We made it. I know if you have been following along on this Lenten journey there has been a lot of reading. Good for you if have kept up but don’t stop keeping the charge and praying for revival. We live in a “tweet” world with visual media and much modern teaching is reduced to feeding through a bottle. One leader I heard say a sermon should be so pointed that the hearers come away with one word. That word would be milk. We may preach a topic but the Holy Spirit will speak to each of us if we listen. Hebrews 5:13 “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 12 “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Paul said by now 1 Corinthians 3:1 “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly.” I like how Peter uses milk in a different way 1 Peter 2:1 “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like new-born babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
Another reason I use so much scripture is to hopefully teach you to do the same. I believe in the one book. Do you hunger and thirst after God’s word; does it sustain you? We must crave the word of God, the bread of life. John 6:35 “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Do you read it to be spoken to and be transformed or do you read to confirm what you already believe, remaining the same. If you do that then you will miss what God is saying. The word of God is deep. Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” 1 Thessalonians 1 “the gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.” This is how it should be. All this to say what Casting Crowns said on their song Thrive. “We are digging deep into Your word, we're digging deep to know our Father's heart. Just to know You and to make You known, We lift Your name on high, shine like the sun make darkness run and hide We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives It's time for us to more than just survive We were made to thrive.”
We have taken a journey to keep a charge. For 40 days we have looked at many different subjects but at this point the most important thing we can do is obey the word of God and believe. Deuteronomy 4:1 “Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. 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 4:39 “Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. 40 Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.” Deuteronomy 5:2 “So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. 33 Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” Deuteronomy 10:2 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” Matthew 28:18 “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Moses said, Deuteronomy 32:47 “They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” If we want to take the land back in the power of the Holy Spirit, we must live by this charge. Joshua 1:3 “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
There are many warnings to us if we do not obey, Hebrews 10:39 “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” We must persevere in the faith and do not give up. Hebrews 10:9 “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. 26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” On Easter Sunday I will be talking about belief. If Jesus himself had unbelieving disciples, there are definitely going to be people who call themselves Christians who are unbelievers. I liked what Leonard Ravenhill said, “There is no such thing as a saved sinner. You are saved or you are a sinner.” If you ever hear someone say they are still a sinner even though they are saved by grace, tell them to read their bibles. Basically what they are saying is Jesus has the power to cancel sins but not enough power to prevent them, again theology that covers the unbelief. Many people get stuck at Romans 7 with all the cannots but fail to read “24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” They fail to continue reading Romans 8:14 “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”
Romans 8:31 “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The church today is missing power, Ephesians 1:19 “his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” Mark 16:17 “And these signs will accompany those who believe.” Thus we have to question our own belief. If we would simply return to God’s word and obey it, God would hear our cry and turn his face to shine upon us once again. It does not take a person with a high intellect to see what has happened in the church today. All it takes is to hold up scripture against the church and see what the bible shows you. Yes many will be offended by your discovery but that’s okay as God will be pleased that you returned to Him. This means you will turn away from your wicked ways. Malachi 3:7 “Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?”
We can no longer build the church with human hands and say it was God. 2 Kings 19:18 “They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands.” To much of what is accomplished is from human hands. 1 Peter 1:18 “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” One person said, “A Chinese Christian recently visited the United States and toured churches here. At the end of the trip he was asked what he thought about American spirituality. He answered, "I am amazed at how much the church in America can accomplish without the Holy Spirit." We have large buildings and many programs but still no move of God. We have more trained ministers and more Bible colleges than any other nation but no revival. We have seminars on revivals and huge campaigns to promote our meetings. But where is the revival? We have spotless theology but no doxology. We have no song in our hearts. We have replaced true experience with hyperactivity. Our theologians sit in swivel chairs in ivory towers and hand out edicts to those down below. As a church we are power-hungry and covet top positions as if we are climbing a corporate ladder. We place value on large churches with even larger programs and budgets. Those who are invited into leadership positions are the rich and the influential. We forget that spiritual authority is not given to the savvy businessman or the sports hero but to those who have carried the burden of the Lord. Where are the broken-hearted believers who weep through the night over our spiritual bankruptcy?” Like Samson who did not realize his power was gone, the church continues on in its manmade efforts building perishable things with human hands but void of the spirit.
Over time we have returned to building temples and palaces for ourselves. Solomon although given the charge by David ended up building a temple and a palace. Yes he was told to build the temple and keep the charge; he built the temple and then failed to keep the charge and lost most of the kingdom. Today men and women are building once again with their own hands. Mega churches are strewn throughout the land, run like powerful Fortune 500 companies but have no Spiritual power. Smaller churches are looking to do what they did despite a warning not to do as they do, since there is no power they are worldly, it is that simple. Solomon was told 1 Kings 9:6 “But if you or your descendants turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 8 This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 9 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why the Lord brought all this disaster on them.’” 1 Kings 11:9 The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. 11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you.” Again I ask what makes us think God will not be angered by our disobedience?
Once again the temples man have built need to be torn down. Mark 14:58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.” The quote from above continued saying, “No longer should our first question be, "How big is your church?" but rather, "What is the spiritual condition of the members? Christian superstars who jam the airwaves are not the answer for a move of God. We need those who will walk in humility, cry aloud and rend their hearts so that God will receive the glory He alone is due.” 1 Samuel 7:5 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!” Too many leaders what to make their own names great. If you have 1000 luke-warm people in a church, you have made Jesus vomit yet they think they are on track. Many times I have used this quote “they come for the show but refuse to grow,” but Mark 7:6 says, “He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” 9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”
Our only option is to repent. Zechariah 1:3 “Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.” The bible declares He is risen but do you believe in your heart or just with you lips? 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” He is alive but do we believe and live like it.
So we finish this part of our journey knowing this is just the beginning. We continue to pray for revival believing that there is incomparably great power for us who believe. Knowing that Jesus did not leave us helpless and powerless we keep the charge knowing that Jesus did not leave us helpless and powerless. John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” 22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. 25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Lord, once again send your power as it was at Pentecost. Acts 2:1 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” 1 Kings 8:10 “When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. 11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.”