If your love for the Lord is pure, you will love Him as much on Calvary as on Mt. Tabor. You must learn to love the cross. He who does not love the cross does not love the things of God. It is impossible for you to truly love the Lord without loving the cross. The believer that loves the cross finds that even the bitter things that come his way are sweet. You will hunger after God, and find Him, in the same proportion that you hunger after the cross.God gives us the cross, and then the cross gives us God.
The more you posses God the more you are made like Him. But it must be a godliness that has grown from within you. If godliness is not from deep within you, it is only a mask. The mere outward appearance of godliness is as changeable as a garment. The Lord is ever jealous over any saint who is utterly abandoned to Him. He does not let that believer have any pleasures at all outside of Himself.
Once you have established such a relationship with your Lord, you will soon discover that no fault in you escapes the reproof of God. For instance, as soon as you commit a sin, you are immediately rebuked by an inward sense…a tender confusion. Once you have departed from God, you must return to Him as quickly as possible.
The more you see your true self, the clearer you also see how miserable your self nature really is; and the more you will abandon your whole being to God. Seeing that you have such a desperate need of Him, you will press toward a more intimate relationship with Him.
Temptations, as well as distractions, are a major problem you will encounter at the outset of your adventure into God. Be very careful in your attitude toward them. If you attempt to struggle directly with these temptations, you will only strengthen them; and in the process of this struggle, your soul will be drawn away from its intimate relationship with the Lord. A close intimate relationship to Christ should always be your soul’s only purpose.
As you turn (to God), you draw nearer to your Lord. It is that simple. What does a little child do when he sees something that frightens him or confuses him? He doesn’t stand there and try to fight the thing. He will, in fact, hardly look at the thing that frightens him. Rather, the child will quickly run into the arms of his mother. In exactly the same way, you should turn from the dangerous temptations and run o your God! You and I are very weak. At our best we are very weak.
You turn inward to your spirit and, in so doing, turn from outward activities and outward distractions. Inward activity begins by simply turning within to Jesus Christ, for that is where He is; within your spirit. You should continually be turning within to God. Give Him all your attention; pour out all the strength of our being purely on Him.
“I’ll keep my whole strength for You (Psalm 59.9).”
“My son give me your heart…(Proverbs 23.26)”
What does it mean to give your whole heart to God? To give your whole heart to God is to have all the energy of your soul always centered on Him. It is in this way that we are conformed to His will.
As soon as you notice yourself staying from the Lord, you should deliberately turn your attention within to the Living God. Repeat this simple turning within to the Lord again and again, as often as you are distracted.
To be continuously turned deep inside simply means that, having turned within to God-by a direct act- you have remained in His presence. The only time you need to make a point of turning again is when your abiding is interrupted for some reason.
You rest in the continuous inward act of abiding. It is a sweet sinking into deity.
If a new convert were introduced to real prayer and to true inward experience of Christ as soon as he became converted, you would see countless numbers of converts go on to become true disciples.
You can see that the present way of dealing only with external matters in the life of a new convert brings little fruit. Burdening the new Christian with countless rules and all sorts of standards does not help him grow in Christ. Here is what should be done; The new Christian should be led to God.
How does one do this? By learning to turn within to Jesus Christ and by giving the Lord his whole heart. If you are one of those in charge of new believers, lead them to a real inner knowledge of Jesus Christ. Oh, what a difference there would be in the lives of those new Christians!
You would see each of these people put away every kind of sin from his life; all would become spiritual men and women with hearts set on knowing and experiencing Jesus Christ.
Once the heart has been gained by God, everything else will eventually take care of itself. This is why He requires the heart above all else.
Dear reader, it is by the Lord gaining your heart, and no other way, that all your sins can be put away. If the heart could be gained, Jesus Christ would reign in peace and the whole Church would be renewed.
The End is union with God!
There is something in this universe which is the very opposite of God; it is the self-life. The activity of the self-life is the source of all the evil nature as well as all the evil deeds of man. On the other hand, the loss of the selfhood in the soul increases the purity of the soul. In fact, the soul’s purity is increased in exact proportion to the loss of self!
His wisdom burns away all the impurities in a man for one purpose: to leave him fit for divine union.
~Madame Guyon (100 DAYS IN THE SECRET PLACE, Introduced and compiled by Gene Edwards; Destiny Image Publishers)
I would say that the greatest temptation is to be without temptations. The greatest onslaught is to be without any onslaught at all. Therefore be glad when you are assaulted. With resignation, peace and consistency…abide. There, in internal regions, walk and live.
You must walk the path of temptation. You will not walk down this road very far before you discover that the most internal parts of you are scattered; scattered and active, moving from one thing to another.
Collect yourself in His presence with the one purpose and intent of loving Him. Come to Him as one who is giving himself to God. The consistency of true prayer is in faith, and in waiting on Him. First you believe that you are in His presence. You believe that you are turning to Him with all your heart. And you wait there before Him, tranquilly.
You can expect to suffer through problems of a multitude of thoughts, problems of the imagination, provocation of your natural desires, and problems of an inward life that is very dry. All of these temptations must yield to the spirit.
And if it seems to you that you have done nothing in the time that you have set aside for the Lord, do not be deceived. A good heart-a firmness in prayer-is something that is very pleasing to your Lord. When we come to the Lord in this way we labor without personal interest. We are as the young men who work in the field with their father. At the end of the day, unlike the hired labor, we receive no pay. But at the end of the year, we enjoy all things.
When there is no emotional experience nor intellectual insight into His way, the enemy may suggest to you that God has not spoken. But your Lord is not impressed with a multitude of words. He is impressed with the purity of the intent of your heart. He wishes to see the inward part of you humbled, quiet, and totally surrendered to Him and to His will, whatever it may be.
There are those people who have begun a practice of collecting their inmost being but turned away from it almost immediately because they did not find any pleasure in it! There was no sense of God, there was no power, there was no sense of being pleased with their own thought, or being impressed with the way they formed their words and sentences to God. Actually all of these approaches to God are nothing but a hunt for sensible pleasures. This, to God, is but self -love and seeking after self.It is really not seeking after God at all.
