Posts Tagged ‘true revival’

Why America is no longer great

Last year I posted a blog titled, “An Open Appeal For Revival”. It was copied from a letter that I had sent many years ago (before the popularity of the internet) to almost every pastor in my town with the hope that they would begin preaching on the subject. I also mailed copies to several famous radio evangelists.

Sadly, I received no response.

Since then I have often wondered, “Why is there no revival today?”

Anyone who reads a local newspaper or watches the evening news will have to admit to the fact that America is in deep trouble.

We’ve replaced the Bible and prayer in our public schools with metal detectors and police security; We’ve given up the security of family values and replaced them with immoral ideas and attitudes; We’ve traded the value of honest work for enslavery to a bureaucratic government system of relief; Sanctity of life is no longer fought for, and more often is legislated against; Our children have become uncontrollable beasts who murder without conscience; And those who were designed to help us, protect us and be examples for us—from parents and teachers to the local minister on up to the President, have instead led us to the brink of destruction.

And yet, people still believe that if we just elect the right person, he or she will make our country great again.  But Psalm 146:3 states: “Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” (NAS) I like how this verse translated in the New Living Translation: “Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there.”

For decades, instead of putting their trust in God, people have put their confidence in powerful people—and discover that there is no help from them. Consider who the candidates for the next presidential election are. One of them who is leading in the polls is a man who is narcissistic, brash, insulting and often goes into obscenity laced tirades against anyone who disagrees with him. Another one is promising a political nirvana where the government will take care of everyone—from education, to healthcare, to job equality. Many of the other candidates have been so busy attacking each other that the real issues get lost in the shuffle.

In his book, “Why Revival Tarries” Leonard Ravenhill writes:

“Solemnly and slowly, with his index finger extended, Napoleon Bonaparte outlined a great stretch of country on a map of the world. ‘There,’ he growled, ‘is a sleeping giant. Let him sleep! If he wakes, he will shake the world.’ That sleeping giant was China. Today, Bonaparte’s prophecy of some one hundred and fifty years ago makes sense.

Today Lucifer is probably surveying the church just as Bonaparte did China. One can almost behold the fear in his eyes as he thinks of the Church’s unmeasured potential and growls, ‘Let the Church sleep! If she wakes, she will shake the world.’ Is not the Church the sleeping giant of today?”

Years ago Keith Green recorded his song, “Asleep In The Light” about how the Church has become so comfortable in their salvation that we have become oblivious of the suffering and danger all around us. It is as pertinent now as it was then.

America cannot be great again without repentance! 

Year after year we have all heard the sound bites of presidential candidates promising to make America great again. But without repentance, all they are are useless sound bites.

Repentance means more than just being sorry. Someone once said that the road to destruction will be paved with the souls of the sorrowful. I’m sure that all of the fallen angels are sorry now that they followed Satan in his failed revolt against God.

There are two types of sorrow. There is worldly sorrow—like when someone is sorry they got caught, but not for their actions. We have seen this time and time again with political leaders. They tend to speak about the consequences of their sin but never take responsibility for the sin itself. Godly sorrow is when someone is truly sorry for their actions and the nature of their sin; and also take responsibility for it. (See 2nd Corinthians 7:10)

Results of true repentance will be a new life washed clean by the spirit of God. The person repentant of sin will no longer be pleasing themselves but will strive to please God and others. Those things that were once important to the flesh will no longer matter as much. Those who truly repent will work at making a better home, a better workplace, a better community, and a better world.

All of the reasons why America is not experiencing power and greatness today can be explained with one word: REPENT!

Consider the prayer of the prophet Daniel:

Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you.To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. (Daniel 9: 3-10)

Notice that Daniel confessed the sins of his kings and princes as if they were his own! We must come to God now and acknowledge our sin to him—And the sins of our leaders, past and present as if they were our own!

We are in critical condition and are in need of true revival by the spirit of God! We need to stop relying on political leaders and surrender ourselves to God and receive His forgiveness and mercy. Only then will America be great gain.

