Monday, August 19, 2013

You Are My Witnesses

Two of my favorite texts in the entire Bible are Acts 1:8 and Isaiah 43:10.


“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NASB (emphasis mine)


’You are My witnesses,’ declares the Lord, And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.’” Isaiah 43:10 NASB (emphasis mine)


There is no doubt that God wants His people to be His witnesses. We see it here in the Old Covenant and in the New Covenant so it is a consistent Biblical truth. Webster’s Dictionary defines a witness as: attestation of a fact or event, one that gives evidence; specifically: one who testifies in a cause or before a judicial tribunal, one who has personal knowledge of something.


A good witness in a trial or court case is one that is credible, and has first-hand intimate knowledge. There are some witnesses in court cases that are referred to as false witnesses, which would be those that are not credible and have no first-hand knowledge, but can only testify to hearsay. In these two verses we see four things that will help us be credible witnesses…beside the obvious of only giving witness to what we have first-hand knowledge of. (This means you can’t be a witness of Grandma’s or Mamma’s faith…only your own)


Number 1, in Acts 1:8, the first thing that enables us to be a witness is the power of the Holy Spirit. Notice Jesus did not say, ‘you will go witnessing’, He said, ‘you shall be My witnesses.’ There is a difference between going witnessing and being a witness that I really don’t have time to get into here, but we are told that we would receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon us, and because of that power, we would be witnesses.


You really can’t be an effective witness for Him apart from receiving the power of the Holy Spirit in your life first. To try and do so in your own power or ability is ludicrous. In fact Scripture clearly states: “Then he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel’ saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.’” Zechariah 4:6 NASB


Number 2, in Isaiah 43:10, we are told that we should KNOW HIM. Until you know God…you can’t be a witness for God. Now I am not talking about getting Born Again when I speak of knowing God. Being Born Again is just getting introduced to God, all that means is that you met Him; it does not mean that you know Him. You could be introduced to the President of the United States, but that would not mean that you know him, it would merely mean that you met him.


The only way you get to really KNOW somebody is to spend time with them, and God is no different. We spend time with Him in His Word, in Prayer and in Praise & Worship. As we do these things we get to KNOW Him. We learn what He likes and what He dislikes. We learn how He thinks and we learn what moves His heart. I have a great relationship with my earthly Father. We have invested all 51 years of my life developing it. But because we have spent so much time together…I Know him…that is the way it needs to be with our Heavenly Father. This enables us to be a witness.


Number 3, in Isaiah 43:10, we are told that we should BELIEVE HIM. Let me submit to you that these things in Isaiah 43:10 are progressive. You have a hard time Believing God when you don’t Know God. But when you KNOW God, you have NO ISSUE BELIEVING GOD! Once you have the spent the time with Him so that you know what He thinks, what He likes and what He feels, it makes it very easy for you to Believe what He says.


Let me go back to my relationship with my earthly Father. Because I know him, if he tells me Mike next Tuesday I am going to give you $500.00 for your birthday…I might just as well take it to the bank. Why? Because I know him and I know his word is good. Well when we get to the same place with God that we know Him so well that we know His Word, we will believe Him. This enables us to be a witness.


Number 4, in Isaiah 43:10, we are told that we should UNDERSTAND HIM. Notice the progression…Know Him…Believe Him…Understand Him. Until you know Him you can’t believe Him, and until you believe Him you can’t understand Him But when you know Him you can believe Him, and when you believe Him you can understand Him.

I go back again to my relationship with my earthly Father. Because I know him so well, I understand why he does what he does, why he thinks the way he thinks and why he acts the way he acts. I know what makes him tick…I get it when it comes to him. So it is with our heavenly Father, because we know Him and believe Him, it makes it easy for us to understand Him. We should understand why God thinks the way He thinks…what makes Him tick. This enables us to be a witness.


If we want to be His effective Witnesses…we must realize these simple truths. God wants us to be His witnesses. He has provided the Power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to be His witnesses. He has made it available to us that through spending time with him through His Word, Prayer and Praise & Worship we could Know Him, Believe Him and Understand Him, enabling us to be His witness.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Way Up Is Down

I remember when I was student at Rhema Bible Training Center back in the 80’s; I took a course called “Submission & Authority”. I learned some principles in that class that have become a part of my spiritual DNA and I have never forgotten them. They have served me in good stead all these years since. How I wish folks in the Body of Christ would grasp some of these things today.


It seems most folks want to exercise authority or be the one in charge. However, in the Kingdom the rules are different than in the world. I was struck by a statement that my instructor made back at Rhema: “The way up is down.” I know that sounds a little strange to us because it goes against our natural human inclinations, but it is the way of the Kingdom.


