Posted in 2Chronicles, Revelation

Pray For America

“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 I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2Chronicles 7:14

God tells us here that the future of our nation lies in the hands of His people. Sometimes as Christians we think that worldly people are the reason our nation is going down hill. We think God’s eyes are on the sins of the world and that He is planning judgment on America because of it.

The truth is that God’s eyes are on His church. Yes, if the church does nothing then America will receive the judgment of God because of all its sins. But what if the people who are called by God’s own name (Christians) humble themselves before God and repent on behalf of the church and the country? What if we sincerely ask Him for a revival in our country and welcome Him to start with us? Could God give, in this critical hour, undeserved mercy instead of deserved judgment and save this nation? Absolutely.

So let’s purpose to repent:

  1. For the pride in our hearts and the pride of the church that has said in its heart, “I need nothing.” (Revelation 3:17) Let’s humble ourselves and acknowledge our desperate need for God personally and corporately.
  2. For the prayerlessness that has come out of our pride. Let’s start praying more often and for longer times. Let’s ask Jesus like His disciples did, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
  3. For seeking God’s hand (what He can do for us) instead of His face (who He is and what ways bring Him pleasure). We’ve often wanted to use God for our ends instead of submitting to God for His ends. Dear Lord, forgive us.
  4. For our wicked ways. Everything that we do that God has already said is wrong in His word: immorality, lying, stealing, contentiousness, selfish ambition, slandering fellow human beings, etc. Ask for forgiveness for these things and then purpose to stop doing them.

Now as you pray for America, believe that He wants to hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.

Posted in 2Corinthians, Acts, Matthew, Revelation

The Open Floodgates

“Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2Corinthians 3:17-18

A few years ago I was part of a region-wide worship night and we were singing, “Let it Rain.” As the congregation sang: “Open the floodgates of heaven,” the worship leader kept singing, “The floodgates of heaven are open.” She had the words wrong.

Then it hit me. She was the one who had the words right. Sometimes the songs we sing are a reflection of the theology we are currently believing and not how it really is. I am familiar with the: “Open the floodgates”, theology; let me explain.

God wants to pour out His Spirit, in this view of things, but He can’t. If the church was repentant enough, prayerful enough, worshipful enough, and desperate enough, He then would open the floodgates of heaven and there would be a revival. This is a heavy message and produces Christians who strive harder and harder only to fail again and again. I know, I’ve been that Christian.

Now let’s look at what is true. “Let it rain, let it rain; the floodgates of heaven are open, let it rain.” We still must value and ask for the rain of God’s presence because He wants to be wanted and will allow us to do church without Him if we think we don’t need Him. (See Revelation 3:15-20) But we don’t need Him to open the floodgates of heaven, He already has. Jesus’ blood opened heaven for us, the veil has been torn down. (See Matthew 27:51)

God pouring out His Spirit in and through us is not a difficult thing; it’s the normal Christian life. As His favored sons and daughters, we have easy access to all the riches of His table and can easily drink from His river of delights, if we’ll only believe. The floodgates are open, and it’s His express purpose to pour out His Spirit on all flesh that we may speak of the glory of God as those who encounter Him regularly. (Acts 2:17-19)

This describes  the type of Christians we’re increasingly becoming.  Favored children, carrying His very presence, and reflecting His glory wherever we go. What a great adventure to be on!

Posted in 1Samuel, Luke, Mark, Revelation

Hear, and be Healed

“A great number of people from all over Judea came to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch Him, because power was coming from Him and healing them all.” Luke 6:17-19

Health care is a problem today. As we age there are more pains and blockages as well as the risk of external parts and internal organs wearing down and no longer functioning as they should. The medical community can help, and they do what they can, but for many things there is only a pill to treat symptoms and no real promise of healing.

Jesus is a healer. He can and does use doctors, but sometimes He acts apart from them, like in the text above. Two things grip me in this passage – one relates to humanity; the other to Divinity.

