Our Need For REBUILDING – RESTORING

Scripture Passage:  Nehemiah 9:1-37; 10:28-39

I want to first take a quick glance at the setting in Nehemiah 9:

  • The Jewish people had been in captivity in Babylon.  Their Temple (place of worship) and the entire city of Jerusalem was destroyed.
  • Now, after 70 years, they’ve returned and rebuilt their city.

Although, when I say “returned” to Israel, most of them were first-time arrivals.  They were a newer generation, born in captivity.  They found the Law of Moses while working on the Temple.  And when the Prophet Ezra read it aloud to them, they vowed to return to God’s Law.  They were determined to get back to God’s ways.

Chapter 9 continues on this theme.

Then Ezra leads out with the beautiful PRAYER (vs. 6-37) and in that prayer, you can clearly see the nation making attempts to RECONNECT with God.

This is the longest recorded PRAYER in the Bible. 

It was a prayer of CONFESSION & REPENTANCE, recounting what God had done for them personally, as a nation, and man’s failure to honor Him.  This prompted me to read and re-read this prayer, making notes in my workbook while checking down the examples in the prayer with my own prayers.

How selfish we can be at times in our prayers.

There was this realization by the people just how far they had drifted from God and an honest CONFESSION of their sin. 

This is the first step for RESTORATION, for REVIVAL–a realization that we have drifted away from God and a desire to return to a Godly life in an ungodly culture.

This CONFESSION makes RENEWAL possible!

TRUE CHANGE OR RENEWAL –

This can only begin to happen when three things happen.

We need the 3 A’s to take place:

  1. Admit our wrongs,
  2. Acknowledge God’s ways, and…
  3. Act on it!

THE FIRST STEP…

CONFESSION is to admit that there’s a need for change!

James Montgomery Boice, a Christian theologian, Bible teacher, author, a speaker says, “There can be no genuine forward moral progress for either a nation or an individual without an acknowledgment of, sorrow for, and a true turning from sin.”  

It’s important that we all examine ourselves in reading God’s Word.

In Nehemiah 8, we can see where it began with the people – when they heard the Word they mourn and wept.

In Chapter 9 of Nehemiah, we see this again in corporate prayer.  If we’re not convinced that we need a CHANGE, we won’t.

This realization leads to REPENTANCE.

And by the way, it doesn’t help if we confess ‘just to confess’, or because ‘this is what everybody does’, or because ‘we have to do it’.

We should CONFESS because we are being prompted of the Holy Spirit when He brings to our mind the Word of God.

We want to CONFESS because we are moved by God’s Word or convicted by the Holy Spirit.

This is what happened to the prodigal son in Luke 15:17-18 (confession).

QUESTION:  Why does God want us to confess?  Surely not to inform Him of something He already knows about us.

First of all, God wants us to admit our sins so that we can take the steps toward CHANGE. 

Only when we agree with God of our faults, our trespasses, and our need to change can we find the commitment to do so.

Secondly, CONFESSION makes us real.

REAL, if we are honest with God, honest with SELF and honest towards people.

It’s being AUTHENTIC, being VULNERABLE and BEING REAL!

This is the way to happiness.  We’re not weighed down, burdened with GUILT or SHAME.  We experience God’s FORGIVENESS and the JOY of forgiveness.

REAL FELLOWSHIP with God can’t happen when unconfessed SIN is in our lives.

WHAT IS SIN?

I’ve had the question directed at me over the years to what I think “SIN” is.  And my response is always redirected to,  “What do you think “SIN” is?

In a nutshell, according to the classical definition, “hippo”, SIN is “a word, deed, or desire in opposition to God’s Word.”

The second thing that’s necessary for RESTORATION to take place is to acknowledge God’s way–or take God’s Word seriously.

It’s this deep conviction of His Word that’s the only blessed way!  This conviction is closely related to the first thing–CONFESSION.

GOD’S WORD LEADS TO CONFESSION!

The reading of the Law in Nehemiah and the subsequent DAILY reading of the Scriptures led to the people’s confession and repentance.  It wasn’t the preaching of Ezra, the Levites that brought about restoration.  It was God’s Word!