But the less you care for the outward thrills of spiritual things…ah, here is something which delights the Lord.
Your daily occupations are not contrary to your Lord’s will. Your occupation is not against the resignation to His will, which you presented to Him. You see, resignation encompasses all the activities of our daily life. Whether it be study, reading, preaching, earning your living, doing business, or the like…you are resigned to whatever it is that comes into your life each day, each hour, each moment.
If you are drawn away from Him-if you are drawn away from prayer-revert to God, return to God, return to His presence- then renew an act of faith and renew an acquiescence to His will. You will never attain to the mountain of internal peace if you govern yourself according to your own will. This self-nature of your soul must be conquered. There must come a holocaust of your own values and judgments and will. It would be better that you gather dung by obedience than be caught up into the third heaven by your own will.
Obedience that is pure has no personal interest or thought of gain for oneself. Pure obedience is solely for the gain of God.
~Molinos (100 DAYS IN THE SECRET PLACE, Introduced and compiled by Gene Edwards; Destiny Image Publishers)
“Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.”
Turning in the core of my heart is a fire, not a fire for “power” or “passion,” but for the restoration of internal poverty in the Christian life. I extend to you the case of internal poverty; without which a man is locked away in the cell of self. He is chained in the irons of worth. He is fixed progressing in the wrong direction. As Dietrich Bonheoffer said, “if you board the wrong train, it makes no sense to sprint down the corridor in the right direction.” Internal poverty is the dethroning of self that clears the throne of our lives for the King to have His rightful place. Have you wondered why the Kingdom is given to the poor? The rule of God, the King’s domain and the power of Kingdom life is ignited by poverty alone. The spiritual man is bound to internal poverty. He has fastened himself to poverty by his own will, having learned its attractiveness to God. He is gripped by the total freedom of bondage to Jesus Christ. Without internal poverty a man rejects such binding, attractiveness and consequently forfeits true liberty.
Poverty is greater than power. A man may posses miracles and healing, yet be disconnected from the disposition that draws God’s heart to Him; “I am poor and needy (Psalm 86.1;40.17;70.5;109.22).” The poor man understands that he doesn’t have what he most severely needs and without aid from the outside he will most definitely perish. Are you as poor today, as that day you first called upon His name to save you from your sins?
Poverty is greater than prayer. A man may pray hours upon hours and yet posses not that quality that bestows Grace on his being. “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4.6; 1 Peter 5.5).” Once, two men came to the same place to pray. Oh how two individuals can perform the same actions from widely different motives! One man came to boast of his right living and the other to cry out for mercy (Luke 18.13). Hearts are seen by the King (1 Samuel 16.7;Prov. 16.2). Internal poverty is His delight.
Poverty is greater than passion. A man may impress many in the assembly with volume and fervor, yet be inwardly bankrupt, because he finds great value in himself. He far removed from the riches of the Kingdom being bestowed in his soul through poverty alone. For the Kingdom is the possession of the poor. Francis De Sales said, “Nothing can so effectually humble us as the consideration of what He has done for us and what we have done against Him.” Oh brothers, poverty is that for which their exists no substitute.
Poverty is that ingredient without which there exists no potential for rise in God. Poverty is the daily and constant reaching for mercy by revelation of our inability and nothingness without His presence. Poverty is united with dependency. We are never exempt from poverty’s dependency. As David Ravenhill Said, “we never graduate from dependency.”
Lust we for GLORY? “That faculty of the soul that pants for glory is implanted of God (R. Govet).” Have you an inward burning attraction to be absorbed up into your God? Poverty is the only route, dependency the only way and humility the only foundation. For this trinity there exists no substitute. Poverty is the recognition of our wicked state without God’s presence, which thrusts us into dependency on His presence and manifests itself in humble hearts and lives. David Popovici said to me on the phone the other day, “the day we wake up without a casting of ourselves upon His mercy, we are finished.” I would add, the moment that we cease to cast ourselves upon His mercy we are finished. Temptation is a reminder of what we are apart from His presence in our lives. How many times have we all failed in some way and disappointed ourselves and God? After 14 years of following JESUS, I see more than ever, that every failure in my life was first a failure to depend upon Him.
As the rain rests upon the ground after the storm, it yearns to return back to the high place from which it has fallen. It can only long for such a return, till the sun shines down upon its humble state causing it to rise again through evaporation into its desired residence. So we as men, have fallen from a height of glory. “For all…fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3.23).” We all, as redeemed men, long to live in the heights from which we have fallen. Man is burning internally for Glory to be restored. I submit to you today, that without internal poverty there is no identification with the positional restored glory now and no promise of its fullness in the age to come. And most certainly, there is no connection with its transforming reality in our daily life. For His humble dying must be met by the sinner humbling himself to ever produce a humble life.
Cerebral arguments and superstar – superhero preaching all stem from a lack of poverty. Poverty alone ensures the Glory to God. A value in ourselves robs Him. He takes the beggar from the dunghill. Not the prince from the palace or the theologian from the seminary. All we see as holy acts and ways in men are empty without poverty as its heart beat.
I am well aware of the fact that I as one man do not posses a full picture of God and my heart is longing for the church to take her fullness again. And though there are many camps that have different emphasis in God, in receiving as much as I can from each camp, I believe that arrogance is heightened when a man claims now that which God has set for the future. There is no fullness now. There exists no sinless perfection now. There is no full seeing now. Just as much as there exists no reigning King JESUS in Jerusalem now. And anyone who wishes to preach “fullness now” or boasts in their intellectualism is missing the heart of a risen life, namely, poverty. Anyone finding the slightest satisfaction or interest in the failures and judgment of others knows nothing of poverty. For the value of themselves has blinded them to nakedness of their own soul.
