What Should A Church and A Charging Rhino Have In Common?

I love hearing kids telling stories of events that have happened in their day.  They seem so intent in their observations.  But I really enjoy the smiles on children’s faces when they have heard a “kid’s joke”, dying to tell it to you by asking the set-up question:

“How do mice kiss?”  ANSWER:  Mouse-to-mouse (mouth-to-mouth).

“How did the patient get to the hospital so fast?”  ANSWER:  Flu.

And then I heard this riddle the other day which gave me an idea for this BIBLE STUDY:

How do you keep a rhinoceros from charging?”  ANSWER:  Take away his credit card.  [See Footnote [i] ].

BLOG-STUDY VERSES 1-24

KEEP YOUR EYES ON A ‘CHARGING’ CHURCH –

Anytime that people, the CHURCH, undertake to BUILD…there will be challenges, there will be opposition…

There will be challenges…

There will be opposition…

There will be trials and troubles.

BUT we must give a “full court press” (a basketball term)–never giving up in the process.

  • The CHURCH (the people) must charge forward…
  • The CHURCH must be built.
  • The CHURCH must grow.

I’m not referring here to church BUILDINGS.  I’m pointing out something vital to the CHURCH–THE PEOPLE,

WE MUST CONTINUE TO BRING PEOPLE INTO THE “FAMILY OF GOD” BY THE WAY OF SALVATION!.

BUT, sometimes, the church DOES stop growing.  And that’s NO JOKE!

It happened in EZRA…and, in looking at what happened to the people of God in Ezra chapter 4, I pray that the people of God in our communities avoid the same pitfalls.

Ezra 4:1-6, 23-24

[1]  When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel,   [2] they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said,  “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”  [3] But Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered,  “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God.  We alone will build it for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.”

FIRST of all, there will be opposition to moving forward.  The church will not grow while her enemies look on, doing nothing.

We see here in the following verses that the ENEMIES of God heard about the goings on…so they put their heads together and they came up with a very cunning plan.  They came to the leaders of the Church, and offered to HELP them!  I’m pretty sure that the leaders would have been tempted by their offer.  Who wouldn’t want some help in any rebuilding effort?

They even gave a believable explanation why they were offering their services.  They said, “WE ARE JUST LIKE YOU…”  and we know, from reading God’s Word that they DID sacrifice to God.

BUT…that wasn’t the WHOLE truth.

We find the REST of the story in 2 Kings 17, where we read about the people who settled in the area; how they came to arrive there and some of the trouble they got into.

And in 2 Kings 17:33 (AMP) we find the rest of the story –

[33]  They feared the Lord, yet served their own gods, as did the nations from among whom they had been carried away.

So, when the Samaritans, “the enemies” came to Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other leaders, their offer to HELP would have been tempting…who wouldn’t want some help.

AND their statement about worshipping God was also true.

But they also served other gods as well, and their MOTIVE in offering help, WASN’T so they could be helpful, but their offer to help was so they could get in on the inside–

  • SLOW IT DOWN.
  • DISRUPT THE WORK
  • TRY TO THROW A WRENCH INTO THE WORKS
  • CLOG IT UP!

I might point out here that this plan has been copied over and over again right up to today where individuals or groups are trying to infiltrate the Church–

  • To change it from within…
  • To dilute the message…
  • To try to stop the church from charging forward…
  • To soften the message…
  • To change our stance on issues.

We’ve already seen some church denominations embrace certain practices that are against Scripture.  One such example is homosexuality.

We’ve got to be more like Zerubbabel and Jeshua!

We must stand for what’s right and stand for the truth…NOT truth as WE see it, but the truth as God sees it.

So, how do we know God’s truth?

It is REVEALED in His Word!

Thankfully, God’s people in Ezra’s day DIDN’T allow compromise to affect the CHURCH.  And we see that Zerubbabel and the others said “NO”!

And the Church kept charging forward!

When those opposed to the Church were unsuccessful in getting the Church to compromise, they resorted to DISCOURAGEMENT and INTIMIDATION.

BUT THERE’S MORE…

They even hired antagonists (“counselors”) to work against them.

Psychological warfare has been used in battles for centuries and here, we see that those OPPOSED to the church began using psychological warfare against the church.

