Seven Steps to Revival Part 2

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In Part 1 of “Seven Steps to Revival,” I covered the first two steps- Holy Dissatisfaction and Holy Desperation. If you are new to this article I encourage you to read Part 1 dated October 16, 2015 in the Archives of this website.

Holy Separation: Step 3

Holy separation involves separating ourselves from distractions and activities to draw near to the Lord. It begins with prioritizing our schedule so that the Lord has first place in our lives.   Distractions can not only interfere with our family time, they also vie for our personal time with the Lord. The most critical time we have to protect is our time with the Lord. That time will make us better husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, Christians and friends. Our time with the Lord also builds our emotional and spiritual strength and our well-being.

Holy separation includes the need to separate from those who do not share the same passion we have for Jesus. People close to us will either pull us down or draw us up to a higher place of knowing Him. 2 Corinthians 6:17 says, “So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor. And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” If friends are not willing to grow with us, we may have to leave them behind. Our spiritual life is critical because it involves our eternity as well as the eternity of those we will touch.

Unfortunately, there can be people in our lives who are not interested in the Lord, or they have ceased to grow and have become unteachable. If we do not separate from them, we can be pulled back down into the world’s philosophies and sinful lifestyles. Matthew 6:24 affirms, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in).” This verse primarily applies to money, but it also relates to anyone or anything we place as more important than the Lord. The Lord must be first in our lives.

Worldly distractions of entertainment and social activities can also dominate our time and attention. One of the primary passions in our modern culture is entertainment. There is nothing wrong with having wholesome fun, keeping up with friends, enjoying social interaction, and going on exciting vacations. The problem arises when we allow entertainment to become out of balance with the rest of our responsibilities.  Often, we can find ourselves neglecting our spiritual man as things encroach upon our time with the Lord.

Daniel 1:8 “But Daniel determined in his heart that he would not defile himself by [eating his portion of] the king’s rich and dainty food or by [drinking] the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might [be allowed] not to defile himself.” (See Ezra 10:11, Numbers 6:3) Temporarily fasting food, media (such as internet, television, movies and secular books) and activities allows us concentrated time with the Lord. The enemy will use even good distractions to dilute our time with God and draw our attention to other less important events. Even church activities which are good and necessary for our growth must not become more important than our private time with the Lord. By separating ourselves from all distractions, we can return to seeking the Lord, and keeping our hearts on fire for Him. The closer we are to God, the greater discernment we will have to recognize ungodly distractions that weaken our spiritual growth.

God is sovereign but He has given us personal responsibility to walk humbly before Him, obeying His commandments. James 2:24 instructs, “You see that a man is justified (pronounced righteous before God) through what he does and not alone through faith [through works of obedience as well as by what he believes]. Paul also exhorted the church in Philippians 2:12b-13, “work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ). [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.”

The apostle Peter charged the church to become vigilant about their faith by comparing the devil to a roaring lion on the hunt hoping to devour unaware believers by stealing their faith and devotion to the Lord. (See 1 Peter 5:8). The Lord Himself warned us that there would be many who would fall away from the faith. Matthew 24:10-12 warns us, “And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred. And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error, And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, But he who endures to the end will be saved.”

The time of the Lord’s return is drawing near and we must not “assume” everything will be alright if we are not in a living, abiding, passionate relationship with the Lord. The spirit of deception is active in the world today, and the doctrines of men and demons have been etching away at the Word of God in people’s hearts for many years. If we do not know the written word and have it deposited securely in our heart, which is the seat of our faith, we can be vulnerable to secular philosophies. Knowing the written Word only, however, will not be enough to keep us secure to the end. Knowing the written word is not the same as knowing the One Who is the Living Word! For us to endure to the end, we must not only KNOW Him, He must KNOW us. By daily abiding in His presence, He will know us.

