Category Archives: Revival

Getting The God-Solution

Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” – 1 Kings 18:5 (NIV)

King Ahab is in the middle of a natural famine that has a spiritual cause.  Israel has turned away from following the Lord, and some guy has started rebuilding Jericho – and in the middle of it all, Elijah the prophet turns up from nowhere and says ‘there will be no rain in Israel except by my word’.

Thus Israel has now endured 3 1/2 years of hard drought.  Ahab sends Obadiah out to look through the land to see if he can find some springs or brooks or even some grass to try to keep the animals alive.  It’s a practical move, but at the same time he’s ignoring the spiritual reality of what’s going on.

You can’t solve spiritual problems with practical solutions.  You have to solve spiritual problems with spiritual solutions.  The land is in drought not because of water-cycles or overpopulation or anything – it’s dry because the people have turned away from God.  Interestingly, the moment that the nation falls on it’s face and cries out ‘The Lord He is God’ – Elijah hears the sound of heaven rain!

Sometimes the things that are going on for us aren’t just ‘life’.  Sometimes they have spiritual origins.  In the gospels Jesus often first dealt with demonic powers before healing started to flow.  You have to ‘bind the strongman before you can plunder his house’.

Yes, there are definitely times when you just need to do a few practical things.  But if you find that your life is in famine, and it just keeps going despite all practical solutions being done… maybe it’s time to get down and look to see what might be spiritually going on.

The great thing is that God is so willing to show us if we will just look.  It’s not a coincidence that Obadiah, a righteous man who’d been hiding God’s prophets, was the one who stumbled on Elijah while out looking for water.  God brought Obadiah right to the one who could help him.  He does the same thing for us today!

The Vow Of The Nazirite

I don’t usually write messages that I preach at church up here (maybe I should) but I thought this message which I brought at our evening meeting last night could be a helpful insight for someone!

We know that Christianity is free… but to follow Jesus will cost you everything!  There is a price to pay to walk in the power of God, but this price has nothing to do with our sin as Jesus has already paid for that.  No, the price we pay has to do with the changes that need to happen in our lives to accomodate more of God’s presence and power. 

A grass airstrip is fine if you want to land a small plane.  But if you want a 747 to land, you need to clear a lot of space and build a tarmac airstrip.  God has some 747’s that are flying around that He wants to land and He’s looking for lives to land them in.  These big jets carry many of the things that the church is looking for to be released, but unfortunately most people simply have a grass airstrip.

Which brings me to ‘The Vow Of The Nazirite’.  In the Old Testament, God set aside a way that those who wanted to be devoted to Him, could be. Naturally the zealots looked at this as a way of them showing everyone else that they were the best Jews.  But God’s point in establishing the Nazirite Vow wasn’t to encourage ellitism – rather it was to provide a way for those who had a genuine heart and desire to be set apart for God for His purposes. 

Numbers 6:1-8 contains the description of what the Nazirite vow entailed. 

This passage gives us 3 things:

* no alcohol,

* long hair,

* no dead bodies.

Now this doesn’t mean that we succeed if we have long-haired teetotallers who don’t hang around funeral homes!  That’s not the point.  For us today – it’s symbolic – and makes sense as we start to unpack it.  

Before I start, I’ll mention this – as I’ve prayed and studied… these are the conclusions I’ve come to.  Others may get other things out of this passage – I’m not claiming this to be the definitive work on the subject.  

So what does this kind of heart toward God look like in our day?

1) No alcohol – ABSTAINING FROM WORLDLY PLEASURES

For the people of the Old Testament, alcohol was a pleasure that they engaged in when they came to ‘chill out’.  They didn’t have TV & Playstations!  If we’re going to translate this first one into our context today – I think it’s about more than alcohol.  I believe it’s actively looking to abstain from worldly pleasures so that we can more actively seek God.  

Now get me right – I’m not talking about a bunch of self-righteous people who who look with disdain upon anyone else who isn’t doing what they’re doing.  It’s about, through love, looking for ways that we can accommodate more of God in our lives. 

The word ‘Nazirite’ comes from the Hebrew word Nazir – which means to keep something for special.  All of us I’m sure have stuff that we ‘keep for special’.  

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.  If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. – 2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NIV)  

We get to choose (to a certain extent) how God uses our lives.  If we set our lives apart – nazir – build a big landing strip on our lives – He can use us for bigger purposes.  But if we fill our lives up with common, everyday busyness… it becomes harder for God to use us for His purposes.  There are times and seasons in your life where you may want to forgo some of the usual worldly things that you enjoy in order that you can make more room in your life for God to move.  Sometimes people make a decision that a certain thing is actually distracting them from going further with God – so they make a decision that they’re going to abstain for it from here on out.  

2) Long Hair – STANDING OUT / BEING INCONVENIENCED

People who were making a Nazirite vow physically stood out from others (especially the men).  In order to increase your capacity to become an ‘airstrip for God’, He’s going to make you do stuff that will make you stand out!  It may be shutting down gossip in the workplace, sharing your testimony or having to pray for healing for someone.  The increase in your heart will come as you obediently follow God’s direction – not just in your times of prayer or when you’re around Christians – but at all times!

Not only that, but long hair can be a real inconvenience!  I know, because I had it for a while!  And in the same way, when we’re looking for God to increase our capacity for more of Him – get prepared to be inconvenienced!  If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.  How many times have you committed to fast, only to be invited out for an all expenses paid lunch?!  The Holy Spirit will often nudge us to do things that are a great inconvenience to us.  But obeying Him is how we grow! 

