First, the place to begin for revival is to please God. To receive Jesus as our personal Savior pleases God. The angels in Heaven rejoice whenever someone is born again. “...there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth (Luke 15:10).”
Second, we please God through faith. In Hebrews 11:6 we are told, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Third, we please God by growing in wisdom. In Luke 2:52 the Bible says, “...Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” We are told in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom....” We should seek the wisdom that comes from God. In James 3:17, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” James also tells us in 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally.”
Fourth, we can please God by walking in righteousness. In 1 Thessalonians 4:1 we are told, “...as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.” Also in John 14:21, “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
Fifth, we can please God by praising Him. The Psalmist says in Psalm 69:30-31, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.”
Do you need revival in your life? Please God!
Doing The Impossible
“And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor (Joshua 6:2).”
Have you ever faced an impossible task? If you haven’t yet, you will at some point in your life. That is what Joshua and the children of Israel were facing. It was an impossible thing that God wanted them to do. In order to take possession of the land flowing with milk and honey which the Lord had given to them they had to first take Jericho. Jericho was a great, great city with huge impenetrable walls. How could they do it?
God had a plan and He gave that plan to Joshua. It was a plan that made little sense according to human wisdom. We know the story. They were to march around the city following the Ark of the Covenant and seven priests once each day for six days. On the seventh day they were to go around the city seven times. The priests were then to blow their rams’ horns and the people were to then shout with a great shout. The walls would then come falling down and the city would be taken. That is exactly what happened.
The victory at Jericho is a picture of the Lord’s army in action with a victory won by spiritual means. Today the Lord still has an army, an army made up of the church, all who have been “born again.” That’s us. In human terms, the capture of Jericho was impossible. That’s why Joshua was deep in prayer (Joshua 5:13-15), walking on Holy ground.
God will call upon us as well to do what in human terms is impossible. But we can be assured that whatever God calls us to do; He will provide the resources for us to accomplish it. God provided for Joshua, Abraham, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Peter, James, Peter, and Paul and He is still providing. What God calls us to do He will empower us to accomplish if we follow His plan and use His resources.
Who’s Running Your Life?
“By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor, and life (Proverbs 22:4).”
Are you on the throne of your life or is the Lord? Who is in control, who is running your life? Everytime I have tried to ignore what God wants and have done what I wanted I have had problems. God’s way may not be easy but it will be a thousand times better than the alternative. What would have happened to some of the great servants of God in the Bible if they had tried to run their own lives?
Abraham, God called him to go forth to a land that he had never seen before and promised to make him a great nation. Abraham was living comfortably in the civilized city of Ur; but he gave it all up. What would have been the consequence if Abraham had just settled in there in Ur? Maybe he had a nice three bed condo. To follow God he would need to live in a tent the rest of his life. If Abraham had not followed God what would have happened? Most likely God would have chosen someone else and Abraham would have missed out on one of the greatest adventures imaginable. He would also have missed out on countless blessings.
Noah, God called him to build a huge ship not even close to an ocean, if there were oceans. Through his obedience he and his family were saved. The consequence of his not obeying would have been drastic. The result would have been that Noah and his family would have lost their lives. God could have easily started all over.
Joseph, it wasn’t of his free will that he was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery and carried to Egypt. Joseph was a prideful person when he was a boy but through these experiences he learned humility. It was Joseph’s decision to resist the advances of Potiphar’s wife. It was Joseph’s decision to interpret the dream for Pharoah and give all the glory to God. That decision resulted in his becoming the second most powerful person in the known world. The consquences if Joseph had given into tempatation, or of refusing to interpret the dream, or to have taken the glory for himself would have been catastrophic. Joseph would have missed out on saving his people and the people of Egypt. God may or may not have raised up someone else to take his place.
Before we pass up what God wants in our lives let us consider the consequences of disobedience. We can’t see what is ahead but God can. He wants the very best for each of us and He can do a much better job of running our lives than we can. So, who is running your life?
The Good Fight
“But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:9-12).”