“But while they were going away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were prepared went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came and said, Lord, Lord, open [the door] to us! But He replied, I solemnly declare to you, I do not know you [I am not acquainted with you].” Matthew 25:10-12. By separating ourselves from the world’s philosophies and systems, we can become solely devoted to the Lord and then by abiding in Him, we will endure to the end. “Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]–“ Jude 24.

Holy Consecration: Step 4

Holy consecration is a dedication or re-dedication of our hearts to the Lord. For the believer, holy consecration is an act of humility which causes us to acknowledge we have drifted from our previous passion; therefore, we re-commit our hearts and our lives to God’s will and purpose for us. Exodus 19:6a “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation [consecrated, set apart to the worship of God].” (See Revelation 1:6 and 5:10, Isaiah 61:6)

It is God’s mercy and grace to give His people revival, just as it was when He gave us salvation. We did not deserve forgiveness from our sins at the time we were saved, and we do not deserve revival when we have allowed our relationship with the Lord to cool. It is His goodness and kindness that draws our hearts back to Him. The closer we are to the Lord the greater we understand His love and mercy.

Our American culture is all about freedom, individual rights and privileges.   However, there are boundaries to our freedom in America in the form of laws, which are supposed to be for our protection. It is the same in the Kingdom of God. The Lord has established relational, moral and ethical laws by which we are to conduct ourselves. Many of God’s laws now conflict with our American culture and its laws. Under grace, those laws are kept through a relationship of love with the Lord. He does not give us the grace to abuse His law, He gives us the grace to keep His law and that grace comes through intimacy with Him.

Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.”

David is our best example of holy consecration. He had committed adultery and in the process set up a man to be killed in battle to hide his sin. His response to the Lord’s conviction was Psalm 51. David acknowledged his sin, made no excuse, and pleaded to the Lord’s mercy and steadfast love. He also asked the Lord to purify him with hyssop.

Hyssop is a large plant used as a medicinal herb and for applying the blood sacrifices upon the altar of sacrifice. David was asking the Lord to cleanse him of his sin and the root cause of that sin by covering him with the blood of sacrifice. Today, we have an even greater sacrifice, the Lord Jesus, and His blood is enough to cover all our sins. In Psalm 51, David cried out to the Lord, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted and return to You.” (Read the entire Psalm). By confessing our sins which are the cause of neglecting the Lord’s presence, we take a giant step toward revival. When we pray for Him to cleanse us and restore us to a passionate first-love relationship, He will graciously hear and answer our prayer.

Holy separation and holy consecration are necessary steps for us if we are to be restored and renewed through revival. The process removes the guilt of sin and the shame of disobedience. God’s arms are open wide to all who humbly acknowledge their sin and affirm His Lordship over our lives. If He is to be called Lord, He must be Lord in our hearts.  When that happens, we are certainly revived!

Hanging on by a Promise and a Prayer by Larry W. Peebles

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“Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” When I was a child growing up, these words were used to guarantee the truthfulness of a statement made, or the dependability of a promise made. The child making this statement would use this saying to seal his word on a matter of grave importance, offering his life or eyesight as surety. Without a proven history of reliability, something was needed to convince the other party (usually also a child) that one’s word on a given matter was enough.

At a bronze sculptor’s shop in Sedona, Arizona, I saw a casting of an old rodeo cowboy. He looked to be worn by years of bronc riding. He was tall and crusty, leaning on a crutch with one leg in a cast. Looking up at him in awe was a very impressionable young boy. The old cowboy was offering a bit of wisdom, which was also the title of the piece of art. The cowboy said to the young boy “I’ve broken everything but my word.”

More than once in my business career, I have heard the phrase “hanging on by a promise and a prayer”. This was used to describe a company or an individual in a very dire and desperate situation. The outcome was not expected to be good. The pulse of the situation was gone. The legal or the economic entanglements were such that the business was not expected to survive. Hope hinged only on the word of whoever promised help, or who was praying.