3) Avoiding Dead Bodies – LEAVING GRIEF/PAIN BEHIND

This is proof that we’re not supposed to take this literally – how could we raise people from the dead if we’re not allowed to touch dead bodies!  One way that we can bring this forward into our time is by NOT CONTINUALLY WEEPING OVER THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN LOST.

All of us have experienced loss & pain.  But the one who wants to devote their life to God says to Him – ‘I’m going to serve you in my pain.  I’m not going to stop serving you to deal with it’.  I always find it amazing how some people have huge amounts of pain and keep serving God.  Others have a little, and they stop their whole lives.

If you’re wanting to see the power of God come into your life – be a person who puts God first in spite of your pain.

IN CONCLUSION

VOW OF THE NAZIRITE IS ABOUT THROUGH LOVE, CREATING SPACE IN YOUR LIFE SO THAT GOD’S POWER AND PRESENCE CAN MOVE THROUGH YOU MORE.

Hunger Follows Seeking

“God, you are my God. I will earnestly seek you. My soul thirsts for you. My flesh longs for you…” – Psalms 63:1

Often we can wait until we sense the urge to seek God before we start to actively seek Him.  But what this verse shows us is that our ‘soul thirsting for God’ follows a decision to ‘earnestly seek you’.  The decision to seek comes first – the thirst and hunger follows it.  It’s the result of the very first part of this verse – God being our God.  When He is our God we make a choice to seek Him, and our appetite for Him grows.  

It works the same way with natural hunger – in order to increase your appetite, you have to start by eating more (not that increasing a food appetitie is something most people want to do!).  What feels unnatural to begin with will start to become normal over time.  When it comes to seeking God – there’s a battle over your flesh that you must win first.  

If you seek God – even when you don’t feel like it – you’ll start to develop a hunger and thirst for Him that will grow!  You’ll begin to pray and worship outside of just Sundays – and His power and presence will begin to flow into every part of your life!

Sowing To Yourself

Hosea 10:12 – Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap according to kindness. Break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and rains righteousness on you.

Scripture promises us that when we continually sow to the Spirit, we will reap from the Spirit eternal life.  When we choose God’s way, we actually ‘sow to ourselves’. 

This is an important part of walking out the will of God – understanding that God won’t do everything for us.  There is our part – sowing in righteousness, breaking up our ‘fallow ground’ and ‘seeking the Lord’. 

When we do this we reap according to the Lord’s kindness (far in excess of anything we deserve through sowing!) and he comes and rains righteousness upon us. 

Old Wine, New Wine

Luke 5:39 – No man having drunk old wine immediately desires new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’"

They don’t ‘immediately desire’ – it is hard when you have drunken old wine to enjoy the new wine.  It doesn’t mean that we can’t change, but it can become very difficult! 

Old wine is the domain of the connoisseur – the one who has ‘been around’.  The old ways, the old songs – they bring a sense of comfort and peace.  It’s easy in an environment like this to let traditions become more important than the commands of God. 

But if we are going to walk with Christ we must become accustomed to ‘new wine’.  We must be prepared for change – and leave behind the things of yesterday to embrace what God is doing today!

Put On The New Man

Colossians 3:10 – and have put on the new man, that is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his Creator,

To ‘put on’ the new man, we have to first ‘take off’ the old man.  The life of Christ in us is not an addition, rather it is a replacement

This verse shows us two aspects of this new nature that God has given us:

1) Our new nature is being renewed day by day. It’s a new nature every day – it doesn’t get broken or suffer the consequences of sin. Each day it is fresh and new – speaking of the cleanness that we receive each time we come to the Lord, confess our sins, and are washed by Him. 

Know this – your body might age, but your spirit doesn’t.  It’s as awesome, shiny and sparkly today as it was when you first came to know God!

2) It’s renewed in the knowledge after the image of his creator. It’s almost like when you reinstall the operating system on your computer – it’s refreshed and renewed – the perfect image and reflection of it’s creator!

One of the biggest battles we fight is our old mind.  It tells us that we will never be any better, and that we will never change.  But what is impossible with the flesh is possible in the spirit!  God’s on the inside of you!

The Teaching Of John The Baptist

Luke 3:10 – The multitudes asked him, “What then must we do?”

The multitudes looked to John for guidance – how to live out a life of repentance. What then must we do? The teaching of John the Baptist was surprisingly simple and practical. He spoke to the multitudes and prepared them for the coming of Christ.

John’s teaching of the multitudes is marked by the following characteristics:

1) There is a strong emphasis on action not just one faith.
2) His teaching surrounds worldly possessions and money – redistributing and dealing correctly with wealth.
3) His teaching was not just to the Jew but also to the Gentile

John’s message spoke:
1) To the multitudes – to the nation of Israel who were expecting their Messiah, who knew the laws of God and tried to live by them.
2) To the tax collectors – those who were on the edge of Israel, who to some degree had sold out to the Romans.
3) To the Romans themselves – Gentiles who knew nothing of the law of God, yet were keen to do His will.

In these days, the spirit of Elijah will move through the church in these last days to do the same thing – calling the church back to holy living, and righteous actions.  It’s a simple message but a very, very powerful one, and one that will prepare the bride for her soon-coming bridegroom!