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Archive for May, 2012

The call to bring revival to a nation is not something that can be accomplished through any strength or wisdom that we possess in ourselves. No matter how badly you want to plunge into the fray and proclaim liberty in the land, the power to bring the presence and power of God that will ignite the Church is not something that can be flippantly learned in Seminary or produced with any carnally designed program. Only God can do that, and only in complete surrender are we able to lend ourselves as crucified vessels that He can work through.  Frank Bartleman, in recounting an encounter he had with the Lord, wrote that the Lord told him after he had received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, “If you were only small enough, I could do anything with you.”

Ah, here’s lies the crux, almost a Catch-22 if you would.  How does one maintain, or better put, achieve that place of true humility so that God can use you to do His mighty works?  On the one hand, we strive to get to that place of righteousness to have power in God while at the same time, try to be stay in that broken, crucified walk in God so we can be yielded to His power.  How does one strike that perfect balance?  Sounds simple … or is it?

David had it; Saul did not.  Perhaps that was because, for Saul, it was always about Saul. When he was little in his own eyes, he was found hiding amongst the stuff, but a couple years later, he was such a big shot that he didn’t think he had to wait on God’s prophet.  For David, on the other hand, it was never about David; it was always about God. Because of that, he was able to take on Goliath as a kid, and later as an adult with just a couple other guys, the entire Philistine army.  (2Samuel 23:9)

Any man of God who has had the power of God work through him will immediately be attacked by the enemy. Whether it is miracle healings, dynamic preaching, or supernatural revelation, no sooner does one experience the touch of God’s hand than that little wisp will pass through the back of his mind that, yes it was God’s power, but … ahem … He did choose to use you!  Satan will lightly sneak those thoughts in as subtly as he can. Obviously, if you think about it hard enough, you will recognize the devil’s handiwork, so he keeps as light a touch as he can … and then another … and then another, merging them ever so slightly into the several streams of your thoughts until he can find an anchor somewhere in your heart to attach his lines of vanity and plant his seeds of pride.

The challenge that faces a man of God who desires to be used in a supernatural way, therefore, lies in how to be “meet for the Master’s use” (2 Timothy 2:21) and yet keep his ego and self completely invisible.  God does not bestow His power on just anybody.  He may work through anybody, but He is careful to whom He entrusts His power. We must be careful that our desire to be used by God is not rooted in our own self image or desire for position in God, but entirely upon the promotion of the kingdom of God.  As I Corinthians 13 tells us, you can all the faith to move mountains, but if you do not have charity, it is worth nothing.

Easily said; not so easily achieved.  Any fool can spout off religious platitudes that boast of unearned righteousness and spirituality, but it is an entirely different matter to fight your way through the spiritual swamp of fleshly ego and pride that you have to negotiate through to arrive at that place where God can use you.

I often hear young Christians naively spout off that they have been called to be a prophet. My first response is to tell them to pray and beg God to change His mind and please choose someone else because you will die a thousand deaths before you enter into that calling.

Ego, pride, and self-awareness must be burned out of you before you are ready to enter into that place of real power.  God will give it to you in pieces – just enough to lift you up so He can break you down again.  Line upon line, one step at a time, until you gradually become empty of self.  Jacob had his Laban, Joseph his prison, and Moses his desert, and you will have your desert place of cauterizing fire to take the “you” out of you so God can fill you up with Himself.  His goal is not to change you, but to kill you.  You are to be purified into transparent glass so that when people look at you, it is not you that they see, but the fire of God that is in you.

And so with the power that works through you, there is a deep innate understanding that it is not you but God who is working through you to do these miracles. You are nothing but dust and ashes; you don’t even own the breath in your body. You are dead in Christ, crucified to the world, numb to pride and arrogance. Any place that Satan could have gotten hold of has been broken away. You have finally surrendered to God.

When you are no longer mindful about yourself or your spiritual place in God – when you just simply do not care anymore – then you are finally “meet for the Master’s use” and ready to wield the power of God so that He, and He alone, will get the glory.

