Aug 19 2014

Waking Up to What’s Going On

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As we read today’s headlines and see all that unfolding in the Middle East, and other places, we need to wake up, realize what is happening especially in light of biblical prophecy. We need to be aware as God let’s us know what’s going to happen before it happens.

How we need to respond to these times brings to mind the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew. 25:1–13.

First, Jesus introduces five wise virgins. A spirit of expectancy marked these women. They were constantly watching and waiting for the coming bridegroom.

They also were prepared. They had oil in their lamps and their vessels (base-like plates or reservoirs) so their lamps would keep burning as long as it was necessary. Oil in the New Testament represents the Holy Spirit. These five wise virgins are like those filled with the Holy Spirit.

There were also informed. They knew they had to have their own oil. Nobody could get it for them—they could not rely on anything or anyone else but God.

Because they lived expectantly, waited patiently, worked to prepare, and sought the fullness of the Holy Spirit, the virgins were asked into the wedding when the bridegroom came

The foolish virgins, on the other hand, were not prepared. They were not informed. They didn’t realize they could not ride other people’s coattails. They didn’t know the truth from the Word, so they wasted time and energy on foolish things instead of asking and receiving what God had for them.

The bridegroom told the foolish virgins, “I never knew you.” They could be compared to “almost Christians.” They were in the number but not active in the body. In the end, they were left out. The Bible says, “And the door was shut” Matthew 25:12).

Jesus ends this parable by saying, “Therefore keep watch, because you never know the day or the hour” (Matthew 25:13).

We need to be like the five wise virgins by watching and being ready. We can’t have out head in the sand or simply wait and rely on others. We need to make a choice to know what’s happening and be ready.

How do we do that?

We possess a kingdom heart. We see what we do, what we have and the opportunities God places before us through a heart that is totally focused on His kingdom, heaven. We see eternally, not just locally. Our hearts are open and ready to be used for kingdom purposes.

We read the Word. We’ve been looking at current events through the lens of biblical prophecy (Ezekiel 38). We all need get a firm grasp of what God’s Word is telling us. We need to read it with our eyes, and hearts, wide open. We can’t stubbornly refuse to be prepared and fall into the same trap of the foolish virgins. We need to be informed and prepared by God’s Word.

We live expectantly.  When we live expectantly, we are living with hope. We are looking upward with confidence that God is in control of all things. When we live expectantly, we are like the five wise virgins who were waiting patiently and fervently for the Bridegroom.

Are you awake? Are you looking at today’s headlines with a kingdom heart and through the lens of what God said in His Word? Are you expectant? Are you spiritually prepared for the days ahead?

Steve Berger is Senior Pastor of Grace Chapel in Leipers Fork, TN. His latest book is titled Between Heaven and Earth and is available in print and electronic formats from all major booksellers.


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Aug 14 2014

The Assurance of Bible Prophecy

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In my last post, God’s Ten Most Wanted, I wrote about the certainty and accuracy of biblical prophecy. God tells us what’s going to happen before it happens!

To develop this point further we only need to look at two Scriptures. First is Isaiah 46:9–10. It says, “Remember the former things of old, 
For I am God, and there is no other; 
I am God, and there is none like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning, 
And from ancient times things that are not yet done, 
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, 
And I will do all My pleasure,’”

Theologian and Bible commentator Albert Barnes (1798–1870), writing about this verses, made the following points:

Declaring the end from the beginning—foretelling accurately the course of future events. This is an argument to which God often appeals in proof that He is the only true God.

My counsel shall stand—My purpose, my design, my will. The phrase ‘shall stand’ means that it shall be stable, settled, fixed, established.

And I will do all my pleasure—I will accomplish all my wish or effect all my desire. God would accomplish everything which was to Him and object of desire; everything which He wished, or willed.”[1]

Clearly, God is in charge and He lets His children in on what’s going to happen, and it happens!

The second Scripture is 2 Peter 1:19. It reads, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

The word “confirmed” means steadfast or hard. Much like concrete, prophecy is “cemented” into our hearts as true, sure and complete.

