Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Fresh Falling

 

8“You heavens above, rain down righteousness;
        let the clouds shower it down.
   Let the earth open wide,
        let salvation spring up,
        let righteousness grow with it;
        I, the Lord, have created it.”

—The words of the Prophet Isaiah from Isaiah 45:8

 

21Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may return;
        renew our days as of old

—The words of the Prophet Jeremiah from Lamentations 5:21

 

Nothing rejuvenates living things as much as a warm spring rain. That’s why those who write about revival often use rain as an image for the renewing that takes place when God sends His Holy Spirit to refresh the hearts of those He loves.

As a teenager in the 1960s, we would often close our Wednesday night prayer meetings by singing a little gospel chorus. Here are the words:

spring rain falling in the forestSpirit of the living God,
    Fall afresh on me.
Spirit of the living God,
    Fall afresh on me.
Break me, melt me,
    mold me, fill me.
Spirit of the living God,
    Fall afresh on me.

The sweet solemnity of twenty to thirty young people kneeling in a circle softly singing this song still touches me after all these years have passed. Even more so, the desire in my heart for a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit to bring a sweeping revival to our land has only deepened with the passing years. I long for revival more today than ever before.

When I use the word “revival,” I am talking about the “coming to life again.”

The longing for revival comes from the heart of someone who observes the weakness of our current evangelical Christian culture. Great power in sharing the gospel has long ago diminished. Deeply rooted spiritual formation seems more like something I might read about in a history book than experience in a modern evangelical church. A burning passion for sharing what Christ has done to redeem those He loves coupled with a heart-wrenching burden for the lost—the people who do not yet know what Christ has done for them—seems like something from a long ago time in the past.

I long for a fresh, vital, drenching outpouring of God's mercy, love, and grace. I long for a renewal of the Spirit of God within my life. Even more, I long for my fellow believers to experience what it means to become solely concerned about Kingdom matters—the work that God wants us to accomplish in His behalf here on this earth, right now, in this present time.

So, I pray earnestly and fervently that God will give us a fresh falling of the Holy Spirit to revive us, to renew us, to set our hearts on fire for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to fill our hearts with His God-breathed love for those around us who need to come to a life-transforming relationship with Jesus.

In case you do not know this little gospel chorus, please let me share it with you through this video:

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

So, how does revival begin? The great 19th century evangelist, Charles Finney, once took a stick and drew a large circle on the ground. Then, he stepped into the middle of that circle and prayed, “Lord, be pleased to revive everyone inside this circle.” That’s how revival begins. It begins by asking God to revive each one of us as individuals. Then, we can join together and pray for that great, sweeping revival to flow across our nation and even around the world.

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

O God, we long for revival. We long for the spring rain of Your Holy Spirit drenching us in body, mind, and spirit. We long to experience the coming to life again that revival provides. We long to become people whose hearts are ablaze for the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Your great mercy, grace, and love, be pleased to hear our prayer and renew a right spirit within us. Turn our cold, lifeless hearts into passionate vessels of Your love and grace. Let Your mercy flow into us, through us, and out of us to touch a sick and dying world. Help us to bring Your healing to everyone who crosses our pathway.

We thank You for your constant faithfulness. And, we thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Meet with God in the Morning

 

2 Listen to my cry for help,
        my King and my God,
        for to you I pray.
3 In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
        in the morning I lay my requests before you
        and wait in expectation.

—The words of King David from Psalm 5:2-3

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

—The words of St. Mark from Mark 1:35

 

I have written a blog about this general subject before. But I believe that certain subjects bear visiting again from time to time.

Bishop Ralph Spaulding Cushman (1879-1960) wrote over 25 books on evangelism, stewardship, and prayer. He faithfully served seven congregations until becoming a denominational executive for the latter part of his earthly ministry. One of his most famous poems appears immediately below:

I met God in the morning
when the day was at its best,
And His Presence came like sunrise,
Like a glory in my breast.

All day long the Presence lingered,
All day long He stayed with me,
And we sailed in perfect calmness
O'er a very troubled sea.

Other ships were blown and battered,
Other ships were sore distressed,
But the winds that seemed to drive them,
Brought to me a peace and rest.

