This site along with its sister site, It's About HIM is undergoing maintenance so some links may not be working. Due to circumstances beyond our control, there are some broken links. Several websites hosting material linked to on this website have either shut down or made changes which have broken the links. We are working to correct this problem. If you have found any links and would like to help by alerting us to which link, you may email me and let me know. I know I haven't found them all yet. Thank you for your patience.

Hello, Beloved...

How nice of you to drop in and visit my page. It's actually not really about myself, but about the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a place you can come, should you find time, and find encouragement and free resources for spiritual growth. I pray you will be blessed and provoked to follow on to know the Lord intimately yourself. Seek HIM and HIS Face for HE alone is WORTHY!! He alone is lovely! Most of what is written on this blog is written by myself, during my study time with the Lord unless otherwise stated. If it's otherwise, the author's name will be included.

God is our refuge, a very present help in trouble. Psa 46:1


Must Hear Messages!

Media that has been removed may still be accessed Here

RSS | My Utmost For His Highest

Sermon Index

Monday, June 29, 2009

Revival Means Humiliation

By James Burns

To the church a revival means humiliation, a bitter knowledge of failure, and an open and humiliating confession of sin on the part of her ministers and people. It is not the easy and glowing thing many think it to be, who imagine that it fills the empty pews, and reinstates the Church in power and authority. IT COMES TO SCORCH BEFORE IT HEALS; it comes to rebuke ministers and people for their unfaithful witness, for their selfish living, for their neglect of the Cross, and to call them to daily reunciation, to an evangelical poverty, and to a deep and daily consecration. This is why a revival has ever been unpopular with large numbers within the Church. Because it says nothing to them of power such as they have learned to love, or of ease, of of success; it accuses them of sin, it tells them that they are dead, it calls them to awake, to renounce the world, and to follow Christ.

It the church today ready to hear that voice? Is she bowed down before God in prostration of need, in conscious dejection of unworthiness, in passionate self-abasement and desire for that renewal which comes through renunciation? It may well be doubted. It is upon the hearts of the few that the agony falls. Revival are not usually preceded by the awakening of the Church to a sense of need, but by the awakening of devout souls here and there, who feeling the need, begin to entreat God in prayer for a revival. Gradually this deepens and spreads until the sense of need becomes a burden, until the cry, "How long, Oh God! how long! becomes an agony. This is the cry which God cannot deny. It is for that cry that we must intently listen. Is there, then today a disposition to pray for a revival? Are devout men everywhere becoming alarmed, not for the success of the Church, but for the glory of Christ, lest it be lost altogether? Is there a sense of a burden lying upon men's hearts which will not give them rest, but which makes them agonize in prayer? If not, then the night is not far spent, a deeper darkness still awaits us. Of what use would a revival be if we are not prepared for it? It would pass over us without doing its work.

Reference: Revivals Their Laws and Leaders by James Burns

Fire, Oil, Wind, Water: Trying to Control the Holy Spirit

I have found these writings to be very convicting, and very much needed so I wanted to share these two articles on revival, one by James Denney, and the previous entry by GD Watson. Below is a direct link to where I found them both, at Watchword.org. I sure recommend you visit this site and do some reading there. The articles are short, but packed with information and deep spiritual insight on what real revival truly is. I trust God will bless and provoke you with these as He is me.

Fire, Wind, Oil, Water: Trying to Control the Holy Spirit

By James Denney

The Holy Spirit is the Representative of Christ in the Church. The local church should always recognize the sovereignty of the Spirit. By this we mean that He can do as He pleases, and that He will not always choose to do things in exactly the same way, though He will never act contrary to the Word. The symbols of the Spirit used in the Scriptures -fire, oil, water, wind -speak of uncontrollable and unpredictable behavior. Therefore the wise Christian will be flexible in order to allow the Holy Spirit this divine prerogative. It was so in the early church, but soon people became uneasy with meetings that were "free and social, with the minimum of form." Thus controls were added and formalism and ritualism took over. The Holy Spirit was quenched, and the church lost its power.

This shift from the freedom of the Spirit to human control has been described by James Denney. Commenting on the verse, "Quench not the Spirit," he says: "In the First Epistle to the Corinthians Paul describes a primitive Christian congregation. There was not one silent among them. When they came together every one had a psalm, a revelation, a prophecy, an interpretation. The manifestation of the Spirit had been given to each one to profit withal; and on all hands the spiritual fire was ready to flame forth. Conversion to the Christian faith, the acceptance of the apostolic Gospel, was not a thing which slightly effected men: it convulsed their whole nature to its depth; they were never the same again; they were new creatures, with a new life in them, all fervor and flame. In a primitive church anybody who pleased might speak -when it would have been better for him to be silent. It might lead him to break out in prayer or praise or exhortation, in a style which made the wise sigh. And for those reasons the wise, and such as thought themselves wise, would be apt to discourage the exercise of spiritual gifts altogether. Contain yourself,' they would say to the man whose heart burned within him, and who was restless till the flame could leap out; contain yourself; exercise a little self-control; it is unworthy of a rational being to be carried away in this fashion.

