PRELUDE TO REVIVAL
PRELUDE TO REVIVAL Copyright Š 2009 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
It seems to me that the Spirit is speaking to us about revival. It appears also there are some measures we as church people can take in order to bring the Presence of God into our midst in an outstanding way.
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PRELUDE TO REVIVAL
Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? (Psalms 85:6)
There have been marvelous revivals of Gods work during the Christian Era. Some have taken place in fairly recent time, such as the revival in Wales, and the Pentecostal revival, both occurring at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Perhaps God is more willing to send revival than we are to receive it, because the descent of the Holy Spirit upon us may force us to change our comfortable routines.
Our particular assembly seems to be pressured along this line by the Holy Spirit. We are responding. Last Sunday morning (10/27/2002) I came to the church two hours before the service in order to wait on the Lord. I really had no subject in mind, no clear burden from the Lord.
About a half hour or so before the service was to begin it seemed the Lord gave me the following actions and attitudes we must adopt as a preparation for the coming of the Lord to our church. I am calling these a "prelude" to revival rather than preparation because these behaviors when practiced are themselves an important aspect of revival. So they are a performance prior to the main performance, a prelude.
Actually, the actions and attitudes listed below are aspects of the Christian life that always should be true of us. But sometimes we need a reminder of what we are about. Isnt that a fact?
So I am urging all of us believers to move in these directions, because I think they will bring a greater Presence of the Holy Spirit into our midst.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
After we have been a Christian for a number of years, and have prayed for revival during that time, we kind of get "burned over." We still believe in such a thing as revival, but we begin to doubt we ever will see it. Is it that way with you?
Well, the answer to this problem is to pray. We need to pray for faith. We need to pray for hope. We need to pray for a sense of expectation.
You know something? If we pray in Jesus name for faith, hope, and expectation God will grant our prayer. The first thing you know we will really believe for and expect to see revival. Try it and see for yourself.
Can you imagine God refusing to grant faith, hope, and a sense of expectation to a believer who is willing to obey God if God asks him or her to do something? Personally, I dont believe God will delay the answer to that prayer.
As a pastor, I am encouraging the believers in our assembly to read books about the various revivals that have occurred through the years. It is helpful also to read about the saints who have worked miracles. These accounts encourage our faith. The Real Faith, by Dr. Charles Price is excellent. Also Ever-increasing Faith, which I think is by Smith-Wigglesworth. With Signs Following, by Stanley Howard Frodsham is excellent. Also, Gods Generals, by Roberts Liardon. Any account of Evan Roberts and the revival in Wales is helpful, as well as the ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson.
Some of these are out of print, but we are going to try to get them through Amazon.com on the Internet.
Audrey and I were in two of William Branhams meetings before he ran into some kind of trouble. They were awesome! They left one with a terrific desire to press closer to the things of Heaven. Kathryn Kuhlman also was impressive.
God has done some wonderful things in recent times, and I believe the best is yet ahead.
We need to keep our hope and expectation high. Our churches need reviving. So do our neighborhoods and our nation. God will not withhold the Holy Spirit from us if we will pray fervently, obey Him in all details, and live a godly life.
If we are to have the revival we desire, we must maintain joyous hope and the continual expectation that Christ is ready to move in our midst.
So I say to you: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." (Luke 11:9,10)
I am a firm believer in waiting on the Lord and doing what He says. There is another dimension, and that is persistent prayer. The Lord Jesus advised us to pray, pray, and pray again, the idea being that God finally, because of our boldness and persistence will answer.
I think people often are afraid they will get something bad if they press God too hard. I share that caution. But if we always finish by praying, "Your will be done," I am sure God will not let us be deceived.
Presumptuous people among us are saying that if we pray "Your will be done" we dont have faith. They need to realize the most powerful prayer there is, is "Your will be done." By praying in this manner we are not resigning ourselves to defeat, we are reminding God that no matter how badly we desire something we want His will above all. We trust that God knows better than we what the true desire of our heart is.
I desire revival fervently! But I want God to answer that prayer in the best possible way. And I trust He will.
We are to pray persistently for revival. When we do, the Lord will guide our prayer until it coincides precisely with His desire. And this is what we really want, isnt it?
I know the man in the parable did not want to get out of bed. He did not want to be disturbed.
But neither did he want some person to go without bread. He just wanted to make sure there really was a serious problem, and that he wasnt going to hear the end of it until he acted.
This is the Lords way of telling us that God wants to be certain we truly want something before He answers. It probably is true that there are areas in your life and my life that will turn out to be totally different if we pray earnestly.
The treasures and riches of Heaven are there waiting to be given to those who care enough to give up some of their time and strength and set themselves to seek the Lord. I believe this is true. We need to let the Lord know we are serious about revival and are ready to make any changes He requires in order to have His Presence among us in a terrific way. How do you feel about this?