  • Perhaps they tried to slow down the shipments of building materials from Lebanon to the building site.
  • Perhaps they just continued chipping away at them to the arena of public opinion.

The USED whatever means they could when compromise didn’t work–using fear-mongering, intimidation, and discouragement.

The OPPONENTS to GOD’S WORK use the same methods today–

They try to create public distrust of Christians and Christianity:  “we certainly can’t have prayer in schools”…we’ve got that ‘separation of church and state’ thing.”

“We can’t post the TEN COMMANDMENTS in public areas because that’s a ‘Christian’ thing”…

“We can’t have a Nativity or sing Christmas carols in school…BECAUSE ‘God forbid’ someone actually starts to follow Christ.”

So the enemies of God’s people create fear and distrust OUTSIDE the Church, and it appears they have been quite successful at it.

But I’ve been concerned for some time that the enemies of God’s people are making inroads into the churches–creating fear and distrust WITHIN the Church.  Making us afraid to take a stand; making us fearful to stand up for the TRUTH and making us afraid to speak out in the name of Christ.

And the psychological warfare continues on.

Finally, we read that the enemies of God resort to POLITICS to stop the CHURCH from charging forward.  In EZRA 4:11-16, we can read a copy of a letter that the enemies of God wrote to the king.

And in Ezra 4:17-22 we READ the king’s response:

[17] The KING sent this reply:  To Rehum the commanding officer, Shimshai the secretary and the rest of their associates living in Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates:

Greetings.

[18] The letter you sent us has been read and translated in my presence.  [19] I issued an order and a search was made, and it was found that this city has a long history of revolt against kings and has been a place of rebellion and sedition.  [20] Jerusalem has had powerful kings ruling over the whole of Trans-Euphrates, and taxes, tribute, and duty were paid to them.  [21] Now issue an order to these men to STOP WORK, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order.  [22] Be careful not to neglect this matter.  Why let this threat grow, to the detriment of the royal interests?

THE RHINOS ARE STOPPED!

We see that while COMPROMISE was an ineffective tool against the church…and see that DISCOURAGEMENT & INTIMIDATION slowed things down, we now see that through the POLITICAL process, the church was stopped in its tracks.

As soon as God’s enemies, Rehum and Shimshai and their associates had their ammunition loaded against them, they went to God’s people and forced them to STOP building the church.  And we find those fateful words in verse 24.  “That put a stop to the work on The Temple of God in Jerusalem”  (MSG).

I found it interesting to see who these ENEMIES of God’s people were.

Verse one calls them the “adversaries of Judah and Benjamin”, it doesn’t say, “the Chaldeans”, or “the Persians”.  Matthew Henry’s commentary calls them “the rebels of the 10 tribes and the foreigners that had joined themselves to them”  [See Footnote [ii] ].

I dare to mention that the enemies of God’s people are the same today.  They’ll take Christianity, mix it and match it with all sorts of other thoughts and philosophies so that people today are then quick to say they BELIEVE in God– “But there are many ways to God…Budda, Mohammed, the worship of nature…”

But we stand on God’s Word, and God’s Word, in the words of Jesus Himself, says “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me”  (John 14:6).

THERE IS NO OTHER WAY!

The Church has always faced opposition,

There are people who don’t WANT the church to charge forward, and SOME of these people may even be people who USED to follow Christ Jesus.

But NOW, they’ve gotten sucked into worldly thinking–the church becomes just another sociological experiment, or the church becomes a pawn in political maneuvering.

But I SAY the Church is simply God’s people, going God’s way, and if we as the CHURCH start letting the opposition get a foothold, we’ll see the church come to a complete standstill, just like it did at the end of EZRA 4.

Is this a way then, to stop those who wish to STOP a ‘charging rhino’, the church?

There is, and I had to search closely for it all the way back to VERSE ONE where Scripture tells us, “the exiles were building a Temple for the Lord”.

It seems innocent enough at first glance but when we read it from the KJV (King James Version), it adds one more description:

“the children of the captivity built the temple unto the LORD”

It doesn’t say, “The children of GOD were building the Temple”…it says, “The children of the CAPTIVITY”.

I don’t believe that I’m reading too much into Scripture when I say this points to their thinking.  They viewed themselves as “children of the captivity”, even though King Cyrus had issued the DECREE to allow the construction to begin.