It is forbidden to pour cold water on such enthusiasm when it breaks forth in words of fire. That is the meaning of 'Quench not the Spirit.' The commandment presupposes that the Spirit can be quenched. Cold looks, contemptuous words, silence, studied disregard, go a long way to quench it. So does unsympathetic criticism. Everyone knows that a fire smokes most when it is newly kindled; but the way to get rid of the smoke is not to pour cold water on the fire, but to let it burn itself clear. When you meet with a disciple whose zeal burns like fire, very likely the smoke hurts your eyes; but the smoke will soon pass by; and it may well be tolerated in the meantime for the sake of heat. For this apostolic precept takes for granted that fervor of spirit, a Christian enthusiasm for what is good, is the best thing in the world. It may be untaught and inexperienced; it may have all its mistakes to make; it may be wonderfully blind to the limitations which the stern necessities of life put upon the generous hopes of man: but it is of God; it is expansive; it is contagious; it is worth more as a spiritual force than all the wisdom in the world.

I have hinted at ways in which the Spirit is quenched; it is sad to reflect that from one point of view the history of the Church is a long series of transgressions of this precept, checked by an equally long series of rebellions of the spirit. 'Where the Spirit of the Lord is,' the Apostle tells us elsewhere, 'there is liberty.' But liberty in a society has its dangers; it is, to a certain extent, at war with order; and the guardians of order are not apt to be too considerate of it. Hence it came to pass that at a very early period, and in the interests of good order, the freedom of the Spirit was suppressed in the Church. 'The gift of ruling,' it has been said, like Aaron's rod, seemed to swallow up the other gifts. The rulers of the Church became a class entirely apart from its "ordinary" members, and all exercise of spiritual gifts for the building up of the Church was confined to them. Nay, the monstrous idea was originated, and taught as a dogma, that they alone were the custodians of the grace and truth of the gospel; only through them could men come into contact with the Holy Ghost. In plain English, the Spirit was quenched when Christians met for worship. One great extinguisher was placed over the flame that burned in the hearts of the brethren; it was not allowed to show itself; it must not disturb, by its eruption in praise or prayer or fiery exhortation, the decency and order of divine service. I say that was the condition to which Christian worship was reduced at a very early period; and it is unhappily the condition in which, for the most part, it exists at this moment."

The Church then, should never fetter the Holy Spirit, either with unscriptural rules, stereotyped programs, rituals, or liturgies. How grieved the Holy Spirit must often be by rigid understandings that a meeting must end at a certain time, that a service must always follow a certain routine! Such regulations often attempt to manipulate and control the Church, resulting in the loss of spiritual power

Grieving the Spirit of Revival

A true revival is preeminently the work of the Holy Spirit, and the depth and magnitude of the work depends largely on the number of people who are in perfect union with the Holy Spirit. In times of revival all spiritual forces come to a crisis, both good and bad. Satan is on hand to muster all his children against a thorough work of grace. He will also be busy in society, devising all sorts of social matters against revival. He will influence all weak, half-hearted believers in every way against a thorough work. He will do everything to discourage workers. He will make them sick or cripple their zeal, or tempt them in some way to grieve the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is more frequently grieved by hidden things than by things which are outward and visible. In times of revival it is almost impossible to get six persons out of a large community, who in heart perfectly agree. There may be an outward profession of unity, and no one may detect any definite sign of disharmony, yet the human heart is so deceitful, and the interior conditions of perfect harmony require such utter unselfishness and transparency of spirit, that very few persons ever comply with them in the sight of God. The following are some of the things that grieve the Holy Spirit and hinder Him in revivals:

1. A CRITICAL SPIRIT. I do not mean the open rebuke of sin, for this is commanded in God's Word. Neither do I mean the just rebuke of ill-behaved persons in a meeting, for this is a necessity, and no company of worshipers should be disturbed by misconduct. But I mean those who claim to be in sympathy with God's work, yet they have a critical spirit against the leaders of the meeting, or the methods of work that may be adopted. Even though this criticism is not outspoken, it greatly hinders the Holy Ghost. There is often in the church a whimsical stubborn fault-finding disposition. A watching for defects among God's children, a picking out of blemishes in the singing, or the praying, or the preaching.All this forms an enormous barrier to the flow of the Holy Spirit. Such persons are deceitful, hard to please, and whatever excellencies they may have they are a definite hindrance to God's work. There is always a company of evil spirits that cluster around such persons to neutralize all the good they attempt to do.

2. THE SPIRIT OF FEAR. Timidity, moral cowardice, the fear of public opinion, the fear of relatives and friends, which prevents persons from taking a bold, decisive part in the church. Which prevents them from leading in prayer, or giving public testimony, or speaking to souls on personal salvation, all this fearfulness of spirit greatly grieves the Holy Ghost. Some are afraid that God will overburden them with work, or make demands of consecration beyond their strength, and so they fail to yield themselves fully to the Lord. While they may try to busy themselves in the church and think they are helping wonderfully, yet by that HIDDEN, miserable fearfulness of heart, which is the very essence of disobedience in the sight of God, they greatly hinder the power of the Spirit!

3. SELF-OPINION GREATLY GRIEVES THE SPIRIT. Many a revival is utterly prevented because prominent ones in the meeting stubbornly hold on to a wrong education, or to old theological notions. Some may have anti-scriptural views concerning inbred sin, or growth into heart purity, or the annihilation of the wicked. Others may be prejudiced against the manifestations of the Spirit, or divine healing. These things are unseen hindrances to the operation of the Spirit. Teachableness of mind, a perfect willingness to have only scriptural views, is a prerequisite condition for the descent of the power of God.

4. A SPIRIT OF RESERVE WITH GOD IS ANOTHER GRIEF TO THE HOLY GHOST. In every revival there are so many whose inner nature is tied up with a cautious conservatism, that persistently holds them back from a full abandonment to God and His work. They will boast of wanting such wonderfully great things. Yet there is an unexpressed unwillingness to be and do all the Lord wants, or to suffer all the Lord wants them to suffer. They are consciously holding themselves back, lest they should slide down some steep place and get drowned in the
ocean of God's will. This internal checking of themselves not only prevents their own full salvation, but hinders the Spirit from using them for the blessing of others.

