In this world of complexities and challenges–where excellence battles with mediocrity, where vision and hope are robbed by lethargy and apathy—we need to know we are standing on the unshakable foundation of our faith. Sadly, many Christians today are faltering in their faith because of biblical illiteracy and because of a lack of love for truth. 1 John 4 tells us how critical it is to be instructed by the Word so we may discern between truth and error.
My heart aches at all the callousness and brokenness in our society—there is an erosion and unraveling of so many of our moral foundations. The Apostle Paul was deeply concerned that, even amongst those who profess to know the truth, many would no longer have a love for the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12) and would be given to deception and strong delusion. But in 2 Timothy 4:5, he encourages us to make sure we are not disheartened or discouraged by this and instead to keep our focus on the Lord.
The book of Jude provokes and challenges us to be spiritually fit to contend and do battle for the truth. Only those who are spiritually prepared, grounded, and in shape can effectively respond to the spiritual and moral battles of the day.
GIVE US BARABBAS!
A few years ago, my friend Jim Buchan was editing one of my upcoming book releases when he said something that resonated in my spirit and provoked me to take a deeper look at the spiritual and political climate during the days of King Herod and under the reign of Caesar. The similarities to today are uncanny.
The murderous spirit of Herod ordered the killing of children to keep them from their destinies. Aren’t we like that today, by offering our children on the altar of comfort and ease? What have we come to when we offer our children on the altar of Molech? No matter what denominational or political affiliation we have, it’s an atrocity when a society disregards life in the womb, even up to the point of birth.
Later, when Pontius Pilate offered the people a choice between Jesus and Barabbas, a robber and thief, the same murderous spirit was at work. The crowd was swayed to choose Barabbas—rejecting the Truth, who was in front of them.
“Then they all cried again, saying, ‘Not this Man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a robber.” (John 18:40)
The crowd’s peculiar and preferred choice digressed into mocking Jesus in chapter 19 to chants of, “Crucify Him! Crucity Him!”
It’s easy to become skewed in our walk because we become skewed in our thinking, just like the crowd who chose Barabbas. The challenge for the Church today is to identify what choices we are making that contradict the love of truth, authentic righteousness, and justice which end up clouding our discernment and judgment.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires,
because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
… but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. (Daniel 11:32b NKJV)
This scripture has to be among the most encouraging and inspiring verses in the Bible. Who doesn’t want to be strong and carry out great exploits in the name of the Lord? But I find it interesting that the next three verses say this:
And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time. (Daniel 11:33-35 NKJV)
It’s sobering that God says those who teach us “shall fall.” Yet when this occurs, there is a choice to make. Many who fall, when confronted, will remain in their sin and even justify it by creating their own theology to support it. They head down the slippery slope of destruction, taking others with them who follow their itching ears. But those who choose the path of humility will come back even stronger than before.
SHAKEN CHURCH, SCATTERED SHEEP
For many years, God has been impressing on me that the Church needs to prepare because a season of shaking is coming (Hebrews 12:27). In the 1980s, I wrote an article called “The Lord’s Provision During the Shaking,” which became the chapter “Church-Quake” in my book, It’s Time to Cross the Jordan. It’s vital that we know there is value in the shaking and that we must steward the shaking.
And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)
God shakes us and takes us out of Egypt (our world) into our journey to get the world out of us. In that place, we’re able to possess the land and be victorious. If we don’t accept the truth in the desert, we reject or postpone the purpose and promises of God. But if we accept truth, we expedite God plan. And while we are there, our life lessons become our life message.
The Lord’s discipline always begins with His own and in the House of the Lord. When the shaking comes, only those things that are part of the Unshakable Kingdom can withstand and remain. Psalm 112: 1-6 promises that “the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments… Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.” God does not tolerate unrighteousness in the house of the Lord.
On January 10 of this year, during a vision-casting meeting with our staff, we had a strong sense that we would soon see an increase of shakings and even implosions of ministries where people have built on institutional structures rather than the incarnational presence of God. It’s so important for us to get back to our First Love so that when the Church quakes and the shakings come, we can be prepared in our hearts for the harvest.
God has given us long periods of peace and prosperity so that we can be a blessing to the nations—but many have chosen not to rely on God or rightly steward the resources He has provided. Instead of choosing
God’s way, they have followed the way of the world, building on concept instead of character. As I’ve often said, “While men reach for thrones to build their kingdom, Jesus reached for a towel to wash men’s feet.”
God wants to shift resources from the unjust stewards—who have become enamored with their own popularity—and to distribute them to those who have been faithful with the little things and are still seeking their First Love. There are many ministries out there that have been faithful with the crumbs off the table for many years, and now is the time for their reward.