We do not posses independently anything of value and that which we do posses in Him is a deposit of a fullness to come. And that which is possessed is penetrated into us by humility alone. “Beloved, if you have ever seen yourself, you will know that you are never going to be anything other than what you were (Paris R.).” Paul the apostle, who was closer than anyone alive today to a fullness of the image of Christ released in a human life said, “…as for me and my flesh there is no good thing (Romans 7).” He understood His nothingness as God’s power. Seeing strength perfected in weakness. Seeing a treasure in an earthen vessel, so that, the greatness of God’s power would be of Himself and not from us (2 Cor 4). This is in no way an advocating of sin, but rather, the way to true holiness of heart. Poverty blesses man with the riches of God’s grace that makes men truly holy from the inside out. For in the poor soul alone does the Holy Spirit find a resting place. The otherwise man is occupying the whole of the throne himself.
Listen, I fear that educated Christians in America like us will educate ourselves out of poverty and into a delusion of “fullness now,” intellectual know-it-all-ness and deceive ourselves into a mindset that is far from the current divine situation concerning God, man, mercy, power and redemption. Our power is not found in the cerebral realm. It is found in death. It is not found in a new vision of ourselves or in a puffed up identity that changes the way we carry ourselves. It is found in His mercy. It is His mercy that works everyday in us; His mercy that quickens us back to life from the death of truly understanding that we cannot ever in own ourselves please Him or move toward Him. If we know anything, let it be our continual sins forgiven and our personal poverty coming face to face with His boundless love and His timeless mercy, restoring and keeping us in the power of His presence.
In 1 Thessalonians chapter 1, Paul is thanking God for the Church’s “labor of love, works of faith and steadfastness of hope…in the presence of God.” The presence of God is the ground for faith that works, love that labors and hope that is steadfast. I can’t help but see it as a scene from an old UFO movie where the powerful UFO activates and charges all the power tools, lights, cars and everything electric as it flies over the old Farmer’s house in the middle of Nebraska fields. That is the activation of the presence of God. As He draws near, our love, which was otherwise frozen, comes alive. Our faith, which was otherwise dead, is working and our hope, which was otherwise forgotten, is realized. Internal poverty is the landing pad for the kingdom, which is to say the King. Dependency sustains the kingdoms rule in which a humble character is the inevitable product. And such a way to such a presence is the activation of a Christ like life. Poverty gives the kingdom, humility receives exaltation and dependency bears forth fruit which glorifies the Father.
Finally, I encourage a meditation upon Luke chapter 21 vs 1-4. This simple, yet moving, short story reveals the severity of poverty like none other. Without poverty there is no totality. Without poverty there is only partiality. The reason that most Christians in the West do not give all that they are over to God is due to the missing element of poverty of soul. The reason why most Christians in the West give partially to God is because they give out of their surplus. God return us to the poverty that brings totality and save us from giving to you partially!
Eric Gilmour is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Revival & Evangelism. Visit his website at agonypress.podbean.com
There is a well known book among those who read of historic Christian revivals entitled “I Saw the Welsh Revival”, by David Matthews. It’s an eyewitness account of the remarkable outpouring of God’s Spirit in Wales, 1904. It was a time like no other, and there is ample literature and documentation available for those who would look for it. The wise will do so.
I was not alive in 1904 (!), nor even in 1949, when the praying sisters in the New Hebrides and that great voice Duncan Campbell were witnesses to a true moving of God’s Spirit that transfigured the moral and spiritual climate of those islands off the west coast of Scotland. Campbell would later describe the revival as a time when “God stepped down, and was at work amongst men.” We need to be aware of what the Lord has done throughout Christian history, and learning more from these revivals- among many others- will kindle a flame of hunger and faith for a mighty work of His hand in our day.
We must make note of more modern works of God’s Spirit as well, and among the many, I aim here to share my own experience in what came to be known as the Brownsville Revival in Pensacola, Florida, 1995-2000. Men have criticized this moving of God’s Spirit, as is always the case in times of revival, and often the criticism came from those who had little or no understanding of what really occurred during those last years of the 20th century. To be sure, no revival is without flaws (as Wesley famously noted), but we err tragically if we permit the shortcomings of men to eclipse the glory of God’s work.
Prayer Leading Up to the Revival
The revival, unlike the Welsh or Hebrides revivals, was poured out upon a Pentecostal congregation, the Brownsville Assembly of God. Though the denominational roots differed, God was clearly at work in similar ways. He transcends our affiliations and responds to hearts that hunger and thirst after Him. You may have heard only negative accounts about Brownsville, but if you’ve studied past revivals as I have, it will be clear to you that the fires of revival were burning for those 4 or 5 years at the end of the 20th century.
In 1993, Senior Pastor John Kilpatrick changed the order of the Sunday night gatherings from the standard service where the congregation often heard from guest speakers, to a night of prayer for revival in the Church and in the nation. Evangelist Stephen Hill, principally used of the Lord to preach in the revival, later shared a journal entry from one of his earlier visits on these Sunday night prayer meetings:
If the Lord is going to pour out His Spirit anywhere, it will be at Brownsville.
He testified of seeing children prostrate before the Lord, some of them with fingernails sinking into the carpet, weeping and interceding over the condition of their unsaved loved ones. It was “deep calling unto deep” in the heart of the Pastor, and in the hearts of those in the congregation. A spontaneous, unusual moving of God’s people unto prayer has always preceded remarkable seasons of Holy Spirit outpouring.
“When God is about to do a mighty new thing, He always sets His people praying.” -Jonathan Edwards
“When God Stepped Down”
On Father’s Day, June 18th, 1995, Stephen Hill visited to preach. He was a 41-year old evangelist who had labored abroad in America, Europe, Russia, and Argentina. At age 21, he was dramatically saved from a life of sin, including drug addiction and multiple crimes that led felony convictions. He went through Teen Challenge and on to Twin Oaks for biblical training. This formative time, in ministries established by David Wilkerson, helped shape the manner of man that would make him a voice in the revival. His class on prayer in Bible school was taught by Leonard Ravenhill, whom he later developed a close relationship with. These influences undoubtedly marked him, and I am convinced that the revival itself was partly the fruit of brother Ravenhill’s tears in prayer for revival, as well as his fervent prayers for Stephen Hill and Michael Brown. He knew and prayed often for both of them in the latter years of his life. (It is an interesting coincidence that the revival commenced on what would have been his 88th birthday.)