5. SELF-PLANNING AS TO GOD'S WORK. At the beginning of most every revival, it is almost a universal thing for those who are most interested to form some plan in their own mind as to how God ought to come and how the work ought to be done. Each one forms a standard as to who should lead the work or how it ought to be conducted, or what divine demonstrations should occur. So there are a large number of mental schedules which are invisible to mortal eyes, but which bristle like antagonistic bayonets before the all-seeing eye, and the blessed Holy Ghost who reads the thoughts and interests of the mind, finds Himself dictated to, by the very people who outwardly profess that they want God to have His way.

6. THE SPIRIT IS GRIEVED BY OUR HAVING LIMITED VIEWS OF CHRIST'S POWER. Oftentimes God wants to begin with the leaders of a meeting and lead them into a fresh baptism of fire or into a new depth of self denial. But their rigid and narrow views of God's saving grace is a definite hindrance to the Spirit's power. As a result, the people under such leadership often suffer with limited views of Christ's saving and sanctifying power.

7. THE SPIRIT IS OFTEN GRIEVED WHEN TESTS OF OBEDIENCE ARE SHUNNED. It may be a question of restitution or reconciliation, or the confession of a backslidden state, or the giving up of some indulgence. There have been meetings where two or three conspicuous persons utterly failed to obey God on some test point, and the work was a failure; the Spirit was grieved away, Satan and his black angels triumphed and the work of God was put back for years.

8. THE SPIRIT IS OFTEN GRIEVED BY OUR UNWILLINGNESS TO GO BEYOND OTHERS. God often wants some of us to go out into His will on lines of prayer and faith and obedience, even beyond what other professors of holiness will consent to. When He calls, if we stop to measure ourselves with others, and compare ourselves among ourselves we may greatly hinder a work of grace. God can overcome the open and recognized hindrances to His work a great deal easier than He can the hidden barriers in the hearts of His people.

-G. D. Watson

Saturday, June 27, 2009

It is Given Unto You

Full Study Notes Click Here: It's Given Unto You

Mat 13:11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

No one can know or receive anything unless it's given them from above. Carefully consider what He's saying here. He's talking to His disciples. The word disciple means pupil, someone who spends time with the Master, learning from Him directly. It's a personal, intimate friendship where secrets are shared. It's been given-it's been made available to us by Him. To you it's been given the chance to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven. To know the heavenly life of Christ rather than the earthly life of man, through prayer, the Scriptures, which point us to the Source-a living, breathing, almighty Creator who loves us so much and wants to infuse His life into us. He doesn't want us trying to accumulate wisdom or things, for He is our wisdom, He is our provider, He is everything.

It's given to you to KNOW-(G1097) to know with absolute certainty and understanding the secrets of the heavenly kingdom of God. What is the kingdom of God? Peace, righteousness and joy in the Holy Ghost. We can be at peace with ourselves, and God, covered with the righteousness of His Son, and have fellowship with Him through the ministry of the Holy Ghost in our lives.

If we've been given this, why is so much of the church so ignorant and so powerless? There is too much carnality, to much strife, disagreement. Why? Because self rules instead of the Holy Spirit. When self rules, there will be disagreements within the church, there will be envying, striving, and division. This is how carnal, unregenerate men live. The natural man cannot understand and will not accept the ways and truth of God. (1Co_3:3, 1Co_2:14) He can't know these things. Why?

1Co 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

"What!?! Deny myself? Die to what I want and think? You've got to be kidding. Why would I want to do that? I work hard, I pay my bills, I am a good person, I don't use drugs, I don't beat my wife and kids. I've never killed anybody. Why don't I deserve a few nice things? What's wrong with me making it and having money and nice stuff? Why would I give all that up? I've worked hard for it! What kind of message is that?"

You see what I mean? But this is the message, the testimony of Jesus Christ. It's the sacrificial life and example He lived. He didn't tell us to do something He didn't do. Are we any better that we should escape the cross? No, we don't have to be beaten and nailed to a wooden cross, though some have been, He would much rather us yield to His spiritual cross. This one cuts off self effort, renders it useless and all it accomplishes. The cross means suffering for the sake of others and total dependence on God to do what must be done. This makes no sense nor is it an appealing message to those who prefer darkness to light. This why Jesus said it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man. The camel is dependent on another, the rich man is not. The word for "rich" in that Scripture means who has an abundance of possessions and resources. It doesn't mean millionaires, billionaires, etc. It means one who has more than they need.

The preaching of the cross-deny yourself and let Me live My will and My way through your body, using your hands and feet and mind and mouth to accomplish My purposes. Say goodbye to what you want and embrace Me and My will. Of course this sounds foolish to the carnal, those at ease, comfortable in their own little place. They like where they are and have no desire to launch out in to the deep things of God. To do so requires a sacrifice and to sacrifice requires more love for Him than they have. Oh, God help us. How is self denial the power of God which saves? Because when we get self out of His way then He can take over and do the work that needs to be done. We can't save ourselves. We can't with human wisdom and resources accomplish divine and eternal things. We can't give salvation to the lost. We can't set them free from the grip of sin and Satan who will most certainly destroy their lives.