If we are to have the revival we desire, we must pray until it comes.
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, Leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23,24)
It takes a lot of patience, prayer, and oversight to prevent divisive roots of bitterness from springing up in a church. But whenever they do, revival is put on hold.
It is just like the human body. When the body is ill it wants to go to bed and rest until it recovers. Sometimes people are forced to work when they are sick. But it is not a good idea when it can be helped. The body wants to spend its strength repairing itself before it is ready to exert energy in another direction.
So it is with a church. When there are people who are at odds with each other the church is not ready for revival. The people concerned need to pray until they get their differences ironed out.
Sometimes churches will go for years during which there are factions that are hostile toward each other. That church might as well close down and use the building for something else. As long as there is bitterness, strife, slander, gossip, hatred, jealousy, envy, lying, taking place in an assembly, it is sick. It needs to be healed before revival is possible.
I tell people in our church that when they begin to miss services they will find themselves becoming critical of others in the assembly. They may think they can worship God at home, or at the beach, or out in the woods. They are deceived. We need to gather together on a regular basis. Spiritual operations occur we are not even aware of when we gather with other disciples.
If you have been caught like this, get back to regular attendance, and pray God will forgive the criticizing and gossiping you have been guilty of.
If there is a specific individual whom we know has a cause against us, we are to pray until God gives us wisdom how to take care of this matter.
We need to leave our gift of worship at the altar and be reconciled to our brother. Then we can return and lift up holy hands in adoration to the Father.
If we are to have revival in our midst we must make sure there is no one who is holding something against us. Sometimes the other person will not yield. In that case, after we have prayed and done all in our power to mend the situation, God will not withhold revival from us.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14,15)
One of Satans most effective, most destructive weapons is that of unforgiveness. He works steadily to persuade us to hold unforgiveness in our heart.
Ordinarily when people hurt us they did not mean to. Sometimes they are not even aware that they have offended us. It is not often that people set out to harm us, although sometimes this does happen.
It does not matter. We have to keep on praying for grace and strength so we can keep our heart clear. It does not matter who it is or how unjustly he or she has treated us, we must pray until we can release the desire for revenge.
God has forgiven us our numerous transgressions against Him. He demands that we forgive other people to the same extent He has forgiven us.
Because the Lord Jesus said "Father, forgive them; they dont know what they are doing," there is tremendous Virtue in the body and blood of Christ. In the most extreme situations we will find, if we pray and ask for that Virtue, we will have the strength to forgive anyone who has injured us.
One of the most difficult situations involves the woman who was molested as a little girlsometimes by her own father. Human strength is not nearly adequate to deal with this severe injustice. Only the Virtue of Christ can provide the ability to forgive.
It is helpful to remember that when we forgive we do not have to fall all over that individual and tell him how much we love him. It is enough, ordinarily, that we pray until we remove the unforgiveness from our heart.
Now, here is something to remember: to forgive does not mean that you return and expose yourself to the same kind of injustice.
If a wife has been beaten by her husband, and leaves him, she can forgive him without returning to the same vicious circumstance. This is true even if he doesnt strike her but dominates her with prolonged, continual verbal abuse. She must forgive him totally for the years of oppression, but she is not required to return. The abusive husband has broken the marriage contract. He has not loved and cherished her. He has forfeited all his rights concerning his wife.
I do not say the above lightly. I am not suggesting the wife leave her husband, or the husband his wife, simply because they are irritated with one another. Marriage in the United States is based largely on romanticism and physical attraction. It can be expected that there will arise antagonism, as the two self-wills clash. But a marriage can be saved if the two people will pray and work out their differences.
There do come times, however, when one or the other breaks the marriage contract through adultery or abuse. It is not Gods intention that the victim permit himself or herself to go on suffering in this manner.
If the believer will pray, God will reveal whether he or she should stay and attempt to make the marriage work, or whether to leave.
However, in any and all cases. we must forgive the mistreatment. When we maintain unforgiveness, no matter how seemingly justified, we hold the other individual and ourselves in bondage. Also, God cannot avenge us, if we have been wronged, until we cease avenging ourselves. We have to get out of the middle so God can work.
If we are to have revival our heart must be completely free from unforgiveness.
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:4)
If there ever was a crippling disease, it is self-pity. Brother Dowell used to say, "I felt sorry for myself when I had no shoes until I saw the man who had no feet."
When we weep and mourn over the way we have been treated, we reveal our lack of faith in the goodness of God.
There is an old saying: "Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Cry, and you cry alone."
Ill tell you one thingGod does not feel sorry for you. When He looks down on the world He sees people who are so much worse off than you are that He is puzzled you are not praising Him for your numerous blessings.