Stephen’s insatiable burden for lost souls, which often drove him to tears while preaching a message of repentance and forgiveness, spread like an uncontrollable flame through the hearts of men in the revival meetings.
That Father’s Day in 1995, after the congregation had contended for revival in prayer for 2 years, witnesses testified that an unusual measure of the Lord’s presence and power came into their midst. What followed was a remarkable season of revival, wherein multiplied tens of thousands came to repentance and faith in Christ. The Spirit of the fear of the Lord gripped men’s hearts, ministers were quickened to prayer, a burden for the unsaved permeated the atmosphere, and “times of refreshing” came “from the presence of the Lord.” Within 5 years time, more than 200,000 souls had cried out to the Lord for salvation and mercy, over 200 laborers had gone overseas for long-term missionary labors, and countless Christians- believers and leaders- had responded afresh to the call unto a life of holiness, worship, prayer and evangelism. The Lord had heard the cries of His people for an outpouring of the Spirit, and the fruit of His answer was both glorious and historic. The fires of heaven-sent revival were burning.
Professor Vinson Synan, a leading Pentecostal historian and the Dean of the Regent University School of Divinity, has called it “the largest local church revival in the history of America,” writing that, “Brownsville, with its emphasis on conversion and people weeping over conviction of sin, seems to be a revival in the long tradition of American native revivals dating back to the preaching of Jonathan Edwards. There’s heavy preaching on sin, repentance, conversion, and holiness. And there’s a lot more weeping and wailing over sin than there are the so-called exotic manifestations.”
As with all historic revivals, there were unusual happenings, controversy, and various manifestations. But the overall tenor and message of the revival was in a continuum with all true revivals of yesteryear. Revival will glorify Jesus Christ, not a man or a peripheral doctrine, and the outbreak of rejoicing that occurs will be the result of His redemptive work in the midst of the people. The joy will not issue from the faddish buzz of a new emphasis or movement, but from the awareness of mercy that springs up from souls who have beheld the cross, experienced redemption, and who are thus overflowing with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord for “so great a salvation.” Such was the case at the Brownsville Revival. And this will be the case in all true revivals, great or small.
My Own Experience
In July of 1996, over a year into the revival, I was a 17 year-old atheist, regularly doing drugs, toting guns, given to drunkenness, filled with rage and bitterness, and battling suicidal thoughts.
My great-grandfather was an AG pastor, a man of holy living, and an intercessor. I had been raised in the Assemblies, but at the age of 17, I had not yet been born from above.
The youth pastor at my parent’s Church was planning a missions trip to a poverty stricken area in Medart, FL. His intentions were to stop for a day at the revival on the way down. My parents asked him if I could go along, and his response was, “It’s a missions trip. He’s not even saved!” He agreed to pray about it, and the Lord impressed him to bring me along.
We arrived in Pensacola on July 20th, 1996, and showed up at Brownsville AG at about 1 p.m. Already, nearly a thousand people were gathered in a large bunch near the door, waiting for the meeting which began at 7 p.m.! As an unbeliever, I thought, “What is wrong with these people? They’re nuts! Why are they so excited to get into an AG Church?” I remember spontaneous hymns of praise rising from the throng while we waited outside in the hot Florida sun. “How Great Thou Art,” “Amazing Grace,” and several others. Passers-by on the street (the Church met in the poorer area of the city) were hearing songs of praise to the Lamb of God, and this has been common in times of revival over the course of history. O, that every city would hear again of the glory of Christ, through the revived hearts of His people! But here I was, in the midst of the crowd, totally detached from their joy.
My hardened heart grew curious when the doors opened, as I saw men, women and children moving quickly and earnestly for a seat in the building. As I walked into the building, even as a hardened sinner, I began to sense a difference in the atmosphere. A strange pull began to affect me. I felt increasingly uncomfortable about my sin, but there was an unspoken yearning for truth, reality, and salvation rising in my soul. I watched the people engaging in fervent and sincere worship and praise which lasted well over an hour, and a conviction of my sinfulness was intensifying. I attempted to put a wet blanket over it, even turning to the young man next to me and speaking in jest about the people worshipping around me. But I could not evade or circumvent the fact that something, or Someone, as real as He was invisible, was moving in the midst of this people.
The evangelist then brought up several women from South Korea, who had come to America to pray and street witness at the Atlanta Olympics. “What did you come to Brownsville for, dear sisters?” “To receive the Holy Spirit,” they replied. Upon praying for them, they collapsed in a heap on the platform, with tears flowing copiously, crying out, “Oh God! Save souls in Atlanta…. Souls…. Souls….” The prayer went on for some time, and when it subsided, the evangelist began to preach. It was a passionate call to repentance, a cry to humble ourselves, turn from sin, have faith in the work of the cross, and receive the free mercy of Jesus Christ. I later discovered that this was his message every night at the Brownsville Revival, but on that night, I felt I was alone in a room with the preacher and the Holy Spirit.
The word was like a hammer that shatters the rock, and I could not resist the Spirit any longer. I understood clearly that I had to “flee from the wrath to come” and receive a new heart from the God of mercy. I was undone in my sin, and overcome with the revelation of the cross of Christ. I was gloriously born from above that night, and nothing has been the same since. Glory to the Lamb that was slain!
When I went back to high school the next semester, 27 students called on the name of the Lord as a result of the transformation they saw in my life. I was immediately freed from the grip of drugs, alcohol, suicidal tendencies, and rebelliousness toward my teachers and parents. One day, I even jumped in my ’89 Thunderbird and ran over more than 250 of my music CD’s that were filled with immoral themes and profanity. What else could I do? I had experienced the cleanness of a forgiven heart for the first time, and I could not engage in that which contradicted it. I began preaching in youth gatherings, bearing witness to the Gospel on the streets, and leading prayer meetings.