These people of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin still felt the oppression of 70 years of captivity upon their shoulders.  They still felt that these foreign rulers had AUTHORITY over them, and while for the most part, they did have CIVIL authority over them.  GOD WAS STILL GOD, just as He is today!

GOD WAS STILL GOD, just as He is today!

And they had, not only a DESIRE to worship God together, but they had an OBLIGATION to worship God.  No civil or government authority can take that away UNLESS we let them.

In EZRA’S day, they allowed the ENEMIES of God bring the Church to a standstill.

WHY?  Because they were thinking like children of the captivity.

What does that mean for us today?

That meaning seems quite obvious to me.  The KEY goes back to our thinking.

Do we think of ourselves as children of the captivity?  People under the rule of governments and nations?

Or, do we think of ourselves as God’s children?

Scripture says,  “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21), and what’s is God’s is our WORSHIP.

AS GOD’S PEOPLE…

We are OBLIGATED to see the Good News of Jesus Christ continues to spread like a ‘charging Rhino’; we will NOT allow the enemies of God cause us to compromise–TO BE STOPPED!

So, how’s YOUR thinking?

Are you a child of the KING, or a child of captivity?

The ANSWER to that question will determine the direction of the Church!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i] :  Oddball Riddles – Kid’s Jokes

Footnote [ii] :  Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Vol. 2.  EZRA 4.

Photos:  Google Image Search, Advance Setting.

Bible Translation (s):  New International Version (NIV), except where noted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wishin’ and Hopin’ in the New Year!

“Wishing” We Didn’t Have to Say “Goodnight”–

In 1964, my lovely bride and I were married!  On our romantic dates, leading up to September 26, 1964, I would drop her off at her house, walk her to the front door where we would often stand on the porch (depending on the time on the clock), singing the songs that were currently popular and playing on the radio.

“Hoping” to Meet Curfew!

Although Dianne was 20 years old at the time, a 2-AM Curfew was to be strictly enforced or…TROUBLE!  Dianne’s mother would often raise her voice from behind the closed front door,  “Dianne, be quiet. Your dad is asleep!”  That was my future mother-in-law’s way of telling us…it’s late and there will be no ‘hanky-panky’ out there.  What will all the neighbors think while peeking out between their curtains?  One neighbor came out one night to water her garden–at 1:30 AM!

It was a small neighborhood and everyone knew everyone’s business.  I wished we could have stayed outside singing until the sun would rise–but hoping– ‘restriction in dating’ wouldn’t be necessary– as long as…we were obedient to her mom and dad’s rules.

One of my favorite singers back in the olden’ days was Dusty Springfield.  There was one particular song she recorded in 1964, “Wishin’ and Hopin’ “.  For you older readers, do you remember some of the words?

Just wishing and hoping and thinking and praying

planning and dreaming…

The song by the way, wasn’t a ‘religious’ number emphasizing the practice of how to pray in life.  It was a secular song about finding LOVE in your life from someone else.  And if you are wondering where I’m taking all this, let me direct you to grab your Bible and turn with me to the Book of  1 John 2:28-3:1-3 AMP:

What Does HOPE Have to Do With It?

THE BLESSED HOPE REVEALED!
THE BLESSED HOPE REVEALED!

1 John, Chapter 2:

[28]  And now, little children, abide (live, remain permanently) in Him, so that when He is made visible, we may have and enjoy perfect confidence (boldness, assurance) and not be ashamed and shrink from Him at His coming.  [29]  If you know (perceive and are sure) that He [Christ] is absolutely righteous (conforming to the Father’s will in purpose, thought and action), you may also know (be sure) that every one who does righteously [and is therefore in like manner conformed to the divine will] is born (begotten) of Him [God]. 

1 John, Chapter 3:

[1]  SEE WHAT [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God!  And so we are!  The reason that the world does not know (recognize, acknowledge) Him.  [2]  Beloved, we are [even here and] now God’s children, it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be [hereafter], but we know that when He comes and is manifested we shall [as God’s children] resemble and be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He [really] is.  [3]  And every one who has this hope [resting] on Him cleanses (purifies) himself just as He is pure–chaste, undefiled, guiltless.”