We all know people who are very reliable on their word; unfortunately, we also know people who are not very reliable in following through on what they have said they will do. In Matthew 5:37, Jesus said “Simply let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and your ‘no’, ‘no’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” In other words, we should not need to swear by our life or our eyesight or anything else. We should live so that our reputation makes our word on a matter stand alone.

God has such a reputation for keeping His word. The Bible says God’s word is truth. He cannot lie. It goes on to say that the devil is the father of lies, and in him is no truth at all. The Lord spoke to me a powerful example of His truthfulness. (Remember that by words, he created the heavens and the earth, and everything in them, all out of nothing.) He said, while I’m staring at a white wall, “If I said that wall is green, would it be a lie? No, because as soon as I said that wall is green, it would be green.” He cannot lie. His reputation speaks for itself. We are created in His image, and our words need to carry that same impact.

When I think of God upholding His word and His promises, I think of two stories from the Bible. Although there are many more, these two give me a lot of encouragement:

  1. Joseph-the story of Joseph begins in Genesis, chapter 37, and continues to the end of the book. The promise God gave Joseph came at age 17 in the form of two dreams described in Genesis 37: 6-9. The dreams indicated that one day Joseph would be a ruler, even over his father (Jacob) and mother, and older brothers. Out of envy and jealousy, most of his brothers wanted to kill him, but they decided to throw him into a pit until they could sell him as a slave. Traders brought him to Egypt, where he was put in prison after false accusations were made by his master’s wife. While in prison, he was called on to interpret a dream by Pharaoh. The dream foretold of seven years of plenty followed by seven years of drought. Joseph was released from prison, given great power and position in Egypt, and put in charge of preparations for the coming drought. His command was absolute, subject only to Pharaoh. Under Joseph’s orders, huge amounts of grain were stored in the years of plenty. When the drought came and food became short in supply, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy food. On the second such trip, when all the brothers came, Joseph revealed himself as the brother they had sold into slavery. They realized Joseph was not just alive, but held a very high position of authority. From the original dream (the promise), to the pit, to the prison, and to the palace of Pharaoh, Joseph honored God in all he did, and gave Him credit for every favor and success. When he was reunited with his brothers, he gave a moving tribute to God in Genesis 45: 4-7- “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” Joseph not only forgave, he saved the lives of those who meant to take his life. Jacob then moved his entire family and livestock to Egypt to live under Joseph’s rule, provision, and protection. During the time Joseph was in the pit and the prison, held as a slave, he was holding on to a promise and a prayer. He would not give up on the promise because he knew the God who had given him the dream. God fulfilled the promise in a way that amazed everyone–Joseph, his brothers, his father, and even Pharaoh. Biblical scholars believe Joseph ruled as second in command to Pharaoh for over seventy years. He died at age 110, an age considered by the Egyptian culture to be an ideal lifespan. This would have been another indication of divine blessing on his life. Though the pit and the prison were a long way from the palace, Joseph never gave up on the promise that God had given him.

2. Abraham- the story of Abraham begins in Genesis, Chapter 12. In verses 1-3, God said to Abram (later changed to Abraham) “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all people on earth will be blessed by you.” The remainder of the book of Genesis tells the story of Abraham, and his descendants Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. The initial promise to Abram was confirmed to both Isaac and Jacob. The family of Jacob moved to Egypt during the great famine, as described in the story of Joseph. Pharaoh controlled the only food supply. Eventually the land, the cattle, and even the people of Egypt became the property of Pharaoh in return for food. When a subsequent Pharaoh became powerful enough, he also enslaved the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel). The books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy tell the story of the plagues God sent to convince Pharaoh to set the people free from slavery, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the miracles and trials during the 40 years wandering in the desert. While Moses was leading the descendants of Abraham out of Egypt, through the desert, and toward the promised land (“the land I will show you”, from above), God was developing the character of a people He could call His own.

