Many have asked if they can forward or share these articles on revival and the answer is YES – please – lets get the message out. Forward these notes to anyone you think would be interested, or has a hunger for more of God.
In the midst of a wonderful week of three really awesome ministry experiences, I received an email from someone who is in a leadership position at another local church informing me that my past three revival letters dealing with repentance were the devil’s rabbit trails, implying that these articles were demonically influenced. I had to stop and think – why would the devil want anyone to repent, get right with God and experience personal or corporate revival. What would be the devil’s game plan in seeing the saved and the unsaved drawing closer to God. What would be the devil’s plan of deception within the call of repentance. I concluded that either the message on repentance is too deep for some folks or too threatening to the “idolistic” lifestyles of folks who really do like their stuff, activities, and events that contribute to sin, more than spending time with God. Perhaps there are other conclusions that you can come up with.
I hear so many people quoting the book of Joel – especially Joel 2:28 and 29 – “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh, your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, you old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions…”
Sometimes I hear people quote Joel 2:23 – “Be glad then , you children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God for He has given you the former rain faithfully and He will cause the rain to come down for you, the former rain and the latter rain together.”
But I never hear what precedes these great promises in Joel 2:12 – 13a “Now therefore says the Lord, turn to me with all your heart, with fasting and with weeping and with mourning and rend your heart and not your garments – Return to the Lord your God….”
Why is it that most folks always want all of the blessings of God, and the HUGE benefits without ever mentioning the times of repentance, and the seasons of turning away from our idols, our toys and our stuff that draws us away from the presence of the Lord. Why is it that someone would actually write to me and say, the message of repentance is the devil’s rabbit trail. What could possibly motivate such a comment.
We all know Matthew 6:33 which tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, but we must remember what comes before that in Matthew 4:17 – Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repentance is a major KEY throughout the old and new testament to unlocking the Kingdom of God, and receiving all that He has for us. Acts 3:19 says, “Repent and be converted so that your sins may be blotted out, so that you may experience times of refreshing from the Lord.” Most of us want to experience the refreshing, the former and the latter rains together, but we are always looking for the shortcut.
I have had a few people tell me, Jay you need to keep pressing in for all of us. Keep on praying and writing – we need to have you do this for us – I have had others say – Jay – you are a revivalist catalyst – you are a pioneer, and you are forerunner and a trailblazer. Well, that is all well and good, and I am willing to press in for Revival and to see our city, states, and nation changed by the power of God.
But I can’t repent for you. When confronted with the realities of sin, we must remember that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. John the Baptist told the religious crowd at His baptism in Matthew 3 to bear fruits worthy of repentance. He then goes on to challenge the religious crowd not to rely on their religious stuff and activity, because if they do, they will be cut down like trees that don’t bear any fruit and will be thrown into the fire. (Matthew 3:7-11)
Fruits of repentance come from repenting. There is no short cut. No one can do it for you. The religious crowd of that day thought they could ride on the coattails of Abraham, but the message to them and to us is that we have to pursue God on our own and get right with him now. All of our religious activity, stuff, ideas and theological debates is worthless – and in the church we have made idols out of much of this. I am reminded again of Jonah 2:8 – “Those who regard worthless idols, forsake their own mercy.” Much of this is going to get thrown into the fire, and burned.
I was forwarded a revival testimony video with the words – Watching this will change your life forever. Who can turn down such a promise – so I watched it – and while it was pretty good, and the testimonies were sincere and genuine, I thought to myself – more religious hype just to get me to watch it – and guess what, it did not change my life forever. Why couldn’t the advertising line have said – Watch this and see how God changed other people’s lives. Now that would have been more honest and authentic.
I am concerned that many who think that by hanging onto their religious stuff, that somehow that will present them in good standing with God, and they are going to be surprised when He responds to all of their religious activity with these words, Depart from me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.