“HOPE” and “WISHES”–the Differences:

I read an article by Tonya Sheridan in preparation for our study that mentioned the differences between “hoping and wishing”:

A WISH is something that you desire to come true but no basis in reality.  It’s passive, can lead to frustration, even depression.  HOPING is having a DESIRE with REAL EXPECTATION.  To HOPE is believing the things you hope for can happen because you’ve invested time, energy, and passion toward making them happen.

An example of WISHING might sound something like this:  Lord, I’ve been unemployed now for too long!  I WISH you would give me a new job. 

The the Lord would answer by responding to your WISH:  I wish you had a job too! 

HOPING for a job would be praying that God would open the doors of opportunity today, and in HOPING…you actually start looking in confidence.  HOPE is a DESIRE coupled with DISCIPLINE.  God will do His part–you need to do your part.  You have to walk through the open door of opportunity.

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary says, HOPE in the New Testament is a ‘favorable and confident expectation’–I like to add a few words to the definition:  With an outstretched neck!

Scripture Examples of “HOPE”:

Ephesians 4:4 – “[THERE IS] one body and one Spirit–just as there is also ONE HOPE [that belongs] to the calling you received–“

The “HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE”:  Titus 1:2, and 3:7

Titus 1:2:  “[Resting] in the hope of eternal life, [life] which the ever truthful God Who cannot deceive promised before the world or the ages of time began.”

Titus 3:7:  “…and that we might become heirs of eternal life according to [our] hope.”

(i.e., “the full manifestation and realization of that life which is already in the believer’s possession.)

The Subject of HOPE–

One of the great themes in the Bible is based on HOPE.  The word occurs over 50 times in the New Testament.

To a BELIEVER:  HOPE is our strength to live healthy, godly, productive lives.  We depend greatly on this element of HOPE that was placed in hearts at accepting Jesus Christ as savior.

Without HOPE, for the unbeliever and the Believer, there is really no reason to expand effort; a state of hopelessness is closely related to a state of death.  HOPE is essential to the human soul, as water or food is to our physical bodies.  And a life without hope is a ‘living hell’.  In fact, it’s one thing that will make hell unbearable!–the absolute absence of HOPE!

GUESS WHO’S HAVING A YARD SALE?

Devil's Yard Sale
Devil’s Yard Sale

The Devil was having a yard sale and all of his tools were marked the name and price.  They were tools like hatred, lust, jealousy, deceit, lying, and pride.  All were carrying a HIGH PRICE TAG!

The Oldest Tool!
A Well-Worn Tool

But set to one side, there was a tool more worn than any other tool.  It was the most costly of the tool inventory.  The tool was labeled, DISCOURAGEMENT.

When asked why this tool was priced so high, the Devil answered,  “It’s more useful to me than any other tool.  When I can’t bring my victims down with any of these other tools, I use DISCOURAGEMENT–sweep them away!  That’s because most of them don’t even realize it belongs to me.”  Have you ever had that tool used on you?  Have you ever lost your JOY because you lost your HOPE?

The apostle Paul wrote to the ROMAN Christians, “May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing  (bubbling over) with hope”  (Romans 15:13 AMP).

Have you ever been around a person overflowing in hope?  When I’ve been around a person like that, I want to get all the overflow of hope I can!

A Person Who Is Overflowing With HOPE–

Paul says that person–has the POWER of the Holy Spirit who is also full of joy and peace.  Those are the things that accompany HOPE.  It is amazing what a person full of HOPE can accomplish.

But the Devil also knows that godly hope is a powerful thing.  He will do everything he can to rob you of your confident expectation in God.

THE ISSUE OF FAITH AND HOPE–CAN’T HAVE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER!

If I were to ask you a question right now:  “What are you looking forward to in the New Year?”  How would you answer?  Then, if I were to strengthen that question, asking, “What are you living for?”  I would be touching on the issue of HOPE.

“For in [this] HOPE we were saved.  But HOPE [the object of] which is seen is not HOPE.  For how can one HOPE for what he already sees?  But if we HOPE for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure”  (Romans 8:24-25).

Having HOPE and having FAITH are two of God’s gifts–

1.  HOPE provides purpose and well-being in our belief.

2.  FAITH gives us the strength to keep hoping which in turn, makes us optimistic and loving.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is the one in Hebrews 11–the FAITH Chapter:

“NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title-deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality  [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]”  (Hebrews 11:1 AMP).

