Tuesday, 18 September 2018

O On the edge of revival

God wants to restore your life completely

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Pre-Revival Night – Dordrecht, The Netherlands - December 9th, 2016

When we think about restoration, we often think of finances, careers, health, etc. During the last decades, and in particular in the Charismatic movements, those areas were always emphasized. I know and believe that God does restore those areas as well, but it is not His first priority. When God starts to move, like we’ve learned in the previous studies, through teaching us to trust Him again, through restoring righteousness, through judgments or grace, through His fire and Anointing, then what is His aim? The wholeness of man. To make you whole again. I know that the majority of today’s Christians are not waiting for this message. It doesn’t ‘sell’. Most people are more interested in the physical results, while God is way more interested in what happens inside of us. He will even drop every other form of restoration, if that prevents us from wholeness on the inside. 

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?
Luke 9:24-25

As I’ve mentioned many times before, there are so many people who think that a ‘revival’ is some great event of entertainment. They believe it’s about an outburst of signs and miracles, about shouts of joy and about singing happy songs, while we’re all being lifted up in the Spirit. That is the general image of revival. And because there are so many people who believe this, they miss the signs of how it truly starts. I would say that repentance is needed here. As I also mentioned before, repentance means changing the way you think, in order to bring it back in alignment with the Word of God. Yes, we serve a God of mighty miracles and yes, He loves to bring joy to our lives. No question about that. Does He do that as well? Yes! Is it His highest priority? No. That all becomes secondary. What is the difference? When we aim at the signs and miracles, and when our hearts long for that, we are aimed at our personal gain. Then it is all about us again. Self-centered faith. To many it’s more like a hype than like a life changing experience. 

How long, O you sons of men, will you turn my glory to shame? How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood? But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The Lord will hear when I call to Him. Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.
Psalm 4:2-5

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

The last thing God wants us to do is to pretend, which many are doing in church today. Pretending that everything is alright, pretending that they live a holy life and pretending that they are above every situation. Who are you when nobody is watching? How do you respond when it gets tough? What do you do when you’re all alone? Are you the type person that surprises people when they find out you’re a Christian, because your lifestyle doesn’t reflect that in any way? In other words, are all the things you’re pretending to be in Church a reality in your day to day life? What lives inside your heart matters the most. Your struggles with sin, your inner pain, your anxieties and everything else is what keeps your heart away from the depths of His heart. When the fire of God comes, that is what it will deal with first and foremost. When we’re just pretending, we turn His glory into shame. Sooner or later, people will find out that it’s fake. Then your faith becomes worthless to them and it can damage their faith as well. People are looking for realness, not for a show. Who doesn’t want the real thing? God has never made us to go through this alone. When He longs for realness in our hearts, then it means that He also gave us all the tools we need to achieve that. 

Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.
Proverbs 4:23

Wholeness in our lives can only come through the wholeness of our Master and Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. It is His wholeness that can make us whole again. But He does not only offer us a way to become whole as ‘an option’. It is His heart’s desire! That is what revival is all about. His Spirit and His fire will come to expose everything that lives in our hearts. Is that a joyful happening? Far from. But exposing what lives inside of us is what is needed. We need to realize that nothing that we have from ourselves is an acceptable offering to Him. All we have in our carnal flesh is decay and sin. Becoming a Christian does not automatically deal with these issues. We need to do that by acknowledging our sins and shortcomings. Only then the power of Christ is can be released in those areas. 

You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, The years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, and my spirit makes diligent search.
Psalm 77:4-6

It may not sound inviting, but when the Spirit and the fire of God opens our eyes, then we become aware of what needs to change. We can only act based upon the things we’re aware of. The aim is always to bring us closer to Him, further from sin, to the point of wholeness and restoration. And that, my friends, is where the real joy begins. Only then, that joy is no longer entertainment, but something that comes from the heart. Then it is real. When you start to discover that you become aware of sin and shortcomings in your life, then don’t push it away. I’m not talking about the accusing thoughts, because those are from the accuser, the enemy. I’m talking about being aware of the sin.  When that happens, simply act and confess the sins that the Spirit is exposing. Don’t run away when that happens, but run towards Him. He is there, with open arms, to help you, to guide you and to restore you. If He wanted to condemn you, God would never have send Jesus. Do not let guilt and shame withhold you from running into His arms. His aim is to restore you, even when it hurts, even when it feels like you have done the unforgivable thing. When it feels you’re desperately lost, even then. He will never despise your weakness. The only thing He despises is pride and hardened hearts. 