Finally, some 470 years after the promise to Abram, and after the death of Moses, Joshua was chosen to lead the Israelites into the land God spoke of with Abram. Battles were fought as recorded in the Book of Joshua, but God provided victory after victory. In Joshua 21:43-45, Joshua ultimately wrote this brief but beautiful summary of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham- “So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers [Abraham, Isaac and Jacob], and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as He had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” [Emphasis mine.]

God is a promise keeper. The first six books of the Bible point toward the fulfillment of that one promise to Abraham. There are many other stories and events contained in those books as well, and many other promises made and kept, but overall these books detail the great works of God to fulfill that promise. His written word, the Bible, contains hundreds of other promises for the current day believer. These pertain to salvation, the forgiveness of sin, and eternal life, but they also pertain to family, provision, wisdom, health, healing, peace of mind, and joy in the present life. This list is not intended to be comprehensive. There are many good books available on the promises of God, with scripture references on the Biblical basis for those promises.

The point is that we must study His word to understand His promises. Then we must believe that He does not fail to keep His word. We must hang on to the promise, and pray over it. The promise may be one contained in His written word, or it may be a word He has spoken personally. It may be a dream, or a dream He has placed in the heart that will not go away. Whatever the promise, we must not let go, even when it seems like we are going through the pit, the prison, the drought or the desert. God blesses those who believe Him. The palace and the promised land are the rewards for believing God keeps His word. Mary, though a virgin, was told she would deliver the Son of God into the world. Luke 1:45 says “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.”

Remember this scripture from Numbers 23:19- “God is not a man, that He should tell or act a lie, neither the son of man, that He should feel repentance or compunction [for what He has promised]. Has He said and shall He not do it? Or has he spoken and shall He not make it good?” (Amplified Version).

Seven Steps to Revival Part 1 by Kay Keith Peebles

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When our children were younger, our family loved to go camping. It was an inexpensive vacation but it also allowed us to enjoy the resources and beauty of God’s creation. We would build a campfire every evening, upon which we would often cook some of our meal. After dinner, we would snuggle by the warm fire, sharing stories or simply talking with friends and family. I loved hearing the logs pop, and watching the flames dance. By bedtime, the wood logs had burned down to the size of charcoal and the ashes had covered any visible fire. It looked and felt as if the fire was extinguished altogether. Sometimes we would dust off the cooled ashes with a stick stirring the coals. Then we would blow on the coals to cause the dormant fire within to blaze hot again. The greyed coals would turn orange, indicating the fire was still inside. By adding a few more logs and blowing more puffs of air on the coals, the small coals would again ignite into a roaring bonfire. The fire was revived back to life!

For one to revive a cooled campfire, there are several steps necessary to “stoke” the fire to bring it back. It is the same with spiritual fire. There are times when we allow the cares of the world or activities to keep us so busy we become distracted from the presence of the Lord. It is His continual presence that keeps us on fire. When we become lax in our relationship with Him, our hunger for Him can wane. Our passion for the Lord becomes cooled, making us feel dull spiritually, uninspired, and unfulfilled. Revival becomes a necessary remedy for spiritual burn-out.

Revival is a sovereign act of God’s grace. It is not man-made. Revival comes when the Lord discerns our hearts are ready to receive His gift of renewal and transformation. The Lord prepares us for revival by moving us through a process of steps. Each step He initiates opens our heart to a greater level of repentance and humility. When we surrender to His process of preparation, we can then become a catalyst for revival.

Holy Dissatisfaction:

Holy dissatisfaction is the state of being dissatisfied with church as usual and Christian life as normal. The Lord is supernatural. He turns our normal into an adventure of discovering who He is and who we are to become. God is eager to do miracles in people’s lives, but He is waiting for us to allow Him to do them through us. He chooses to use the weakness of man to partner with Him but only God can do a miracle.