FAITH is enduring–

Isaiah 7 verse 9 says, “If your faith is not enduring, you will not endure.”  God’s promise to us if we continue to endure, continue to carry on–God will provide for ALL of our needs.

God asks simply for HOPE and FAITH–

Bringing your umbrella when you are faithful–it will rain.

Bring your Bible when you are faithful–you want to share the Word.

Bring your heart when you faithfully want to love someone.

Be HOPEFUL and Be FAITHFUL and God will show you what goodness can come by simply having HOPE and FAITH!

What I Uncovered This Detective Investigation of 1 John 3:1-3:

1 John 3:1:  WHAT WE ARE.

1 John 3:2:  WHAT WE SHALL BE.

1 John 3:3:  WHAT WE SHOULD BE.

First John 3:1:  TELL US what we are and First John 3:2:  TELLS US what we shall be.  The reference here, of course is to the time of Jesus’ coming back for His Bride, the Church.  And although today’s conservative churches confess they believe it, ESCHATOLOGY has become a dormant message from pulpit these last days.  Although, this message of Christ’s return was mentioned in 1 John 2:28 as an incentive of holy living, now it’s repeated once more in the Third Chapter of First John, verse 2.

God’s Love For Us–

God’s LOVE doesn’t stop at the new birth, it continues throughout our lives and takes us right up to the return of Jesus Christ.  When the Lord appears, all true believers will see Him and will become like Him (Phil. 3:20, 21).

This means, of course, we will have new, glorified bodies, suited for heaven [NOT Asbestos, fire-proofed clothing].  But the apostle doesn’t stop here!

He has told us what we are and what we shall be.  Now in 1 John 3:3, he tells us what we should be.

In the HOPE of Christ’s return, we are to keep our lives CLEAN (purified)–

God works through our circumstances:

“Such HOPE never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s LOVE has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy spirit Who has been given to us”  (Romans 5:5 AMP).

That’s why John says…all those who have this kind of hope–this certainty–and understands this process, PURIFIES THEMSELVES, even as Christ is PURE!  (1 John 3:3).

But you say,  “Purify myself?  That is the one thing I can’t do.”  And that IS true.  God knows that.  So what does God mean when He says, purify yourself?

You purify yourself when you use the means He’s provided.  You mothers know how this works.

Your little boy has been playing outside and comes to the supper table–covered in dirt.  You send him to the bathroom to purify himself.  And like ALL boys, he turns on the water, runs his hands through it–turns the water off, wipes his hands on the towel, then comes back to the family table.  I know this from personal experience (I was a young boy and I had a son).

And as my mom said to me as she looked me over,  “But you’re not clean.”

Mel:  “Well, I washed myself.”

Mel’s Mom:  “But look at the dirt on your hands and arms, on your face, behind your ears.  You’re not all clean.”

Then every wise mother (my mom was very wise) asks, “Did you use soap?”  Of course he hasn’t, so she sends him back TO USE SOAP.

What is SOAP?

— It is a purifying agent, a cleansing agent.

It will do the job if it is employed.

So when he comes back the second time, he has washed with SOAP;  the SOAP has cleansed him, purified him.  Now he says,

“Look Mom, I’ve cleaned myself up!”  It is true that he did it, but he did it by using his mother’s provision.

THE “PROVISION” FOR OUR CLEANSING:

1.  The WORD of God.

2.  The Spirit of God.

1 John 1:7:  “But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].”

1 John 1:9:  “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness…”.

This is significant for Believers, and we must begin to take seriously the break in fellowship with Christ Jesus; because of an impatient spirit, an ugly word, a lustful idea, or a thought we have dwelt on, for oh to long.

The stain of it–

It doesn’t disappear with passage of time.  It interferes with our fellowship with the Son of God–we must do something about it.  We can’t simply forget it.

We must PURIFY OURSELVES by using His provision so we might become clean!  That is our desire, our HOPE within us.

I HOPE now, you’ve made a distinction for the upcoming New Year–Wishin’ for things to come won’t bring the desired result.  Only your heartfelt expectation with an “outstretched neck”, will you see the desired results.

Springtime Coming!