Yesterday afternoon I watched a very one sided grade school girls basketball game. Our girls were outnumbered. We had five on the court and one or two on the bench. They had five on the court and ten or twelve on the bench. Not only were they outnumbered they were also outsized. The opposing team members were all a head taller and thirty pounds or so heavier. As you would think, we were outscored by many points as well. But that really doesn’t tell the story of the game or the girls who played it.
Our girls were facing giants who were older and more experienced. I was surprised to see that as the game went along our team didn’t give up. The more they played, the harder they played. The more they played the tougher they became. They may have lost according to the score but they played their hearts out and won in another way by the spirit in which they played.
In life we are involved in a gigantic battle. Some become tougher as life goes along. Some appear to lose heart and give up as the battle progresses. Yes, we are outnumbered for there are many more who are unbelievers than are believers. Yes, we may be outscored because many will have more toys, more material possessions than we in the end. However, the real winners are those who continue on in the face of impossible odds and fight the good fight of faith.
How Much Life?
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and todestroy: I am come that they might have life, and thatthey might have it more abundantly (John 10:10).”
Fifty years ago the technology for drilling oil and gas wellswas still primitive compared to today. Most wells weredrilled only to the depth of a few thousand feet. With theadvance of science there is now the capability of drillingto the depth of 30,000 feet or more. It is now known thatbelow many shallow oil fields are more pools of oil andnatural gas. When a well is drilled now there may beseveral producing zones at different depths. But in orderto reach those more productive and richer zones the wellsmust be drilled to a deeper depth.
In the Christian life there is the possibility of our goingdeeper and deeper into the living waters of God. Jesussaid to the woman at the well in John chapter four that Hewas the water of life. Ezekiel, in Ezekiel 47:1-12,describes this river of life as does John in Revelation22:1-2. John sees a river of the water of life flowing fromGod’s throne. According to Ezekiel, some are ankledeep, some are knee deep, some are waist deep, andsome are so immersed in the living waters of God thatthey are swimming.
There is a sin of shallowness. It occurs when we refuseto expend the time and energy necessary to reach theglorious riches of God. How deep are you? If you wantlife, abundant life, you must go deeper!
(The next devotional will not be sent until February 22. We are moving to Sweetwater, OK and will be offline much of the time until then. Please pray for us as we move and begin to minister in another area. My email address and website address will remain the same.)
Where Is Your Treasure?
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21).”
On the front page of this morning’s newspaper was a photo of the charred remains of a couple’s dreams. Bill and Shirley Brunkhorst where building a triple deck excursion paddle boat called “The Eufaula Queen.” A spark from a welder’s torch destroyed their life savings along with the four years of effort spent in building the boat. There is no insurance to cover the damage. As most would be, the Brunkhorsts are emotional traumatized by their loss.
We have to admire the Brunkhorsts for their years of effort in pursuing their dream. They designed the boat themselves even without engineering degrees. What has happened to the Brunkhorsts often happens to earthly dreams. Many of you have experienced traumatic material losses as well. You have lost jobs, businesses, or homes. One thing we know about the things here on Planet Earth: these things are temporary. A welder’s spark, a wrong turn, a momentary decision, can destroy our worldly dreams.
While we pursue our careers, and build businesses let us not forget that earthly things are temporary. There is a finite amount of time for us to possess whatever we have here. Should we not be storing up treasures in Heaven as we walk along the highways of life? When we have spent 10,000 years in Heaven, these things we treasure now upon earth will have very little meaning to us.
Don’t Turn It Off!
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make noprovision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof (Romans13:14).” Another version puts it as: “Rather, clotheyourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not thinkabout how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
Recent numbers indicate 148 million people areconnected to the Internet. Most likely you could multiplythat number by 3 or 4 to obtain the number that haveaccess to the Internet in some way. People all over theworld have access. The Internet is in many ways a mirrorof the real nature of our world. There are some goodthings on the Internet but there are some really, really badthings on the Internet as well. It is much like our world. We do not live in a perfect world. We live in a corruptedworld. It became corrupted when Adam and Eve sinnedin the Garden of Eden. Sin entered the world throughone man, Adam. God has a remedy for sin through oneman, the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.
