The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Driven by the Vision of God

Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah and Daniel. He was a prophet called by God to minister to the exiles and is therefore referred to as a post-exilic prophet. Ezekiel is referred to as the prophet of visions because he received numerous visions from God. He was driven by these visions to a ministry that would remind the exiled captives why they were in the predicament they were in but also to strengthen those who genuinely repented of their sin and returned with their hearts to God.

Ezekiel is a book about the vision of God and its effect on people. The visions of this book are effective and influential because they are visions from God. Our world and the people in it lack vision. There is no sense of right and wrong. There is little sense of direction. The result is a world and people community that is wandering aimlessly in a fog. Someone has suggested God recall humans for reasons made clear by this illustration:

Important Recall

The maker of all human beings is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to the serious defect in the primary and central component, or heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been technically termed, Sub-sequential Internal Non-morality, or more commonly known as S-I-N, as it is primarily symptomized by loss of moral judgment.
Some other symptoms are:
(a) Loss of direction; Loss of vision
(b) Foul vocal emissions
(c) Amnesia of origin
(d) Lack of peace and joy
(e) Selfish, or violent, behavior
(f) Depression or confusion in the mental component
The manufacturer, who is neither liable or at fault for this defect, is providing factory authorized repair and service, free of charge, to correct this SIN defect, at numerous locations throughout the world. The number to call for the recall station in your area is: P-R-A-Y-E-R

WARNING: Continuing to operate the human unit without correction voids manufacturer's warranty, exposing owner to dangers and problems too numerous to list, and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded. For free emergency service, kneel and call on the name of J-E-S-U-S for prompt assistance at any location worldwide.

The importance of vision is stated in the Proverbs: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18). A major reason why our nation, this world and even parts of the church are foundering is because it has no vision. Where there is vision, there is usually the wrong vision. We need God’s vision to flourish. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We need to ask a definitive question first.

What is vision? The Hebrew term used in Ezekiel 1:1 to translate “vision” is marah which means literally, a vision, a mirror, or looking glass. Based on this term’s definition, the visions viewed by Ezekiel in this book were like observations made in a heavenly mirror or looking glass. God revealed through the use of visions the spiritual implications of Ezekiel’s immediate as well as future historical and personal circumstances.

Later in the book of Ezekiel a different term is used to refer to vision:

Ezekiel 12:22-25 - “Son of man, what is this proverb that you people have about the land of Israel, which says, ‘The days are prolonged, and every vision fails’?23 “Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I will lay this proverb to rest, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.” But say to them, “The days are at hand, and the fulfillment of every vision.24 “For no more shall there be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel.25 “For I am the LORD. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,” says the Lord GOD.’ ”

In these verses the term “vision” is a translation of the Hebrew word chazon which also is generally translated, “vision.” This term does not appear before 1 Samuel and is predominantly seen in prophetic books. Chazon is a word used almost exclusively to refer to divine revelation or communication; a message received by prophetic vision; and that which is essential to the survival of a people (Proverbs 29:18). This word also can refer to that which is received by and written down by a prophet as in the case of Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1). Based on the above portion of scripture we see that the people of God had been given false visions or visions that were not from God and this led them in part to their captive state of affairs.

A vision therefore, is a supernatural enablement, communication, or revelation from God to see the spiritual significance in life and history. A God sent vision helps us see the will of God whether in the present, past or future. The vision God provides is the ability to see into the spiritual realm, and the ability to have spiritual insight that a person would not normally have in their own ability. This vision provided by God motivates and ignites within the recipient, a desire to fulfill, proclaim and be a part of God’s divine plan revealed by the vision. When God gives a vision to a person, He is saying, “That is what I desire to do; this is when and how I will do it.” We need vision from God to direct our paths and lead us to the throne of His grace. The vision of God to man is essential to man’s survival.

In the book of 2 Kings Chapter 6 the Syrian Army came up against Israel during the prophetic ministry of Elisha. At one point in the battle Elisha’s servant awoke to see the city of Jerusalem surrounded by the Syrians. Quickly he runs to Elisha to give him the news. Elisha is settled and confident in the face of this danger because of his spiritual vision. He prays for the servant to receive the same spiritual vision. The following is an excerpt from this account:

2 Kings 6:15-17 – “And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Now I do not mean to imply that if we pray to God He will always give us a vision like the one this servant received. He may, but He may not. The point I do want to make is that God will give us spiritual vision in that He will enable us to see the hidden spiritual battle taking place around us. God will enable us to see the spiritual significance of our everyday circumstances of life and ministry. He will give us vision of what His overall plan is for a situation, area, or circumstance of life. That spiritual insight comes from the vision of God.

William Carey was born in 1761 to poor parents. At a young age he learned the trade of a cobbler. He had an interest in world geography and foreign languages. At age 18 he went into the ministry being called by God from work on the soles of shoes to work on the souls of men. Carey had the heart of a missionary. On May 31st, 1792, he preached a landmark sermon from Isaiah. His text was Isaiah 54:2-3:

Isaiah 54:2-3 - “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes.3 For you shall expand to the right and to the left, And your descendants will inherit the nations, And make the desolate cities inhabited.”

During the course of his sermon he coined the phrase that would ignite a worldwide mission’s movement that would eventually earn him the title, “The father of modern missions.” The phrase that ignited the movement encapsulates the meaning of being driven by the vision of God. That phrase was: “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” When we talk about being driven by the vision of God that is what we mean!

