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)
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?
Some shocking and tragic news: David Wilkerson was killed today in a car accident in Tyler, Texas, and his wife Gwen was seriously injured. How he will be missed! Let’s pray for God’s grace to be poured out on the family and for his words to be listened to all the more carefully and soberly. And let all of us live in the light of eternity.
Here are the last words on David’s devotional blog for today, the day he died. Very appropriate:
Beloved, God has never failed to act but in goodness and love. When all means fail—his love prevails. Hold fast to your faith. Stand fast in his Word. There is no other hope in this world.
America’s greatest crisis today is not economic, nor is it political, social, or military. To be sure, we are teetering on the edge of a massive financial collapse, while at the same time we are politically and socially divided, not to mention mired in two or three costly wars.
But our greatest crisis goes deeper. It is a spiritual crisis, and because it is a spiritual crisis, it is a moral crisis. The light within us has become dark (see Matt 6:23) and the salt has lost its saltiness (see Matt 5:13). The Church of Jesus, which is called to be the spiritual lamp and the moral preservative of society, has fallen asleep. The awakening must begin with us.
This is not to minimize the many acute problems we face in our country today. Abortion on demand still takes more than a million lives a year. The family unit continues to erode. Gay activism continues to challenge our biblical values and freedoms. Human trafficking, gang violence, teen drug use, and a host of other social ills stare us in the face. But our problem is not so much the presence of darkness as it is the absence of light. The finger must first be pointed at us.
You see, it is to be expected that sinful people do sinful things and that worldly people do worldly things. But it is unexpected when those called to be righteous live just like the world, when the sins of the society become the sins of the Church, when it is the world that changes the Church rather than the Church that changes the world. Can anyone really dispute that for the last generation this is exactly what has happened?
It was Dr. Martin Luther King who noted that,
The Church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool.
This certainly cuts to the core of the never-ending debate about the meaning of the separation of Church and state. But King also issued this warning:
If the Church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.
What an indictment of the American Church today. Having lost our prophetic zeal – our consciousness of God, our conviction of sin, our brokenness for the lost, our courage to go against the grain and challenge the status quo, our moral imperative – we have become, in all too many cases, an irrelevant social club. In fact, it would not be that far out of line for many of our religious assemblies to change their marquees to read, “Irrelevant Social Club: Meets Sunday Mornings and Wednesday Nights.”
Without a doubt, there is a godly remnant that is seeking God, reaching out, touching the world, making a difference, but we deceive ourselves if we imagine it is anything more than a remnant. George Barna discovered that the most accurate articulation of the moral standard of today’s Christian teens was “whatever,” while Prof. Kenda Creasy Dean in her book Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church, argued persuasively that the toothless and tepid Christianity found among young people in many of our churches has been inherited directly from their parents.
We have gotten to the point where we hope (rather than take for granted) that the famous pastor or evangelist or teacher whose ministry has so blessed us will not be caught in some kind of moral scandal, while on the local level, millions of people are dropping out of church participation because of boredom and disillusionment. This is not the “glorious Church” for which Jesus died and rose and sent His Spirit. Something is terribly wrong and something is clearly missing.
But it is not time for us to point accusing fingers at this denomination or that leader, at this local congregation or at that TV preacher. Rather, as Ambrose said, “Before God can deliver us, we must undeceive ourselves,” and the awakening that we so desperately need, yes, the awakening that America must have, begins with each of us individually. Each of us must search our own hearts and lives and ask, “Have I left my first love? Have I become cold or compromised? Have the values of the world corrupted me? Have I become polluted by sin?”
As an old evangelist once counseled, the best way to pray for revival is to draw a circle on the ground, then step inside that circle, and then pray, “Lord, revive everything inside this circle.” Let the awakening begin with us.
Dr. Michael Brown is the author of A Queer Thing Happened to America and the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network.
“…. make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you….” -1 Thess. 4.11
Isn’t it remarkable that the same man who gave us the most transcendent statements about the resurrected and ascended Lord could be found making such earthy statements as this one? The same man who declared that we are “seated with Christ” in heavenly places also instructed the churches in the most menial of matters which pertain to the daily grind of life, and I am convinced that it has everything to do with establishing true foundations in the Church.
There is something crucial about the day-to-day reality of life, and how we function within it, that determines the degree to which we will rule and reign with Christ in the age to come. There is a subtle form of Gnosticism in the Church, which sees all matters unearthly as positive, and all matters earthly as negative. It seems right in the beginning, but it actually negates the ultimate intentions of God, who longs to unite heaven and earth rather than to exchange one for the other. In fact, at the end of the age restoration, both heaven and earth will be reconfigured and made new, and God will manifest Himself fully and permanently, abiding forever in the great reality of that union.