On the Internet there are filters which we can downloador purchase that will block out sites that have the badstuff. These filters are not perfect. Some sites are finebut because they are not rated the filter will not allow youto go there. Also the filters may be turned off by theperson that has the password. So, even if you have afilter, if you don’t use it; then, it will not protect you.
We have a spiritual filter from the bad stuff this world, theflesh, and the devil throws at us. The name of thespiritual filter is Jesus Christ. We must clothe ourselveswith the mind of Jesus, with His attitude, with Hisresources. We must put our focus upon our Lord. Thisspiritual filter is the ultimate model. It is perfect. However, it is used by imperfect people. Too often, eventhough we have the perfect filter, we chose to turn it offand think about the things that will gratify the desires ofthe sinful nature.
The End Cometh
“For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon (Revelation 16:14-16).”
Placed any bets on the “end,” lately? As strange as that sounds some people are actually betting when the end of the world will occur. Now we have to wonder if they win their bet, how would they ever collect!? One bookmaker recently said that about six people per week place very specific bets about when the end will come. The odds on the world ending on a specific date were given at over 6 million to one. Even if they win, they can never collect!
For years we have been hearing theory after theory about when the Lord will return. We have been hearing about when the tribulation will begin. I must admit I have at times been convinced that some of those theories were right. But the time for the end came and passed. Some have written entire books and distributed them for free across the world advancing their reasoning on why Jesus was coming at a particular time. But the time came and apparently it wasn’t yet time for the end. Now I understand all of the reasons why many say Jesus is coming again in the year 2000 or soon afterwards. However, all those who have previously made predictions based upon their Scriptural reasoning have been wrong.
In Revelation 16, when the Bible is talking about the “great day of God Almighty,” and the great final battle; even here God says, “Behold, I come as a thief.” It will be at an unexpected time. In 1 Thessalonians 5 just after Paul tells of what many us believe will be the rapture, we are told: “...the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” The point being it will be a surprise when the Lord comes again. It will be a surprise when the end of the world comes. However, Paul points out in verse 4, that as Christians, “But ye brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” Paul also says in verse 8, “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”
The signs of our times certainly point to the approaching end of the world as we know it. Will the world end on January 1, 2000? Will the world end on January 1, 2001? I wouldn’t want to bet the ranch on it!
Don’t Let The Pride Get In Your Eyes
“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God that he may exalt you in due time (1 Peter 5:5-6).”
In 1973 we moved our mobile home from Oklahoma City to my parent’s farm. I had graduated from college at midterm and had found a sales job with a automotive parts distributorship. All went well until the oil shortage. Gas prices went up and as cars were driven less, fewer parts wore out. I was laid off in December 1973 about Christmas time. In a few weeks I went to work for another parts company but this lasted only a couple of months. Jeanie went back to work and I was home taking care of our one year old son.
It was a frustrating time of being without work. I began to read through the New Testament and for the first time read completely through it. I decided I would go back to Oklahoma City. Go back to college. Live with my sister until I could afford to move my family back. The night before I was leaving my father-in-law called to offer me a job at the cotton gin where he was the manager. This would not be a white collar job. It would be a minimum wage hard work kind of job. I didn’t want to do it. After all I had a college degree. But then I had been reading God’s Word and God spoke to me about my pride.
I went to work with my father-in-law, Leon Pruet. It was one of the best decisions of my life. We tore out old machinery and installed new machinery through the summer. In the Fall, I stayed on for the ginning season and worked on the press where the cotton is compressed into bails. I gained a different kind of education and gained a deep respect for the godly life my father-in-law led. Pride almost robbed me of one of the greatest experiences of my life. Don’t let pride rob you of life!
Never Give Up!
“And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou has said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth (1 Kings 17:12-14).”