What is your source of vision? Is it God and His word or the world or some other resource? We need God’s vision to cut through the fog of this world and its views. We need God’s vision to see clearly. That’s why we should seek to be driven by God’s vision.

Would You Consider?

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. - 1 Corinthians 4:1

Dear Friends,

This blog is a ministry. From time to time it is good to assess ministry in order to be a good steward of the time and effort involved in its upkeep and to determine the leading of the Lord.

In order to gauge the direction in which the Lord is leading would you consider joining the membership of the Shepherd of Hope blog site?

Would you consider inviting others to become members of this site? This will enable me to determine the direction in which the Lord is leading.

Joining the blog site will give you an automatic notice when a new teaching or other material is posted. It will also help gauge the audience which the site is reaching. This will give a better indication about what materials are most appropriate to minister to those interested in the site. It will also help in considering how to broaden the ministry field.

To join the blog just click the button on the right side of the blog site and follow the instructions. It's very easy.

I would also welcome your comments and suggestions about how to better the site and make it more helpful and God glorifying.

If you choose not to join the blogsite, would you please give the reason for your decision.

Even if you choose to disregard this request, would you also consider praying for this ministry venture in faith?

You are appreciated and I pray the Lord directs you to join me in this ministry. God bless.

in His service, by His grace, for His glory,

Pastor Claude

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ghostly Encounters

We watch innocent children play in a playroom at home and all of a sudden a child with death in its face pokes its head momentarily through a shadowy doorway behind them. The hair on the back of our necks stands up in response. Self -proclaimed “scientists” go from place to place testing to verify whether or not reported ghostly voices, shadowy figures, scary touches, or emotional impressions are real. It all draws in the curious and makes for popular TV. What is really going on here?

Did you know that there is someone in scripture who experienced a similar ghostly encounter? Read the experience of Eliphaz as recorded in the book of Job:

Job 4:12-17 - “Now a word was secretly brought to me, and my ear received a whisper of it. 13 In disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, 14 Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones shake. 15 Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair on my body stood up. 16It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; there was silence; then I heard a voice saying: 17 ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?

To understand what is going on here the context of the passage is very important. Job is a book about trusting God in terrible times of suffering. It is a book about the meaning of true faith. True faith isn’t based on reward or blessing, it is based on a trusting relationship with Almighty God. But the context of this book is often glanced over. The book opens with a description of Job as, “the greatest of all people of the East” (1:3). What makes Job so great? His holy walk with God and concern for the spiritual welfare of his family (1:5). What matters most is God’s assessment of Job. God says, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” (1:8). God is proud of “His servant” Job. We should all desire or God to think and say the same things about us. But who was God speaking to when He said this?

God was speaking to Satan when he commented on Job. The “sons of God” or angelic beings come to present themselves before God. Satan, (a fallen angelic being) joined in coming before the LORD (1:6). Once before the LORD God asks Satan where he has been. Satan’s response is important to note. He says, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it” (1:7). And it would not be presumptuous to say that Satan goes to and fro throughout the earth with ill intent.

The New Testament states:

1 Peter 5:8-9 - Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

Job is in part, a book about resisting Satan. After the second chapter Satan is not mentioned again in Job. And yet Satan’s encounter with God is the backdrop for the entire book.

Spiritual warfare is the setting for the book of Job. God brags on Job, Satan responds with a ridiculing retort:

Job 1:9-11 - 9 So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”

God accepts the challenge and removes His hedge of protection from Job (1:12). Satan ruthlessly removes Jobs wealth and family (1:13-21). Job’s faith proves steadfast. “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (1:22).

Satan wasn’t satisfied. He again goes before the LORD and again describes his dealings as, “From gong to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it” (2:1-2). This time God again boasts on Job saying, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and suns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause” (2:3). God glories in the steadfast integrity of His servant Job. Notice Job is referred to by God as “My servant.” Job lives for the LORD. Job sees His life and the circumstances of it as fully surrendered to the LORD. This is verified by the description of Job’s response to his loss. The passage states:

Job 1:20-21 - 20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

None of us in our right mind would want to experience losses like Job did. But if we ever do, we should pray for Job’s attitude as expressed by God’s inspired word here.
Satan wasn’t satisfied; he never is. He proudly challenged God’s words again with rippling rebellion saying, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” (2:5). Ah, there is Satan’s motive and goal. He wants to get Job to curse God. God gives permission for even this (2:8). Notice God is sovereign; nothing happens to Job; no attack is made without the express permission of God. Satan and God are not equals. Satan is under the sovereign control of God. But God gives Satan permission to physically afflict Job in an effort to test his faith.

What strategy does Satan rely on besides the actually destruction of Job’s wealth, health and family? We see it in the reaction of Job’s wife. After having lost all and being further physically afflicted Job’s wife encourages him to do exactly what Satan so desired, “Curse God and die!” (2:9). Job’s wife is culpable in that she stopped be a helper to Job and turned to being a defeated antagonist to her husband. Satan often works to divide and conquer in the marriage relationship. Remember Eve and Adam (Gen. 3). Job’s response to his wife is suited for any spouse who acts like her; “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” The summary assessment of Job is, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (2:10). Satan will stoop to anything to accomplish his cursed plans. And he didn’t stop there.