Then I thought of other mornings,
With a keen remorse of mind,
When I too had loosed the moorings,
With the presence left behind.

So, I think I know the secret,
Learned from many a troubled way:
You must seek Him in the morning
If you want Him through the day!

There’s something very special about setting aside time at the beginning of each new day to meet with God. We “listen” to Him by reading His Word—the Bible. We talk with Him in prayer. This time together at the beginning of the day becomes an important and very precious few moments.

In the Lord’s Prayer we begin by acknowledging that God is our Father. He has chosen to adopt us into His Eternal Kingdom. As beleivers in the Lord Jesus Christ we are no longer mere creatures that He has created, but we have become children. As children, chosen by God before the foundation of the earth to belong to Him, we have the rights and privileges of children. We come into God’s presence as His children and we rightly may call Him “Father.” Not only do we call Him “Father,” but we acknowledge that He is. He is not someone who once was. Rather, He currently exists in all His power and glory. And, He waits to welcome us.

You know we really don’t understand this. We don’t get it. The God of the Universe, the One who spoke a word and all creation came into being, has chosen us as His children. And, He waits to welcome us to come and sit with Him and talk with Him.

Prayer is a fundamental, cohesive, and powerful component of our relationship with God. He is not only willing to have us talk with Him, He welcomes it. He expects it. He longs for it. He waits for it. He waits for us. He wants us to come and sit with Him a while and talk with Him. We have the authority of no one less than the Son of God, Himself, telling us to come into the Father’s Presence and sit a while.

I encourage you to seek God each day. As Bishop Cushman suggests, meeting God first thing in the morning will set you on the right path for the day that stretches ahead.

I would also encourage you to meet with God at the end of your day. Talk to Him about what’s happened during the hours that stretched between your time with Him in the morning and these moments as your day comes to a close. He cares about you. He wants to know what you’re feeling, hoping, wishing, and dreaming. He wants to know the things that trouble you and the things that bring you joy.

So, start now. Don’t put it off. Plan now to meet with God as a new day dawns. You will be very glad you did.

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

When we determine to start our day with You, O God, we are so grateful that You welcome us to come and sit in Your Presence. We know You bend toward us and give us Your listening ear.

Please help us, Precious Father, to look forward to starting our day with You with eager anticipation. Help us to realize that You enjoy being with us. Help us to understand that in Your great mercy, grace, and boundless love, You want us to spend time with You.

Thank You for the loving care that You continually show us. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2013 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

“i thank You God…”

 

7 The Lord is my strength and my shield;
        my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
   My heart leaps for joy
        and I will give thanks to him in song.

—The words of King David from Psalm 28:7

 

 i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
 
  e. e. cummings

 

In this related video, renowned composer Eric Whitacre, conducts the Netherlands choral group VU Kamerkoor in singing his composition based on the above poem.

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Our praise and thanksgiving to You, O God, is never ending. For You have proven always faithful. Your love has encircled us and drown us in the protection of Your mercy and grace. Your salvation has lifted us from our fallen state and set us before You.

We bow down before You, O God, and express our heart’s desire to serve You completely. Enable us to be obedient through the power of Your indwelling Holy Spirit.

We thank You for every blessing that You have so cheerfully given us. And, we thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Quo Vadimus

 

18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

—The words of King Solomon from Proverbs 29:18

 

Over 50 years ago, a traveling evangelist preached a sermon at my home church. He used the passage of Scripture at the beginning of this blog post as his text.

In the course of the sermon, he told the story of a traveling salesman who crisscrossed the United States by train during World War II. The salesman especially enjoyed picking out certain landmarks as he traveled from one town to the next.

Over the many months of travel, as his train would approach a particular town in the Midwest, he would note a large church on the outskirts of downtown. The church had a rather huge sign on the front of the church that read:

Where there is no vision
the people perish!

Since the timetable of the particular route placed the train passing by the church at 10:50 on a Sunday morning, the salesman would often observe a large crowd of people streaming into the church. It always brought a smile to his face and reminded him of the days when he had a more carefree life and could attend church with his family.