When we think of earthly matters as inherently unspiritual, we confine the faith to religious categories and functions, and before long we have chopped up our hearts into compartments that fail to pulsate with the life of God. We begin comparing ourselves with other men, striving for higher spirituality, more esteemed religious positions, and a type of asceticism creeps in.
The apostle Paul, who likely had more spiritual revelation than any man in his day, was also a very nuts and bolts type of man. He could raise a boy from the dead one day, and get blisters from making a leather tent the next day. He could receive prophetic revelation and powerful gifts in a church gathering, and maintain the spirit of prayer and faith while engaging in tasks that we would consider a drudgery.
Paul knew that this unhealthy idea of spirituality could move into the churches, and from time to time he was required to address it.
One of the last hiding places of our carnal ambition is found in our desire to be considered spiritual by other men. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were guilty of this, and ultimately it comes down to the fact that we have not adequately sought the glory which comes from God. We are looking for recognition in an earthbound way, though it is disguised with a spiritual facade.
I have met many men, usually young like myself, who are filled with anxiety and even depressions over the fact that they desire to be in “full-time ministry,” but no door has opened yet. Very often, they are recently married, or fathers of young children, and very often also, they lack a value for their calling as husbands and fathers, and their devotional lives are inconsistent as well. While the Lord may call and send young men to remarkable works, I am convinced that for most, the Lord would have them to focus firstly on learning to walk with Him in the kinds of tasks that we consider menial.
It doesn’t seem like a heroic ambition to “lead a quiet life,” but perhaps one of the greatest hindrances to the Church’s witness in the earth, is that we are too quick to speak and too slow to listen. We want our ministries to be known, our distinctives to be recognized, our names to be exalted. Paul told the saints to be content to lay low, and to allow the Lord to form Christ in us in the hidden places of life so that our public proclamation would bear the weight of heavenly reality.
It doesn’t seem incredible to “attend to your own business,” but this is a necessity for the life which would be built on a true foundation. If our finances are out of order, our children are not rightly loved and disciplined, our spouses are neglected relationally, our devotional lives are sparse, and our work ethic is dishonoring to the Lord, why should we look for the greener grass on the other side? Do we assume that “full-time” ministry will fix all of these issues? We need to “attend” to our own business, and allow the Lord to bring His government into our lives in the nit and grit of daily decisions and activities, or else we have rejected Paul’s apostolic instruction.
Lastly, he calls us to “work with our hands,” which is something both Jesus and Paul did. Can it be said that the hands of Jesus would not have had such healing effect in His ministry had He failed to abide in the Father during His carpentry days? If Jesus was totally submitted to the Father for His entire earthly life, then His carpentry days were just as ordained as the cross and resurrection themselves, but do we ever see it in this way? We are more likely to highlight the raising of Lazarus or some other dramatic event in Jesus’ life, and that is understandable. But the daily grind of sweat and labor in the carpentry shop was just as much a revelation of God as anything else in Jesus’ life, and He means to bring us into an experience and view of the same kind. When we view our “menial” tasks as unspiritual, we open our souls to a numbness towards sonship, and we are more apt to fall into a spirit of complaining or a depressive attitude. But if we make it our ambition to love the Lord and honor Him in the midst of the monotony and grit of daily events, we will see the glory of it in the same way that Jesus did.
However the Lord calls you to work with your hands, the point is that Paul is calling us to a faithfulness in the practical affairs of life, and if we have been unwilling for that, we are not likely to function as leaders in the Body, nor to rule and reign at higher levels in the age to come. The great majority of believers will not be pastors or prophets, teachers or missionaries by occupation, but will function on grounds that seem unofficial spiritually. But if it is in the intention of the Father it is holy, holy, holy, and He calls us to an intimate union with Himself no matter where we are or how we are positioned.
The purposes of God are served in the formation of His servants when they give themselves to labor that is monotonous and predictable, that lacks any kind of flamboyance or charismatic excitement, but requires a steadfast patience and faithful performance, day after day.
…. we need to serve our apprenticeship in the things that are ordinary, unseen and undistinguished. We need to show ourselves faithful in those places so that we can be faithful in the true works of God. This is the sublime wisdom and requirement of God.
(Art Katz, Apostolic Foundations, Burning Bush Press: Bemidji, MN; 2009, p. 16)
Are you surrendered inwardly to the Lord in the unseen and menial tasks? Do you trust Him in hiddenness? Are you willing simply to honor Him by being responsible and faithful with the work He has before you today, even if no man thinks you are spiritual or worthy of esteem? The way that we maintain communion with the Lord in the daily grind, the way that we steward our money and our work, and the way that we treat people when no immediate reward is in view- all of this determines whether or not we are moving into a true experience and expression of the Kingdom of God.
A man may be neck-deep in the work of modern ministry, engaged in all types of seemingly spiritual labors, yet totally out of touch with God who has called him. This is not what the Lord has intended for you. But if we know Him vitally in the midst of the menial and mundane affairs of life, we have come to know Him indeed.
