Recently, at a local park I over heard a mother question her child and his friends if they were playing nice? Those words captured my thoughts back to a childhood memory of my own. Where my father had to sit my brother and I down after supper and had one of “Those” talks. My father had been concerned by what he had seen earlier that day when my older brother’s friends had been making fun of me in a derogative way with out any objection from my brother. My father with a tone of seriousness told us that there is never a time for family to side against one another. My father went on to say at all cost we should stick together and not side against each other. I know he was emphasizing the importance of a family bond. Many times we see this same scenario with the different age groups or even different generations. We forget we’re family and allow our differences to bring a collision of generations. It’s not a bad thing to think differently or have different strong or weak points. We must see the value of God’s gifts in each person. In 1 Kings 12, We see a tragic story where this type of limited thinking brought a great disastrous result. It was at the time of transition from the great king Solomon to his son Rehoboam now becoming King. It says in verse four that a representing group from the people came to the new young king asking, “Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.” Israel had gone through an incredible generation of building and prosperity under the former king. The people didn’t want to rebel but wanted to enjoy life for a while. It was a reasonable request don’t you think? King Rehoboam consulted with the older advisors of the former regime. These men had been a crucial part of the success and would surely know what to do. Their advice and counsel in verse 7 saying, “If you will be a servant to these people today… and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever” was abruptly rejected! The king then went to his childhood friends and peers and asked them what they would advise. Now these where probably friends that the king had played army with and chased girls and even boasted on what they would do when they grew up? We read their shockingly different advice in 1 Kings 12:11, where they tell the king to say, “now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!'” It was an answer of arrogance and immaturity, yet the young king agreed with it. It was a collision of two generations that had long lasting results of epic proportions! The people were devastated and offended choosing to not follow the new king. This unwillingness to blend the thinking of two different generations caused a wall and great division. Verse 16 – 21 tells lets us know ten out of twelve tribes defected from king Rehoboam and chose their own likeminded king. In the next chapter we see this king leads this whole group astray from God. When the generations don’t “Play Nice” and value God’s gifting’s in each other it will lead people away from God!
The church isn’t satisfied with ordinary church anymore! All across denominational lines, you can see people just wanting more! There’s a hunger and thirst in our society that can only be filled by God! People aren’t settling for business as usual! The Bible says in Matthew 5:6 that there is a blessing in being thirsty and hungry. It says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” It’s time to cash in on this blessing and get filled!
It is a natural God-given function when we desire water. It is a sign that you’re still alive when you’re having hunger and thirst pains. Only when we are dead do we surpass the need for water and food. It’s the same spiritually.
There’s a hunger and thirst in our society that can only be filled by God! (Tweet)
When we stop having the desire and craving for water, then we have slipped into the “danger zone” and are on the way to death. Sometimes our body is so out of whack that it doesn’t get the message that we need water, therefore bringing it into a very dangerous condition.
I remember being a young first- time parent, and our little baby girl was running a high temperature and not wanting to eat or drink. Being new to this whole parenting thing, we were getting scared. So we called our doctor, and his advice was to make sure she gets plenty of liquids so that she doesn’t dehydrate and to keep a watch on her. Dehydration can be life threatening. It can happen when your body runs out of bodily fluids. Thank the Lord everything turned out fine with our young baby, and she is now a healthy young woman.
In the same manner I’m sure you have been acquainted with young Christians who have become spiritually sick. Often the reason they are spiritually sick is because they have become offended—by the pastor or another Christian. Or perhaps they’re spiritually malnourished. Whatever the case may be, they become spiritually sick, having no desire to drink or eat the Word of God becoming spiritual dehydrated.
Another way we put ourselves in the “danger zone” is by refusing to drink and have more of God. In the past I have ministered in various nursing homes, when occasionally, I would come across a person that had lost all desire to live. They just shut down and will not eat or drink, resulting in their death.
Many Christians also come to a similar place spiritually, shutting down and refusing to feed and drink on the Word of God. It’s often because they don’t go to church or they’re pulled away by the wrong influences, resulting in a faith that is shipwrecked. There’s an old saying that goes somewhat like this: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” How true that is! I remember riding my horse many different times and when crossing over a creek I tried to make him drink before we went on. Yet, if the horse didn’t want to drink, it didn’t drink.
