Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Fresh Encounter: God's Pattern for Spiritual Awakening Chapter 13 & 14 Review

 Fresh Encounter: God's Pattern for Spiritual Awakening

By: Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King


Chapter 13 Review - The Role of Prayer in Revival

Prayer is a very powerful tool graciously given to every believer.  But what is prayer?  Simply put: Prayer is communicating (speaking) to our heavenly Father.  

Through prayer we confess sins, ask for forgiveness and commit to live for God's glory.  In theory prayer sounds pretty straight forward and easy.  Yet for many prayer is difficult, lacking and shallow.  Why?  Of course every person will have a different story and issue when it comes to prayer.  But generally speaking, I'd say that two of the major issues in prayer is (1) knowledge and (2) commitment.  

(1) Knowledge: What do I mean?  It's difficult to talk with someone you don't know well.  Think of your closest friends.  Conversation is easy and flows.  Now think of meeting a stranger for the first time.  Conversation seems choppy and shallow.  The foundation to a great prayer life is a solid understanding of who God is as revealed in the Scriptures (Bible).  

(2) Commitment: What do I mean?  Obviously when you are talking to the God of all the universe it's different then talking with your good friends.  Whenever we encounter God through reading the Bible and prayer there is an expectation of change.  As believers we have committed our lives to becoming more like Christ.  Prayer forces our hands.  How can we come before a holy God and not walk away committed to being different than we were before?  I fear many believers don't pray because they don't want to be faced with having to choose between God and their sins.  

These ideas lead us to page 172 where the authors write:

Today many want to see revival come, but they are not prepared to cry out to God in prayer with the fervency and humility required. Jonathan Goforth noted, "The history of revival shows plainly that all movements of the Spirit have started in prayer." 

Then on page 181 they write: 

Are you willing to adjust your lifestyle significantly enough to be the kind of prayer warrior God will use to change your family, your church, your city, your denomination, and your nation?

The key to a vibrant prayer life is our willingness to acknowledge that God's ways are better than our ways.  His will, His desires, His paths, His plans...ALL better.  And you will know His will, desires, paths and plans when you know Him personally.  Therefore, study the Bible to know more of who God is and pray with an expectation of committing to becoming more like Christ. 


Chapter 14 Review - Corporate Hindrances to Revival 

On page 184 the authors write: 

One of the major reasons revival has not yet come - despite multitudinous praying, conferencing, and organizing - is because of corporate hindrances. Corporate hindrances are church practices that hinder rather than facilitate revival.

By allowing unbiblical theology as well as secular methodology to permeate their activities, church practices can actually quench the Spirit's work rather than promote it. In this chapter we'll consider eight obstacles to revival prevalent among churches today.

These eight obstacles are outlined on pages 184-191: 

(1) Misleading Terminology, (2) Misdirected Appeals, (3) Mistaken Compassion, (4) Misplaced Priorities, (5) Misleading Revival Terminology, (6) Misdiagnosed Symptoms, (7) Misguided Relationships and (8) Missing Prayer. 

Just as individuals are in danger of straying from sound biblical teaching so is the church.  The church must diligently work to stay true to God's plan and design for His church.  We must remember that numbers isn't the goal...glorifying God is the goal.  Yes, we pray that many will be saved but we don't seek numbers at the expense of being obedient to the Word of God.  Remember, a church with 50 people attending could be more faithful in glorifying God than a church of 50,000.  

The church is called to make disciples, not to have mega marketing campaigns to get more people.  As a church we must continually remind ourselves that God's ways are better than our ways.

May we at WFBC seek to glorify God as He has commanded us in the Bible.  

Monday, April 12, 2021

Fresh Encounter: God's Pattern for Spiritual Awakening Chapter 12 Review

Fresh Encounter: God's Pattern for Spiritual Awakening 

Authors: Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King


Chapter 12 Review

Chapter 12 focuses on the fruit of revival.  On page 157 they quote Arthur Wallis: 

"Clearly it is the saints, not the sinners, that are primarily involved in revival. The quickening of the saints is the root, while the saving of the sinners is the fruit."

