Tuesday, October 09, 2012

A Revival of Prayer

Here of late, God has been stirring me—I think I could go further than 'stirring', and even say 'convicting' me—of the need for a revival of prayer.

I am concerned that we, as the people of God, as those who profess to have "Truth", as men of God, we have tried to escape the necessity of heartfelt, urgent prayer, and we are trying to "build" churches on something less than prayer. 

We have "churches" turning into "coffee clubs"; we have men who once "had church" who no longer promote "service times" for fear of offending or driving potential visitors away; instead, they are now promoting "gatherings" or "social meetings". Their idea of "church" is having a social club, where an open Q & A forum has replaced anointed preaching, where having a good time of food and fellowship, and discussing scriptural principles has pre-empted the impassioned, fiery, leave-your-guts-on-the-pulpit preaching that used to call sinners to repentance, and bring the church to their knees.

I feel that God literally has awakened my soul with an anguished cry for His People to begin to pray. Heaven stands at attention when a man or woman of God begins to pray; God waits at the ready to unleash our cities, to shatter the chains that have held our communities captive, yet we continue to miss the one thing that will bring all of God's Glory to our rescue: Prayer.

We must pray. We simply must pray. We want revival; we want a sovereign move of God; we want the Holy Ghost to sweep across our churches, our congregations, our communities, yet we cannot expect it to happen with little or no effort on our part. All of our programs—as brilliant as some of them may be—will not replace a move of the Spirit across the face of our nation that will happen when God's people begin to pray.

There is power in prayer; the great revivals of yesteryear began when men and women began to call on the name of the Lord. Azusa Street happened when a group met, and began to pray. The Day of Pentecost—upon which our very doctrine is founded—was fulfilled when a group of believers joined together and began to pray. The scriptures abound with stories of what happened when God's people, His prophets, His preachers, His Church began to pray.

I still believe in miracles. I still believe in blind eyes being opened during service; I still believe the deaf can miraculously have their hearing restored to them; I believe the hopeless, the unloved, the broken, the tragic, the vile, the filthy, the unreachable, can still be reached, changed, cleansed, restored, healed through the power of fervent prayer. 

I was having this discussion a few days ago with a man of God who has become a dear friend to me in just a short time; I told him how God had began almost-urgently impressing on my heart that passage that states, "...the effectual FERVENT prayer of a righteous man availeth much." As I told this man of God: "We pray, but we no longer pray fervently."

The mindset of our society has permeated our churches, and our prayer life: We expect an immediate response from God when we throw up a little "text-message prayer", and when God doesn't respond right away, we become disgruntled, disappointed, questioning why He continues to allow things to happen. Daniel prayed earnestly three times a day, yet his answer took a long time in coming. Why should we expect immediate gratification from God when we say, "Oh, by the way, Lord, I need You to move on my behalf..."

Interesting question: The same passage in James that refers to the "effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man" also makes reference to Elijah by saying he was a "man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not by the space of three years and six months." My question: Did it not rain for 3-1/2 years because Elijah prayed ONCE? Or did it not rain for 3-1/2 years because Elijah prayed EVERY DAY for 3-1/2 years that it wouldn't rain? We don't really know the answer, but isn't it worth pondering?

2 Chron. 7:14 promises a response from God ONLY "If my people...will humble themselves and PRAY..."

We need a revival of prayer. I don't feel I'm alone in this, but I genuinely want to see what will happen across our churches, across our nation, across this perverse generation, across our world, if God's people will return to a season of earnest, heartfelt repentance, humility, and prayer for a move of God.

Thanks for allowing me to bare my soul. This was purely spontaneous, and I'm sitting in my cubicle at work on my lunch break, fighting back tears, but felt an urgency to share that with you.

And pastors, I specifically prayed for you this morning. I will continue to lift you up in prayer; you are more needed in this day and hour than you could ever imagine.

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Highest Praise

I absolutely love the words to this Clint Brown chorus: "It becomes my highest praise, When all that I am responds to Who You are..."

