13 Introspective Questions From “Longing For A Changed World”

As Ralph Lehman made his case for Christian to (re)establish a prayer focus for revival in his book Longing For A Changed World, he asked several penetrating questions. Here are a few of them for you to consider.

“[Josiah’s revival] was one revival that began with the leaders of government. Are we praying for our leaders?”

“Our government has entered many areas that were once considered to be the Church’s sphere of ministry. How can we lead our churches back into these areas?”

“Have you considered that you are grieving the Spirit when you deprive Him of conversing with God by choosing not to pray?”

“As men of prayer, should we not strive to be like the great prayer warriors of the Bible?”

“Tertullian, a church father who lived in the Roman Empire around 200 A.D., stated that the Roman emperor and his armies benefited greatly from the prayers of the Christians who interceded on their behalf. Can we present the same argument to our political leaders today?”

“What would we be willing to leave or to set aside for the sake of more time in prayer, seeking the Kingdom and righteousness of God?”

“Do we seek the Lord of revival, or merely desire His blessings?”

“If we do not enjoy God’s presence, through His Word and prayer, we are missing the true blessing God intends for us—the blessing of Himself. If we will not seek the presence of God day by day, how can we expect Him to go with us in our daily lives?”

“If God was willing to take the Israelites into the Promised Land without His presence [Exodus 33:3-4], what does this say to the proponents of the ‘health and wealth’ gospel?”

“Even though we have been blessed immeasurably by living here in the United States, do our hearts long for God’s rule to be acknowledged in our land? Do we yearn to abide in His presence? Or are we idle in our contentment with the milk and honey?”

“Sometimes, our areas of giftedness become spheres where we fail to ask God for strength. Have you considered your strengths may be the very areas that satan exploits?”

“Are we praying for revival, are we also praying that we would conduct ourselves in such a way that the world would take notice, even if this meant for us to suffer?”

“Is the God of today’s church big enough to surprise us?”

You can check out some other quotes from Longing For A Changed World by clicking here, and my full book review is available here.

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Does Your Life Have A “BC/AD” Split?

Today we live in 2017 AD. But 1800 years ago the A.D. stood for “Anno Diocletiani” which means “the year of Diocletian,” a ruthless, anti-Christian Roman emperor. In 525 AD, a monk named Dionysius proposed changing the A.D. to “Anno Domini” which means “the year of our Lord,” referring to the Advent of Jesus Christ. Then to mark the dates of the calendar before Christ’s birth properly, the “B.C.” (before Christ) period was introduced.

But BC/AD is just a dating system. There is no such thing as “BC”—there has never been a time before Christ! He has always been! Throughout what we now refer to as the Old Testament (or the BC period),  Jesus is constantly revealing Himself through little hints here and there, but when He comes to earth as a Man, all the hints become a bright, blazing, unmistakable Truth!

Just like Dionysius came up with a new dating system based on the Advent of Jesus, the Israelites had a new starting point marked by the Passover (see Exodus 12:1-7). Everything from this point backward is reset and dates are now counted forward from this moment. Before this time they were slaves in Egypt; after this time they were free and called God’s special people.

The “BC” Passover had three important components:

  • A perfect lamb without any defect (Exodus 12:5)
  • The lamb is slaughtered at twilight (v. 6)
  • The blood is applied to the door (v. 7)

When Jesus came to Earth, He showed how He was all three of those elements. In the “AD” Jesus is—

In both BC and AD God declares the same message: “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” The blood seals the deal and brings God’s forgiveness of sins, and His blessings on the life that is now completely His.

The word remember appears frequently in the BC, as in “remember what God did for you.” In the AD remember appears at a pivotal time—when Jesus shared His last supper with His followers, He told them that Communion would be a time for them to remember all that Jesus did for us as the Perfect Lamb, whose Blood is applied to the Door of our heart, so that God’s judgment could pass over us.

Do you have a Passover date? A time when the BC became AD in your life? If so, good! Keep remembering that, and don’t ever go back to being a citizen of anything but God’s Kingdom.

If not, today can be the first day of a new era for you. By faith you can apply the Blood of the Perfect Lamb to the Door of your heart, and you will no longer be a slave of “Egypt” (a picture of being utterly trapped and unable to help yourself), but a citizen of Heaven! All it takes is for you to believe that Christ’s blood purchased your freedom, so you can ask God the Father to forgive you of all your BC past, and then you can live forever in the AD with Jesus as your Savior and Master!

Check out this video where I explain this BC/AD system more, and join me next week as we learn more about how Jesus Christ bridges the BC/AD divide.

