GOD’S STUMBLING BLOCK

Acts 2:12,13 – “So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean? Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”

The Lord does things differently from what anyone would expect. He chooses unusual people to be carriers of revival. At Pentecost He chose an uneducated fisherman, to reach the gentiles He chose a murderous, cursing Pharisee, in the Great Awakening in America He used a 24 year old Englishman, in Wales He used a 26 year old coal miner, and Azusa Street was led by the one-eyed son of a slave from South Louisiana. Paul said that God chooses the foolish to confound the wise. In a similar way revival doesn’t come the way one would expect. It often includes extreme laughter, unusual bodily movements, trances, falling to the floor, intoxicated behavior, and speaking in strange dialects. Revival can be quite messy. As a result, church people can easily become offended and actually oppose outpourings of God in His church. Here are some thoughts from Arthur Wallis on God’s Stumbling Block.

“There are always some who are desirous of revival until it comes, and then they bitterly oppose it because it has not come in the way they anticipated. The instrument that God used, or the channel through which the blessing flowed, was not what their convictions had led them to expect. They looked to see an Eliab or an Abinadab chosen for this great work, but the Lord, who “looketh on the heart,” chose a David. They thought that their own local church, their own fellowship which was so scriptural and right, would see the beginning of the work, but God chose to work elsewhere, and this became to them a stumbling block. To all who handle the work of revival, this should be a solemn warning of the great danger of yielding to jealousy and prejudice, which blind the eyes, harden the heart and hinder the Spirit.”
Jesus was actually called a ‘stone of stumbling’ to the spiritual leaders of His day. They never expected to see the Messiah cloaked in humility. When He began to heal the sick on the Sabbath day the leaders were totally offended. On the Day of Pentecost, the unusual response by the 120 followers of Jesus caused quite an upheaval. Many were attracted and converted, many others were offended by the strange effects of the outpouring and opposed the move of God. The question begging to be asked, are you attracted or offended by the unusual outpourings of the Lord?

SUDDENLY

Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

Revival happens suddenly. A church, nation, or an individual could be waiting for the move of the Spirit for years and in a moment of time everything changes. That is a common thread in revivals throughout history, the Lord began His visitation suddenly and circumstances were immediately changed.

Our church had morning prayer meetings at 6 a.m. from 1979 all the way until 1994. We prayed for everything imaginable in those prayer meetings but one thing that remained constant was our crying out for revival. I can remember praying “one more time Lord” hundreds of times over the years. Suddenly, our world was changed in August of 1994 as we experienced a visitation beyond anything I could have expected. Our church changed and I changed. Not everyone liked it but it was undeniable and unignorable. God was in the house, revival had visited our church. Here is a description of the spontaneity of revival from Arthur Wallis.

“With the brevity and simplicity characteristic of Scripture, we are shown in four words the source of the outpouring: “There came from heaven . . .”. Revival is spontaneous, because it is “not forced or suggested or caused by outside agency.” It is the result of a divine and not a human impulse. In language plain to all, it cannot be “worked up”. It is true that spiritual conditions must be met before revival can be expected, but fulfilled conditions do not provide the motive force of revival. At Pentecost it was “the windows of heaven”, not the windows of the Upper Room, that were opened. The source of the blessing was the heart of God, not the heart of man. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that such “seasons of refreshing” have always come “from the presence of the Lord”. We may believe that during those ten days of waiting, there were revived hearts in that Upper Room, but there was no revival; there were empty vessels but no outpouring. When it came, it came direct from heaven and found in that waiting band a channel through which to flow.”

What do you do when God Himself walks into the room? Your own plans and agendas seem quite insignificant, Greatness had made His way into our world. Sometimes you have to stop, be still, and know He alone is God.

COULD THIS BE REVIVAL?

Acts 10:44 ¶ While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.

The first I heard of the outpouring in the 1990’s was from a pastor friend in New York who called me about things that were happening in services near him. He told me preaching was being interrupted by outbreaks of laughter in the congregation. I was shocked and not very happy about what I was hearing. I just wrote it off as another side journey of the flakes often associated with the charismatic renewal. You know what I mean; one week everyone needed deliverance, the next week everything was prophetic, and then there was the banners and Jewish symbolic rituals in the worship services. “Just great”, I thought, “now everyone is laughing”. I didn’t think much of it until I went to revival services myself in Rockwell, Texas. That’s when I saw it first hand, this was more than laughter, way more: God Himself had come down and His Glory and majesty were on full display. This was my first taste of revival for myself. Here are some thoughts from Arthur Wallis on the nature of revival.