And I'm wondering how God feels when "all that I am" really does respond to Who He is, and not just what He does. We are so quick to be mindful of all that God does for us (as we should be) but is your love and adoration of God based only on what He's done for you?

I don't mean to embarrass her, but I can truthfully say that, when my wife walks into the room, every part of my heart and soul instantly is focused on her; not because she's pouring my coffee, or making my lunch, or giving me shoulder-rubs, or fawning over me. But just because she is who she is: the love of my life, the center of my world. My day gets better JUST by her being in the same room.

Can I—can you—honestly say we respond the same way when God walks in? Or are we too distracted with other things, or EVERYTHING, around us, to even notice? Do we murmur a quick "Howdy" and call that "worship" when His presence sweeps in? Or do we truly offer Him our "highest praise", because we respond to Who He is, and not simply what He's done...

Think on this: If your love and relationship for and with God is based only on what He does for you, sooner or later, you'll find reasons to resent what you DON'T have. When that happens, you'll find you have a very shallow relationship that's dissolving into resentment.

Be thankful for all that God has done for you; but love Him for who He is. 

He is absolutely, unequivocally the most wonderful, amazing Friend you will ever know.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Violent Victory

Allow me to share what's on my mind; it's been on my mind since the conversation my wife and I had a couple nights ago during our "dinner date".

Your spiritual adversary, the devil, doesn't really care if you "sin" or not. It's really no big deal to him if the child of God throws their hands in the air, walks away from God, and descends into a life of carnality and godless living. He really isn't interested in causing you to commit a trespass against God, to cheat on your spouse, stick a needle in your arm, drink yourself into an alcoholic stupor, or burn down a church while you curse God.

All Satan wants is for you to quit fighting. Give up. Surrender to the spiritual exhaustion that surrounds you, the fatigue that drains you, the pressure that envelopes you. He just wants you to yield to that whisper that continues to tell you, "Why should this be so tough? I thought being a Christian would be easy; why do I have to sacrifice so much? Why should I have to pray EVERY day? Why do I need to read the Bible so much? There are lots of good books out there about God..."

I don't see Satan doing a "victory lap" when a child of God gets messed up and descends into their previous life of sin. I *do*, however, see him with a slimy, smug look of satisfaction when the man or woman of God decides they no longer need to pray...or pray as much. I see Satan chuckling when the Christian decides that reading the Bible is tedious, and doesn't seem to make much of a difference in their daily life. 

I can envision the adversary laughing outright when the man of God concludes that preaching this Gospel straight and true, and declaring Truth from the pulpit, is driving people away, and starts using secular means, or a watered-down message, as a method for enlarging the congregation. I see a band of demons laughing and mocking the Christian who has become convinced they're entitled to Heaven because they gave their heart to God "once upon a time", and no longer feel like it's a goal they should have to fight for.

But Jesus Himself tells us that "...the kingdom of heaven endures violence, and violent men will take it by force."

Some have questioned why "such a loving God" tolerated so much violence and bloodshed in the Old Testament; the children of Israel seemed to encounter battle after battle, conflict after conflict, and literally thousands were slain in one battle, at one time or another. 

The very plan of God was put into place as the result of insurrection. When Satan himself rose up and considered himself to be equal to God, and tried to usurp the very Throne of God, and was cast out, along with a third of the angels. If this plan called The Church began with a war, why should we expect it to end with anything less? Even in the very final moments of time, as we know it, when Christ returns "with thousands and ten thousands of the saints", there will be one final insurgence, one last and final battle, when Satan attempts to rise up again. 

We MUST pray. We MUST read the Bible. We MUST walk in the Spirit. We MUST yield ourselves to the will of God. We MUST preach the Truth. We cannot compromise; we cannot surrender. We cannot negotiate terms of peace with an enemy who only wants us dead. Satan is not interested in peace; he wants conquest. 

