Such a Time As This?

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Revival:  In Such a Time As This?

In the book of Esther, Mordecai has been requesting of Queen Esther to go before the King to petition to save her people. Esther knows that coming before the King uninvited may have disastrous consequences, but Mordecai responds: “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14b). Over the last year, the subject of Revival has been burning in my heart. I’ve wanted to understand more about the historical roots of Revival, just as much as I have felt that the embers of another Revival are glowing.

Revival has not only been on my mind, but I have heard it come up in conversations and with the recent Azusa Street Revival celebration (and those simultaneously around the globe)… clearly it’s a global burn. The timing of the Missions and Revival course couldn’t have come at a better time. To grasp what a future Revival is going to look like, we must examine the Revivals of the past… from Pentecost forward to the isolated geographical Revivals that are already happening. There was a portion from the class presentation by Dr. Bruce Ballast that gave me cause to pause, and ask myself… are we living in “such at time as this”?

An excerpt from Dr. Bruce Ballast’s book:

Is there a means that God uses in His sovereignty to bring about a revival in this country that is quantifiable? In the next few chapters I want to focus on a few commonalities from which we can learn. There are at least four factors that recur in these periods of history:

  1. They are preceded by a time of religious decline, sometimes referred to as declension, in the country.
  2. God’s people then feel called to pray;
  3. Prayer leads the church to confession and work t hat allows the Holy Spirit to break out in power;
  4. The revival then produces leaders who continue the revival spirit and create new methods of evangelism or refine old ones.”

In the last few years, a particular piece of scripture keeps popping up. Whether it shows up in a group Bible study, or in my own personal time with the Lord, 2 Timothy 3 is ever present. When leading a group in Bible study, the reaction to 2 Timothy 3 is the same: “That sounds like today, doesn’t it?” Women in my study groups recognize that the warning issued in the scripture is a parallel to the world we are living in today.

2 Timothy 3 (copied from BibleGateway.com)

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will manifest to all, as theirs also was.

The Man of God and the Word of God

10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

I do not believe it would be bold of me to suggest that most of the church would agree that there has been a spiritual decline in the United States. Churches are closing doors, Christians are pitted against each other on subject of social justice and political correctness. Abortion rates are at 25% of all pregnancies, children are changing genders, people are more concerned about their rights than the overall health and happiness of the population. Drug addiction, pornography addiction, and violence is too common. The family unit has begun to change face as we have embraced single parent homes by choice. Even within the pews of the church we have those who harbor bitter roots of unforgiveness, seek financial prosperity over personal edification, we can not tithe because we are in debt beyond our capacity to repay, and false promises/gods/idols are creeping their way into our homes.

The church is called to persevere, and keep running the race… but just as the scriptures warn us evil gets worse, deception grows. If we can see ourselves in the words of the Scriptures, then I believe we fulfill the first point in Dr. Ballast’s conditions. We must be in a state of spiritual decline. Are we not in such a time as this?

As the faithful become more aware of the parallel between the world today and the warning of 2 Timothy 3, more and more congregations are turning to prayer. Movements are happening within larger ministries that are bringing prayer to forefront of our priorities, and books are being published to direct our faces to Christ through deeper and purposeful prayers. Such as, Priscilla Shirers book Fervent and movie War Room, Revive Our Hearts’ Cry Out prayer event, local churches putting aside denominations to stand in prayer for Revival to come, building prayer ministries and churches setting up prayer rooms, as well as individuals being called to intentional prayer in their lives are becoming more and more prevalent.

One thing that I have noticed in all of the historical accounts of great Revival is a precursor of ramped up prayer life, particularly noticeable among the women of the body of believers. Women starting prayer groups, women praying for specific leaders to come forward, women praying for Revival, or women who are crying out to God to do a mighty work and inviting the Holy Spirit into their towns. Prayer is an integral first step into ushering in Revival, by preparing the hearts of those the Holy Spirit is going to move through. I feel confident is saying that I am witnessing this call to prayer in the lives of women in my local community as well as abroad. The second condition of Dr. Bruce Ballast’s list is being actively met. We are crying out in a time such as this, for the Holy Spirit to bring Revival to His people.