I remember a vision I had. I had been deceived in a matter, and God in His goodness had shown me the truth. I felt I no longer was worthy to ride with the victorious saints on the white war-stallions. (This is one of my greatest ambitions.)
In my vision, I was standing to one side while the army was riding past me. I was saying, "Go on! Go on! Drive sin from the earth. Go on to total victory!"
I knew I had lost my place among the men of war.
Suddenly a stallion stopped in front of me. There was no rider on his back.
Somehow I know that stallion was my horse and I was supposed to mount up.
Instead, I bemoaned my pitiful state: "I am not worthy. Go on! Go on to victory! I have lost my place, but you go on!"
You see, I was wallowing in my self-pity.
Now, if you have never experienced self-pity you have no idea what a delicious feeling it is. I suppose it is some form of inverted pride. I simply did not want to let it go and get up on that horse, although I knew that was what I was supposed to do.
Then I realized that horse was not going to stand there forever. Either I was going to get on the horse or it would be given to someone else.
This put the fear of God in me, I can tell you. I wrenched myself out of this crippling self-pity and got on the horse. Then the vision lifted.
I know as surely as I am writing this article that if I had given in to my self-pity I would have lost my place in the army of the Lord. This is serious business! Only the most determined will have a place in that army.
You can ride with the Lords victorious saints, but I tell you it will require that every ounce of your personality is given over to crucifixion and resurrection in Jesus Christ. We are in the last days, when many will be first in the Kingdom.
There is a refining process taking place. It is as though God has purchased the world in order to bring to perfection a relatively few sons. These sons will be in the image of Jesus Christ in actualitygenuine sons of God.
Pierre and Marie Curie were able to extract a small amount of radium from a great mass of pitchblende. So God, in the present hour, is extracting a firstfruits from the mass of earths peoples. You and I can be counted among Gods firstfruits, but it will require every bit of determination we can bring to the program.
There absolutely is no place for self-pity in someone who is determined to be a victorious saint. We must leave self-pity behind along with all the other characteristics of the adamic nature.
It seems to me when someones eighty-five year old mother dies, and he or she goes on and on in inconsolable grief, it is more self-pity than anything else. Are we weeping because our mother is in a better place? What kind of sense does that make? If we are mourning because we believe she was not saved, maybe we should have prayed more before she died.
The Apostle Paul said he wished we would not grieve about the death of a saint as people do who have no hope.
If we are to be eligible and prepared for revival we must be free from the maudlin prison of self-pity.
Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; For like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. (Psalms 37:1,2)
Satan may not be able to seduce us into the practice of the moral abominations of the days in which we are living. But he is able to tear us down from our high place in God by encouraging us to fret about the evil behavior we see on every side.
It is difficult to observe the perversity of the judgments that are made and the actions taken, without fretting about the wicked, unjust, foolish things that are done. But we absolutely must set our mind on things above, on that which is pure, lovely, and of good report.
We know that God is all powerful and able to do as He will in the world. Therefore when we fret about what is taking place we are rebelling against God. God knows what He is doing, and He is working toward a desired result. All events in the universe are moving toward Gods objectives.
Let us have faith in God and refuse to fret ourselves because of those who do evil. They soon shall be cut off.
We dishonor God when we fret. In this manner we cut ourselves off from revival.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8;13)
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 7:1)
I am persuaded that we have come to a major step forward in the program of redemption. Prior to the present hour we have assumed our sins were taken care of on the cross. Our judgment was completed there, and we have no need to fear the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Our minds were not clear enough to realize that the Kingdom of God does not consist of people who merely are forgiven. We must also be set free from the bondages of sin if we are to have fellowship with Christ and God.
So ours appears to be a new day. Instead of our counting that our sins are covered and God does not see them, the Holy Spirit is urging us to confess our sins specifically and through His strength and wisdom, turn away from them.
Paul calls this "putting to death the deeds of the sinful nature."
It is important to realize that all such warfare against our sinful nature must be conducted through the Holy Spirit. We are not to charge about in our own frantic desire to be delivered. Rather we pray and look to the Spirit to lead us in battle against the actions of our old nature.
It may be compared to Joshua leading the Israelites into the conquest of Canaan. The army of Jews did not just decide for themselves they would attack this city or that city, or what tactics they should use. Rather they were led by the Spirit of God. Actually more of the enemy were killed by the Lord than by the Israelites.
So it is with us. If we are to be delivered from our sinful nature we have to follow the Holy Spirit. He enables us to take the life out of our lusts and passions so we can maintain the upper hand over them.
We are to be diligent in cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. We are to put off the old man with his malice and envy, and put on the new man who is of the Nature of Jesus Christ.