Paul said I'm determined to not know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Jesus Christ, totally dependent on the Father for the work of the Father to be accomplished, and it was. He did nothing of Himself, He said only what the Father told Him to say, went where the Father said go, do what He said do. The miracles He did were the work of the Father in Him, the power of the Holy Spirit. I don't understand how it all works, I just know it works. He said He did nothing of Himself, that what He did was the result of the influence, direction and power of the Father in Him. He was a container for the Word made flesh and Spirit of God. Paul said I was with you in weakness, (whether in body or mind), with the same moral frailty you have, the same disease of the human nature you are infected with. I was with you in fear and trembling. What was he afraid of? He said his preaching was not with elegant or enticing men's wisdom, but He spoke the truth of God, relying on the Spirit of God to make it real to the hearts and minds of the people. He was willing to hide behind the cross, in nothingness, that Christ could be manifested through and in Him to the people. Then no one could say, "Oh, didn't he preach a nice message? Didn't he speak well? What a strong, powerful preacher!" NO!!!!! A thousand times no! He was so full of the life of God, they were left with "What a powerful message! How mighty God met me and ministered His life and hope to me today!" The Spirit, knowing Paul would not dare exalt any facet of his own personality in an attempt to persuade the people, was unhindered, unfettered, and able to move mightily in a demnostration of the power of God among them. This can happen when men are willing to be seen as nothing, that God can be seen as what He is-everything. He will not give His glory (or the credit) to another. If a minister steps up to speak His Word, flesh has to be crucified, so it won't get exalted when the Spirit starts moving and lives are changed, yokes of flesh and sin and darkness are destroyed by His anointing. How easy it would be to get exalted in ourselves and think ourselves special recipients of God's power instead of what we really are. He requires a prepared, sanctified container to pour His life and power through to others. But we must realize we are just the container. He alone is the Source and as thus He alone deserves the glory and honor. What amazing things God could do when He finds a person willing to be nothing so He can be everything. THEN people's faith will not be in men or what men say about God but in GOD Himself.

Col 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

Col 1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

Col 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Paul says I'm a waiter-an attendant. I wait on God, learn from Him, and what I hear from Him I share with you. Isn't that what Jesus did? Even the secrets long hidden through out the generations of mankind but now He is taking the cover off and showing these things to His saints. He desires to make known the riches of the glory of the mystery-which is Christ living in you, His life, His anointing, His power, in an earthly container, sanctified for His purposes, set apart for His use, and that is our expectation, our confidence, our hope of glory. His life being lived out in and through us for the sake of others. What an invitation and privilege He is offering us.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Excerpt: When God's People Run

Full Notes, Click here: When God's People Run

After Jesus was crucified, and rose from the dead, He came back to Peter and the other disciples. When He first appeared to them, they were locked behind closed doors, afraid and in hiding. They feared the same religious authorities that came for Jesus would come for them. Suddenly, He was in their midst and said "Peace be unto you."

He wouldn't speak peace into their hearts if they were not very troubled. They were grieving over His death, over their failure to stand by Him. They had no peace with their own hearts, nor with each other. Peter had denied Him three times, when He was on trial before the Sanhedrin. The others had all forsook Him and fled, in fear. Judas had betrayed Him and hung himself. They were all shaken to the core at what had happened in such a short time. Everything looked bleak, and hopeless. What would they do without Him? They'd left everything to follow Him and now He was gone. Human nature being what it is, there had to be some finger pointing, at least in their hearts, and some hard feelings. They were blaming each other and themselves for failing the Lord. Suddenly, He's there in their midst and they are afraid, thinking He's a ghost come to torment them for their guilty consciences were troubling them.

He said again, as He showed His hands and feet to them, the scars, freshly visible. "Peace be unto you, As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you." He breathes on them, and speaks more things to them. But Thomas, he wasn't there. Eight days later, they had still been unable to convince Thomas they'd seen Jesus. Again, He appears in the room where they are still shut in. They had seen Him. Joh_20:30 tells us Jesus did many other signs in their presence which are not written down in the Book. Still, eight days later, they are still shut in the upper room, in hiding, still laying low. He appears again in their midst, and this time confronts Thomas.
Still, something was not settled in their hearts. They were still troubled and confused. Why else would 7 of the remaining 11 disciples decide to go fishing? Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John and two others, likely one of which was Andrew, Peter's brother. It was as if Peter couldn't take not doing anything anymore. They didn't know what to do with themselves. Without Jesus present to guide them, they had no direction, no cohesion. He was the glue that held them all together and directed their path. They went back to the only thing they knew to do.
Joh_21:3 Peter says I'm going fishing. The others follow his lead. They fished all night and caught nothing.
The next morning, Jesus was on the shore, He had prepared them a meal. He called out to them,
"Children have you any meat?" No, they didn't. There was nothing to show for their toil and effort. There was nothing to sustain them, nothing to feed them, no provision at all. He just simply calls out and instructs them to cast the net on the right side of the ship and they would find. I wonder what went through their minds? Did they remember that day when He first called them, and told them to launch out into the deep, and they would find fish? And they did..enough that it broke the nets and nearly sunk two boats. Again, when they cast the net at His instruction, they found so many fish they couldn't even bring the net in for it was too heavy.
Then, John, who refers to himself as the disciples Jesus loved, said it's the Lord! It was John who recognized Jesus first. It was John who believed He was risen first at the empty tomb. And Peter, when he understood it was the Lord calling to them, he grabbed his outer garment and wrapped it around him, and jumped into the sea, unable to wait for the ship to get back to shore, though it wasn't far out, and hurried to where Jesus was waiting.
Jesus tells them to come and dine. He already had fish and bread cooking over coals of fire. They have all these fish in the net and they draw the net to shore, and just come to where Jesus is. This was the third time He had appeared to them. You have the one who doubted Him, the one who denied Him, and the others, all of whom had run out on Him when He was being tried on false charges. I can almost see them sitting around the fire, their faces tired, and weary. Their hearts were discouraged, unsure what to do. He knew they were struggling with their guilt and confusion. He had appeared to them twice before since His resurrection, had done many miracles in their presence, but still they are struggling. He is not ranting on them, though He initially did reprove them for their unbelief.

