Thursday, 19 April 2018

O On the edge of revival

Learning to trust God

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Pre-Revival Night – Dordrecht, The Netherlands - August 19th, 2016

The one thing that seems to take most of our time, in our Christian life, is waiting. All of us were so enthusiastic when we started our Christian life. We heard of the great testimonies in the Bible, and some were even lucky to hear recent testimonies. We believed. We had faith. We were full of power. But then the storms came and our faith was tested, whether we realized it or not. The waiting didn’t seem to end. In some cases, the isolation didn’t seem to end. When we look around us, we often don’t see much happening. Great testimonies? Yes. Great proclamations and words? Yes. Results? Barely. Closer than that, most don’t see much result in their own life either. 

One of my former pastors always used to say that we have two options in every situation. To become bitter or better. But that is not a decision we make from our emotion, although it would be very attractive to make that decision from our emotion. There are times when our emotions are screaming to give up, to take another route, to think about yourself and your desires for once, to spend more time on doing ‘easy things’ etc. We have all faced those moments where we’ve looked for an escape or a shortcut. Especially when times get hard. Especially when it starts to hurt. But then comes the point where you realize that all these choices and emotions are doing just one thing: pleasing our flesh. Our flesh is completely aimed inward. It’s about what I want, how I want it, when I want it and how I feel. It is the exact opposite of the character that Jesus showed. Pleasing our own flesh doesn’t make us better, it will eventually make us bitter. While everyone starts this journey positively, there are many who give up when it gets hard or when the journey takes too long. That is no surprise, because one thing that disappointment does is suck all the energy and hope out of you. That is the moment where it shows if your faith was just a burst of emotion, or something that was rooted in your heart. 

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12

When we truly have a desire for revival, we must realize that God always works from the inside to the outside. When we start to ask for revival, God will first start in our hearts and then in our churches. Most of the time it already stops there. There are two keywords that are unavoidable on the road to revival. Those words are endurance and perseverance. Or simply said, not giving up when it gets hard. In God’s Kingdom the currency is faith. Everything we may and can achieve and receive can only be reached by faith. Without faith we have nothing. It starts with the faith that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah (Anointed One) and the Son of God, but it doesn’t stop there. At the beginning of this journey to revival, we need faith. While moving on, we need faith. When it gets hard, we need faith. All the way until we’ve reached that point, and beyond. The key we need in order to be able to believe is trust. Whether we believe something or not depends on the person who said it. That’s where many of us fail. That’s why many of us lack faith. Not because we don’t want to have faith (I believe everyone wants to have faith), but because we are held back because of disappointments. Having hope is not enough. We need to have faith to move on. Faith is the only currency in God’s Kingdom. 

Many of us have received promises. Through prophetic words, through the Word of God or directly from the Holy Spirit, but as time moved on, some of these promises came to pass, while others didn’t. There can be many reasons why a promise of God did not (yet) came to pass. One example is not following the leading of the Holy Spirit and running with the promise. Another example is sin. I don’t mean if we just fall for sin, I mean if we persevere in it. Everyone can fall for sin, but how we respond to it determines our destiny, being the promise of God or the fruit of our own stubbornness. Other examples are trials and timing. When a promise did not yet come to pass, it doesn’t always mean that we did something wrong. Sure, we can ask the Holy Spirit if we’ve missed something, but in many cases it comes down to waiting. When we see nothing happening, that’s the moment where our faith is stretched. We start wondering if we heard it well, if we were misled, if the person who shared the promise wasn’t speaking from his own flesh etc. This is why we always need to test every word, before we accept it as the truth. When we’ve tested it, and found it to be true, what happens next? Our faith is stretched as well. The question is, do we still believe in the trustworthiness of God? Do we still believe He is faithful when it gets hard? Do we still trust Him?

The main reason why so many Christians come to a point where they find it hard to trust God is because we have learned a very wrong definition of what trust is and how it should be applied. Trust is the reliance on and the confidence in the truthfulness, worthiness, reliability, integrity and character of a person. To trust someone is giving credit, honor and praises to a person, while voluntarily depending on that person.

I dealt with this topic in one of my former studies, but in regard to the topic of revival, the issue of trust is extremely important, so forgive me if I’m repeating stuff you already know. I’m going to do it anyway.  A very familiar quote is: “Trust is the hardest thing to find and the easiest thing to lose.” In some sort of way trust has become a form of currency in every relationship. It has become a revenue model. The more good things we do, the more trust we’ll earn. The more trust we’ll earn, the better the relationship will grow. Trust is in the first place build by consistency, but also by integrity, competence, sincerity, reliability and commitment. We have to do something for it. It’s a revenue model. The same applies for others as well. People have to do something for us in order to stay in a relationship with us. They have to proof to be trustworthy, all the way, all the time. Whether we realize this or not, it is some sort of system in our way of thinking. When one of the building stones of trust becomes damaged, we start to measure the damage. Based on the ‘costs’ (emotional, physical or financial), we decide if we are willing to overcome the issue and to grant another chance (aka invest in the relationship again).  

Once trust is damaged, it is usually a hard job to regain it. From the point of the one who was betrayed, it becomes harder to get involved in such a relationship again. Betrayal is one of the toughest things to deal with, even if it’s just a feeling. The most seen response is that we are walling ourselves off from each other, which only perpetuates the problem. We place walls around our heart to protect our most vulnerable feelings and emotions. The more trust is violated, the more we are betrayed, the bigger and thicker the walls around our heart become and the harder it is to give ourselves in other relationships. However this does not keep us safe, it keeps us lonely and isolated.