In his third condition, Dr. Ballast suggests that through prayer the church is called to repent. On April 9, 2016 there was an event called Azusa Now, which was on the 110th anniversary of the original Azusa Street Revival. By the blessing of technology, I was able to watch almost the entire Revival event. What I witnessed was breathtaking. The organizers of the event were adamant that the Lord could not bring the Spirit of Revival upon the nation until the church was ready to repent. We needed to repent of the division we had created, we needed to forgive, we needed to reconcile.

When I look through the great Revivals of history, they each had a focus. It is my belief that the theme of the next Revival is going the be Reconciliation of the Church unto Him! We are a people divided, stiff necked, each with their own opinion of what is right, and many listening to those who would tickle their ears with what they want to hear. Man has molded faith to his liking versus molding himself to Christ likeness. At Azusa Now, I witnessed a Christian Pastor, Catholic Priest, and Messianic Rabbi each present an olive branch of reconciliation. Each asking for, and giving, forgiveness to one another in such a humbling and contrite manner that it brought tears to my eyes and convicted my heart of forgiveness that was long over due. Are our hearts being broken, for what breaks His, in such a time as this?

The final condition Dr. Ballast suggests is that there will be an emergence of leaders who are going to usher in the starting point of Revival. It is within reason to suggest that some of these leaders are already positioned on a global scale. However, what we know about Revival is that as much as there will be leaders who have a larger, public, platform (like that of Billy Graham); there is also a need for local leaders who are going to step forward and continue their work in the local congregations. The Lord has granted us technology that allows those larger than life leaders to gain an audience all over the globe. However without local leaders to continue the discipleship process, we would leave these new converts in a lurch.

Without a doubt, the Lord is going to raise up strong leaders who are going to be part of the Revival process. However, there is a responsibility for those of us who are already leading in the church to begin to equip our lay leaders to pick up the baton and lead those new converts as they enter our church doors. We also need to be equipping leaders who can go forward and assist the leaders God brings forward, as they reach out into the community to bring people to Christ. We need mature leaders who can help those that the Lord has brought into repentance, as they find themselves coming back into the fold from which they have wandered. We will need leaders and teachers who have sound doctrine and understanding of the scriptures to teach in the years that will follow the Revival.

With an ever growing population, we are going to need enough leaders and teachers who are ready to disciple and mentor in place (or at least working toward being ready). This means that our current churches need to be preparing for Revival by discerning leaders in the body and coming up with development plans for their spiritual growth. Impressing upon our existing body a desire for Biblical literacy, disciplined prayer life, discipleship/mentor relationships with our seasoned believers, and encouragement to those in the body who feel a call to pastorship or ministry leadership. A great start for this intentional movement toward preparation would include a more direct path toward identifying the spiritual gifts of the congregation, and then applying those gifts into the church now.  Is the Lord readying His people for such a time as what is about to come?  Is a time such as this drawing nearer?

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Scoffers Among Us

Drive out a scoffer, & strife will go out, quarreling & abuse will cease.

Proverbs 22:10

Who are the scoffers and what does the Bible have to say about them?

Actually, quite a lot.

scoffers

What does haughty even mean???

haughty

Haughty, Scoffer, Arrogance, all of this is rooted in PRIDE.

Pride makes us think we are better than others.  We will think our sin isn’t as bad.  We will believe that our interpretation is more accurate.  We will divide our own brothers and sisters in Christ, based our preconceived opinions that we look to prove in the scriptures.  Those who do not agree with us, will receive venom from our lips.  Because, we can’t be wrong.  It is impossible for us to believe that we could be wrong.

This is because we have put our confidence in ourselves, and our own ability to comprehend the scriptures.  However, our confidence in ourselves supersedes humility toward God.  He gives us His Word so that we may understand HIM better and not to prove our own points or agendas.

As the days draw closer to Christ’s return, the Scriptures warn us in 2 Timothy 3, that:

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

These scoffers, the haughty and arrogant, are not just out and about in the world.  They are sometimes sitting in the pews right next to us.  They are always looking to a new teacher, preacher, author, etc for wisdom.  However, they don’t recognize that they are seeking out these teachers who tell them exactly what they want to hear!