He speaks to Simon, and His Word confronts something in Peter's heart. It was always Peter who had spoken up. In the storm, it was Peter that asked Jesus to bid him come to Him, and Peter walked on the water, too. It was Peter who asked for Jesus to explain the parables He was teaching the people. It was Peter who had received the divine revelation that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. It was also Peter who got rebuked when he told Jesus 'far be it from you' when Jesus said He had to be betrayed and die. It was Peter who asked more questions. It was Peter who swore, 'though all men shall be offended because of You, I will never be!' 'I'm ready to go to jail, even to death for You.' 'I'll die before I would deny You!'. The others agreed they would too, but they didn't. Lord, I'll lay my life down for Your sake! Peter had said. But he had run, instead. Now Jesus' Word I believe pierced His heart for it addressed something I believe Peter thought secretly-that he of all the disciples loved Jesus the most. Peter also had a tendency, like we do, to trust in our own strength and confident ourselves in our ability and zeal to serve the Lord. Peter had failed the Lord miserably. Satan had asked for and been granted permission to sift Peter as wheat. I believe this was allowed by the Lord to deal with Peter's confidence in himself. Human wisdom and strength can never be used to accomplish spiritual and divine work. What is carnal cannot produce spiritual results.

When Jesus had fed them, when they had dined, He looks at Peter.."Lovest thou Me more than these?' The word for love Jesus uses is agapao (G25) This is a sacrificial love. It's a love that puts others first and self last. It's the same word for love used in the Scriptures when Jesus said you must love your enemies, and love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength. It's the same kind of love Jesus commanded us to have for one another. Love one another with a pure heart heart fervently (1Pe_1:22) Peter says, "Yes, Lord, you know I love you". The word for love Peter uses is phileo (G5368) and it means to be fond of someone, having personal attachment or affection for based on sentiment or feelings. This kind of love can be very fickle. It's the normal human selfish love. We love what benefits us, and is convenient. Unlike agape love, this kind of love can turn to hate quickly when wounded.
Jesus says
"Feed my lambs." Tend carefully My little ones. Make sure they are fed what they need to grow. I got curious about sheep and lambs as I read this, and so did a little research. For the first weeks of a lambs life, they need only their mother's milk. Gradually, and soon after birth, they begin to nibble on grass, grain, or hay, whatever is available where they are. But they are heavily dependent on the mother's milk at first. Their digestive system must grow and mature, like an infant's, to be able to handle more than milk. You can't feed young or newborn Christians the same hard truths you can more mature Christians. It will choke them as surely as a piece of steak or a hamburger would choke an infant. God help us learn this too, when He saves our children. We can't expect them to be little cross bearers from their conversion. We must let the Lord show us how to nurture them and guide them as lambs. First the Lord fed His disciples, He fed them spiritual truth, and physical food, all the while showing them the way but they were slow to understand. Can you relate? I can...
Again, Jesus looks at Peter.
"Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?" When referring to feeding the lambs, the word for feed was bosko (G1006) and it means keep watch over them, provide them pasture that is suitable for lambs. The word for feed concerning the sheep is different in the Greek. It is poimaino (G4165) and it means tend them as a shepherd-feed them, but keep them in line. Nourish them, feed them, and govern them.
Peter's response was the same, "Yes, Lord, You know I love You."

For the third time, Jesus says "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?" One thing I noticed here, the repeated referral of Simon, son of Jonas. Simon means one who hears. Son of Jonas-in the original Hebrew this was translated as John, not Jonas. John means mercy and grace of the Lord or Jehovah's gift-which mercy and grace most definitely are His gift to us. This time, Jesus uses the same word for love, that Peter used, phileo. Are you really fond of Me? Are you really My friend? It's a less intimate, less sacrificial form of love. Oh, the painful memories that had to be running through Peter's mind. He surely remembered how he boasted he would never deny Him. He was ready to go to jail, or die for Him, more than the others. Lord, they might be offended, but not I. Though all (meaning the others) be offended I won't be! Oh, but I believe he was the most deeply offended of all because he did deny Him three times. Seeing the Son of Almighty God submit to wicked men's hands and abuse offended him. Seeing Jesus stand accused of outrageous lies, falsely accused and yet not try to defend Himself offended Peter. Seeing Him go through such suffering, when Peter knew He who had commanded demons and winds and waves and could stop this at any moment if He chose, but would not, offended Peter. He was offended, like many by the cross, and its working because of a lack of understanding why it must be this way. I believe Jesus used the phileo form of love to remind Peter, that kind of love will fail, Peter as you well know. I believe Peter understood because he was grieved when Jesus asked him the third time, and he said Lord, you know everything. You know me with an absolute knowledge better than I do. You knew I would fail you when I thought I could stand.
Another point I gleaned on these Scriptures, this one from reading a few of the commentaries on this was Peter's leadership among the disciples had been severely damaged in the minds of the others by his denial of the Lord. Jesus was addressing Peter, probing at his heart's deepest feelings and while also reaffirming him as the Shepherd-or leader of the sheep. You feed them, you tend them, you keep them in line, Peter. You care for them as I have cared for you. This was not a private but a public conversation, and all the others, knowing of Peter's failures, heard Jesus tell Peter to shepherd His sheep.