When the shaking happens—through moral failure or financial implosion—we are not to rejoice. As Jeremiah wept when Israel fell, we must pray that those who have fallen will repent and come back stronger.
A shaken church will lead to scattered sheep, wandering in a desert and becoming discouraged. We must be ready to receive them with grace and compassion. It will not be a time to gloat over the fallen shepherd or to become puffed up.
KNOWING GOD AND PLEASING GOD
In Daniel 11:32, the Hebrew word for “knowing” God is “yada,” which means an intimate, interactive, and submissive relationship with God. This is similar to “ginosko” in the New Testament: … that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings… (Philippians 3:10) Another word for “sufferings” here is “passion.” When we truly know God, we are passionate about the same things He is passionate about.
God wants to bring us success and victories, but we cannot compromise and do things the world’s way. We must do things in a way that pleases Him.
How do I please God? By loving people and showing them Jesus. By embracing those who fail, who truly have a heart of brokenness. By gathering scattered sheep and pointing them to the Great
Shepherd who never fails.
We must speak truth, using love and discernment. Instead of being critical and heaping on condemnation, we must ask ourselves what we are doing to be part of the solution.
The Bible is very clear that we are not to give place to the devil—we have the Good News! Keep focused on what God has called you to do to bring positive change. Lasting transformation comes only through Christ.
THE SHAKINGS ARE COMING!
Hebrews 12 encourages us that the Lord disciplines those He loves, and in verses 27-29 explains that
everything that can be shaken, will be shaken so the Unshakeable Kingdom remains. More than ever, I sense an urgency to dig deeper in consecration and higher in expectation in the Lord, clinging to the Truth, as every institution we have placed our hopes upon, sacred and secular, is being shaken.
The Lord is searching throughout the Church with lamps of His Holy Spirit and marking those who
are settled in compromise and complacency (Zeph. 1:12). By the light of the Holy Spirit, God is searching out the dross and rubbish in our lives to purge and refine us in preparation for the days ahead. But He is also searching out and marking those who are weeping for all the detestable things that are going on (Ezekiel 9:4).
William Booth (1829-1912), Methodist preacher and founder of Salvation Army said, “…I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.”
The late A.W. Tozer in his article on “The Gift of Prophetic Insight” said: “What God says to the Church at any given time period depends altogether upon her moral and spiritual condition, and upon the spiritual need of the hour. Religious leaders who expound the Scriptures without regard to the current religious situation are no better than the scribes and lawyers of Jesus’ day who faithfully parroted the Law without the remotest notion of what was going on around them spiritually…The prophets never made that mistake nor wasted their efforts in that manner. They invariably spoke to the condition of the people of their times.”
Today, we have some of the most gifted orators and well trained communicators and pontificators, but what we need are those who have also been in the Presence of the Lord, who can hear from Him and communicate His heart to a
desperate world. We need to be those who love God and the people He has called us to serve more than we love ourselves. We need a leadership awakening to fill the vacuum of godly and courageous leaders.
As 1 Corinthians 9:16-18 says, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me: yes, woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.”
REVIVAL: BY CHOICE OR BY CONSEQUENCE?
When Lou Gerstner, former CEO at IBM, spoke at the Harvard Business School in December of 2002, he told the students, “Transformation of an enterprise begins with a sense of crisis or urgency. No institution will go through fundamental change unless it believes it is in deep trouble and needs to do something different to survive.”
There is a battle today for the heart of the Church and the soul of a generation. We need individual heart awakenings that become a corporate Church Awakening if we are going to see any lasting healing in the soul of our nation. If our nation’s broken foundations are to be fixed, then we, the Church must awaken our hearts and get back to our spiritual moorings and Biblical principles. Psalm 11:3 says, “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” Better to have a heart awakening than a rude awakening!
Duncan Campbell, the Scottish evangelist and revivalist who was known for being a leader in the Hebrides Revival in the mid-20th century is quoted as saying, “Revival is a community saturated with God.” In the book, The Bright and Shining Revival, he defines revival as, “the impact of the personality of Jesus Christ upon a church or on a
Throughout history, the Church has grown through times of challenge. Psalm 112: 1-6 promises that “the man who fears the Lord, Who delights greatly in His commandments… Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.”
Acts 4 is also an encouragement to us; the early Church was threatened against speaking the truth of the Gospel. Instead of bowing to the threats they asked God for strength and boldness to persevere in the truth. God sent them a shaking but in this one they were filled with the Holy Spirit and boldness (Acts 4:31).
The shakings are coming! And revival will come, by choice or by consequence. Because of that, we must keep
focused on the Lord, looking past the disappointments and disillusionments —because along with the shaking will come a great harvest!