What is a worker of iniquity – I can answer it very easily – with two words – Chronic Disobedience. God consistently calls you to pray and repent, and you respond with – I have to mow the church grass. God calls you to share and witness with your neighbor, and you forsake that to wash the church dishes piled in the sink. God calls you to study your Bible, but you decide to dust the church library – God asks you to give a sacrificial gift for a missionary, and you go buy a large screen TV and DVD player for the youth group – God asks you to sit quietly in in His presence and just soak, and instead you watch your favorite religious program on TBN – all in the name of the Lord.
“Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Matthew 7:21
Some will say, well that was John the Baptist, but Jesus said the exact same thing in John 15:6 – “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered, and they gather them and throw them into the fire and they are burned.” Abiding at least means radical obedience.
Back in Matthew 3:11 – Jesus is described as one who will come and baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire. As I see it we can either get into the fire willingly or be tossed there. Over the years I have heard lots of teaching about the baptism or infilling of the Holy Spirit, but rarely do I hear any teaching on the fire of God.
SO WHERE IS THE FIRE?
Jeremiah talked about fire as if it were shut up in his bones. He was eating, drinking and sleeping regarding the Word of God and the Lord’s presence. But as Americans, we are consumed with stuff, that takes so much of our time, that we barely have time to squeeze in a table prayer, much less spend quality time with Jesus. And the same is often true of church leaders. There is this underlying theme that church boards, and congregational members put on their pastors and staffs, to produce, and show productivity, sometimes with people controlling the whole church structure so that it bears their name and fingerprint on every aspect of the building, grounds, and landscape. But I thought it was to be the church that Jesus built. I thought it was to be the church where the Holy Spirit lived. But the HOLY Spirit has been replaced with the spirit of – it is my church – and if you don’t like it, go find another church. How many times have you heard church members or pastors refer to the church as their church because of what they have contributed to it. Well, we donated this or that. We had this idea or that idea. We were the ones who worked tirelessly on bringing all of these people in. We did this and we did that. How come everyone gets the credit except Jesus.
The HOLY Spirit has been replaced with almost everything that is not HOLY. And the Holy Fire is also gone. If anyone gets a little fire under them or in them, it is like someone in the church begins chasing them with a fire extinguisher trying to douse those Godly flames. I have had people tell me we don’t want anything that will upset the apple cart. We like our church just the way it is. And we certainly don’t want revival, because that will be too demanding of me – after all, I have my plans each week. But has anyone asked Jesus if He likes it just the way it is.
I believe that some of the church in America has become like Samson in Judges 16 who did not know that the Spirit of the Lord had left him. Wow, how devastating – to be doing all the religious stuff, and religious activity, and taking the classes, and going to church, and not know that the Spirit of the Lord had departed.
In Isaiah 51:9- the church cries out to God – and asks him to wake up as in the days of old and to put on His strength as in times past – and in Isaiah 52:1-2 – God responds and says wake up church – because I am not the one who is sleeping. YOU ARE! – and then he goes on to say to loose ourselves from the bands of wickedness. This hurts even more. We think that since God is not moving, he must be asleep, but then we discover, that we are the ones who are asleep – and it is our own wickedness that keeps us tied down, and that we must loose ourselves from it.
The word wicked means twisted and we get other words like a candle wick and wicker furniture from that word. Our thinking and actions are so twisted away from God, that we have twisted the truth to mean something that God never intended it to, and thus we have wicked twisted bands of sin and unrighteousness wrapped all around us – and all around our church buildings too, and the only way out is to REPENT.
As I see it, if you want the FIRE – you have to REPENT – and if you want to avoid the fire – then you definitely must Repent
Lord I repent of my foolish actions, and for liking my stuff and my religious stuff more than you – I ask you to simply help me discern what really is important and then follow You in Your leading – show me what to give up in order to pursue more of You. Enable me to see my own desires as being worthless and help me to focus in on Your ways and how You want to advance the Kingdom. Forgive me for twisting Your ways to appear that they are my ways in helping You – and please help me to stop anything that does not produce holiness and give me insights into what I need to change, give up or add to my life to enable Your Kingdom to take a priority. Amen
Now who really wants revival?