Tag Archives: prayer

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

Appeal to Heaven

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare has left me, quite frankly, forlorn.  I feel like tearing my clothes and sitting in ashes as I watch personal freedom disappear.  The Supreme Court, being the highest court in the land is the final arbiter and what it says goes.  There is no other court in which to appeal.  Or is there?

I am reminded of a flag from the Revolutionary War.  It was flown by naval cruisers commissioned by George Washington in 1775.  It is a white flag with a green pine tree on it and the words, “Appeal to Heaven.”  It was and is a call to prayer.  If you know anything about the Revolutionary War and America’s Navy, you’ll understand why this was on the flag.  The modern day comparison of a British war ship and an American Cruiser would be like an M1 Abrams tank verses a pick-up truck with a machine gun mounted in the bed.  Appealing to Heaven was the only option for the American Patriots.

But it was the option that worked.  Our nation once again faces government oppression, this time in the name of “care”.  Now that the government is in charge of healthcare, do you think it will be long before they regulate what you eat, what you play, where you live, how many kids you can have and when you are too old to be affordable?  Already we get a glimpse of what is to come as New Yorkers are facing new laws about the size of soda they can buy.  Freedom is in danger and the appeals to the highest court in the land have failed.

But we would be mistaken and neglecting our heritage if we thought the Supreme Court had the final say.  There is a higher court still and you do not need a law pedigree to have your case heard in it.  Our forefathers were in the same position we face today.  They had exhausted their appeals to King George and Parliament and freedom had been denied them.  So they appealed to Heaven.  And Heaven heard their cry.

Now is the time for their descendants to cast their appeal heavenward and ask the Judge of Heaven and earth to deliver His children and restore their freedom.

Psalm 28

To you I call, O Lord my Rock;
    do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent,
    I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.
Hear my cry for mercy
    as I call to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
    toward your Most Holy Place.

Do not drag me away with the wicked,
    with those who do evil,
who speak cordially with their neighbors
    but harbor malice in their hearts.
Repay them for their deeds
    and for their evil work;
repay them for what their hands have done
    and bring back upon them what they deserve.
Since they show no regard for the works of the Lord
    and what his hands have done,
he will tear them down
    and never build them up again.

Praise be to the Lord,
    for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
    and I will give thanks to him in song.

The Lord is the strength of his people,
    a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
    be their shepherd and carry them forever.

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Filed under Freedom, Government, Prayer, Religious Liberty

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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Filed under Church, Prayer, Revival

Some Questions About What We Have Lost

Are you hungry for revival? Can you sense in your spirit that either God is going to bring revival or He is going to bring His wrath? I don’t think I have to convince many Christians that the times we live in are not good. The church is weak from its quest for cultural relevancy. We have lost our first love: Jesus.

The United Methodist Church is dying. The good news is the leadership of the church has begun to talk about it. But do we turn to Jesus for help?

We turn everywhere except Jesus. How many more books and seminars do we need to try before we turn to Jesus? I have not been to a meeting or conference where we actually sought the Lord in prayer. Prayer is the formal opening and closing activity, that’s it. Prayer must be THE activity. Didn’t the Apostles devote themselves to the Word and to prayer? Do we not believe that Jesus is real? That He is concerned about us, our church, the world and has solutions to offer us? Are we seeking Him?

I went to a roundtable discussion group a few years back and we were talking about what the church should be doing. Someone suggested prayer. One of the participants at the table said, “We need real solutions.” When faith and prayer are no longer real solutions for the church, we have more than forsaken our first love.

Are we ashamed of Jesus? Are we embarrassed by His Word? Are we afraid that if we take Him at His Word we will be labeled? The world has many labels that, in our quest for relevancy, we wish to avoid: close-minded, intolerant, fundamental, or God-forbid – Baptist.

Have we forgotten that we will stand before Jesus and give an account of our life? That if we are ashamed of Him and His words in this adulterous and sinful generation, that He will be ashamed of us before the Father? (Mark 8:38) I wonder, as a church, how much of His Word we really believe.

I do know this: When I stand before Jesus He is not going to tell me “Mike, you believed my Word a little too much.” It will be the exact opposite. “Mike, why didn’t you believe my words?”

Not only have we lost our first love, we have lost our heritage. The mission of the early Methodists was to spread scriptural holiness through the land. Can you imagine the reaction that would get today?

