Revival

Knowing God….Whole-heartedly

snow heart pink mittensIf God were to look at your heart and take only the portion that you have given to Him, how much would he take? Would you hand over 25% of your heart and say, “That’s enough God.” What about 50%? 75? Maybe 99.9%?

When the prophet Jeremiah wrote, “I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart,” the Israelites had sold out to idols. When we don’t give God our whole hearts, then we allow other things or people to creep in and we give them a higher place in our lives than God, making them our idol. But God wants our whole heart…not just a part of it. As such, we gives us a heart that seeks to know Him…not with a head-knowledge, but with a heart-knowledge.

Think for a moment to when you were dating the person to whom you are married. When the question of marriage was asked and she said yes it’s because you thought you knew each other and were in love. However, it doesn’t take too long of being married to know you still have lots to learn about each other. Marriage should then be a lifetime of learning heart-knowledge of the person you are married to. How do you gain that kind of knowledge? By spending time with that person, by studying them, by having meaningful conversations with them, by learning their expectations, by understanding what’s important to them.

Likewise, having a heart-knowledge of God requires the same. God wants us to have that kind of knowledge about Him so much that He gives us a heart that is always seeking Him. We often try to fill that place in our lives up with other things, such as relationships with other people, alcohol, drugs, pornography, hobbies, etc. when what are heart really longs for is a closely knit, intimate relationship with God. He wants us to know Him as a God that is gracious and merciful, a God that is slow to anger, a God that is eager to pardon our sins, a God abundant in goodness, a God that is the everlasting I Am and the unchangeable Jehovah. He is a God that keeps his promises. He is a God that is faithful, true, and wise. There is absolutely nothing that is impossible for Him to do, but He does all things for our good and through His omniscience. He is a God of everlasting and unconditional love. He comforts us, guides us, protects us.

Can you add to the list? In what intimate,personal ways have you experienced God in your life?

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Revival

Fixing a Broken Relationship with God

Acts 3 19Are you hurting and broken within? Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin? Jesus is calling. Have you come to the end of yourself? Do you thirst for a drink from the well? Jesus is calling. Leave behind your regrets and mistakes. Come today, there’s no reason to wait. Jesus is calling. Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy. From the ashes a new life is born. Jesus is calling.Are you hurting and broken withinYou know that feeling you get when you’ve mess up and hope someone doesn’t find out…your parents, a spouse, an employer, coworker, pastor, friend? What does it do to your relationship with that person? As long as we don’t fess up, there’s an uncomfortableness in the relationship. You might try to avoid that person or if they find out, you might not be able to face them. The “funny thing” is we usually don’t want to tell because we’re worried about breaking the relationship. Depending on the offense, confessing what we did could very well break the relationship…sometimes beyond repair without the healing and grace that only God can bring. Thankfully, confessing our wrongs to God comes with a guarantee of forgiveness and refreshment.

When we sin and don’t confess that sin, our relationship with God broken, just as it is with other people. However, unlike with people, the Bible tells us that “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). In Acts 3:19, Paul wrote, “Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Here’s another “funny thing” ….we hold on to our sin and try to hide it from God, but there is nothing we can hide from Him…so why not repent and confess it especially when we are guaranteed “times of refreshing” will follow? King David knew what it meant to mess up. This is a man that committed adultery. He then tried to cover it up when she became pregnant. When that didn’t work, he had her husband sent to the front line of battle…a sure way to have a man killed without looking guilty, but God knew David’s heart. Even though David messed up big time, the Bible calls David “a man after God’s own heart.” Why? Because even though He sinned, He was also, humble, reverent, respectful. He trusted God and loved Him whole-heartedly. He was devoted, faithful and obedient. And when He messed up, he was repentant. In Psalm 51.1-2, we see his cry to God:

Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your loving-kindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin

It is the Holy Spirit’s job to prick our hearts, letting us know we’ve messed up. Our sin may have caused a rift in our relationship with God, but His love for us is unconditional and there is no sin so great that he cannot forgive. Once the Holy Spirit draws our attention to sin in our lives, we then have the choice the be stubborn and hold on to the sin thinking that it gives us pleasure while living a miserable life or we can fall on our knees and repent and return the God that loves us with an everlasting love and experience joy and peace as He forgives us.

What sin have you been holding on to that God is waiting to forgive? The pleasure you think it brings is nothing more than a lie from Satan himself. He wants to rob you of the joy you experience in Christ and he wants to ruin your testimony so that others are not drawn to Christ through your life. Maybe David’s sins of adultery and murder are not an issue for you. How about an untruth…or partial truth? What about idolatry (giving things or people a greater importance that God)? What about the language you use? Maybe you are in a sexual relationship outside of marriage. How about the way you treat your wife, husband or kids?

Are you hurting and broken within? Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin? Jesus is calling. Have you come to the end of yourself? Do you thirst for a drink from the well? Jesus is calling. Leave behind your regrets and mistakes. Come today, there’s no reason to wait. Jesus is calling. Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy. From the ashes a new life is born. Jesus is calling.  If you are feeling like your relationship with God is not what it once was, then perhaps it’s time to come to the altar and pray as David did in Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Then take time to sit quietly before God and just Be Still. God knows your ways. Plunge in the rivers of His grace. Allow Him to reveal to you the areas that you need to confess. As He reveals them, confess them immediately and accept His forgiveness. Then the times of refreshing will come as you spend time in His presence, resting in the arms of His embrace.