Writing about this verse, pastor, evangelist and Bible commentator F.B. Meyer (1847–1929) recalled Peter’s moment on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter sees and hears first-hand prophecy fulfilled. On that mount and through Jesus’ teaching and life Peter witnessed prophecy fulfilled. It was deeply rooted in his heart—cemented as sure and confirmed.

Friends, we need to have the same attitude toward biblical prophecy. We need to know, deeply cemented in our hearts, that God’s prophecy is sure. We need to pay attention to it because it is as light in the dark places.

We also need to respond to it with an eternal vision, not one that’s rooted in the world’s things and ways. God is in charge even when it looks like we are outnumbered and under attack. He is Lord over all things and is working to fulfill His plan for us and the world.

Are you changing your vision in light of today’s headlines and the unfolding of God’s prophecy right in front of you? God’s prophecy is sure, it needs to be cemented into our hearts and minds and lead us to maximum eternal vision and focus on Him, His will and His way for us.

Are you with me?

[1] Albert Barnes, Notes on the Book of Prophet Isaiah, Volume 2, (New York: Leavitt & Allen, 1853), 176

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Aug 12 2014

God’s Ten Most Wanted

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Ezekiel 38 and 39 give us detail of a coming attack on Israel by a confederation of peoples to the north of Israel, living somewhere around the Black and Caspian seas. Many attempts have been made to conclusively identify the individual named “Gog,” as well as the places named in these chapters. I’ve done a lot of study personal study on them and want to share what I’ve discovered.

Gog. He is a man. He’s the person who leads this confederation of pagan forces. He sees Israel as a great treasure and wants to take her by force. In the end, however, God uses this man much as He did with the Pharaoh of the Exodus (Exodus 7:1–5; 14:4, 17, 18). We also read about Gog again in Revelation 20:7–9.

Magog. For years people have assumed this country represented what we now call Russia, but there’s more to the answer than that. Magog was the land of the ancient Scythians. They dwelt north and east of the Black and Caspian Seas, literally southern Russia. Today the country would include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and parts of Turkey—a whole swath of area from central Asia to China’s border.

Rosh/Meshech/Tubal. This area includes parts of Turkey, Russia and the Ukraine (Crimea, of recent headline fame).

Persia. This is the easiest country to identify. It’s Iran.

Ethiopia. This is today’s Sudan.

Libya This country includes portions of northern Africa, excluding Egypt.

Gomer and Togarmah. This is the remaining section of eastern Turkey to Azerbaijan. Notice that the entire area of Turkey is accounted for, plus large portions of Russia, Iran, Sudan, and Libya.

This is God’s Ten Most Wanted defined by today’s world map.

As we read today’s headlines there are some things we need to understand:

  • Most importantly, as we study prophecy we need to understand that God is telling us what’s going to happen before it actually happens. He tells us so we can prepare and pray. We must remember who is in charge. We must keep our eyes focused on God as we are seeing an unholy union develop to destroy Israel 2,500 years after God spoke about it. He tells us what is going to happen before it happens and it’s all in His Word.
  • We also need to closely watch the aligning of Russia with Turkey. More than 50% of Turkey’s natural gas comes from Russia and nearly 1/3 of their economy is dependent upon Russia. Now, there is a new, radical, anti-Israeli leader who is not friendly to the west. This alliance is an important partnership we need to watch as it helps us understand how these two countries could unite to attack Israel.
  • Thirdly, the God’s Ten Most Wanted has something in common—Islam. Twelve hundred years before Mohammad was born and Islam begins, God, in Ezekiel, tells us that those nations all have Islam in common and a shared hatred for Israel, with unite in the latter times to come against Israel. Twenty-five hundred years after Ezekiel’s prophecy, the front pages of today’s newspapers are confirming His rock-solid word of prophecy!