John Wesley would ride into town and preach, “Flee the wrath to come!” He preached to save lost souls and everyone who responded he put into a small group called a class to grow in holiness.

When was the last time we heard ministers preach about sin? Or even use the word, “sin”? How about preach repentance? Or scriptural holiness – much less try to spread it across the land? Or how about telling the people that they cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born-again? That would that imply judgment and we can’t have that. It is hard to convert people when we don’t believe they are in danger.

When ministers and the church are satisfied with no conversions we are beyond losing our first love, we are dead.

Revelation 2 records Jesus telling the church in Ephesus, “4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

The church needs to recover our first love! We need to turn to Jesus! We must abide in Him and have His Word abide in us! We need revival!

But how do we program revival? We can’t. Revival only comes when men and women despair at the condition of Christianity and the church and get on their knees and faces before God and pray for it!

And that is what is beginning to happen in northeast Florida. I’ll tell you more in my next post.

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Filed under Bible, Church, Holiness, Methodism, Prayer, Revival

The End Is Near…Maybe

As I look upon the state of the world, I can’t help but think the end is near.  I hear more and more people say, “We are living in the end times.”  These are normal people talking, not street corner preachers with the sandwich boards that say, “Repent! The End is Near.”

But as I look back through history, I can’t help but notice that people have thought that about every generation.  In every generation, someone has pointed to the signs of the times and feared, “This is it!”  So far they have all been wrong, but that streak will come to an end.  One generation will be right.  I wonder when.

The disciples wanted to know 2000 years ago and Jesus told them two things that seem contradictory.  “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” Mark 13:30.  And then v.32 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

Which is it?  No wonder the disciples were confused so much.  Obviously, it wasn’t in their generation.  It’s been 2000 years since Jesus declared that and we are still here.  But I bet when the Temple was destroyed in 70AD by the Romans, they thought the end had come.  In some ways it did.

Just a quick glance at the last century would make us think the end had come.  It began with a war so terrible they called it the War to End All Wars or The Great War.  That was followed by a Great Depression and another world war.  That ended with the atom bomb.  Followed by the moral devastation of the 60’s and 70”s followed by the disintegration of the family.  AIDS, famine, terrorism, Israel and the Middle East powder keg, and the list goes on.

What is He waiting on? Why didn’t God just end it? 

I think because there have been people asking Him not to.  I think there have been people praying for His mercy.  His children have been interceding and asking for His grace and salvation.  This is not unprecedented.

Because Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah, God was prepared to spare the cities if just 10 righteous people could be found in them. (Genesis 18.)

Exodus 32 records Moses interceding for the Israelites after they had made the golden calf.  God was prepared to wipe them out and start over with Moses, but Moses “sought the favor of the Lord his God.”  V. 14 says “Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.”

Jonah preached to the Ninevites, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”  The king called the people to repent, fast and pray.  They did and God showed mercy, much to the dismay of Jonah who prayed, “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” (Jonah 4:2.)  Jonah was hoping they would get what they deserved.

It appears as long as there is a man or woman of faith who cries out to God and intercedes for His mercy, God holds his full wrath at bay.  He is patient so that more might be saved.  That is His heart and His glory.  Perhaps the reason no one knows the day or hour, not even Jesus, is because God continues to wait on His people to intercede.   And when the day comes when there is no one to do that…

Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promises, as some understand slowness.  He is patience with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

It is not a coincidence that as He wraps up His end-times discussion in Mark 13, Jesus calls his disciples to keep watch, stay alert, be on your guard.  He is calling us to pray. 

 If we are concerned about the state of the world we need to pray and intercede for it.  We must, like Moses and Abraham, cry out for Him to be merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.  We must pray for the salvation of our neighbors, our nation, our world.

It’s been said that Abraham quit praying before God quit answering.  Would God have spared Sodom and Gomorrah for one righteous person? 

I think that the world could have ended in every generation since Jesus spoke those words, but there were faithful men and women who prayed and God showed His mercy and grace.  I believe the same is true today.  It could all end in my generation, but I am praying for God to demonstrate His patience, love, and mercy so that people won’t perish.  Will you join me?

Psalm 103:8  “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”  Just ask Jonah.

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Filed under Beliefs, Bible, Prayer, Revival