The people came to “hear Him and be healed.” There is a great tendency in our culture to want to be healed from God without listening to God. The idea that God might want to correct me is offensive in a culture which insists that any correction is being “judgmental.” God loves us and wants us to be healed but to Him the heart, the inner person, is more important than the body. When He sees us He looks through the outward appearance to what’s really going on inside. (1Samuel 16:7) He wants to speak to us. Jesus’ last recorded words are found in the book of Revelation where seven times He repeats the same phrase: “He who has ears let him hear what the Spirit says to the church.” (See Revelation 2 and 3)

The second thing about this text that amazes me is the Divine generosity. Divine power flowed from Jesus and it was “healing them all.” When Jesus is free to be who He is in our midst, healing power to restore and deliver is available to all. Oftentimes we restrict what He is able to do by our unbelief (Mark 6:5-6), or by our busy schedule which distracts us from ever stopping long enough to hear, or be healed.

Posted in Exodus, Jeremiah, John, Revelation

Drinking the Spirit

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39

We will never have rivers flowing out of us into this needy world until we learn how to regularly drink of God’s precious Spirit. It is not enough to believe in the Spirit, or even acknowledge our need for the Spirit; we must drink. Why don’t we regularly drink of the Spirit?

  1. We don’t drink because we are often trying to get a drink of something this world offers. “My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) Sports, TV, hunting, fishing, video games, work, and education are all neutral things unless we are looking to them for the renewal that only God can give, then they become leaky cisterns. Alcohol, pornography, gambling, smoking, and drugs are often the doorways to addiction for desperate people that started out only knowing that there was a thirst in their souls. God said that He alone is a fountain; an unending supply of renewal and refreshing for those who truly bring their thirst to Him.
  2. We don’t drink because we presume we already have drunk because we go to church, pray, and read the Bible. One of the saddest pictures in the Bible is Jesus outside the door of His own church knocking in Revelation 3:20. He has everything they need but He’s unable to give it to them because they have adjusted their lives and expectations to what they already have so they aren’t even asking for more. “I have need of nothing,” is what they say. 
  3. We don’t drink because we aren’t confident of God’s heart toward us. Exodus 34:14 in the New Living Translation says, “The Lord your God is passionate about His relationship with you.” God doesn’t just love you and me, He likes us. He wants to be with us. Jesus didn’t just die so that we could be forgiven and go to heaven some day. He died so that we could come into God’s presence now, and regularly drink of His Spirit.
Posted in Hosea, Isaiah, Revelation

Falling Off the Wall

“The prophet is considered a fool, the inspired man a maniac. The prophet, along with my God, is the watchman over Ephraim, yet snares await him on all his paths, and hostility in the house of his God.” Hosea 9:7-8

Even though God sets people on the wall (Isaiah 62:6-7) to align with His purposes and to pray for His will to be done on earth, it’s easy to fall off the wall. Here are five reasons why people who are genuinely called to watch over the church in prayer, fall from the ministry God set them in:

  1. Self-doubt. Watchmen have prophetic experiences to inspire them to pray, but because everyone doesn’t experience the same things they do, they are called “maniacs;” or in our day, made out to be “weird.” It’s easy to question whether God really did speak and to question why He would tell you and not everyone. “Who do I think I am?” is often an accusing thought. 
  2. Rejection. “Hostility in the house of God” means everyone doesn’t appreciate your intensity. Sometimes church leaders feel threatened by people’s “revelations” and seek to shut watchmen down. 
  3. Suspicion. Revelation 12:10 tells us that Satan is “the accuser of the brethren.” He will mimic prophetic experiences (He disguises himself as an angel of light) to watchmen that sow suspicions in their hearts about leaders and churches. He uses things that have actually happened and were actually said to make the case that God is against His own church because of their many sins. 
  4. Discouragement. In a pragmatic world that supremely values action, it can seem like prayer is a waste of time. When Mary poured precious perfume on Jesus, the church leadership said, “Why this waste?” (Matthew 26:8) Needs will always exist and there will always be time to do practical things after prayer, but please know that the highest calling is to “waste” time worshiping Jesus. 
  5. Depression. In a place of intercession God shares some of His burden with us. We see clearly how wide the gap is between how things are and how they should be. Our burden must be prayed back to God because the government is on Jesus’ shoulders, not ours. (Isaiah 9:6) The enemy would have us be self-proclaimed martyrs who are carrying everyone’s burdens for them.
Posted in John, Matthew, Revelation

Twice His

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door I will come in…” Revelation 3:20

A boy and his father carved out a toy sailboat from a block of wood. The boy had great delight in his creation so he put his initials on the bottom, and the toy became almost like a friend to him. He carried it with him during the day and kept it by his side when he slept at night.

