We just came home from Michingan Family Camp, 2009. What great services! What great preaching and teaching! Most campmeetings are where big-name preachers come with well-prepared messages designed to get everybody up on their feet and shouting. This week was a little different. Sure, we had T. F. Tenney, Jerry Jones, and Anthony Mangun, along with Michigan's own Harold Hoffman. If you are familiar with the United Pentecostal Church, you know they don't get much "bigger" than that! The difference was in the messages.
Over the last few years, there has been a recurring theme of prayer revivals and many preaching revivals, a theme that God gave my wife in her private prayer time some time back, and that I have heard preached time and time again since. Bro. Hoffman talked about it, Bro. and Sis Tenney talked about it, Bro. Henson referred to it in the Morning Manna prayer sessions, and Bro. Mangun spoke of it specifically. He even said that a homeless man that came to POA ministries gave him these very words in what he referred to as a "Word from the Lord": "Seek my face, not my arm. Don't seek the gifts of the Spirit so much as the Fruit of the Spirit."
John was on Patmos, recieving a vision from God about the Endtime. We can read about what he saw in the book of Revelation. Chapter 5 talks about seeing the book with seven seals in the right hand of Him who sat on the Throne, and no-one being worthy to open the seals on the book. Verse 4, John said, "I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. (verse 5) And one of the elders saith unto me, 'Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.'"
Hearing this pronouncement, John was looking for power; strength; majesty; greatness. The lion is the king of beasts. Judah was the tribe of kings. David was the greatest king of all, and this one is called the root of David! No tree is stronger than its roots! John was expecting the King of all kings, the strength of the strongest king. He was expecting something great!. But what did he see?
Verse 6 says, "And I beheld, and , lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth."
He looked for power and saw meekness. He looked for strength, and saw sacrifice. He looked for greatness, and saw one who had willingly given his life.
So what's the point? The point is, we have no business trying to access the power of God, His miracles, His financial blessings, His demonstration of power and gifts, until we develop a real relationship with God. I'm not talking about sinners coming to repentance; of course they don't have a relationship with God. They're sinners. They can't get a relationship with the Heavenly Father until they are born into His family (Acts 2: 38, John 3: 5). I'm talking to born again saints of God who want the demonstration of power when they haven't spent the time to make Jesus the center of thier lives.
When you have a close friend, and you want a deep friendship with him or her, you must invest time and emotion. You have to talk with them spend time with them, share their thoughts, likes, dislikes, pain, joys, goals; As the scripture says, "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" (Amos 3: 3)
Friendships-relationships are cultivated. A deep relationship is not an accident, it can only happen on purpose. A friendship based only on what your friend can do for you or give you is a shallow, one-sided affair. I saw a church sign recently that said, "God wants full custody, not week-end visitation". Our relationship with God must be based on daily communion with Him, not just a desparate prayer when we need something from Him. Talk to Him every day. Read His Word every day. Tell Him you love Him every day. Make Him and His will for you a part of everything you do. Listen for His voice! Yes, He will speak to you.
When my wife and I were dating, she lived in a town about 150 miles away from me. She had travelled to be with me for a Sunday morning service on one occaision, and after dinner, went back home. That evening, when I went to bed, a voice inside me said, "Call Sonja." Oh, sure, I thought. That's not God, that's just me wanting to talk to my sweetheart. A few moments later, the voice said, "Call Sonja." Yeah. After the third time, I picked up the phone, dialed her number, and, when she answered, I said, "This may sound silly, but I think God was telling me to call you." She laughed out loud and said she had prayed that I would not go to sleep before calling her. A couple of weeks later, I was dealing with something very troubling to me and I wanted to hear her voice, so I prayed, "God if she can ask you to have me call her, then you can have her call me." Sure enough, a few minutes later she called. Again she was laughing, saying God told her to call me (She has always had that great childlike faith). This may all sound silly, but it's a demonstration of how we can get close enough to God that He will gladly do those kind of little things for us, and the big things too, because we are His friends. His children. Those who He gets pleasure from because we spend time with Him.
Do you want miracles in your life? I do. In the busy-ness of life I've lost some (a lot?) of that intimacy that I had with Jesus. Too many hours on the truck. Too many chores around the house. Too many bills to pay. Too much everything except time with Jesus. I've been chastised this week and reminded that I will see those miracles when I'm not looking for them, but looking at Him.
Bro. Mangun quoted the verse, "When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." (Isaiah 59:19b) He explained, and I believe he is right, that the standard the Lord raises on our behalf is our prayers. God can do anything, but He has chosen to restrict himself to doing for us only those things we allow Him to do. The restrictions come from our lack of faith, our lack of good works (Ooh there's a bad word- no, works of righteousness or repentance, not works for salvation), and our lack of communion with Him.
Jesus told the church at Ephesus, "I know thy works, and thy labor,and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: ... Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." (Rev 2: 2, 4, 5) Bro. Mangun said, "God would rather have a city in darkness than a church that has lost its love for God." If I never see another miraculous healing again,or see another demonstration of God's supernatural power, I will certainly be dissapointed at times. But if I never hear his voice again I will be lost for all eternity.
Pray. Seek His face. Know who he is, not just what he is. Absorb all you can of Jesus into you. Love Him. Embrace Him. Then share Him.
God bless, Pastor Colegrove.