Pray. Pray fervently. Pray feverishly. Pray as if your life depended on it, because it does. Pray for your home, for your spouse, for your children, for your family, for this lost and godless society. Although your "righteous indignation" might whisper that this world deserves God's judgment, God is not willing that any should perish. Pray for your country, regardless of how wretched it may seem. Pray for your government; they need God's guidance and direction.

Pick up that Bible again and start reading. Embrace the Word. Love the Word. Live the Word. Don't replace the Word of God with other books that tell you someone's opinion ABOUT God; read His Word, and hear Him tell you about Himself. Commit those favorite scriptures to memory, and draw from them in times of desperation, frustration, loneliness, or pain.

Sacrifice again. Remember "fasting"? How long has it been? If health problems prohibit you from skipping a meal, or three, then sacrifice something else that you're tied to. Give up technology for a day; skip Facebook, Twitter, go a day without caffeine, a computer, a dessert. But learn to sacrifice again. Bring your carnal nature into submission to the Spirit by crucifying it through sacrifice.

Heaven will be a blessed place of rest, an eternity of God's Presence, and a peace that we cannot even imagine in this life. We will rest when we get to Heaven, but getting there will require a violent victory.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


You know the one thing that just really, really, REALLY upsets God? Unthankfulness. 

Study the history of Israel, and the times God really got irate with them: it was due to their being unthankful, complaining about what they didn't have. When they turned to idols, and false gods, it was a slap in the face of their True God, because He had delivered them, He had healed them, He had protected them, He had blessed them, yet it was never enough for Israel:

"We got delivered from Egypt, just to die out here in the wilderness..."

"I wish we had garlic and onions like we USED to have in Egypt..."

"All we ever get is manna; why can't we ever eat meat?"

"We want a king like all these other nations have."

Take a look at your life today, and check out whether you're guilty of whining and complaining about what you DON'T have. Trust me: we've all got plenty to moan about: aches, pains, financial struggles, car troubles, and on and on the list could go. 

But what truly delights the heart of God is when you look to Heaven and say, "I've got You, Lord, and that's what matters most." 

It's a long way from November 22, I know; but should we really wait to express our thanksgiving?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Spiritual Insanity?

Some have said the definition of insanity is to continue doing the same things repeatedly, while expecting different results. I wonder sometimes if some of us—myself included—suffer from "spiritual insanity"; we continue living our lives as always, yet wonder why things never change in our spiritual relationship. 

In order for things to change in our spiritual relationship, we've got to make some changes in our natural man. The life that never prays, never studies the Word, and/or doesn't know how to bring its carnal nature into submission, can't expect to walk in the realms of the Spirit.

Frustrated because you're still struggling with carnality and temptation? Walk in the Spirit. (Gal. 5:16)

Flee These Things...

The apostle Paul spoke in his letters of 4 things that the child of God should "flee" from: (1) fornication (2) idolatry (3) desire for money or temporal possessions, and (4) youthful lusts. 

As Spirit-filled people of God, we have been given the power to overcome these things, and God's Spirit does give us the victory over every carnal temptation. However, Paul's admonition is to run away from some things, rather than try to face them down, even when armed with the Holy Spirit. If you're struggling with some battles, maybe you should consider Paul's admonition to avoid those particular things, rather than hoping to conquer them.

Some battles are better off avoided, rather than being fought. You can win, but is it worth the scars?

Friday, July 27, 2012

So You Suffer From "Low Self-Esteem"...

I struggled with the balance between "pride" and "self-esteem" for years, until I actually read what the apostle Paul said: "Let no man think more highly of himself THAN HE OUGHT TO THINK, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than himself."

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being confident in who you are, and who God has called you to be. The secret is to not allow that confidence to become disproportionate, for then it becomes pride. Consider those around you to be your equal—even better than yourself (that will certainly keep you from elevating "self" too highly)—but never, ever sell yourself short, or rob God of the value He has placed on you.

Low self-esteem is the result of not having a complete understanding of how God sees you. When God looks at you, He doesn't see a "loser", or someone who's too short, too tall, too thin, too fat, someone who wears glasses (my own Achilles' heel when it comes to self-esteem), or has freckles, a double-chin, a big nose, big ears, etc.