We have a choice. We can sit and be fearful as these prophetic events unfold, or we can give our lives to the eternal things of God. We can put our complete trust in Him and what He says, and then we can set aside the things that don’t matter and focus on what really matters to Him. We can choose to stand up, show up and sign up for what He lays on our hearts. He’s preparing us and expecting us to respond.

It’s an exciting time—let’s see what God has for us to do, for His Kingdom and eternity.


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Jul 24 2014

Keys to Experiencing God: Intercessory Prayer

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I wonder how many people never realize why a blessing came to them—that’s one of the mysteries of intercessory prayer. People praying for other people, who may have not prayed themselves, and blessing happens.

I think it’s interesting to read what Mark 4:36 says, “Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him (emphasis mine).” This is the beginning of the story about when Jesus stilled the sea. Typically we look at the disciples and their reaction. Or, we look to Jesus and his calming of the storm. We don’t, however, notice that there were other ships with them. We don’t realize that since there was this horrible storm, they suffered in it as well. The other ships not only suffered, they benefited from Jesus calming and may have never known how the calming came about.

Here they were, boating on the Sea of Galilee, and when the storm came down so violently, they were also tossed by the waves and in danger of being drowned.  Then, when Jesus said, “Peace be still!” and there was a great calm, they enjoyed the benefit of the calm.

They felt the peace of God without knowing how it came to them. They may have wondered if it was an answer to prayer, but whose prayer?

They may never know and likewise, we often don’t know who is praying for us and what blessings we receive as a result of someone’s intercession for us. That’s the power and the supernatural mystery of intercessory prayer.

S.D. Gordon (1859–1936) was a popular writer and speaker. In his book Quiet Talks on Prayer he wrote, “Communion and petition fix and continue one’s relation to God, and so prepare for the great out-reaching form of prayer-intercession. Prayer begins with the first two but reaches its climax in the third. Communion and petition are self-wide. Intercession is worldwide in it’s reach . . . the heart of the true follower has caught the warm contagion of the heart of God and reaches out hungrily for the world. Intercession is the climax of prayer.”[i]

From the days of Abraham forward God’s people have interceded for others. Jesus prayed for others and he taught His disciples to do the same—even for their enemies. The apostle Paul encouraged intercessory prayer for others. In fact, if you do some digging you’ll find that of all the prayers in the Bible, a large proportion of them are intercessory.

Our takeaway from this is easy—devote a significant amount of our time in prayer for others. While we can dedicate some time to our own needs, as James Hastings wrote, “It would seem that while all prayer is welcome in heaven—all true prayer, that is—a special welcome awaits the prayers we offer, not for ourselves, but for others.”[ii]

Will you join me in intercessory prayer? Will you give more of your time to pray for others than yourself? It’s easy, here’s a partial list of prayer needs:

  • The sick hurting in our midst at Grace Chapel
  • The city, county, state and national leaders
  • Your neighbors and their salvation, or rededication to Jesus
  • The local church and the church around the world
  • Israel

Join me in praying for others and discover an essential key to experiencing God more closely.

[i] S.D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer,  (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1904), 40

[ii] James Hastings, The Christian Doctrine of Prayer, Logos Software Edition, 112.

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Jul 22 2014

The Importance of Ministering to Israel

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I have a small confession to make—I’ve repeatedly read and studied the book of Romans, but somehow I missed the critical importance and significance of these few verses in chapter 15. Paul wrote:

But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things (Romans 15:25–27).

Over an extended period of time, the Gentile churches had been collecting money to send back to the church in Jerusalem (see 2 Corinthians 8-9) in support of the poor believers there, and Paul was going to deliver that money before he continued on his journey to Spain. This was more than just an act of generosity (though it was that). It was an act of bridge building, of solidarity, between two groups who had been unfriendly at a natural level but now were unified at the spiritual level.

In these times I feel it’s absolutely critical for us to understand why this is important for us as believers to not just know and understand the facts, but to also act in our faith.

First, this offering was an expression of love to the Jewish people.

Second, this offering was practical. There were many poor Jewish believers who needed help.