Revival

Does Jesus Weep over the Earth Today?

Jesus weeps over earthAs Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, he took a path that began at the Mount of Olives, down the western slope where the people stood in crowds, waving palm branches and praising Him loudly. But as He looked down at Jerusalem, Luke 19:41 tells us, “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it.” The Hebrew word for wept is ἔκλαυσεν. This is not a silent cry with a single tear that slips down His face, but instead the word gives the meaning of weeping loudly. Even with all the suffering He would endure on the cross and leading up to the cross just a few days later, the Bible does not record Jesus expressing this kind of sorrow. But as he saw Jerusalem, he felt an intense grief…but why? Because He is God, we know that he knew the future destruction of Jerusalem. In verses 42-44, we can understand why Jesus wept over the city.

Jesus desired peace for the city. Verse 42 says, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this they day, the thing which belong unto they peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes.” His own people had rejected Him and it cost them peace. In fact, the name “Jerusalem” means, “The City of Peace.” Instead it has been attacked and plundered by the Assyrians, Bablonians, Greeks, Romans, Seljuk Turks, Crusaders, and the Ottoman Turks. In more recent years, it has been fought over by the Palestians and the Jews. Today, it is known as “the most contested piece of real estate on Earth.” Rather than being a city of peace, it is more like a city of weeping. Jesus wanted peace for Jerusalem; after all, He was a Jew. He knew it wouldn’t happen. In verse 43, he said, “For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side.” As he rode down the slope on the donkey into the city, he not only saw the city as it was, but as it would be 40 years into the future. In AD 70, the Romans brought destruction to the city along with great loss of life. The destruction was so great that all was left after Titus, the Roman General captured the city and demolished it was just a wall—what we know today as the Wailing Wall. The destruction didn’t just eliminate the city, it also eliminated the Jewish nation for close to 2000 years, scattering the people throughout the world. The people chose to not obey God and they did not seek Him. We find in John 12:43 that the chief rulers loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. But the nation’s greatest sin that brought their demise was the sin of rejecting Jesus…the long awaited Messiah. John 1:11 says, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” They refused to recognize Him as their God. The cheering crowd at the triumphal entry would, just days later, yell “crucify Him.” But even through their cheering and praise, He could see their inward motives, the sinful and selfish hearts, that chose to reject Him as their Messiah.

I believe when Jesus looks at our world today, he weeps…just as he did over Jerusalem. Like Jerusalem, we have missed our opportunity for peace because we have rejected Him. We have thrown Him out of our schools and government. We worry more about political correctness than spiritual correctness. We are so caught up in making sure no one is offended that we don’t stop to think how God is offended with what we have done to the world He created. We choose to not obey God and, as a nation, we do not seek Him. We have become a people that would prefer the praise of men more so than the praise of God. We have turned our back on Him just as His own people did. As a result, our world is a mess. One only needs to turn the news on to realize just what a cesspool of sin covers the globe. People no longer know how to identify gender. They pass laws so their sin can be ok in the eyes of man…but it will never be ok in the eyes of God. People sitting in church on a regular Sunday, are gunned down. Terrorist attacks happen all over the world. Drug usages is at an epidemic. The concept of “until death us do part” in marriage has become more like “until you do something I don’t like.” Families are falling apart. Kids end up in foster care or as a juvenile delinquent. Yes, Satan is at work and the church has for too long sat in silence. How could He not weep over our world today? He weeps for the salvation of the lost. He weeps for the Christian who is too busy to spend time with Him. He weeps for those whose priorities are misplaced. He weeps for the churches who want to “water down” the gospel or preach only the “good parts” of the Bible. He longs for the church and Christians around the globe to be revived…to return to Him as their first love.  If God would destroy Jerusalem for their rejection of Him, does America or any other county blindly think that God would not destroy it?

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14

Are you, dear Christian, willing to humble yourself and pray and seek His face and turn from your wicked way so that God will hear you, forgive your sin, and heal our land?

Revival

Peace in the Chaos

peace of God hands doveIt seems to me that each day that goes by, the world gets a little crazier and a little crazier. It really shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us since God warned us this would happen in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Paul wrote to Timothy under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power.” I think this is a pretty accurate description of our world today. Yet this isn’t the first time the world has reached this point. In the days of Noah, the world was so full of sin that God destroyed the world with a flood. For 120 years Noah built and prepared the ark as God instructed, all while the people mocked him. In fact, Jesus said “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:37-29). Just as they did in Noah’s day, people today go on with their everyday lives ignoring the signs that God gave us in the Bible and they will continue to do so until it is too late.