In short, God does not see you as a loser, a failure, inept, awkward, or out of place!

When God looks at you, you know what He sees? He sees His creation: the work of His own Hands. He looks at you and thinks, "That is a work that I designed, that I created; I breathed life into them. They carry a part of me in them; they have my DNA. That is MY creation!"

Be honest: have you ever seen a newborn that was just...well...homely? They're not the prettiest things to look at, but you'd never convince the parents; that is their offspring, a part of them, something THEY created, and they're as proud as ever a person can be when they show that baby off to the rest of the world. You're a child of God—YOU ARE HIS DESIGN!—and He is only too proud to look at you and call you His Own Design.

Walk with your head up today, not because you're "just that good", but because you recognize that you are a product of God's own Hands, His own breath, and He is proud of His Creation when He looks at you!

Are You Listening?

One of my favorite passages in Scripture—and certainly one of the most telling stories—involves the time where Jesus stopped by the house of Martha and Mary. The scriptures tell us that "Martha was cumbered about much serving..." (KJV) but Mary "sat at His feet and heard His word." 

Much can be said about the contrast between Martha and Mary, and Martha's attitude about the whole situation (and perhaps I'll write about that on another occasion) but what I felt in my spirit recently was a strong emphasis on Mary's position: she "sat at His feet and heard His word."

Understand that Mary's position was a bit awkward, to begin with, as women were generally excluded from the "men's meetings" that were common in that time among rabbi and disciples. For Mary to even find a place at His feet, she had to first overcome the stigma of being an uninvited, unwelcome guest. Unlike another uninvited woman (Mark ch. 5) who pressed her way against a crowd because she needed a supernatural healing, Mary had no ulterior motive, no pressing need to compel her to go against the grain and do what was considered "out of place" in that time. Her only reason for going against the grain was to hear what Jesus was saying.

Many of us have no problem sitting at His feet; it's the "hearing His words" that gets to be a problem. Often, we want to find a place near Him, but for all the wrong reasons; we're not listening to what HE has to teach us, but we're trying to argue our case, bend His ear, let Him know everything that it seems He's overlooked about our life. "By the way, Lord, just wanted you to know that I'm right here! In case You forgot where you placed me, I'd like to remind you that I'm still stuck here in this same old dumpy spot that I've been in..." 

No, most of us have absolutely no problem finding a place at His feet, but hearing what He's trying to tell us is what is difficult. Why? Because we have to shut up and listen, and for most humans, that is hard to do...especially when circumstances aren't the best. I'll confess that I'm guilty of going to prayer on many occasions, not so I can listen to Him, but so that—hopefully—He'll listen to me! Listen to me whine, complain, grumble, ask for this, ask for that, etc etc.

Recently, I distinctly felt the Lord speak into my heart and tell me, "I'm really not giving you the 'silent treatment', like you've thought; it's just that you're not listening to Me."

Wow...talk about a gentle reprimand. Those were the words of a Father who loves me, but recognizes that, if I don't sit down and listen to Him, I'll never learn what He's trying to teach me. Did I feel chastised, humiliated, embarrassed, resentful? Not on your life! I felt a depth of Love that I've seldom felt, even in my times of deep, heartfelt prayer. 

God isn't asking you to listen because He likes the sound of His own voice. He is Wisdom, and He is Truth, and He is Life, and His words bring healing, deliverance, peace, joy, and strength. Just as a father teaches wants to teach his children well in advance about some of the life lesson's he's learned, so also your Heavenly Father wants to prepare you for what's ahead. Maybe He wants to speak peace to your storm; maybe He wants to speak life into you, and call you out of the grave you've dug for yourself. 

Whatever the occasion, you can rest assured that Mary had a reason for sitting at Jesus' feet, and that reason wasn't to argue with Him about her lot in life. It was to listen to Him speak.

Prayer is intended to be a two-way conversation between you and God. Find your place at His feet...and just listen.