Thursday, September 15, 2011

Big "BUT"

I love the Old Testament.  I love all the times the word covenant is used.   I love how the Lord speaks of how his wrath will be pourred out on a people and you read of all the ways sin will destroy and wreak havoc.  I love the most when he says BUT.  Leviticus 26 is one of my favorites.  It begins with telling of how great the reward for obedience is.  God pouring out his blessing.  Then it gets ugly real quick.  That 'BUT' is a scary but.  "But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you....." 
This was not what I wanted to write about originally this morning.  I had chosen a 'nice' topic.  It was a biblical concept but as I did my research and wrote my thoughts I realized something, there was too many 'I think' statements.  Like I said before, I don't really care if anyone ever reads my words.  I enjoy writing them and God teaches me so much through it, but I want it to be of GOD and not of kristi.  I still tried to rationalize why I should still write on that topic.  I am the queen of rationalization when it comes to doing what I want even when I feel the Holy Spirit pulling me in another direction.  I want to be 'nice' and 'pretty'.  I don't want to be 'offensive' or appear 'judgemental'.  But as I did my bible study and had my time with the Lord I realized that the bible isn't 'nice'.  It is very 'offensive' and 'judgemental' and it is the perfect and inspired word of God that I will not apologize for.  So I decided before I did what I wanted and chose the more 'peaceful' and 'pretty' topic, I better write what God was teaching me like I said I would and not what 'I think'.
A few months back our church had a Revival conference.  That's right, REVIVAL.  Now I don't know about you but when I thought of revival I pictured big tents full of sweaty people holding snakes.  So when I heard our church was going to have one I thought, 'o good grief the pastors lost it':-)  That week though changed my heart, our church, our families, and our outlook.  Of course there was plenty to criticize and question but the over all theme and focus was CHRIST.  I had signed up to receive a magazine that the organization called Life Action Ministries publishes.  The website is is you want to learn more about them or sign up for their publication.
I have picked up and read this magazine off and on since I got it in the mail and today I wanted to share some of it with you.  I need revival.  One of the articles speaks of taking a piece of chalk, drawing a circle around yourself, and pray "Lord God, send revival, and begin it right here in this circle!"  What is Revival?  Once again I think the author of the article puts it better than I ever could: "Revival is the soul's craving to see a touch of heaven on earth; to see our Lord honored in glory and power.  This cry isn't a methodology or pat formula for spiritual success.  Instead, God blesses an attitude of heart that retraces the circle, steps inside, and cries out "Please, Jesus, come!  You are our only hope.  We know that Your Word offers great and precious promises.  Begin your reviving work here, for Your glory!  Jesus, start revival in this circle!"
Well that's great and all but how does revival happen.  The same way any other conviction happens.  Only through the Holy Spirit breaking our hearts and bringing us to repentance.  We cannot force this.  We cannot research enough, speak out enough, love enough, work enough, or do any other human thing to bring about what only God can.  We can pray for brokenness, for the Holy Spirit to reveal to us areas in our lives where we have gone astray and sinned against our holy God. 

How the author laid it out (his research, not mine):

Begin with humility:  Psalm 51:17, James 4:6-10
Get honest about your sin: Isaiah 59:2, Psalm 51, and 1 John 1:9
Repent!:  Ezekiel 18:30-32, Psalm 139:23-24 and Acts 26:20
Embrace and extend forgiveness: Acts 24:16, Matthew 6:14-15 and Ephesians 4:31-32
Align your life with God's Word: Psalm 119
Pray fervently for revival:  Isaiah 64 and Joel 2:12-32

I need personal revival.  I need to draw a circle around myself and pray for God to break my heart for what breaks his.  Ask him to reveal to me my sin and convict me and lay his hand so heavy upon me that I turn to him for forgiveness.  We need corporate revival.  We as a culture, a nation, and even a church need to repent and seek His face.  But may it begin with me and each of us individually.
Leviticus shows many characteristic of who God is.  His love is of course evident but my favorite is His absolute, unwavering, uncompromising demand to be center of our lives.  He will not stand for or accept anything less.  He will be Lord.  He has the power to do any number of horrible and not so gentle things to us to show us that He alone is Lord.  I like how he says, "If after all this you still will not listen to me...."  and it continues in how he will punish us.  I am thankful that all the times in my life where I ignored the Holy Spirits convictions causing the Lord to keep on convicting me and breaking me of my pride to bring me to a place of repentance.

"But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers, their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies-then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.  For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its sabbath while it lies desolate without them.  They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees.  Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies i will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them.  I am the Lord their God.  But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to their God, I am the Lord."  Leviticus 26:40-45

Our God is gracious, powerful, loving, just, holy, perfect, and to be praised for He is the Lord.  We need revival but may it begin in me.

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