They continue on page 157 with: 

Although authors define revival and spiritual awakening in various ways, we see a distinction between revival and spiritual awakening. Revival is for God's people, for Christians who have given their lives to Christ but whose faith has wavered and whose spiritual vibrancy has waned. Revival renews the flames of fervent love for Christ the believer once knew. Revival brings God's people back to Himself. Spiritual awakening applies to the unbelieving world. It involves the conversion of a great number of people over a brief period of time. It is evangelism on a massive and rapid scale. Spiritual awakenings generally occur after God's people have been revived. 

Too often I think we misrepresent revival.  Often when we talk of revival we speak of people getting saved.  When in reality we should be looking to ourselves and how we have lost focus.  It's easy to see that others have an issue that needs to be fixed; it's difficult to look into the mirror and admit that I have an issue that needs to be fixed. 

This is true for the church body as a whole as well.  Rarely do we see churches, as a whole, repent and change how they operate.  Why?  Honestly I'm not sure.  Maybe it tradition, pride or selfishness.  I do know that each church is different and should seek Christ to show them how they have fallen short; rather than comparing themselves to others.  

On pages 157-158 the authors continue writing: 

Brian Edwards noted there is "little that is new" in revival.  That is, all the elements of revival, such as preaching, singing, praying, testifying, and repenting are activities that ought to characterize the church at all times. Edwards notes that revival is not normative Christianity. It is restorative Christianity, bringing God's people back to where they should be. Says Edwards, "Revival is not normal any more than spiritual decline and backsliding is normal. These are opposite ends of the normal life of the church. Revival is supernormal and backsliding is subnormal."

Being in the mist of revival sounds like a great place to be! And it most certainly is, but revival is designed to pass.  Once we are revived it's time to get to work.  Ephesians 2:10 (CSB) says:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. 

Some things to remember...

Christianity is both individualistic and cooperate.  Individually, we need to glorify God with every aspect of our lives.  Corporately, we worship God together to encourage one another's faith. The goal of revival is to impact both aspects of Christianity...the individual and the body.  

What is the fruit of revival?  Simply put, we become more Christian.  Individually, we should have a renewed love for God's Word, prayer, loving others and sharing the gospel.  Corporately, we should have a renewed love for God's Word, prayer, loving others and sharing the gospel.  Ultimately, our church experiencing revival is directly connected to us individually experiencing revival.  

If you are unwilling to change...you maybe the reason we, as a church, hasn't experienced revival.  May we each seek revival so that we may experience revival together! 



Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Fresh Encounter: God's Pattern for Spiritual Awakening Chapter 9 & 10 Review

 Fresh Encounter: God's Plan for Spiritual Awakening

Chapter 9 & 10 Review

By: Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King 


Chapter 9 Review

In chapter 9 the authors focus on the concept of discipline.  On page 105 they write:

Modern Christians have lost the fear of God. People no longer believe God rebukes His people. Many think the God of judgement and wrath is found only in the ancient pages of the Old Testament. They believe the God of the New Testament is characterized by love and grace. Such thinking reveals a skewed and limited knowledge of what Scripture reveals about God. 

For God said, "For I am the Lord, I do not change" (Mal. 3:6). "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8). The God we discover in the New Testament is the same God revealed in the pages of the Old Testament.  The Lord is one. He doesn't change.

There are two specific places in Scripture that I think of when considering God's discipline of His people.  Of course there are many more but we'll just quickly review (1) Acts 5:1-11 and (2) 1 Corinthians 11:27-32.  

In Acts 5:1-11 we read the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira.  They lied about money given to the church and God struck them dead.  This story reminds us that in the NT God still takes sin seriously.  While God is full of grace and love, He is also full of wrath and justice.  We see a couple who didn't take the commands of God seriously and it cost them their lives.  

In 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 we see people are getting sick and dying because they are partaking of the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner.  Paul explains to the church of Corinth that glorifying God is a serious calling.  Too often we approach worship half-hearted.  

Discipline maybe difficult at the time, but it is necessary for our sanctification.  While living in a broken, fallen world it can be difficult to discern what is discipline from the Lord or spiritual warfare.  On page 120 the authors encourage us to ask three different questions when we face hardship.

