by pastor david
“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Like never before, the Church of Jesus Christ around the world has been infiltrated with false teachers and false doctrine. We expect this kind of aberrant teaching from the cults outside of the Church but, unfortunately, the greater problem, at least in our Western civilization, is false doctrine within the borders of the Evangelical Church.
We have somehow become more interested in being Politically Correct than we are in being Biblically Correct. We are so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, or for that matter, anyone’s feelings that, even though they may be dead wrong about a particular truth, we are unwilling to challenge them or correct them.
I am in full support of maintaining peace within the Church, but at what price? Are we willing to take a flimsy stance on Biblical doctrine just to avoid a conflict or to maintain our current Sunday morning attendance?
The clarity of the Biblical message has, in our day, become muffled in many places and muted in many more. The doctrine that is heard in many pulpits and classrooms across America is incomprehensible or implausible or, incomplete at best.
Whether we are willing to admit it or not, imposters have penetrated our lines of defense. They have secretly and systematically contaminated the main supply of spiritual sustenance – that is the pulpits and classrooms that were intended to be a major source of Biblical nourishment. Many so called preachers and teachers have poisoned or at least polluted the simple yet powerful message of the Gospel. The disastrous result is masses of Christians who are Biblically illiterate.
Many do not know the Epistles from the Apostles. One man thought the Epistles were the wives of the Apostles. Another said his favorite book of the Bible was the Book of Parables.
In answer to the question, “What do the members of the church have a right to expect of their ministers?” the Scottish preacher George Duncan writes, “First, he is a preacher. He has been ordained to the ministry of the Word. ‘Preach the Word’ was Paul’s order to Timothy. Members of a church have a right to expect their minister to do just that; to come to them from the presence of God with a message, which is the Word of God. He will not come to tell them what he thinks, but what God has to say.”
Duncan goes on to say, “Every time the members come into the church they should be, they must be, expecting that to happen.” (George Duncan: Preach the Word-Marshall Morgan and Scott - 1989)
There are three distressing facts that we must face today.
1. Most churches in America are not comprehensively preaching the Word of God.
The second and more deplorable fact is…
2. They think they are.
The last and most dangerous fact is…
3. Most church members don’t know the difference.
How timely then is the message of The Epistle of Jude, whose main thesis is, “Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints”. (Jude 3)
The expression “contend earnestly” occurs only here is Scripture. It means to contend about an issue as a combatant. The adverb “earnestly” is added to convey the intensity of the verb. The reason we must declare war is because, “Certain men have crept in unnoticed…who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ”. (Jude 4). The battle Jude was facing then has escalated today to the point that we have no alternative but to go to war! When the great truths of Christianity are attacked, it is criminal to sit on the sidelines. Therefore, Jude sounds the battle cry for all to hear, “Contend earnestly for the faith”.
How do we, “Contend earnestly for the faith”? We do that by faithful and fully, expositionally and earnestly preaching and teaching the Word of God. That is our commitment to God and to God’s people.
Many years ago in the early days of Judaism there was a breakaway sect formed known as, “The People of the Book”. Their views and beliefs would certainly be different from ours as born-again believers. Nevertheless, it is the title that intrigues me - “People of the Book!”
these days, what we need above all else is a band of redeemed people who will be so familiar with the Word of God and so full of the Word of God that they will be faithful to the Word of God. We must be “People of the Book!” Amen?
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.
For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'".
Moses first uttered this wonderful promise, "He will never leave you nor forsake you", to Joshua, as recorded in (Deut. 31:6). As his 120 year-old mentor, Moses was preparing Joshua for the enormous task that lie ahead - the task of leading the people of Israel into the Promise Land.
God Himself repeated this promise to Joshua after the death of Moses, just prior to leading the Israelites into Canaan. In (Joshua 1:5), God said to this new leader, "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you".
This was such a significant promise that the inspired writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews quoted it in his words of edification and encouragement. (Heb. 13:5) "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Most of us, who read the Bible with any frequency, are somewhat familiar with this promise but I wonder how many of us actually take this promise seriously and honestly apply it to our own personal lives.
If we do, then, why are we so often lonely? I realize that many who are reading this feel like you are alone.
However, you are not truly alone, if you are a child of God. When you acknowledged Christ as your Lord, He immediately took up permanent residence within you. He is there with you every moment of every day. You may be alone from a human perspective, but in reality, Child of God, you are never alone!
Stop reading for a moment and let that truth sink deeply into your soul. You are not alone!
Therefore, you never again need to be lonely. That sense of loneliness that you feel at times is God's way of drawing and driving you to greater dependence upon Him.