Job, the biggest loser on earth at that time, having been ridiculed by the one closest to him, his wife, he is then joined by three friends (2:11-13). At first they didn’t even recognize Job so torn was he by his circumstances. But when they did see who it was, they wept with their friend and tore their clothes in empathy. Then they sat down with him for seven days of silent sorrowing together (2:11-13).
Job then speaks and starts what will become an incredible dialogue with his friends and ultimately with God in an effort to explain his circumstances. Who is to blame? Why has this happened? These are the questions addressed in this incredible book. That is the context of the ghostly appearance mentioned earlier.

The first of Job’s friends to respond in an effort to explain Job’s circumstances and set him right, is Eliphaz. And it is Eliphaz who bases his words on “a word” that “was secretly brought to me” by the ghostly figure in the night. Eliphaz and the other two friends Bildad and Zophar, as well as a fourth young late comer named Elihu are all in the end rebuked by God (42:7). Now we can’t attribute all of their response to ghostly apparitions, but at least we can do so for Eliphaz. The account given by Eliphaz concerning the ghostly appearance in the night is not coincidental. There is spiritual warfare going on here. This ghostly appearance is also not solitary in its occurrence.

When we look in the Bible we find other incidents of spirits influencing people. A spirit of ill will had an ill effect on Abimelech (Judges 9:23). King Saul was distressed by a spirit after he had disobeyed the LORD (1 Sam. 16:14-15; 19:9). Lying spirits influenced false prophets (1 Kings 22:23). Satan himself influenced King David to momentarily not trust in God but instead trust in his own earthly forces (1 Chron. 21:1). Jesus cast out evil spirits from people in the New Testament (Mat. 8:16; Mark 1:23-27). And Judas’ heinous betrayal of Jesus is linked to Satan entering him (Luke 22:3).

A point to be made here is that the “friend” of Job who should have encouraged him became a source of discouragement and aggravation in part as a result of passing on words he had received from a ghostly figure in the night. It is not farfetched to associate this ghost with the work of Satan. His desire is to compound Job’s pain with relentless accusations from those closest to him over the bulk of the book of Job. It wasn’t that Satan entered his friends. They believed in God and had a relationship with Him. But they allowed themselves to be influenced by Satan through a ghost inspired (satanically motivated) response as well as their own proud presumptuous reasoning based on very limited information. Proverbs states, “Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive” (Prov. 17:28). They should have kept their peace.

The broader point to be made is that Satan worked to manipulate and influence others for his purposes by way of a ghostly appearance. The Bible says:

Ephesians 6:12 - 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Job’s enemy was not his friend; it was Satan and his demons. Satan is an intelligent being. He was once a gloriously beautiful cherub but he fell in pride to ugliest of adversaries of God (Ezek. 28:12-17). Satan is a defeated foe. Jesus defeated him publically and decisively at the cross (Col. 2:15). But he is still at work and he will stoop to anything to work his plan to bring people to curse God. Today we see his work in the proliferation of ghostly occultic interests. Satan plays on the curiosity for the unknown in people yet blinded by Him (2 Cor. 4:4). He wants to distract people from the reality of God and His love and grace and salvation by creating an environment where people seek ghosts instead of God. Our response should be to, “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5:11). Look at what happened with Job and his friends. Shine the light of truth on the deceptive darkness of Satan. Expose the ghostly encounters for what they really are, a work of Satan. May God help us by His Spirit in this task. All to His glory. Amen.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Restore Us O God

Psalm 80 speaks of a time hardship in which the restoration of God is needed for His people. The difficulty apparently had led to depression and discouragement. They were beginning to realize they needed God’s restoration. They needed to be revived. They had lost their passion for God. Perhaps this loss of passion was the cause of their difficulties.

There is a lesson for all of us to learn from this psalm. Do you have a passion for God? Are you only so-so or lukewarm? Jesus finds such a state in His followers repulsive. He said as much to the church of Laodicea (cf. Rev. 3:14-22). And unfortunately the contemporary Church is much like the Laodiceans. One commentator states:

The New Testament Church did not depend on a moral majority, but rather on the holy minority. The Church right now has more fashion than passion, is more pathetic than prophetic, is more superficial than supernatural. The church the Apostles ministered in was a suffering church; today we have a sufficient church. Events in the Spirit-controlled Church were amazing; in this day the Church is often just amusing. The New Testament Church was identified with persecutions, prisons, and poverty; today many of us are identified with prosperity, popularity, and personalities.

Jesus rebuked the Laodicean church for being lukewarm, thinking they had need of nothing while in reality they were spiritually “wretched, miserable, poor, bling, and naked.” Jesus counsel to them was to “buy from Me gold refined in the fire.” The key is “from Me.” Jesus said to these people, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” The gold, the most valuable possession of Jesus, is our intimate relationship with Him; coming into His presence. “He who has an ear, let him her what the Spirit says to the churches.” Hear what Psalm 80 says about restoration and revival.

Psalm 80:1 - Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth!

God is prayerfully appealed to as the Shepherd of Israel His flock. And this is no small thing. Someone has said

The self-satisfied do not want to pray.
The self-sufficient do not need to pray.
The self-righteous cannot pray.

God has been working on these people. Their circumstances and loses are percolating within them and has finally brought them back to their God.