Third, and most important for us to know in our hearts today, it was in a way a paying of a debt. The Gentiles had received spiritual wealth from the Jews and they were now returning material wealth—paying their debt. When we read the first chapter of Romans we realize that Paul considered himself a “debtor.” He felt the Gentile Christians were debtors to the Jews. Why? Because it was the Jews who gave to the Gentiles God’s Word and His Son.

K.S. Wuest, in his commentary on Romans, wrote:

The spiritual things of which the Gentiles partake are the spiritual blessings of salvation, and they are debtors to the Jew for them because as our Lord said, “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). The carnal things which the Gentiles minister to the Jews are the necessities of life, food clothing, and shelter, in short, money. The word “contribution” is in the Greek text, koinōnia), the verb form of which means “to participate jointly with some other person, to have fellowship.” Here it speaks of the Gentile saints participating jointly or having fellowship in the sending of the money to the Jewish saints in Jerusalem and of having fellowship with them in their necessities by making these necessities their own[1]

The result of Paul’s efforts was a spiritual uniting of Christians and Jews. Practical needs were met and deep spiritual bonds were tied.

Like Paul, we need to feel humbly obligated to Israel. We should be in prayer for Israel. We should help with resources and a heart-felt feeling of gratitude for the heritage, the Word and the Savior they gave us.

Are you with me?

[1] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English reader (Ro 15:25). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

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Jul 17 2014

Keys to Experiencing God: Prayer and Awakening

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In my last post I tried to separate the words revival and awakening—revival is for the Church and awakening is for the nation. With all that’s happening around us, it’s obvious to me that we need both and we need to understand that neither can or should come without significant prayer for God’s help and leading.

What does an awakening look like?

It starts with prayer. There are several books that help us understand and know that nothing begins an awakening, like fervent prayer.

How can our prayers accomplish?

We get a vivid picture from a farmer named Nathan Cole who, with his wife in 1740, recorded in his journal how they raced to hear George Whitefield preach in Middletown, Connecticut. Deeply convicted of his sin by Whitefield’s message, Cole wrote of his spiritual struggle that ended when we is saved at the event.

His journal account shows what fervent prayer and a spirit of awakening can do as he immediately left his field, grabbed his wife, jumped on their horse and rode twelve miles to Middletown. Over the twelve miles Cole, in order to spare his horse, would jump off and run alongside it, then jump back on to keep moving for fear of being late.

When he gets close to the place of the meeting, he writes:

I saw before me a cloud or fog rising; I first thought it came from the great river, but as I came nearer the road, I heard a noise something like a low rumbling thunder and presently found it was the noise of horses feet coming down the road and this cloud was a cloud of dust made by the horses feet; it arose some rods in the air over the tops of hills and trees. . .as I drew nearer it seemed like a steady stream of horses and their riders, scarcely a horse more than his length behind another, all of the lather and foam and sweat. Ever horse seemed to go with all his might to carry his rider to hear news from heaven for the saving of souls. It made me tremble to see the sight.[1]

Can you imagine this today? Roads lined and choked with cars carrying people trying desperately to get to church and be saved.  That’s an awakening. Not only does Cole write of horses, but he looks out at the great river and sees boats crammed full of people wanting to hear Whitefield, and more importantly, to come to know Jesus. Imagine our own Harpeth River clogged with boats of people trying to hear about Jesus!

Awakening can happen, and it starts with revival in the church and through prayer.

There was awakening in Korea at the turn of the last [20th] century. It started with missionaries and the “Bible women” of Wonsan, in 1903. “Revival, prayer, preaching and special meetings multiplied and all produced an awakened Korean Christianity.”[2]

Awakening, whether big or small started with prayer. Richard Ross wrote, “Throughout history concerted prayer movements have provided launching pads for major advances in Christ’s kingdom. This was certainly true with the major religious awakenings in this nation the past two centuries. As God’s people kept praying, each awakening overflowed into revitalized churches and denominations, significant social reforms, widespread evangelistic ingatherings, and the creation of scores of new mission-sending societies”[3]

Do we want revival and awakening to happen in churches, in our nation and around the world? If we do, let’s start on our knees in deep, personal and tearful prayers to God.