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6-8

This shows the remarkable love of God for us. What was there to love in us? What did we do for God? We weren’t righteous or good. We weren’t even searching for God. Yet He found us. It was the other way around indeed. He was the One searching for us. When God looks at us without Christ, there are only sinners to be seen. People filled with all the things that God hates so much and which are the total opposite of His character. There was nothing attractive to that. And still He decided to look through all of that and He gave us Jesus Christ, Who gave His life for us. Now that is sacrificial, selfless and unconditional love, aimed at nothing less than our complete and utter restoration. 

In this world, restoration means to bring something back to the former or original condition. That is the image we all have, when thinking about restoration. But in the Kingdom of our God that is not really the case. The word ‘restoration’ doesn’t really cover it. When we surrender all control to Jesus and when we let Him do the change in us, that is a whole new level of restoration. He doesn’t bring us back to the former or original condition, leaving all the scars, but He does something even greater. He makes all things new. Without the scars. Blameless. And even that is not all He does. In the Kingdom of our God, restoration always means increase, multiplication or improvement, so that it becomes significantly better than its original state. It all seems so unfair that those who commit sin and repent will be restored, and even with increase. That goes against our feelings of righteousness. Is it unfair? Well, we can conclude that those who repent receive something they don’t deserve, which is forgiveness of sin and restoration. But that is exactly what grace is. Does it go against our feelings of righteousness? No. It goes against our feelings of condemnation and punishment. Grace goes against condemnation and punishment, because the aim of grace is to restore, while the aim of condemnation and punishment is to destroy, damage or to have revenge. The grace of God has been made available to us, because of Jesus. First He will restore us. Then He asks us to pay it forward and to grant the same grace to those who have sinned against you. I’m talking about the grace that goes all the way, to complete and utter restoration. 

Throughout His whole life, Jesus showed one huge pattern of restoration. His heart towards us is to save us, heal us, deliver us and to completely restore us. The pattern that He showed was pure grace. He did everything He could do from His side to make all of this possible for us. But in any relationship, there are more people involved. The first relationship God wanted to restore was and is the one between Him and you. The sort of relationship He wants is a heart to heart relationship (Matthew 15:8). When the heart isn’t in it, all is in vain (verse 9). First God draws us into the conviction of sin. At that point we can choose with our hearts to respond to that. When we do, He draws us into repentance (renewal of our way of thinking) and He will continue to draw us through the whole process, to the point of restoration and beyond, to increased restoration. But all of this can only happen when the heart is in it and when our decisions are sincere. The only thing He wants from us is a sincere heart. He does the work in us. When our heart is not completely in it or not completely sincere, for example because we rather choose to love the sin, He can’t lead us to restoration. Simply because it is not possible to combine His Light with darkness. There are no grey areas. Every area that is not completely in the Light, belongs to the darkness. But when we have a sincere heart, there is no sin He can’t draw us away from, towards the Light. Remember, the keys are sincerity, acknowledgment, surrendering control, trusting and waiting (while staying in His Word).   

As you may have noticed by now, the condition of the heart is one of my favorite topics. I used to be one of those many Christians, thinking that my Christian life was alright. I did many things for the Lord and I was prepared to travel to the ends of the world for Him. But then the Holy Spirit showed me the condition of my human heart and I was devastated. While I thought I was already where I supposed to be, I discovered that there were so many areas in my life that weren’t right at all. He did not aim at the things I did, He aimed at everything that lived inside my heart. Each and every thought of sin, the moments I considered sin as an option, even if I did not act. It was what was living in my heart that already made me sinful. Realizing this is one of the biggest steps forward. 

When we respond to the work of the Holy Spirit, and when our sins are no longer hidden but dealt with, it will cause wholeness to enter our hearts. Your relationship with Jesus will never be the same again. You will never be the same again. Everything will change. It will no longer be about you and about your gain, but about Him and His gain. Sometimes that may mean that God chooses to perform mighty signs and miracles in order to get there. Sometimes it will go the other way around. God always looks at the situation from His perspective. If He sees that signs or miracles are needed to get you at the place of wholeness, it will happen. But only for His glory, not for ours. The wholeness that He brings is not just for this life and time. He restores us to the way that He intended us to be when He created mankind. He even wants to go beyond that, to an increasing restoration on a whole new level of wholeness to the point where His bride is pure, clean and without spot or wrinkle. We can never achieve that on our own strength. We need His help in order to get to that point. It won’t happen without the rain and the latter rain, the precious Anointing that He gives through His precious Holy Spirit.

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