Until the Church repents of her sins and turns from her wickedness, we will never witness the healing of our land:

“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters, they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward…Come now, let us reason together saith the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land, but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword. For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”  (Isaiah 1:4, 18-20)

I don’t think the world has ever been in a greater sense of turmoil than it is at this moment. I don’t think our nation has. All the blasphemy, all the unbelief, all the dirty stories, all the lying, all the deception, all the sexual perversion, and all the drunkenness—this tremendous iniquity goes up in the sight of God. The shadow of darkness and death is over this generation like nothing we’ve ever had before. And yet, the greatest tragedy of all is this: We have neither the vision nor the passion, nor at this moment, the intention of setting our house in order.

We need to learn from history what happens when people forsake God.

When Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house, and surveyed all that he had successfully accomplished, Solomon celebrated by throwing a gigantic party and feast for eight days!

Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And at this house, which was exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore he has brought all this disaster on them.’  (See 2 Chronicles 7:14:11-22)

Could it be that the reason America is no longer great, that our leaders have become weak and scorned by other nations is because we, like Israel of old have forsaken the one true God and held onto other worldly gods?

Remember God’s warning to His people through the prophet Isaiah:

“Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on Him. Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness—only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil. Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers…Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice…If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (See Isaiah 1:2-20)

It is my hope and prayer that America, just like Nineveh of old, will repent of its sins—from the president on down to the youngest child. And we will be saved from God’s wrath. (Jonah 3:1-10)

This is part two of a three part article on how to achieve true revival. It is my prayer that God will use this to minister to His Church and encourage others to pray for revival.

Prayer
The second step in reviving God’s people is prayer. Looking back on my life I am amazed at how long it took me to understand prayer. For many years after my conversion I struggled with unanswered prayer and my inability to hear from God. My prayer life was not unlike many believers today; unaware and ignorant of the precious gift our loving Lord has given us by allowing us a way to come into the very presence of the Almighty God, Creator of the universe!

My prayers at best were shallow, selfish, self-serving, and earthly. They were almost always a one way conversation–More like giving God directions than prayers. I rarely heard God’s voice because I was too busy talking to listen to what God had to say. I’ve since learned that prayer is an intimate two way conversation between the Lord and myself.

What prayer is not

Prayer is not a giant gift shop in heaven where I simply place my order and demand the delivery of my goods by quoting a few scriptures. Nor is it a celestial complaint department, that if I whine loud and long enough, God will have no choice but to grant my request. God designed prayer as a way for us to communicate with him; and him with us–A way that we can draw closer to him and him to us.

King David: A man after God’s own heart

King David knew the importance of a two way communication with God. He was constantly in contact with God. By reading the Psalms you can see the close relationship he had with God. God considered David to be a man after his own heart. (I Sam. 13:14, Acts 13:22) Why? It was because David, through his intimate two way communion with God, was able to know what was in God’s heart. Whenever David realized his sin he repented on the spot quickly because he knew that his sin separated himself from God.

God desires that kind of intimate relationship with all of His children. And what kind of child only speaks to their father to get things that they want? A selfish, self-centered child. But a child who truly loves their father desires to just spend time with him. That is the primary reason God instituted prayer for us. That we might spend time with our heavenly Father and experience the abundant love that He has for each and every one of us. For each of us, that will involve not only talking to God and sharing with him our heart, but also being still before him and allowing him to speak to us.

But what if I don’t know how to listen to God’s voice?

How do I know for certain that it’s God’s voice that I’m hearing and not my own thoughts? How do I distinguish between God’s voice, Satan, and my own thoughts? The Bible teaches us to test all things and to hold fast to what is good. (I Thess. 5:21) Our only standard by which to test all things is God’s Holy Scriptures. By using Psalms 15, Matthew 5:3-11, and I Corinthians 13:4-8, we can understand that everything that God does will promote four absolute truths that Jesus and all the apostles preached and lived by. They are: absolute purity, absolute honesty, absolute unselfishness, and absolute love. By using these four absolutes as our standard we can know for certain if a thought is from God.

Try spending 30 to 60 minutes every day silently before God and ask him to speak to you. Write down all your thoughts on paper. At the end of your quiet time compare those thoughts with scripture and the four absolutes. If the thoughts that you have written down promote absolute purity, honesty, unselfishness, and love, then you know that those thoughts are from God. If not, then you can disregard them as your own thoughts. If they are from God, then God has just spoken to you; and if God has just spoken to you, you now have the choice of obeying him. He may ask you to do something as simple as asking forgiveness from someone you were short with. Or he may ask you to do something as difficult as moving across the country, or the world, to serve him better.