If young converts won’t “taste and see that the Lord is good” as the Psalmist says in Psalms 34:8 they will never get that desire to drink! If they never get that desire, then it won’t be long before they wither and dry up.
The whole earth is yearning for more. They’re thirsty…they’re hungry for the real things of God. Lets drink and partake of Him.
Have you ever seen where water puddles dry up and the ground begins to buckle? I remember growing up my brother and I would come across these dried-up water holes with delight in our eyes. We would pick up the buckled mud like plates and throw them at each other. They would fly like Frisbees and then crumble into nothing as they hit their destination. What a blast it was! We could play like that for hours on end. Yet, at that moment, the effects of not having any water to drink hadn’t sunk in. When we got thirsty, we just quit what we were doing and headed for the house to get a cool thirst-quenching drink of water. Just like most of us, we don’t realize how blessed we are to have water until we’re without it.
Some time ago, my family was going with me to the Los Angeles area from Dallas. As we began to enter the Mojave Desert, we were astonished at the destitution of this desert and how severe the real desert can be. We noticed they had emergency phones on the roadside every couple of miles and big signs warning of the distance before the next gas station. They evidently knew to be stranded in this desert could be life threatening. It was a complete wasteland with no sense of life of any kind. The heat was so sweltering that you could actually see the heat waves on the horizon. Even though we were in an air-conditioned car, just the sight of this dry and destitute ground made us thirsty.
I know a big portion of the body of Christ is at this place in the spiritual realm. The Church has come through times of dryness and spiritual drought, just like the children of Israel did on their journey. Psalms 107:4–5 says, “They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.”
We were made to drink of the living water that flows from the throne of God. (tweet)
Many believers have withered spiritually in the desert season, and others have come kicking all the way. One thing for sure is that it has brought a remnant of God’s people thirsting for more of him. David’s words say it well in Psalms 42:1–2. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” I don’t know if you have ever seen a deer panting for water or not, but most of us can relate to a dog on a hot day or after chasing a car. Their tongue hangs almost to the ground as they slowly come dragging in for a drink of water. When they reach the water , It looks and sounds as if they can’t get enough to drink, panting in between every drink. Even, laying down right in the midst of the watering hole, just trying to satisfy that seemingly unquenchable thirst. They can’t live without water and neither can we! Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” (John 7:37) He is the only source that will satisfy us. We were made to drink of the living water that flows from the throne of God. As we commune with Christ, in talking, walking and reading His word then our thirst is quenched and we will never thirst again.
For most young people yelling in a cave for the first time is fascinating. Hearing their own voice as it becomes distorted after each echo bounces off the wall will keep them engaged for long periods of time.
What is an echo? An echo originates from an original voice, and, as it goes forth, it begins to repeat itself over and over until it is distorted. It loses its clarity and has no effect, because you cannot really hear or understand what the original message was anymore.
Unfortunately, in the same manner many Christians have lost their effectiveness as being a voice to this generation, because they have become just another echo. We lose our impact when we stop being a pure oracle with a clear message. We go around speaking things that have no life in them anymore. We are repeating things over and over that had been words of life sometime in the past but now they’re just empty words. If we are going to be relevant in this generation we cannot live in the past anymore but must live in the now! Even in 2 Timothy 2:16–17, Paul exhorts us to not be entangled in vain and useless words. “But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer.”
We lose our impact when we stop being a pure oracle with a clear message. (tweet)
With the role of the church becoming too professional in our day, we have focused on being good orators instead of being a voice for the Lord. An orator is somebody who is eloquent with words and has all the right things to say. Every time they speak, it soothes the ears. Most politicians and radio personalities are good orators.
By no means, is it wrong to be a good orator? I wish I were a better orator myself. But, when we choose to be good with our words over being one who speaks God’s Words, then we are off base and will quickly get in serious trouble. Our objective cannot be in tickling people’s ears but in speaking words of life. Paul even said in 1 Corinthians 2:4 that he did not come as a smooth talking orator but in God’s power. For he said, “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
When we choose to become an oracle for the Lord, then we open up our life for the power of God to flow through us. Man leaning on his flesh is an orator, but when man yields himself to the Lord and acts in obedience to God’s will, he becomes an oracle for God.
