Does a Revival Have to be Traditional to be Genuine?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

Last week I pulled up behind a stopped car at a red light. We both were waiting to make a left turn. The light turned green but the car in front of me just sat there. I politely honked my horn. The car continued to just sit there. Frustrated I decided to just go around the parked car and make my left turn! As I did I almost hit a fire truck with lights flashing and siren blaring! Suddenly I realized why the car in front of me was just sitting there during the green light. Apparently I had my Philips Craig and Dean Best Hits CD blaring so loudly, I could not hear the siren like the car in front of me could. I felt like a fool for honking at the car in front of me and then for trying to just go around it. I thought I knew what was going on but obviously did not really understand the situation.

A couple thousand years ago, Joseph thought he understood the situation when his fiancée Mary got pregnant. Even so, Joseph decided to keep quiet about his suspicions and divorce Mary quietly. Smart man! He did not go off spouting accusations publicly that he would have to retract later. And with the evidence, you couldn’t blame Joseph for thinking he understood the situation. Like Joseph, how slow we should be to judge even when we think we have all the evidence we need for a verdict.

Joseph was a man who loved truth so an angel comes to assure him that what is going on with Mary is nothing sinister, but on the contrary is of the Holy Spirit.

“As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:20 NLT

How often have we been quick to judge something in the church and condemn it because it is not normal or strange to us? While we do not want to fall for a false revival, let’s also be aware that a genuine revival may not come just the way we expect it, just like Jesus did not come the way Joseph expected!

“Let every worker in the Master’s vineyard, study, plan, devise methods, to reach the people where they are. We must do something out of the common course of things. We must arrest the attention. We must be deadly in earnest. We are on the very verge of times of trouble and perplexities that are scarcely dreamed of.” –Ellen White, Evangelism pages 122-123

When it comes to revival for the church or evangelism for the community, let’s not put God in our traditional boxes and limit Him to work within our conventional imagination.

You say, “Oh but we must be so careful we don’t fall for a counterfeit revival!” I understand. So did the angel talking to Joseph. While the situation with Mary was very strange to say the least, the angel assured Joseph it was also Biblical!

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel which means ‘God is with us.’”Isaiah 7:14 NLT

 

So just because something is strange to us does not mean it is not of the Holy Spirit or UN-Biblical! Mary’s situation was both strange and nontraditional while still being absolutely Biblical!

 

So if we see something new going on in the church let’s not condemn it just because it is strange or new to us. Like Joseph, let’s be slow to judge before we condemn something that may actually be of the Holy Spirit. Let’s pray and be open to heavenly Beings leading us in accordance with Scripture.

You may study this week’s SS lesson on revival here.

Glimpses of Our God; God The Law AND Understanding Giver

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.  Psalms 119:34

God not only wants to give us His law, He also wants to give us understanding. I remember one time a friend made some muffins. She gave me some, and before I could take the first bite, her kids were already snickering. Turned out she forgot to add sugar. I could not spit the muffin out of my mouth fast enough! It tasted terrible. Psalms 19 tells us that when the law is combined with wisdom and “light to the eyes” (understanding?) that it is sweeter than honey. Without understanding the law is as bland as those muffins which had no sugar.

To me, nothing is more frustrating and hurtful than to be misunderstood. However, I am far from the only person who has had to live with their motives  misunderstood. In John 12, a woman comes to anoint the feet of Jesus. She wants to show her appreciation for His great love and sacrifice which changed her life. As she pours the perfume on his body, the snickering begins. Her motives are twisted and accusations are made. Her offering is being critiqued by a thief who had no business critiquing her. She continues her worship, doing her best to pretend he is not around. Rightfully so, because what she is doing has nothing to do with him. Its frankly none of his business. Jesus understood and that’s all that matters.

