Christianity 201

November 3, 2015

Revival Starts with Church Band Members, Tech Team, Janitors, Secretaries and You

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:34 pm
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This appeared on the website ChurchProduction.com; a site for people involved in the music, sound, lighting and tech side of modern church life. Click the title below to read at source…

Revival on the Tech Team?

By Judah Thomas

If you have followed Christ for more than a few years you have probably heard people talk about how the want to see a revival in their region. Usually what they mean is that they want to see a large amount of people putting their faith in Christ. Throughout history great men and women have preached and sparked great revivals and awakenings, some which have spread like wildfire across the nation.

Well what does that have to do with you? You may be thinking that your role as a tech director is strictly behind the scenes — a support player; one that certainly aids in the communication of God’s Word but not one that would be the catalyst for such a movement.

The interesting thing is that although many of the great revivals that have happened have a preacher’s name and face associated with the inception of it, the truth is that the revival started long before in the hearts and prayers of people who’s names would never get mentioned. The thing that many people fail to realize is that true revival doesn’t start with “them” it starts in “me.”

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14

In this verse we see that it has to start from within us. We see four things that have to happen before the revival and restoration begins. The revivals of the past did not start on a stage in front of hundreds or thousands of people, but it started in a private place with one, two or a few people praying and humbling themselves before God — people who were passionately seeking the face of God and desiring Him to move in their lives in a real and powerful way.

Humble Themselves

Pride is something that plagues us all. In James 4 it says that God resists the proud but He give grace to those that are humble. We need to surrender our pride and ego and stop comparing ourselves to one another. As a tech person we live and breath comparisons: comparing features, knobs, and quality. This is fine when we are looking at a new piece of equipment, but not so good when we start comparing ourselves to someone else.

Pray

Is prayer a vital part of your life, or is it something that you rarely do? As a tech director you may never be on the stage in front of people, but the prayers that you pray can still accomplish powerful things in their lives. In James 5 it tells us that a righteous person’s prayer can produce great things. Even if you aren’t on stage your prayers can do great things for the Kingdom of God.

Seek My Face

What things are you pursuing in your life. Sure we are pursuing great sound, video and lights, but are we pursuing the face of God? Are we seeking God’s Kingdom above all else? God does not want us to have religion he wants us to have relationship with Him.

Turn From Their Wicked Ways

Repentance comes before revival. There is a big difference between sorrow and repentance. Sorrow is feeling bad for what you did, and it’s often just feeling bad that you got caught. True repentance is actually turning from those things that displease God. It’s a change of actions.

As we do these things revival is birthed in our heart. God then promises that he will forgive our sins and He will heal our land.

It doesn’t matter if you are a world-renown evangelist or if you are running lyric projection for your local church, you can light a spark of revival. As you humble yourself before God, pray, seek His face and repent of your sins God will move in a powerful way and will bring restoration and revival to many lives.

Judah Thomas is the Lead Pastor at Thrive.Church in Thomaston, CT.

May 27, 2015

The Church: Rising From the Statistical Ashes

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I really appreciate Pastor Clarke Dixon’s weekly contributions here. In light of recent polls and news reports, this is very timely. Click the title below to read at Clarke’s blog.

Is There Hope for Christianity?

People say there is no hope for Christianity. They point to statistics. They point to unpopular doctrines and unloved ethics. It will die out eventually, they say. Furthermore, churches are boring and irrelevant, they will all die out. And people say there is no hope for the Christian. There is no such thing as the supernatural, at least not as described by the Bible, and so the Christian who dies will stay dead. They say that spirituality is something to be enjoyed in this life, the best one can hope for in the next is to push up daisies. Or perhaps your karma will catch up to you and you will be pushing up dandelions instead. But as for the classic Christian doctrine of the resurrection, there is no hope for the Christian.

