In I Kings 18:24, Elijah the prophet of God challenges the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the grove, to call on the name of their gods. Then, Elijah proclaims that he "will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God." There is a pandemic today among preacher and people alike in our churches representative of Elijah's reproof to all the people gathered on Mount Carmel of "How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him." This reproof of God's people, Israel, found in I Kings 18:21 ends in sad commentary, "And the people answered him not a word."
Thank God, the prophet of God didn't settle for silence and inactions. Thank God, and I say many times over that Elijah took the bullock by the horns', pun intended, and challenged all assembled there with an indictment of their indifference by thundering "the God that answereth by fire, let him be God." It is my observation that many a preacher and the people in churches where I preach have dwarfed God into a midget of their own making, with unbelief, self-sufficiency, and blatant indifference. Consequently, revival tarries and apathy grows among believers, advancing the church to a showdown with the devil in which God seems to be relegated to a mere bystander. The outcome is frightening to consider, for the church and America as a whole, should this spiritual malady continue.
There is hope with God, however, and He is ever merciful toward those who truly repent and return unto Him. A solemn and sincere surrender to the edicts of God as found in Jeremiah 6:16 justifies this appraisal of hope and mercy with God. "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein." But, the pastors and leadership in our churches must stand up and be counted with God. Dr. Lee Roberson is quoted as saying, "Everything rises and falls upon leadership." Throughout my 39 years of both pastoring and local church evangelism, I've learned and exercised a conviction that leadership makes all the adjustments. Thank God Elijah did not consider his own neck when confronted by the wicked King Ahab, but brought the apostasy and apathy of God's people to a conflict on Mount Carmel.
Tacked on the wall of the home of a young African pastor was a sheet of paper that reads:
My Commitment as a Christian
I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed.
I have Holy Spirit Power. The die has been cast.
I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made.
I'm a disciple of His. I won't look back,
let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense,
and my future is secure. I'm finished and done
with low living, sight-walking, small planning,
smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions,
mundane talking, cheap living and dwarfed goals.
Dear preacher and people in our churches, may we share the same commitment as this African pastor. Let us not be guilty of "when all is said and done, more is said than done!" May we get out of the way and let Almighty God be God!
"Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
Thou will revive me:" (Psalm 138:7a)
The word of God predetermines the candidate or the one who is eligible for personal revival. To 'revive' means to nourish up, preserve, quicken, or restore. A person in need of revival finds himself or herself in a fallen state due to unconfessed sin, excessively heavy burdens, or a prolonged period of unbelief concerning the will of God. Although a person can pray, confess sin, and seek God's face, they may not yet be a candidate for revival.
So many of us, preachers included, put up a stiff barrier against God's intervention in our lives and expect Him to meet with us on our terms. Pride or self-consumption either puts us above the need for personal revival, or our close examination of others causes us to view them as better candidates for God's intervention.
For others, the effort is made to pacify ourselves with a week of special meetings intended to give us an emotional boost or spiritual jolt for the work of God. We would do well to take heed to the edict of God proclaimed in Isaiah 55:7-9, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
The person who is a sincere candidate for revival understands and submits to the qualification set forth in Isaiah 57:15 "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and revive the heart of the contrite ones." Let us be careful to note that God promises to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
My friend, God blesses and uses 'broken things' but not partially broken things. He intends to break us into 'pieces', so that when we allow Him to put us back together He might get all the glory. Please be reminded that in Isaiah 48:11 God gives the following warning to Israel, "I will not give my glory to another." The renowned evangelist Charles Finney proclaimed revival to be a "renewed conviction of sin and repentance, followed by an intense desire in obedience to God. It is giving up one's will to God in deep humility."
The real candidate for revival finds themself in the crucible of testing and the furnace of fire by the hand of Almighty God. If we submit to God's purging we can experience the truth of Proverbs 25:4, "Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer."
Do you really want revival?
Do you really want God's power?
Do you really want His Spirit to control your life this hour?
Oh, repent and turn to Jesus,
Seek His face and humbly pray;
Do you really want revival?
Are you willing to obey?
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart,
O God, though will not despise" (Psalm 51:17)
"In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple." (Isaiah 6:1)
In this election year, a dim and dark forecast hangs over the future of America. As we consider the moral breakdown and the spirit of anarchy permeating every aspect of our society, we can empathize with David when he asked in Psalm 11:3, "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Additionally, David proclaimed in Psalm 119:126, "It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law."