Winter Thaw

ISAIAH 58:11-12:  “And the Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy you in drought and in dry places and make strong your bones.  And you shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not.  [12] And your ancient ruins will be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of [buildings that have laid waste for] many generations; and you shall be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Streets to Dwell in.”

Acts 3:19-21:  “So repent (change your mind and purpose); turn around and return [to God], that your sins may be erased (blotted out, wiped clean), that times of refreshing (of recovering from the effects of heat, of reviving with fresh air) may come from the presence of the Lord.  [20] And that He may send [to you] the Christ (the Messiah), Who before was designated and appointed for you–even Jesus.  [21] Who heaven must receive [and retain] until the time for the complete restoration of all that God spoke by the mouth of all His holy prophets for ages past [from the most ancient time in the memory of man].”

“The American Church Today is not Healthy”–

Many people have agreed with this statement and other concepts such as:  “Too many churches imitate the trends of secular society.”  One respected researcher said, “Christians in America are hardly distinguishable from unbelievers.”  And on many occasions in the past, I have agreed with the consensus.

But when I was reading the two referenced verses in Isaiah and the Book of Acts, God spoke to my heart saying, Have HOPE, for Springtime is Coming even thought it looks like Winter.  His Word reveals His plans for the spiritual restoration of the Church as we know it today.

“Springtime IS Coming”–God’s Heart for His Church and His People–

NOTICE the key words that God uses:

* rebuilding…

*…the ancient ruins

* raising up…

*…the age-old foundations

* repairing that which is broken

* refreshing

* restoring

If you have fallen into the same trap I’ve found myself in, seeking a bleak future for the Lord’s Church, I want to bring the relief I found from God’s Word in this wrong thinking.

A Heart That Has Found Optimism–A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places.

I want to fill your hearts, as mine was filled by the Holy Spirit–in what you might now be experiencing in your Christian church life.

The 7- Ways the Lord wants to guide us in:

Smith Wigglesworth once said, “The heritage of the Church is to be so equipped with (the Holy Spirit’s) power that God can lay His hand upon any member, at any time to do His perfect will.”   Now that is OPTIMISM!

1.  The Lord wants to satisfy your soul.

2.  The Lord strengthens you = ‘make fat your bones’

3.  Like a well-watered garden…

4.  Rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities…

5.  Lay foundations for future generations…

6.  A Rebuild er of walls…

7.  Restorer of homes…

Spring-water in a place where the waters of the Lord flow:

–to refresh…

–to revive…

–to restore…

–to rebuild…

To make fat your bones and strengthen you for the work ahead!

TIMES OF REFRESHING:

The verses quoted in Acts 3:19-21 clearly show God’s heart for His people and for His Church with spiritual restoration.  Notice the key words and similarities God uses in Isaiah 58 and Acts 3:

* rebuilding...the ancient ruins.

* raising up…the age-old foundations.

* repairing that which is broken.

* refreshing.

* restoring.

HEART-FELT OPTIMISM IN EMPTY PLACES:

If you have fallen into the trap in seeking a bleak future for God’s Church in our time, I want to bring the same relief I experienced from ‘wrong thinking’ in what you might be seeing–to a full life in the emptiest of places.

God intends that His people participate (that’s us!)– in His plans for our lives in rebuilding and raising up age-old foundations; repairing the things that are broken down

“Your people will rebuild…and will raise up…”  (Isaiah 58:12).

“You will be called a Repairer…Restorer (vs. 12).

If you think that the Church in materialistic America lies in ruins today, then know this–GOD intends to “rebuild the ancient ruins and …raise up the age-old foundations (vs. 12).

I believe , as perhaps I’ve never before pondered, spiritual restoration is coming to the Church today!  Let’s look together at some Biblical teaching likely to be seen in God’s time of refreshing and restoration.

–Widespread, heartfelt repentance and a hungering and thirsting for righteousness and personal holiness.

“Brethren, what shall we do?”  And Peter replied, “Repent”… (Acts 2:37-38).

“Blessed and fortunate and spiritually prosperous are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be completely satisfied”  (Matthew 5:6 AMP).

EXPECT TO SEE THINGS IN OUR DAY!

–A renewed, mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit!

Multitudes being baptized in the Spirit, speaking in tongues, moving mightily in God’s power.

“And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words]”  (Acts 2:4 AMP).