People have said there was no hope for God’s people before. Their great city, Jerusalem, was destroyed. The central place for the expression of their faith, the temple lay in ruins. That temple was known as the place on earth that God had chosen to take up residence among His people. He was long gone. So too were the people, exiled, taken away from their land and dispersed to ensure they would remain weak through disunity. There was no hope for them. Or so they even they themselves said. But God said otherwise:

​The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:1-14 NRSV

We can first note the picture of hopelessness in Ezekiel’s vision. The first image is of a battlefield from the days of hand-to-hand combat filled with the bones of the dead. They are very dry, and so they have been dead a very long time. They have suffered the indignity of not having had a proper burial and they belong to the losers. The second picture is of the dead being sealed in graves, as if their fate was sealed.

But now note the picture of hope. In the vision the bones come together, and the dead are put back together complete with muscle and skin though they still do not live. Then Ezekiel is told by God to prophesy to the winds to have breath enter into the bodies. The significance of these two steps in the resurrection to life is that it recalls the creation of humanity by God in the first place:  “then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being” Genesis 2:7 NRSV. In other words, remember God’s amazing work of creation, don’t doubt God’s ability to do what He wants to do. And what does God want to do? To fulfill His covenant promises. To bring life and hope to what was thought to be dead and hopeless: “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live” v.14.

There should have been no hope for the disciples of Jesus in the early decades of the Church. The doctrines and ethics of the Jesus followers were repulsive to Jew and Gentile alike. Persecution often broke out against the Christians. But, “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live.”

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Acts 2:1-4 NRSV

Were it not for God’s Holy Spirit Christianity would likely have died out many times over throughout history. Yet it is still growing worldwide and exerting a positive influence on individuals and society alike.

People say that it is hopeless for God’s people in North America today. People say that Christianity will die. God says “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live.” People say that all churches will eventually close. God says “I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live.” People say that Christians when they die, will stay dead never to be raised from the dead. God says “I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live.”

When God puts us back together, whether he is taking the dry bones of churches across North America that have become stale, whether he is taking the dry bones of a Christian whose fire for the Lord has gone dim, or whether he is taking the dry bones of the dead in Christ, He will accomplish what He wants to accomplish. If we feel the future is hopeless for God’s people, well then it is time to seek His Spirit.

 

 

February 20, 2014

Reviving The First Love

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Rev 2:4b “…You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!  5a Look how far you have fallen!  (NLT)

Rev 2:4b “…you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love].”  (AMP)

Matt. 24:12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. (NLT)

Jude 21 [K]eep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. (NIV)

Matt 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (NASB)

In the area in which I work, Christian publishing, sales of books have hit a slow patch. It’s easy to blame eBooks, but Christian reading as a whole is down as people devote their time and their spending to supporting screen habits that are, at the end of the day, all about entertainment.

In church life, denominations report baptisms and conversions are down. Baptist (SBC) writer Thom Rainer says, “We are reaching fewer people for the gospel today than we did decades ago when we were a much smaller group.”

Yesterday, I was thinking of the song, Revival by Robin Mark. One of the lyrics says, “Like the preacher preaching when the well is dry.” It’s easy to identify people — both clergy and laity — whose well has run dry. Like hamsters running the wheel in the cage, we get caught up in religious life, but all the activity isn’t taking us anywhere.

I maintain that any point in time all of us in either of the two situations:

  • moving toward the cross
  • moving away from the cross

In your life it may be quantifiable on a yearly basis or a daily basis. The daily may be a microcosm of the annual; or your relationship to God, your hunger and thirst for the things of God may have its ups and downs.

I also need to pause here and talk about that phrase, “the things of God.” What are these things? Some of the things — the latest worship song, involvement in teaching Sunday School, a spirited discussion about creation science — may be spiritually superficial. Here’s a phrase you can Tweet:

To be excited about the things of the Lord, first you have to be excited about the Lord of the things.

God wants us to be in a constant posture of moving toward the cross. Back to the Robin Mark song, here are few of the lyrics:

Every dreamer dreaming in her dead-end job
Every driver driving through the rush hour mob
I feel it in my spirit, feel it in my bones
You’re going to send revival, bring them all back home

I can hear that thunder in the distance
Like a train on the edge of town
I can feel the brooding of Your Spirit
“Lay your burdens down, Lay your burdens down”.

