Grace and Truth

…all the words of this life…


23 Comments

Where is Jesus in the Church?

cropped-girl-praying1.jpgThe state of the Church breaks my heart. Yes it does.  I weep over it, and I believe so does Jesus.

The deadness, the formality, the coldness.  Where is the life?  Where is the joy?  Where is my Jesus?

I don’t seem Him in it.

I don’t see Him in the dry formality, I don’t see Him in the ritual, the “way we’ve always done it.”

Why do people’s faces look sad and somber in church?  Why do we feel we have to pretend to be serious to be spiritual?

Jesus where are You?

Not there.

 

The thing is, we know it.  We know it’s not right, that something is missing. We know that Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t so we could sit and be bored in Church for two hours every Sunday morning.  We feel it.  Something in our spirit says this is not the way it was in the early Church, there is something more.  What are we missing?

 

So, we try to fix it in our human-ness.

Entertainment, rock concerts, frenzied behavior, yelling, emotional manipulation.  Get people to cry, yes, if that brings emotion, ANYTHING but that dead dryness.  Oh God, anything but that.

Entertainment for true joy.

Emotional manipulation for true broken-ness

Frenzied behavior for the real work of the Holy Spirit.

 

Jesus where are You?

Not there.

 

After awhile, the yelling makes us tired, the emotive manipulation falls on dead ears, and, after all, we are not changed.

That didn’t work either.  Oh  God, what next?

Look at pubs, worldly concerts, sporting events.  They are full of happy, excited people.  There are crowds.  They must know something we don’t.  We must learn from them.

Advertising, marketing surveys, seeker-sensitive churches.  Things not to mention:

  • the cross
  • sin
  • the Blood
  • God’s holiness
  • never ever use the word “sinner”
  • hell
  • judgment (shriek)

(But make sure you use the word “unpack” in your sermon at least 5 times.)

 

Jesus where are YOU?

Not there.

 

Something wrong. something missing.  something different than the Church in Acts.

Spirituality.  Candles, liturgies, labyrinths, darkness.  Ooooh, we get goosebumps again.  This is it! we feel again, we are not dead, not bored, we are spiritual.

We feel.

JESUS where are YOU?

Not there.

 

Don’t we see?  don’t we know where He is?

He is outside the Church.

He is outside the door.

Long ago He was asked to leave.  Oh yes, we use His Name, but we don’t really want Him.  We want to be comfortable, we want convenience at all costs.  We don’t want our formality and rituals confronted or thrown away.  We want to feel good, positive emotions. We don’t want to be convicted.  We want to feel intellectual and deep and have wonderful spiritual experiences.  We want lots of people around us because that shows we are on the right track.

But we don’t want HIM.

 

Him – the goodness, the holiness, the righteousness, the kindness, the love, the truth, the mercy, the conviction, the call to the lost, the call to obedience, the faithfulness to Him that is required, the cost of the cross of Christ…

 

Jesus is a gentleman, He will not stay where He is not welcome.

 

There is only one way back to Him.

Let us cast off everything else and fall on our knees before Him.

There is only one thing that is required:

BROKENNESS

Utter broken-ness.

Let us fall on our faces before our Lord and weep for the state of our own hearts, for the Church, for the lost around us.  Let our hearts be broken.  It is only when our hearts are broken before the Lord that LIFE, the real life of the Holy Spirit enters in.

 

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand the deadness any more.  I have had enough of formality and boredom.  I have had enough of human solutions to the problem.  I can’t handle any more extraneous rubbish – I WANT HOLY GHOST REVIVAL!  This world needs men and women who have the fire of the Holy Ghost.

 

Lord, send Your Spirit.  Revive us again. We need You Lord.  I repent of my hardness of heart Lord. My heart breaks for the state of the Church Lord.  My heart breaks for those around me on their way to Hell.  Enough Lord !  Rend the heavens and come down!!!  In Jesus’s Name, Amen

 

Advertisements


2 Comments

Rousing the Bride

Now arise My precious Darling,sleeping woman

Wake up you sleepy-head.

