Where Revival Begins

Ezra 10:7
“And they issued a proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the descendants of the captivity, that they must gather at Jerusalem”

Imagine a scene where the leaders of the nation call its citizens to gather at the capital with the purpose of repenting from evil and seeking the Lord. Imagine the National mall filled, not with people outraged because they feel somehow neglected or mistreated by the government but because they have realized they are guilty before God and are there to plead with Him for forgiveness. Imagine what a powerful impact a revival of that magnitude would have upon the very fabric of society. That is exactly what happened in Ezra’s day. The people realized they had turned from God and were ready to make whatever changes necessary in their lives and families to restore right relationship with God.

What strikes me about this is how it started. We read that Ezra saw the condition of the nation, fell on his face, fasted, prayed, confessed his sin and sought the Lord to bring revival to the land. He prayed, “give us a measure of revival in our bondage.” All that followed stemmed from one man crying out to God and making the necessary changes in his own life. Before a family, nation, society or culture can experience revival it must begin in the heart of an individual. It has been said if we want to see revival we need to draw a circle on the ground, step into the circle and pray for God to revive the heart of the person within the circle. When that heart is revived and that person’s life begins to honor God we are well on our way to seeing revival break out across our land.

One man wrapped in the garments of sorrow over personal sin, crying out God for forgiveness can spark a work of God that will transform the face of a nation

Jim

 

Pray For Our Leaders 

Exodus 22:28
“You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.”

The purpose of Israel’s time at Mount Sinai was to develop as a nation upon the foundation stone of the Word of God. Moses went up the mountain alone, and came down the mountain with clear and detailed instructions from heaven regarding how the people should live. These instructions are referred to simply as “the Law” and can be divided into three groups. The Moral Law is a list of unchanging standards God set upon mankind. The Religious Law was designed to instruct the people regarding relationship with God.  The Civil Law was created to keep order. Since God was forming this traveling band into a nation, it would be necessary to also establish leadership, and because of the nature of men, it would not be long before the people would begin to complain about those who are in charge. Knowing this was coming, God declares,

Exodus 22:28 “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.”

Simply put, God made it illegal for the people to curse their rulers. This is not because the rulers would always prove to be faultless, nor did it mean they were above the law, or their actions could not be questioned. In fact, God always puts a higher standard on rulers, than he does on the rest of the people. What this law was designed to do was point out the folly of sitting around complaining about those who are in charge.

Instead of grousing about our leaders, the laws, or the direction the nation is heading, the Bible gives us a far more productive way to handle poor leadership, and a declining culture. God instructs us to pray for our leadership, and to infiltrate culture with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I wonder what would happen, if we took half the time we spent complaining about the condition of our nation, and invested that time in prayer and seeking effective ways to bring the Gospel message to others.

Pastor Jim

In The Gap

Amos 7:5-6
“Then I said: ‘O Lord God, cease, I pray! Oh, that Jacob may stand, For he is small!’ So the Lord relented concerning this. ‘This also shall not be,’ said the Lord God.” 

Amos, the shepherd-prophet, saw two consecutive visions that revealed the impending disaster looming over the nation. The first was a swarm of locust that would come just prior to harvest time. History records massive swarms of locusts in and around Israel, that had devastating affects upon the land, the people and the economy. One such incident describes a swarm so great, it devoured every crop in he field,  took the bark off the trees, and even the thatch off the roof of many homes. The only thing that stopped this deadly swarm, was when they finally reached the Sea. So many locust died in the waters that a plague broke out and thousands of people died. The second vision was that of a fire that would consume the land. If these visions were fulfilled consecutively, the devastation would be catastrophic.

What happens next is amazing. Amos declares, these visions did not come to pass. This was not because they were idle threats, nor was it because God does not keep His promises. These disasters were averted because of the intercession of one man, who once cared for sheep and now cared for the nation. This one man who stood in the gap and prayed on behalf of the entire nation, rescued the people from disaster.

This is quite convicting to me, partly because I tend to associate the work of God with a multitude of people. If we called a prayer meeting and five thousand people showed up, we might expect God to do something great. We might even anticipate the moral tide of the country to begin to change. However, when we sit alone in our devotion chair, and intercede on behalf of others, we rarely do so with great expectation. Keep in mind,  a lowly shepherd from Tekoa stood in the gap, prayed for his nation, and the judgment of God was averted.
What, or perhaps, who will you stand in the gap for today?

Pastor Jim

 

When Righteousness Dies

Isaiah 57:1
“The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart…”

Isaiah watched as righteousness ceased in the land. Those who lived their lives according to the standards of the Bible were looked down upon and even persecuted. Rightoeusness was seen as a plague, and the righteous were treated with contempt.

In many ways, we are facing the same attitude today. Unrighteous behaviors are being passed off as lifestyle choices. Anyone who dares to speak out against sin is called intolerant, while those who turn a blind eye to sin, or worse yet, applaud the choices of wickedness, are seen as openminded, loving, and progressive. We are failing to see that God has given man a standard to live by, and there are consequences for violating His ways.

One of Isaiah’s primary messages was unrighteousness weakens the nation. It mattered little to the prophet, the size of Israel’s military, or their economic condition. To him, the greatest danger was turning from the Word of God. We are constantly being reminded of the economic, social, and international troubles our nation has. At the moment, we are facing threat of war, threat of disease, and a continual economic crisis. The fact is, our nation is more than broke, we are in debt so deep it may be impossible to ever get out of it.