Hear His words in (Matthew 11:28): "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He is calling you to His side. Turn to Him in prayer. Open His Word and read what He wants to say to you today. "For the word of God is living and powerful..." (Hebrews 4:12).
Christianity is all about a relationship with the living God through His resurrected Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. When you have that relationship, you are never alone and never need to feel lonely. Let that loneliness drive you to the right hand of God to commune and communicate with the Lord of universe. He is calling out your name. He wants to hear from you today. He wants to know how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Go to Him. Go now! You are not alone!
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”
Do you expect to go through life without ever being hurt? Of course not! You have lived and loved long enough to know that you will be hurt and, sometimes, by those closest to you. Everyone gets wronged and offended by others. There is no way around it. That much is obvious.
However, I want to challenge you to consider another observation that may not be quite so easy to accept. As radio host Nancy Leigh Demoss says, “The outcome of our lives is not determined by what happens to us but by how we respond to what happens to us”.[i]
I am reminded of Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
The Apostle is not saying that everything that happens to us is good but that God has the ability to take all our circumstances, the pleasant and the unpleasant, the just and the unjust, and turn them around for our good and for His glory.
I am not suggesting that these wounds do not leave scars, but these injustices, horrendous as they may be, do not have the power to control the outcome of our lives as believers, if we respond Biblically.
Ephesians 4:32 reminds us that, “God in Christ forgave you.”
1. The believer is forgiven.
This is the starting point – we are forgiven. Oh how we should thank God that all our sins have been…
ü Removed from us: (Psalm 103:12) “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
ü Blotted out: (Isaiah 44:22) “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you."
ü Cast into the depths of the sea: (Micah 7:19) “He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
ü Remembered against us no more (Hebrews 10:17) "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."
Hallelujah! We are forgiven! Therefore, says Ephesians 4:32, we are to be “forgiving one another”.
2. The believer is to be forgiving.
There are essentially two ways of responding to life’s hurts and unfair experiences. The first and natural response is to become a debt collector. We set out to make the offender pay for what he has done. But the problem is that being a debt collector does more than keep our offender in debtors’ prison; it put us in prison as well.
However, there is another way. As an alternative to being debt collectors, God calls us to the pure, powerful choice of forgiveness and, when possible, reconciliation. Keep in mind that…
No sin against you is as horrific as your sin against God.
Yes, I said “choice”. Forgiveness is a choice. It is a step of obedience to Christ. Regardless of your feelings, make the choice today to forgive your offender(s). Then, you will discover that, over time, your emotions will catch up with your choices.
Feelings follow choices.
When emotions like hurt, anger, resentment, and thoughts of revenge arise within us, we can remind ourselves that on a specific day we, in obedience to our forgiving Savior, chose to forgive the indignity that conjures up so many unpleasant feelings.
Steve Canfield, with Life Actions Ministries, suggests five steps to follow in order to free oneself from the prison of bitterness and resentment.
1. Make a list of the people who have wronged you.
2. Confess to God, and then the offender, any wrong responses you may have had (e.g. hatred, bitterness, gossip). (Acts 24:16)
3. Thank God for each person who has wounded you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
4. As Christ has forgiven you, fully forgive each offender and offense. (Colossians 3:13)
5. Rebuild relationships and confirm your Christian love to the people on your list. (2 Corinthians 2:8)
The Lord Jesus was very clear and direct when He said, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25
One portion of the Lord’s model prayer is very dangerous to pray. Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” What if God’s forgiveness of us was in direct proportion to our forgiveness of others? If we do not forgive those who have “trespassed against us” then we are telling God not to “forgive us”. Can you seriously offer such a prayer to God? John Wesley said that kind of prayer was, “daring God to do His worst”.
Jesus calls us to embrace His love and accept responsibility for extending His gracious forgiveness to others. He wants us to apply the forgiveness we have received from God to our relationships with others. In so doing, we become partners with God in extending forgiveness to lost, sinful, rebellious people.
We show the world the reality of our faith by our shockingly gracious response to those who sin against us. The light of Christ shines ever so brightly when we obey His command to forgive one another.
[i] Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Forgiveness, Moody Publishers © 2006
“I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.”
At www.dictionary.com, we find the official definition of the word, “conscience”. It reads, “The inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action.”
The Bible teaches that our conscience, or inner sense of right and wrong, is a part of our original DNA. However, like everything else about us, that aspect of our DNA was polluted by sin in the Garden of Eden. The corrupted DNA has been passed down to each of us, from that day until now. It is a part of our “sinful nature” with which we are born and a part of us that needs to be redeemed.