The realization that yes, we’ve sinned against God, comes through the reading of the Word of God and by the leading and conviction of the Holy Spirit. 

We will never acknowledge SIN to be SIN or grieve, weep over it unless we understand it’s an offense against God, and the only way to see that is to know God’s Word.

So what are we looking at in all of this?

If we want CHANGE to happen we’ve got to have an alternative:

  • What do we really want to change into?
  • What kind of a change are we looking at?

It can’t be your way against my way or his way against the world’s way.  It must be God’s WAY we’re looking at.  It must be God’s Word we’re fixed on.  That’s the standard.  God’s Word is the MIRROR of our soul. our character, and our conduct.

In the prayer of CONFESSION, the Levites directed the people’s thoughts–notice I didn’t say ‘manipulated’ their thoughts–to the goodness and grace of God.

NOTICE how many times“YOU” appeared throughout the PRAYER.

Despite their failures, they were to recognize God’s KINDNESS in their betrayal, that God remains FAITHFUL and continues to shower His blessing on them.

NEHEMIAH 9:17

“YOU” didn’t desert them in the desert; “YOU” gave your good Spirit to instruct them; “YOU” didn’t withhold your manna from their mouths, and “YOU” gave them water for their thirst; “YOU” made their sons a numerous as the stars in the sky.

NEHEMIAH 9:31

NEHEMIAH 9:33

THE PEOPLE’S PRAYER…

In the PRAYER, the people were led to see through their history a God who is great, good and gracious despite man’s SIN AND FAILURES.  This is the basis why we CONFESS our sin.  We have a forgiving God, a merciful and gracious God.  This is why the father waits for the prodigal son to return.  Not to judge or condemn him, but to embrace and forgive him (Luke 15:11-32).

Our PARDON today is not based on our MERIT or our WORTHINESS, but upon His goodness and grace. 

We shouldn’t base our appeal on our past accomplishments (how much I HAVE DONE for God), but simply upon His grace and mercy (Nehemiah9:17-b) –

[17-b]  But You are a God ready to PARDON, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great steadfast love; and You did not forsake them” (AMP).

The THIRD STEP in a CHANGED LIFE is to ACT ON IT!

When we know that we know, where we are and where we want to go, we need to take the necessary steps to bring about the CHANGE.

NEHEMIAH 9:38 –

The LEVITES led by Ezra ended the people’s prayer saying, 

THE COMMITMENT –

The ASSEMBLY, the gathered people are going to make a COVENANT (an agreement, COMMITMENT) before God that they are willing to do the following:

Nehemiah 10:30 – “We shall not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons,”

10:31 – “We shall forego raising crops the seventh year [letting the land lie fallow] and the compulsory payment of every debt” [Exod. 23:10, 11; Deut. 15:1, 2].

10:32, 35, 36, 37 – “And we will bring a tithe of our crops to the Levites”

10:39-c  “We will not forsake or neglect the house of our God.”

The people were determined to make right what was wrong and so should we today.

OUR NEED FOR REBUILDING – RESTORING BEGINS NOW!

EXAMINING ourselves in light of the world that surrounds us is a great place to start if you are looking for REVIVAL.

David – Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

[23]  “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

[24]  “See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Allow the Holy Spirit to take away the hindrances and obstacles we’ve placed in God’s way.  Be honest with yourself.

  • Tell Him what you did wrong.
  • Is there someone or something you love more than Him?
  • Is God’s Word a concern to you?  Can you really worship Him, or has something taking the place of God in your spirit?
  • Tell Him the attitudes you have that aren’t good – pride, arrogance, jealousy, lust, unwillingness to forgive, laziness…

Allow Jesus to minister His CLEANSING & HEALING to your spirit.

  • If we CONFESS OUR SINS, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness.      (1 John 1:9)

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CREDITS –

Christian views on SIN – Wikipedia.

Photos & Images:  Google Image Search – Settings advance, using referencing bible verses.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP);  New International Version (NIV), or where noted in the text.