When hardship comes, always ask: (1) Is this an ordinary life experience that comes to every person who lives in a decaying body and a sin-filled world? (2) Is God using these events in my life as a means of pruning me so I become more like Christ? (3) Or is my condition an expression of spiritual warfare since I am a Christian who serves God in an evil and spiritually darkened world? 

Whether your hardship is discipline, spiritual warfare or just a typical day living in a fallen world...remember the James 1:2-4 (CSB): 

Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. 


Chapter 10 Review

In chapter 10 the authors focus more on repentance.  On page 127 the authors write: 

The word repent indicates a turning away from sin and a wholehearted return to our love relationship with God. Henry Scougal noted: "Repentance is a delightful exercise when it floweth from the principle of love." Remorse is inadequate. Behavior modification is ineffectual.  Returning to religious activity is futile. Confession is part of repentance in that we acknowledge our wrongdoing, but repentance involves a broken heart and a decisive return to God. Repentance without absolute humility is not repentance at all; it is at best rededication. "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death" (2 Cor. 7:10). 

On page 128 they continue: 

Three fold process of change: (1) an adjustment of attitude, (2) a change of heart and (3) transformed desires and actions. 

Repentance is a word that seems to be missing from too many believers' lives.  Yes, repentance plays a vital role in one's justification but it also plays a vital role in our sanctification process.  A sign of maturity is a believer who's life is marked by repentance.  

On page 137 the authors conclude chapter 10 with this statement: 

As long as Christians are content with their sin and the present level of their spiritual vitality, they will remain as they are, or they will continue to decline. However, the Holy Spirit is always working to open people's spiritual eyes to the reality of their spiritual condition. When they recognize their woeful condition, they must confess it and fervently turn from it.  When God's people renounce their sin, the Holy Spirit's power is unleashed among them. Most of the great revival movements in history began when God's people grew weary of their sin and repented of it. 

Such profound movements of God among His people compel us to ask the same question the saintly Robert Murray McCheyene regularly asked: "Is the desire of my heart to be made altogether holy?" 

How we respond to our sin will determine the health of our relationship with our heavenly Father.  May we all seek repentance. 


Monday, March 22, 2021

Fresh Encounter: God's Pattern for Spiritual Awakening Chapter 7 & 8 Review

Fresh Encounter: God's Pattern for Spiritual Awakening 

By: Henry & Richard Blackaby and Cluade King 


Chapter 7 Review

On page 84 the authors challenge the readers to consider some personal questions to consider to determine if you are in need of revival: 

One of the dangers that believers face is reading the Bible is assuming it applies to others rather than themselves.  Taking time for personal reflection is important.  Psalm 139:23-24 (CSB) says:

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns.

See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way. 

Throughout the OT we see God establishing festivals and feasts for personal reflection; for example: Passover Feast, Feast of First Fruits and Feast of Trumpets. On page 85 the authors explain: 

Solemn assemblies were days for God's people to gather for a sacred task. There were prescribed as times to: demonstrate obedience to God, His commands and decrees; remember God's provisions for His people; acknowledge God's ownership of all their resources; offer sacrifices; recognize God in His holiness; confess and repent of personal and corporate sin; renew fellowship and the covenant with God. 

So, how do we apply the principles found in the OT festivals today?  God has given us various opportunities to seek and know Him. To name a few avenues of growth and renewal...through the Holy Spirit we are able to (1) enjoy personal time with the Lord studying His Word and praying, (2) corporately worship the Father on the Lord's day, (3) worship through tithes and offerings and (4) live a sacrificial life as described in Romans 12:1-2.  

Submitting to God's ways is vital for the believer.  Too often we "take matters into our own hands".  It would do us well to memorize Isaiah 55:8-9. 

Isaiah 55:8-9 (CSB) says:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways." This is the Lord's declaration.

For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 

On page 93 the authors state: 

And it is critical that we familiarize ourselves with the ways God revives His people, for those are the same ways He will seek to revive us and our church as well. 

