Archive for the “Revival” Category

Lessons from Habakkuk, Part 4 (Habakkuk 3:2)

We last left Habakkuk as God was revealing to the Old Testament prophet what the New Testament writers elaborated on: That “the righteous will live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4)

That’s the life I want to live. It’s the life Habakkuk wanted to live as well. Yet he found himself living in the midst of a country and culture that had forgotten their God. He was living in the midst of people who either ignored God or practiced “religion” instead of experiencing and living for the True God. Does that sound familiar? Yep. I am thankful for my brothers and sisters in Christ and the church family that surrounds me, but when I step outside that circle, I am increasingly aware how far we have moved from God as a nation.

In the position of having his faith clash with his reality, Habakkuk prayed this awesome prayer:

      LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.

Habakkuk 3:2

I love this prayer! Do you pray for revival? I hope you do – for revival in your own life, in your family, in your church and community, our nation and around the world! (That’ll keep you busy for awhile!) I often repeat Habakkuk’s prayer – “Lord, I’ve heard of your fame – I’ve heard what you’re doing in revivals in Africa, I’ve read in Scripture and history how you’ve sparked revival in whole cities and nations – I stand in awe of your deeds! I am truly amazed and awed by what you have done in the past, Lord. Renew them in our day, Lord! Do it again! Show yourself strong in our city. Make your deeds known in our time – here, now, LORD! In your wrath, remember mercy – we deserve only your wrath. Forgive us. Show us your mercy and do a miraculous thing in our city.”

Again, I love that prayer! Habakkuk had it right! Many know the prayer of Jabez because of the book that was written around it. That’s a good thing. I’d love to see everyone come to know Habakkuk’s prayer. “Lord, renew your deeds in our day. Do it again, Lord!”

There is a second part to Habakkuk’s awesome prayer, but I’m going to save it for a final blog on the book of Habakkuk. I don’t want to dilute this short message.

May I encourage you to pray Habakkuk’s prayer over the next few days (or weeks or months)? Ask God to renew His mighty deeds in your family over the holidays and in your town in the coming year. Oh, Lord, do it again! And all God’s people said…

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Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.
Psalm 150:6

A couple of weeks ago the phrase “Summer of Praise” came to my mind. As the pastor preached on a totally different topic, I got more and more excited about the possibilities of making that phrase a reality.

Imagine – a whole summer dedicated to praise! It makes me smile just thinking about it. Imagine how powerfully your spirit could be impacted by such an emphasis of praise! I get excited thinking about the change that will occur. I have every confidence that no matter what happens in the world and in my life over this summer, if I continue in praise my spirit will be renewed and I will become a stronger woman of faith and joy.

I know what you’re thinking…how naïve that woman is!

  • First, by proclaiming it a “Summer of Praise” she is almost guaranteeing that the enemy will attack her.
  • Secondly, life happens to everyone – does she really believe she can praise through it?
  • Thirdly, she might be excited about the Summer of Praise now, but how is she going to react when she’s tired, hungry or just plain out of sorts?

You’re probably right. But I am taking a step of faith. One that says “I believe that with God’s help I can live differently in the summer of 2011. I may experience setbacks, but my God is able to keep me on track.” And as I’ve already written, I am excited about the person I’ll be in late September – a stronger, more positive Sandy who has seen God change my perspective in the midst of whatever the summer brings.

Friends, I encourage you to join with me in this Summer of Praise. If you’re not as confident as I am that you will be changed, consider it a Summer of Praise “experiment.” Commit to extra-ordinarily praising God this summer and see what He will do. I am confident He’ll change your heart and your perspective, and that will change your life!

So how will I observe the Summer of Praise? What will I do differently? What might you do differently during your Summer of Praise? I’m planning both public and private “praise events” as well as planning some changes in my lifestyle. These events and activities will allow me to focus on the Most Important thing instead of the most urgent things in my life. Here are some ideas for making the summer of 2011 a Summer of Praise:

Public Praise Events

  • Contact a local nursing home and ask if you can lead a “Hymn Sing” one evening for the residents. You’ll probably receive a great response – nursing home residents love to sing the old hymns. Invite a friend or two to join you.
  • Ask your church to have a “worship night” some summer evening.
  • Hold a worship night at your home, worshiping to CDs. You can do this by yourself (think of it as a date with God) or as a family (make it a Family Worship Night) or invite your friends (how about a “Ladies’ Praise” or “Men’s Mighty Praise” night?)
  • Many communities have outdoor summer music concerts and sometimes worship teams participate. Check out your community schedule and join them some evening.
  • Turn one of your small group meetings into a time of worship & praise.
  • Plan a simple “Praise Party.” Everyone brings a psalm of praise or favorite praise song and serve special “feast” food.