When man leans on his flesh to speak he is an orator, but when man yields himself to the Lord, he becomes an oracle for God. (tweet)
Paul reminds the Corinthians that when he came to them, he came as a voice for God, which brings the manifestation of God’s power! In a sense, we need to be a piece of conduit pipe, so that God can pour his word through us. It says in Isaiah 55:11, that when God speaks, it’s not just empty words. It says, “It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Just the same, if God speaks through us as his vessels, then things are going to happen, for our words will not be empty words either. God wants us to be his voice to the hurting and down cast in our generation.
As the clock struck twelve, the crowds had only one thing on their mind—getting to the place of prayer. The whole city was shut down, businesses closed their doors, schools dismissed class early, and even the legislature had called it a day. The year was 1905, and from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., the eyes of the city were looking to God for his guidance. The mayor of Denver had declared a day of prayer, resulting in more than twelve thousand in attendance in downtown prayer meetings.
During this same time, over two hundred businesses closed for three hours of prayer in Portland, Oregon. In Burlington, Iowa, many stores and factories closed to allow their employees to go to prayer meetings. There seemed to be a yearning and anticipation for a fresh move of God sweeping through people of every social and ethnic level. Churches were bulging full of people praying and seeking God. The news of the great Welsh revival spread through the land like wild fire, causing a hunger to be aroused in America. The result of this great move of prayer was powerful. Many denominations recorded a significant increase in their membership. Things were beginning to be stirred and get in place for the soon coming Azusa Street Revival in 1906.
Nearly fifty years earlier, a similar movement of prayer took place, bringing our country to its knees. It all started in 1857, in Manhattan, New York, area, with an individual named Jeremiah Lanphier, who had a burden from the Lord to start a noon prayer meeting. He advertised and promoted it, which soon brought a steady increase in attendance. Before long, prayer meetings began to spring up in almost every public building downtown. The local newspaper’s publicity thrust a landslide of prayer, beginning a movement that spread throughout New England
The revival that followed had no boundaries going out in every direction changing lives. Shortly after the revival had begun, the country found itself in the middle of the bloodiest war ever fought on American soil. Yet, due to the moving of God, many of the men who lost their lives had been prepared for eternity through God’s grace and mercy.
The effects of this revival touched even the White House. President Lincoln, being concerned about America and how it had become too successful and self-sufficient, full of pride, gave his Proclamation for a National Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer. On April 30, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln said, “It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” The results of this great revival not only carried on, but also lasted for many years. It had begun in a passion for prayer and was sustained with faithfulness of prayer!
When God’s people come together in persistent powerful prayer, God breaks in with radical results! Tweet
Mathew Henry once said, “When God intends a great mercy for his people, he first sets them a praying.” We must find the place of prayer! Revival has never come through great preaching or successful programs. We must set ourselves to prayer, seeking to be changed by the power of God. Only when we have touched the hem of his garments will we see a visitation of God!
One of my favorite stories is found in Matthew 15:22-28, where we see a woman from Canaan come to Jesus. You could say she was from the other side of the tracks. Yet, I believe she came to the one person who she knew could help her daughter. In Mark’s gospel he records this same story in chapter 7:25. It says that she “Heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet.” What did she hear? By her actions I believe she heard He was a merciful loving miracle worker; therefore she was persistent in getting His attention. She believed He was good and just, so she honored and worshipped Him as Lord. As if there was no other hope, this gentile woman cried out to Jesus for divine mercy, that her daughter would be delivered from the enemy’s grip.
The response she received could have easily discourage and offend her, causing her to give up. First, Jesus kept silent and did not answer. Most people hate the silent treatment—it deeply frustrates them. I think the majority of us in this situation would have stomped off offended. Right?
