Archive for March, 2010

When was the last time you thanked God for a Red Sea moment in your life? Revival broke out during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah when the people heard God’s word and were reminded of His faithfulness. It also convicted them of their sin which led to genuine repentance and worship.

This past week’s devotion dealt with God’s judgement against His people when they continue in disobedience and refuse to repent. We are encouraged in today’s devotional  to experience the joy that comes when repentance has taken place and we worship God with a clean heart. Joy or discipline, that seems like an easy choice. Which one will we choose?


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God takes our sin seriously, much more seriously than we do. The last paragraph of this devotion is very sobering. If we refuse to repent when God confronts us with our sin, He will increase our discipline until He gets our attention. We need to take to heart the authors’ statement “God places limits on His patience.” When God calls us to repentance, He means now. Our delay only increases the need for additional discipline.

The same principle applies to churches. God will do whatever is necessary until His people cry out to Him for help. If you need an example of God’s challenge to the church, read His message to each of the churches found in Revelation. If renewal is going to take place, the church must heed God’s call to repent.  It must start with us first.

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I have never found a child yet that really enjoyed being disciplined by his parents. Yet, when they become adults they see the benefits and wisdom of discipline administered in love.  Normal parents do not enjoy disciplining  their children but they know it is necessary at times to keep them on the right track.

Day 16 of Fresh Encounter talks about God’s need to discipline His children.  His discipline or judgement is defined in two ways: Final judgement and Remedial judgement. Remedial judgement  is discipline that is intended to correct us and point us back to a right relationship with God. Final judgement refers to punishment that ends life or usefulness because of prolonged rebellion or severe sin. I think we would all like to avoid that so let’s focus on remedial judgement for a moment.

When God disciplines us, He does so out of love. It may hurt for a while but it is intended for our benefit. As we continue to focus on the desire for personal renewal, we need to ask ourselves a few questions. Has God been disciplining me lately? What is He trying to accomplish in that discipline? What needs to change in my life right now that will help me get back into a right relationship with Him? Finally, am I willing to respond and repent? I pray that we will. “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

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Days 11 & 12 discussed the symptoms of turning away from God. When our heart is not right with God it shows up in disobedience and allowing substitutes to take the place of God in our lives. The authors give us several examples of how this may be evident in our lives. As we read through this devotion, I think we have come to a critical time in our seeking renewal. Am I ready to consider the possibility that my heart is not right with God? Some cannot fathom the possibility. They see turning away from God only in large and defiant terms and not the subtle drifting away that results in following their own path while claiming it is God’s. The need described in the devotional is for others that are backsliders or not as faithful as I am to the church. As a pastor, it has always amazed me that some equate faithfulness to the church (attendance and involvement) as the same thing as faithfulness to God. For genuine revival and renewal to take place it can’t be about someone else, it has to be about me. If we fail to examine our own lives, how do we expect God to do something new?

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“The primary reason we need revival is that we have forsaken our love relationship with God–our first love. God invites us to repent and return to our first love.” It doesn’t get much clearer than that. On Day 10 the authors remind us of the passage in Amos where God puts a plumb line among His people. The plumb line was used to make sure a wall was perfectly straight. As the authors state, “God has built His people like a straight wall–true to plumb.” It is only when we put God’s plumb line alongside our lives that we truly see where we are in our relationship with Him and His standards.

The challenge comes in our response to the plumb line. We can ignore it and continue living the way we want. We can try to make ourselves feel righteous by comparing ourselves to others that we feel have turned away from God. We can repent, which brings us back to the beginning. To experience revival we must repent and turn back to God. How will we respond?

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“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (I Peter 2:12). On Day 8 we are challenged to examine our lives to see how well we measure up to the standards of holiness as set forth in scripture. To be an effective part of God’s mission, we need to be in a right relationship with Him.

Unfortunately, God’s people and his church are not always in a right relationship. Even with all that God has done for us, we still tend to depart from him. Day 9 asks the question; “how do we begin to turn away from the Lord and obedience to Him?”  It begins with our heart. Do we love God fully? If our love of God dwindles so does our desire to obey Him. Eventually our disobedience leads us to turn away from God’s purposes and ways. 

Take time to reflect on a couple of issues today. First, do a quick evaluation on where we stand regarding personal holiness. Are we living according to God’s standards? If not, is it part of a larger problem? Is our heart totally committed to God? Second, ask God to reveal to us the things that capture too much of our love and attention, pulling us away from Him. Above all,  be honest with God and be honest with yourself. Finally, ask God to draw us back to Him. Be committed to following his instruction. Remember, God loves us and wants to have a vibrant relationship with us through Christ.

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The topic of Day 6 – Revival Leads to Harvest. First Baptist Church of Wellington, TX saw hundreds come to know Jesus as Savior in the late 1990’s as a time of revival broke out. How did it start? What was the key to renewal? The pastor couldn’t quite explain what had happened. His description of the church, however, speaks volumes as to the reason for revival. He said, “The church is different. We are not the same church we were three years ago. We have a spirit of unity. The people love one another. They love the Lord and seek to obey him. They have a burden to pray and a burden to see the lost come to saving faith in Christ.” The harvest came when the members experienced renewal in their own lives. Let us pray for the harvest as we seek our own time of personal renewal.

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