Bryan Purtle is a firefighter and author that carries a jealousy for historical revival, the salvation of Israel, and the recovery of apostolic proclamation and living through the revelation of Jesus Christ. Visit his website at thoughtsuponrising.com.
I promise you, that if you listen to this whole clip and follow along reading the words with an open and prayerful heart, you will literally never be the same again. This is Dr. Michael L. Brown at his best. There are some subjects that Dr. Brown really burns with heavenly unction beyond the normal quality of his teachings. Spiritual Hunger is one of those subjects. I have wept nearly every time I have listened to this clip. I can tell you that, many times in the midst of life, the Holy Spirit has called to remembrance these very words. Let this short audio clip stir your heart to pursue God with everything you are! Whether it is our first time, or a fresh start, let us pursue God like never before.
“Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.”
The word “preserve” here has to do with “keeping something in its original state.” The fact that David is reaching out for another to preserve him implies that he recognizes that he cannot preserve himself. Our original state in God is purity, holy and undefiled from this world. God has taken us out of the mud and washed us as squeaky clean as His very own Son by the blood of His very own Son. David is acknowledging his inability and helplessness to stay clean, remain undefiled or be preserved in purity. The Psalmist often cried, “save me” (Psalm 3.7;6.4;7.1;22.21;31.2). But this cry is different. It is not a cry to be rescued; it is a cry to remain in the rescued state. Not to be made pure, but to remain pure.
I extend to you the God revealed route to a sustained purity and preserving in God, “…for in thee do I put my trust.” All victory begins with this heart, “I can’t do it!” When man reaches the end of himself, there and nowhere else, does he find the beginning of God. Our hearts must cry, “I cannot preserve myself, so I look to you.” A.W. Tozer in the famous book, “The Pursuit of God” said, “faith is the inward gaze of the soul unto God.” Jesus, talking of the salvation that is impossible with men and only possible with God (Matt.19.26), made a parallel with the serpent lifted up in Old Testament (John 3.14). The only path of salvation from the snake poison in the body of the Israelites was to lift their eyes to the golden serpent to be healed. So, when a man simply looks in surrender to Jesus, not only once to be saved, but consistently to be preserved, he finds his glorious rescue and union with God (John 15.5).
None of us did anything to attain our salvation (Eph. 2.8,9). We simply recognized that we could not save ourselves and we cried from a dark pit, the helpless cry of a condemned sinner, “God save me!” God in His mercy reached down and saved us from such a state and doom (John 3.16-17; Romans 8.1; Ephesians 2.1-2). God is not waiting for you to reach a certain point of desperation before He rushes in to preserve or save, He is waiting for you to empty your inward poison by looking away from yourself and unto Him. It is not that He refuses to come to man until, but that man will not respond to His having come to us. Jesus simply summed up all of Christianity in one phrase, “Come to me…(Matt. 11.28).” That isn’t when He saves you, that coming to Him IS your saving.
I submit to you today, that the same utter dependency, total reliance and absolute surrender to God that your soul reached to God with to be born again, is the same cry that must be lived in for the sustained victorious spiritual life. David Ravenhill said, “we never graduate from dependency.” That is the secret. That is the most mature perspective in God that there is. I CANNOT DO IT! I need you, oh, I need you, every hour, I need you.
Jesus said, “the son can do nothing of Himself; I do nothing on my own initiative (John 5.19;8.28).” Oh struggling brother, tired Christian and weak-willed complacent distant follower of Christ, you cannot maintain yourself. As long as you try to maintain yourself, you are already in failure. For no amount of Adamic resolve could ever enter a man into the Spiritual power released only by dependency. Resolve will always dissolve. But by surrender we will never cease to enter. Why is it this way? It is because God Himself is our Salvation (Psalm 38.22). He saved us from a life that doesn’t look to Him. Have you a sensitivity to see that our own life is something so evil, no matter how “good” it seems, that we must be saved from it? A life without the Lordship of Christ requires saving! Leonard Ravenhill said, “the greatest sin in the world…is ‘I can manage my life without God.'” A life still in our own hands is dead. Paul talked about people being, “dead even while they live.”
Jesus told us that only the children enter the Kingdom (Mark 10.14), the poor posses the Kingdom (Matt. 5.3) and the infants have revelation of the Kingdom (Matt. 11.25). Everything in God must hinge upon God. This is why Paul said so boldly, that to lean on any addition to dependency severs you from Christ (Galatians 5.4). There is no other way to have the rule of God truly ruling our lives than for us to declare “my soul says, ‘You are my Lord.'” If He is to be Lord, He can only ascend to the throne in your life by the bankrupt recognition and surrender of total reliance… utter dependency and absolute surrender is required.
Eric Gilmour is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Revival & Evangelism.