The song is a clarion call to release yourself from the empty, the meaningless, the burdensome things of this world, and await the revival in your heart God wants to send you.

Here’s the video for the song. It’s long — ten minutes — but I pray it speaks to you. God wants to stir revival in your heart, and in mine. This is something we can ask for in prayer knowing that we are asking in God’s will.

June 22, 2012

The Importance of Staying Hungry

Stumbled on a most interesting website the other day, Blessed Economist.  In this recent post Hungry in Christchurch, he summarizes a sermon preached by Bill Johnson in Christchurch, NZ. 

In his sermon of the week, Bill Johnson spoke about hunger. He suggested that we get hungry by eating.

He also spoke of remaining hungry while coming into abundance of blessing. Our challenge is remain hungry while being full of the Spirit.

  • Hunger illustrates humility.
  • Hunger releases a capacity to dream.
  • Hunger cause people to move outside the place of safety.

The Lord is releasing a gift of hunger.

  • The gift of hunger is essential for the next season.
  • The gift of hunger is a gift for people on whom he will pour out a blessing that is bigger than anything has been know before.
  • The gift of hunger allows us to receive the blessing of the Lord, while remaining in the right place.

Bill quoted Ps 107:33-37.

33 He turns rivers into a wilderness,
And the springs of water into dry ground;
34 A fruitful land into barrenness,
For the wickedness of those who dwell in it.

Wickedness causes rivers to run dry and fruitful land becomes a wilderness. The key to understanding this is Luke 1:53.

He has filled the hungry with good things.
but has sent the rich away empty handed.

It is not that God dislikes the rich. He cannot bless those who have become satisfied with what they have and do not remain humble. He takes those who have been blessed and returns them to a place of need, so they can re-discover the source of their blessing, which is hunger. If blessing has caused us to wander he, out of mercy, removes the blessing, so that we will return to the source of our strength.

God blesses those who become hungry. In Psalm 107:35-37 this had happened.

35 He turns a wilderness into pools of water,
And dry land into watersprings.
36 There He makes the hungry dwell,
That they may establish a city for a dwelling place,
37 And sow fields and plant vineyards,
That they may yield a fruitful harvest.
Bill said that Psalm 107:36 is a prophetic decree for this generation.
36 There He makes the hungry dwell,
That they may establish a city for a dwelling place.

The hungry are given the unique privilege of establishing a city.
God is raising up companies of people who cry our constantly, “God, save my city!”

  • The don’t just want individuals saved, they want the systems of the city saved.
  • The want the way people do life to change.
  • They want kingdom values to permeate every aspect of life.
  • They want all interactions, including relationships, business, education impacted by the Spirit.
  • They want everything to be impacted by his divine order.

God will entrust the destiny of the city to the hungry.

  • He wants the hungry to define the DNA of the city.
  • The foundational values will be defined by those who have remained humble, kept connected with the Spirit and the purposes of God.
  • He wants the heart of the city to be shaped by those who have not become complacent and satisfied with what they obtained.
  • He wants the nature of cities defined by hungry people.
  • God will release favour and increase to the hungry.
  • Their voice will impact the destiny of cities.
  • Hungry people change the environment they live in.

The Lord is releasing a grace for remaining hungry while being blessed.

When I heard Bill Johnson’s message, I was stunned, because I remembered a description of the first communion service held when the first English settlers arrived in Christchurch in December 1850. The first ships had arrived at the Port of Lyttleton, but the settlers had not travelled over the hills to the site of the new city. On the Sunday, the settlers met in the second storey of a warehouse on Norwich Quay. The passengers, who had climbed upstairs on a ladder, sat on planks on packing cases. Here is the description of the event recorded in “Canterbury Sketches: Life from Early Days”.