Don’t think it disrespectful or a sign of a lack of faith by asking God about something several times you feel He’s already told you to do in order to be sure it’s from God. We serve a loving and merciful God who won’t force us to do anything we’re not ready for. Each of us will know in our own hearts if we’re waiting on God or if we’re being disobedient to God’s leading. But by using God’s Holy Scriptures and His four absolute truths we can know for certain what God’s will is.

That is the ministry of the Messiah in a nutshell. He prayed, he listened to the Father, and then he obeyed. Look at the results of Jesus’s prayers: After he prayed all night, the next day not only did Jesus choose his disciples, (Luke 6:12-13) but he also healed many and then preached a sermon so filled with God’s spirit that his discourse alone probably brought multitudes to believe in him. (Luke 6:17-49)

After feeding over 5,000 people Jesus went off by himself to a mountain to pray. Later he came to his disciples walking on top of the sea! (Matt.14:22-33) Today unbelievers as well as God’s own people are familiar with the story of Peter walking on water. There are many other examples of Jesus praying, listening to God, and obeying.

His greatest prayer of all was, “Father forgive them, for they no not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Even up to the moment of his death Jesus continued to commune with his Father through prayer when he cried, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (v.4) That same spirit that allowed Jesus to perform the mighty works of God, heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons, is the same spirit that works in believers today and is available to us through prayer.

But there are some requirements for answered prayer that we should be aware of:

Forgiveness – (Matt. 6:14, 18:19-20) We must come to God with a forgiving heart. If we hold unforgivingness against someone in our heart God cannot forgive us and we separate ourselves from him by our sin.

Repentance – (Luke 18:10-14) If we pray with an unrepentant heart all we do is make noise. We may impress others around us, but I guarantee that God is not the least bit impressed.

Believing – (Matt. 21:22, Mark 11:23-24) Why ask God for something if you don’t believe He’ll do what you ask? Don’t bother Him with your faithless prattle. Instead, be honest with God and tell Him that your faith is small and weak and ask Him to increase your faith and help your unbelief.

Does that mean that if I believe, God will give me a nice new car or a new home? It does if that’s God’s will for you and if you believe it will promote the four absolutes that Scripture teaches. The Bible teaches that God will supply all of our needs, but be careful to differentiate between wants and needs. I’ve known many believers who have set themselves up for failure by believing God to supply their wants rather than their needs.

In God’s will – (I John 5:14) This is where the scriptures and the four absolutes will lead you to know God’s will. The only way to know God’s will is to know God’s heart and that only comes from spending time with Him and listening to His voice.

Thanksgiving – (I Tim. 2:1-3, Phil. 4:6) Jesus taught his disciples to pray in Luke 11: 1-4 but then he gave them an example of prayer. (v.9-13) With that scripture in mind, if you being evil know how to teach your children thankfulness, how much more should you be thankful to your heavenly Father? Most of us who have children teach them from an early age to say thank-you for everything from a glass of water to an expensive birthday gift from Grandma. Should our heavenly Father expect less from us; in whom we live and breathe and have our being? The one in whom we owe our salvation, to? Yes, our very lives?

Unceasing – (I Thess. 5:17) This may seem to be a difficult task. (If not impossible) But to pray without ceasing simply means to constantly be thinking of God. If you’ve ever had a sick child you know that you can go through your day of normal routine; do work at the office, balance the check book, pay bills, etc. and still be constantly thinking of your sick child. Praying without ceasing is like that in the fact that even when going about your normal business of the day you can still constantly have your mind on God.

The most intimate way we can share our feelings with each other is by way of communication. We tell each other how we feel; what makes us happy, or sad, or angry. We bless and encourage with our speech, i.e.; our communication. I’ve met men who weren’t worth a nickel walk around like they owned the world because of an uplifting word from a loving wife. Our speech; our communication, is what connects us, attracts us, and deepens our relationships with others.

So it is with God too. He desires to have that deep relationship with all of His children and share His heart with us. He wants to not only reveal His will to us, but also His abundant love and mercy and grace that He’s patiently waiting to give to each and every one of us.

More to come…