It is easy for us to regiment our lives to the degree we become pre-occupied with our agenda, unintentionally leaving the Lord out of our plans. We walk past people all day but our mindset is to remain on our plan. With such concentration, we fail to recognize those around us who may need a prayer, a word of encouragement, or a helping hand. It doesn’t take long for us to become complacent by doing the same routine day after day making us blind to the needs of others, and unable to see the brokenness around us. The Lord desires for us to allow Him to interrupt our “normal” activities to draw our attention to someone’s need, creating a miracle in their life.

We can also become complacent in our worship as well as other church activities. Being a little too content or comfortable with our prayer groups, our fellowship and church meetings, we can slip into complacency without even realizing it. Without some kind of intervention, complacency can easily turn into stagnation where we go through the motions of church life, but the fire and passion for God is no longer in our hearts. Life with God that is real must be passionate, invigorating, challenging and on the cutting edge, even though we also have normal every day activities.

The gift of holy dissatisfaction is intended to shake us awake from our complacent stupor. The Lord desires for us to become dissatisfied until we experience all that He has provided for us to receive. Satisfaction keeps us from pressing forward for more. Holy dissatisfaction motivates us to reach for and obtain what others have already proven is possible with God. John G. Lake (1870-1935) broke the bonds of chronic infirmity and sickness in his family by having holy dissatisfaction. He was one of 16 children in his family and by the time he was an adult, 8 had died from various forms of disease. Rather than allowing sickness and disease to continue killing his family members, he rose up and sought the Lord for healing. His ministry in Africa and his healing centers in the northwestern U.S. had astounding results.

He knew disease was not from the Lord, but healing was. His life was changed when the revelation of Acts 10:38 overwhelmed him. “How God anointed and consecrated Jesus of Nazareth with the [Holy] Spirit and with strength and ability and power; how He went about doing good and, in particular, curing all who were harassed and oppressed by [the power of] the devil, for God was with Him.” Lake amazed the doctors when by faith in the completed work of the cross, he was able to minister healing to plague victims in Africa. Local doctors put him to the test and discovered by placing his hand with live bacteria under the microscope, the bacteria died immediately when it came in contact with his skin. Through faith in God’s healing power, Lake touched and inspired hundreds of thousands of lives around the world.

It is a holy dissatisfaction given to us by the Lord, which causes us to diligently seek Him for more. We must avoid the ruts of ministry and church life which anesthetize us into complacency. Discerning good works from God works is vital to our avoiding a complacent Christian life. Developing a holy dissatisfaction is the antidote to becoming complacent.

Holy Desperation:

The first time I heard the words holy desperation was in the late 1990’s at the Brownsville Assemblies of God, Revival School of Ministry. We were invited to join our daughter’s church for a long weekend in which we not only attended the revival services, we were also allowed to audit several ministry school classes. I went to Dr. Michael Brown’s class. It was in that class He taught on Holy Desperation.

When we are desperate, we are willing to try something we have never done before. We are willing to reach out beyond the limits we have previously experienced, to change the dynamics of our situation. We are ready and willing to do whatever it takes for effective change to occur. Many people have become Christians because they had nowhere else to turn, or they had already tried every other avenue of deliverance except God. Desperate people who call upon the Lord are ripe for total transformation.

Gideon is an example of one who experienced holy desperation. Judges 6:12-14 says, “And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, The Lord is with you, you mighty man of [fearless] courage. And Gideon said to him, O sir, if the Lord is with us, why is all this befallen us? And where are all His wondrous works of which our fathers told us, saying Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian. The Lord turned to him and said, Go in this your might, and you shall save Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” (Read Judges 6:1-8:12).

Through holy desperation, Gideon learned it was not the Lord who had failed His people, it was His people who had failed the Lord. They had erected altars of worship to false gods on their land causing the land to become cursed. The covenant the Lord had made with them was contingent upon their worship of Him only. (See Deuteronomy 5:6-10, especially vs 7 &9). Through holy desperation, when we become willing to face any giants that have hindered us, we become fearless to obtain victory over our lives. Holy desperation gives us breakthrough over seen and unseen enemies, whether the result of our own sin, or spiritual attack.