God has a specific plan for His people.  We must SUBMIT to His desires.  


Chapter 8 Review 

In chapter 8 the authors focus on the goal of revival...restoring our relationship with our Heavenly Father.  All that God has, is and will do with and to us is for that aim...an intimate relationship with Him.  Throughout Scripture it appears that revival has a pattern.  The authors explain the various phases of revival on pages 97-98. 


The purpose of discipline, correction and a call to repent is center on having a right relationship with God.  On pages 98-99 the authors recap "God's Purpose for Revival".  They sum this up with two phrases: God pursues a love relationship and God calls people to work with Him (page 99).  

In conclusion on page 103 the authors write:

God is on mission to redeem a lost world. He could use any method at His disposal, but He chooses to work through a holy people consecrated to Him and for His purposes.  When God's people sin and turn away from their covenant relationship with Christ, they are no longer in a place to serve God and to bring Him glory.  God will discipline His people and draw them back to Himself.  Once God's people repent and return to Him, God forgives and cleanses them and will use them once again to accomplish His purposes. God takes our relationship with Him extremely seriously because out of that relationship our life has meaning and purpose as we relate to Him and serve Him. 

Your will be most satisficed in life when you are walking with Christ in obedience to His Word.  Our Heavenly Father is the source of all great things.  Seek Him, not the world.  Live for Him, not yourself.  Long for revival personally and corporately.  Desire an intimate relationship with Him.  






23 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Fresh Encounter: God's Pattern for Spiritual Awakening Chapters 5 & 6 Review

  Fresh Encounter: God's Pattern for Spiritual Awakening 

 By: Henry & Richard Blackaby with Cluade King 


Chapter 5 Review

In chapter 5 the authors spend a lot of time focusing on God's standard, which is clearly revealed in His Word.  An exert from page 60-61 sums up their thoughts:

Those who experience revival are people with a deep reverence for God's Word and a readiness to obey what it says. The Bible declares: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). While Christian churches routinely preach and teach from the Bible, Stephen Olford suggested that in times of revival, "God's word comes alive." Then the Bible is not only preached; it is proclaimed with conviction. Martin Lloyd Jones observed that revival never begins in churches or denominations where fundamental doctrines of the faith are comprised. Brian Edwards said it more plainly, "Revival never begins with the liberal wing of the church." Spiritual renewal comes when God's Word is fearlessly and faithfully preached and taught. Octavious Winslow observed: "Nothing perhaps more strongly indicates the tone of a believer's spirituality, than the light in which the scriptures are regarded by him." God expects His Scriptures to be preached, taught, and obeyed reverently and wholeheartedly. In the atmosphere of scriptural fidelity, revival is most likely to occur. Conversely, nothing is more deadening to spirituality than careless treatment of the Bible and its instruction.

The importance of God's Word in the life of a believer cannot be overstated.  Two words that impact ones ability to know God and live out the Scriptures are (1) theology and (2) doctrine. 

Simply put, theology is the study of God.  Therefore, every believer is to be a theologian.  We should desperately seek to know God as He has revealed Himself in His Word.  The Bible is not only the primary source of information about God, it is the only source.  We are to test every claim about God and life to the truth found in the Scriptures.  Yes, we can learn from others but we must always make sure what we are hearing is rooted in a faithful understanding of the Scriptures.  God has given us His Word, so that, we may know Him.  Conclusion: believers should be theologians. 

Doctrine is the set of beliefs that is a direct result of sound theology.  As you study to know God (theology) you are able to understand what God teaches about a particular topic (doctrine).  Ultimately, your doctrine will impact how you relate to God and the world. True and faithful doctrine will cause you to have a right view of God that leads you to glory God with your actions.  False doctrine will cause you to have a wrong view of God that leads to disobedient actions against God.  Conclusion: believers should embrace and practice true and faithful doctrine rooted in the whole counsel of Scripture. 


Chapter 6 Review

In chapter 6 the authors review several examples of revival in the Old Testament.  On page 67 the authors say:

Revival is a biblical phenomenon mentioned throughout the Old and New Testaments. Scripture records numerous instances when individuals repented of their sin and were restored in their relationship with God. The Bible also testifies to the many times when God's people repented corporately and committed themselves afresh to the Lord. While Scripture records a wide diversity of revival experiences, there are also some common threads woven throughout each one.