It’s time to uncurl from these blankets

To get up out of bed.

 

My Bride, it is morning

The day is far spent

Come rise My love-

Away with Me-

For the time that is left.

 

Open your eyes,

And see the sun

Look – there it is arising

If you look

You will see

Just beyond the horizon

 

I want you to see My love

For whom it is

I came to die.

It is something that will wake you,

But you need to decide,

 

Will you open

Or keep closed shut

Those dear, drowsy eyes?

For to see

Is to share the pain

Of an intercessor’s sighs

 

Out there is a road

It is long and it is dusty

The people there are many

And on their way to destruction

 

All along that road are ones

For whom I go searching:

The lost,

The broken,

The abandoned,

The sinner

And the bloody

 

I came so that they have life

And I’m going to them now

My Bride, I want you with Me

Show them

To My Father’s house

 

Come with Me My love

Raise up that heavy head!

To the road I am going

Oh will you leave

This comfy bed?

 

Cold out there?

Yes it is, that’s for certain.

All along that wide road

You will be buffeted,

Perhaps even broken.

 

But child-

Don’t you see?

We’ll be together

Side-by-side,

You’ll be with Me

Where I am,

Together to abide.

 

Come now,

Beloved Bride,

Stick out your toe.

Those covers-

Will you toss them aside?

 

My Dove,

They’re waiting,

Let them see your beauty shine

For lo, I am with you always

Place your hand in Mine.

 

The Bride-groom is rousing His Bride from her comfortable bed of luxury.  Let us respond to His call and pray for an awakening.

May God bless my brothers and sisters in our wonderful Lord Jesus Christ’s Name. Amen

 


2 Comments

Where’s The Fire?

This week I have experienced my first 46 degree (Celsius) day.  (I am in no hurry to experience another.)

On Thursday I was in Adelaide, and on Thursday Adelaide was officially the hottest city on earth.  It was so hot that as soon as I stepped outside my skin felt like it was burning, even in the shade. The hotel we stayed in became uncomfortable as the air conditioning struggled to cope with four consecutive days of over 40 degrees.

Extreme heat and a thirsty land are, of course, a recipe for bush fire in Australia, and, as of this morning, 100 bush fires were burning across South Australia and Victoria.  The smoke from the fires drifted over the beach where we were bathing, initiating many questions from our children.   As my husband and I tried to downplay the severity of the fires to them, internally we were wondering whether we’d even be able to get home, as the main road into Victoria had been closed by the authorities.

bushfire3

With all this talk of fire it has got me to thinking about the Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost.  In the Bible the Holy Ghost is both symbolized by fire, and also directly referred to as fire.  In the Old Testament the pillar of fire which the Israelites followed in the wilderness was the Holy Ghost.  In the New Testament John the Baptist said of Jesus:

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” Matthew 3:11

And then in Acts 2:2-4 :

“. . . suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one set upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance”

The thing about fire is that it is HOT.  It is intense.  All it takes is one little spark and a wild bushfire is ignited in a dry and thirsty land.

bushfire

Leonard Ravenhill said : “Again, the symbol of the church is fire…..The cross is no symbol of Christianity. The symbol of Christianity is the tongue of fire that sat on the head of each of them….Our God is a consuming fire.”

Oh and we are in a dry and thirsty land here in Australia.  Not just physically, but more so spiritually.  As I sat on the balcony of our accommodation each night this week, I wept for the people, for my country.  Yes, I could hear them drinking and laughing and singing drunken songs and I wept for them, for their state of barren-ness.  It is oh so dry.