When we become desperate for more of God, He will be determined to meet us as we cry for more. His Word promises us that if we seek Him with our whole heart, we will surely find Him. 2 Chronicles 15:2b admonishes us, “If you seek Him [inquiring for and of Him, craving Him as your soul’s first necessity], He will be found by you; but if you [become indifferent and] forsake Him, He will forsake you.”   King David knew holy desperation. In Psalms 63:1-2 he wrote, “O GOD, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is. So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory.” (See also Matthew 7:7-8, and 1 Chronicles 28:9).

The complacent are not desperate. We must not develop such contentment with our current understanding of God that we fail to become desperate to fully KNOW Him in all His glory. The Apostle Paul charged the church to strongly desire the spiritual gifts God has for us. The Lord is looking for the passionate and desperate hearts to press in and pursue the things of God and when we do, He will freely give us that which our hearts are yearning to obtain.

Revival is first for those who were once ignited with fire (the church). When the revival fire re-ignites the church, it will then affect those closest to the fire. Then the Lord uses the church, burning with new passion for the Lord, to spread the fire beyond itself to reach the lost. There are seven steps to revival. The first two are Holy Dissatisfaction and Holy Desperation. More on the remaining five steps to revival will follow. If you are hungry for more today and desperate for change, you have entered the process of revival! It is the beginning of an incredible journey with God, but our Heavenly Father has much more for us all. May revival begin in His people NOW!

I Call You Friend by Larry W. Peebles

DSC_0519I have been blessed in my life to have a hand full of good friends. These would not be mere acquaintances, but true friends by every definition of the word. My friends have seen my good and bad sides, and have carried me through both, enduring the celebration that comes from achievement, and keeping me from hitting bottom as a result of disappointment. They truly know me, and like me anyway. My friends come near when needed, often without being asked. They stay in touch for no reason at all. They speak into my life what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. Though we may be separated by many miles, we pick up right where we left off when we come together. They have forgiven me for thoughtless things I have said and done, not because I deserved forgiveness, but because our friendship was more important. These relationships have stood the test of time. I am currently working on a few new friendships I believe will endure, although I have learned to proceed slowly when cultivating an acquaintance into a friendship. There is great joy in having a true friend.

The Bible has much to say on friends and friendship. From the Book of Proverbs, consider

  1. 17:17- “A friend loves at all times.”
  2. 18:24- “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
  3. 27:6- “Wounds from a friend can be trusted.”
  4. 27:10- “Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father.”
  5. 27:17- “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another [his friend-Amplified Version].

The Bible mentions some who were friends of God. In Genesis 5: 21-24, we see that Enoch walked with God 300 years, then he was no more, because God translated him to heaven without him dying. This is confirmed in Hebrews 11: 6, which goes on to say Enoch was commended as one who pleased God. He not only spoke with God and walked with Him as a friend for 300 years, he spoke for God, as we see in his prophesy recorded in Jude 14.

Moses also spoke with God as a friend, face to face in the tent of meeting, according to Exodus 33: 11. God told Moses His presence would go with him as he led the people on the exodus from Egypt, and would give him rest (v.14). In verse 17, God said He was pleased with Moses, and knew him by name. Their friendship was such that when Moses died, God buried him in a place known only to God (Deuteronomy 34: 6). In Jude 9, the archangel Michael was dispatched to handle the dispute with the devil over Moses’ body. God was very faithful to His friend Moses.

Starting in Genesis Chapter 12, we see Abraham followed and obeyed God, and his faith was credited to him as righteousness. God promised to bless him and make his descendants a great nation, as numerous as the stars and the grains of sand. He appeared to Abraham to tell him of His plans to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. God blessed him and his wife Sarah with a son at an old age. In James 2: 23, “he was called God’s friend.”