Throughout the Bible two main characteristics of revival are (1) repentance and (2) God's Word read and applied.  

What is repentance?  Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow of sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and seek Christ while giving your all to walk in obedience.  Repentance is much more than just saying "I'm sorry".  It is a call to leave sin and to faithfully adore and follow the King of kings and Lord of lords.  Too often believers think they are living a life of repentance but they aren't actually living out a biblical view of repentance.  Unless you fully turn to God in complete surrender, you have not repented. Repentance will cause us to change our actions.  Jesus even tells us to go to extreme lengths to weed sin our of our lives in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7).  Conclusion: true repentance will ALWAYS produce a lifestyle change leading us to live out the commands of God found in the Bible.  

God's Word read and applied seems pretty simple and straight forward.  Yet, it seems to allude much of the church today.  People are opting for touchy feely pep talks over sound biblical teaching and preaching in droves.  Even in devotional life we see many only digesting devotional books that take one scripture and then tell stories.  Reading through books of the Bible is the best method of studying the Scriptures.  Why?  Because that is how the Bible is given to us and it helps us understand the context of particular verses. One of the great dangers of the believer is taking a verse out of context that results in an error in theology and/or doctrine.  But we can't just read the Bible, we MUST do what it says.  You could memorize the entire Bible but if you never apply it...you have achieved nothing.  Conclusion: believers must be faithfully reading the entire Bible in context while applying to to their daily lives. 

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Fresh Encounter: God's Pattern for Spiritual Awakening Chapter 4 review

 Fresh Encounter: God's Pattern for Spiritual Awakening 

 By: Henry & Richard Blackaby with Cluade King 

Chapter 4 Review

Chapter 4 explores the reality that believers are prone to wonder.  We will explore this subject through varies subheadings.  


Loss of Focus leads to Self-centeredness

The authors begin by sharing a brief overview of the life and story of Jonathan Edwards.  God used Edwards in a mighty way during the First Great Awakening and the church he was pastoring.  And even after the great awakening had passed God was generous to send revival once again to their church.  Yet the people loss focus of what really matters and fired Edwards as pastor soon after.  

Quoted from page 42: "Here was a congregation at the epicenter of a great awakening. Yet some people in the church were disoriented to God to the point of ousting their pastor and quenching the Holy Spirit's work." 

We can quickly become discontent with God when we take our eyes off of His glory and will and place our focus on ourselves.  Our personal desires are not naturally in alignment with God's desires.  Sin has caused us to become disobedient, self-centered creatures constantly challenging and rebelling against the Creator.  Throughout Scripture we are called to have our hearts and desires changed through the gospel and conformed to God's desires.  Romans 12:1-2.  "Be transformed."  


The Temptation of Good Works

Through His word God has clearly given us guidelines for life: commands, rules, tasks, missions...for example.  In Deuteronomy 30 we are asked to do three things: (1) love Him; (2) walk in His ways; and (3) keep His commands (page 43).  Often we desire a list of dos and don'ts.  We have convinced ourselves that we are naturally good and, therefore, can be good in our deeds under our own power.  The authors remind us that this is not the case on page 43: His ways are contrary to our own self-destructive inclinations and foreign to the world's dangerous temptations.

Our good works are ONLY as a result of a life submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, the source of good works is always God alone.  That is why we are called to die to self (Luke 9:23, Galatians 2:20).  When we begin taking credit for the work of God in our own lives and in the life of the church...pride has taken us into a place of self-exaltation.  Which will lead us to believe that we can accomplish the work of God on our own terms void of His guidance or will. This is when our heart begins the shift from being submitting to God to becoming self-focused.  When we are self-focused we begin looking to the world for answers and wisdom.  We begin placing our hope in programs and plans devised by man.  And we will find ourselves stepping out in action and then praying for God to bless "our" work...rather than first praying and asking God to bless "His" work.  

