Category Archives: Revival

Broken Compass

My friend asked upon reading my Facebook intro (Something to do the day after)to my last blog, “What do Christians do now that the president is still the president?!”  I assume she was asking, “What has changed that has so many people bummed out.”  On the surface, nothing.  But the election revealed, in black and white clarity, America’s moral compass is broken.  

Proverbs 13:34 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”  What would our founding fathers say about legalizing the recreational use of marijuana and same-sex marriage in some states?  What would they say about mandating people pay for abortions?  What would they say about religion, holiness, and morality as it effects the nation?

Let me introduce you to John Witherspoon.  Witherspoon was a Presbyterian minister, President of Princeton College, a New Jersey delegate to the Continential Congress, and signer of the Declaration of Independence.  The following is an excerpt from a sermon called The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men.  Preached in Princeton in 1776, Witherspoon offers some great wisdom for us in connceting our faith and our national character.  There is some real practical advice and truth offered here to anyone who would “turn from our wicked ways and seek God’s face.”  Here’s John…

“Suffer me to recommend to you an attention to the public interest of religion, or in other words, zeal for the glory of God and the good of others. I have already endeavored to exhort sinners to repentance; what I have here in view is to point out to you the concern which every good man ought to take in the national character and manners, and the means which he ought to use for promoting public virtue, and bearing down impiety and vice. This is a matter of the utmost moment, and which ought to be well understood, both in its nature and principles. Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue. On the other hand, when the manners of a nation are pure, when true religion and internal principles maintain their vigour, the attempts of the most powerful enemies to oppress them are commonly baffled and disappointed. This will be found equally certain, whether we consider the great principles of God’s moral government, or the operation and influence of natural causes.

What follows from this? That he is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy to God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country. Do not suppose, my brethren, that I mean to recommend a furious and angry zeal for the circumstantials of religion, or the contentions of one sect with another about their peculiar distinctions. I do not wish you to oppose any body’s religion, but every body’s wickedness. Perhaps there are few surer marks of the reality of religion, than when a man feels himself more joined in spirit to a true holy person of a different denomination, than to an irregular liver of his own. It is therefore your duty in this important and critical season to exert yourselves, every one in his proper sphere, to stem the tide of prevailing vice, to promote the knowledge of God, the reverence of his name and worship, and obedience to his laws.

Perhaps you will ask, what it is that you are called to do for this purpose farther than your own personal duty? I answer this itself when taken in its proper extent is not a little. The nature and obligation of visible religion is, I am afraid, little understood and less attended to.

Many from a real or pretended fear of the imputation of hypocrisy, banish from their conversation and carriage every appearance of respect and submission to the living God. What a weakness and meanness of spirit does it discover, for a man to be ashamed in the presence of his fellow sinners, to profess that reverence to almighty God which he inwardly feels: The truth is, he makes himself truly liable to the accusation which he means to avoid. It is as genuine and perhaps a more culpable hypocrisy to appear to have less religion than you really have, than to appear to have more. This false shame is a more extensive evil than is commonly apprehended. We contribute constantly, though insensibly, to form each others character and manners; and therefore, the usefulness of a strictly holy and conscientious deportment is not confined to the possessor, but spreads its happy influence to all that are within its reach. I need scarcely add, that in proportion as men are distinguished by understanding, literature, age, rank, office, wealth, or any other circumstance, their example will be useful on the one hand, or pernicious on the other.

But I cannot content myself with barely recommending a silent example. There is a dignity in virtue which is entitled to authority, and ought to claim it. In many cases it is the duty of a good man, by open reproof and opposition, to wage war with profaneness. There is a scripture precept delivered in very singular terms, to which I beg your attention; “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart, but shalt in any wise rebuke him, and not suffer sin upon him.” How prone are many to represent reproof as flowing from ill nature and surliness of temper? The spirit of God, on the contrary, considers it as the effect of inward hatred, or want of genuine love, to forbear reproof, when it is necessary or may be useful. I am sensible there may in some cases be a restraint from prudence, agreeably to that caution of our Saviour, “Cast not your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rent you.” Of this every man must judge as well as he can for himself; but certainly, either by open reproof, or expressive silence, or speedy departure from such society, we ought to guard against being partakers of other men’s sins.”