 

Life’s Encounters In A “Passionate Church” Enviornment

SCENE from the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind

In 1962, ‘folk music’  filled the airways and in my opinion, The Kingston Trio exemplified the craze.  Half of my vinyl record collection celebrated their music: M.T.A., Good News, All My Sorrows, and of course my favorite, Tom Dooley; first recorded in 1958.  So when I got the news that this famous trio was going to be in concert at Russ Auditorium in San Diego, California…I had to get tickets!

So when I got the news this famous trio was going to be in a live concert at Russ Auditorium in San Diego, California…I had to get tickets!

After the concert, I asked my date if she wanted to go back stage and see if we could get autographs, or at least see them up close.  I was especially bold that night, most likely trying to show off a little in front of my date. Alright, it wasn’t “a little.”

As we walked backstage, I saw two giants of men standing at the foot of some stairs.  “They surely wouldn’t let us climb those stairs,” I thought to myself.  But they parted, like the Red Sea, and we went to the top and into a small dressing room.  And there, standing in their boxer shorts, was Nick Reynolds, Dave Guard, and Bob Shane.  Our mouths dropped.  How did we get this far without being escorted through a back door into the alley?  Could I actually get an autograph from the Kingston Trio members?

Well, we didn’t.  But Nick (right side of photo) did wave at us over the tops of the news cameras and that made it an evening to remember!  ‘Nick really knows me!’

THAT WAS AN ENCOUNTER.  

However, if Nick…I thought I was on a first name basis seeing him in his “shorts”… had invited us over to his dressing table and invited us to dinner in getting to know us better, my encounter would have given way to CLOSE ENCOUNTERS.   That is a huge difference.

I submit to you that most church folks attending Pentecostal churches I’ve attended over the years have become accustomed to ENCOUNTERS with God.

Too many of us have been attending church for years, faithfully, religiously, and we have been experiencing encounters.

  • We SETTLE for weekly ENCOUNTERS with God.
  • We see Him at a distance.
  • We see physical evidence of Him in our life.

But I want to put a CHALLENGE out front–We need more than just AN ENCOUNTER.  We need a CLOSE ENCOUNTER.  CONTACT!

Close Encounters Are Different.

One of the best examples I found is the story of the 10 lepers;  10 get healed, 10 lives are changed!  10 destinies are forever reshaped and marked by the POWER of God!!

However, only ONE had a close encounter while NINE settles for just an encounter.

9 SETTLED for ‘spiritual pornography’

Cheap thrills with no relationship or intimacy. While 1 has a close encounter with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords [Luke 17:11-19].

So the challenge for most of us as a church body and as individuals is whether we’ll SETTLE for an encounter time to time or will we call it a “good church”; we get goosebumps, get to shout out the AMEN’s, get to show off our spiritual gifts a little.

Or, will we hold out and hold on to a life changing, world wrecking, city shaking, addiction-breaking, marriage restoring, teenager rescuing close encounter with our God?

In order for us to see these events happen, we have to make a CHOICE and a DECISION–we have to determine the type of CHURCH that we are attending will be.

After my personal bible study this past week, I believe there are TWO OPTIONS available that can be found in Scripture.

The FIRST CHURCH is found in Ezekiel 44:11-14:

[11]  They [the priests] may serve in my sanctuary, having charge of the gates of the temple and serving in it; they may slaughter the burnt offerings and sacrifices for the people and stand before the people and serve them.  [12] But because they served them in the presence of their idols and made the people of Israel fall into sin, therefore I have sworn with uplifted hand that they must bear the consequences of their sin, declares the Sovereign Lord.  [13] They are not to come near to serve me as priests or come near any of my holy things or my most holy offerings; they must bear the shame of their detestable practices.  [14] And I will appoint them to guard the temple for all the work that is to be done there.  (NIV Bible)

The MESSAGE Bible says in verses 13-14:  “They’re fired from the priesthood.  No longer will they come into my presence and take care of my holy things.  No more access to The Holy Place!  They’ll have to live with what they’ve done, carry the shame of their vile and obscene lives.  