But then, after nearly a year of traveling other routes, the salesman found himself on the train that would pass by his favorite church. He anticipated, with some eagerness, the opportunity to view this thriving place. But, as the train passed by the church, the salesman noted only a small handful of people entering the door to worship. Surprised at the meager attendance, he then spotted the sign he always looked for with such anticipation. The letter “W” had fallen off the sign so that it now read:

here there is no vision
the people perish!

As that traveling preacher of 50 years ago concluded his sermon in my home church, he noted that the word “vision” in the Scripture passage he used for his text—the one at the beginning of this blog post— means “revelation.” The vision was not some plan for the future, some far distant goal. Rather, the vision was the revelation provided by God through His Word, the Bible, as illumined by the power of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who studied the Word.

“Where the people of God do not listen for His voice, do not follow the pathway He has laid out before them, do not strive for obedience to His will and to His Word, the church will surely perish. Oh, it may continue to exist. But, it will sink into complacency, ineffectiveness, and utter failure, insofar as accomplishing anything for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.”

Looking back on that sermon, oh so many years ago, I realize, now more than ever before, how much truth that visiting evangelist packed into his message. We must seek God’s will through the intentional and devoted study of His Word. We must pray that the Holy Spirit will make the truth of Scripture come alive in our hearts and minds. For without God’s revelation—His vision—we will perish in our efforts to truly be the body of Christ.

It seems appropriate, therefore, from time to time to ask ourselves this question:

Photo of roadside sign: Where are we going?

That’s right: “Where are we going?” Not in the sense of developing a human-oriented vision statement. Rather, we must ask ourselves whether or not we have discovered, through the reading of God’s Word, what He wants His church to do in this world. Have we come into congruence with His plan for His Kingdom work in this world.

Once we discover what God intends to do through His body, the church, we then must proceed to fall into line with His intention and devote ourselves wholeheartedly to doing the work of the Kingdom of God here on earth.

His vision must become our vision. His work, our work. His plan, our plan.

Instead of deciding what we want to do—feel most comfortable doing—on behalf of Christ and then praying that He will bless our self-selected tasks, we must discover what Christ wants to do in this world and then set about doing it.

The answer to the question: “Where are we going?” comes from the study of God’s Word, from much prayer, and from turning a careful ear to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit.

Photo of fortune cookie: be aware of the still small voice within you

One of my most favorite television programs is Sports Night. It only lasted two seasons on ABC from 1998 through 2000. This was a groundbreaking television show written by Aaron Sorkin. Many of the unique filming techniques that later made Sorkin’s The West Wing so popular were developed in the filming of Sports Night.

At the end of the second and last season, the fictional television network that hosts the fictional show, “Sports Night,” is being brokered to several potential buyers. The fate of the program seems very uncertain. Most employees expect the new owner to close down the program, thus causing them to lose their jobs.

Into this state of doom comes a quiet, unknown man—“Calvin Trager” played by Clark Gregg—who begins to have a series of conversations at a nearby bar about the bidding war for the network with the show’s producer, “Dana Whitaker”—played by Felicity Huffman. He makes a number of predictions about the sale of the network, which one-by-one come true.

In the final scene of the series, the stranger offers Dana some sage advice based on his own business career that brings the storyline and the series to a glorious, hope-filled conclusion.

Rather than trying to narrate this part of the story, I invite you to simply watch the closing moments of one of my most favorite television series:

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

Wondering how to ensure that your church truly operates as the body of Christ doing His work in this world, His way, according to His plan? Get your team together and ask God to show you the answer to the question: “Quo Vadimus—Where are we going?”

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Precious Father, we turn to You and ask, “Where are we going?” We do this because we know that the only One who knows where we should go is You.

In Your mercy and great grace, Father, be pleased to show us the pathway You have laid out for us, as individuals, and also for the body of Christ, the church. We look around us and have a strong sense that somewhere we have wandered off the pathway that You gave us. In that way that is uniquely Your own, please gently nudge us back on the right path.