In (Acts 23:1) we read Paul’s bold declaration, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day”.
Every person who has come to God and acknowledged Christ as personal Lord and Savior should strive to maintain a clear conscience toward God and toward his fellow man. A clear conscience involves that inner freedom of spirit toward God and others, that comes by knowing that God’s holiness is not offended by one’s thoughts or actions. It also includes the freedom that comes from knowing that no one can point a finger at you and say, “You have offended me, and you have never asked for my forgiveness”.
Far too often, when our conscience alerts us to our wrongdoing, we begin to rationalize. It is our natural inclination, because of our polluted conscience, to find other people or circumstances, which are to blame for what we have done. The greater our guilt, the more we must blame. The resulting bitterness and guilt are devastating to our mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
It is essential that we recognize and confess wrong actions against God, as well as others we have offended. However, it is more important to discern, confess, and change wrong attitudes, which either caused or resulted from our wrong actions.
In (1 John 1:9), we read, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. The wise writer of the Proverbs tells us that, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy”. (Proverbs 28:13)
The only way to “live in all good conscience” is to keep short accounts with God.
According to Jesus, one of the tasks of the Holy Spirit is to convict us when we have done wrong. (John 16:8) The moment we sense in our spirit that we have done something wrong, we should pray for clarity: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) God will immediately make perfectly clear to you what you have done wrong and will graciously forgive your sincere confession and repentance. Again, (Proverbs 28:13) is applicable here: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
The peace of mind that comes from a clear conscience is priceless. Knowing your sins are forgiven and that nothing stands between you and your Savior is inestimable. Let us make it our goal to “always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men”. (Acts 24:16)
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church,
and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
According to Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, a pronoun is, “A word used instead of a noun or name, to avoid the repetition of it”. In the passage above, there are two significant pronouns, used for our Lord Jesus, each of which, shine radiant and revealing light on the essential subject of the Church. Those notable pronouns are, “I” and “My”. Jesus said, “I will build My church”. A careful study of the passage reveals that this statement applies to both the universal church, of which every believer is a member, and the local churches, which meet at various locations around the world.
There is a great deal of comfort associated with these two prevailing pronouns.
1. Christ is building the Church, not man.
Each member of a local church fellowship has been given certain responsibilities to be exercised within the context of that local assembly. Ultimately, it is our Lord Jesus Christ, however, who is building the Church. How comforting that is. As a Pastor, I am given many tasks that must be carried out on a regular basis, relative to the local Church to which I have been called, but “building” the Church is, in actual fact, Christ’s responsibility.
Often, I remind the Lord and myself of course, that the Church I serve is His Church and not mine. This is especially true when things are not going as I had hoped or planned. Christ is actively and aggressively building his Church locally and universally. I do not have the experience or proficiency to take on such a daunting task on my own.
Out of this profound principle, there arises another insightful truth.
2. The Church belongs to Christ, not me.
The Apostle Paul puts it this way; “Christ is head of the church”. (Ephesians 5:23)
If the Church I serve is His Church, then I must follow his lead as He directs the affairs of the congregation. Fortunately, He has revealed His will for the Church in His Word, the Bible, and as long as I am following His Word, I know I am following Him.
Twice the wise writer of the Proverbs reminds us that, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death”. (Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25) If I do things my way, the result of my endeavors will be death.
Our loyalty to the local assembly where we worship must emerge from our love and loyalty to Christ, who is the “head” of the Church. We are to be faithful in our attendance and participation simply because we love him.
When we call a particular local assembly our “Home Church”, there is associated with that a certain accountability to the leaders of that Church and to its members. However, we are, in the final analysis, responsible to Christ who is the Head of the Church and the One who sacrificed His life to redeem it. The Bible says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” (2 Cor. 5:10) This, I am sure, is something that is not to be taken lightly or flippantly.
Today, I am resting and relaxing in the fact that our Church belongs to Christ and is being built by Him. However, there is a lot of work for each of us to do, in order to see our Church reach its highest potential. Amen?
2 Timothy 2:22
“Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
Some time ago, a very sad story was in the national news. A leading member of an evangelical church in our area was arrested. According to the court record, he allegedly offered a house he owned to be used for prostitution and was also involved in an invitation-only party for customers who were visiting the prostitutes.
Upon hearing this horrific story, my first question was, “How does a believer get to this point in his life?” One does not move in a day or even a few weeks from walking with the Lord in a close and personal relationship to participating in a prostitution ring. How does this happen?
A careful reading of the news account revealed what I believe to be the starting point to such aberrant behavior. This wayward believer was viewing pornographic material online.