[1] Nathan Cole, “The Spiritual Travels, 1741–1765,” MSS 12787, Connecticut Historical Society, 2–7.

[2] Mark Shaw, Global Awakening: How 20th Century Revivals Triggered a Christian Revolution, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010), 40

[3] Richard Ross, Student Ministry and the Supremacy of Christ, (Bloomington, IN: CrossBooks, 2009), 29

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Jul 15 2014

Keys to Experiencing God: Prayer and Revival

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When we think about words like revival and spiritual awakening we have to first understand their meaning and we need to commit to praying for both to happen.

Revival concerns the Church. It involves asking God to revive His Church from the complacency it is in. It’s a call for the Church to move out in action, seek Him and His plan for it.

Awakening is for the nation and non-believers. It’s a call for people to be so impacted by God that they come running to Him. They want more of Him and, in turn, they repent—turn from their sin-filled lives to God and desperately seek His Son Jesus Christ. Awakening brings wide-spread national change.

The fact is, we need both and both are preceded by radical and serious times of prayer.

Let’s look first at revival.

Psalm 85:6 says, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in You?”

The Prophet Ezra prayed to God to “give Israel a little reviving in their bondage” (Ezra9:8).

Revival comes as God’s people pray.

Evangelist Charles G. Finney gave us an example. Born in 1792, he became a lawyer in New York. In 1821, disturbed that he only saw what we might call surface worship in church he went to the woods and poured out his heart. God met him in that place and transformed his life. He quit the law and became an evangelist. Spending more and more time in prayer, he wrote that it was “an indispensable condition for promoting the revival” He and some young men began praying three times a day and soon the church was packed with people seeking Jesus. It is said that farmers, even though it was harvest time, threw down their tools and headed for church. His messages brought revival to Rochester as many compared him to George Whitefield and an earlier American revival and subsequent awakening.[1]

Friends, we need revival, but as the prophets and this story about Finney point out, first we need to be firmly committed to prayer. We need to seek God and His timing. We need to seek God and His plans. We need to seek God and His way for revival. We can’t just come together and hope it happens. A God-sized revival in the Western Church needs to come out of the church’s prayers and God’s plans.

Andrew Murray wrote, “Both widespread and local revivals have been traced to specific prayer. The coming revival will be no exception. An extraordinary spirit of prayer, urging believers to private as well as united prayer, motivating them to labor frequently in their supplications, is a sure sign of approaching showers and even floods of blessing.”[2]

Church do you agree with me that we need revival in the Western Church? If you do, will you join me in prayer for our own repentance and for revival?


[1] Paraphrased from the book Revival: God’s Proven Method for Awakening His Church by Edgar H. Lewellen, Xulon Press, 2005, pp.102–104.

[2] Andrew Murray, Power in Prayer: Classic Devotions to Inspire and deepen Your Prayer Life, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2011), 164

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Jul 10 2014

Keys to Experiencing God: Complacency or Commitment?

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As I look back over the last few months and about how we need to experience God more deeply and fully, I’m bothered by what is happening in our nation, in the church, especially in the U.S., and our people and I need to ask, “Are we committed or complacent?”

I’m reminded of the first-century church of Laodicea. Jesus writes His seventh and final letter in Revelation to believers in this city. It’s my opinion that this church in Laodicea most reflects the church of the Western world today—it would be most fitting for Jesus to address the same message of this letter to much of the Western church, especially the church in America.

Laodicea was a prosperous commercial center. It had a famous medical school and was also a clothing-manufacturing center known for its black wool. It’s fair to say that Laodicea was a wealthy city whose citizens had a fiercely independent spirit. They were wealthy. They were self-sufficient. They didn’t need anybody’s help. They were fine on their own . . . or so they thought.