You can find the whole sermon here.  I’d love to hear your reaction to Witherspoon, so please share your thoughts.  I’ll share some of mine in my next post.

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If My People

I try to tell myself that today is no different than any day in the last four years. No wonder I feel terrible. I turned off the tv last night about 10:30 and went to bed. I went to bed, but I didn’t get much sleep.

This morning and throughout the day I have received emails and texts from friends asking some hard questions. “I don’t understand how God would allow this leadership in government. Is this His will?” “How do I get past the anger and anxiety?” “What are Christians suppose to do now?” Reminds me of the Psalmist lament in 11:3, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous to do?” I wish I had an answer for the Psalmist.

One friend told me she could not remember an election so prayed over. I had made that same observation. I can’t recall more materials coming across my desk, more calls for prayer and fasting, and even prayer meetings for an election than this one. “Why didn’t God answer those prayers?” I don’t know that one either.

But I can say this with full confidence: Purity is on the other side of the refiner’s fire. God wants a holy people. And let’s be honest, the church is far from it. Oh, we’ll be decent and kind as long as it doesn’t inconvience us, but even in churches we don’t use the word “holy” anymore. We pretend the word is too offensive to others, but the reality is, it’s too offensive to us.

Our nation is in need of a Great Awakening. The foundations are being destroyed before our eyes and we are helpless to do anything about it. Or are we? I believe the cure begins with each one of us. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Did you notice who God requires to humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways? Is it the entire country? Is it the government? No, it is His people. We must be the ones to pursue holiness in our lives. And when we do, God will heal our land.

The world will continue to act like the world. But judgement comes when God’s people act like the world. Or didn’t we read the Old Testament? How serious are you willing to get with the Lord about your sin and His holiness? Are you willing to turn from you wicked ways? Will you humble yourself before the the Lord? There is no more time for games with God. He is not one to be triffle with.

What we do now as Christians is to humble ourselves before God, confess our sin and turn from it, and seek to honor Him in all our ways. Then God will hear us and heal our land.

Psalm 139:23-24

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Tune in tomorrow to hear from Jonathan Witherspoon, a minister and signer of the Declaration of Independence, on his thoughts concerning this.

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Filed under Church, Discipleship, Government, Holiness, Prayer, Revival

Winners

There is not a parent alive who has ever watched their son or daughter step onto the field or court and not begin to pray that they would win. Some kindhearted parents will say they prayed that their child would do their best. But let’s be honest, even they want their child to win. The truth is we want our children to be winners.

I don’t believe that is anything to be ashamed of. I want my kids to win when they play sports. Of course, I expect them to practice good sportsmanship whether they win or lose and I value the character gained from losing and playing again. But I pray for them to win.

And I pay as well. I pay for batting cages, lessons, equipment, travel teams, and booster club fundraisers. I do so willingly and hope that my investment will pay back with several checks in the “w” column. I also pay with time spent at practices, backyard drills, etc. Can you relate? I bet you can because I see what other parents do to make their kids winners and I know I’m not alone.

And it isn’t just sports that we want to see them win. It’s everything from academics, arts, hobbies – anything and everything. We want our sons and daughters to be winners and we train, pay, and pray to make them such.

But what about winners of souls?

The Lord floored me with that thought recently. Am I training, paying, and praying for my kids to be winners of souls? Is that even on my radar screen? I spend time and money working with them and praying for them so they can acheive a trophy that will collect dust. And then I read Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

The crown Paul is seeking is souls. Saving souls is what he’s after. People are what he is trying to win. To the Christians in Thessalonica he writes,, “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” (1 Thessalonians 2:19). And to the Church in Phillipi, he calls the people he has won to Christ his “joy and crown” (Philippians 4:1).