Many believe that such conduct is normal, acceptable, and natural, even for a believer. However, nothing could be further from the truth. According to God’s Word, this kind of behavior is deviant and damning. Jesus said, “I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
You may be caught up in similar activities and you might be saying to yourself, “But what should I do? I’ve tried to quit these activities!” Let me suggest three steps that will help you bring your sinful desires under control.
1. Get Right.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
You need to get your heart right with God before you take any other steps. You need to go to your knees and confess your sin -- all of it. Do not beat around the bush or try to dress it up with pretty language. Just call it what it is and ask for God’s forgiveness. Then make up your mind that you are going to do whatever it takes to prevent it from happening again.
2. Get Away.
“Flee also youthful lusts.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
In other words, you must separate yourself from anything that makes it easy for you to abandon your new commitment to purity! Perhaps you will need to get away from certain people, certain places, and certain pursuits that lure you away from your commitment to obedience.
3. Get Help.
“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14
Turn to an older and more spiritually mature church leader and let them help you. Find someone with whom you can establish accountability.
Does the idea of a guilt-free, shame-free, deception-free life sound nice? Would you like to live every day without the fear of being exposed and ruined? Would you like to be able to give your spouse a kiss that is not also a lie? Would you like to go to church next Sunday without feeling like a hypocrite?
You can and you will, with God’s help. Say with the Apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling.”
“Where was God when I needed Him?” Have you ever heard anyone say that or something like that? Perhaps there have been troubled times in your life and, before you knew it, that very question came bellowing from your lips.
Well, the Psalmist felt the same way on more than one occasion. The background for the passage above is intriguing. The year was 701 B.C.; the King of Assyria was a man whose name struck terror in the hearts of those in the Mediterranean world - Sennacherib. He intended to expand his kingdom. He had already taken Israel to the north and then his Assyrian troops surrounded the walls of Jerusalem.
They hurled their abuse and sent a menacing letter, which King Hezekiah spread before the Lord. The King left it all with God and he waited. The ominous moments ticked by. Then God intervened! One angel, in one night, and 185,000 Assyrian soldiers were slain. You can read the detailed account in 2 Kings 18-19.
When the break of day came, the men of Judah could hardly believe their eyes. It was a landscape of death. The Bible says, “Behold they were all dead corpses,” (2 Kings 19:35). It was a red-letter day in the nation of Judah and this red-letter Psalm was penned to commemorate it.
I have no idea what you are going through right now, but God does. 185,000 enemies may not surround you but it probably feels like it. Well, not only does the Lord know what you are facing but He also knows exactly what you are thinking and feeling right now.
The promise of Psalm 46 is that, for the believer, God is our source of safety and strength. “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.”
His presence is the source of protection and power, so you can face your difficulties victoriously. We must accept this truth by faith and act on that faith, by trusting Him in and with every situation.
God’s presence is your source of protection and power.
Does life seem to be tumbling in around you? Is the battle raging? Is the storm blowing? Do you need to hide in the shelter of the rock? Well, do not forget that the Lord hides you, that He might help you! Follow the advice of the Apostle Peter, who said you are to be “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”. (1 Peter 5:7)
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you."
Did you ever say something like this? “I love everyone but there are some people I just don’t like!” As Charlie Brown of the Peanuts cartoon once said, “I love mankind. It’s people I hate.” I think most of us have said something to that effect at one time or another. We certainly do not wish anything bad would happen to anyone, but we just cannot get past something that has been said or done to hurt us.
Ivor Powell, Internationally known as, “The Preacher from Wales”, made an extraordinary statement about this very issue – a statement that will shine much needed light on the subject. He said, “Overflowing compassion is a refreshing rain falling upon the parched soil of human hearts.”[i]
Paul’s inspired instruction in Ephesians 4:32 is placed in the context of his teaching about believers putting on “the new man”. In other words, the ability and propensity to forgive one another is a characteristic of the believer’s new nature. The refusal to forgive others is a characteristic of the old, sinful nature. Yes, I said, “refusal” because the failure to forgive is a choice. Since God commanded us to forgive others, that means we have the choice and ability to do so or refuse to do so.
Churches filled with compassionate, forgiving people are an oasis in a desert of hatred and hostility. This kind of Church is a light in the darkness and a signpost pointing to better things. However, we will only have that kind of Church if we are that kind of people. The key to making forgiveness a reality in our attitude and actions is found in Paul’s phrase, “just as God in Christ also forgave you.”