Secondly, Jesus says in a roundabout way that the miracle she desired was not for her. And as if that was not devastating enough He tells her that the promises were not for her. Then, He calls her a dog (Mk. 7:27)! But, instead of getting bitter and offended, this woman replies with the most astounding words. “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table,”(Mk. 7:28). She declares that the crumbs from the Master’s table are good enough for her situation. In essence, she says it only takes one crumb from the Master to solve her need.
Persistence and commitment in prayer will always bring a fruitful and rewarding result. (Tweet)
In all this, she is worshipping Him, undistracted by her feelings or her pride. Her persistence reveals the faith within her. I believe she had a glimpse of His heartbeat, therefore, she pressed in towards Him. In her time of great need, her request seemed to be long in coming, but she wouldn’t stop. Her faith was being purified and perfected to the point that Jesus announced that she had great faith! The result was her daughter was healed that very instant.
As we press into His presence concerning His promises, we can be faced with elements that can cause us to either back down or press in harder. Sometimes, God is silent and at other times He deliberately offends our minds to reveal what’s in our hearts and to see if we are serious about seeking Him. If we tenaciously press in and not let go of His promises we will see them manifest. Too often, when our requests are slow to be answered we are offended and gripped with bitterness towards God. The bottom line is that we don’t understand God’s workings and therefore we are robbed many times of God’s miracles. We might not understand God’s ways, but He is always working in us both to will and to do for His pleasure. The same was true in this woman’s situation. He is always working in us for His glory.
If we tenaciously press in and not let go of His promises we will see them manifest. (Tweet)
It’s God’s heart for us to walk in His purposes and blessings. However, there are often delays in what we ask because He desires to work in us things that will enable us to see the manifestation of His promises. When we understand these principles, then we will have a confidence and a persistence that will enable us to hold on to His promises until we see their fulfillment.
I heard a story about a little boy who was handed an orange by a man trying to be kind. The boy’s mother asked, “What do you say to the nice man?” The little boy thought and handed the orange back and said, “Peel it.”
As rude as this boy in the story seems to be, what’s more shocking is that this attitude is prevalent throughout our society. Everywhere we turn we can see it filtering through this great nation of ours. We have raised a generation of self-absorbed people that are blinded to everything other than their desires and needs. We have forgotten the simple act of gratitude.
We have made our own worlds that revolve around us! We have set ourselves as kings of our own kingdoms! It’s nothing more than a “Me, Myself and I” society that we are slipping into. The scripture says in 1 Tim. 3:1-2 that in the last days men will be lovers of themselves and unthankful along with other selfish attributes. Through our actions we have nurtured and raised a generation of unthankful people.
I am reminded of the story of the ten lepers that stood afar off as Jesus entered a certain village. They lifted their voices so that Jesus could hear them and cried out saying “have mercy on us!” Jesus responded by telling them to go and show themselves to the priest, who had the final decision in pronouncing them clean or defiled.
As the lepers went in obedience to His words, the very disease that had kept them estranged from society incredibly dries up and instantly they are healed. Now if this was the end of the story it would be a great lesson on obedience and God’s mercy, but it goes even deeper. The story continues with the scene of only one of the ten returning to give thanks for the miracle from God. The author points out that this healed man was not a Jew but a Samaritan. He wasn’t educated in the traditions and things of God. Yet he knew enough to be eternally grateful for the life changing miracle he was given. Many times those who profess to be Christians are out-done by unbelievers.
Where were the other nine? They all had been unfairly handicapped by this demoralizing disease. They had all been separated from society and their families and dreams. Yet, when they were radically healed and set free by a merciful loving God that heard and responded to their cries. The majority of them didn’t even have the time to come and say, “Thank You”.
It’s time we ourselves develop a habit of gratitude towards God and be obedient to the scripture, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1Thes 5:18 NKJ). We can become a person of gratitude by being thankful in three simple areas. First, by being thankful for everything He has done in our lives. Secondly, being thankful for everything He is doing in our lives and thirdly, walking in faith by being thankful for everything He is going to do in our lives.
When we become grateful in these areas it will develop a heart of gratitude in us. Once we learn to be thankful to God we will see that same attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude flow out to and through others.
It truly is time to stop the madness of self-centeredness and develop a lifestyle of thankfulness, not just thanksgiving but Thanksliving!