Sunday, January 15, 2012

Restore Us Again, O God Our Saviour

Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's just where I live and serve the Lord. Maybe it's just my part of the world. When I  dwell in the Word of God I am overwhelmed with a desire to possess what the early Church had. Then I look around at where I am and all I see is what man has done with it. It's not the same thing. I know there are a lot of good people out there who are trying to get there with their churches but often the majority of believers keep the leaders boxed into what the majority see as the way to go, which is often just gimmicks of the world. Maybe I am being overly critical but I am tired of all the marketing, the showmanship, the "cool" kid syndrome, the leadership worship, the facade.

I honestly believe that we are missing the blessings of the Lord, the anointing in ministry, the headship of Jesus. Is it possible for God to remove his favour from his people due to disobedience and we not notice? Have we continued on with the "appearance of godliness" without the power? Have we become a bunch of teachers because no one has a clue how to actually live the Spirit-filled life? Are we nothing more than academics in pursuit of knowledge without the actual "fear" of the Lord?

There were many times in Israel's history where God had to remove his favour from his people due to their disobedience. He didn't remove his love or they would have been destroyed but he removed his favour and they became subject to other kingdoms until they turned back to him with all their heart. During one of these times a psalmist wrote:

You showed favor to your land, O LORD; 
   you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 
You forgave the iniquity of your people 
   and covered all their sins. 
You set aside all your wrath 
   and turned from your fierce anger. (Psalm 85:1-3)

This was an acknowledgement of what God had done in the past, the forgiveness he had shown his people for their past disobedience. Because God has set this pattern and has consistently forgiven his people in the past the psalmist prayed he would do it again:

Restore us again, O God our Savior, 
   and put away your displeasure toward us. 
Will you be angry with us forever? 
   Will you prolong your anger through all generations? 
Will you not revive us again, 
   that your people may rejoice in you? 
Show us your unfailing love, O LORD, 
   and grant us your salvation. (vv. 4-7)

Today we act more as individuals with God than we do as a nation of his people. We know what it is to repent and seek forgiveness for our own individual disobedience but how often do we do that as a people, as a church? Most churches will never repent because they do not recognize their own folly. They do not see what they are doing as wrong. As long as they pay their bills and new people are showing up now and then they are doing okay and obeying the great commission of Jesus Christ - is what they think. We have gotten so use to man's traditions that we do not even see how far off the mark we have gotten.

The Church is filled with self, materialism, greed, idol worship, self-determination. We make our own plans and then ask God to bless them. We treat Jesus as a genie granting us our wishes instead of as the Head of the Body from where we take our orders. We are governed by man's wisdom, traditions and ideas and have lost the ability to hear and follow the Holy Spirit. It has become much more about growing the numbers in our churches instead of growing the people in our churches. We are so messed up and we don't even see it. When is the last time the Spirit took over in your church and turned the meeting upside down? I know it happens with some of you but the vast majority deny the Spirit and stick to their own agenda.

It's never too late to say we are sorry, to turn back to God with all our heart and obey him:

I will listen to what God the LORD will say; 
   he promises peace to his people, his saints— 
   but let them not return to folly. 
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, 
   that his glory may dwell in our land. (vv. 8-9)

I am telling you God has intended great blessings for his people, the Church, the Body of Christ but disobedience blocks those blessings. Jesus has all the answers we are looking for, the solutions for our needs, the direction for us to take. We only need to set aside ourselves and make the decision to fully surrender and to fully obey. Not obey part of his commands but to obey all of his commands. It starts with love. He desires for the blessings to flow through us so that his glory may dwell in our land:

Love and faithfulness meet together; 
   righteousness and peace kiss each other. 
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, 
   and righteousness looks down from heaven. 
The LORD will indeed give what is good, 
   and our land will yield its harvest. (vv. 10-12)

That is the description of a blessed nation, a blessed people, the blessed children of our heavenly Father. It is not too late for the Church as it is not too late for any individual to repent and turn in obedience to the Lord. Throw off all the trappings, all traditions of man, all the idols and self notion and walk in God's righteousness:

Righteousness goes before him    and prepares the way for his steps. (v. 13)

Perhaps we don`t realize it yet but much of God`s great river of blessings have been stopped up by our own disobedience. Let us repent as a people, recognize our folly, submit ourselves to the Spirit`s control again and see that river set free. Let our desire not be for self but that the glory of our Lord will once again fill our land, that the nations will know that there is a God and he has revealed himself through Jesus.

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