The thing I try to remember is that no one has hurt me as much as I have hurt Christ. No one has sinned against me as much as I have sinned against Christ and yet He has forgiven me.
The reason we should forgive each other is that God has forgiven us. No matter how much a person has done against us, it does not come close to what we have done against God.
Yet, God has forgiven us. Why? For Christ's sake. Jesus Christ died for us—died for our sins so that we could be forgiven. Therefore, God forgives us. No matter what we have done, God forgives us when we turn to Him in faith and ask for His forgiveness. He forgives us despite our having rejected, cursed, ignored, neglected, and rebelled against Him.
Because of what Christ has done for us, we should forgive others no matter what they have done to us.
An unforgiving spirit will eat at your soul like a cancer, always consuming you, leaving you empty and bitter. The most frightening thing about holding a grudge against a person is that we develop the tendency to do the same thing with everyone! Before long we find ourselves with a long list of people, we will not forgive.
Choose today to move those people you have in your “Unforgiven File” over to the “Forgiven File”. Then, when you are reminded of those hurtful and harmful things someone has done, you will remember that you have forgiven them “just as God in Christ also forgave you”.
[i] Ivor Powell, The Exciting Epistle to the Ephesians, Kregel Publications
Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Anxiety has been called “the official emotion of our age”. It is an increasing and universal problem – even among the followers of Jesus Christ.
Men and women find it equally troubling. Those who are old and those who are young find themselves pulled into the vortex of worry. Neither is worry a problem belonging only to Americans. Anxiety is a worldwide epidemic. Even veterinarians are now treating our dogs and cats for similar maladies. It really is “the official emotion of our age”.
Yet, God’s Word makes it abundantly clear that worry is unnecessary, unproductive, and unhealthy, as well as being a clear violation of an explicit directive from God. Look again at the passage above (Philippians 4:6-7). Underscore in your thinking the word, “nothing”. Now concentrate on the word, “everything”. Those two words give us a practical solution to the crisis of worry and anxiety.
We are to worry about nothing and pray about everything.
In his book, “Transformed by Thorns”, Dr. E. Stanley Jones remarked, “I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt, and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath--these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely--these are my native air”.
I am convinced that Jones has succinctly captured the essence of the problem. Is not worry the product of fear? Is not fear, to some degree, a lack of faith? Yet, the Apostle Paul challenges us with these words, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Today, I want you to be free from worry. God wants you to enjoy the liberty that comes from trusting Him with “everything” and worrying about “nothing”.
(Psalm 46:1-3) “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.
The next time you feel that characteristic heaviness in your chest and you are tempted to worry, stop! Remember God’s promises and refuse to be filled with anxiety.
Psalm 85:6 “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?”
Revival is from God and for God’s people. Slick advertising and a lot of hype will not bring revival and the preacher cannot bring it in his briefcase. Revival is not an evangelistic campaign, although the salvation of the lost is always one of the results of genuine revival.
Real revival, God honoring-revival, Spirit-inspired revival, Christ-centered revival, sin-killing revival comes only from above, from the Throne of God alone.
God said, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Did you catch that? “My people…My name”? God wants to revive us, His own special people. However, the fact we must understand about revival is this: Revival is a bitter-sweet experience.
It is “bitter” because God begins by dealing with the sins of His people. One man described the great revival in Manchuria in the early 1900’s like this: “I simply cannot describe the scene. It made one think of the Judgment Day. God had come among us. All knew it and every heart was open before Him. For myself, I had the most intense realization of the holiness of God and of my uncleanness in His sight”.
James Burns wrote, “Every revival movement sees an awakening of a deep sense of sin in the individual and in the Church. In the intense spiritual light, the sin and guilt of the awakened soul stand out in terrifying blackness.”
Yes, revival begins as a “bitter” experience but once our sins have been confessed and repented of (Proverbs 28:13), then the experience becomes “sweet” as the discernible presence of God is manifested in our lives in a special and supernatural way.
It is then that God’s people move out of the lukewarmness and defeat of the wilderness and into the Canaan Land of victory. It is only then that we begin to experience the abundant life Christ came to provide for us (John 10:10).
The late Dr. Stephen Olford defined revival like this: “Revival is that strange and sovereign work of God in which He visits His own people – restoring, reanimating, and releasing them into the fullness of His blessing”. My heart races, as I read these words. This is what I want. This is what I need. No, this is what I must have!
Will you join me as we beseech God for a real revival – a heaven-sent revival? Please pray for God to work in you, your family, and your church to restore, reanimate, and release into us the fullness of His blessing.
Is that what you want? If so, begin now to pray to that end.
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.