We went into the city of Adelaide last night and there were two old men there, handing out tracts and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. They’ve been there for 30 years.  One of them preached, standing there shaking, in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, and we helped them to hand out the tracts to passers-by, but hardly anyone took one.  As he preached, warning that there is an eternal hell, I could tell his heart was broken for this people, these people walking past him laughing at him, smiling with the smile of those in the presence of a fool.  Afterwards I commented on the hardness of people’s hearts and he answered sadly: “Oh aren’t they?  They don’t understand that the consequences are eternal.”

How dry! How barren and hard is the landscape here in Australia!

But also how ripe and ready this land is for fire….. After all – the drier the land, the easier a fire is kindled.  And a fire is powerful enough to change a landscape.  Australia is a land of fire; but may we become a land of Holy Ghost fire!

All it takes is one spark.  As followers of Jesus Christ, because He lives within us, we are to be that spark to a dry and barren world.  But we cannot be that spark if we are not full of the fire of the Holy Ghost.

Paul says to: “…. be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” Ephesians 5:18,19.  We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and fire.  This verse in the original actually says:  “Be being filled with the Spirit…”  It is a continual process. Like in the Pilgrim’s Progress, there needs to be oil constantly poured onto the fire to keep it burning, because, just as surely, the devil is always seeking to put it out.

I love Leviticus 6:12:  “The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it.” (Emphasis mine).  This verse is such a wonderful picture of what the life of the believer, of Christ’s church, should be.  No, it’s what we need to be.  We have a responsibility to this generation as the church of Jesus to carry this fire wherever we go.  If we don’t, who will?

bushfire 2

As priests we are to keep the fire burning.  God sends the divine fire, but it is our responsibility to keep it burning.  Just like a bushfire, once it has started it requires ongoing fuel.

I don’t know about you but I know when the fire is burning bright within me and I also know when it is burning low.  When I am full of the Spirit I walk in the supernatural – amazing things happen.  When the fire is low I find I am walking more in the flesh than the Spirit and the things of God become a struggle.

Wesley wrote a hymn, which goes like this:

    See how a great a flame aspires, kindled by a spark of grace.     Jesus love the nations fires; sets the kingdoms all ablaze.

To bring fire on earth He came, kindled in some hearts it is.     Oh that all might catch the flame; all partake the glorious bliss.

When He first the work began, small and feeble was its flame.     Now the word doeth swiftly run; now it wins its widening way.

More and more it spreads and grows, ever mighty to prevail.   Sin’s strongholds it now o’throws and shakes the trembling gates of hell.

Sons of God, your Savior praise; He the door hath opened wide.   He hath given the word of grace; Jesus’ word is glorified.

Saw you not the cloud arise, little as a human hand?   Now it spreads along the skies, hangs o’er all the thirsty land.

May you be inspired to be the spark of Holy Ghost fire in your land in this dry and thirsty generation!


8 Comments

Doing Church vs a Hell-Shaking Life

LR preachingSome want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell.  I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”  (CT Studd)

Sitting passively in our favourite seat in a comfortable building every Sunday…Is this really what Jesus intended when He said,

“The gates of hell shall not prevail against my church.”

or

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)

or

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:19)

or

“”All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19,20) ?

Hmmm….. not sure that’s what our Lord meant.  I think He had adventure in His mind, entailing both extreme hardship and extreme joy for His Church as it continues His work in seeking and saving the lost.

When I look at the Church in general this not what I see.

What do I see?

What does the world see?

And what does Christ Himself see?

I see predominantly a group of middle-class people driving expensive cars to a big, lavish, comfortable church on Sunday morning.  They sit and clap at the right time, they worship and praise and feel joy sometimes when the music reaches its crescendo.  They might hear a short message from the Word of God.  It may be inspired by the Holy Spirit or it may be a self-help motivational talk with the Bible as a convenient back drop.

I see a people whose comfort and convenience cannot be upset or unsettled.

I see a people who will not be disturbed for the sake of the lost on their way to an eternal hell.

When I think of the early Salvation Army getting pelted with rotten tomatoes and eggs as they marched into villages preaching the gospel, or I think of the Wesley brothers riding on horseback over miles and miles of countryside to take the gospel to the poor, my heart breaks and I wonder how it is so that we have lost our Lord’s heart.