The Psalm for the day, the 22nd, was wonderfully applicable to us. These are the verses I refer to, “And there he setteth the hungry that they may find them a city to dwell in; that they may plant their fruits and increase. He blesseth them so that they multiply exceedingly and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.” It seemed as if the Almighty had given us His blessing on our new life and may we not say on looking back through the long vista of years, that He has blessed many of us abundantly, and made us a prosperous and happy people?

The lectionary reading for that Sunday was Psalm 107 and the reader at the service read the same verses about the hungry establishing the city. So verse 36 is not just a prophecy for our generation, but a prophecy for the city of Christchurch.

The city has been devastated by the earthquake and left empty and barren. God is promising that the future of the city will not be shaped by powerful people who have forgotten him.

The future of the city will be shaped by the hungry. Their voice will have impact on the destiny of the city.

God is promising that the hungry will establish the city. He will bless them and their number will be greatly increased.

He makes the hungry dwell there,
that they may establish a city for a dwelling place.
They sowed.. and planted…
that yielded a fruitful harvest;
he blessed them,
and their numbers greatly increased.

The kingdom of God will be established in Christchurch through people who are hungry for the Spirit and a revelation of the glory of God.

 

May 3, 2012

Every Day Should Be a National Day of Prayer

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Today we feature the couple that should be the inspiration for devotional bloggers, the Webers at Daily Encouragement.  This is an excerpt, click to read the full post.

“Faithful in prayer”(Romans 12:12). “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”(1 Timothy 2:1,2).

“If my people, who are called by my Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Today is the National Day Of Prayer here in the USA. All over the country groups will be gathering to pray and for many the focus will be spiritual revival and a return to God’s ways. Our country is in desperate need of divine intervention!

America is in deep trouble and is in need of genuine repentance. Although there is an active remnant of true believers, the vast majority of our population gives little or no attention to God. Our government and court systems increasingly pass laws and policies that will surely lead to persecution for the believers. Our arts and entertainment industry is a cesspool of immorality. Broken marriages and troubled households abound and in recent years a massive effort is being made to drastically redefine the God-ordained institution of holy marriage. Violence fills the land. Our educational system has been very successful at breaking down the moral constraints. Brooksyne and I see this brokenness first hand in our ministry to the workplace, but it’s evident to anyone who turns on the news or reads a newspaper. I believe one of the greatest evidences of this escalating trouble is spiritual blindness.

I have often pondered the daily verse and committed it to memory many years ago. It will surely be quoted in many prayer services today. It is initially expressed as a condition and promise to Solomon during a time of great personal and national consecration as the temple is being dedicated approximately 3,000 years ago. I believe there is an element to this promise that is unique to Israel as a nation, who as a national people were called by God’s Name.

The phrase “My people” in the daily verse in its initial application applied to these people and their specific land. Thus I feel there is interpretive error when we view our specific country (wherever we live) as God’s land in the same sense as that spoken of in the initial promise. True believers foundationally hold heavenly citizenship (far superior to our national citizenship).

Having said that, I believe there is still great application in the condition and promise today. There is surely a sense that “My people” today refers to the redeemed in Christ who live throughout the world. 

God requires these conditions of His people:

  • Humble themselves
  • Pray
  • Seek My face
  • Turn from their wicked ways

God promises these blessings for His people:

  • Then will I hear from heaven
  • And will forgive their sin
  • And will heal their land

As God’s people we are indeed called to humble ourselves, to pray, to seek His face and to turn from our wicked ways. Wherever we may live let us who love God apply these conditions! The eternal, unchanging God is still speaking from heaven, forgiving sin, and extending His saving touch to all who look to Him. Regardless of what happens to America or the land where you live, His promise to the individual who earnestly seeks Him is always bright and good.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

February 26, 2012

Where Changing the Culture Begins

I’m always happy when people take advantage of our offer of direct submissions, but it helps if I actually check that e-mail inbox. This was submitted a few days ago by Jarod Hinton who lives in Georgia and blogs at Sermonettes, where this appeared (for the second time!) under the title Reformation’s First Step.