To Timothy, who Paul considered “my true son in the the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2) he writes, “I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season” and “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:2,5). Paul was training and praying for Timothy to be a winner of souls and obtain a crown that won’t perish, spoil, or fade.

I’m afraid I have been majoring in the minors. But that is changing. I am now praying each day for my kids to be mighty winners of souls for the Kingdom. I’ll still pray for them during their games and such, but I will also be praying for the Lord to use them to win souls for Him. I will encourage them to be prepared in season and out of season to share the hope they have in Jesus. I will show them how to pray for their lost friends and I will train them how to lead a friend to faith in Jesus. Of course, this means I’m going to have to get in better shape as well. Game on.

I love my kids and I want them to be winners and receive a crown that will last for all eternity. Above all else, I want them to be winners of souls.

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To Your Knees!

Continued from How to Start a Revival.

Revivals start with prayer.  That’s a great Sunday School answer.  But what am I to pray?  It is always wise to begin prayer by humbling yourself before the Omnipotent, Omniscient, Creator of the Cosmos.  Confession is always a good thing.  Admit you need revival in your own heart and life.  Repent of whatever sins the Holy Spirit shows you and ask Him to pray through you (Romans 8:26-27).

Once you get yourself revived, you’re ready to pray like Paul.  2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.  We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“We constantly pray for you”.  Not only is Paul constantly praying, he is praying for them.  “Christians must pray for all things, of course, but prayers for people are infinitely more important, just as people are infinitely more important than things.” (E.M. Bounds, The Weapon of Prayer, Chapter 6.)

We are to pray for people: that they might believe on Jesus and be saved, born again. That they might live holy lives, “that God may count them worthy of His calling.”  We pray that people might be filled with God’s power to do good things and fulfill every act prompted by their faith.  And we pray that Jesus would be glorified in them.  That is what Paul is praying for these Christians in Thessalonica.

What do you think would happen in our church if we began praying for each other in this manner?   Can you imagine worship services where people gather in groups of threes and fours and pray for each other like this.  Would God answer these prayers quickly and in amazing ways?  Would lives be transformed?  Can you hear the testamonies?   I think revival would be around the corner.

 “Praying is not child’s play – not a secondary affair, or a trivial matter, but serious business.  Praying for others takes hold of time and eternity and things beyond the grave.  It is a business that involves heaven and earth.  All worlds are touched and influenced by prayer.”  (Bounds, Ibid.)  Who have you been praying for in this manner that Paul shows us?  Start with those closest to you and see how God moves.  He is anxious to answer these prayers.

Praying for others is so important that when Jesus teaches the disciples to pray, He says, pray “Our Father, give us our daily bread, forgive us, as we forgive, lead us, deliver us.”  Jesus teached us to pray in the plural.  When we pray the Lord’s prayer we are praying for others! Our families, our churches, every person that calls God, “Father”.     

What are we waiting for?   “To your knees!” is the clarion call to the church first and foremost!

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How to Start a Revival

I am convinced that the church needs revival. I am convinced that revival is this country’s only hope. So how do you start a revival?

I recently met with a group of men to talk about prayer and revival. God’s will was one of the points of the discussion. How do you know what to pray for? How do you know if it is God’s will? It becomes a stumbling block to our prayers when we aren’t sure what to ask for or how to go about asking for it. We freeze up and our prayers become timid and unsure.

I find this passage inspiring. I’ll share some thoughts on this passage and revival over the next few posts. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12. “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“We constantly pray for you.” We best learn by example and so Paul is modeling for them the first thing they should do. Pray! And to do it constantly! E.M. Bounds writes, “The one weak spot in our churches lies right here. Prayer is not regarded as being the primary factor in church life and activity, and other things, good in their places, are made primary.” (The Ministry of Prayer, Chp 7). We do lots of things, have lots of activities, but where is prayer on the list? It’s the formality. It is how we open and close an activity, not the activity itself.