Is there anyone that weeps over the lost multitudes on their way to hell?

Who will go out into the battle and warn them?

Are there any that even care?

I have found that when I speak or write on this topic it is the one that upsets Christians the most.  It is the topic that causes the most offense to Christians and the one that brings the most resistance. Often I hear in response, “Well if Jesus tells me to go then I will, but He hasn’t told me.”

Actually He has. Read the Great Commission.  He didn’t say that to a handful of evangelists, He said it to His followers.  Each one.  Unfortunately there is no way around it.

You don’t have to go to the city streets, but you do have to go to the lost.  There are people in your life, whom God has put around you, who do not know the Saviour.  If there is no heartfelt grief for the lost in your heart, nor desire to see them saved, then check your heart.  Go to the foot of the cross and ask Christ why not.  For this is His very heart.

If you’re upset or offended by this post of mine, then I think that may be a good thing.

God bless you


3 Comments

Address on Revival

By Duncan Campbell

The Attitude Of The Church

I am disturbed by the attitude of the Church in general toward aggressive evangelism or revival.

By evangelism I do not mean just an effort to get people back into the Church; this effort, while commendable, does not get us very far. What I mean is something much more: it is the getting of men and women into vital, saving and covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, and so supernaturally altered that holiness will characterize their whole being: body, soul and spirit.

It seems to me that the time has surely come when we must, with open mind and true heart, face ourselves with unqualified honesty and ask the question: “Am I alive to my responsibility as a laborer in God’s vineyard?” I, personally, have constantly to remind myself that I can be a very busy man, yet a very idle minister. How easy it is to live more or less in the enjoyment of God’s free grace, and yet not realize that we are called to fulfill a divinely appointed purpose. Our commission is to declare the whole counsel of God in the midst of men: “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” — that, brethren, is our privilege and our task.

And yet we must confess that too often the great things of God have not been the predominating things: the lesser things of life have been allowed to absorb our interest, and the lure of the lesser loyalty has blurred our vision and robbed us of our passion to win souls for Jesus Christ.

What, then, is the essential to recovery and revival?

Surely a whole-hearted desire to be right with God, to stand before Him in an adjusted relationship. I am convinced that if we are to see the hand of God at work, we must give to our lives the propulsion of a sacred vow, and with Hezekiah of old say: “Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel.” Brethren, the new truths that grip us this morning must find expression and embodiment in a new dedication — that is, if we are to be men whom God can trust with revival.


4 Comments

Pentecost (and a Hard Question for You)

Image

I would like to share something of urgency, which God has put on my heart today.  Firstly though I need to do a little background on the Feast of Pentecost, which, so happens, is today.

Today (from sundown May 14-15) is the national observance of the Feast of Pentecost, or Shavuot, in Israel. Shavuot is considered to be the time when God gave Moses the Torah on Mount Sinai after the exodus from Egypt.  The giving of the Torah to Moses was by God Himself coming down to meet with him on the Mount in a cloud, accompanied by smoke and fire and a blast of God’s trumpet. This was to establish His covenant with His people and so Shavuot is celebrated as the biblical birth date of the nation of Israel.

The basic theme of Shavuot is “the harvest” and of giving thanks to God.  Passover marked the beginning of the Spring harvest and on the Feast of First fruits the first fruits of a sheaf of barley was required to be presented before the Lord, as a wave offering in thanksgiving for the harvest.  From the next day, seven weeks were counted until wheat harvest.  This is why Pentecost is also called the “Feast of Weeks”.

Why is this relevant to us?  Because God works by His prophetic calendar. In the year AD 30, on the day of Pentecost, something else of great importance was birthed.  At Passover Christ had died as the Lamb of God, at Feast of First Fruits He rose again, then 50 days after His resurrection, on the Day of Pentecost, the Church was born.