As Shepherd, God directs us to green pastures of His word to graze in, protects us from predators, and keeps us close to His presence. This presence is alluded to in the words, “You who dwell between the cherubim.” This brings to mind the ark of the covenant whose lid had two gold cherubs with wings outstretched toward each other. This lid was “the mercy seat” (Exodus 25:17ff.). It was here where God’s glory, His presence manifested itself to His people (Exodus 40).

Here is a call for the glory of the Lord to “shine forth!” God’s glory or shinning forth is closely connected with the manifestation of His presence (e.g. Exodus 32 and 33). When we look at the Old Testament God led His people with a pillar of fire by night. The fire of the LORD provided warmth, light to see the way in the dark, and protection from enemies. As the Shepherd of Israel, God oversees Israel like a flock. The psalm starts off with a pronounced recognition of God’s Shepherding oversight and then cries out for it to be renewed in the lives of the people.

2 Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, Stir up Your strength, And come and save us! 3 Restore us, O God; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!

Here is a call for revival. A revival is an extraordinary manifestation of the glory of God. The word “restore” can also be translated “Turn us again” and means to return or go back, bring back. The people had lost something and were crying out to God to restore what had been lost. That they cry out for God to shine forth implies they were missing the presence of the LORD in their lives. They rightly associated this with salvation and sought to be restored.

4 O LORD God of hosts, How long will You be angry Against the prayer of Your people?

The people of Israel sensed the displeasure of God. What might have incurred the anger of God toward His people? Sin causes God to turn a deaf ear to the sinner (cf. Psalm 66:18). God is holy and pure and finds sin and wicked practices repulsive (Hab. 1:13). Sin separates us from God who is Holy (Isaiah 59:2).

Now God’s people were coming around. They were coming to recognize their wrongs before God and wanting restoration were crying out to God for restoration. God waits to assure that the sinner recognizes the seriousness of their sin.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his book Revival states:

“If you do not see your hopelessness, and your utter despair, before this holy, righteous God, who hates sin with the whole of his being, you have no right to talk about revival, or to pray for it. What revival reveals above everything else is the sovereignty of God, and the iniquity, the helplessness, the hopelessness, of man in sin.” – p. 42

Without a humbling recognition of our sin and guilt, revival will not come.

5 You have fed them with the bread of tears, And given them tears to drink in great measure.

The first step to restoration is conviction for the sin that hinders. This involves repentance and that repentance involves a deep teary sense of regret and a desire for restoration with the Lord. It is not mere shedding of tears. It is a deep conviction for sin that results in a change of mind and heart toward that sin (2 Cor. 7:10). Repentance means we regret our sin, desire restoration and do not plan to repeat that sin. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts the sinner of their sin (John 16:8-11).

6 You have made us a strife to our neighbors, And our enemies laugh among themselves.

Without God’s presence, we are impotent and helpless, a laughingstock before our enemies. When we stray from the Lord and His word our relationships with those around us often become adversarial and aggravated.

7 Restore us, O God of hosts; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!
Repentance then leads to a cry for God to shine forth; for His glory and power to come down again on His people.

8 You have brought a vine out of Egypt; You have cast out the nations, and planted it. 9 You prepared room for it, And caused it to take deep root, And it filled the land.

Israel is the vine God rescued from the world of Egypt and planted in a fruitful place where it could take root. The LORD is the Vinedresser who digs, plants, cares for and cultivates the vine of His people (Luke 13:6-9).

10 The hills were covered with its shadow, And the mighty cedars with its boughs. 11 She sent out her boughs to the Sea, And her branches to the River. 12 Why have You broken down her hedges, So that all who pass by the way pluck her fruit? 13 The boar out of the woods uproots it, And the wild beast of the field devours it.
Israel was growing and spreading until she lost God’s protective covering. She was lunging ahead of the Lord. Without God’s covering she was vulnerable to robbery and loss. She was in danger of being uprooted and devoured. Without God we are at the mercy of others. We need to guard against lunging ahead or lagging behind the Lord. We need to walk in step with Him; going where He wants us to go and staying where He wants us to stay. That is true of individuals. That is true also of nations.

In the book of Jeremiah we read:

Jeremiah 18:7-12 - 7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, 8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. 9 And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, 10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it. 11 “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now everyone from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” ’ ” 12 And they said, “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.”

God always gives ample warning before He passes judgment. He is merciful in that if a nation repents He will relent of the disaster they deserve because of their sin. It that nation continues in sin, God will relent of doing good to that nation. God warned Judah about their sin and the consequences. They disregarded God’s call to repentance as “hopeless!” They saw no future in following God. That’s sad. They went into captivity and suffered greatly.

When we look at the United States today and view it through the lens of Jeremiah’s prophetic word I shouldn’t surprise us to see the many troubles our nation is experiencing. Our nation has been indoctrinated from within through education and the media to forsake God. We as a nation seem to see no future in following God. We too cry, “hopeless!” And if we as a nation persist in our rejection and resistance to God, that hopeless cry will apply to us in some very grave ways. What is the answer? What is the solution? Revival!

14 Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts; Look down from heaven and see, And visit this vine
We need to call out to God for His return, “Lord visit us again! We miss You! We need You!” It is only when we come to God as the only solitary and preeminent need for our lives, the indispensible and supreme Person in our lives, the King of kings and Lord of lords, only when we are willing and eager to have Him take His rightful position in our lives, then and only then will He bring revival to us.

The poem Revival – God’s Way by Estelle Gifford Jackson expresses what is needed for revival to come:

Revival – God’s Way

Where is the hope for Revival –
God’s Holy Spirit outpoured
Convicting of sin, and of judgment,
And righteousness of the Lord?