In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw also the Lord. The death of King Uzziah was a national calamity. He had been a good king. He had sought the Lord, and the Lord had prospered him. He had defeated the enemies of Judah, improved living conditions, and built up national defense. Undoubtedly, his untimely death overwhelmed many in Judah and created a sense of trepidation concerning the future of the nation. However, Isaiah saw also the Lord! The crucial point here is that the man of God was captivated by a vision of the Lord, and it changed his perspective of the Lord, himself, and the nation. Isaiah allowed the Lord to deal with his heart in light of the national calamity confronting Judah when King Uzziah died.
As Americans, we're facing the apparent death of many of our liberties and rights afforded us by our founding forefathers when they drafted the United States Constitution. During this election year, we believers as a whole are definitely facing a national crisis. We must allow ourselves to be confronted by the Lord. Instead of centralizing our focus on the election, concentrating on the candidates, and contemplating the outcome we must see also the Lord. The key is that Isaiah saw also, the Lord, meaning the Lord Jesus Christ wants, demands, and deserves first place in our lives in view of the present day condition and circumstances we're facing in America during this election year. The word also better describes the pre-eminence of the Lord in our lives, rather than a national crisis in leadership confronted by a nation. After all, Daniel 2:21 states the following concerning our great Sovereign God: "And he changeth the times and seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding."
So therefore, as we consider the crisis we're facing during this election year and beyond, may I ask, "Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid, does your all the Spirit control", as the songwriter so aptly puts it? The also of Isaiah 6:1 must point us toward the Lord and not toward the crisis, candidates, or the election. May we not fall into the characterization later proclaimed in Isaiah 64:7, "And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and consumed us because of our iniquities." Let us identify with the petition of the Psalmist in 115:1, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake." In the year 2020, may we long to see also the Lord!
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge:"
The fault for the lack of victorious Christian living experienced by many a professing believer today lies at the door of their unwillingness to "grow in grace", and in the knowledge of or Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," as referenced by II Peter 3:18. Please notice and understand that Peter exhorts the believer first of all, "to grow in grace," and secondarily; "in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Whereas the believer is to simultaneously pursue these each one carries a distinct, yet harmonious benefit. It is the second exhortation of Peter to grow "in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" that is especially deficient among believers today.
God proclaims through his prophet and mouthpiece, Hosea that "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children." Obviously, these are not words of comfort, but rather condemnation, yet God cares without measure for His people in pronouncing this indictment and warning. The religion of Israel had become totally corrupt in Hosea's day; officially they served God but everywhere their worship was mixed up with idolatry and Baalism. In short, God's people were in a state of decay and were wasting away, because of their lack of knowledge of Him! The emphasis here is not on the acquisition of facts concerning God, but rather, on the appetite to personally know and desire the character of God in our daily lives, thus experiencing victorious Christian living.
Let me share with you a most vital and crucial truth regarding growing in your knowledge of Him. You must give yourself to reading! Read the word of God daily with a fervent appetite to know God, but also consistently read biographies and autobiographies of those who have gone on before us who came to a place of confrontation and crisis in their Christian life, but who also came to a place of consecration whereby they wholly gave themselves to the Lord and His cause. Without apology, I say get off the phone, the computer, tablet, and away from the television! Stimulate and develop an appetite for reading books of those who learned how to "walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called," (Eph 4:1). Years ago, I came across a classic book in a dusty, old attic entitled, Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians, and I read it avidly desiring to know God in a greater way in my personal life. That book helped to revolutionize my daily walk with God, and I presently look and search for any book of good repute to read, that will whet my appetite to know my Saviour in a greater and more intimate way.
The Apostle Paul, himself, called for "the books" while in prison and exhorted Timothy to "give attendance to reading," (II Tim 3:13 and I Tim 4:13). Paul charged Timothy to "Study to shew thyself approved unto God," and Peter exhorted believers to "add to your faith virtue" and virtue knowledge," (II Tim 2:15 and II Pet 1:5). Revelation 1:3 states, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand." Charles Spurgeon is quoted as saying, "The man who never reads will never be read: he who never quotes will never be quoted, and he who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains, proves he has no brains of his own."
In our walk with God, let us pursue the goal of the Apostle Paul wherein he states, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and fellowship of his sufferings being made conformable unto his death;" (Phil 3:10).
The Watchman's cry