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  Acts 2:1-4

God once again used fire, wind and other demonstrations of the Holy Ghost to establish a covenant with His people.  This was also a time of great harvest, with many thousands of people being saved and brought into the Church at once.

So this leads to what the Holy Spirit has impressed on my heart this afternoon.  Over the centuries since the Church was born at Pentecost there have been other times of great harvest and the ingathering of souls.  As Peter said, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:17, 18) Times of the outpouring of God’s Spirit have been recorded through history.  There was the Great Awakening traced to the Moravians in 1727, there was Whitefield in 1742, John Wesley in the 18th century, Finney in the 1830’s, DL Moody in the late 19th century, the Welsh revival in 1904, Asuza Street in 1906 – just to name a few.

But will God do it again? Will there be another time of a great outpouring of His Spirt, of revival, before the end of the age?  It is my wholehearted belief that it will be so.

(It is not my intention here to prove that God will once again bring revival.  I can recommend the following books if you would like to pursue this question further.  One is Leonard Ravenhill’s “Why Revival Tarries”, the other is “In the Day of Thy Power” by Arthur Wallis.)

The scripture that God impressed upon me today was this:

“And he said, ‘Thus says the Lord, make this valley full of ditches.  For thus says the Lord, you shall not see wind, neither shall you see rain, yet that valley shall be filled with water…” 2 Kings 3:16, 17

God required Judah and Israel to prepare for the coming outpouring of the water which He was to send by making the valley full of ditches.  This was so when the water came it would fall into these catchment areas and not simply run-off and be lost and wasted.  This is what God is speaking to His Church even in this day.   It is no secret that water can be a symbol of the Holy Spirit in the Bible.  He is saying to prepare for the coming outpouring of the Spirit – by making ditches in the valley to catch the water as it flows through.

I guess the Israelites must have dug into the desert floor with some sort of spade instruments.  It can’t have been an easy task to make a valley “full of ditches”.  But while it was probably hard, it wasn’t impossible, and they did do it.

How do we make ditches today?  We need to dig into the hardness of human hearts with the instrument of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The hardness will be confronted with the power of the gospel and pride will be broken down when met with the Word of God.

Jesus said in Matthew 9:38 “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few, Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”

God needs labourers to go out into the harvest once again and gather in the lost.   God needs us to warn them that without Him, they will die.  I am not being melodramatic.  One thing God impressed upon me today is His urgency to have sinners turn to Him.  He says :

“Say unto them, ‘As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” Ezekial 33:11

This is serious.  If we truly believe that we are in the last days and if we truly believe that Jesus is coming back as the Lion of the tribe of Judah to judge the world in a Day of wrath, then we need to warn people.  It is God’s heart that none should perish.   But He has entrusted to us the precious task of preaching the gospel, of warning, of being watchmen.  And He actually, really expects us to do it.

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for[a] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.”  Ezekiel 33:7-9

This is not a call for an elite set of evangelists, or for someone with a special anointing, this is a call for every Christian.  Jesus Himself said “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15

I am sorry if this makes you uncomfortable or if it bursts your happy bubble, but God’s heart breaks for the lost every single day.  And ours should too.

Of course, the very first thing that occurs when we are confronted by a hard truth, me included, is our sense of inadequacy.  That I am unfit for the task, that I am too weak, too female, or too imperfect hits me most of the time.  But God says we are not inadequate, we are not incapable.  He has called us for this very reason and He will put His words in our mouths.

Listen to this:  Ninevah turned from their sin when Jonah got over himself and warned them of their impending judgment.

They turned.

And they lived.

God is calling for someone to “make this valley full of ditches” in these last days.

Will it be you?

“The fact is, Christians are more to blame for not being revived, than sinners are for not being converted.  And if Christians are not awakened, they may know assuredly that God will visit them with His judgments.  How often God visited the Jewish church with judgments because they would not repent and be revived at the call of His prophets.”  Charles Finney