Then there’s the point where you find out that this whole ‘system of trust’ is not in line with the Word of God at all. A while ago I heard a familiar man of God say the following: “Love everyone, trust no one, only God.” A remarkable statement, compared to the belief system of this world. Psychology will tell you that you will never be able to have healthy relationships without trust being involved. I have found out that God tells us the exact opposite of that. I have checked the almost 200 places in the Bible where the Word talks about trust, and I’ve found out that at every place the Word talks about trust in a positive way, it is always (and only) about trusting in God. But it goes further than that. The Word explicitly tells us that everyone who trusts in a human being is under a curse.

Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.
Jeremiah 17:5-7

This is quite a bit to take in. Here God tells us that no human being should be trusted. Then He says that everyone who does trust a human being is cursed. To God, that is the same as departing with your heart from Him. That is a very substantial statement since we know how incredibly important our heart is to God. The result of the curse that is connected to it is spiritual and natural poverty, as well as spiritual blindness and unfruitfulness. It is the exact opposite of the fruit of revival. Look around you and see. When I look at the majority of the church today, I see spiritual and natural poverty. I see spiritual blindness and unfruitfulness. There is so much lacking these days. So the fruit of this curse is an extremely accurate description of the condition of a huge part of the church these days. Let’s be honest, who hasn’t trusted in another human being? We all have. Why is trusting in a human being such a bad thing? God answers that question a few verses further.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.
Jeremiah 17:9-10

Instead of what many believe, Jesus never taught otherwise. He even emphasized it by teaching us how wicked our hearts are. He started by telling that it is possible to honor Him with your lips, while your heart is far from Him (Matthew 15:8-9). He continued by teaching that our heart produces evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness and blasphemies (Matthew 15:19). Jesus never said that curses would never apply anymore. What He did do was offer us a way out from under the curse, because of His sacrifice. The way out always starts with repentance. 

As you may know by now, I not only want to know the ‘what’, but also always the ‘why’. That question is partially answered by what God says about the condition of our hearts, but it doesn’t really tell us what trust does and what the connection is exactly. Let’s take a look at those ‘building stones’ of trust, which are consistency, integrity, competence, sincerity, reliability and commitment.

Consistency

The word consistency shows us the ‘constant factor’. In other words, the thing that is always there, unchanging, cohesive and perfectly in line. When we talk about the constant factor, then I have to think about Hebrews 13:8, where it says: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” There is not a single man who is able to say the same about him or herself. 

Integrity

Integrity can simply be explained as faithful and true. Again, there is no human being who can honestly say this about him or herself. When we look what the Word says about ‘faithful and true’, we can find the name ‘Ne’eman V’Yashar’ (Revelation 19:11), which means exactly that and is one of the identities of Jesus Himself. 

Competence

This can be explained as the condition of being capable, to be able to do something right. In Philippians 4:13 the Word says: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That also means we can do nothing without Christ and without the strength He is giving us. Again something we can’t do on our own. 

Sincerity

True sincerity is freedom from deceit, hypocrisy and falseness. It is earnestness and probity. All combined we can conclude that this is the difference between knowing and walking in the truth and not knowing and walking in the truth, whether it’s because of stubbornness or lack of knowledge. It is only Jesus from Whom we can say that He is the Truth (John 14:6), truthful and faithful (Revelation 19:11), for we have all fallen for deceit, hypocrisy and falseness in one or more areas. 

Reliability

This can be explained as predictable and dependable, bringing us back to Jesus Christ, being the same all the way, all the time. He is the Only One Who is always predictable and dependable, as ‘Rosh vaSof’ (Revelation 1:8), the Beginning and the End. No matter how hard we try, on our own strength we can only maintain our reliability for a period of time. The only alternative we have is to pretend. 

Commitment

The act of pledging, an obligation or promise. In Isaiah 55:11 the Lord says that His Word will always do for which it was sent. The greatest example of His commitment was the fact that He sent Jesus Christ to this earth, to save us. Jesus, the Living Word. The Word that was accomplished in every detail. Again, this level of commitment, which is the only true commitment, cannot be reached on our own strength. 

When we look at all the building stones, we can see what God meant by the fact that we can’t put our trust in men. Every building stone collides with the condition of our hearts. Believing that we can trust in a human being, no matter who it is, comes forth from pride, from trusting in our own insights and judgment. There is no such thing as shared trust. We trust in God or we trust in men. When we trust in men, God says that our heart then departs from Him. We have to choose one, trust in God, or trust in men. The decision is ours. 

He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the Lord will be prospered. He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.
Proverbs 28:25,26

Do not trust in a friend; Do not put your confidence in a companion
Micah 7:5

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.
Psalm 118:8,9

Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
Psalm 146:3

Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us.
2 Corinthians 1:9-10

Relationships are not built on trust. They are built on love and love only. That love is given to us by God and we have the capability to choose to share it, to give it away like Jesus did. Selfless. Unconditional. But when it comes to trust, we have to make a decision. The question we need to answer for ourselves is: “Is God faithful?” Keep in mind that this answer can only apply to everything or nothing. If we choose to believe that God is faithful, then He is faithful in every area. If we choose to believe that He isn’t faithful, or that He is not faithful in some areas, we have doubt in every area. Either His entire Word is true, or nothing is true at all. It’s up to us to decide. And yes, I’m using the word ‘decide’ on purpose, because trust is a decision, not an emotion. The emotions are involved, but it starts with a decision. Our emotions follow our decision. We choose what we want to believe. At the beginning of this journey to revival, we need trust. We need faith. Without trust and faith, all we have is spiritual poverty, natural poverty, spiritual blindness and unfruitfulness. When we make a decision with our will, to trust God, to believe in His faithfulness, regardless of our pain and disappointments, then He will give us all the help we need. Our faith will still be stretched, but at every step He will give us enough strength to carry on. When we persevere and endure, we will always enter the promise. In His timing and way. But it shall come to pass. For He truly is faithful. So what do we decide?

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