In our churches, we want to experience the fullness of joy that comes from knowing that we are doing the work of the Kingdom of God. This is Your work, Your Kingdom work. We are humbled that You have chosen to make us a part of Your work in this world. Now, please help us to seek Your will through Your Word and through the leading of Your Holy Spirit. We want to serve You with all of our hearts. We want to advance Your Kingdom, not our own.

Thank You for the leading and guiding that You freekly give us. Thank You for making us a part of Your Kingdom. Thank You for allowing us to be useful in accomplishing Your Kingdom vision for this world. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Is Your Church a Place for Healing?

 

10 …Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

—The words of Luke the Evangelist from Luke 9:10-11

 

Question No. 1

What kind of church do you attend? I’m not talking about the architecture, or the denomination, or the version of the Bible in the pew rack, or the hymnbook the congregation uses, or the size of the projection screens. I’m asking you what central purpose does your church espouse? What kind of church do you attend?

Some churches seem to have developed the intentional flavor of a well-meaning social club. Lots of like-minded people gathering together from time to time in order to catch up on the latest gossip. Along the way they may sing some songs or hymns, read some Scripture—or maybe some poetry from another source—and listen to a (hopefully) quick few words from the “main man” or “main woman.”

Other churches have adopted a pattern set by the Lord Jesus Christ in the Scripture passage at the beginning of this blog post. Because healing drew people’s attention to the benefit of a relationship with the Savior, they see their church as a place for healing. Here’s how one church states this goal:

Our Church—A Place for Healing

Among the distinctives that will, over time, come to define our church, inform our missional approach to the ministry of the church, and help us reach out to our community, we want our church to become a place for healing. As the Holy Spirit leads us, we want to become a place where wounded people can bring the heartaches and disappointments of their daily lives and find healing within a community of believers through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We recognize that every person has some difficulties through which he or she must pass in this life. Many times such people feel they must conceal their struggles. But hiding our hurts does not allow us to heal. Denying that we have difficulties in our lives only makes it harder to find healing and true God-given peace.

If we speak honestly, each one of us at our church knows, first hand, what it is to experience the hurt, pain, and ache deep within our souls when the circumstances of life turn against us. Sometimes these hurts may seem minor, petty, or insignificant. But, we serve a Savior who understands every difficulty and knows that sometimes the smallest bump in the road of life can become an impediment to spiritual growth.

If you, or friends you may know, are looking for a safe place where the ordinary and extraordinary troubles of daily life can be dealt with compassionately and with sincere understanding, we invite you to come and join with us.

Together, we can support each other and find the healing that only Christ can give us. Together, we can become whole again and move forward with our lives. Together, we can experience the joy of being a part of a loving, caring community of believers.

Whatever the flavor of your church—hopefully more intentionally spiritual than the first one I described above—I believe the church must be a place for healing. I agree with the statement of the second church. I believe a church should be a place for healing. Please let me explain.

A church, any church, must not begin without purpose, nor without mission, nor without a great deal of thought and prayer. After spending time earnestly seeking God’s leading, those who formulate the foundation of a church must make certain the endeavor serves as a means to meet certain well-defined goals.

For example, if I were starting a new church, I would set forth four goals that would meet the needs of displaced people—displaced by society, displaced by their family, displaced by their friends, or even displaced by a former church. These four goals would include the following:

  1. To provide a safe place for people to gather for worship who have become displaced, for whatever reason, from the normal group with whom they identify.

  2. To provide a place for healing.

    The events that led up to the displacement of so many families and individuals from whatever group with which they normally identify have likely inflicted different kinds of wounds in various individuals. The church leadership must recognize that each person will need a safe place where he or she can learn to recognize the nature of his or her particular hurt, and also learn how to express his or her particular hurt in a healthy way that would allow the Holy Spirit to begin a healing process in each one’s individual life.

  3. To provide a place where the healing process can become actualized by a new pathway of spiritual formation.

    The groups from which people have become displaced may not have afforded them the privilege, nor the opportunity, to systematically experience a deliberate process of spiritual formation. If that group from which they have become displaced was another church, the new church leadership may discover a people who were quite ignorant of key truths from God’s Word and did not even have a solid grasp of the very theology that informed the foundations of their previous church.