The other day some friends from out of town came to visit. They followed me in their white rental car to the beach. We came to a toll booth and I saw what I thought was their white rental car behind me. I wanted to pay the toll for them so I quickly pulled in front of the car so they could follow me through the booth. The car flashed its lights and honked its horn. That is when I realized it was not my friend’s car but a total stranger. The stranger glared at me and made a gesture insinuating that I was a total idiot to pull in front of someone like that. Never having seen my friend’s rental car before, how was I to know the difference? It was to me an easy mistake. I did not mean to intentionally pull in front of this stranger but they had no way of knowing that, and I had no way of explaining myself to them. They proceeded through the tool both and sped on their way never to be seen again. I am sure they told their friends later, about the idiot who looked right at them and pulled in front of them. That’s not the real story though. And they will never have a way of knowing that is not the real story. Once again I have to live my life being misunderstood.

I know this was a simple little incident. There are people who have had more hurtful misunderstandings than what happened to me at the toll booth. Still, it reminds me that if I have been misunderstood, that there is a very high chance that I have misunderstood others too. Sometimes we think we have all the facts we need to make a judgment when in reality we have no clue. Joseph thought he had all the facts when his fiancé Mary was with child. Thank God he was a just man, and kept his mouth shut about his speculations, because as it turned out he was wrong. Mary was not having an affair. You would have thought he had all the evidence you needed, but thank God Joseph, who was a man of justice according to Matthew 1, was also a man of understanding and compassion. Joseph was a man who honored the law and the seventh commandment, but thank God He also sought understanding, and an angel of God gave it to him, and explained the whole situation about what the Holy Spirit had done in her life. Could it be that we sometimes can misunderstand what the Holy Spirit is doing in the lives of others, and jump to unhealthy conclusions? I believe so. That is why we, like Joseph need to seek for understanding as well as the law. Having the law without understanding is like having muffins without sugar, and I guarantee  you don’t want to know what that’s like!

To study this week’s SS lesson click here.

To download the SS lesson guides to your phone click here.

Thoughts on Loved and Loving: John’s Epistles Lesson 6

Small group Spring Break 033

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Friday’s section of this week’s SS lesson asks the question, “What are ways that we can manifest the spirit of antichrist toward others?”  

I think there are several ways, all of which boils down to pride. For example, many understand Paul is speaking of the anti Christ in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”  

 Do we take God’s place in the temple when we sit in condemnation of our brother? Jesus Himself says in John 5:22, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:” If we decide to condemn a brother are we not trying to sit in Christ’s judgment seat? Are we not making ourselves a “Christ”? 

 It is pride and the spirit of anti-christ that makes us think we can condemn a brother. It is the same foolish pride that makes us think we can save ourselves, or that others must be saved by our standards. In Revelation John writes about the anit-christ and Babylon. Many Adventists recognize the anti-christ as the leader of Babylon. We recognize Babylon as a false system of worship. This is true, but Babylon is more than a system of worship, it is an attitude. 

The attitude of Babylon and the anit-christ is, “I can save myself by my works.” It all started at the tower of Babel when man decided not to trust God anymore and relied on their own efforts to build a tower of salvation. They did not trust God to not destroy them and thought they could work their own way to heaven. Later in the book of Daniel we read where God gave the kingdom into the king of Babylon’s hands. Instead of recognizing this as a free gift, he looks out over his dominion and says, “is this not great Babylon that I have built.” The king of Babylon had to learn that all he had was a gift of grace and not the efforts of his works. In Revelation 14 we read about the fall of Babylon in the second angel’s message. The first angel tells us about the everlasting gospel of grace and uses language which reminds us of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a sign of rest. We rest our faith in God as our creator and redeemer. By giving our allegiance to the gospel and the Sabbath we humble ourselves in recognizing that we did not make ourselves nor redeem ourselves. The Sabbath truth destroys our pride, works, and anti-christ attitudes. Thus Babylon falls, as we realize no man made system of worship is going to save us. Nothing man made can save us whether it is a tower or a day of worship. 

Cain had the attitude of Babylon when he presented the works of his field as a sacrifice. God could not accept any form of worship that had the print of self on it. He could only accept the sacrifice and worship Abel presented which pointed to the Lamb of God, our only hope of salvation.  

 In Galatians 2:20 Paul shows us the pure gospel is “not I but Christ”. Anytime pride tries to make it a combination of our ideas with Christ’s ideas or our works with Christ’s works, we have the spirit of anit-christ and Babylon.

 

You can find more studies and devotionals on my personal website, In Light of The Cross.