John Chapter 11 tells the story of Jesus and his friends Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, who were brother and sisters. In Luke 7: 36-50, we learn that Mary had lived a sinful life, yet was so grateful for Jesus’ love and forgiveness she poured an expensive bottle of perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. When Lazarus became sick the sisters sent word to Jesus. Jesus waited and prayed, because He only did what the Father told Him to do. When He was released to go and finally arrived, Lazarus was dead. Jesus was deeply moved and troubled in His spirit. He wept out of great love for His friend and his sisters. Although Lazarus was already four days in the grave, Jesus was not too late. By prayer, He knew what His friends needed as compared to what they wanted. He raised Lazarus from the dead and freed him from the tomb.  A true friend loves the ones said to be unlovable, comes when trouble arises, and by prayer brings them what they need.

Finally, in John 15: 12-15, Jesus gave His disciples the model for friendship that is passed on to all believers. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

The ancients in the Bible that are called friends of God not only knew God, but they obeyed Him out of love and trust. In the Scripture above, we are called to love each other, and to love God. We show our love for God by obeying Him. We do not obey Him because we are slaves. He has our best interest in mind when he calls us to obey Him. If we know and love him, we will trust His intentions for us and His good plan for our lives. We will then obey out of love, not out of slavery. In verses 9-11 of John 15, Jesus says “Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

My true friends here on earth are a highly esteemed treasure. I would not trade them for anything. However, I earnestly desire a friendship with the Creator of the universe. His word tells me He wants that same friendship with me. Such a relationship would complete my joy. Love, trust, and obedience are the keys to being called a friend of God. There is great joy in having a true friend. I will not be fulfilled until I hear Him say “I call you friend.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building A Place of Habitation Part 3 by Kay Keith Peebles

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Jesus faced a major problem! The head leaders of the Jewish faith did not believe in Him and were not wholly obedient to God’s covenant. They had modified the practice of God’s covenant law with their own religious interpretations creating a heavier burden upon the people. Inwardly, they were far from the Lord. Jesus called them hypocrites. They were pretentious to the degree they did not recognize their Messiah when He stood directly in front of them. Their eyes were so blinded to God they categorized Jesus’ miracles as works of the devil. Through their disobedience of God’s Word, their conscience was seared until they were filled with unbelief.

Jesus spoke to them through a parable. Matthew 21:28-31 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He came to the first and said, Son, go and work today in the vineyard. And he answered, I will not; but afterward he changed his mind and went. Then the man came to the second and said the same [thing]. And he replied, I will [go], sir; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of the father? They replied, The first one. Jesus said to them, Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the harlots will get into the kingdom of heaven before you.”

In Building A Place of Habitation Part 1, I explained the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. If we build Him a tabernacle of praise in our life, He will abide with us. In Building A Place of Habitation Part 2, I discussed as we intercede for others, especially the lost, we can construct an atmosphere where the presence of the Lord will draw near to us. In Building A Place of Habitation Part 3, I will show the importance of worship, clarifying a major key to worship. If we will worship Him, He will come.

True worship is not simply singing songs which glorify the Lord. Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, in John 4:24; “God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality).” The verse causes us to question what it means to worship in spirit and truth.

Our first clue is in the above Matthew 21:28-31 passage. Obedience is a vital component of worship. Without obedience, one cannot be a true worshipper of the Lord. Obedience requires humility; proud and presumptuous people are not able to submit to others. We know scripture affirms the Lord resists the proud but gives grace to those who are humble. Grace is not only unearned favor, it is power. God’s grace is the power which enables us to live righteously, being obedient to His Word through a relationship of love, not rules and regulations.

Jesus is our most perfect example of humility and obedience to God. Philippians 2:5-8 explains, “Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility;] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!” (See Philippians 2:9-11).

Everything the Lord did glorified (praised) God the Father. He was and still is our true High Priest Who intercedes for us continually. (See Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25). His death on the cross was the utmost obedience, because He laid down His divinity and walked in purity to die for our sinfulness. As a result of His humility and obedience, Jesus walked daily with an open heaven above Him. An open heaven meant God’s favor, blessing, wisdom and power followed Him wherever He went. Jesus was the perfect example of God and He brought the kingdom of heaven to earth in all He said and did. He was a true, living tabernacle of God’s presence wherever He went on earth.