[14] From now on, their job is to sweep up and run errands.  That’s it.”

You can have a church like this–

  • We can come in and have charge of the house!
  • We can minister in the house!
  • We can offer sacrifices in the house!
  • We can sing in the house, praise in the house, and do church in the house!!!

BUT never come near Him.

We can have the things of God and never really have God.  That is an OPTION.  We can settle for an ENCOUNTER.

Or we cam make up our minds that it is more than that.  We can make up our minds and determine in our hearts that as members of the body of Christ we aren’t about to SETTLE for sweeping and running errands. There’s got to be more than that.

We have to set our face like a flint and fight for our place of meeting God on Sunday’s like the church described in 2 Chronicles 5:11-14: 

We can have a CHURCH, where regardless of your rank or assignment, 

  • You can be an usher,
  • A janitor,
  • An Elder/Deacon,
  • Or, the Pastor…

And it won’t matter.  You can experience the same amount of GLORY as the next person.

The GLORY will be just as strong in the church parking lot as it is in the SANCTUARY.  Just as powerful in the nursery as in the Home Bible Study.

What really matters is that we are all after the same thing.

We can have CHURCH where the GLORY of the Lord is so strong that none of us can stand it!

We can have a CHURCH where the close encounter is so close…all we can do is stand in AWE!

We can have a CHURCH where the move of God is so profound and so pronounced that A CITY will have to sit up and take notice, sinners will flock to find out what is happening–that the STARVED will find spiritual food as well as physical food, that the DRUG ADDICT will fall short-changed, that the UNLOVED will find the LOVE for which they have so longed for.

WE HAVE A CHOICE

We can SETTLE for the brief encounters that have satisfied us for so long.  

BUT as for me and my house, if we are going to have another Ezekiel 44 church we might as well shut all the doors at church. 

If the people on Sunday Morning or on any day of the week are going to walk in and leave exactly how they entered, broken, devastated, addicted and sick…then take all the equipment back!

My personal choice is to have a church where I have, and hopefully, you will have, a close encounter with God and that stuff will fall off and stay off!

I like when this man said in a statement:

“A church is not a church until God decides that it will become a place of divine visitation.  The building may seem one of architectural splendor and exquisite design, but it is not a church until God issues a certificate of divine occupancy and takes up residence there.”

**[See Footnote [i] ]

So, I present a challenge to all of us where we are.  

Will we stop at an encounter?  Will we be satisfied with a little taste here and there?  Will you wink and say “yeah they have a cool church” or will you make a commitment with me to pursue His presence at all costs.

My hope and prayer are that we will press in until God issues a “certificate of divine occupancy” in a fellowship of believers.  How does this happen?

Ask yourself, as I have asked myself on numerous occasions, are you willing to settle for an encounter or will you ask for more?  

When was the last time YOU had a “close encounter”?

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CREDITD & FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i]:  On Jordan’s Stormy Banks: Leading Your Congregation through the Wilderness by H. Beecher Hicks.

PHOTOS:  All from Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) unless stated in the text.

Living In The Age of Biblical APOSTASY

THE TEXT:  Introduction to LAMENTATIONS

“Lamentation” Dictionary Definition:  “the passionate expression of grief or sorrow, weeping…”

Lamentations in the Bible: “a book of the Bible telling of desolation of the nation of Judah after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.”

30565_lamentations_t_sm

It is possible to read the writings of the prophets only as valuable contributions to Old Testament history.  And, the reader may even be enriched by familiarity with their prophecy of events which have been startlingly fulfilled.  But to stop there is by no means to grasp their full and outstanding purpose for today’s living.  Right now, God is speaking definitely and definitively to every nation and every individual.  He wants that we see ourselves as He saw us–a world of nations and individuals rolling down the hill towards disaster [*See Footnote [i] ].   

“GOD BLESS AMERICA”

Psalm 33:12, 18-19 (Amplified Bible):

[12] Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the nation whose God is the Lord; the people He has chosen as His heritage.