“True revivals have ever been marked by powerful and often widespread outpourings of the Spirit. Many, many times the preaching had to cease because the hearers were prostrate or because the voice of the preacher was drowned by cries for mercy. Who will deny that these were outpourings of the Spirit? Who could find a more appropriate description of such scenes than the words of Luke: “The Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word” (Acts 10:44)? David Brainerd recorded the beginning of the wonderful movement among the American Indians in 1745 thus:
The power of God seemed to descend upon the assembly “like a mighty rushing wind,” and with an astonishing energy bore down all before it. I stood amazed at the influence, which seized the audience almost universally; and could compare it to nothing more aptly, than the irresistible force of a mighty torrent. . . . Almost all persons of all ages were bowed down with concern together, and scarcely one was able to withstand the shock of this surprising operation.”

When the Lord comes down like this it is time for man to be silent. What can you say in the manifest immediate presence of His Greatness. Lord, split the heavens one more time and come down amongst us, our generation desperately needs Your visitation.

IN THE DAY OF THY POWER

Psa. 110:3 Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,

in holy garments;

from the womb of the morning,

the dew of your youth will be yours.

Seasons of revival are rare and precious. I remember a picture of John Wesley that was on the wall in the home of one of my teachers in Bible School. Just that picture invoked a fear of God and a longing for revival in my soul. Our teachers and leaders at school spoke often of those days of revival in history that changed our world. Have you ever thought about what revival is really like? What is its purpose from God’s perspective? Jonathan Edwards gives us a glimpse into the heavenly purpose in this short quote.

“God hath had it much on his heart, from all eternity, to glorify his dear and only-begotten Son; and there are some special seasons that he appoints to that end, wherein he comes forth with omnipotent power to fulfill his promise and oath to him. Now these are times of remarkable pouring out of his Spirit, to advance his kingdom; such is a day of his power.”
The whole purpose is to magnify Jesus, the one and only Son of God. David called it “a day of His power”. Jesus become the focus of life when the Lord pours out His Spirit in this way on the earth. Outpouring turns our attention off of His gifts and onto the Lord Himself. Jesus is magnified and hungry hearts are attracted to Him as the source of all life. Edwards also warned about the danger of preconceived ideas about revival that can actually cause us to reject it when it comes. It seldom happens the way we thought it would or should. Here is Edwards’ warning.

“Persons are very ready to be suspicious of what they have not felt themselves. It is to be feared many good men have been guilty of this error. . . . These persons who thus make their own experience their rule of judgment, instead of bowing to the wisdom of God, and yielding to his word as an infallible rule, are guilty of casting a great reflection upon the understanding of the Most High.”
This sounds like the way I was before I was touched by God in 1994. I had some strong opinions about the way it should be and the way it shouldn’t be. Thankfully, the Lord was persistent and broke down my barriers so that I could also enter in to His great outpouring.

GO AHEAD AND DIE

Hab. 3:2 ¶ O LORD, I have heard the report of you,
and your work, O LORD, do I fear.

In the midst of the years revive it;

in the midst of the years make it known;

in wrath remember mercy.
I have heard about revival throughout my Christian life. I always wanted to experience it, I had no idea what it would really be like when it actually came. Everyone seems to glamorize revival; you know, the crowds, the excitement, the conversions; but revival is not what it seems. Revival is not only about restoring individuals, churches, and nations back to life; it is also about dying, Yep, you heard me right, revival is definitely about dying. God comes down and gives us a taste of another world, He calls us to follow Him, and He calls us to leave that other life behind; that’s where the dying comes in. Like I said before, everyone likes the exciting part, “How’s the crowds and how’s the money”. It’s that dying part that gets in the way. Paul taught us all about dying. Once he met Christ on the road to Damascus he had no other choice, he had found joy and satisfaction in Christ, what was there to hold on to in that old life? Here is a glimpse of revival at Azusa Street, they were dying there too.

