Two weeks ago I was meeting with a prayer client. She had been meeting with me for some sessions and was in the midst of facing some hard decisions. As we came before the Lord inquiring of His thoughts it occurred to her that her trouble was that she has been trying to understand every part of what she was facing.
The Lord revealed that the problem was that she wanted to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, how to go forward; she was looking for a surety within her own mind and understanding.
The Holy Spirit brought to her mind this verse:
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 ESV
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NASB
“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
“You can enter God’s kingdom only through the narrow gate. The [road that leads to destruction]ESV* is broad, and it’s gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 NLT *[highway to hell] NLT
I have become convinced that the wide and the narrow roads that Jesus talks about are not in regards to sin per se, but about our response to sin. The Wide Road experiences sin in shame and condemnation and out of that experience works to rid itself of sin.
The Wide Road is where we put in good works and our own efforts to try and make ourselves right with God. The Wide Road is where we participate in religion that appeases the Gods, that focusses on self, that works to come clean.
“If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” 1 John 4:18b
The Narrow Road, on the other hand, does not experience sin as condemnation and shame but as a matter-of-fact part of our humanity and our fallenness. The Narrow Road despises the shame and condemnation and instead remains turned toward Jesus Christ the Saviour of our lives.
I grew up in the church and often heard about revivals that happened over the years in various places. Yet I never had a working definition for revival. Earlier this year I began asking the Lord to give me a better picture of revival, what it is, how it comes to us, and the impact it leaves in our lives.
To begin, let’s define revival. If I had to give a definition to revival it would be when the Kingdom of God breaks in upon our realities; it is when we are touched by the living God and our lives no longer remain the same.
In my study of revival I found out is that Revival requires three necessary ingredients.
- A Hunger for More of God
- Repentance & Humility
- Religious Stronghold Broken
Lets take some time to look at these three key ingredients for revival.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
The church is where disciples are being made.
Where disciples are being made there is the church.
God has a lot of things to say about peace:
“Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3:11
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9
“A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:18
“When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7
Our peace comes from God:
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16
It is hard taking a day of rest. There is this driving fear that would keep us working, working, working. Bills need to be paid, food needs to be bought; there is just always something that needs to be taken care of.
It is why it is so difficult to understand on a human level God’s rhythm, and command even, to take a weekly sabbath.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11
God, at the beginning of time, set into place a rhythm for our working and our resting. And while we do not any longer live under the law of the Old Testament, we do want to understand the principle behind this command; we want to know God’s heart and intention for us in this admonition to keep a sabbath.
Identity is important. Who we know ourselves to be brings stability and confidence to our lives and how we walk out our days.
Because identity is so important we are easily fooled into identifying with the wrong things. We know of course about those who identify themselves with a licentious lifestyle. We know those who identify and live out drugs and partying and drunkenness and we know that these identities will lead us to death and destruction. So we know to avoid this and to find our identity elsewhere.
I write these God’s Hearts as the Holy Spirit leads me. I don’t have an agenda of topics chosen months in advance, I simply write in accord with the Lord’s leading. And these last few weeks I’ve been brought back to the central truth of God’s love for us and am compelled to pass that on.
It feels to me that the Lord wants to remind all of us that while we are working and serving alongside the Lord in His kingdom that we must not forget how much we are loved.
I write this today to give some practical and simple guidelines to those who are compelled to share the word of God but may struggle with any of the following:
- Do not have a Bible school training
- Do not have opportunity to study the Bible for hours at a time
- Are brand new to the Bible
This simple guide can be used by pastors and by lay persons to prepare a simple sermon, a Bible study class, or to simply share a personal testimony.
There is nothing quite like money to test our integrity and our priorities. Through money we can easily see the character of a person, the quality of an organization, and the honesty of a church.
As humans we are quite naturally concerned with our everyday needs. We are concerned with where we live, the food we are eating, the things we must pay for and provide for ourselves and those we are caring for.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17
God is always coming towards us, inviting us, wooing us, offering us himself to live by. In our natural state we are against God’s ways. In our humanness we would rather hate than love, condemn than receive.