Recently, my wife and I were walking through our local Books and Co. in Beavercreek, Ohio. We were not really there for books as much as for the yogurt shop. We sat down to enjoy our personally concocted yogurt mixes among aisles and aisles of books. Looking up there was a grand stair case that led to another floor with aisles and aisles of more books. It seems that Barnes and Noble, Books and Co., the Kindle store, Half Price Books and many more offer endless reading options. Solomon stated of the making of books there would be no end. With so many options, it is vital that we choose reading material that will be good for us—good for us spiritually. Let me tell you about a book that I recently chose and would like to encourage you to do the same.
It was on social media that I first saw a post about a book being release entitled, Experiencing Jesus. The title grabbed my attention. It sounded refreshing and encouraging. I had a phone conversation with the author, John Van Gelderen and asked him to give me a quick summary. He did and my interest was further piqued. That day I bought the book and began to read it. I finished the book while on a couple of day retreat with my wife. Really, my heart was reminded, refreshed and reinvigorated about truth that I had heard preached by Bro. John when I was about 18. This book brought it all back to mind. Here are three reasons this book will be a life-changing read for you.
It is Biblical
The basis of many books are far from Biblical and have no aim of encouraging a walk with God. The basis of Experiencing Jesus is Galatians 2:20. This powerful verse says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” It is very easy to read over this verse and miss the much-needed truth to successfully live the Christian life as Christ intended. Each of the four chapters progressively work through this verse with clarity.
It is Simple
Many authors will take simple truth from scripture and make it complex. Experiencing Jesus is simple truth kept simple. I love the visual diagrams of scriptural concepts. I was inspired to see what happened to me the moment I received Christ by faith. The daily provision of Christ for a victorious life over sin is described in vivid detail. You need not be an intellectual to read this book. I certainly am not.
It is Needed
As a pastor, I am faced with the reality of defeated, discouraged believers. Sometimes I see it in the eyes of those listening. I can almost hear them whisper under their breath, “Sure Pastor! I tried to say no to sin this week and failed. Why try again?” The book concludes with this statement, “Experiencing Jesus makes it possible for us to be regularly victorious.” Jesus did not save us to live a life regular defeat and occasional victory. Truly, there is Victory in Jesus. The Bible truth explained in Experiencing Jesus will help even the most defeated Christ follower discover this victory that Christ alone provides.
Before you buy and read that novel or history book you been looking at, pick up Experiencing Jesus and be encouraged in a way that will be life-changing.
Revival is a return to life. Right now, here in Ohio, the hints of spring are being seen in some of the flowers budding. Spring time is sort of like revival. After the cold, dark months of winter, there is a return of life. A refreshing. The Psalmist prayed for this to happen in Psalm 85:6 where it says, “Wilt thou not revive us again: That thy people may rejoice in thee?” We must first realize that revival, life again, in our spiritual lives is a work of God brought about by the earnest prayer of God’s people.
Why Revival Meetings?
Some may wonder why a pastor would plan a week of revival meetings. However, when one looks around at the wicked condition of our world and the ever lessening impact of the God’s people on the world in which we live, the question is fully answered. Revival meetings provide an opportunity for the Spirit of God to work in people of God through the Word of God to refresh their walks with God. Revival gives a concentrated exposure to God’s Word and preaching of it, which God promises to bless. One of the most important reasons a discerning pastor would schedule a revival is that it helps to brighten the witness of believers in the community. When God’s people are right with Him, they will be bright and burdened witnesses wherever they are.
Is Revival Possible?
Yes! Revival is not a dangling carrot that is never intended to be reached. God longs to revive His people. He awaits true humility and a realization of need. Isaiah 57:15 say, “For thus saith the high and lofty One That inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, With him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Many believers are like those of Laodicia who were rich, increase with goods and had need of nothing. Revival will never come to those who have this mindset.
Take This Step
Pause and pray right now. Give God permission to revive your heart. Ask Him to reveal anything in your life that dampens your sense of need for Him and any pride that hinders His grace from flowing into your life. He will meet you there!
In my next post, I will talk about how to prepare for Revival meetings.