We are to crucify the sinful nature with its passions and desires, not leaving the smallest demon unjudged. We are to awake to righteousness and cease our sinning.
Ours is not a day to stop at the work of forgiveness but to proceed to the destruction of all the works of the devil in us; all the behavior of our sinful nature.
I dont think God will wait until we are perfect before He sends revival power upon us, but I feel certain He will not come to a church where the people are ignoring the command of Paul that we cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit and are continuing in the lusts of the flesh that are prevalent in America.
We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. (Acts 5:32)
One thing that God honors is obedience. We will get nowhere praying for more of the Holy Spirit if we are not obeying the Lord.
Obedience is better than sacrifice, the Bible informs us.
I truly believe we are coming to a better way of serving the Lord. It used to be that people received gifts of the Spirit, and they could stir them up as they pleased. We are accustomed to man using the ministries and gifts of the Spirit according to his own understanding.
However the Lord Jesus had something better working in His life. He did nothing and said nothing except as the Father directed. Christ waited until He knew what the Father was doing. Then Christ did the same thing.
You know, this is much better than having a gift and using it according to your own notion of how the Kingdom of God should be built. It is more restful also.
I am getting in the habit of watching the Lord and going to Him for everything. I think God has given me an understanding of His Word. I have been a teacher in the secular realm and I know how to prepare subject matter and teach it in a systematic manner.
But this is not how my gift operates. Rather I wait until the Lord gives me a burden, you might say. Then I speak from the burden. This, of course, implies strict obedience as to timing, subject matter, and organization of presentation.
I have tried to prepare material and teach it in a systematic manner. It doesnt work. It is as dead as last years Thanksgiving turkey. So I helplessly wait on the Lord, just as I am doing now, and do what I feel He is directing me to do.
So far I have been limited to words. I hope some day while I am watching the Lord He will direct me to work a miracle of some kind. What an adventure this is!
If He does, I have learned by now to ignore other pressures. If God has me do one miracle, then that is it. I am not going to lift a hand to try to repeat it unless God says so. And this in spite of any outside pressure to do so.
I know this is the way Jesus was. He did only what the Father directed Him to do. I believe the Lord wants us in the last days to be just like this. No matter what gift He gives us, I think He wants us to follow Him strictly. If He says act, we act. If He does not direct us to act or speak, then we refrain from doing so.
This may sound easy, but it is not always so. What if God gave you the ability to multiply food but warned you to only do so as He directed. Could you hold back, knowing there were starving people you could feed.
Maybe you believe God would not give you a gift and limit your use of it. Didnt Jesus move among a multitude of people who were waiting for the troubling of the water, and healed only one invalid from that group? Why? Because that was what He saw His Father do.
It appears to me we have a major problem in our day in religious circles. We have forgotten we are not supposed to put our hand on the Ark. We are acting too much like man is in control. This always has been the failing of religious institutions. In fact, this is what Babylon the Great is. It is man-directed religion.
I dont know how many believers in our day will be willing to serve the Lord on His terms. But as for me, I refuse to go along with the idea that we are supposed to be taking what is in the Bible and running with it. I want to follow Jesus, not my own ideas.
I am hoping that the next revival will emphasize the need to wait on Christ and do only what we see Him doing. I am tired to death of manmade programs!
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
Some form of the word "rejoice" appears several times in the Book of Philippians. This is remarkable in that Paul was in prison at the time.
We are going to have to endure some stretching in these days if we are to keep up with the Lord. Part of the stretching will be that of having to confess our sins and turn away from them, instead of just believing we are "saved by grace."
Another part of the stretching will have to do with carrying our cross after Jesus each day; and with remaining in the prison where we have been placed.
God does not want us to become weary and bitter when our life no longer is safe, comfortable, and pleasant. He wants us to be rejoicing in the Lord.
One time the Law of Moses was being read to the assembled Israelites. When they heard what God had commanded, and realized how far they were from His will, they began to weep.
Then Nehemiah said, "This day is sacred. Do not grieve. The joy of the Lord is your strength."
We need to think about this. When we realize we have not been in Gods will and must repent, this is not a time for mourning. It is a sacred, holy time. It is Gods goodness to us. Our proper response is to rejoice and praise the Lord. This pleases God very much. He loves people who rejoice while they are practicing righteousness.
How often the Christian religion is presented as some unpleasant duty we must perform while the wonderful world of entertainment and adventure beckons. What an abomination this attitude is to the Lord! It is He who has all the wonders, not Satan. Satans world of entertainment is sordid and destructive. The ways of the Lord bring peace and joy.
God wants us to act as though He is good and is bringing us to certain joy. If we remain faithful He assuredly will do so.