 

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ImageGilbert Tennent, by David Smithers

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”  (Psalm 119:71) 

It was upon the bed of affliction that Gilbert Tennent was taught of God. In approximately 1728 this young gifted Presbyterian minister become extremely ill. Uncertain if he would recover, he entered into a deep vision of eternity and time of repentance. He writes, “I was then exceedingly grieved I had done so little for God . . . I therefore prayed to God that He would be pleased to give me one half year more. I was determined to promote His kingdom with all my might and at all adventures.”

Mr. Tennent’s prayer was answered, and he was revived in both body and spirit. He labored as never before to, “Sound the trumpet of God’s judgment and alarm the secure by the terrors of the Lord.” He was a man literally consumed with a vision of the holiness of God. As a result he urgently warned the stubborn sinner and hypocrite of a final judgment and eternal hell. The anointed George Whitefield writes of him, “Hypocrites must soon be converted or enraged at his preaching. He is a son of thunder and does not regard the face of man. He is deeply sensible of the deadness and formality of the Christian church in these parts, and has given noble testimonies against it.” Gilbert Tennent preached as if “never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.”  His preaching was far from typical of his day. A historian of the “Great Awakening” describes the average minister’s methods, “The habit of the preachers was to address their people as though they were all pious and only needed instruction and confirmation. It was not a common thing to proclaim the terrors of a violated law and insist on the absolute necessity of regeneration.”

Mr. Tennent himself describes this kind of popular preaching. “They often strengthened the hands of the wicked by promising them life. They comfort people before they convince them; sow before they plow: and are busy in raising a fabric before they lay a foundation. These foolish builders strengthen men’s carnal security by their soft, selfish, cowardly discourses. They have not the courage or honesty to thrust the nail of terror into the sleeping souls!” From 1736 through the 1740’s, Gilbert Tennent’s ministry was greatly blessed in promoting revival among the middle colonies in America. His ministry overlapped and supported the ministries of such godly men as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. He carried with him the very seeds of revival, and when he preached, REVIVAL FIRE FELL. It must be remembered that the American church in the 18th century would probably have died of dry rot without the Spirit-filled ministry, of Gilbert Tennent. During one of Bostons most severe winters, people waded through the snow night and day for the benefit of hearing the fiery Tennent preach. “You could criticize him; you could praise him; but you could not ignore him!” No one slumbered peacefully when he was around; not even the church. Gilbert Tennent was in truth, the voice of one crying in the wilderness – REPENT!

He could boldly warn men of the wrath of God because he had boldly agonized and travailed for their souls, “Often his soul wept in secret for the pride and obstinacy of those who refused to be reclaimed.” Throughout Tennent’s ministry he kept his zeal and love for Christ fervent through constant prayer. “He made prayer his chief and most delightful employment.”

Proverbs 27:1 says, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth..” We have no promise of another day or even another hour, yet we too often live and breathe for the things of this world. What we desperately need is a revelation of eternity, of a real hell, and of a God who is to be loved and feared! If we truly had such a vision, we would not let one day go by without urgently warning the sinner and backslider. We would not let one hour go by without fervently praying for a true heaven sent revival.

Original article: http://www.watchword.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=44

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It is easy to talk about what we should do to have a revival in the church, but the real question is how do we do it?  Where do we get the drive and desire, the passion and zeal, and the excitement to push past our flesh to accomplish these things that we know we have to do?  How do we build a fire in the church that will spread throughout our community and create the excitement that brings revival?

Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth; we are the savor that salts the meal that we offer to the world.  Our salt is supposed to make that meal taste so good to the unsaved that they will want more, but if our salt has lost its savor, it is good for nothing. If we bring the unsaved into a church that does not have a fire burning in it, if the salt has no taste to it, then they will turn around and walk back out. If you have nothing more to offer them than what they can already get out in the world, then why should they surrender their lives to your dead religion? 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto Salvation. It is not some dead philosophy about God, not some intelligent idea with a new perspective on life and Eternity.  If that is all you have to offer, then you have no Gospel at all, and you have nothing to offer unsaved souls that are hungry for Truth. We need power in our messages and fire in our churches.  All the theological knowledge in the world will do no good without it.