Our country is in sad shape. Our culture, also, is just this side of Gomorrah. Maybe a taste of what we’re up against is that in a recent research survey they discovered that 57 percent of “evangelical Christians” believe their faith is not the only way to eternal life! This goes back to my previous post a little bit. Hypocrites in the church. But beyond that, my own compromise and hypocrisy. Basically we need a reformation in our country. (And our Canadian neighbors also.) I have been praying for a mighty movement of God’s Spirit for a long time. Our society is doomed if we do not repent and seek the Lord again. I say that with all seriousness and sincerity. I’m not a doom-and-gloom-er, but we are in a war for the future of our children, and our nation.

But we will not see a great movement of God upon our country until the body of Christ repents of its own sins and failure to behave as Christ would behave. We need a reformation (or revival, whatever you want to call it) in the Church before we will see it in our country. That is in part why I am a minister seeking to help God’s people live in freedom and power.

But we will not see a great movement of God in the Church until there is a stirring of God’s Spirit in families. The family is the backbone of the Church. That is to say, the family structure is vitally important for the successful carrying out of the Great Commission. Also, the best discipleship happens in the home. A powerful revival in God’s body will come in the form of families that are changed and unified and powerful, in God’s Spirit.

I realized last night something significant I can do to speed along the reformation of our culture. In fact, I realized what the very first step, the beginning, of this reformation will be. If we will not have reformation until the church repents and is revived, and we will not have revival until the family is surrendered to God’s control, and I am the leader of my family, then I can begin in my own life to prepare the way of the Lord. Prepare ye the ways of the Lord. Make his paths straight.

The first step to reformation is in ME!

I must begin now to seek the Lord and earnestly pursue a life of holiness and a pure walk with Christ. How does that happen? It happens through the Word of God. That is the instrument God will use to shape me into the image of my Savior. Then my living will be what it ought to be. (Or at least, it will begin moving in that direction.) God cleanses and directs me through his Word. That is the key to spiritual growth.

So I need to quit bemoaning the sins of society so much — not that I will stop completely — and start working on the compromise and selfishness in my own life. I need to be a man and get up early enough in the morning, regardless of circumstances, and spend time with Christ in prayer and His Word. Then Christ will begin, more and more, to live my life for me. That is the goal. To be filled and controlled by the Spirit.

So I am going to start taking the first step of reformation. I hope you will join me.

~Jarod Hinton

Got an idea for a Bible study or devotional piece that would fit here?  Click submissions.

July 27, 2011

Revive Us With Your Fire

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I’m a huge Robin Mark fan.  I won’t write a long introduction here because the video is about 7 minutes long.  Lyrics are onscreen.  The core part of the song that we do in worship at our local church begins at the 3:20 mark.

September 11, 2010

We Need Revival

God says, “You praise me with your lips
And call me ‘Lord’ each day
But deep inside your mind and hearts
And thoughts are far away
You build your empires
Motivated by power and greed
And crush the spirits of the people
Near you who have needs…”

Jesus said that He is coming for a
Church that’s without spot
Yet as I look around I am quite sure
That’s what we’re not
We point out all the specks and flecks
In other peoples’ eyes
To the point our inward hidden sin
Is never recognized

We need revival that will drive us to our knees
We need revival let it start with you and me
We need revival that will make the whole world see
That what we’re doing here is real and not a game

We sing the choruses proclaiming
He is Lord
As we’re glancing at the clock because
We truly are quite bored
And if the service runs too long
We cannot wait to leave
As we eat our Sunday dinner
The Holy Spirit’s grieved

We need revival that will drive us to our knees
We need revival let it start with you and me
We need revival that will make the whole world see
That what we’re doing here is real and not a game

Now I am quite convinced
The walls are tumbling down
Though it’s happening quite slowly
Still the children hear the sound
They question where the meaning’s gone
But those who still remain
Must truly seek to be Christ’s church
Alive and well again

We’ll have revival it will drive us to our knees
We’ll have revival, it will start with you and me
We’ll have revival, it will make the whole world see
That what we’re doing here is real and not a game
‘Cause what we’re doing here is real and not a game

© 1983 Paul Wilkinson