[18] Behold, the Lord’s eye is upon those who fear Him [who revere and worship Him with awe], who wait for Him and hope in His mercy and loving-kindness,  [19] To deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

LAMENTATIONS 3:40-42 (NIV Bible):

“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.  Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say:  We have sinned and rebelled and you have not forgiven.”

Although the above Scripture verses are the keys to this Blog study, I believe that God’s dealings with Israel throughout the entire Book of Lamentations is A PICTURE–a perfect example of His dealings with AMERICA, and perhaps your nation, right where you are today.

Israel Was Under Judgment From God Because…

HER APOSTASY!

Israel had played the harlot in her spiritual adultery of IDOLS & prostituting themselves to the SURROUNDING NATIONS.

Biblical Apostasy Explained:

The word itself–APOSTASY– is from the Greek word “apostasia” a meaning very much like renouncing or dissociating oneself from a particular religion or certain religious beliefs.

It is similar to a REJECTION of beliefs that were once held and accepting different beliefs and might even be a rejection of the beliefs that were previously held.

Apostasy can also be considered an ABANDONMENT or defiance of what was previously held to be true and practiced while rebelling against those same beliefs and practices.

Someone or some group (nation) who does this are considered an APOSTATE.

BIBLICAL WARNINGS HAVE ALREADY BEEN POSTED FOR ALL OF US –

The Apostle Paul’s WARNING – 1 Timothy 4:1-2 NIV:

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some shall abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.  Such teachings came through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”

Jude’s WARNING – Jude 1:3 AMP:

“Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. [But] I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort [you] to contend for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints…”

The word “contend” in this verse comes from the Greek word “agonizomai”:  “To contend about a thing as a combatant.”  [NOTE: “contend” also used in verse 9, but the translation is “to separate oneself from”].

Peter’s WARNING –

But-false-prophets-also

God’s Ultimate Purpose For Bringing Judgment Upon the NATIONS and Mankind…

God wants to turn man from sinning in true acts of REPENTANCE –

The JUDGMENTS that God allows to fall on a rebellious nation or individual is never pleasant and often misunderstood in their purpose.

While our Just, Righteous, and Holy Heavenly Father must JUDGE SIN and cannot allow it to continue, His JUDGMENTS are always tempered with MERCY & A PROMISE of ultimate deliverance ‘IF’…those under judgment would only turn back to Him.

The Prophet Jeremiah, the Writer of Lamentations –

As he weeps in sorrow for the condition of his own people, he is a type of our Lord Jesus Christ as He stood and wept over the sinners of our world.

As JESUS stood on the hill and looked over Jerusalem, crying…

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, murdering the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a mother fowl gathers her brood under her wings, and you refused!  Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate (abandoned and left destitute of God’s help)”  (Matthew 23:37-38 Amplified Bible).

JESUS still stands today looking down from Glory, looking at each person on earth one at a time and at each nation in turn, and America that was so blessed–cries those same words.

How Great is His love for America? For your nation?

With all of His Loving Kindness for every man and woman–so much so that He died on the Cross for each one of us, and YET…He must and has begun to send JUDGMENT because of our rebelliousness–the APOSTASY as a people and nation.

Prior to and after World War II, America was looked upon as the friend of the world, the PROTECTOR of all that was GOOD.

Every nation, even our enemies, held a healthy respect for the BLESSINGS OF GOD and the things that were good about our nation.

Since the 60’s with the Vietnam Conflict, and continuing today, our power, prestige, and will as a nation, has been on the fast track into oblivion.

The secular world has paralleled our slide to destruction similar to the Roman Empire as it began to crumble, not from attacks of outside enemies, but from corruption and sin within.

The Book of Lamentations As An Example What A Nation Experiences As It Faces God’s Judgments –

The stated examples show what I believe America is already experiencing under JUDGMENT from God by its corruption and sin.

Lamentation 1:1-2 (NIV Bible):

[1] How deserted lies the city, once so full of people!  How like  widow is she, who once was great among the nations!  She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.  [2] Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are upon her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is none to comfort her; they have become her enemies.

America has always been known as the “great melting pot” of Humanity.  People from all nations still come to our country with high hopes and dreams of prosperity and freedom.