In August of ’97 I went back to Brownsville to attend the ministry school (at which Dr. Michael Brown was the President), from which I graduated in May of ’99. It has been a remarkable journey with the Lord, and it all began on that day when I passed from the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of His glorious Light. This was the experience of many thousands of souls who came to the Lord through the Brownsville Revival. We were witnesses of this for years, as we saw souls from every background- prostitutes, wealthy businessmen, thugs, and even preachers- bowed low before a holy God, crying out for mercy over their sin, having found that they were in need of cleansing as “God stepped down” in the midst of the gathering. Many souls, like myself, entered through the doors in unbelief, “dead in trespasses and sins”, and were born anew of the Spirit of God, saved to the uttermost by the power of the Gospel.
I remember many meetings when the fear of the Lord would grip the whole congregation of 4 or 5 thousand souls. Unbelievers were screeching and crying for mercy, intercessors weeping and wailing, and many throughout the crowd calling out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord….” Sometimes hours would go by in this manner, and you were gripped with the sense that brings to mind the words of an elder in the Hebrides revival:
“Tread lightly, for God Himself is hovering over us!”
I used to meet with a brother for prayer before our Bible school classes, and I recall pulling up to the school property in March of ’98, where the student’s morning prayer meeting was moved upon by the Lord in a profound way. When I pulled into the parking lot, students were prostrate all over the campus, laying in the grass or on the sidewalks, groaning with hunger for God, and asking Him for mercy on behalf of our nation. Strong men were broken before the Lord, trembling and weeping in prayer, and everywhere in these times the hearts of God’s people seemed fixed on His throne. You were directed heavenward merely by being there. I felt as if I had stepped out of my car and into another world, where the earth was permeated with God Himself! O, that every community of saints would be marked with this kind of reality, for the glory of Christ!
True revival will not necessarily look the same in form, cultural expression, or style of worship. But when God is at work in the midst of His people, Jesus will be glorified, the “pure celestial fire” will burn in the hearts of men, the preaching will be marked with conviction, brokenness and holy authority, the burden for the lost will break out, heaven and hell will become real to men’s hearts, a passion for the Scriptures will increase, the Spirit of prayer and intercession will be kindled and will spread, the joy of the Lord and the fear of the Lord will mark the Church in a remarkable way. These are some of the fruits of authentic revival, and it ought to alarm our souls that they are so scarcely seen in the Church of our day.
When the Lord is at work in your midst, it won’t be identical to Brownsville, Wales, the New Hebrides, the Great Awakenings, or any other historic moving of His Spirit. But the reality of God, which purifies and revives the hearts of His people, exalts the Lord, and turns transgressors into saints will soon be evident. Do you long for Him to come to your community, dear Christian, or are you cool and content with the gravitation toward moral blurriness, prayerless Christianity, and a low view of the majesty of God?
We are in radical need as the Church in these days, particularly in Europe and America. As the moral tone of society continues to decline, as the saints find themselves more and more distracted by technological advances and novel forms of ministry, as strange doctrines and fraudulent gospels are introduced to the religious landscape of our nation, we are in need of true revivals again. O, that a cry would ignite in the hearts of His people! O, that the fire of God would again fall! O, that conviction would grip the house of God! O, that the tide of prayer and worship would rise again! O, that repentance and mercy would flow again in a watershed revival!
We’ve got to give ourselves to prayer, saints, that the Lord would quicken and awaken our hearts and our churches, that our cities would know something of His reality. I don’t know about you, but I’m dusting off my old revival books, and “remembering the deeds of the Lord.” I am not content merely to read about them. I want to weep and pray, repent of my own sin, respond to the Lord in obedience, turn to Him afresh, and cry out for an outpouring of mercy, “waters upon the dry ground.” He is stirring His people afresh in these days. Prayer is increasing, and something is happening in many hearts. We must take the “ancient paths” of prayer, worship, and obedience. We must pursue the knowledge of God, contending for revival and a recovery of foundations.
…. It is one thing to shout it, it is one thing to sing it, it is one thing to talk about revival, but give me a people on their faces, seeking to be rightly related with God, and when that happens, we will soon know the impact of God-realisation in our country.
God is not going to respond to a feeble fleeting wish.
If you want revival, get right with God. If you are not prepared to bring the “last piece”, for God’s sake stop talking about revival….
It is about time we got into the grips of reality. Are we thirsty?
Editor’s Note: Guest article from David Popovici of FIRE School of Ministry: Chicago
Brethren, can I briefly share some things very dear to my heart?
As always, this short essay is in no way meant to be an apologetic defense or debate; time does not permit, nor do I is this the venue for such an endeavor. If by the Lord’s grace, it becomes a trumpet call to even one saint, that is enough. In one of the most climactic events in our Lords earthly mission, after surveying what His hearers said of Him, He asks His disciples the chief question, “who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15). It is safe to say if were to ask 100 people who God is, you might get 90 or even 100 different answers. Nonetheless, Peter responds rightly. In fact, Jesus makes it clear in this gospel passage that there is no way he (Peter) could of come up with it on his own. It came by revelation from the Father.
Revelation, throughout history, has been progressive in regards to the one true God. Faith can only be based on God’s revelation of Himself. From revealing Himself as Creator, the God of “Covenant and Promise” (to Abraham), to the “Great I Am” (to Moses) the scripture builds revelation upon revelation. This is something hidden about God and His plan that comes to light through God’s own initiative in His perfect time. The revelation or appearing of Jesus Christ became the paramount revelation of all. Jesus is the face of God. John Lake, apostle to South Africa said this concerning the three major dispensations of God revealing Himself…
1. Patriarchal-God revealed to man
2. Mosaic-God revealed with man
3. Christ, (and later) Spirit-God revealed in man.
As I heard one man of God once say, “God wants to be known for who He is and not who we have made Him to be”. Jesus said, “if your eye is clear, then your whole body will be full of light.” The truth is that the god of this world, our adversary, deceitfully blinds the minds of unbelievers and seeks to lift up, through our thinking, strongholds that would keep us blind to the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus. One of the main ministries of the Holy Spirit is to reveal Jesus to men. Paul, as well as all the other Biblical writers, was able to pen truth as a result of revelation from the Holy Spirit. The point being is that God seeks to, and loves to reveal Himself. If God were seeking to hide from His creation He would have never have sent His Son, nor followed it up with the sending Holy Spirit, the Divine agent behind revealing truth.