When nothing else is important –
Only God’s presence Divine,
When Christians quit worldly pleasures,
Then God, His ear will incline.

Desperate prayer for Revival
Will cleanse the Church by the Word.
Then clothed in spotless, white linen,
The Bride clears the way for her Lord.

Prayer is the key to Revival,
Prayer that is true Spirit-born,
Nights of compassionate weeping – Intercession for all the forlorn.

Then will the burdens be lifted,
Then all the sinners will cry,
Then all the chains will be loosened
And worldly passions will die.

The lost ones will yield to God’s Spirit
When Christians, cleanses, weep and pray;
God’s Living Water flows outward;
This is “Revival – God’s Way”!

15 And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted, And the branch that You made strong for Yourself.

We need to return to the root truth that we are what we are because of God and without Him we are lost! America has a godly Christian heritage. When need to get back to our roots.

16 It is burned with fire, it is cut down; They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.

Without God we are lost! Ready to be burned in the fire! Perishing at His rebuke! Like Israel, God brought them into the world and God can and did take them out as a nation. He would eventually restore them, but only when they had paid their just due and been thoroughly disciplined by Him.

17 Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself. 18 Then we will not turn back from You; Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!
We need the touch of Lord. We need His strength. We need revival! We need God’s reviving power! Restore us O LORD and shine Your glory down on us! Without Your touch we are weak and wasted. We need revival. Then and only then, when revival comes, can we call upon God and experience the shine of His glorious presence in our lives. Then and only then will we experience His salvation life. Then and only then will we find restoration.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

We Need Great Answers to Prayer

"We need great answers to prayer, changed lives and situations - answers that bear upon them the stamp of the divine. We need mighty demonstrations of the reality and concern of God and of His activity and power, which will force the world to recognize that God is truly God, that God is sovereign, and that God is involved in His world today. We need mighty answers to prayer that will bring new life to the church and new strength, faith, and courage to faint believers that will silence, dumbfound, and convict evil men; and that will thwart, defeat, and drive back he assaults of Satan." (Wesley L. Duewel, Mighty Prevailing Prayer, p. 20).

Monday, October 3, 2011

What is An Afterglow Service?

The Origins of Afterglow – The concept of an afterglow service is derived from an event found in Exodus 33 and 34. God’s people had fallen into great sin (Exodus 32:1-29). Moses had interceded for them and secured God’s forgiveness, but not without discipline (Exodus 32:30-35). God then tells Moses that He will not accompany the people on their journey to the Promised Land because of their stiff-necked stubbornness (Exodus 33:1-6). Moses responds by pitching his tent outside the camp where “the LORD talked with Moses” (Exodus 33:7-11). Moses prayerfully beseeched the LORD for grace and that His presence would go with them and the LORD agrees (Exodus 33:12-17). It is then that Moses, who loved the LORD and just couldn’t get enough of the LORD, asked Him, “Please, show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18). God consented saying:

“I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 21 And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33:19-23).

Moses experienced a bit of God’s glory passing by (Exodus 34:1-9). This concluded with a reaffirmation of God’s covenant with Moses and the people (Exodus 34:10 ff.). But it also resulted in an afterglow on Moses face (Exodus 34:29-35). In the New Testament this afterglow of Moses is referred to by Paul. It is explained that while Moses afterglow wore off the afterglow that comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit does not fade away. We are transformed from glory to glory by the Spirit of the LORD (2 Cor. 3:1-18).

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – During times of discouragement and confusion we are instructed in scripture not to depend on human resources alone but on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Zech. 4:1-6). The work of God is not done in our strength, but His. And God’s empowerment is promised to us in the Baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5, 8). This is a promise of God that is for us today (Acts 2:39).

This baptism with the Holy Spirit is a second work of God’s grace. The disciples who were born again in the gospels (John 20:22; John 3) were instructed by Jesus to wait in Jerusalem until they received the empowering work of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:1ff.). It purifies the heart from obstacles to fully serving the Lord (Luke 3:16). It isn’t a question of getting more of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit getting more, or all of us. It is a question of total surrender in faith to the Holy Spirit to serve His will in and through us.

The experience of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit recorded in the Book of Acts indicates that the reception of this empowerment was often accompanied by particular spiritual gifting, e.g. speaking in tongues (Acts 2:3, 4, 11; 10:46; 19:6); speaking prophecy (Acts 19:6). Sometimes this experience is accompanied by indeterminate but evidently noticeable behavior (e.g. Acts 8:17-18). The important thing is not the phenomena associated with the experience of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. The important thing is that you experience the empowerment of the Spirit so that you can live victoriously and serve Him more effectively for His glory.

How can we receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit? - The experience of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is received by faith (Acts 15:8-9). When we pray for something that is God’s will we can be confident that God hears and that He will grant our request (1 John 5:14-15). Therefore, if we pray to God in Jesus name asking Him for this Baptism with the Holy Spirit, we need only receive it and then step out in faith relying on it. Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13).

What is the Evidence of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit? - What difference does the Baptism with the Holy Spirit make in our lives? D.L. Moody said that after he received the Baptism with the Holy Spirit that his messages didn’t change but their effect on the hearers did. The Book of Acts is a historical account of how people baptized with the Holy Spirit can impact the world.

An evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives is greater effectiveness in ministry (Acts 2:40-47). There will be victory inwardly in defeating fleshly desires (i.e. selfishness; the sinful nature; e.g. Galatians 5). We will experience a more vibrant spiritual walk and effective prayer life (cf. Rom. 8). The greatest evidence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit is not gifting but a fullness of God’s love (Rom. 5:5; 1 Cor. 12 – 13 the love chapter – 14; Gal. 5:22a).

If the power is not there when we step out, we must consider that there remains an impediment in our hearts and lives that God still wants to work on and remove (Acts 2:37-39). Our problems as Christians are often the consequence of trying to live in our strength instead of the Spirit’s power (e.g. Gal. 3:1-3).

Refreshing - Because we are human and weak there are times when we need to be refreshed in this empowering work of the Spirit in our lives (e.g. Acts 4:31). We need to be continuously filled with the Spirit which involves a daily moment by moment yielding to the Spirit (e.g. Eph. 5:18). The Holy Spirit will help us in our weakness (Rom. 8:26a).

An Afterglow Service - An Afterglow service therefore, is a time when we seek to come closer to God. It is a time where we seek to fully surrender to Him. The heart is deceitful. Only God can know our hearts (Jer. 17:9-10). We should ask God to reveal anything in our hearts that hinders us from experiencing His fullness of the Spirit (e.g. Psalm 139:23-24). God’s word is His scalpel to help us discern the thoughts and intents of our hearts (Heb. 4:12). And when He exposes something He wants to deal with, we need to confess it, receive forgiveness and surrender it to Him (1 John 1:7-9).

An afterglow service in line with God’s word will be done decently in order (1 Cor.14:33, 39-40). Jesus said the teaching of His word would be followed by signs (Mark 16:17-18). If tongues are spoken they need to be interpreted (1 Cor. 14:27-28). If a prophecy is given, it should be judged (1 Cor. 14:29-32). Such a service is about coming closer to the Lord. An Afterglow service can include a devotional on the workings of the Holy Spirit, waiting on the Lord in prayer, worship, and/or Communion.

Our desire should always be to come as close to and go as deep with Jesus as possible. Afterglow services are one way to present ourselves to God to go deeper with Him. Seek Him with all your heart and you will find Him (Jer. 29:13; cf. also Rom. 12:1-2). I pray you experience His afterglow.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Please, show me Your glory."

Exodus 33:18 - And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”

A September 9th news report issued by Reuters online news service entitled Ordinance would Cover Naked Bottoms ( ) reported that San Francisco Supervisor Scott Weiner introduced an ordinance requiring nudists to cover their bottoms in public places and wear clothes in restaurants. If you didn’t already know, public nudity is permitted in San Francisco. The news report reads as follows:

"I see it pretty regularly, and unfortunately there are nudists who are not doing what they should," Wiener told Reuters.

The nudists, who expose themselves most often in the city's famous gay neighborhood, the Castro District, have got Wiener and others worrying about public health.
"I'm not a health expert, but I believe sitting nude in a public place is not sanitary," he said. "Would you want to sit on a seat where someone had been sitting naked? I think most people would say, 'No.'"

Wiener, who represents the Castro neighborhood, said he hears from merchants who fear the public displays may drive away customers, hurting the business' bottom lines.

That's particularly true in restaurants. He acknowledged that he has not seen any research establishing a health risk. "But when you have your orifices exposed in an eating establishment, a lot of people don't like it," he said.

California does have legislation against indecent exposure. But the law is lenient enough that it has barely affected San Francisco's current coterie of flaunters.
Weiner's proposed ordinance will next be assigned to a committee, and Wiener expects a public hearing within months. Clothing required.

What is notable about this article is the absence of any concern for public decency. The only concern is for sanitary conditions and economic harm. We are living in an age and nation where “morality” is becoming more and more passé, if not considered at all. Morality is so broadly defined that it is becoming a nonentity in society.
These types of things are happening on our watch. Where is the church in all of this? Too often it is a leader in ever worse immoral conduct. The church and our world needs to be reconciled to God. We need to be brought back into alignment with God and His holy ways. We need a revival.

In the Bible we find a situation not unlike our present day immoral circumstances. Moses was on the holy Mount Sinai receiving God’s Law when God interrupts their conversation to tell Moses he need to return to the people for they had entered into great sin (cf. Exodus 32). It is in connection to this historical context that Moses uttered to God the key to dealing with such immoral conditions, “Please, show me Your glory.”

