Monday, October 29, 2007

Cling Even Closer In Prosperity and Blessing

As much as I hate to admit it and as much as I am determined, with God's help, to change it, I have found over the years that it's easier to be close to God during the bad times. Health problems (personally or with family and friends), money problems, relationship name the problem, but they all eventually bring us closer to the God we claim as Lord and Savior.

"Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your god, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is mulitiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God." (Deut. 8:11-14)

Does He know His creation or what?

For the last four or five years, the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me on this issue. I was raised to believe in God and had my own conversion experience at 13. For a time, I studied hard and, to go with my new faith, I developed new head knowledge. A lot like Peter in the Bible, however, Satan asked for me, "to sift me like wheat" and the world easily distracted me from God's plan for my life.

When things got rough, I would return to God. I would repent, ask God to forgive me and, for a time, be back on the path God set for me. After the storms passed, though, I always seemed to tell God I had a handle on things and would let Him know when I needed Him again.

As I was very hard headed, it took years of doing the same thing and expecting different results for the Lord to reach me, for much of the head knowledge I had acquired in previous years to become heart knowledge and part of my faith.

I try, more and more each day, to listen to God. I say "try" to listen because I know that He speaks to me even when I choose not to listen. But, more than ever, I want to hear from God and more importantly, I want to be immediately obedient. "Here I am, Lord!" God has been good to me. I've seen Him work through me and I hunger for that relationship more each day.

God said in Genesis that He would not strive with man forever. My prayer for me and for you and especially for the lost among my friends, family and enemies is that He'll strive with us just a little longer and that my life will be so adjusted to His will that it will make a difference in someone elses life. I vow not to forget the Lord my God and, with His help, observe the things He has commanded.

It's amazing how many conversations are created just in a day of meeting new customers when I give God credit for the business I have when I am asked: "So, how's business?"

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Do Our Actions Say We Want Revival?

The Lord moved me a year or so ago to pray for a spiritual revival, both personally and within our church and community. And, that is what I have done. After a time of praying, God asked me if I knew what was required for a spiritual revival and, at first thought, I wasn't sure.

A devotional I was using led me to Psalms 85 and I began to see and understand some things. The first of these is that God has not moved away from us; He has not created the deadness that requires revival. We have turned away from God and into ourselves, causing a chasm between creation and creator. In my life, I have seen it happen by degrees. My grandmother used to say that once you tell one lie, it becomes easier to tell the next and so on. That is the principal of sin and separation from God.

What, then, is the first step towards revival?

Verse 9 of the 85th Psalm says, "Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him." At first this took me back to the fire and brimstone preachers that tried to scare the hell out of me, but as I thought about it, the fear is different than that of horrible uncertainty. Our "fear" of God is simply an acknowledgement that He is our creator and sustainer of life. We admit that it is He who gives and He who takes away.

The sin that we allow to dull our spiritual self convinces us that we have some power over our well being; some ability of our own to determine our future. Not only does this opinion of our abilities cause God to turn His face from us, but, I think, it gives us a spirit of defeat, a spirit that lacks hope and direction and is in dire need of revival. As we fail, time and time again, what light can we see in our future.

So, the first step to revival is fear of a just and almighty God. We must turn from ourselves and back to God. This return involves repentance and a return to obedience, both applied with more than a pinch of humility! We must return to the Word of God for our direction and guidance. Our revival depends on righteousness and our righteousness is in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 85:13 reads, "Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway." How many times have we read and been taught of Jesus as the way, the truth and the light. No one, we are told, will come to the Father without the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Jesus' life on earth showed the path that we should follow and His power that is within us will allow us to walk that path.

Revival starts within each of us and will spread to those whom we love. We are called to love not only those who love us, but especially those who don't. Let's us change our lives, our spirituality, and see what God can do with that!