Praying With The Authority Of The Creator

pray-boldlyJesus had a way of praying that sounds unusual to our ears because He didn’t pray “normal” prayers. His prayers were bold statements! But Jesus also taught us to pray just like He did.

Most prayers that Christians pray sound like they come from the same formula. We may start with something like, “Heavenly Father” or “Dear God.” Then we probably spend some time praising God for His greatness before we make our requests of Him. Often our requests include something like “If this is Your will, I ask You to please heal/help/answer/etc.” And then almost always the prayer concludes, “In Jesus’ name, Amen!”

When Jesus prayed, His prayers sounded more like commands than requests. He would say things like, “Be clean” or “Rise up and walk” or “Blind eyes, be opened.” He usually didn’t ask His Father if it was His will to heal/help/answer/etc. And He never concluded a prayer by saying, “In My name, Amen!”

In Luke 6 there is a story about a man with a withered hand. Jesus healed him by speaking to the man, not to God. He said, “Stretch out your hand,” and when the man did so, his hand was completely restored. Jesus spoke with the authority of the Creator. 

I believe this was possible because Jesus had an unbroken conversation with His Father and the Holy Spirit. Certainly He had set times of prayer (see Mark 1:35, Mark 6:45-46, and Luke 6:12-13 as examples), but Jesus also told us that He only did what His Father told Him to do (John 5:19), and He only said what His Father told Him to say (John 12:49).

I know sometimes people want to say, “Yeah, but this is Jesus we’re talking about! C’mon, He’s the Son of God, so of course He could do these things.” But remember that the miracle of Christ’s Incarnation is that He chose NOT to do these things out of His Deity while He was on Earth, but restricted Himself only to His humanity. That’s why the Bible says that everything we face, Jesus also faced in the flesh (Hebrews 2:14-18).

But perhaps another example from someone who had no Deity in his nature might help. Consider Joshua—this man spent more time in God’s presence, listening to His voice, than even Moses (Exodus 33:11). So when the time came, Joshua could pray an incredibly bold prayer: He actually spoke to the sun and the moon and told them to stand still in the sky, AND THEY OBEYED HIM!

Just like Jesus spoke to the man with the withered hand in the authority of the Creator, Joshua spoke to the sun and the moon in the same authoritative voice. How could these men do that? Because they were familiar with God’s voice, and when He told them to speak out boldly, they simply obeyed.

Jesus said we could pray the same way—Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it (John 14:12-14, emphasis added).

How can we learn to pray this boldly? We need to spend more and more time in dialogue with God. We need to become increasingly aware of the His abiding presence with us. Then we, too, can pray in the Creator’s authority.

Praying this way glorifies God!

Get together with a friend this week and work through these application questions:

  1. Am I spending time in planned prayer and Bible reading?
  2. How can I make myself more aware of God’s perpetual presence?
  3. What’s holding me back from praying more boldly?

Talking With Your Best Friend

john-14-16I would like for you to get a really clear picture in your mind of your best friend. This is someone you have opened your heart to, and they have opened their heart to you as well. This is the friend that encourages you when you’re down, but never when you’re on a self-destructive path. This is the companion that cries with you when something is broken, but who also challenges you to accept responsibility if you are the one who broke it.

Do you have that friend clearly in mind?

Now I’d like you to imagine if your interaction with your friend went something like this. Every day around 7 o’clock in the morning, you call your friend and say…

“Good morning! I’m so grateful you took my call. Listen, I’ve got a few things that I’d love for you to help me with today. I’ve been fighting a cold and I’d really like you to help me feel better. My Aunt Sally is in the hospital, and it would be great if you could stop in to see her. Also, that guy at work has really been on my nerves lately and so I need some insight on how to deal with that. It would so great if you could help me with all of this. If you do, I’ll be singing your praises to everyone I meet. Have a great day. Thanks!”

And then you hang up and never talk to your friend again until the next morning when the exact same scenario is repeated. How do you think your relationship would progress? Do you see your relationship getting deeper over time, or becoming more distant? I’m guessing that, like me, you don’t see a future in this relationship.

Sadly, this is how many people treat prayer! We come to God once a day with our list of concerns, ask Him for His help, then say “goodbye” and never think about Him again until the next day. Or until we find ourselves in desperate need.

But we forget: God never leaves us!

We also forget something even more vital—God wants us to talk with Him, and He wants to talk with us, as a friend to a friend.

Abraham was called a friend of God—Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend (James 2:23).

Moses, too, was also God’s friend—The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend (Exodus 33:11).

This isn’t something that was just for them, but it’s relationship that’s available for ALL of us—For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God (Romans 5:10-11).