Don’t let the Church be robbed of this blessing.  Contrary to what some might have been told, this is for the Church today just as it was in the first century.  Jesus Christ, the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11), is “the same yesterday and today and forever.”

“Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [always] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever (to the ages)”  (Hebrews 13:8). 

EXPECT IT, BELIEVE IT, AND LOOK FOR IT!

Expect to see the manifestation of the glory of God in the Church–“To Him be glory in the church…”  (Ephesians 3:21).  Expect and believe God for dramatic manifestations and supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit which is the real sense of God’s presence in our midst.

You might be thinking right now, you just can’t believe, to grab hold of and expect that type of manifestation.  And that’s okay.  I once felt and believed in the same way.  And then one day in 2005, I was given a choice by God:  ‘Take the “Red Pill” or take the “Blue Pill” [CHOICE: I Choose “The Red Pill” –The WORD DETECTIVE blog of 05/09/11].

The early church of the Book of Acts was indeed a glorious church.  Believe along with me for the same in our day–(Habakkuk 3:2). 

The gifts of the Holy spirit are for today!   Don’t relegate them to “time has past” or only to the Pentecost recording in Acts 2.

–Anticipate a renewed hunger for the word of God, the Bible!

“Now the brethren at once sent Paul and Silas away…to Beroea…  Now these [Jews] were better disposed and more noble…they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message...with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so”  (Acts 17:10-11).

In the remarkable charismatic move peaking in the 1970s, millions of young people carried their Bibles with them–to church, to coffeehouses (no Starbucks back then), wherever they went.  They joined Bible studies, many attended Bible schools and they hungered and thirsted for God’s Word.

I expect to see in our current day a restoration, a spiritual hunger renewed for God’s holy word among the youth, the elderly, in every segment of society.  Expect a new generation of “Bereans”, ‘receiving the word with ALL readiness of mind and searching the Scriptures daily.’

A Generation Rising

VISUALIZE A GENERATION ARISING:

Colossians 1:18 says in the NIV translation, “…so in everything He might have the supremacy”.

Picture a nation where JESUS is honored and His name is heard in reverence rather than in cursing and the Church bought by His blood is once again the most influential institution [“organism”, not “organization”] in the land.  “Organism” is a living and breathing thing, where as an “organization” is an “arrangement”; make-up“; “texture”.   These things have happened in time past.  Can you and I believe God to see these transpire once again in the land, our communities?

Expect to See…

Widespread acceptance of, and many moving into the full “fivefold” ministry, as well as biblically qualified elders and deacon.  God has prepared His people:

“And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers.  His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church)”  (Ephesians 4:11-12 AMP).

The Church has been handicapped for too long in rejection of contemporary apostles and prophets.  I know this personally, since this is what I had been taught by well-meaning men and had accepted the information given as fact rather than the Berean Approach: “searching and examining the Scriptures”.

It will take all five of the listed ministries to “prepare God’s people for works of service” He desires that we do.  Now are there false apostles and prophets today?  Certainly.  There were such in the early church.  But don’t let that discourage you from embracing ALL these needed ministries JESUS placed in His church and the duration of the Church Age!

ANTICIPATE A RESTORATION OF TOTALLY “SELLING OUT” TO THE LORD:

[Peter to Jesus] “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee, what shall we have therefore?”  (Matthew 19:27 KJV).

“And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer”  (Acts 2:42 NAS).

“Revolutionaries”

Christian researchers today–George Barna–in seeing the emergence of a growing body of Christian believers, compared to the complacent with the tabbed “revolutionaries”– who are no more satisfied with the “status quo”; they want A Full Life in Christ.  They have a passion for JESUS; a determination to serve Him fully, no matter the cost.

May a renewed passion for the Lord sweep through ALL our hearts and across this land–our cities, our communities, our churches.

AS IN THE TEMPLE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT:

May it be said of the New Testament “temple” (that is, the church), that “the glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former…” ~ Haggai 2:9.

Be looking for; be on watch for; expect the spiritual restoration of bringing the Church of our day back to even surpassing the glory we read of in the first century church.  Springtime is coming!  Let this be our prayer:

“O Lord, I have heard the report of You and was afraid, O Lord,

revive Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst

of the years make [Yourself ] known!”

~Habakkuk 3:2~