But if we whine and complain about how hard it is to serve God, He might just let us have our own way for awhile. If we are fortunate and come to our senses before we kill ourselves with our sinful behavior, we may finally arrive at the conclusion that only in Christ is there the joy and fulfillment for which we are looking.
Christ is the greatest of all Kings. Kings do not want sad people around them. In time past you could be killed for no other reason than showing displeasure in the presence of a king. This was why Nehemiah was so troubled when he went before the king.
The only reason we are miserable is that Christ is transforming us from an adamic soul to a life-giving spirit. The transformation is painful because we are changing from that to which we have been accustomed. When the transformation has been completed we will be beside ourselves with joy. Then we will understand how faithless and unbelieving we have been, and how faithful the Lord has been to us.
Any person can praise God when everything is pleasant, and it is good to do so. But when we praise God in the midst of frightening, distressing circumstances, then God is pleased. Such behavior reveals a deep trust in God.
Indeed, the joy of the Lord is our strength. So let us make every effort to rejoice no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, knowing that our fiery trials are breaking the bondages of our sinful nature and thus are bringing us to righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
It is certain that revival will not come to gloomy, dejected people who wish they did not have to go to church.
And he sent a man before themJoseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, Till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the LORD proved him true. (Psalms 105:17-19
Where Josephs faith came from I do not know. He was thrown into a pit; then sold to a Midianite caravan as a slave; then accused falsely by Potiphars wife; then confined to prison. But in all of this he prospered.
The life of Joseph shows us that righteous people whom the Lord has chosen to rule suffer many tribulations. Nevertheless God always is with them. When their time comes they are released from prison and brought to great glory.
Joseph spent time in prison but he never became a prisoner. By this I mean he did not adopt a prisoner mentality, losing hope, grinding his teeth in bitterness over being treated unjustly, weeping with self-pity. When his release came he was prepared to be exalted to a high position.
It was God who permitted these afflictions to come upon him, as Joseph himself testified. He was brought to Egypt so that in due time he would be a deliverer for his family, and for other peoples of the world for that matter.
How about you? Are you remaining faithful to the Lord in your prison? If so, the events occurring in the world are working to change you into the image of Christ so you may be His brother.
The Word of the Lord was governing Josephs circumstances, and Joseph suffered until God was satisfied he was prepared to act as a deliverer when the time of trouble came.
Revival will come to those who faithfully, patiently suffer under Gods hand. They shall receive the promise.
He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the starsif indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:5,6)
Abraham was seventy-five years of age when God spoke to him about the child who would be born. It is likely that not having a child during the preceding years of his marriage had been a source of continual grief to Abraham and Sarah.
Yet, Abraham did not lose faith in God. He was distressed, it is true. He was concerned that he had no one to carry on his name and inherit the wealth he had gained. But he did not give up hope.
The moment God gave him a fantastic promise, Abraham responded with faith and joy.
There may be people who patiently serve God throughout their time of chastening, but then when God is ready to give them something wonderful they do not have faith to receive it. We have to be careful of this attitude if God has dealt severely with us for many years.
It reminds us of Moses in the wilderness. Instead of rejoicing that God was going to help the Israelites, Moses said, "Use somebody else. I am not a good speaker. I am not the man you want. Leave me here with my sheep."
When God told Abraham, he was about to have a child, Sarah laughed in unbelief.
It can happen to us. Like Sholom Aleichems beggar, when offered the wealth of Heaven, he asked only for a hot roll with butter on it. Life beats us down until we cant see the rainbow. The golden sunset does not speak to us of a better life to come. We have lost hope. When God wants to lift us up and answer the prayers of a lifetime, we do not have faith to receive good from His hand.
We can be sure that revival will never come to those who have allowed their troubles to destroy their hope of a better world.
Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. (Joel 2:23,24)
After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth. (Hosea 6:2,3)
Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men, and plants of the field to everyone. The idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd. (Zechariah 10:1,2)
Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lords coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. (James 5:7)
The rain cycle of the land of Israel consists of a planting rain in the fall (former rain), sporadic winter rains, and then a heavy rain at the time of harvest (the latter or spring rain).
There was a planting rain as described in the Book of Acts. There have been sporadic showers of blessing throughout the Church Age. We now are approaching the time of the spring rain. It is my personal point of view that the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation symbolize the heavy rain predicted to come at the close of the Church Era.
Whether we still are in the time of the sporadic winter rains, or are entering the period of the spring, harvest rain, I am not certain. I lean toward believing we are in the harvest rain period because of the way in which the Scriptures are being opened to our understanding.
Zechariah invites us to "ask the Lord for rain in the springtime." In other words, there are times when we are to pray for revival. We can find out about our present hour by going to the Lord.
The comment that follows the promise of rain is interesting, and very significant I believe: "The idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd."