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

2 Timothy 4:3

They will rely on the interpretations of others to prove their points, instead of seeking the truth in God’s Word.  They will not be sharing their own knowledge or understanding, but that which has been spoon fed to them.  They no longer are satisfied with the milk of the basic scriptures, but they don’t want the meat of the truth.  They are searching for the candy coated sweets that satiate their cravings.

They will argue against anyone who speaks otherwise, like a child who is throwing a tantrum because it’s mother took away her candy and replaced it with a balanced meal.

Even when presented with scripture, they will not recognize sound doctrine as they are too busy arguing their point.  They don’t want to hear any Truth that would counter their preconceived beliefs.

Lovers of Themselves…. I’m right, you are wrong.

Lovers of Money…. Look at what I have.  Look at my home.  Look at my clothes. Look at my purse.  Look at my shoes.  Look at my grand event.  Or … on the flipside… Oh look at how I sacrifice.  Praise my thriftyness.

Boasters….  Look at how holy I am, how righteous, how great of a Christian I am.  Look at the good deeds I do for the community.

Proud…. I am incapable of being wrong.  I have nothing to apologize for.  I am right and you are just not smart enough to understand it like I do.   I am better at…. fill in the blank… than anyone.  My way is always best.

Blasphemers… contempt to God or toward his Word when we disregard portions of the scriptures are irrelevant or worthless.

Disobedient to parents…  are we honoring our mothers and fathers?

Unthankful… for God’s blessings, discontent with what He has gifted us.

Unholy… willingly sinning or choosing to not turn from our sin, lacking repentance.

Unloving… not loving toward God, to others as we are called to do by Jesus.  (Love God with all our hearts and understanding, loving our neighbor as ourselves)

Unforgiving… not willing to forgive or reconcile with our brothers and sisters in Christ, our family members, harboring resentment, hatred, disdain, and ill feelings towards those we are called to love.

Slanderers… speaking falsely against others, particularly those who are apart of our Kingdom family.   Spreading rumors that tarnish their reputation without actual first hand knowledge ourselves.  Gossiping and complaining about them, instead of speaking to them directly.

Without Self Control… being reckless or having an inability to control our thoughts, words, behaviors in situations or towards others.

Brutal…  Do we speak truth without regard to HOW we speak truth.  Is brutal honesty or brutal attack our go to instead of gentle instruction and guidance?

Despisers of Good… Do we not appreciate the blessings that God gave us because it wasn’t what we wanted, or as big, or in the timing we desired?  Do we despise the blessings other receive out of jealousy or anger toward them?

Traitors… Do we betray God’s word?  Do we betray our friends?  Do we betray our morals and principles in order to get our own way?

Headstrong… Are we self willed and obstinate?  Do we dig our heels in against God’s desires for us, or His calling?  Do we fight for our way in our ministry service, in our marriages, our homes and jobs.

Haughty… are you arrogant, do you see your self as infallible, superior in knowledge or talent above others?  Are you prideful?  Always in the need to be right?  Always in need to be the person in charge?  Your way or the highway?  Are you incapable of being corrected, rebuked, or guided by a peer?

Lovers of Pleasure Over God… Where do you put your treasures?  Where do you spend your time?  What takes your time away from Bible Study, Prayer, and going to Church?  What takes your money away from tithing?  What activities outside the church keep you from serving in the church?  What are your pleasures that steal you from God?

Having a form of godliness but denying it’s power… What is the mask you wear?  What is the image  you project to the world of your godliness, holiness, righteousness… that is false?  How do you pretend for others, when in your heart you know it’s false?  Do you preach the words to others but not apply them to yourself, do not believe in them for yourself?  Do you stand above others as sinless, while hiding your sin behind cloaks?  Are you a modern day Pharisee?

HANDLING THE WORD OF TRUTH

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It wasn’t that long ago that I had the view of the Bible as an instruction manual for life.  Everything I needed to know would be outlined in those pages, from being a good Christian, to being a good wife, and a good mother to instructions on how to handle various affairs and what the proper way was to worship, pray, etc.

To be clear, I believe that every word of the Bible is the Word of God, written down by man.  I believe the history as accurate, I believe the miracles are actual, and the promises are true.  I believe Jesus is exactly who he claimed to be, that he died on a cross, and was raised again, witnessed by those whose testimonies fill the pages of the gospels.