Jesus was and always will be the supreme revelation of God the Father. Remember in Matthew 16, Jesus commends Peter’s revelation and then begins to build upon it by attaching to His Identity as Messiah; the cross. Peter however, aligning himself with the influence of Satan, saw it fitting to correct the Lords Theology. The Lord rebukes him, for setting his mind on things from below-mans interests as opposed to Gods. To think according to the lower order of things was equivalent to Jesus as demonically inspired. All revelation must by definition be attached to Gods ultimate revelation, Christ on the cross. Jews seek for a sign and Greeks for wisdom yet only the cross of Christ can properly reveal Him, as He is. If Christ is the ultimate revelation and the cross was His ultimate mission, it would do us good to make it a life-long point of meditation, pursuit and prayer. As Julian of Norwich said, “give us a burning attraction to thy passion.” These realities cannot be grasped by simply reading the text, or the latest commentary. At best, we only see in part, this must be revealed by the Holy Spirit.
Paul makes it plain in 1Corinthians 1, the cross makes no sense to the logical mind, only to the renewed mind. Jesus came neither as political military leader or religious philosopher. He came as the conqueror of sin and death. The atonement for mans sins as the perfect sacrifice to God. The Chief representative of a Kingdom not of earthly origin; which only the cross could illuminate. The content of the cross is the filter through which everything is revealed from heaven. Heavens highest wisdom and greatest power demonstration is the cross. To quote biblical scholar Gregory Boyd “God flexes His muscle by dying on a Cross”.
God is in no way indebted to men, He does not feel insecure, nor does He need to defend Himself. The cross offends the twin idolatries of the human-race; the desire for power and knowledge/wisdom. He makes it so that only the humble can see. The cross is both the power and wisdom of God to us. It is not foolish or weak per se, only in regards to being understood according to the spirit of this age. This revelation is the ultimate one that all others bow to and get filtered by. Whether a teaching by Paul, Peter, Apollos, or Pentecostals, Baptists, Lutherans, no matter the stream, so to speak, the cross trumps all.
Now for the reality of this stamp of God we must contend. It is not enough to give mental assent. We do not have to choose, the cross is both wisdom and power towards us who believe and anyone else who will place their trust in Jesus. A cross that holds claim to save a man’s soul but cannot set him free from bondage and sin is either has not been truly preached or believed and applied. And the same goes for giving man an eternal hope in the face of persecution and suffering, or healing a man in the pangs of disease and infirmity, or for that matter changing the composition of a man’s life, purpose and meaning. Where instead of wasting his life, he instead gives it to the joys of loving and knowing God and saving souls. Brothers, we must have revelation, and it must lead us to the cross!
Take a listen to this audio compilation by Art Katz on “The Cross.”
“Then Bildad the Shuhite answered, ‘Dominion and awe belong to Him….’
Then Job responded….. ‘To whom have you uttered words? And whose spirit was expressed through you?'” -Job 25.1-2a, 26.1a, 4
In Job 25, Bildad the Shuhite gave a theological statement that was basically true in form and content, but it was only a categorical burst of words, and for his hearer, it was an ill-fitted word that was totally out of season.
In a culture that has drowned in multi-colored billboards and ads, 24-hour newscasting, and other flagrant profusions of excessive speech, there is a radical need for God-infused speaking. It can only come forth through the Church, for we are the only ones who have been touched by mercy and truth, but “woe unto the world” when the house of God itself has slipped into a categorical mode of speaking and a mechanical mode of living.
It is little wonder that our “small talk” is often laced with gossip and slander. It is little wonder that our meticulous theological conversations and debates often lack the reverence and joy that mark a man who is abiding in a true knowledge of God. It is little wonder that the proclamation of the Gospel has often been reduced to an attempt at “relevance” or a robotic delivery of “logical” Christian truth, devoid of authority and unction from above. It’s no wonder that our casual conversations often slip into sin, for we have diminished our distinctive calling to prayer, and thereby lost the ability to speak rightly of God.
We have been busy speaking and doing, but we have failed to be found in the place of prayer, and this has been the seedbed for all our hollowness. We have run to-and-fro in various works to the neglect of prayer, and we have therefore been unconscious of His present love and untouched by the fear of the Lord. We are not leading the saints into a life of brokenness before God. Failing here, we open the gate for failure everywhere. If we have not gazed upon His majesty in prayer, we will not be able to speak of Him rightly. And if we fail to speak of Him rightly, we cannot speak of anything rightly, for He is the source and essence of truth itself. When He is diminished, all else is distorted. What then can be said of this “Bildadic” mode of ministry and life?
We are like the Shuhite, even using language of “awe,” but falling short of a true proclamation, for we have been unwilling or too busy to give ourselves to the counsel of the Lord Himself. It is in prayer where His truth becomes true in our souls, and His reality is made real in our hearts. We can trot out our doctrinal persuasions, our clever and catchy sermons, or our views in counseling, but the question must be asked:
“To whom have you uttered words? And whose spirit was expressed through you?”
Bildad expressed the “awe” of God, and the doctrine that He alone “establishes peace.” (v. 1) In verse 3 of Ch. 25 he declared the might of God, raising the rhetorical question, “Is there any number to His troops?” He declared the holiness of God and the depravity of man in vv. 5-6: “If even the moon has no brightness and the stars are not pure in His sight, how much less man, that maggot, and the son of man, that worm!” In a word, he gave a theological statement that left little to be corrected or added to. It was commendable in many ways. But is was not the word of God Himself, for it failed to set forth the present testimony of Jesus Christ, and Job detected it. The apostle speaks to us today:
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” -Eph. 4.29
Edification is not always given by a happy-go-lucky word. It is given by the present testimony of Jesus Christ, which is the “Spirit of prophecy.” It may be the most encouraging and joy-inducing word we’ve ever heard, or it may be a word calculated by the Lord to devastate our illusions, and shake us from the false comfort of delusion and slumber. Whatever it may be, the present testimony of Jesus is what we ought to covet.