One day a tragic thing happened. While the son was playing with his boat in the river behind the house, it got away from him. He ran to the house to tell his father and together, they searched downstream to no avail. But months later they attended an auction at a neighboring town farther down the river, and the son saw that a toy sailboat was being auctioned. Could it be? He ran over to it, turned it over, and was overjoyed when he saw his initials. He put it back on the shelf and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would own that boat again. Whatever this toy was worth to someone else, it was worth more to him. He would gladly give all he had to own his boat again.

After winning the auction, we could say that the boat belonged to the boy a twice over – once on the basis of creation and a second time on the basis of redemption. God feels the same way about you and me. In great love, the Father and the Son created us by the Spirit and the mark of their design is all over us. Your brain, eyes, skin, muscles, and internal organs are all proof that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. But sin has taken us down the river from a holy God removing us from His presence, but not from His thoughts. He planned our redemption and paid for it when He gave His life for our sins.

He has already paid for our redemption but refuses to make us go with Him. He calls (Matthew 22:14), enlightens (John 1:9), draws (John 12:32), and knocks (Revelation 3:20), but He won’t push, grab, force, or manipulate. The part of our salvation He delights in is us saying, “yes,” in response to His grace, with our own free will. It doesn’t matter how far down the river of sin you are. It doesn’t matter how deep your doubts, how evil your thoughts, or how blasphemous your words have been. He still loves you and in His mind you belong to Him twice.

Posted in Revelation

Blood Colored Glasses

“The accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” Revelation 12:10-11

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “rose colored glasses.” It’s a derogatory term signifying that someone refuses to live in the real world. To protect themselves, people can simply choose to not acknowledge evil, pain, and tragedy that is happening all around them. This is a survival device and is convenient because if I don’t see problems, I am not responsible to help solve them. If I don’t allow for brokenness in human beings, I don’t have to be part of their healing.

God’s plan for us is not denial, but redemption. The enemy is an accuser and he’s very effective because of the truth in his accusations. Things really are bad; you really did commit that sin; that tragedy really did happen… His case seems airtight which allows us to justify a response of despair and even joining with his accusations of those around us in the name of, “I’m just telling the truth.”

But the accuser never tells the whole truth. The whole truth includes the fact that God loves us and Jesus died for us. My sins have been paid for on the cross and so have yours and so have the sins of everyone you know. Evil is happening but it won’t win. Tragedy happens, but God can also work in and through all things if we allow Him to.

When we put on blood colored glasses, we see the world as God does; through His redemption. There’s no person so lost they couldn’t be saved; there’s no problem so big, it can’t be solved; and there is no death that can’t be the seed of a greater resurrection. Let’s take off the rose colored glasses that cause us to be blind, and let’s take off the dark glasses of accusation that cause us to despair. It’s time to embrace our redemption and bring the good news to all who are hurting around us in this difficult world.

Posted in John, Revelation, Romans

Intimacy with God

“This is eternal life, that they may know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You sent.” John 17:3

We had an amazing conference a few years ago called “Intimacy with God”. We had incredible speakers, but the highlight was a strong awareness of the wonderful presence of God. Here are some of the truths highlighted from our speakers.

  1. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) One of the great hindrances to intimacy with God is the feeling that we are only tolerated by God. The truth is that we are not only accepted in Christ, we are a delight to Him. God doesn’t just love us, He likes us.
  2. God is a Father who wants us to succeed, not just for a little while, but until the end. He wants us to become godly people who overcome the sin nature through vigilance and perseverance. Intimacy with God does not mean everything will be easy for us, it means that God loves us enough to train us for righteousness.
  3. Intimacy with God does not mean that we will be famous in front of people. God will give a stone to those who overcome that has a name on it that no one knows accept the one who receives it and God Himself. (Revelation 2:17) There is a privacy in intimacy where you and God share things that no one else gets to share with you. Our culture is often about publicity and appearance before others, but God values those who live to please Him regardless of whether people recognize them.
  4. Ultimately intimacy is not about our pursuit of God, but about His pursuit of us. The greatest road to intimacy is in a commitment to following these three words: “Follow the light.” As God pursues you, purpose to respond quickly and you will discover an adventure where God reveals Himself to you again and again.
  5. There are two wings to the Christian life: Intimacy with God and activity for God. Without both of these wings we will not be able to fly the way we want to or in the way God wants us to. It is easy to focus on one or the other but we need both. James said that faith (intimacy) without works (activity) is dead.
Posted in 1John, 2Corinthians, Revelation