It is a testimony that the BLESSING of Almighty God, even when America is in trouble, is still GREAT, economically and militarily.

BUT, the GREATNESS is quickly fading.

“America is great because America is GOOD.  If America ever ceases to be good it will cease to be great” – ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE, a French Historian, upon visiting America in the early 19th Century.

ISRAEL FINDS ITSELF IN CAPTIVITY TO ITS ENEMIES –

I believe that America has fallen CAPTIVE to her enemies as well.

Our GREATEST ENEMY is NOT Russia, China, or any other nation or terrorist group. We are our own greatest enemy!

American Naivety…

In the early ’60’s during the days of the “former” Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, the then Russian Premier, pounded his shoe on the podium of the UN and shouted to the West, “We will bury you!”  The words certainly got all of our attention.  Fearing an invasion from Mother Russia, America proceeded to build the most awesome Military Machine in history.

Unfortunately, we forgot something to guard our political homefront being taken over by socialist-communist-liberal activists; who would gain office and destroy American law by the process of gradually installing Communist agenda within our legal system in separate branches of government.

Americans, being the most NAIVE people among the nations, now believe that COMMUNISM is dead.

The real truth is, COMMUNISM has just switched names to become more “politically correct.”  Today it is called “International Democracy.”  America has now become part of the New World Order atheist government.

The TEN PLANKS of the Communist Manifesto – [See Footnote [ii] }

In my Detective investigation over the past week, I found this interesting document by Karl Marx.  You tell me whether we–you, as a nation, have been led down a long road to CAPTIVITY and, we willingly went along and let it happen.

THE TEN PLANKS:

1.  Abolition of private property and the application of all rent to public purpose.

2.  A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

3.  Abolition of all rights of inheritance.

4.  Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.

5.  Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.

6.  Centralization of the means  of communication and transportation in the hands of the State.

7.  Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan. 

8.  Equal liability of all to labor and establishment of industrial, armies, especially for agriculture.

9.  Continuation of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.

10.  Free education for all children in governmental schools. A combination of education with industrial production.

The “LAMENTATIONS” Presented –

None is more hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are FREE…

AMERICA & The NATIONS Have Become “Tributary”; A Slave to its Own Laws –

Becoming a SLAVE to our own laws, that restrains its FREEDOM and “chained” by its own weighty laws restricts every move we make.  There is too much infighting and division to accomplish anything.  Are you listening ‘Mr. Government’?

Lamentations 1:3:

“Judah has gone into exile [to escape] from the affliction and laborious servitude [of the homeland]. She dwells among the [heathen] nations, but she finds no rest; all her persecutors overtook her amid the [dire] straits [of her distress].”

Just as an individual in becoming a SLAVE to SIN in their life, my country has become a SLAVE to its own SIN.

All of our attempts to right every wrong, through Presidential Press Releases, through legislation…instead of REPENTANCE OF THE HEART, created a massive compilation of LAWS which chokes us into servitude.

While most LAWS are meant for our good and for our protection, we’ve overstepped the boundaries between LEGALISM & COMMON SENSE care for ourselves.

Lamentations 1:9 (NIV):

“Her filthiness clung to her skirts; she did not consider her future. Her fall was astounding; there was none to comfort her. Look, O LORD, on my affliction for the enemy has triumphed.”

ISRAEL’S IDOLATRY –

ISRAEL had become so adulterous from worship of idols, they couldn’t remember the days of walking in RIGHTEOUSNESS & HOLINESS before the True God.

Falling so far, so quickly that their younger generation didn’t know the God of their fathers; no recognition of Israel’s BLESSINGS of the past.  They lived with an attitude that was now the NORM for the people.

SIN had magnified itself so greatly, as to hide the fact, a PATH of righteousness was to follow.

A PICTURE of Our Society Today –

e4dc5d58e68f6e6cb4e2f6281d3a3b9cMy Nation, your Nation, is so caught up in gaining wealth…creating a great lifestyle…self-indulgence at all costs, we have forgotten the PATHS of goodness and righteousness presented in GOD’S WORD–your bible.