Today the United States creates more garbage than any other country in the world. We are a throw away society. Disposable seems to always be better than the reusable. It wasn’t always that way. During the depression years and through much of the war years in the United States things were different. During those years not very much of anything was thrown away because everything was needed to survive. Everything was used down to the last drop, down to the last tiny bit.
During WW II tires were very hard to find because of use of the material in the war effort. Neighbors would sometimes share tires with each other in order to have one vehicle they could use. If someone in the family was ill, having a vehicle that had tires became very important. Because of that, my Dad hoarded old tires for years after the war. He’s finally gotten rid of most of them now. But he still remembers a time when an old tire would have meant almost the difference between life and death.
In these modern times I believe we give up too easily. We give up too early. We give up before it’s down to the last drop. We give up before we are down to our last dollar. We would do well to remember Elijah and widow of Zarephath. God gave them the food they needed as long as it was needed. We should remember the example of our Lord at the feeding of the five thousand and of the four thousand. Only a very little food and it was enough for only a few people. But our Lord blessed the food and it was multiplied into a provision for the thousands with baskets of food left over.
Before we give up. Before we bail out. Let us give God an opportunity to work that miracle in our lives. Let us thank God for all that we have and are. Ask Him to sustain us. When we think we can’t make it another day, let us live one more and see what God will do. When we’ve gone our last mile, let us walk one more. As we do, we will see the hand of God upon our lives sustaining us each day as we trust Him to provide. Never, ever, give up!!
Do You Need A Savior?
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, andthe truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).”
In order for a person to be forgiven they must first believe they need forgiveness. Who is it that needs forgiveness? All of us. At least that is what the Bible says in Romans3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory ofGod.” During Vacation Bible School there is usually anopportunity for me as a pastor to speak to the children(Usually third grade and older.) about their need forsalvation. Most children have never committed anyhorrendous sin. So I try to help them to understand sinand that even at their young age they are in need of aSavior.
I usually being by telling the story of how when I was ayoung boy I stole a book at a store. It was a book filledwith photos of airplanes and I wanted it so much but Ididn’t have enough money. So I took it. I later felt badabout it (The same day.) and went back and boughtanother book using silver dollars that were worth morethan the cost of several books. After telling the story Ithen ask if they have ever stolen anything. I askthat everyone that has to hold up their hands includingthe adults that are present. Invariable the majority ofthose present will hold up their hands. I then ask otherquestions such as: “Have any of you ever disobeyedyour parents?” “Have you ever told a lie?” “Have youever cheated on your school work?” I continue untileveryone has raised their hands at least once and thenexplain that God calls doing those things “sin.”
The bad news is found in Romans 6:23a: “...the wages ofsin are death....” The good news immediately follows inthe last part of Romans 6:23b: “but the gift of God iseternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” John afterstating that “If we say that we have no sin, we deceiveourselves...” immediately gives us the good news as well. John says in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he isfaithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse usfrom all unrighteousness.”
Have you sinned? The Good News is we have a Saviorand His Name is Jesus Christ!
The Truth Will Make You Free!
“The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips(Proverbs 12:13).”
How often do you lie? How often do I lie? Do we lie oncea year? Do we lie once a month? Do we lie once aweek? Do we lie once a day? Or, do we lie even moreoften than that? There was a study conducted by apsychologist at the University of Virginia last year abouthow often people lie. One hundred forty sevenvolunteers over a one week period wrote down everyfalsehood they told. The result was that these peopleaveraged one or two little lies a day. Why did they lie? They lied to make themselves look smarter, kinder, ormore fun loving. They also lied to give a little push tothings to make them go their way. Strangers were lied tomuch more frequently than friends, family, and spouses. However, one in four of the biggest deceptions are aboutextramarital affairs. The researcher conducting the study,Dr. Bella DePaulo, said “It’s like we save our most hurtfullies for the people we care about most.”
Have you ever been caught in a lie? I have and it ispainful for all concerned. Before I was a Christian I had amajor problem with lying. It seemed I lied for the fun of it. I lied to avoid responsibilities and problems. I even liedsometimes to avoid hurting other people. The truth doessometimes hurt but a lie hurts even more. A lie isespecially harmful between husbands and wives andbetween parents and children. There is something abouttelling the truth that is freeing. Isn’t that what the Biblesays in John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and thetruth shall make you free.”