The authors explain the dangerous shift from God-focused living to self-focused living on page 45.

Apostasy does not begin with wrong activity.  It originates from a change of heart. Alienation from God follows a downward course. It commences as a distraction. Your focus is diverted from God to your circumstances, to people, or to worldly enticements. People seldom realize what is happening until they have drifted far from Him. They begin struggling to obey Him. They make ungodly choices, rationalizing their neglect to follow what God says. They grow comfortable in their worldly living so their hearts are impervious to the Holy Spirit's call to return.  Eventually they turn to substitutes for God. Idols do not condemn their sin or convict them of their ungodly behavior. Substitutes do not hold them accountable or ask them to do things they do not want to do. Eventually, like the Israelites of old, they "worship other gods and serve them" (Deut. 30:17). This is how a person, a family, a church, a denomination, or even a nation departs from God.

 

Backsliding

The process known as "backsliding" is gradual. It is much like a marriage that degenerates from devotion, to inattention, to apathy, to neglect, to enmity, and finally to rejection. Forsaking a loved one does not normally occur instantly or with a solitary act. It is a process that, if left unchecked, leads to enormous pain. (page 46)

As odd as it may sound I believe the Christian that is backsliding rarely notices their backsliding until something devastating has happened in their lives.  In John 14 Jesus clearly teaches that our love for Him should cause us to keep His commands.  Therefore, I believe our number one weapon against backsliding is developing and strengthening our love for Christ.  How do we do this?  We seek Him with our whole being.  Not a portion of our life, thoughts or actions...with all of ourselves.  We read the Bible, pray and by faith follow all His commands in Scripture.  You cannot love someone you never spend time with.  We must find time to have a personal relationship with our heavenly Father.  There is no substitute for spending time alone with your heavenly Father. 

I understand this is a lot easier said than done.  But it doesn't change the reality of the situation.  We must desperately seek to love God.  And out of that love obedience will be produced.  Too often we reverse the formula.  We somehow think that our obedience will produce love.  In Galatians 5 we are told to walk in the Spirit and when we do this we will produce the fruit of the Spirit.  We are not told to produce the fruit leading to walking in the Spirit.  The relationship comes first...then the fruit. 

On page 47 the authors put it this way...

Jesus announced that it is spiritually impossible to love Him and not to obey Him. The symptom is disobedience; the malady is lovelessness. Love will obey. We may strongly protest and say, "Lord, it's not that I don't love You; it's just that I'm having trouble obeying You." God would say, "If you are struggling to follow Me, it is because you do not love Me." If you misunderstand this truth, you will always be frustrated in your attempts to get right with God. You will vainly attempt to reform your behavior, and you will inevitably fail. Do you know how to solve a disobedience problem? Return to your love relationship with God. Then you will resolve the obedience problems in your life. "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16). 


God Alone Satisfies 

Today large numbers of people are turning to sexual relationships or to other forms of human relationship to satisfy needs only God can meet. No human can fulfill the spiritual longing that is present in every person. God reserves the right to that deep, personal place in our hearts. Yet we seek to comfort ourselves in relationships, passions, pleasure, academia, sports, or various other pursuits. None of these satisfies our spiritual thirst for living water. That is a need only Jesus can meet. (Page 50)

I have no doubt that the average Christian would boldly proclaim that God alone satisfies, but their actions rarely support this proclamation. Despite saying we believe that God is all satisfying...whenever we find ourselves "feeling" discontent with our lives or an aspect of our life we quickly turn to the things of the world.  Whether it's jobs, sports, family, drugs, alcohol, hobbies, relationships, marriages, kids, school...these things are not all satisfying in themselves, yet too often our actions tell a different story.  Yes, these things may temporarily satisfy...but that is a false satisfaction meant to deceive you.  True satisfaction is everlasting.  Jesus explains this to the woman at the well.  She was seeking temporary satisfaction in water from a well...but Jesus was offering eternal satisfaction through Himself (the living water).  Don't be fooled...there is nothing that can satisfy your soul outside of Christ Himself.