That is not the case with Paul. He is showing them to pray constantly, make it your number one thing you do and do it all the time. Paul has already told them this as he closed his first letter to them, “pray continually” 1 Thes 5:17.

Revivals always begin with prayer. Are you hungry for revival? Do you look at the world and sense in you spirit that we are in need of a mighty wind from God? Then begin to pray continually. Gather others together and pray with them as well. Make prayer THE activity.

Isaiah 62:6-7 “I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.”

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Power of Prayer: D.L. Moody

D.L. Moody gives this illustration of the power of prayer: “While in Edinburgh, a man was pointed out to me by a friend, who said: ‘That man is chairman of the Edinburgh Infidel Club’.  I went and sat beside him and said, ‘My friend, I am glad to see you in our meeting. Are you concerned about your welfare?’

“I don’t believe in any hereafter.”

“Well, just get down on your knees and let me pray for you.”

“No, I don’t believe in prayer.”

“I knelt beside him as he sat, and prayed.  He made a great deal of sport of it.  A year after I met him again I took him by the hand and said: “Hasn’t God answered my prayer yet?”

“There is no God.  If you believe in one who answers prayer, try your hand on me.”

“Well, a great many people are praying for you, and God’s time will come, and I believe you will be saved yet.”

“Some time afterwards I got a letter from a leading barrister in Edinburgh telling me that my infidel friend had come to Christ, and that seventeen of his club men had followed his example.  I did not know how God would answer prayer, but I knew He would answer.  Let us come boldly to God.”

That should get us bending our knees a bit more.  The story comes from The Purpose of Prayer by E.M. Bounds. 

 

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Praying For Revival

It’s time for a spiritual gut check.  If we are going to recover our first love for Jesus we need to take an inventory of our beliefs.  Do we believe the promises Jesus makes about prayer?  In Matthew 7:7-8 He promises, “Ask, seek, knock.”  In Mark 11:24 He claims,  “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.”  John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.”  Do we believe these words?  Are they real?  If we can’t, if they are not real then we are wasting our time. 

John Wesley said, “God does nothing except in answer to prayer.”  James writes, “You don’t have because you do not ask.”  Have we asked God to restore our first love?  Do week seek His face for solutions?  Do we knock on the doors of heaven for revival?

Isaiah 64:7 laments, “No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for You have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins.”  I like how the Amplified Bible says it , “And no one calls on Your name and awakens and bestirs himself to take and keep hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us and have delivered us into the [consuming] power of our iniquities.”  We must awaken and stir ourselves up for the Jesus.  We do that by prayer. 

This past Sunday 160 people from UM churches across Jacksonville gathered together for that very reason.  We repented of our prayerlessness and asked for revival.  We began to seek it and we are going to push on and bang on the door of heaven until it opens and God pours out His Holy Spirit on us and we have revival! 

We moved into groups of 3 and began praying for 4 specific things.  I hope that you will join us as well.

1) Pray for the Holy Spirit to empower our preachers and leaders.  2) Pray for the lost to be saved.  3) Pray for God’s people to turn from sin and grow in holiness.  4) Pray for revival in the United Methodist Church. 

Isa 62:6-7, “I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem;
    they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the Lord,
    give yourselves no rest,
and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
    and makes her the praise of the earth.”

I am asking you to be a watchman on the walls and give yourself no rest until revival comes.  Give Jesus no rest until He pours out His Holy Spirit in power on us and gives us revival like never before.  Pray, pray, pray!  Pray on your own, with your family!  I believe God will answer our prayers and send revival.  But how will we know when revival comes?  What will it look like?  I’ve got a few ideas…

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Filed under Beliefs, Church, Methodism, Prayer, Revival