AND…if you are thinking that the Church is absent from this picture, think again!  I see it repeated in Social Media daily, without thinking about what they’re sharing, or displaying to the world.  Am I being too legalistic?  You will have to decide.

And the Recompense? 

OUR YOUTH in the land don’t understand, and haven’t heard of the SACRIFICES in the Biblical foundations of our country.  They don’t know the price of FREEDOM because they haven’t been taught.

AMERICA is a great nation ONLY…because of the BLESSINGS of the LORD upon it.

We now have a SOCIETY where the MAJORITY of the people believe… they have a RIGHT–

  • A RIGHT to be rich…
  • A RIGHT to live in a good home…
  • A RIGHT to drive a new car…
  • A RIGHT to health care.

All without any of the responsibility and accountability that accompany these RIGHTS.

“WORK” HAS BECOME A DIRTY WORD –

As a nation, we are becoming lazier each and every day.  We give no thought as a nation about God or Holiness at all!

Lamentations 1:16 (AMP):

“For these things I weep; my eyes overflow with tears, because a comforter, one who could refresh and restore my soul, is far from me. My children are desolate and perishing, for the enemy has prevailed.”

MY PRAYER–

Lord, how long will Your LOVE continue to BLESS AMERICA, even in JUDGMENT?  

Let your MERCIES be extended to us as a nation.  Holy Spirit, move in your people.  

Let there be a great REVIVAL UNLEASHED OF RIGHTEOUSNESS & HOLINESS UPON OUR LAND.

The EVIDENCE is here!

America is ceasing, perhaps has already ceased to be GOOD.  How long can God BLESS a nation who has turned its back on God?

BUT…”JESUS Is Calling America” –

John W. Peterson wrote the lyrics to a song in the early 70’s, “Jesus Is Calling America” from the Cantata, America:

Jesus is calling America,

Calling her back to the fold.

Jesus is calling America,

Calling the young and the old.

The title of the Peterson’s lyrics brought me, and hopefully you, to a bible verse in 2 Chronicles:

IF My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require necessity My face, and turn from their wicked ways, THEN will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14 AMP).

This is a great promise from God’s Word!

flag2chron7-14_www-mchenrycountyblog-com

HELP US LORD, as a people, as individuals, and as a nation to fall our face in REPENTANCE of our sins.

HELP US to humble ourselves before You, to seek Your face and pray for deliverance.

AMEN!!!

God loves you and I.

God loves America too.

But God’s LOVE must, one day, give way to justice & righteousness.

Let the body of Christ–the Church, across this nation, cross your nation, CRY OUT to God in REPENTANCE and PRAY for Revival in the Lord.

And REVIVAL always begins in the heart of each and every individual.  Unless we do, there is little HOPE that we will survive as nations enjoying PEACE & PROSPERITY.

For God’s JUDGMENTS will increase.  We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in the trouble to come.

If we, as nations in the world, don’t turn to God in REPENTANCE, social unrest will lead to all out rebellion in the streets and anarchy will reign.

OUR MAIN PROBLEM…

America’s main problem is not social unrest, or lack of health care, inequality of opportunity in the inner cities, poverty or any of these things; although all of these are problems that must be dealt with.

America’s main problem is…we’ve left worshipping the God of Heaven and taken JESUS out of our lives PUBLICLY; removed the Word of God from anything that’s PUBLIC.

REWARDS WILL COME, BUT…

If God’s going to BLESS AMERICA…BLESS YOUR NATION…we all must see those trends reversed.

PAR

 


 

FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Opening Statement –  [i] Exerts used from the Amplified Bible (a).

“THE TEN PLANKS” – [ii] The TEN PLANKS of the Communist Manifesto – http://www.criminalgovernment.com/docs/planks Communist Manifesto-All Ten Planks…In America!!! 

RESOURCE SEARCH:  Jack Wellman @ Christian Crier – http://www.patheos.com

Photo Credits:  BEWARE… found at courting of a kingdom.workers.blogspot.com; Google Image Search.

 

 

 

 

 

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~