Jesus tells Peter, when you were young, you dressed yourself as you wanted, went where you wanted, and lived the way you wanted. But when you are old, you will reach out your hands and another will dress you with what He wants, and will bind you with His Word, and His love, and He will take you where your flesh will not want to go-you will die to everything you are and My life will be lived out through you. That old boastful, self-reliant nature will die, and you will live dependent on Me. In the end, you will surrender your life rather than deny Me again and they will crucify you physically who will by then have already been spiritually crucified by Me.

Jesus knew Peter would fail Him, He knew they all would run away in fear. Yet in spite of their failures, He did not take back His calling on their lives. No, He continued to visit them, and call them back to Himself. He recommissioned them before He left.
Luke 24, He reminds them it was written that He would suffer and die and rise again. This, with a message of repentance and remission of sins would be their message they would carry because they were living witnesses of these truths. He told them to go all over the world-not just to Jews, not just where they were comfortable, but to step out of their comfort zone and take His message, His life, all over the world. But before they would be qualified as witnesses of these things, they needed His power to carry the message, to be the message He was. You wait in Jerusalem, until you are endued with power from heaven before you try to carry this message or be my witnesses. You must have the Holy Ghost before you can do this-more than you received when you were born again. You must be filled with Him. He must replace your natural self life with divine life-else you can not partake of My divine nature. He will tell us no different.

If you have failed Him, if you ran when the fire got hot, and made a mess of the testimony He gave you, take hope in these Scriptures. He is no respecter of persons. Sometimes God's people can be struggling so hard so long, dealing with family problems, health problems, financial problems, marriage problems, or problems with their children. It could be a combination of any of these. People get tired, they get weary, and when they love God and have tried their best to serve Him but things don't seem to be getting better, instead they get worse, we can make mistakes and we can run, seeking relief from the fight. It is a constant warfare in these last days to pray and love and serve the Lord. The devil is spewing out a flood of lies against the Bride of Christ, against His own, to deceive them into giving up hope and casting away their confidence. He wants them to forget God said "Don't be weary in well doing, for you will reap if you faint not." He wants them to forget Jesus said "I will never leave you, nor forsake you. No matter how it looks, He won't for He's not a man that He should lie. It's impossible for Him to lie-so we can take comfort in His promises and hold onto them and never let go. Don't surrender His promises to you to the doubt and fear and pain that might be plaguing your life right now. It's in such times we can fall but He said He'd pick us up. Indeed, He has ministered hope to my heart through His Word, through these Scriptures about Peter, for I too have failed, and I too have run. Sometimes when we are sifted hard, that's what happens. We want to run from the very thing (or One) we are being sifted about. It's an attempt by the enemy to cause such an inward agitation to overthrow our faith and confidence in the Lord-whom we should always trust. Take hope-he has to seek permission to do this to us, and the Lord prays for us before it begins, and stands by us through the whole process. He allows this to destroy our confidence in ourselves and our own ability to serve Him. It's a painful, spiritual circumcision of the heart. But remember, it's Him who is doing the cutting and He knows what He is doing. This is not a job He delegates to others. He does it personally and love for us is His motivation in so doing. He knows where human nature will take us so He has to destroy that dependence and confidence in it. This will leave us humbled and dependent on Him. So if you are being sifted, and if you are struggling, remember He knows, He granted permission for this to work in you and I a total, intimate trust and dependence on Him alone. That's a good thing, is it not? Trust His love is true and He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is faithful who is promised.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Signs of Impending Revival

This entry is going to be a little personal, and though I cringe at the thought of opening myself up and sharing my private thoughts and feelings this way, I believe there are those out there experiencing something similar and pray God can use this to encourage others as well. So, I'll take a deep breath and plunge ahead. I was in church Sunday morning, recently, surrounded by people I love and many of whom I've known since my childhood, and I just felt so dead, like I was going through the motions, had lost all my fight...and all my passion. It's been that way for a long time now. Sometimes when God has ministered something to my heart and it blesses me, I have been able to share, and get a glimpse of what He's doing, ever so brief, but all too soon, the warfare crowds in trying to smother that fire and zeal for God. Discouragement seems to plague me and never stays away for long. I just sat in the House of the Lord, with confused thoughts running through my mind, thinking, God, I saw such beautiful promises in Your Word, You showed them to me. You spoke such wonderful truths to my heart. You showed me what You wanted to do...at least a little of it.. You created this hunger in me, and now everything looks hopeless. Everywhere I look I see nothing but apathy, routine, ineffectiveness, and oh, God in my heart I know it's a reproach on You and it breaks my heart. It makes me ashamed to try to pray. I read the book of Acts, and it rebukes my life. I am so powerless. The church is so powerless. No wonder the world isn't interested in coming to Your house, or hearing about You. They have very real problems and need more than men's opinions. They need to see You, high and lifted up, in a demonstration of Your Spirit and power. You showed me You wanted to pour out Your Holy Spirit, in an unprecedented way, and revive Your people. We need a double portion in these dark days of what You gave the church on the day of Pentecost over 2000 years ago. It can't happen unless You come and do it. Everything is just like it was except I'm dead and without hope unless You do something. Sorrow threatened to engulf me and I just literally had to fight back the tears as I sat there in church.

