver. He calls God high and exalted: to be lifted up, praised and elevated above all. I think sometimes we allow ourselves to be shattered by broken promises because we have put people on a high and lofty place. We mistakenly put them in the place where only God can exist. And while Christ tells us to consider others better than ourselves, He clearly does not say that they should be pedestal dwellers. Only God has the authority and credibility to be in this high place.

Isaiah then reminds us that God will never leave us, that He exists eternally. People simply cannot make this kind of infinite promise. Either by separation or death, there is a point where we are either sinners, mortals, or imperfect. And while some promises are never meant to be broken, there are some which were never meant for mortal man to make. There is a feeling of stability in this promise from God, and something which we can wholly trust.

Finally, he establishes God’s character as the only one who is sacred and pure, giving us a sense of peace, a sense of knowing that God will stand behind his Word. How refreshing! This is the place where our souls are healed, where we will find peace in any circumstance. By this truth we are made whole and filled with both assurance and expectation.

Then God speaks. He tells Isaiah that He resides in His holy place forever and permanently. He will not be thwarted. This gives Him the authority and credibility to be our King who ultimately rules over all things. We realize by these very words that we are the lowly ones, we are contrite. We have no place in His kingdom outside His very mercy and grace.

Finally, God casts His gaze on the lowly and contrite. He sees the humble sinner, the bruised child. He sees us. But instead of turning away in judgment, he looks upon us with such sweet loving-kindness and compassion. Here, he unites the divided line of Kingship and Kingdom, of high and low, of heaven and earth. He looks upon His children and promises that He will never leave us. But not only will He never leave, He is also the Reviver of hearts! He stands ready to cherish and heal, to come close and lift up. We can choose to remain tormented by a myriad of broken promises by imperfect man, or we can choose to relinquish our pride, release people from their sins and wrongs against us through a forgiving spirit, and cling to God’s pure and holy promises which are never broken. The key is humility. The choice is ours.


God’s Word (Revival – Day 2)

God’s Word

O how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day. Thy word is very pure. Therefore, thy servant loves it. -Psalm 119:97; 140

Word Study:

  • love (desire; delight; to be fond of; covet)
  • meditation (reflection; devotion; meditation; prayer)
  • pure (to refine; purge away impurities; sincere)

We are to have an attitude of desiring and delighting God’s Word.  It is to be our devotion for reflection, meditation and prayer.  As we devote ourselves to these good things, we will be refined in character, and our impurities will be purged by the pureness of the Word.  If we don’t practice the habit of daily reading the word and meditating on God’s law, then we will not know Him, and we can be subject to temptation which can easily lead astray.  The Psalmist found that his appetite for the Lord grew stronger as He meditated on the word.  May we all read this verse and praise the King in the same way!

Sweet Lord, I do love to study your word and delight in the truths it reveals.  Your word refreshes my soul and gives me joy.  It reveals your nature and your love, and with it I am your creature.  Continue to work the Holy Spirit within me to beckon me to your word so that by it I may know you more intimately and love you more fully.  Continue to teach me to love others, and keep me at your service. -Amen


Genuine Salvation (Revival – Day 1)

Genuine Salvation

“Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things passed away; behold new things have come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB)

Word Study:

  • man (anyone)
  • in (fixed position in place, time or state)
  • Christ (Messiah)
  • new (fresh)
  • creature (a creation of God)
  • old (having existed for a very long time)
  • behold (see)
  • things (all things in their totality but also each thing within that totality)
  • become (to form; to be made)
  • new (to renew and dedicate into a qualitatively new use)

When we finally choose to let go of the old there stands genuine repentance.  What choice!  And the old is replaced by a newness, a freshness which is regenerative in the mercy and grace of Christ.  What comfort!  In unpacking some of these words, I was intrigued by the word “in.”  Here we see a Greek translation which means fixed, and fixed in place, time and state, reminding us that when we are in Christ, we are permanently His.  What promise!  But our Salvation is not merely fixed in a physical form, it is fixed for a purpose, for God’s use and for His good purpose.

This verse shows us that it is not enough to merely believe, but to also practice the belief and live out our faith as one who stands ready for the work of the Lord.  There is no such thing as stagnation in the spiritual life.  If one is not moving forward with God, then he is subject to temptation and evil.  Revival begins with salvation, but it is also the daily living IN and FOR our Father.  It is regenerative and fresh, leading us as His dear children in the work of reconciliation of His people and restoration of the Kingdom until Heaven and earth meet.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me a life which is daily new and fresh in your mercy and grace. Thank you for this precious salvation.  Make me ready for your good work, Lord, in sharing your truth with others and encouraging the lost to know you as their Lord and Savior.  Help me to daily spend time with you, building on your love and truth so that I may not falter, so that I may be an encourager to the brethren, spurring them on to your good work.  Keep me free from evil temptation and fill my heart with joy when there are trails so that I may live humbly and be ready to serve you in all my days.  -Amen


REVIVAL

Today I am beginning a series of posts relating to revival based on Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ (Revive Our Hearts) and Tim Grissom’s (Life Action Ministries) 12-week study entitled, Seeking Him.  The authors write,

“Revival is the sovereign work of God.  He chooses when and to whom He sends it.  It is also true, however, that there are things we can do to prepare for revival in our lives. Being prepared for what God has determined to do is a pattern we see throughout Scripture. For example, on the eve of their passage into the Promised land, Joshua charged the children of Israel, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you” (Joshua 3:5). In the same way, we can prepare our hearts for spiritual renewal.”

On week one, day five of the study, we find a list of 16 words or short phrases with supporting scripture, all related to personal revival, therefore, I am blogging each day’s work for the next 16 days.  I actually began this project in late November, but sometimes it takes me quite a while to digest these scriptures and unpack these words, and some days I simply don’t get to the study, but I have a commitment to complete it, and am excited to see the work of God in my life as I do.  Already I have been blessed by this, and decided to blog my journey so that you may be blessed as well.

So, I pray this work blesses, encourages and strengthens you in some way.  In any case, dear brethren, I welcome your comments, exhortations and correction.  I read recently that in all we know, we are typically 50% wrong.  The problem is, we don’t know which 50% of what we know is wrong.  So I’m counting on your insight and wisdom to lead me and help me to know the right from the wrong, not for the sheer knowing of it, but for the living by it.
And if together we can learn to live righteous and blameless, spurring revival in the hearts of one another, then the LORD Himself is to be glorified and praised.  That is my hope and prayer.

John Piper once said this in relation to knowing and living in truth:

“Discernment is not created in God’s people by brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance. It is created by biblical truth and the application of truth by the power of the Holy Spirit to our hearts and minds. When that happens, then the brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance will have the strong fiber of the full counsel of God in them. They will be profoundly Christian and not merely religious and emotional and psychological.”

May we all live as those who are discerning in the Word and humbled by Truth so that we may always be ready for wonders revealed today and those to come. -Amen