We have the propensity for missing it along these lines, for our hearts are often dull and we see only in part. We are apt, usually based on our personalities, to lean in one direction or the other.
If we are bubbly souls naturally, or have a strong itch to please men and be accepted by them, we are more prone to flattering and complimenting others, and often we can do this without any counsel or anointing from the Holy Spirit.
I might call myself a “Barnabas” and think of my calling to encourage others, but I need to be sure that it is the encouragement of the Holy Spirit Himself, lest I find that I am only feeding my reputation as a nice guy, and even subtly manipulating others to think highly of myself.
Likewise, if I am a somber type, serious and critical toward all that is opposed to my personal preference, I may not flatter others too often, but I may also be in error. I may find it easy to correct or rebuke men, or to speak out against doctrines that I presume to be false, but I may just as well be totally devoid of the life of God. I may consider myself a “straight shooter”, and I may not feel as if I am pursuing the approval of men, but I might be guilty of self-glorification just the same.
Not many have been willing to come into this radical circumcision of the heart, though it is the call upon every saint. We have a mandate to speak as a prophetic people who have “tamed the tongue,” who are not consumed with our own opinions and the blab of our subjective ideas (even religious ideas), but whose speech is God-suffused, and leads men to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. It was said of Spurgeon that men who came to hear a sermon from the famed preacher, often left the meeting declaring, “O, how glorious is the Man, Christ Jesus!” They went to hear from the prince of preachers, and left consumed with a new vision of the Prince of Peace. Are our words and lives having that effect on the souls of men?
“…. where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its value, Nor is it found in the land of the living.” -Job 28.12-13
The answer is not in leaning to one side or the other, nor is it to look for that “happy medium.” The word of the Lord is not found in what we can calculate as nice and encouraging or bold and confrontational. The word of the Lord transcends our wisdom. It is not one side or the other, it is fromabove; it is “that which proceeds from the mouth of God.” It is “spirit and life.” Do not look on the earthly plain, or weigh out the possible effects of your speech. We must instead allow the Lord to lay the axe to the root of our self-glorification, and go to prayer and to the Scriptures for the present testimony of Jesus Christ.
It is only found when we, in the temple of prayer like Isaiah, “see the Lord high and lifted up,” and the fiery coal is taken from the altar and put to our lips. When Uzziah dies, namely, when we stop seeking the approval of men and our own self-glorification, only then are we permitted to see the exalted Lamb. And when we see Him in His present exalted reality, we realize the uncleanness of our lips, and He is ever-willing to purge and send us. It is set into motion when we are willing to come to Him on that holy ground. This is His mercy.
And when the coal comes from that altar, since it is not initiated and performed by our wisdom but is a holy work of God, our speech will not only be singed or improved upon. Our high opinions will be torched, and our whole view of life and truth will be totally reforged. And seeing the Lord high and lifted up, being jealous only for His glory, we will be granted the authority and power to speak “as one who is speaking the utterances of God.”
The world is perishing and the Church is languishing for want of a true knowledge of God. The voices that will convey the present testimony of the Lord will be those who have given themselves to prayer, shutting down all other activity until they have met with the Lord in reality. The world needs desperately to hear that which is “of Him, through Him, and to Him,” and it will only hear that note sounded by those who have prostrated themselves on the heavenly threshold, eager only for God Himself, and the word which proceeds from Him.
“Behold, these are the fringes of His ways; And how faint a word we hear of Him!” (Job 26.14a)
O God, set Your people apart in this late hour. Deliver us from hollow living and shallow speaking. In Your boundless mercy, bring us into the present testimony of Jesus Christ, that we might live and speak as true voices, and not mere echoes. Confront us in our smug categorization of the faith, and let us be marked as those who “live, move, and have our being” in You, and You only. Give us earnestness after You, and a deep-seated jealousy for Your glory. Amen.
“In the presence of the Lord is fullness of Joy and pleasure forever more.”
His presence in our lives is everything. His presence is our distinguishing factor. Israel was just another nation without the presence of God. They would have been destroyed without God fighting for them. Moses wouldn’t go without His presence. Gideon as one man would deliver the nation because of the presence of the Lord. The prophets stood in the presence of the Lord. John’s revelation was in the presence of the Lord. His presence is everything.
David said, “the nearness of God is my good (Psalm 73.28),” and “Better is one day in your house than thousands elsewhere… (Psalm 84)”
When the ark of the presence was at the home of Obed-edom everything flourished in his life (2 Sam. 6). So it is with knowing God; the flourishing of your life will be in exact proportion to the attention you give to His presence in your life. Only when His presence is the center-piece of our lives, can He make our lives His masterpiece. “Never let anything get bigger in your consciousness than the awareness of His presence… (Bill Johnson).”
Why is this? Because His presence empowers you to obey, and obedience brings nothing but blessing (Duet 28). Jesus said, “Come to me…I will give you rest (Matthew 11.28).” Isaiah 64 shows us that the Holy Spirit gave them “rest” in the wilderness from which “He lead them.” The leading of the Holy Spirit is in the place of rest. This rest is a place of transcendence above efforts and striving. It is the ceasing of striving. “Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46.10).” It is the ceasing of your Adamic outflow that enables His Divine inflow. Jesus said, “…but the Father who dwells in me, does His works.” This is rest. Man ceasing from his own initiative and resting in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit within him; yielding to His direction and life. This is the end of your own efforts and the beginning of divine enablement.
Jesus said, “I do nothing on my own initiative (John 8.28).” Evangelist David Popovici said to me one day, “our job isn’t to try to become love, but rather to be filled with Him who is love, power, peace and infinitely more.” The totality of a life laid down is the ignition of this divine rest. We don’t stop going after God to rest, we press into Him who is rest to find rest. Rest is spelled, J.E.S.U.S. The tree doesn’t focus on bearing fruit, but on receiving the sap. We cannot pin fruit on the tree. It will just fall off. It must issue out of an inward connection. This inward connection is cultivated in no other place than spending time with God. Waiting in His presence for His voice to enter and quicken us with a revelation of Himself.