“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into afar country, who called his own servants, and deliveredunto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents,to another two, and to another one: to every manaccording to his several ability; and straightway took hisjourney. Then he that had received the five talents wentand traded with the same, and made them other fivetalents. And likewise he that had received two, he alsogained other two. But he that had received one went anddigged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money (Matthew25:14:18).” (Read also:Matthew 25:19-46)
Every day people risk their lives and their careers for thethrill of the moment. People risk their lives doing drugs,buying drugs, selling drugs, committing burglaries androbberies to have the money to get drugs. It is amazingwhat people have done and will do for a thrill. I haveseen people bungee jump off a bridge over the ColoradoRiver. A few months ago a sixty something year oldwoman told me she was going sky diving. Other peopleenter the stock market when they don't really have the the money. Others play the state lotterieseven though they have a three and a half time greaterchance of being struck by lightning than of winning.
Most of us, however, are not into risky behavior. We aremore into safe behavior. There is a new admonitionbeing said now by store clerks as you leave. It used tobe “...have a good day.” Now I am beginning to hear,“...be safe today.” Most of us are into the avoidance ofrisks and are committed to playing it safe. Because ofthat the words of Jesus in this parable are a challenge. Jesus isn’t just talking about what we should do with ourphysical talents. Jesus is giving us a challenge, thechallenge of our lives. To follow Jesus, truly follow Him isto risk everything. It is to risk everything we are, to riskeverything we have or ever will be for Him. How oftenare we to do that, once? Twice? How often do we takethat kind of risk? Our entire life is to be lived in that way,risking everything for our Lord.
The kind of life our Lord Jesus would have us to live is alife of action. A life lived as our Lord would want is a lifeof taking chances, a life of adventure, a life of growth,and expansion for the cause of Christ.
How long since you have risked anything for your Lord? How long since you have told someone about what Jesusdid for you on the cross? Read through the rest ofMatthew 25 and ask yourself, “How long?” How longsince you have fed the hungry, given drink to the thirsty,gave a stranger a place to stay, clothed those in need? How long since you visited the sick and those in prison?
What Are You Afraid Of?
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shalltribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, ornakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thysake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted assheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we aremore than conquerors through him that loved us (Romans8:35-37).”
An article in the newspaper caught my eye several yearsago. The article asked the question, “Are American’sbecoming scaredy cats?” The article also asked ifAmericans had forgotten how to face a well-calculatedrisk and if the West were still to be won, could we roundup enough brave souls to win it? The article discussed abook by Harold W. Lewis entitled, “Technological Risk. What are the real dangers, if any, of toxic chemicals, thegreenhouse effect, microwave radiation, nuclear power,air travel, automobile travel, carcinogens of all kinds, andother threats to our peace of mind.”
After I read the article I asked myself if that was theproblem with the church today. Have Christians becomescaredy cats? Do the multitude of dangers that surroundChristians choke off their willingness to risk anything forChrist? Have Christians forgotten Jesus says, “If anyman will come after me, let him deny himself, and take uphis cross daily, and follow me?”
If missionaries were to be called today to be the first to goto the innermost regions of Africa, or India, or Burma, orChina, who would go? Could God find a Livingstonetoday? Could He find a William Carey, or a Judson, or J.Hudson Taylor? Are there any Christians, today, willingto risk all that they are and have for the sake of their Lordand Savior? Are there any Christians today, standing inthe gap risking all?
Livingstone once wrote to England asking for moremissionaries to come to Africa. Some months later thereply came that they had found some men willing tocome. They wanted Livingstone to tell them the bestroads to take to where he was. Livingstone wrote backthat he needed men who would go where there were noroads. God is still looking for men, women, boys, and girls like that today.
Copyright 1999. Ed Wrather. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for use of this material on a non-profit basis with source noted.