Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Let Us Hear From God!

Thinking back on the old wooden church pictured in my Facebook "Cover Photo" (the one that reads "Landmarks"), I still recall the Sunday evening service in that tiny little church when—as I mentioned in a previous post—I first recall distinctly feeling the powerful anointing of God on my life as I preached my little handwritten sermon titled "Let Me Hear From God".

What has come to mind here of late is the subject of that little sermon: I had taken my text from Jer. 37:17 where Zedekiah the king had secretly inquired of Jeremiah the prophet, asking "Is there any word from the Lord?" And Jeremiah replied, "There is."

Today, just as powerfully (if not more so), I am convinced that amid all the sermonizing and fanciful orations that are being delivered across pulpits today, what this world needs—indeed, what the Church needs—is "a word from the Lord". We need men of God who have been locked into prayer, men who have committed themselves to a fresh anointing, men who have weighed the cost and purposed in their heart that, whether the message is popular or not (and chances are, it won't be!), the next message they deliver will come straight from the heartbeat of God Himself.

We need preachers who will set aside the "talking head" sofa-style delivery; preachers who shun the modernistic "just a friendly chat" barstool teaching; preachers who step directly from private prayer into a public pulpit and will boldly declare, "Thus saith God", regardless of the end results of the message. As preachers of the Word of God, we are in danger of becoming (if not already so) so results-oriented that we base our messages—and our faith in hearing from God—on whether anyone steps to the altar or not. Keep in mind, man of God, that the message sent from God is not always positive, uplifting, upbeat, encouraging; it may often be a message of repentance, humility, a change in lifestyle...subjects that are extremely unpopular with today's "itching ears" that love to be told how wonderful they are, and how they need not change anything about themselves.

In a world that reeks of carnality and filth, there simply MUST be a fresh breath of Heaven that fills our sanctuaries, that fills our pulpits, that delivers not what we preachers THINK people should hear, but what God KNOWS we need to hear. Your congregation, pastor, may be starving to death all the while you pride yourself on constantly "putting corn in the crib". If what you're feeding them is all cotton-candy and fluff, they may walk away with their spiritual sweet tooth satisfied, but malnourishment is ever present.

That Sunday night at County Line United Pentecostal Church in FairPlay, TX (Google it!) has come roaring back into my heart with a renewed passion: I no longer want to simply preach a sermon; I want to both hear AND deliver a word from the Lord. It is not in my own intellect, not in my iPad-prepared sermons, not in my PC Study Bible or Olive Tree Bible software (although I enjoy the knowledge found in both, and use them regularly) that any message will ever come that has life-altering, soul-saving, heart-cleansing power and authority. Rather, it is when I realize that spiritual authority and anointing only comes as the result of much prayer, much communication with God, seeking the face, the heart, the mind of God for a word that is desperately needed for desperate times.

Men of God, we need to preach, in the famed words of Richard Baxter, "As a dying man to dying men." God forbid that we should be guilty of stepping into a pulpit prayerless, unstudied, unprepared for the warfare. These are desperate times, and they require men who are desperate to hear from the mouth of God. When you next approach that sacred desk of God, look through the eyes of the Spirit and see your congregation imploring you: "Man of God, is there any word from the Lord?"

And as that old weeping prophet Jeremiah replied, so should you be prepared to also declare "There is."

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Worship Is Your Weapon

Anybody can pick up a sword and swing it at an imaginary enemy; anyone can practice "kata" (the motions and techniques used in martial arts) without stepping into a ring against an opponent; and pretty much anyone can pick up a rifle and shoot at tin cans. 

Anyone can worship when things are going well.

When you worship in the face of adversity, however, you put the sword to use against an adversary; you step into a ring of combat against an enemy.

Suddenly it's no longer easy; suddenly it's no longer just practice; suddenly, you're faced with a host of reasons why you SHOULDN'T worship. But worship in the face of adversity is a weapon of devastating destruction. Satan cannot stop worship. Hell cannot thwart the power of praise. Nothing, Nothing, Nothing, Nothing, NOTHING can stop the power of your worship! It is a spiritual force that all the powers of Hell and darkness tremble at. A child of God who can worship when life has turned upside down is a formidable foe.

I doubt there's a single sermon that's ever been preached—anywhere, by any preacher—that caused Hell to tremble; but let the least-known saint of God begin to call on the Name of the LORD, and every devil in Hell begins to scream in fear.

Worship. It's the best—yet probably the least-used—weapon in your spiritual arsenal. Use it!