“Brother Seymour generally sat behind two empty shoe boxes, one on top of the other. He usually kept his head inside the top one during the meeting, in prayer. There was no pride there. The services ran almost continuously. Seeking souls could be found under the power almost any hour, night and day. The place was never closed or empty. The people came to meet God. He was always there. Hence a continuous meeting. The meeting did not depend on the human leader. God’s presence became more and more wonderful. In that old building, with its low rafters and bare floors, God took strong men and women to pieces and put them together again for His glory. It was a tremendous overhauling process. Pride and self-assertion, self-importance and self-esteem could not survive there. The religious ego preached its own funeral sermon quickly.”
Actually dying to self is easier than you might think. What makes it possible is the revelation of Christ. In the light of His greatness it is easy to lose your own life. So I say let the dying begin.

HOLY ART 

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“The Kings daughter is all glorious within, her clothing is of wrought gold”

Psalm 45:13
Did you ever see a before and after picture of someone that has accepted Christ? Sometimes the contrast is unbelievable. Redemption has a way of making all things new. The old is gone the new has come. No scientist, doctor, research person can ever understand the work of redemption as it weaves itself in the DNA of man. The effects of sin and the sorrows of yesterday have a way of being erased!

I have had the privilege of seeing redemption up close and personal since I was 16. God working upon the soul of man is a mysterious work indeed. Then in 1994 during the years of revival at our church I saw redemption in a new way. God falling on the weary downcast and depressed Christian who seemed to have lost their way. By the time they came up off the floor being hit by the power of God you could see years of age come off their face. When the king steps into the room everything changes. He makes HOLY ART within us and that is the game changer in our life. When our world is dark how great is the darkness, Jesus said.

Spurgeon says, “Within her secret chambers her glory is great. Though unseen of men her Lord sees her, and commends her. “It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” Truth and wisdom in the hidden parts are what the Lord regards; mere skin-deep beauty is nothing in his eyes. The church is of royal extraction, of imperial dignity, for she is a king’s daughter; and she has been purified and renewed in nature, for she is glorious within. Note the word all. The Bridegroom was said to have all his garments perfumed, and now the bride is all glorious within – entireness and completeness are great points. There is no mixture of ill savor in Jesus, nor shall there be alloy of unholiness in his people, his church shall be presented without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. “Her clothing is of wrought gold.” Best material and best workmanship. How laboriously did our Lord work out the precious material of his righteousness into a vesture for his people! No embroidery of golden threads can equal that master-piece of holy art. Such clothing becomes one so honored by relationship to the Great King. The Lord looks to it that nothing shall be wanting to the glory and beauty of his bride.”

And you thought you were just saying a little prayer didn’t you? Ahhhhhh redemption we will never come to the end of it.

LIGHT OF THE WORLD

John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. One of His first acts was to create light itself, “Let their be light”. If you read the creation account closely you will see that God created light before He created the sun, moon, and stars. Light is one of God’s great mysteries. It carries heat, energy, and visibility. One of the things we take most for granted is one of the greatest blessings and need that we have; seeing, heat, and energy. The spiritual parallel to the importance of light is seen in this miracle of Jesus. The man in this story had never seen, he was born blind. If the truth were known this man is every man. We may be born seeing physically but a greater blindness hinders all of us. We are all born in spiritual darkness, unable to see and enjoy the glory of God. When the first ray of light penetrates the shroud that blinds our eyes our whole being is suddenly flooded with light. Like the man born blind, “I once was blind but now I see.” Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry on today’s miracle.
“His business in the world was to enlighten it: As long as I am in the world, and that will not be long, I am the light of the world. He had said this before. He is the Sun of righteousness, that has not only light in his wings for those that can see, but healing in his wings, or beams, for those that are blind and cannot see, therein far exceeding in virtue that great light which rules by day. Christ would cure this blind man, the representative of a blind world, because he came to be the light of the world, not only to give light, but to give sight. Now this gives us a great encouragement to come to him, as a guiding, quickening, refreshing light. To whom should we look but to him? Which way should we turn our eyes, but to the light? We partake of the sun’s light, and so we may of Christ’s grace, without money and without price.”
Jesus is the prophetic Sun of Righteousness with healing in His beams. His light floods our whole being. We can not only see Him by this light, we see His beautiful creation. I never appreciated the beauty of God or His beauty all around me until the day He opened my eyes.