This exactly is what we see today. Gods ministers and people are in confusion. They do not know what God plans to do after the Pentecostal experience. We have had some really weird doctrines, like the "faith" and "prosperity" excesses. Perhaps the major error of our time is the unscriptural "pre-tribulation rapture" myth.
Why have these errors crept into the thinking of Gods people? It is because we are not praying for rain in the time of the spring rain. We are trying to figure out what might be a profitable action to take instead of waiting until we hear what Jesus is saying.
This is why "the idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain." This is why "the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd." It is because we are not going to the Lord to obtain the rain of the Spirit He wants to send.
Hopefully we have had enough of the unscriptural faith, prosperity, and rapture delusions. They have not brought righteousness, peace, and joy to us. They have led us away into unfruitful attitudes and actions, in some cases into metaphysical practices that actually are sorcery and need to be repented of. They have left us unprepared for the terrible wrath and destruction of the great and terrible Day of the Lord.
Our idols, including money and sexual lust, have spoken deceit to us. Our prophets see visions that lie, telling us Christians are supposed to be wealthy. Their dreams are false. They are whitewashing the warnings of the Prophets and Apostles and the wall is ready to crumble. We cannot perceive the warnings of the Bible because of our love the world, the passions of our flesh and soul, and our self-will and self-aggrandizement.
The greatest of all revivals, that of the two witnesses, includes works of destruction. The purpose of these is to show the Christians and the people of the world the true Nature of God and the true nature of the Day of the Lord. We in America view the Day of the Lord as a happy period when we all will have a good time. The truth is, it will be a day of darkness. The righteous will be saved with difficulty.
It is time to blow the trumpet in Zion. The hypocrites in the churches will be terrified. The heavens and the earth will be shaken until every trace of rebellion has been removed. Only that which is part of Christ will endure the great and terrible Day of the Lord.
This is what the Bible states is true of our day. When we are praying for revival we need to be prepared to have the Lord search out everything in our personality and behavior that is not of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Revival, yes. But revival on Gods terms. In our day that means the beginning of the removal of sin from the creation, beginning with the household of God.
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)
The above verse has been with me since Bible school days. At that time I checked on the Greek to make certain it actually meant greater works and not more numerous works.
The Lord Jesus was not trying to frustrate us. Rather He was announcing that which will be true before He returns.
We have seen, during the Church Age, many of the same works as Jesus dideven during the twentieth century. For example, consider the ministry of Alexander Dowie before he began to believe he was Elijah. But we have not as yet seen the greater works.
I think John 14:12 is a prophecy of that which will transpire during the period of revival we are entering now.
The explanation behind the greater works is that the Lord Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. He was somewhat constrained while on the earth in a physical body. But now there are no constraints upon Him through whom the Father created the universe.
One of the recent hypotheses of scientists is that "universes are sprouting from one another in an endless geometric progression." The idea is that "what we can see of the universe is only a tiny patch of space30 billion light-years acrosson a "bubble" trillions of light-years across or more." This inconceivable array of mass and energy is continually expanding, they believe.
There is no way in which we can comprehend a universe of this magnitude.
The Lord Jesus, when He came forth from the Father as the Word, saw what the Father was doing and did the samejust as He did when here on the earth. The Father worked and He worked. The result was our expanding universe.
Perhaps this vision gives us faith to believe that those who believe in Christ will perform greater works. If Christ can speak into existence our incomprehensible universe, is He not able to work through us and perform miracles of which we have not as yet dreamed?
This is the best part of allthat we dont have to have some unusual gift. All we are obliged to do is to watch Jesus carefully, just as He always watches the Father carefully. When the Lord tells us to do something, we are to do exactly that diligently and accurately. It is a continual adventureand so restful! We dont have to be any kind of outstanding man or woman of God. Just obey the Lord, whether the result is our ordinary pattern of living or spectacular works of Divine power.
The Lord has unlimited access to the power that brought forth the expanding universe. When the Father shows Him something, as, for example, the Father showed Him the Book of Revelation, then Jesus shows it to us, just as He showed the Revelation to the Apostle John.
We just do what He shows to us; and He will show to us what the Father shows to Him.
I dont think people with this attitude of looking always to Jesus and obeying Him implicitly will be denied when they pray for a mighty outpouring of the Spirit of God. Do you?
For God did not give to us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (II Timothy 1:7)
I have known of people who were afraid to pray for the baptism with the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues. They must have been afraid that God would let some evil spirit come upon them; or maybe they just were afraid of the supernatural realm.
It is true also that people are afraid to move into the life of victory in Christ. I dont know whether they are afraid of Satan, or of what other people will think, or whether they are afraid of failing. They just are fearful. So they crouch in their little hut of condemnation, huddled in their threadbare spiritual garments, believing they are not really pleasing God but hoping He will have mercy upon them and bring them to Heaven anyway.