The Context of the man who asked to see God’s glory

It was Moses who said to God, “Please, show me Your glory.” The context of this verse gives us insight into a holy attitude and inexhaustible resource in God.
The positive contextual aspects of Moses were that he was he was a man chosen by God to lead one of the greatest and most miracle filled victories in the entire Bible; one that is regularly referred to throughout the Bible - the Exodus out of Egypt (Exodus 1-12). He was a man chosen by God to lead the children of Israel in one of the most miraculous escapes in the entire Bible; one referred to regularly throughout the Bible – the parting of the Red Sea and the passing through it (Exodus 13-15). He was a man chosen by God to lead His people through the wilderness where God provided for the people in incredibly miraculous ways (e.g. manna - Exodus 16; water from the rock – Exodus 17). Moses was a man chosen by God to be His instrument to impress unbelievers (e.g. father in law Jethro - Exodus 18). He was a man who spent chapters 19-31 mostly on Mt. Sinai with the Lord receiving His Law, order of priests, and Tabernacle designs and instructions (13 chapters!). He was a man chosen by God to lead a people afflicted with alzheimers (short term memory loss about the work of the Lord in their lives) who passed the test of God for humility and intercession on behalf of the people (Exodus 32:1 – 33:6). A man who gained the respect of God’s people (Exodus 33:7-8). A man who the Lord made His presence known to (Exodus 33:9). A man who God talked to (Exodus 33:9). A man used to move people to worship God (Exodus 33:10). A man to whom God spoke “face to face” (Exodus 33:11). A man who spoke to God (Exodus 33:12). A man who was known by name by God (Exodus 33:12, 17). A man who had “found grace” in the sight of God (Exodus 33:12, 17). A man who had a dynamic prayer life and could ask God for direction and help and get it (Exodus 33:13). A man to whom God said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14). A man who knew God well enough to make holy demands (Exodus 33:15). A man who knew he and the people he led needed God’s “grace” (Exodus 33:16). A man who knew that he and the people he led needed to be “separate” and holy, distinct and that their distinctiveness was based on God’s presence with them (Exodus 33:16). And a man whose prayers were answered by God (Exodus 33:17).

The negative contextual aspects of Moses were that he was a man who was called by God to contend with the most powerful political figure in the world at the time, e.g. Pharoah (Exodus 1-14). Moses was a man who had to deal with tremendous logistical complications due to the size of the group of people he was leading, e.g. the waters of Mariah, manna and water from the rock incidents (Exodus 15-17). He was a man who had a chronically complaining congregation of people to lead (Exodus 15-17). A man who had a very carnal and immature spiritually congregation of people to lead, e.g. were more fearful than faithful toward God (Exodus 19; 32). And a man whose second in command had no backbone to resist the carnal advances and idolatry of his congregation, e.g. The Golden Calf incident (Exodus 32).

This is the man who said to God, “Please, show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18). This is the man, greatly blessed and used by God, a recipient of God’s grace and presence, a man who also had great difficulties and complications leading the congregation of God, this is the man who God’s presence descended upon when he prayed, the man who wanted more; the man who didn’t settle for what God had given him but couldn’t get enough of God.

Show US Your glory

You may have been greatly blessed by God. You may think you have all you could ask for from the Lord. Or you may feel for some reason you don’t have enough of what you thought you might get from the Lord. Whatever your station in life and ministry, Moses’ teaches us to seek more from the Lord. Please LORD, show me Your glory!
We live in Alzheimer’s America; a nation that forgets their heritage in God and the bountiful blessings God has bestowed on them throughout their history. Given our state of affairs the Lord has impressed on me recently our need for revival. Historically, revivals come when society and even the church are at a low point; on life support spiritually. Revival means resuscitation. Revival is a fresh breath of life.

Look what’s going on in the world: dying economies; countries going bankrupt; out of control debt; rampant immorality (e.g. same-sex marriage approved in NYS; San Francisco passed a law permitting public nudity; The American Psychiatric Association has been petitioned to remove Pedophilia as an abnormal diagnosis); divisiveness; meanness; harshness and hatred; tremendous unrest in the Middle East; perpetual warring; the constant threat of terrorism; etc. We are in dire straits nationally and internationally.

Look what’s going on in the church: an emergent movement away from the absolutes of Bible truth and toward relativism; tolerance and ecumenicism that disregards and contradicts the gospel and scripture; ordination of homosexuals and lesbians; celebrating same-sex marriage; etc. All this in the face of the rise of Islam and a liberal media that denounces and ridicules true Christianity at every opportunity.

And on top of all of that the true church, those who know the Lord, follow His word in the Spirit are wearied by the battle. There comes a time in war when the soldier suffers battle fatigue. I don’t know about you, but I get spent and exhausted at times with all the polemic and apologetics, problems and persistent needs of ministry. I know it is not by our might or by our power but by the Spirit we minister (Zech. 4:6). I know Jesus tells us to come to Him and find rest for our souls (Mat. 11:28-30). But I still get tired. I still get spent. I get battle fatigued. Like the Psalmist I thirst for more of God:

Psalm 63:1-5 - 1 O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. 2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. 3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. 4 Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. 5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. (cf. Also Psalm 42:1-3)

And what I need, what we all need, is revival.

We need a revival

We need a revival. We need more. Please LORD, show us Your glory! In the book Revival Martyn Lloyd-Jones defines revival as, “Revival is something extra. It is something additional. It is something which is quite unusual” (p. 175). He says, “For, revival, after all, is nothing but God hearing the people and answering them by giving this manifestation of his glory, and his strength, and his power” (p. 199).

What is God’s response to Moses’ request to see His glory; his request for more? Scripture indicates:

Exodus 33:19-23 - 19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 21 And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

In other words, the LORD said “YES”! And this is what revival is, God’s glory passing by. Martyn Lloyd-Jones described revival in light of these verses saying:

“’While My glory passes by . . .’ (Exodus 33:18-23). He is passing by. Do you know what a revival is? Well, that is a perfect description of it. It is just this glimpse of God, of the glory of God, passing by. That is precisely what it is. Just this glimpse of God. The God who is there in the glory, as it were, comes down and pours out his Spirit and ascends again, and we look on, and feel, and know that the glory of God is in the midst, and is passing by. It is only a touching of the hem of the garment, as it were; it is but a vision of the back.” p. 220

Where can WE find God’s glory?

