As many of you know in February we attended Winter Bible Seminar in Tulsa, OK. Elaine and I have been going to these meetings for close to thirty years, but this year we witnessed something much deeper. In the midst of a wonderful move of the Spirit Pastor Kenneth W. Hagin declared, “we are in the beginning stages of revival! Folks I believe he is right! In the books of Acts, Peter by the Holy Spirit spoke of “times refreshing” or revival.
Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; KJV
Revival is a display of God’s holiness, It is when God moves in a tangible way, where people, even cities become conscious of God, holiness, and sin. Charles Finney called revival a new beginning of obedience to God.
David Brainerd said: “Revival is a manifestation of God. It has the stamp of deity upon it. We cannot explain revival because we cannot explain God. “The wind blows where it wills“. Though we do not understand it fully yet we can and must “trim the sails” and work with it. In others words we must cooperate with God in it.
In everything God does we see two sides; first is the working of God and second the working of men. In our salvation there is grace (God’s side) and there is our response or faith. When it comes to receiving the Holy Spirit the Spirit of God is poured upon a believer and we see the believer’s response speaking in tongues by faith. In every transaction with God there is God’s part and man’s part. So what is “our part” in the move of Go? Let’s look at some ways we can cooperate with the move of God.
Within the book of James we find the greatest invitation ever issued, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (4:8). Stop a moment and ponder this: the Creator of the universe, the earth, and all its inhabitants, requests your presence.
This is God’s unwavering desire. He is the One who has issued the invitation, for He longs to be known by His children. Since the fall of man it has taken thousands of years, intricate preparations, and a huge price to open the way for this kind of close relationship.
Adam knew the Lord openly; but because of sin, or disobedience, was separated from His glorious presence, and his fate extended to all mankind. Men and women could no longer see or know God as Adam once had. But, the Father yearned with great compassion to redeem our fellowship from this terrible separation. In answer He sent Jesus, who’d been with the Father from the beginning, God manifested in the flesh, to pay the price that would liberate us from darkness in order to reconcile us to God, if we receive Him as our Lord.
This reunion of God and man has not been understood nor experienced in its fullest extent. We’ve emphasized the liberation from sin and death, but neglected to declare the intimate fellowship awaiting all who’ve been made free. We find a parallel of this played out in the Old Testament with the descendants of Abraham.
Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage parallels our deliverance from the slavery of sin. Egypt represents the world’s system just as Israel is a type of the church. When we’re born again, we’re set free from the world’s system of tyranny and oppression.
The children of Israel were used and abused by the citizens of Egypt. Their backs were scarred by the whips of Pharaoh’s taskmasters. They had no hope of inheritance as they slaved to build the prosperity of their Egyptian masters. They wept as thousands of their infant sons were put to death by the order of Pharaoh.
Although they suffered all this cruelty they were quick to forget. For even after their deliverance from Egypt, whenever things went wrong they would regret their flight from Egypt and mock their prayers for deliverance with comments like “it was better for us back in Egypt.”
But not Moses; he was the only one for whom the conditions had been better in Egypt; in fact, no one in the world had it better. He was raised by the wealthiest man on earth, lived in the best, ate the best, wore the best, and was taught by the best. Yet He willingly left all this behind, and, unlike the children of Israel, he never looked back nor longed for what was behind.
What made the difference? The answer is Moses had an encounter with God. He saw the fire and drew near. He met the living God in a burning bush on Sinai; Israel did not! When the Lord called him aside he drew near.
Answer this question, “Where was Moses bringing the children of Israel when they left Egypt?” The normal response is “the promised land.” Yet that’s not true. He was headed for Mount Horeb, or Sinai. Remember God’s words to Pharaoh, through Moses, “Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert” (Ex.7:16 NIV).
It was not “Let My people go, so they can inherit a land.” Why would Moses take them to their promised land before first introducing them to the author of the promise? If he first brought them to the promised land they would end up loving the promises more than the Promiser, God Himself.
People who emphasize the blessings of God to the neglect of a relation-ship with Him create disciples who come to God to get something, rather than those who respond to Him for who He is.
The greatest gift of God is to know him and to have a relationship with him. Jesus said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3
Once God is encountered, as Moses experienced, the promises all fall into perspective. Do you remember what Jesus said,” seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. (Matt 6:33) So here is the sum of what Jesus and Moses was preaching and it also happens to be the first point to how we cooperate with God in revival. Seek the giver of the gifts! Ask yourself, “what am I seeking for in this life? You pursue what you value. Are you seeking God and his kingdom or are you seeking your own way?
In the book of James we are being asked to look at our lives and take account. He is reminding us of the God of all promises and admonishes the church to draw near to God. Hear the voice of God in the words of this book of James:
James 4:1-10 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain,” The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Humility Cures Worldliness Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. NKJV