This is no way for a saint to live!
God is full of courage and faith. This is His nature. He does not want sons and daughters who draw back in fear. Actually, fear is a form of unbelief, and it leads to disobedience. Faith and fear cannot dwell in our heart at the same time.
The Book of Hebrews speaks of drawing back to destruction, compared with pressing forward to the salvation of our soul.
God spoke several times to Joshua about his need for courage. Moses was dead and Joshua was not accustomed to being the one to whom everyone was looking to lead them to victory. "Be strong and of a good courage, Joshua. I will be with you just as I was with Moses."
Then it was up to Joshua. He had to pull up his diapers and carry on, as we say.
God wants us to straighten up and march forward. God takes delight in courage. When we joyfully press forward God is pleased, for we are showing by our attitude and actions that we have confidence in His promises.
We do not know what a tremendous outpouring of Gods Spirit will mean to us personally. Will it bring us into strange situations? Will we be forced out of our familiar way of life and brought into strange situations? Will it bring persecution on us? Will we be scorned? Will some of us be thrown into jail because we have spoken out against the sin in our nation?
We do not know. We know, however, that if we look to God and obey Him carefully, not a hair of our head will perish. Whether by our life or by our death, Christ will be magnified; and the day will arrive when we stand before Him confidently, knowing we will hear "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord."
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sistersyes, even his own lifehe cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26,27)
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
A while back, positive thinking and preaching was all the rage. We were advised that if we thought only positive things, and spoke only positive things, then we would get whatever we desire.
I went to the Lord about this issue of positive preaching.
The Lord said: "Whoever preaches only positive things is seeking his own glory. Whoever preaches only negative things is emotionally ill." Then He guided my thoughts back into the Old Testament and showed me there always was the good and the bad; there always was Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal.
We American have been led off course by the accent on the goodness of God and the positive aspect of the "precious promises." Where is the preacher who will preach these, but also the terror of the Consuming Fire and the negative aspect of the wrathful warnings?
We Americans are not prepared for what is coming. I wonder how the preachers of the "rapture" will respond when their followers are faced with the horrors of the future? I wonder if their fleshly listeners will turn on them because they were promised a safe life on earth and then a joyous trip to Heaven. Now they are afraid for their very lives and the lives of their children.
Suffering is an important feature of the Divine redemption. Throughout the ages the saints have suffered in every imaginable manner. The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, if we will read it carefully, gives to us a true picture of the life of faith.
The sufferings we experience, the personal cross we carry, the prisons in which we are placed, are carefully designed and administered in the hope that we will be saved from sin and self-will. They do us good. Also, they keep us from trying to live in our own strength; we are forced to lean on Jesus in order to survive.
He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. He who has suffered in the flesh has learned to lean on Jesus. He who has suffered in the flesh has learned patience and is worthy of the Kingdom of God.
If we suffer we will govern with Him. The sufferings we experience are not to be compared with the Divine Glory that shall be revealed in and to us.
The only way we can escape suffering is by sacrificing our integrity. To escape from the prison in which God has permitted us to be confined is to break Gods laws. If we are to be happy at all times we must betray those who are trusting in us.
This world has been cursed from the time of Adams disobedience. When we try to turn this world into Paradise we have to turn away from Christ and our conscience and betray all that is of truth and righteousness.
Revival will not come to those who refuse to bear their cross after Jesus. They are not worthy of the Kingdom of God.
It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: (Acts 15:28)
I have presented several elements of the Christian discipleship as a prelude to revival. But we cannot just charge out and do them and then demand revival. We have to walk with Christ. We have to listen to the Holy Spirit and cooperate with Him at all times.
To those who are not accustomed to listening to the Holy Spirit, let me explain that it is both easy and difficult. It is easy if we are willing to take the time each day to quiet our spirit and listen for the guidance of the Spirit. It is difficult in that Satan is able to mimic the Holy Spirit and we have to be careful that we are not deceived.
When we think the Spirit is guiding us we must watch for the fruit of the guidance we are getting. If it brings peace to our heart; if it obviously is in line with the Scriptures; if our environment and the things that happen correspond with what we are hearing, then it probably is the Spirit of God.
At one point in the Book of Jeremiah, the prophet said that after a number of days what he had been told came to pass. Jeremiah said, "Then I knew it was the Lord." He knew it was the Lord when what he was told actually took place.
Novices sometimes think they have heard from the Lord. They tell other people what they think the Lord has told them. Then when it doesnt come to pass, instead of saying "I must have been mistaken," they will blame other people for not having faith, or say "it isnt time yet," or give some other excuse.