I listened quietly, without anger, without feeling much of anything while my pastor taught from Phil 2:14... Do all things without murmurings and disputings. I'd studied this verse in depth and understood a little more the meaning of this in a more personal way, than the direction he took. Funny how God can minister the same verses very differently to each individual. Sometimes when God deals with us about things we can have this inward argument, an inward disputing, with Him, because we tend to focus on our own inadequacy instead of His power. He doesn't make mistakes nor expect us to supply what is needed to do what He requires, outside our faith and obedience. We can end up like Moses-disputing with God and murmuring because our focus is on ourselves and our weakness instead of His strength and faithfulness. But perhaps the direction pastor took was what the rest of the church needed to hear. And I needed to hear it, too or God wouldn't have had me there to hear it, because the last verse he finished up with was:

Gal 5:15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

We sure do need to pray for one another not talk about one another. And then when I got home, I had Acts America still playing on the computer, and BH Clendennen was on by then, and he began to talk about how the church can murmur and complain and bite and devour one another...I thought, okay, Lord, You are trying to tell me something here. I went back over and read that "Hatching Snake Eggs" by David Wilkerson again, (http://www.tscpulpitseries.org/english/1980s/ts880321.html) for it had been on my mind. I read it again, and realized that my own mind was infected and needed cleansing as well. I had asked God to do this before I went back to church with the kids Sunday morning. As I reflected on how hopeless I felt, He also reminded me about the message David Wilkerson preached "The Death of A Promise". I had listened to them years ago, but had forgotten. It's hard to keep them straight when you have listened to thousands of messages preached by dozens of people. (If listening to preaching alone could perfect you I'd be perfect, let me tell you).

So I went back and listened to that "Death of a promise" and I found myself being encouraged, and seeing a small glimmer of hope. It is enough to keep me going. I began to understand why HE keeps reminding me of certain things He's taught me or showed me. I know there is a reason. He shows us the promise, causes us to want it, then sentences the promise to death-in effect showing us there is no humanly way possible to make His promises come to pass in our lives except HE do it. Human nature is such if it were any other way, self would rise up and glory as though we had brought it to pass. Such has been the downfall of many a preacher God has used to heal people, and minister to others. People get their eyes off God and on the man and start thinking more highly of the man than they should and less of God.

Then a friend of mine in North Carolina called me and for the second time asked me if I'd heard the song "The Promise" by the Martins, and said I needed to listen to it. I did and it was so encouraging, I could have cried with relief. I remember the promises He's made to me. It was a gentle reminder He knows very well what I'm going through and it has to be this way. All hope of humanly bringing His promise to pass must die before He will fulfill it. What a painful process this has been. You know for years I have prayed God circumcise my heart like You promised in Deu 30:6 without understanding this was what I'd been praying for.

Deu 30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

I know crazy things are happening in our country right now, and it's going down a dangerous and sad path that will result in some really bad things happening to a lot of unsuspecting people. God forbid we should ever put our faith and hope in government or anything else except our Creator. If you are a conservative, you watch in dismay as the United States Government is tearing apart the very fabric and foundation this country was built on. If you are not conservative, or don't really pay attention, you will be caught totally by surprise by what is coming. It's truly going to be worse than we can imagine.

Beloved, these things must come to pass. America must get on the "global" bandwagon, under liberal, anti-christ leadership for what God said would happen in the end times to happen. He foresaw it long ago before there ever was an America. But, God has a people in this nation He wants to rescue just as surely as He had a people in Egypt He wanted to rescue. Before He could get Israel out He had to destroy Egypt. Indeed, the principles and lifestyle this Nation was born on was glorious. People's blood run red, white and blue all the way. Still, He has so much better for us. This country is changing into one we won't recognize a few years from now. It will get hard, it will be heartbreaking to watch, but like Jesus, we must endure, despising the shame for the glory set before us because He must pry our clinging fingers from the things we hold dear if we would live in eternity with Him. There will be shame, for never in this nation's history will those who stand for what is right be so persecuted and villified-as some are finding out even now.

Yes, something wonderful, something historic, something we've never seen before is about to happen...in the heavenlies, in the spiritual realm...read on and I pray God help you see..I had been in some of the Scriptures studying and digging and God helped me understand the feelings and thoughts I've been struggling with though they made me at times feel backslid but that was because I didn't understand. ...

Feeling spiritually dry, knowing the church is, as well, knowing there isn't enough power of God to help the needy in our own midst much less the lost and dying in the world out there. But, because it is so, then ONLY HE will get the glory when He moves and revives His people. Our helplessness, our dryness, our despearte need makes us prime candidates for a move of God. I heard Pastor Clendennen preach this message this morning, and I had it on my pc, the text of it.. so please, take time to read it. You can read the full text on Pastor Clendennen's School of Christ International Web site, http://www.schoolofchristinternational.com/classes/cotw/week109.html The title of the message is the Sound of Marching.

The church is hopelessly locked in a religious routine, so are many of His people, and we can't change ourselves. Many are satisfied with the routine and don't want it to change, because it would rock the boat. It's hard to leave one's comfort zone, especially when that is all they know. But there is a people God has been busy at work creating a dissatisfaction and discontent in their soul. He has opened their eyes to see how totally ineffective their Christian life is, and they are grieved by this. Because we have no hope but HIM we are prime candidates for it is time for God to arise and work for we have all made void His law...HE is merciful and He is good and He will not fail us or forsake us. He is faithful though we haven't been. His love for us blows my mind...