Overcoming the Accuser

“The accuser of the brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” Revelation 12:10b-11

The enemy of mankind tempts people to justify their sins and independence before they come to Christ, but when they become believers, he switches his strategy to persistent accusation. Notice in the text that he doesn’t accuse all people, but only those who call themselves believers. All believers succumb to accusation once in awhile, but it is possible to live overcome by so much accusation that there is no joy or sense of victory in our faith. God doesn’t want us to live under accusation so He tells us specifically how we overcome it.

First, by the blood of the Lamb. The power of Satan’s accusations is the truth in them. We have sinned and failed in the past. He can bring back something we did twenty years ago, or a bad attitude we’ve had recently, or a failure last week and make it seem like any victory is beyond us. It may be true that we’ve sinned in the specific way he is accusing us of, but that’s not the whole truth. The whole truth is that God loves me anyway which is why Jesus came and died for my sins, and now, His blood washes me completely clean when I confess my sins to Him. (1John 1:9) Remember the song: “Oh happy day, oh happy day, when Jesus washed, He washed my sins away.” That’s the other side of truth and must be what we agree with to find victory. Trying to defend yourself and your actions will only lead to deeper condemnation. The power to overcome is not in our righteousness, but in His. When we really believe in His cleansing, every day can be a happy day!

Second, by the word of their testimony. We must never lose the power of how our story intersects with God’s. His story is the gospel, sending Jesus to die for our sins. Our story is how we were drawn to Christ and became saved. Our testimony is a reminder of the new identity we have in Christ. The enemy will try to tie your identity to your old life in sin, but whenever we recite our testimony (to ourselves or others), we are reminded that our identity isn’t in our sin, but in His new life in us. 2Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Posted in 2Peter, Hebrews, John, Luke, Matthew, Psalms, Revelation, Romans

Stored Wrath: A Look into Hell

“But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath when His righteous judgment will be revealed.” Romans 2:5

God wants us to contemplate hell now, so we don’t end up there. We are told to behold both His kindness and His severity (Romans 11:22) as a protection from us ever having to experience His severity. In His mercy toward us, Jesus spoke more about hell than heaven, not as a threat to His enemies, but as a warning to His friends. Jesus doesn’t want any of us to go to hell.

As we take a look into hell from this text, we can see three things:

  1. God doesn’t send anyone to hell; we send ourselves there. “You are storing up wrath against yourself.” Jesus died so we could be forgiven; He’s already tasted death for us. (Hebrews 2:9) No one needs to go to hell when God’s expressed will for all of us is to be saved. (2Peter 3:9)  If we end up in hell, we will have only ourselves to blame.
  2. God’s anger and wrath against sin is being “stored” now, but will be poured out then. We all outlive our bodies and will face the day of judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) Those who have rejected Christ’s love and payment for their sins will make their own payment in the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)
  3. God’s judgment will be righteous. Those who have not received eternal life will eventually be destroyed in the lake of fire, body and soul. (Matthew 10:28)  They died physically once, received back their bodies before final judgment (Revelation 20:13), and then will physically die again in the lake of fire which is called the second death. They will eventually perish in hell (John 3:16) but not before they pay, by conscious torment, for every sin they committed against humanity. (Luke 12:47-48)  They will ultimately be consumed by eternal fire and will eventually be remembered no more. (Matthew 3:12; Hebrews 10:27; Psalm 37:38)

C.S. Lewis said in The Great Divorce, “Some would rather rule in hell than serve in heaven. And to those who reject Christ’s rule He will say: ‘Your will be done.’”