Where can we find revival? In the New Testament it states:

2 Corinthians 4:6 - 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

We find revival, the manifestation of God’s glory, in the face of our Savior and LORD, Jesus.

But how can we experience God’s glory? The apostle Paul was inspired to write:

Colossians 1:26-27 - the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Up to that point in history God had held back something which was now being revealed. That something was “the riches of the glory.” God’s wealth and rich blessing in revealing His glory to us. How? “which is Christ in you the hope of glory.” We see God’s glory most vividly depicted in Christ. But Christ in us by the second birth makes a way for us to experience that glory. It gives us a hope, the prospect of future good, in that with Christ in us we will grow closer to the Lord experiencing His glorious presence more and more until one day we are eternally in His presence. And it also gives us hope in glorifying God in all we do by the presence of Christ in us to empower us in life.

There are times when God manifests His glory in a special way in the church. That is called revival. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains:

“Revival is a time when . . . the whole Church is filled with this glimpse of his glory; the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit came he would glorify him. And so when he comes in exceptional power, the glory of Christ is made unusually plain and clear. It is the Holy Spirit’s special work. And so you will find that in every period of revival the hymns of the Church, the prayers of the Church, are filled with thanksgiving and with praise, for the glory of the Lord, and especially for his death upon the cross. The glory of the cross. The wonder of the blood. These things are the theme of the Church. The Spirit coming in unusual power has given an exceptional glimpse of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Do you not long for it? Do you not long to see it and to feel it? Do you not long to know what it is to be almost overwhelmed by a sense of his glory, his majesty and all the fullness of his goodness? Seek it, my friend. Seek it personally. Seek it for the Church in general, not only in this country, but everywhere throughout the world. The need of the hour, individually and collectively, is the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” P. 249

Our world and much of the church is in dire inglorious condition. We need a revival. We need a special manifestation of the glory of God in the face of Christ. We need to fully experience Christ in us. That is the perfect answer to our present day predicament.

This poem gives the heart attitude of the one who experiences the glory of Christ within:

Not I, But Christ

Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted;
Not I, but Christ, be seen, be known, be heard;
Not I, but Christ, in every look and action,
Not I, but Christ, in every thought and word.

Not I, but Christ, to gently soothe in sorrow
Not I, but Christ, to wipe the falling tear;
Not I, but Christ, to lift the weary burden!
Not I, but Christ, to hush away all fear.

Christ, only Christ, no idle word e’er falling;
Christ, only Christ, no needless bustling sound;
Christ, only Christ, no self-important bearing;
Christ, only Christ, no trace of “I” be found.

Not I, but Christ, my every need supplying,
Not I, but Christ, my strength and health to be;
Christ, only Christ, for body, soul, and spirit,
Christ, only Christ, live then Thy life in me.

Christ, only Christ, ere long will fill my vision;
Glory excelling soon, full soon I’ll see –
Christ, only Christ, my all in all to be.

- Mrs. A.A. Worthington

A burden for revival: A burden for more

Moses had experienced quite a bit with the Lord. We look at him and see a man who walked with and knew the LORD personally. We see a man who knew God well enough to humbly, yet boldly petition God. He was a man who knew God’s presence and grace. But he was a man who was not satisfied with that; he still wanted and asked for more.
Moses had a holy dissatisfaction always seeking more of the Lord. I’m not talking about a carnal fatal attraction with dissatisfaction that the children of Israel had. I’m talking about an insatiable appetite for more of the Lord. Do you have that?

Do you share that desire? Do you have that need? Do you have a burden for revival? If so, good, that is the beginning of revival. To quote Lloyd-Jones once more he comments:

“And that is how revivals have always begun. God has put a burden in this way upon somebody, upon one man, perhaps, or upon a number of men – the number does not matter. You might say that a man develops a ‘one-track mind’, it is all he talks about: ‘I will take no rest, I will not hold my peace.” [Isaiah 62:6-7]. He is speaking about it, telling people about it, exhorting people to consider it. Thus, I say, God begins to move.” p. 257

Do you have a burden to be revived? Do you have a burden for your church, community, country and world to be revived, for the glory of God to pass by, for Jesus to be lifted high, for the Spirit to come down upon us?

Do you have a burden for more? Again Lloyd-Jones explains:

“And, here is something that you will find in the lives of all the great saints of God in the Church throughout the ages, and particularly in men on whom God lays his hand in this matter of revival and of intercession. The first thing that happens to them is that they themselves feel this desire for a deeper knowledge of God. Of course, they are good men, they are orthodox men. They believe in God, they know they are saved, they have assurance of salvation – they may have had it for years, - but now they begin to feel a hunger and a thirst for something bigger and something deeper. They read their Bibles, and they feel that here there is some deeper and some fuller knowledge of God, and God’s love, and that is what they want. They are no longer content with what I may call the ordinary condition of the Church. They want something extraordinary, something unusual.” p. 177

Pray it through. Beseech, beg and be burdened for a revival from God. We are doomed without a revival of God. Wherever you are at with the LORD, you need more. You can never have enough of God; enough of Jesus; enough of His Spirit. Like Moses, even when we have experienced all that we could have possibly hoped for, ask for more from the LORD. Ask Him, “Please, show me Your glory.” God said, “Yes” to Moses. He will say “Yes,” to us.