Even though our world is fulfilling the words of Paul, as a Christian we can find hope…even in the midst of tragedy. Isaiah 46:10 tells us the God is in control, from the very moment He created the world until it’s very last second of existence. “I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will.” Satan may have a grand time making the world run amuck, God will see that His will wins in the end. In Psalm 37:18, the Bible says, “The Lord watches over the blameless all their days, and their inheritance will last forever.” On Sunday, November 5, 2017 a gunman walked into a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and began shooting, killing at least 26 people and injuring another 20. Among the deceased was the 14 year old daughter of the pastor. How do we live in such a world?

In John 14:27, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world give do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Peace, as defined by the world is the “freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility, freedom from or the cessation of war or violence.” If that’s the definition of peace, then we can pretty much bet on never experiencing it in this life. Jesus offers a different kind of peace, on that quiets our hearts no matter what the circumstances. It’s the peace in the midst of a storm that lets us know that God is with us and He will never leave us. This kind of peace is a gift from God and one aspect of who He is (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 1 Peter 1:2, Galatians 6:16, and Hebrews 13:20). Since God is peace, we can experience the peace that Jesus spoke of only when we take time to quiet our hearts, bask in His presence, and draw close to Him. The more time we spend with Him, developing a relationship with Him, the more we know of his deep love for us and we are able to trust Him even when tragedy strikes. The pastor of the church in Texas, even after losing his own daughter, quoted Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” He went on to declare that his church would not cower in fear, but would continue to worship God. My friends, he understands the peace that Jesus gives. He has learned that the Lord is refuge and that he is able to run to the arms of God and draw on that peace, get strength, and trust Him even when it makes no sense to him. He knows that Psalm 91:1 says, “He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

This pastor, his congregation and the community will have many difficult days ahead as they process the countless losses they have experienced. If I could, I would wrap each and every one of them in my arms, cry with them, pray with them, and express how broken my heart is for this chaotic world that lives as in the days of Noah. Yet, they have the arms of God wrapped around them and that is far better than mine. Will you join me in praying for this community and that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard their hearts and minds through Christ Jesus? (Philippians 4:7) Will you also commit to praying with me for a revival to sweep across our nation and our world…we desperately need it!

Revival

God is Good and He’s Ready to Forgive

purple flower“For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.” –Psalm 86:5

It is easy for us to say God is good when his blessings are overflowing. Its easy to sing about His goodness in church when we feel close to His presence. But what about in rush hour traffic? Or when you’re laid off of a job? Or when you get bad news from your doctor? It becomes much harder for us to declare that God is good. But…He is.

One of my favorite songs (and there are many of those!) is “God is Good” sung by Don Moen. The chorus is:

God is good
All the time
He put a song of praise
In this heart of mine
God is good
All the time
Through the darkest night
His light will shine
God is good
God is good
All the time.

He is good in his perfect, unconditional love. He is good in how he protects. He is good in how he provides. He is good even when our world is chaos. He is good even when a friend betrays us. He is good when a parent dies. He is good when a longed-for child is miscarried. He is good when you’re battling a life-long illness. He is good when an accident leaves you with chronic pain the rest of your life.

How can we say that God is good…even when our circumstances are not? Because we know that behind the scenes God is at work. Because “we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God.” (Romans 8:28) Because we know that God has plans for each one of our lives… “plans for your welfare, not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

There are 9 verses that say God is good:

  • Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34)
  • The trumpeters and singers joined together to praise and thank the Lord with one voice. They raised their voices, accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and musical instruments, in praise to the Lord: For He is good; His faithful love endures forever. (2 Chronicles 5:13)
  • All the Israelites were watching when the fire descended and the glory of the Lord came on the temple. They bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground. They worshiped and praised the Lord: For He is good, for His faithful love endures forever. (2 Chronicles7:3)
  • They sang with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord: “For He is good; His faithful love to Israel endures forever.” (Ezra 3:11)
  • Hallelujah! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. (Psalm 106:1)
  • Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. (Psalm 107:1)
  • Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. (Psalm 118:1)
  • Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. (Psalm 118:29)
  • Give thinks to the Lord, for He is good. His love is eternal. (Psalm 136:1)

What do each one of these verses have in common? In each verse, the phrase, “He is good” is followed by a phrase that tells of God’s eternal and faithful love! A love that is unconditional and always ready to forgive.

Maybe you feel as if you’ve done too much sin. Or that your sins are “too big” for God to forgive. Maybe you have that one deep, dark secret sin that only you and God know about and you wonder how God forgive that. He is good. His faithful love endures forever. He’s ready to forgive. He is abundant in mercy to all who call on Him. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done….how long you’ve been doing it…who you’ve been doing it with or who you’re keeping it a secret from….God already knows about it and He’s ready to forgive you. All you have to do is call out to Him, tell him about your sin and ask Him to forgive you. “He will again have compassion on us; He will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19) “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12) “For I will be merciful to their wrongdoing, and I will never again remember their sins.” (Hebrews 8:12) All you have to do is call out to Him. His mercy is greater than your sin. His love is greater than your sin. His forgiveness is greater than your sin.

“I exalt You, my God the King, and praise Your name forever and ever. I will praise You every day; I will honor Your name forever and ever. Yahweh is great and is highly praised; His greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:1-3)