It was not in pride that I thought the Bible was written about me, but rather a guide for everyone.  Have a problem, look it up.  Need direction, look it up.  I wouldn’t say I was one of those flip through the pages and see where my finger lands to reveal what God is teaching me types.  I simply believed every story had a point for being in there, something I would learn from it in order to be a better follower of Christ.

I would listen to those who were more learned than I was for interpretation of the word, to understand those things that were not clear to me.  However, I have never been one to take any teachers word as gospel truth.  I have always returned to the scriptures, reading them for myself.  A few years ago, a good friend of mine shared that she reads scripture with 20/20 vision.  This means that when you are given a portion of scripture, be sure to read the twenty verses before it and twenty verses after it, this will put it in accurate context.

Truth is, and we see it every day, people can take a single line of scripture and twist it to support their argument for or against something.  By making sure we always read our scripture in context, we can gauge the accuracy of the argument.  This is how the Bereans were.

Acts 17:11

 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

When presented with the message, they didn’t take the person speaking for gospel truth.  They searched the scriptures to verify it.

As Christians we are charged with going out and telling all the nations about the gospel, sharing the scriptures.  We are charged with handling the word of truth.  That’s a pretty weighty job.  You are accountable for making sure you do not not add or subtract from the scriptures based on your own opinions, biases or desires.

This isn’t a little warning either.

Deuteronomy 4:2         Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.

Deuteronomy 12:32          See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.

Proverbs 30:6          Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.

Revelation 22:18           I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

From the Old Testament to the New Testament, we are warned about adding to or taking from God’s word.  This isn’t just about adding additional physical words, but it also includes our interpretation.  If we spin God’s word to suit our needs, we are altering his word.  We are not handling the world of truth responsibly.

We are warned throughout scriptures about false teachers, which is why the Bereans are noted.  They are the example we are to follow about searching out the scriptures for the truth, when a new teacher comes to town.  With TV, Radio and Internet Videos/Live Streams we can invite teachers into our living rooms to preach according to their beliefs.  But, as time continually proves, false teachers are filtering their way through the cracks.  It is more important than ever, with the bombardment of so many different philosophies, that we can discern the difference.

There is also another concern, we can’t over look.

There was a time, you can read about it during the book of Judges, where Israel had no real leader.  Joshua had died, there was no king over Israel.  And, basically, the generations that knew what God had done for them had passed away.  Within these new generations, you  had a group of people doing their own thing, doing what made sense to them, what sounded right to them.  They were doing things from making idols to even making up their own rules about what was right.  God raises Judges to help lead Israel and fix these problems, but as soon as the Judge would die, Israel would go right back to their old ways.

Right now we live in a time where the people of God are divided, much like the tribes of Israel during the time of the Judges.  We have different denominations and different schools of thought.  We have no clear leader to help reconcile all these different beliefs.   So we continue on doing our own thing, what makes sense to us as religious groups, or individuals.  Boy, do we need Jesus!

Because we want to believe our way is right, we begin searching the scriptures not for God’s truth… but for our own.  Reading meaning into scripture that isn’t there, to justify our beliefs.  What is worse, we begin to spread our truths to others as God’s truth.  Without even realizing it, we become a false teacher.  We become the thing we are supposed to be avoiding.

We begin to surround ourselves with others who believe like we do, because surely if more than one of us can see that “truth”… IT MUST BE SO, RIGHT?

2 Timothy 4:3  For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

It really isn’t hard to find someone who is saying what you want to hear.  If you look hard enough, you’ll find it.  If you want to read something into the scriptures that isn’t there, you’ll find a way.

Is that handling the word of God responsibly?  No, not at all.  And, we will be held accountable for that.

I used to read the scriptures as an instruction manual, about how we are to handle our day to day lives.  I am very grateful for the men and women who opened my eyes, and showed me that I was missing the point entirely.

Every story, lesson, detail in the Bible is about Jesus.

Not me, not how I should live my life, what rules I am to follow, etc.

The Old Testament points to our need for Jesus.  Every story.  The Gospels reveal to Jesus to us, as the Messiah.   The rest of the New Testament points us back to a reminder of why we still need Jesus & that He is coming back for a final victory.