    Seldom did any sermon they heard in their years at their former church ever require any specific response from the people. Seldom did casual conversations dwell on the things of the Lord. Some individuals who may have developed their own rich personal devotional lives—and who may have come to that former church from other church backgrounds—did seem to possess the kind of heart knowledge that could form the foundation for developing a church that would serve as a proper expression of God’s Kingdom here on earth. But these people were too few to move the “behemoth” of their former church—especially if it was one with a large church roll and significantly smaller church attendance—forward on behalf of the Kingdom.

    In the midst of the pain inflicted by the displacement, perhaps God may have provided this event as an opportunity to gather a remnant who could heal together, learn together, and grow spiritually mature together in a way that would enable them to minister effectively in bringing the Gospel to a very, very needy community.

  4. To provide a safe place for people to exercise their spiritual gifts, and thus preserve a sense of ministry that would promote healing from the horrific treatment they received from their “brothers and sisters” at their previous church.

    Such people often have significant skills that God has clearly given them, first and foremost, as spiritual gifts. Each of them has taken those spiritual gifts and explored what talents God may also have given them to enhance the effectiveness of those spiritual gifts. Each of them has then proceeded along a pathway of education and training to hone those spiritual gifts and talents by developing them into crucial skills that will enable them to put their spiritual gifts to use on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.

    By providing these folks with an opportunity to continue to use their spiritual gifts, while they make their way through a pathway of healing, the new church can accelerate the healing process and also confirm in them God’s continued hand on their lives and ministry.

Every person experiences hurts and difficulties in making his or her way along the road of life! No one is immune. The only difference is how individuals process those hurts.

For example, many, many people hide their hurts, pretend they don’t exist, “buck it up,” or in some other way deny the hurts that they have experienced. Others subjugate their hurts into activities to keep them from having to deal honestly and openly with what they are feeling. Others seek secular professional help. Others turn to drugs, alcohol, illicit sex, or some other harmful activity that will hide their pain from themselves. Still others seek some secular group where they can find a mutual caring—at least on the surface—to provide some level of healing. Such groups include all the 12-Step programs, but also include social clubs and other similar organizations.

A few people find a community of genuinely loving believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who have deliberately provided a safe place where people can heal. The pathway to healing is one provided by the Holy Spirit through the proclamation of God’s Word, the development of rock-solid spiritual formation, and the expression of deep, abiding, God-breathed (agape) love.

A church can choose to embrace these four very specific and “deliberately missional” goals. “Deliberately missional” because until a hurting people begin to heal, they cannot begin to have an impact in spreading the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to others in need. However, by providing a safe place for hurting people to heal, a church does, in fact, create the very venue for reaching hurting people through the demonstration of God-breathed love at work in the hearts of individual believers and in the heart of the entire congregation.

If the members of your church are not allowed to heal, all throughout the future life of your church the un-healed hurts will pop up to provide barriers to effective ministry. Show me a church that is ineffective and I will show you a people who need genuine healing. We all know at least one such church.

I assert to you that a process of healing is essential for every person. An environment fueled by God’s love is essential for any lasting and effective healing. Only within the church—the body of Christ—can the expression of God’s love provide the safe place that every person needs to heal.

Whether you determine to focus the ministry of your on the displaced people at local rescue mission or the displaced people who reside in the mansions along the avenues in the affluent part of your community, providing a conscious, continual, deliberate, safe place for healing does, in fact, make a church “missional.”

Question No. 2

I began by asking you a question: “What kind of church do you attend?” I conclude by asking you another question: “How do others perceive your church?”

To give you something to think about before you answer my second question, I invite you to view this video. It attempts to illustrate what a Starbucks would look like if it was marketed like most evangelical churches.

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Because the church is the body of Christ, we acknowledge, O God, the care with which we must formulate the pathway our churches take to do the work of the Your Kingdom here on earth. We thank You for the leadership Your Holy Spirit gives us as He leads us and directs our pathway. Please help us to become more and more sensitive to the leading of Your Spirit.

We also thank You for the spiritual gifts You have given each of us. Help us to understand that we must work closely together to realize the full potential of these gifts working in concert with each other.