From the moment we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit took up residence in our heart. Before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He promised us, “I will talk to the Father, and He’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:16).

Amazing! Astounding! Mind-blowing! But totally true—Prayer is conversation with a Friend!

How would your day go differently if you kept up a conversation with your Best Friend all day long? How much more wisdom do you think you would receive? How many mistakes could you avoid if He was telling you which way to go and what to say?

You don’t have to live with the “what ifs.” He IS your constant Companion, your most loyal Friend, your wisest Counselor. All you have to do is keep the lines of conversation open!

Application questions:

  1. How can I know God wants to be my Friend?
  2. Have I been introduced to God?
  3. How can I make the time to deepen my friendship with God?
  4. What does it mean to me to have God as my Friend?

The Tabernacle Of Israel (book review)

the-tabernacle-of-israelIf you have ever used the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible, you are probably familiar with the work of Dr. James Strong. By the way, if you haven’t used this concordance, it is 1500+ pages listing every word in the Bible and their Hebrew or Greek word and definition. By contrast, Dr. Strong’s book on The Tabernacle Of Israel is only 170 pages, but it’s just as jam-packed with helpful information.

I was recently reading through the books of the Bible where God gives Moses highly specific instructions for the portable Tabernacle that is to be used for the Hebrews to conduct their worship services. This temporary Tabernacle not only served them while they sojourned in the wilderness for 40 years, but it became the pattern for the brick-and-mortar Temple that King Solomon built years later, and its pattern is referred to again in the New Testament book of Hebrews as being a pattern of the worship in heaven. Obviously this is a significant thing!

Dr. Strong uses his extraordinary skills to compile an easy-to-follow study of the design guidelines, building materials, and exact layout of this Tabernacle. He uses not only the biblical accounts, but also augments his work with extensive archeological discoveries.

Then to wrap up the book, Dr. Strong talks about the significance of the layout, colors, materials, and even mathematical significance of the Tabernacle’s design, showing how it still impacts the New Testament Christian to this day.

This is an academic book, but it is well worth your time if you would like to get a more in-depth knowledge of the Tabernacle which God commanded Moses to build.

Stand Firm!

C.H. Spurgeon“‘Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today’ (Exodus 14:13). This verse contains God’s command to me as a believer for those times when I am confronted with dire circumstances and extraordinary difficulties. What am I to do when I cannot retreat or go forward and my way is blocked to the right into the left? The Master’s word to me is, ‘Stand firm.’ And the best thing I can do at these times is to listen only to my Master’s word, for others will come to me with their suggestions and evil advice.

Despair will come, whispering, ‘Give up—lie down and die.’ …

Cowardice will come and say, ‘You must retreat to the world’s way of acting. It is too difficult for you to continue living the part of a Christian. Abandon your principles.’ …

Impatience will come, crying, ‘Get up and do something! To “stand firm” and wait is sheer idleness.’ …

Arrogance will come, boasting, ‘If the sea is blocking your way, march right into it and expect a miracle.’ …

“‘Stand firm.’ I must maintain the posture of one who stands ready for action, expecting further orders, and cheerfully and patiently awaiting the Director’s voice. It will not be long until God will say to me, as distinctly as He told Moses to tell the children of Israel, ‘Move on’ (Exodus 14:15).” —Charles Spurgeon

Christians As Priests

Priesthood of ChristiansThere are some extraordinary pictures in the Old Testament that take on new life when viewed through the lens of Jesus Christ. One picture is how God chose the Jewish people out of all the people on earth, how He then chose the tribe of Levi to serve as His priests, and then how He chose Aaron from the Levites to be the high priest.

The Jewish people, the Levites, and then Aaron became God’s special possession because He chose them; it’s not that He chose them because they were special. God did this to give us a picture of what He wants to do with all of us.

Although the Levites were chosen as priests, God tells all of Israel—

You will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:6)

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. That the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6)

When the Apostle Peter is speaking to New Testament Christians, he uses the same type of language. He calls all Christians:

Christians are ‘a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ that are to carry out their priestly roles while on Earth. 

Peter also talks about where Christian priests are to minister. In the Old Testament, the priests had a set location where ministry was done. But Peter says we are living stones built on the Living Stone (2:4). That means that the place of worship today is not brick and mortar, but flesh and blood.

Christian priesthood is mobile, adaptable, empathetic, and responsive to the the needs of the people.

If you are a Christian, here are some good questions to ask yourself:

We will be continuing our series about how citizens of Heaven should live on Earth (a series we’ve called Aliens and Strangers) this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in the Cedar Springs area, please come join us. If you cannot visit us in person, you can watch our Periscope broadcast (just search for user @craigtowens).

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