Why is it so dangerous to seek satisfaction in the world?  Because those things in which we believe satisfy our soul will become objects of worship.  Developing idols of the heart is a constant, dangerous temptation for the believer.  On page 50 the authors put it this way: 

The Bible is filled with examples of people who chose alternates for God. Throughout history God's people have continually rejected God to pursue the favored idols of their day. We are as vulnerable to this temptation as any generation before us. Anytime we turn to anyone or anything when we should be turning to God, we reveal the idol in our lives. 


Substitutes for God

A major tragedy of the Christian community is that individuals and churches often exchange work, ritual, religious activity, advertising, buildings, and programs for a love relationship with God. Where we once turned to Him, we now look to someone or something else. (page 52)

The authors close out chapter 4 by outlining substitutes for God on pages 53-54 as shown in the outlines below: 

 



Conclusion

The Bible teaches that God is jealous of our love. He created us and deserves our devotion. As a result God is the relentless enemy of any thing that challenges His rightful place in our lives. (page 54)


Monday, March 1, 2021

Fresh Encounter: God's Pattern for Spiritual Awakening Chapter 1 & 2 Review

Fresh Encounter: God's Pattern for Spiritual Awakening 

 By: Henry & Richard Blackaby with Cluade King 


Chapters 1 & 2 of the book Fresh Encounter explores the biblical expectations of a normal Christian, a normal church and what is revival.  

What does it mean to be a "normal" Christian?  On page 3 they list 8 basic characteristics that should describe the normal Christian.  

It seems we have come to the point where a biblical Christian is seen as a "superstar" Christian.  How could that be?  I believe the lack of strong accountability has led us to this point.  We rarely hold one another to a standard of holiness.  Have you placed people in your life to challenge and encourage you in your faith journey?  

What does is mean to be a "normal" church?  On page 7 they list 7 characteristics of a "normal" church.


It seems that churches are easily distracted these days.  We get focused on things that are trivial and ultimately have no eternal value.  Churches are splitting over carpet color, buildings, music styles, programs...and all the while doctrine and theology are of little value. How are you using your giftedness to strengthen and encourage the church?  

Then that leads us to ask the question; what is revival?  

On page 15 they define revival as; a divinely initiated work in which God's people pray, repent of their sin, and return to a holy, Spirit-filled, obedient, love relationship with God.  

We need revival when we have fallen into unrepented sin and strayed from "normal" Christianity and being a "normal" church.  When we find ourselves in need of revival we must pray and ask God to send revival.  We can experience revival as individuals and/or as a church body.  

If you are in need of personal revival you can turn to Psalm 51 to see an example of an individual (King David) crying out for revival.  If you want an example of a people calling out for revival you can turn to 2 Kings 22-23 (King Josiah).  

As we walk the "normal" Christian life we are encouraged to walk/live in the Spirit.  How do we know we are walking in the Spirit?  In Galatians 5:16-26 Paul explains that a person walking/living in the Spirit will produce the fruit of the Spirit (v. 22-23).  So, a simple test is to ask yourself if your daily life is marked by: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

When we fall into sin or find that our walk has become stagnant...we cry out to God to move in a unique, extraordinary way to bring revival.  Throughout human history God has been faithful to pour out His Spirit in extraordinary ways to revive His people.  Moments of revival are glorious and overwhelmingly anointed by the Holy Spirit.  But revivals and the extra anointing are meant to come to an end.  Once a person or church has been revived...we should return to our "normal" walking/living in the Spirit.  Producing fruit while seeking to glorify God in every aspect of our lives.  On page 22 Brian Edwards is quoted as saying: Revival is not normal any more than spiritual decline and backsliding are normal.  These are opposite ends of the normal life of the church.  Revival is supernormal and backsliding is subnormal.  


On page 23 they explain; Revival is restorative not normative. Revival brings people back into the intimate, consecrated walk with God they had previously forsaken. This comes through brokenness and repentance. A revival might last many weeks where people confess grievous sins night after night. But eventually God's people have been purified and forgiven, and they must then move on to their calling of daily living for Him. Sometimes revival comes to a close because God has accomplished the work He set out to do.  

As Galatians 5:16 says; walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. 








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