Private Praise Events & Lifestyle Activities

  • Add singing a worship or praise song to your devotional time.
  • Sing a praise song as your prayer before meals.
  • Take “praise breaks” during the day. Muslims pray five times a day. I am challenged by this. Could I possibly set five times each day when I’ll take a five minute praise break? How about 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 8pm? I’m not legalistic about such things, but I’m going to shoot for those times. Even as I write this (because I haven’t done it yet), I wonder how it will change my day and life? I’m excited about the possibility. During your praise break, praise God (aloud if at all possible) for who He is and what He’s done, sing a song of praise or take a few minutes to write Him a note of thanksgiving.
  • Keep a gratitude and praise journal.
  • Put worship music in all your CD and tape players. (Does anyone still use tape players?)
  • Set aside a couple of times over the summer to watch worship videos on YouTube. Imagine how different you’ll feel going back to work if you did this during your lunch hour! Treat it as a date – something to look forward to and plan for.
  • Do a word study in the Bible on “praise” and/or “hope.”
  • Meditate on the hope we have in Christ.
  • Read a book or two about praise.
  • Practice the “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15) – praising when you don’t feel like it. This is the praise that will strengthen your praise muscle more than all the other activities.

I’m not planning on doing all of these things, but many have been added to my daily plan and monthly schedule. May I encourage you to pray about making this summer your Summer of Praise? I’m praying that you will catch the vision for praise and that your life will be changed over the next 120 days.

1 Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.

2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.

3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,

4 praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,

5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.

Psalm 150

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 I hope you’re enjoying this “Heart of a Worshipper” series (HWS). We’re about half way through the series, so this blog begins with a review. You can click on any of the topics to go to the blog on that topic.

A Willing Heart

Time for review. When this series is completed, I’ll have written about seven characteristics of the heart of a worshipper. We’ve covered four so far. How many of them can you remember? Can you name them? Let me help. Reading about them interspersed with “life” can make it difficult to see the natural progression, so let’s review the first four.

  • A hungry heart – one that desires to know God more intimately. There are many scriptures we could look at that express this sentiment, but I like these two:

“Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.
          Isaiah 26:8-9

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”
          Psalm 42:1-2

  • A pursuing heart – one that follows hard after Jesus. Proverbs 16:26 says: “The laborer’s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on.” So it is with God. Our desire for Him drives us to get to know Him better – the hungry heart becomes the pursuing heart
    In His book The God Chasers, Tommy Tenney explains his title like this: “A God Chaser is a person whose hunger for God exceeds his grasp…whose passion for God’s presence presses him to chase the impossible, in hopes that the Uncatchable might catch him.”
    And the wonderful thing about our God is that He promises to allow us to catch Him! Review these scriptures if you have any doubts: Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13-14, Matthew 7:7-8, and Proverbs 8:17. (There are lots more, but these should give you a good start!)
  • A transparent or unveiled heart – one that allows the Light of Life (Jesus) to shine through it so that He can reveal to us what is hidden in it’s deepest, darkest corners. When our heart is transparent, we can say with David “All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.” (Psalm 38:9) Having a transparent heart allows God to reveal our sin to us.
  • A vulnerable heart is the logical extension of the transparent heart – it’s the heart that suppresses our “fight or flight” response as we sit at Jesus’ feet and allow Him to change us. It moves from allowing God to reveal our sin to allowing Him to transform us into the image of Christ. It also means total dependence on God – trusting Him to make the right choices for you. It means giving God the right to make the rules and put the ball in play. And it means giving up our right to say “No, I don’t want to be like that,” or “I don’t like those rules.”

A Willing Heart – The Second Half of the Equation 
A key phrase in the last paragraph is “put the ball in play.” In other words, having a vulnerable heart that allows God to change us is only the first half of the equation…we must also have a willing heart that allows God to use us.

Chapter 6 in Isaiah is a fascinating illustration of the vulnerable and willing heart of Isaiah. Let me do a quick outline of verses 1 through 11 for you

Verses 1 – 4: Isaiah is given a glimpse of the throne room of heaven

…I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs…And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty…” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

Verse 5-7: Isaiah experiences conviction for his sin

Woe to me!…I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips…

Verses 6 and 7: God demonstrates that Isaiah’s sin has been forgiven by having an angel take a coal from the altar and touch his lips with it

With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

Verse 8: God makes a request and Isaiah enthusiastically responds

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Verse 9-10: God elaborates on the assignment, revealing that it won’t be a pleasant one

“Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes…”

Verse 11: Isaiah remains committed to carry out his task

Then I said, “For how long, O Lord?” And he answered: “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged…”

There are no words in scripture to give us an idea of what inflection to put into Isaiah’s response, but we do know that the last thing he said was spoken with enthusiasm or passion: “Here I am! Send me!” It seems reasonable, then, that the next line would continue in a similar emotion. So even though the Lord has told him to go do this seemingly miserable task, his response is “For how long, Lord?”