There’s a stark contrast between the way they saw themselves and the way Christ saw them (Revelation 3:17). They saw themselves as rich and needing nothing. Jesus saw them as wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. They were on fire for Man’s kingdom and Jesus saw them as lukewarm for His.

Let me ask you a quick question. I am wondering: how do people get to that place of spiritual complacency instead of radical, life-changing commitment to fully experiencing God?

The Laodiceans gave us a good example. They show us that complacency comes when you see yourself as having arrived and you think you have achieved all that there is. You begin to tell yourself, “I’m rich. I’m wealthy. I don’t need anything. I’ve arrived. I’ve attained.” I think that is why Paul wrote about (Colossians 2:1–2) the Laodiceans thirty years earlier and said, “Hey, you need to attain the riches of God, not the riches of man.”

Complacency and lack of commitment also develop when we start listening to what the world says—the world tells us we have to have what everybody wants and what is supposed to bring us satisfaction. When we buy into that, then complacency, apathy, and lethargy set in. All of those “things” we’ve acquired start having their effect on us and we think, “I’ve arrived; this is what it’s about.”

Another way I believe people become spiritually lukewarm and complacent is by convincing their own hearts that the amount of Jesus they have is enough. These people say, “Well, maybe I haven’t arrived, but I’ve got enough. I never used to go to church, but now I occasionally go to church. I’m cussing way less than I used to. I don’t drink nearly as much. I haven’t kicked my dog in six weeks. I don’t want to become a Jesus fanatic—like people I’ve seen in some churches who act like they believe all this stuff.”

Here, there’s an injection of just enough religion to satisfy their spoiled spirits and they believe they don’t need anything more.

I’ve been beating this drum of concern frequently lately, and we need to keep hearing this drum beat until we wake up! Our church is in an area with four-plank fences and horses running around—is this heaven or what? The county we’re in is supposedly the tenth wealthiest county per capita in the country. Hallelujah! Has our success overcome us? Have we become rich and don’t even need God? Are we complacent or committed to the things that please Him?

I want more of God—personally and in the church. I want more of God for me, and I want more of God for you. I know there’s the temptation to think, “Hey, Berger, look how good you’ve got it. We are officially a mega church. Wow! We’ve arrived! We’ve got mega church status.”

The important question is, do we have mega life? Do we have mega Jesus? Are there mega miracles? Is there mega sanctification? Is there mega memorization of Scripture? Are people beating the doors down to get to prayer meetings, Lifegroups, and Bible studies? Until commitment can be described as mega, there is more to be had. I’m going to preach this vision and keep pushing for it and believing it can happen, despite our wealth and mega this or that.

The Laodiceans thought they had arrived. Let’s not fall into that trap, let’s seek God, fast, pray and be committed to experiencing Him and revival.

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Jul 8 2014

Keys to Experiencing God: Fasting and Repentance

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Scripture gives us several examples of people who chose to fast and that act of emptying themselves led to prayer and, quite often repentance.

David fasted many times in his life as God transformed him and took him from the obscurity of a shepherd’s life in his father’s fields to the throne of Israel and Judah as the greatest king those nations ever had.

There’s no more graphic example of his fasting than when Nathan confronted King David with his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11 and 12).  To briefly summarize, after David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then ordered her husband, Uriah, to the front lines of battle where he was killed, David married her and they had a child. The prophet Nathan came to David to confront him about his sin and to express God’s displeasure about what David had done. David sorrowfully said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan’s response is direct and from the Lord, “the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die” (2 Samuel 12:13–14).

David responded to the Lord’s words by asking God for the child and by fasting (2 Samuel 12:16). He fasted for seven days and on that last day, the child died. Then, David arose, washed and anointed himself, changed his clothes and went to the house of the Lord to worship God.

At this time he also wrote Psalm 51 as a response to this incident, and through it, I think we can learn how fasting and prayer are linked to genuine repentance.

First, when there is true repentance, there will be an open and an unguarded admission. David says, “I have sinned and I have not hidden my sin from You” (Psalm 51:3). His “full confession” opens the door wide for forgiveness and repentance.