In the world we do whatever we have to do to get ahead. We will step over whoever we have to get what we want. As long as we get what we want…all is fair and okay is how the worldly sentiment goes. I will exalt myself is worldly devilish thinking. I seem to recall someone who thought that same way:


“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.” Isaiah 14: 12-15 NKJV


It would serve us well to remember that Lucifer got expelled from Heaven for thinking the way he did, so we really shouldn’t think we will get very far in the Kingdom with that kind of thinking. In the New Testament in the Epistles we are given some instructions about our attitudes and our conduct that is a total contrast to the way that Lucifer acted and thought.


“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” James 4:10 NASB


“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” 1 Peter 5:6 NASB


Both of these Scriptures are diametrically opposed to the attitude portrayed by Lucifer. In the Kingdom we voluntarily humble ourselves that God may exalt us. This is what my Instructor meant by: “The way up is down.” If you want to be exalted in the Kingdom, you must first humble yourself. The even scary verse from James’ Epistle is this:


“But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” James 4:6 NASB


It clearly states that God gives grace to the humble, but is opposed to the proud. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to find myself in a position where God is opposed to me…do you?


There is nothing wrong with wanting to get ahead and being exalted in the Kingdom. We just need to learn Kingdom Laws and Protocols…and they are not like worldly laws and protocols. In the Kingdom…”The Way Up Is Down!”


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What Is Revival

If I were to ask most folks in the church what Revival was I am sure I would get several answers, but the most common I would suspect would be when a lot of folks get saved. Is that really what a Revival is? In order to answer the question we really need a good definition of the word Revival.


I heard a definition this past Sunday morning by my good friend Pastor Barry Habib that I really liked. One of the definitions he found was: a new production of an old play. Well we have heard Revival used in that context before haven’t we? Every so often we see or hear ads here in the NY metropolitan area where I live of a Revival of a Broadway Show. What does that mean? In means they are bringing back a show that is an old show but that they are bringing it back in a new way.


We can further understand Revival if we look at the meaning of the root word of Revival which is Revive. I have found a couple of definitions of the word Revive that I really like. 1. To come or bring back to life or consciousness, to resuscitate. 2. To come or bring back to a healthy, vigorous or flourishing condition after a decline.


Now in light of these definitions…does the premise that a Revival is folks getting saved hold water? If we are honest we have to say NO! To bring back to life or to resuscitate indicates that those involved must have had life already. The teaching of the Bible is clear that before a Christian comes to Christ that they are dead in their trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1) So someone getting saved is not coming back to life but rather getting life. Folks getting saved is actually a byproduct or result of a genuine Revival.


Let’s take a look at a couple of Scriptures.


“Will You not revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You?” Psalms 85:6 NKJV (emphasis mine)


“O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.” Habakkuk 3:2 NKJV (emphasis mine)


Notice the highlighted portions of the above verses of Scripture. In Psalms 85:6 it says: “revive us again” and “your people”; while in Habakkuk 3:2 it says: “revive your work”. All of these phrases that I have drawn your attention to refer to the people of God. Those who are not saved yet certainly don’t qualify as “your people” or “your work” do they? It is only after we come into a relationship with God through the completed work of Christ that we become alive to Him.


So going back to our definitions…if Revival is to bring back to life…then bring back to life must mean that the person already had life…right? So can a person who does not have life…be Revived? No they need to get life. Only a person who has had life can be Revived. Notice again in the Scriptures that we looked at Revival is for the People of God…not for those apart from God. “Will You not revive us again?”


So since a Revival is not folks getting saved, but rather a coming back to life of the church or people of God…what should a Revival look like? There are several components to a real Revival. They can be outlined for us in the story of Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple in Matthew 21.


“Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, ‘It is written, [My house shall be called a house of prayer,] but you have made it a [den of thieves]’ Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ they were indignant.” Matthew 21:12-15 NKJV


In this story we see four components of Revival:


·        Purity – Jesus drove out the corruption. He got the sin out. We need to too. Repentance is always a starting point to a Revival.

·        Prayer – Jesus said My house shall be called a house of prayer. A prayer foundation was established, and is still a foundation of a Revival today.

·        Power – Jesus began to demonstrate the power of God as He healed the sick. Revival brings demonstrations of Power.

·        Praise – They began to cry out Hosanna to the Son of David. There will always be a great release of Praise and Worship in a Revival.


I trust these few brief thoughts have been a blessing to you. This is by no means an exhaustive study on Revival…but some thoughts to steer you in the right direction and spurn you on to further study on this subject.