But when there is a fire burning in the church, everything happens naturally. The excitement rises in each of the members of the congregation until they find themselves racing out into their community to tell others what is happening in their church.  Their neighbors can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices, and the excitement begins to spread. Like a fire in a field of grass, once it catches hold, the fire cannot be stopped.

The only thing that will build a fire is another fire. Understanding that makes it easy to see that to build a fire in the church, we need to first build a fire in the individuals in the church.  Fire burns up, not down. A fire in the pulpit will only bring conviction. The fire needs to start in the pews, and from there it will spread amongst the congregation and then it will set the rest of the church on fire.

How do we do that? The simplest answer I can give is that everything in serving the Lord always comes down to those same two things: reading and prayer. But it begins with the Word because the Word of God is the source of all power. It is the Word of God that created the entire Universe and it is the Word of God that will bring revival so that, in the end, it will be God who gets the glory, not man.

The Word gives you knowledge and understanding. It gives you wisdom in the fear of the Lord and discernment in spiritual things. It washes you from uncleanness and gives you power over sin. It gives you Light to see and ears to hear. And it gives you the power to pray.

If you are going to pray, you have to believe what you are praying for; otherwise it will do you no good because without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). And where do you get faith? From hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10:17).  So it is the Word of God that gives you the faith to be able to pray.

But to build a fire, you need both fuel and a spark.  The Word of God is the wood and prayer is the spark. Either by themselves will not burn, but put them together, and you will start a fire.

When you take the faith that you gained through reading the Word of God to the Throne of God in prayer, the Spirit and the Word will agree in one (1John 5:7) and the Spirit of God will come down. You now take that Spirit that you just received in prayer back to the Word and you will go deeper. When you go deeper, your ears will open even more and will increase your faith. You take that increased faith back to prayer and you will go higher. When you go higher, you will get more of the Spirit. Take that Spirit back to the Word again, and you will go even deeper. And then higher to the Throne in prayer; and then deeper into the Word; and higher in prayer; and deeper in the Word; and on and on until a fire begins to blaze in your heart and sets you on fire!  That’s how it is done!

And when you are on fire, you will set others on fire, and they will set even more people on fire … and it will spread like a wildfire in your church. When your church is on fire, it will spread that fire throughout your community.  And when your community is on fire, it will keep on burning until revival falls out of the sky.  And then nothing can stop it.

… but it all starts with reading the Word of God.

In the story of the wedding at Cana of Galilee in John chapter two, God has left us specific instructions about how to bring a move of the Spirit to the church.  Jesus and His disciples were invited to a wedding feast but they ran out of wine. The wedding feast is a picture of the Church and wine is symbolic of the Spirit, so a wedding feast without wine is like a church without the Spirit of God in it.

Mary, knowing her son, told the servants in a very specific authoritarian tone, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it!” [emphasis added]  Want revival? Then whatever he tells you to do, do it.

What did Jesus tell them to do?  Jesus said, “Fill the waterpots with water.”

Water has always been symbolic of the Word of God.  We see this in the passage in Ephesians 5:26 that speaks of the washing of the water of the Word. We see it in the Rock that brought forth the water, in the Laver of Brass in the tabernacle, and in many other places. Also to be noted is that there were six waterpots of stone – six is the number for man, and the waterpots represent the vessels of clay who are made by the Great Potter – the people in the church.

So what is Jesus telling us to do?  Fill the people in the church all the way up to the brim with the water of the Word of God – not halfway or almost full, but all the way up to the brim!  When the waterpots are filled to the brim, the Spirit and the Word will agree in one, and the water will turn to wine!

Can there be any instructions more specific? Do we not understand that all power emanates from the Word of God, nowhere else? Not from books, seminars, videos, singing or dancing, not from holding a good thought, nor any other human endeavor or substitute – only from the Word of God which framed the worlds, created the Universe, brought forth life into existence, and then went to the Cross to shed Blood for our atonement and sanctification.  You cannot do it any other way because there is no other power that can bring forth revival in your church.  Jesus said that without Him, you can do nothing … and He is the Word of God.

You want a fire in your church? Read the Word of God. Read and read and read and read until you are filled to the brim with the power of the Word of God, and then go pour out the wine unto the governor of the feast. 

No excuses. No substitutes. No other way.

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