If what you have been told does not come to pass, then go back to the Lord and ask Him to keep you from being deceived.
If what you are hearing does not give you peace and rest; seems to be against the Scripture; and goes against what you see taking place in your circumstances; it probably isnt the Lord.
When you have been deceived, say so. Dont make excuses. Having learned your lesson, go back to the Lord and ask Him to prevent your hearing anything that is not from the Throne of God.
Learning to be led by the Spirit of God is an art. It is best to go about prayerfully and quietly until you notice that your circumstances are lining up with what you are hearing in the Spirit.
As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. It is the Bibles role to help us judge the spirits. It is the Holy Spirits role to help us understand the Bible and to know how to behave each day.
The new covenant is of the Spirit of God, not of the letter of the New Testament. The New Testament can be understood and applied only by the Holy Spirit. Those who are learning to live by the Spirit of God have the righteousness of the Law of Moses ascribed to them. They are under the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
In order to obtain the full power of revival we must be hearing from the Spirit so we can know how He is directing us, and gain a sense of His timing.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:13,14)
Whenever we pray in the name of Jesus, Heaven comes to attention. The massive engines of God begin to turn. God looks down and evaluates our prayer, judges our motives, assesses how best to bring about His will through our prayer.
There may be any number of events that must take place first, if the Kingdom is to be built in the proper manner. Or, we may receive the answer immediately.
But of one thing we can be certain: when the Lord Jesus states He will do whatever we ask in His name, then this precisely is what will take place.
I believe we have come to a major move forward in the program of redemption. I use the seven feasts of the Lord as pegs to hang my thoughts on. I think the seven feasts are one of the four great types that portray Gods program for destroying all the works of Satan and restoring to mankind all that was lost in Edenand adding inconceivably more of splendor and joy.
The previous century, the twentieth, undoubtedly was the Pentecostal century. Since Pentecost is the fourth of seven feasts, we can expect the fulfillment of the final three feasts to take place prior to the return of the Lord Jesus and the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The final three feasts are the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles. These have to do with war against Gods enemies, with the reconciling of mankind to God, and with the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell forever in the saints.
Up to the present hour we have been forgiven our sins, we have been born again, and we have received Gods Holy Spirit. These all are preparatory, the blood of Christ providing the authority and the Spirit providing the wisdom and power.
Preparatory, I say, but preparatory for what? Preparatory for the establishing of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints governing the creation of God.
We have been forgiven. The Spirit of God is in us. Now we must be brought into the moral image of Christ, and into untroubled union with God through Christ, so that God may dwell in us and govern the works of His hands in a satisfactory manner.
There are ranks in the Kingdom. Jesus is supreme. After Him will come the victorious saints. After the victorious saints will come the remainder of Gods elect. After the remainder of Gods elect will come the saved peoples drawn from the nations of the world.
The fact that David had an army, and drawn from the army were thirty mighty men, and drawn from the thirty mighty men were three outstanding warriors, is a portrayal of the Kingdom.
There were three with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. Then there were the Twelve. Then there were the seventy. Then there were the remainder of the believers.
By these illustrations the Lord reveals to us that there will be ranks in the Kingdom. There will be concentric circles emanating from God as the Center, with the circles nearest God being the holiest.
There are the greatest, and there are the least, in the Kingdom.
There is an assigned place for each member of Gods elect. This place was established from the beginning of the world. The task of the member of the elect is to lay hold on that for which he or she has been grasped.
We are not to come short of our personal mark. We are not to be seized with ambition and attempt to press past that realm in which the Spirit is guiding us.
Those who have been appointed to high rank in the Kingdom will be tested severely until God is assured of their obedience to Himself.
The issue of the Kingdom is the doing of Gods will. This is the reversal of the rebellion of the angels.
Can a person who appears to be of low rank and possessing few talents aspire to a higher place? Absolutely. God is looking for diligence. If we use well what we have been given we may be assigned much more. The vessel of dishonor may purge himself that he or she may be a vessel of honor. The individual from the poorest of spiritual backgrounds may prove his love for God by doing with all his might what has been assigned to him.
Whosoever will may come, and "whosoever" surely means you.
So let no one say God is hindering him or her. God always can use one more faithful servant who will love God and serve Him faithfully. Sometimes the children of the Kingdom are cast out because of their faithlessness. Then the persons on the outside can take their place if they are prepared.
"To the victors belong the spoils." He shall divide the spoil with the strong." But those who choose to go for Gods best, in these days, must be prepared to turn over their life to Christ completely and unconditionally.
The thrones that govern the world shall be vacated when Satan and his angels are cast from Heaven. Are you prepared should the Lord suddenly call you to rule over Egypt as He did Joseph?