Second, David had a heart-felt desire to break from sin (Psalm 51:2). Proverbs 28:13 says, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”  Repentance comes from knowing the truth, changing ones mind and walking in the other direction. David chose a clean break from sin that led to repentance.

Third, David’s spirit was one of humility and brokenness (Psalm 51:7).  David wasn’t defensive. He didn’t make excuses, blame someone else or be bitter and proud. He bowed before His Lord in humility. He chose to fast, pray and seek repentance. He worshipped. He held himself accountable for what he did.

Fourth, David claimed God’s forgiveness and restoration (Psalm 57:7–12). He wants God to “renew a right spirit.” God can only do that with forgiveness and by restoring us with a “clean heart.”

David fasted, prayed and he repented. He admitted his sin, and God in His mercy forgave and restored him.

When we pray, let’s seek our own hearts. Is God confronting us with any issues where we need to admit we’ve fallen short? Through fasting we can empty ourselves of everything but the Lord and seek a desire to break away from what has us in bondage. Then, through prayer and God’s eternal mercy, we can be forgiven and restored.

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Jul 3 2014

Keys to Experiencing God: Return to the Lord

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The writer of 2 Kings gives King Hezekiah of Judah (715–686 B.C.) very high marks. His works are favorably compared to King David, his ancestor. He is credited with sweeping reforms of Judah’s temple worship. He restored the Passover celebration and it was such a time of joy that 2 Chronicles 30:26 records, “Since the time of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.”

King Hezekiah made an invitation, to the entire nation to return to the Lord, not to be stiff-necked, and receive forgiveness. How did he do it? How did he pull off this revival?

We can find the way to revival from what he said about his predecessor, king Ahaz. He makes four statements that describe life for anybody who is in a backslidden condition and needs a revival.

First, the doors were shot to the place of worship.  There was no church attendance.

Second, Scripture says that the lamps were put out, a symbolism meaning that the light of the Word of God and the Spirit of God were excluded.

Third, there was no incense. Incense in the Old Testament pictures the prayers of the people of God as they ascend to the throne of God. Prayer was gone.

Fourth, the burnt offerings were also gone.  In the Old Testament system of offerings and sacrifices, the burnt offerings represented the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.  There was no longer any dwelling on a personal God.

Hezekiah inherited a mess. The people were backslidden; the nation had lost its spiritual moorings.

What’s interesting is that every great revival begins with one person who is willing to humbly approach God with an open heart. The revival in the Samaritan village started with the heart of one woman who had seen Jesus at the well. It was one man, Peter, who stirred 3,000 to revival in the book of Acts. Martin Luther shook up Europe. George Whitefield brought revival and healing to both England and America. It’s Hezekiah who brought revival to Judah and it spread to Israel.

The point is that God uses men and women someplace to begin an awakening.

How do they do it? With all of their heart.

2 Chronicles 31:21 says, “And in every good work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered.”

Hezekiah approached God with all of his heart. He approached him humbly, openly, and prayerfully. He also approached Him with intensity and urgency.

Henry Blackaby summarized Hezekiah’s revival and wrote, “This was a call to worship, but not everyone wanted to honor the Lord. Detractors scorned and ridiculed the messengers. Others however, humbled themselves and gathered to worship. And “the hand of God was on Judah to give them singleness of heart to obey the command of the king and the leaders, at the word of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 30:12). Hezekiah prayed for the people, “And the Lord listened to Hezekiah and healed the people” (2 Chronicles 30:20). When God’s people repented of their sin and worshipped Him, the covenant relationship of love was reestablished.”[1]

Humility and prayer lead to repentance that leads to revival. Let’s clean out whatever is in the way in our lives and humbly seek God in repentance. Then, let’s pray for this nation and revival.

[1] Henry T. Blackaby, Richard Blackaby, Claude King, Fresh Encounter: God’s Pattern for Spiritual Awakening, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2009), 74

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