I just want to share some highlights from this message that renewed my hope, greatly encouraged me, because this man of God described exactly what I've been feeling, thinking and praying about, mostly in confusion. These are just a few excerpts from "The Sound of Marching".
They concern the signs God is about to send a revival. Revival is not a series of meetings where people get encouraged or excited for the duration of the meetings, but nothing in their hearts or lives change. That is religious activity. This is not about getting excited and marching in the church, or shouting or running in the aisles. It's about an almighty, Holy God manifesting Himself to individual believers. In so doing, they become painfully aware of their own iniquity, and His holiness, which is so other than what we are or ever could hope to be. This can lead to great despair. But because human nature is what it is, God must help us see ourselves as we are, so we know when He moves, people can't ever take the credit or glory in anything they did to help God for we can never help God.
  • Prevailing deadness among believers and abounding lawlessness in the world are not an indication that it is impervious. It is time for God to work. The hopelessness of the situation was, to the Psalmist, one of the strongest arguments in favor of divine intervention, for he saw those conditions as a challenge that an omnipotent God could not ignore. To him the very need of the hour cried out, "It is time for the Lord to work." So that is one of the real signals and sounds of revival.
  • Another sign of revival is a spirit of dissatisfaction. A sure place of impending revival is where the spirit of dissatisfaction becomes apparent among believers. God places this spiritual restlessness, this holy dissatisfaction in the heart. Many of you know what I am saying. There is in the heart this spirit of dissatisfaction. That didn't come from your flesh, it didn't come from the devil, it was placed there by God. It is the birth pangs of that new thing God is about to do. It is the travail out of which revival is born.
  • The profound dissatisfaction with which these believers view themselves and the work of God around them is actually a thirst for God. "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for the living God,"cries the Psalms 42:1-2. There is a thirst for the holiness of God, for the power of God, and for the truth of God. In times of impending revival, there comes to hearts that are hungry especially, a thirst for the holiness of God. A longing fills the soul for victory over sin and deliverance from the corruption of this carnal mind.
  • The desire is to be broken before God, to be wholly sanctified and conformed to the image of God's Son, to be like Enoch and walk in unbroken fellowship with God. That's a real mark of revival; a thirst for the holiness of God.
  • There is also this thirst for the power of God. Believers begin to view with growing concern the ineffectiveness of their own efforts to serve the Lord. They become conscious of the reproach of the ungodly that God is not among them. David said, "My tears have been my meat night and day, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?"(Psalms 42:3). The more we examine the pages of the New Testament, and the lives of those whom God has used, the more convinced we become that we ought to be clothed with power from on high. A thirst is born to be filled with the Spirit and to speak the words with boldness. There is a thirst for a holiness, a thirst for the power of God.
  • Then there is a thirst for the manifestation of God, to see His power and glory displayed before the eyes of men. There is a longing for Christ to be vindicated, for Him to stretch forth His hand to heal, that signs and wonders may be done in the Name of Jesus for one reason, that Jesus Christ may be glorified. Before revival will come, such a thirst must come to the elect. There is also a thirst for truth birthed when revival is impending; not only a thirst for holiness, for power, for a manifestation of God, but for truth. It's always prevalent, when the church has lost her identity, that there is a downplay of truth. This pursuit of unity on the grounds of something other than the truth of God becomes a prevalent thing. In times of impending revival, there comes this thirst for truth. There is born a healthy unwillingness to accept without question all that is taught as truth.
  • Every age is imprisoned in its own conceptions, and has to be set free by the masterminds who refuse to be enslaved. Such minds are raised up by God preceding times of revival; times when hearts have been unconsciously made ready to receive fresh light from God.
    Finally, the one great mark and feature and revival is a spirit of sin consciousness. Before revival, in those darkened times, sin is treated lightly. In the church, a cheap grace comes that makes sin legal in the minds of many. But when hearts are being readied for revival, there will be evidenced among those a sensitivity to sin.
(And a hatred for it) If you are still reading this, and wondering at my motives for sharing this message, well, I'll tell you. I am not content to just go to church and hear a feel-good sermon, say amen, and go home and go my own way. People who do that are lost. They don't know Him. I have had an encounter with the very real Almighty God, and in seeing Him, I see myself and how utterly different from Him I am. It's an awful realization. He brought me out of a pit of despair 9 years ago, He healed a hurt in me so deep no one else could ever have touched it. He literally saved my life and my soul from certain and quickly approaching destruction. As I have read the Bible and prayed, a hunger to really know Him for myself was born in my heart-given me from Him. The more I have gotten to know Him, the more I realize I don't know. The more I want to know. I'm not content with the way things are. I want more. He has created a hunger in the depths of my being for more of Him and nothing else can satisfy this. I want the same reality of God in my life the disciples had. The same reality apostle Paul had. The same reality Abraham and Moses had. HE is no respecter of persons. He would not birth this hunger in those of us who have it to leave us empty. No, it's a sign He is working to position His people for a real revival-one where we are so aware of our helplessness we might as well be dead, so He can send His power and rain his Spirit down on us who is His power, and save souls, work miracles, and truly revive the work He started in the church 2000 years ago. No man, woman, boy or girl will be able to take the credit. Things are looking so hopeless and so impossible, we will know when He moves, we cannot dare think it was because of us. No, it will be for His honor, His glory for He alone is worthy. We will receive mercy and grace because of who He is. Because He loves us. And lastly, for the final confirmation of God's dealing with me on these things, Teresa Conlon preached a message at Times Square Church Sunday, June 14, 2009 "The Journey to Hope" and it confirmed these things to me. It was a wonderfully encouraging message. http://www.tscnyc.org/sermons.php

I pray God encourage you who are hungry and thirsty for the reality of God in your own life. Don't settle for less.