Near the time of His death and resurrection, Jesus began to prepare His disciples for His departure from earth. He wanted them to know He would not forsake them by leaving them. Instead, He would provide the Holy Spirit to teach them all things. He also wanted them to know what specific attitudes and actions would ensure His presence would always be with them.

The following verse also clearly reveals the relationship between obedience, love, and the presence of God. Jesus speaks to His disciples in John 14:21, 23-24. “The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.] Jesus answered. If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey My teaching]; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him.   Anyone who does not [really] love Me does not observe and obey My teaching. And the teaching which you hear and heed is not Mine, but [comes] from the Father Who sent Me.” (Emphasis Mine).

We know that the Holy Spirit comes to live on the inside of anyone who has received the blood sacrifice of Jesus’ life in exchange for their sins, and has asked Him to live in their heart. The John 14 scripture is not only speaking of an indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but also the outward manifestation of His continual presence with us individually and corporately. Sadly, many people who have become born again through faith in Jesus’ sacrifice do not experience the abiding presence of the Lord with them.

In Building A Place of Habitation Parts 1 & 2, I explained how the Israelites had consecrated themselves to the Lord in order to become God’s people. However, they rejected the opportunity God offered them to live intimately in His presence and hear His voice personally. They did not speak to the Lord face to face individually as Moses did. Moses desired to abide in God’s presence and therefore, he prepared a place for Him to come and dwell with him.

If we want the abiding presence of the Lord with us, we must build Him a tabernacle of praise, intercession and worship through loving obedience. The tabernacle Moses built was a tent where he met with the Lord. Today, it can be as simple as a prayer closet or a quiet room in the home where one can sing/dance, pray and meditate on the Word of God.

David proclaimed to the Lord, “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand [anywhere else]; I would rather be a doorkeeper and stand at the threshold in the house of my God than to dwell [at ease] in the tents of wickedness.” Psalm 84:10. Then Psalm 100:4 proclaims, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, enter his courtyards with praise; give thanks to him, and bless his name.” (Complete Jewish Bible).

The King of all kings and the Lord of all lords has invited us to commune with Him personally. Song of Solomon 2:10, 13-16a (See whole passage) “My beloved speaks and says to me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. The fig tree puts forth and ripens her green figs, and the vines are in blossom and give forth their fragrance. Arise my love, my fair one, and come away. [So I went with him, and when we were climbing the rocky steps up the hillside, my beloved shepherd said to me] O my dove, [while you are here] in seclusion of the clefts in the solid rock, in the sheltered and secret place of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely. [My heart was touched and I fervently sang to him my desire] Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards [of our love], for our vineyards are in blossom. [She said distinctly] My beloved is mine and I am his!”

Not only does the Lord call us to a greater intimacy in His presence, He also gives us many promises when we build our tabernacle for Him. Psalm 91:1-4 assures, “He Who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]. I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust! For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. Then He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.” (Read the entire Psalm).

When Moses asked the Lord to show him His glory, the Lord hid him in the cleft of a rock and passed by him showing him His goodness. His goodness is always revealed in His glory. When we make His presence our priority, we will see His goodness, we will receive His promises, and we will be delivered from all our enemies. Our fears will be vanquished, and His faithfulness will build our trust in Him.

When we pursue His presence making Him our priority, we will become His priority. It is a very precious and holy calling He gives us, “Come away with me”. May we never fear His presence as did the Israelites.

Moses built a tabernacle for the Lord and He changed a nation. Paul built a tabernacle for the Lord and he changed the world. If we build Him a living tabernacle in our lives, He will come to us and dwell with us. When we do, His promise of John 14:12 will come to pass. We will do even greater things than He did on earth, and He will COME! Maranatha (Come Quickly), Lord Jesus.