“Law” can be seen as a life focused on fruit, while “Spirit” can be seen as sap focused living. This is the higher life. “The mind set on the spirit is life and peace (Romans 6.4).” This is Christianity. Anything else is just another religion; an adherence to principles and efforts for outward modification without an inward transformation. Bill Johnson said, “to desire kingdom principles without His presence, is to desire His kingdom without the King.” In no other religion does one’s God enter into him and perform the works through him. Our character in God is measured by our ability to surrender to Him. One man said it like this, “the greatness of a man’s power is measured by his surrender.” Our ceasing to be is our greatness, for it makes that man a channel of God’s life.
Spending time with God is the training ground for spiritual life. You learn to hear His voice. You learn to feel His impressions. You begin to experience His heart. You sharpen your vision. You get aligned with His thoughts. This is the absolute heart of life in God. Without this time of diligently entering His rest you will die! The gospel taps you into this rest, but you have to be diligent to abide therein. Hebrews 4 shows us the divine paradox of diligently entering His rest. The rest is then laid out as trust (absolute surrender to Jesus) and obedience (the only outflow of such a disposition). It is as simple as salvation. Colossians tells us, “as you received Him, so walk in Him.”
Leonard Ravenhill said it like this, “a man first collapses in the prayer closet.” Meaning, if a man has fallen in his life, he first failed to fall on his knees for strength. E. M. Bounds said, “the devil trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.” Why? Because he knows that he has gone to “fetch strength against him.” I tell you that, “praying men stop sinning and sinning men stop praying (Ravenhill).”
David told us to “Wait upon the Lord.” He also showed us that the secret to supernatural strength in God, is waiting on God (Isa. 40.31;Psalm 27.14).” The rest is entered by those who diligently come to Jesus to wait on Him. The rest is the Spirit. The Spirit of God leads and guides, strengthens and enables. So much so that Paul said in Galatians chapter 5, “if you walk in the Spirit, you will not gratify the desires of sinful nature.”
The Greek word that Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit has many meanings. Jesus said, “The Comforter will come.” This word means, partner, teacher, leader, guide, advocate, strengthener, stand by, helper, intercessor, comforter and counselor.
What confidence! He knew the rest. He knew that it was above efforts and striving. He knew that in the rest, there is only victory. It is the place of hiding “under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91).” It is the place of which David said, “oh God, My Strength (Psalm 18.1).” “You are my hiding place (Psalm 32.7). Prayer is the air of the Christian life. “When we cease to pray we quench the Spirit. When we quench the Spirit we cease to pray (Benny Hinn).”
The revolution of prayer in the Christian life is a major evidence of the infilling of the Spirit.
“Spending time with Jesus is number one. Don’t ever forget that (David Hogan)!”
“To be much for God, we must be much alone with God (Leonard Ravenhill).”
Spending time with God is your sap for fruit and your air for breathing. It is your heart of victory. It is your power for living. Without it, you will die just as sure as a fish out of water. You will become more and more worldly. You will lose your sense of conviction. You will lose sight of your spiritual purpose. You will begin to ooze the poison of the first Adam instead of the life of the last (1 Cor. 15.45). You will cease to find all your satisfaction in God and by default seek satisfaction elsewhere.
“The Kingdom of God is within you.”
The inward surrender of fixed and sustained full attention upon God in waiting and worship is the only way into the presence of God. David said, “To you I lift up my soul (Psalm 143.8).” His mind, will and emotions laid upon the altar unto God. As a cup could never be filled as it spins on the table so our spinning souls must get still before God for Him to flow into us. Madame Guyon said, “God dwells in absolute stillness.” There is no other place in which to meet Him. Just because you are quiet doesn’t mean you are still. Stillness is the soul laid upon the altar of God in worshipful whole-hearted fixation upon God Himself, anticipating the impartation of His life-giving words into your Spirit. This is waiting. We know very little about what is going on while we are on the earth, it is imperative that we are led by the Holy Spirit in prayer. He knows what is going on. Listen to Him. You will not hear Him in any other place than worship, waiting and whole-hearted attention.
Some use music, a certain prayer or phrase or some kind of aid to focus completely upon God. Once you are fixed upon God you must be sure to sustain your full attention upon Him in worship, not necessarily with words, but definitely with a whole-hearted surrender of love toward Him. This will cause you to become aware of His nearness that is always with you (Hebrews 13.8). This is the base for all of what God wants to accomplish in your time with Him. Here is the dispensing of the most vital nutrients for Spiritual life. His inflow of peace beyond all understanding and complete fulfillment in the most vulnerable parts of man is the overwhelming satisfaction that transcends anything else that exists. This is where the Scriptures will come alive. In Luke 24, it was only in His presence that the word of God revealed Jesus. “He expounded to them…” The presence of God is the key to the Scriptures because they are locked until He opens them.
From this base of an inward setting of yourself upon Him, prayer becomes a powerfully rich experience, both of your hearts releasing to God and His guiding you by His Spirit in seeing the desires of His heart. Prayer will come alive. And there is simply nothing like it. Nothing touches its caliber of fulfillment and life. You can really tell when a man has touched God in prayer. He becomes addicted to the experience of God in prayer.
It is here that He gives you to drink from the river of His delights (Psalm 36.8). Just as a man cannot drink from the river while he is moving, so the soul must stop its activities if it is to ever drink from this wonderful fulfilling river of God that He has granted us unlimited access to. But stopping is only the beginning. Because worship must transcend expression and become reception or it is of little value. No amount of external contact with the river can quench the inward thirst of the soul. We must drink.
Waiting in His presence is renewing and faith building as you cease your outflow and subject yourself to His lead. It is this submission that releases you from the bondage of your own thinking. It makes you a subject and not the leader, respecting the Holy Spirit as the leader. We must be, “led by the Spirit.”
I know this one thing. Without His presence I don’t stand a chance. Neither do you. It is not God’s plan. He wants everything to hinge upon Him. The oneness of God and man! This is God’s desire. Worship; the inward fixation sustained upon God in the worship of total surrender waiting upon Him and His voice is the divine melting of the soul of Man into the Spirit of God.