 I don’t think Isaiah was dragging his feet and saying “Oh man, how long do I have to do this?” I think He was saying with eagerness “How long can I do this for you Lord?” or “I’m happy to do it as long as you want me to, Lord. How long?”

Isaiah sees worship in heaven and his first response reveals his transparent heart “Woe is me, I am undone.” His second response reveals his willing heart: “Here I am. Send me.”

Oh, that I might be as enthusiastic when I receive assignments from God. I’m tempted to pray here, “Lord, make my heart and spirit cry with enthusiasm, ‘Here I am, Lord, send me,’ even when Your assignments mean obscurity or unpopularity or drudgery.” And that would be a good thing…but you know, sometimes my heart isn’t really there!

It’s at those times that I am tempted to feel condemnation because I think my heart should be always willing, no matter what the circumstances or assignment. So I try to get my heart to the right place…yeah, right!

One thing I’ve learned is that I can’t manufacture a change in my heart any more than I could manufacture the heart itself! I cannot rely on myself for such things. Charles Spurgeon made this point well in a book called All of Grace.

If we trust to ourselves for our holding on [i.e., continuing in Christ] we shall not hold on. Even though we rest in Jesus for a part of our salvation, we shall fail if we trust to self for anything…Beware of mixing even a little of self with the mortar with which you build, or you will make it untempered mortar, and the stones will not hold together. If you look to Christ for your beginnings, beware of looking to yourself for your endings. He is Alpha. See to it that you make Him Omega also. If you begin in the Spirit you must not hope to be made perfect by the flesh. Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began…

In other words, don’t look to yourself, look to God.  Don’t trust yourself, trust God. 

Returning to our passage in Isaiah, we see that he didn’t work up his own obedience – it was a natural response to having seen the glory of God. So perhaps my prayer shouldn’t be “Lord, make my heart and spirit cry ‘Yes Lord’ with enthusiasm;” perhaps the secret lies in sitting at Jesus’ feet in worship and praying “Lord, give me a glimpse of Your glory as you gave to Isaiah.” And that brings us full circle – it all starts with having that heart which is hungry for God and it leads to the wonderful privilege of being used by Him.

If your response to God isn’t as whole-hearted as you’d like it to be or you’re feeling condemnation from the enemy for lacking enthusiasm for the things of God, let me encourage you to take time to sit at Jesus’ feet in worship. Just for a while, stop doing things for God and simply spend time with God. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a new way. He delights to do so!

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Once a month our church and another church meet together to pray for God to move in our city, our region and our country. Tonight, Pastor Rob prayed for churches from all traditions, and then prayed “God invade our meetings.”

As we prayed, it occurred to me that God invading our meetings will look very different in different traditions. It’s usually charismatics and Pentecostals that make such prayers and, quite frankly, whether they admit it or not, they probably have it in their minds that very, shall we say, “non-traditional” things will happen. Things that you wouldn’t find in a Baptist or a Presbyterian church.

Yet I remain a firm believer that denominations, despite their difficulties, have strong benefits and that they have each played their role in the preservation of one or more “pillars” of the faith. (Read Rick Joyner’s great book The Final Quest for more thoughts on this.) And so, God invading the churches of different denominations will look very different. The Presbyterians are historically strong in scholarship; the Lord invading their meetings in a fresh way would naturally lead to greater scholarship today and that scholarship could lead to both greater revelation and evangelism of the intellectuals. (I think we’d all agree that the intellectuals need evangelized, right?) Baptists are strong in organized evangelism; a fresh invasion of the Holy Spirit would naturally revitalize their love for the Lord and passion for the lost. As the Catholics’ love for the Lord is renewed by a fresh outpouring within their churches, the beauty of the Lord and tradition that connects modern saints with saints throughout the history of the church would be raised to new heights. When God invades the Methodist church anew, spiritual formation and spiritual disciplines will be given greater attention. New life will be breathed into personal holiness as God invades Nazarene churches.

That’s certainly not all denominations, but imagine, how much more “ready” the Bride will be when each of these pillars is strengthened? Then, as the Church becomes One in Christ, as we learn to love our brethren across denominations, how much greater, how much richer, will the teachings be that we offer to one another in our areas of strength? A phrase comes to mind… “The Bride has made herself ready.”

Lord, invade our meetings…all of them…and help us to grow in our love for one another as we reflect Christ.

comment from dansdesk…
What about the Friends? 🙂
Wednesday June 13, 2007 – 03:28pm (EDT)

comment from sandyhov
As a denomination…missions…social justice (they were very big in the underground railroad & freeing slaves).
Saturday June 16, 2007 – 12:23am (EDT)

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