Instead of waiting for Washington, it is time for the individual Christian to take steps away from sin and toward the Lord. When we, as believers, choose to set aside sin, pride, prejudice or compromise, that action has a dramatic effect on those around us. Perhaps it is time to examine yourself and see if there are things that need to be set aside in your life. We may never know the impact a decision to stop smoking, drinking, or compromising will have on those around us.

Pastor Jim

 

One Nation Under God

Isaiah 22:12-13
“And in that day the Lord God of hosts called for weeping and for mourning, for baldness and for girding with sackcloth. But instead, joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating meat and drinking wine: ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!’”

Isaiah lived during interesting times. The northern nation of Israel was about to fall prey to Assyrian forces, while the southern nation of Judah was facing the threat of annihilation. Instead of turning from immorality and seeking God, the people were determined to continue in their wickedness. A great campaign was underway to fortify the cities to withstand enemy forces. They built reservoirs to hold water, stored up grain supplies, and made pacts with other nations in order to withstand the onslaught of the enemy. In all their efforts to prepare for battle, they forgot the most important step, they failed to turn to the Lord.

It seems whenever our leaders speak, they refer to the difficult times we are facing as a people, and a nation. Most of us experience first hand the financial crisis; we also hear of the constant threat of terrorist attacks, and how an inappropriate response may insight a global conflict. Immorality seems to be at an all time high, creating moral confusion, which has led to increased social chaos. It seems to me, great efforts are being taken to protect us against these things. Anyone who has traveled in the last 14 years, has experienced the heightened security in airports. We have seen metal detectors installed in schools, and increased security in almost every public gathering place. Committees have been formed, laws written, and policies implemented, all in an attempt to ward off the dangers of modern society. With all that is being done, we are failing to take the most important step, that is, turning back to the Lord.

It is time to realize, the answer to our present condition is spiritual. Hezekiah, King of Judah, led the nation on a campaign to turn to the Lord. The result was, while every nation around them fell to Assyria, Judah was spared.

Our present condition calls for “weeping, mourning, and sackcloth.”  These are figurative ways to show repentance.

Pastor Jim

 

Our Nation

2 Chronicles 7:14
“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.”

The bible clearly teaches God is just, and will one day judge each nation for its wickedness. The farther a nation strays from the ways of God, the weaker it becomes, and the closer it gets to its final hour. This was true of Israel, Judah, and the surrounding nations; and remains true today. One cannot read the pages of God’s Word and not conclude, there will come a time for judgment for those who turn their back on God. That being said, it is also true, God does not take pleasure in judgment, but delights in extending mercy. It is His desire to pardon and restore. To that end, a promise is given to Solomon which remains true today. This promise is directed at the child of God, for the purpose of forgiveness and restoration.

Notice this promise is conditional, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, . . .” The present condition of our nation is calling us, not to rise in judgment of those who are following the course of the world, but to fall on our knees in intercessory prayer. A church full of men and women who will bow before the Lord, and cry out for the salvation of souls, will have a tremendous impact upon the world, no matter how dark it has become.

We are also called to turn from our own sin and seek the Lord. I once read a book on the history of revival. The purpose was not only to remind the reader of what God did in the past, but to stir up a future work of God on earth. The author wrote, if we want to see a revival begin in our community, then spread to impact our nation, we should start by drawing a circle on the ground, kneeling within the circle, and praying for God to begin the revival there. Too many Christians are outraged by the sins around them, without giving any conscious thought to the sins within them.

God wants to forgive and restore, but He wants to do it through the lives of those who have chosen to follow Him. Will you rise to the challenge by falling on your knees? Are you willing to remove sin from your own life, and seek God to work in the lives of others? Our nation is on the edge of a cliff; it is time for the children of God to take Him seriously and seek His face.

Pastor Jim

 

A Great Nation

Deuteronomy 26:5
“And you shall answer and say before the Lord your God: “My father was a Syrian, about to perish, and he went down to Egypt and dwelt there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous.’

The story of Abraham is the story of God, that has been rewritten in the lives of countless thousands over the years. Abraham was an unknown shepherd living in ancient Babylon when he heard the call of God. He was to separate from the world he lived in, and commit himself to following the Lord. As he, daily, walked by faith, and took simple steps of obedience to God, his life, and our world, were forever changed. Fast forward to the time of Moses, and this simple shepherd has become the Father of many nations. Fast forward to the time of Joshua, and his people have been given a land flowing with milk and honey. Fast forward, once again, to the time of Christ, and he has become a blessing to the entire world, because the promised  Messiah has come. 

As you live in the obscurity of what your life might be, wondering how God could ever use you to accomplish anything for the Kingdom of Heaven, keep in mind, that the pattern of God is always the same. Whether it is Gideon, threshing wheat, David tending sheep, Peter, James and John, mending nets or you, going about the activities of your daily life, God will always use the simple obedience of men and women of obscurity to transform the world. No one would have ever heard of any of the heroes of Scripture had they not responded in faith and obedience, and done the tasks that were set before them.

Whatever God is calling you to do, no matter how insignificant it may seem, do it! Time alone will tell how greatly the world will be impacted.

Pastor Jim