You have heard that humans are creatures of habit. What is habitual often takes place with little thought or at least fresh thought. It is very easy to allow this to happen in our church attendance. Whether it is the weekly services or a special set of revival meetings, we can go, sit and listen with little thought of preparing ourselves to receive with meekness the engrafted Word. Before you rush off to church this morning, would you take a moment to think about what you are doing. Think about what God wants to do in your heart. Think about what you want God to do in your heart. As you think about it, consider doing the following.
- Pray—give God permission to work in your heart by the power of His Word.
- Expect—anticipate that God will give you something awesome from His Word.
- Commit—resolve to respond in obedience to all that God shows you in His Word.
- Act—choose to immediately practice what you have been taught from His Word.
Remember, every time you walk into church and hear biblical preaching, it is a blessing and a gift from God. Don’t take it for granted. Think about it!
I remember back when I was working construction having an especially startling moment. There was one winter night we were trying to finish covering a freshly sheeted roof with tar paper. The snow was beginning to blow in and it was miserable! This was a very steep roof and so we were standing on roof jacks. One of the guys had put just one nail in the roof jack and when I went to step on it, the jack came loose. I thought I was going to fall and I am sure my heart stopped for a moment. There is nothing more assuring than a firm footing!
In our lives, we often find ourselves in unstable situations. We are unsure of the future outcome. As a result, fear and anxiety often overwhelm our souls. You are probably thinking of a situation now. It is in those times that we can be assured that our God is our stay.
Psalm 18:18 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: But the Lord was my stay.
At this point, David was running for his life. Saul was bound and determined to murder David. How was it then that David was able to be calm and declare, “The Lord was my stay”? The word stay has the idea of a support or staff. David certainly had much experience with a staff as a shepherd and the support that it gave. Notice at the beginning of Psalm 18 three reasons David was able to make this statement.
- Love God (Psalm 18:1)
He had found the comfort and blessing of loving God. There was nothing more important to David than pleasing God and putting His will first. When you love God with all your heart, you will be able to find all the support you need in Him.
Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
- Find Your Security in God (Psalm 18:2)
Relationships, support groups, doctrinal positions, family ties, wealth, success or popularity will not give lasting security. Everyone, whether known or not, is looking for security, a sense of safety and stability. Those who run to God will have to look no further!
Psalm 61:2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
- Seek God (Psalm 18:3)
Nothing will hush the anxiety of your heart quicker than bending the knee before the God of Heaven, our Heavenly Father. David knew he could not turn to anyone on earth for help. Even the band of men could not ultimately help, but God could. Oh that we would learn to seek God first. How we could then live lives marked by stability.
Psalm 63:1 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: My soul thirsteth for thee, My flesh longeth for thee, In a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
The disciples of Christ must be able to truthfully say, “The Lord was my stay.” You can make that declaration if you will follow these points from this powerful Psalm of testimony.
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. —2 Chronicles 7:14
Nothing warms the heart of a parent more than to have their son or daughter come to them and talk openly; to come on their own and make a wrong right. So it is with God. When I read 2 Chronicles 7:14 I hear the heart of our Heavenly Father being poured out. I hear the earnest desire to bless and help. I also see what stands in the way of His blessing. Let’s think about it.
We live in a country that is running from God. From the highest office in the land to the lowest citizen, we see the marks and mindset of lives lived in rejection of the one true God. However, believers cannot point all the fingers out at the people and leaders of our nation. The church is running from God. The evidences of this fact are seen in the instability of believers, the lack of unity, the forsaking of basic Christian doctrines and duties, the acceptance of many worldly philosophies and ideals, the casual approach to a daily relationship with Jesus and the fear to stand for His name. Many scoff at the desire and prayer revival. They say it is not possible, we are in the last days. I believe that there has never been a day in which we need to see the God of Heaven to revive His people. I believe He longs to do just that but we must humble ourselves and seek His face. This means we must turn from seeking many other things and seek Him.
Would you take sometime to pray, humble yourself and seek God’s face? Would you pause and give God your attention? Would you ask Him to revive your heart, to give you a fresh awareness of who He is and what He desires to in your life? Would you let God have control of your life? If you will God has promised in Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.“