We also pray, Precious Father, that You will raise up leaders among us to help us chart a proper direction for our churches. We need leaders who walk closely with You, who live with complete transparency, and who honor You above all else.

Thank You for caring about us and loving us. Thank You for loving the body of Your Son, the church. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, January 7, 2013

What gift will you give Him?

 

1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
        are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
   for out of you will come a ruler
        who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.“

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

—The words of the Apostle Matthew from Matthew 2:1-12

 

Drawing of the MagiEpiphany, celebrated in many Christian churches yesterday, marks the arrival of the Magi, as recorded in the Scripture passage at the beginning of this blog post. The appearance of these wise men from the East always poses certain questions.

How did they know where to travel? They had long looked for a certain star to appear. When it appeared they knew it was His star. So, they followed it to Bethlehem.

Why did they bring gifts? They knew they would find the King of Kings at the end of their journey. They brought gifts fit to show proper respect and reverance for this King.

What does this event mean for us? Well, I can’t speak for you, but it occurs to me that I must ask myself the question, “What gifts will I give Him?”

The obvious answer is that I will give Him all that I am. After all, if I am to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength—that is my emotional being, my spiritual being, my intellectual being, and my physical being—then can I give Him any less than the totality of my being?

This magnificent video of the English carol, “The Friendly Beasts,” from the “Spirit of Christmas” presentation by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, features award-winning Broadway vocalist, Brian Stokes Mitchell. This carol speaks to the gifts given to the Christ child by the animals that witnessed His birth:

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Precious Father, as we think of all that You have given to us—including eternal salvation through Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ—we have little reasonable choice but to bow in humble fealty to our Great King Jesus. Please receive the gift of our lives. We give ourselves to You. We hold nothing back. All that we have and all that we are belongs to You.

O God, may You continue to lead us and guide us by the indwelling power of Your Holy Spirit. We thank you for the steadfastness of Your mercy, grace, and love. And, we thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

More Than Anything Else...

 

8 “You heavens above, rain down righteousness;
        let the clouds shower it down.
   Let the earth open wide,
        let salvation spring up,
   let righteousness grow with it;
        I, the Lord, have created it.”

—The words of the Prophet Isaiah from Isaiah 45:8

 

As a new year begins, what would you like to see happen more than anything else in the whole world? Interesting question, isn’t it?

How about you? What would you like to see happen during this new year more than anything else in the world? What’s your greatest desire? What do want most? What do you long to see happen? What springs up from deep within you as something you would really give everything to see happen?

It’s easy for me to answer that question. More than anything, I would like to see a great revival sweep across this land: from sea to sea, from the north to the south, from the tip of Maine to the farthest island of Hawaii. I long to see the Holy Spirit move across our land and bring conviction of sin, sincere repentance of sin, an overwhelming commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ, and a complete resurgence of newness of life for the Church.

Revival means “a coming to life again.” Having read countless books that recall past great movements of God in our own nation and in other parts of the world, I desire to experience a fresh breath from God blowing across our land. Some writers have likened such a movement of God as a fresh spring rain that brings new life into the seemingly dead ground of winter.

This Gospel song from the late 1800s expresses the longing that I feel today.

 

There Shall Be Showers Of Blessing

Words written by Daniel W. Whittle in 1883
Music written by James MacGranahan



There shall be showers of blessing:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.

Refrain:                                                                                        
Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.



There shall be showers of blessing,
Precious reviving again;
Over the hills and the valleys,
Sound of abundance of rain.

Refrain:                                                                                        
Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.



There shall be showers of blessing;
Send them upon us, O Lord;
Grant to us now a refreshing,
Come, and now honor Thy Word.

Refrain:                                                                                        
Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.



There shall be showers of blessing:
Oh, that today they might fall,
Now as to God we’re confessing,
Now as on Jesus we call!

Refrain:                                                                                        
Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.



There shall be showers of blessing,
If we but trust and obey;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
If we let God have His way.

Refrain:                                                                                        
Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

 

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

More than anything else, O God, we long for a great outpouring of Your Holy Spirit on our land. Please bring a great, sweeping revival to convict us of sin, bring us to repentance, and fill us with new life.

In our nation that is torn apart by the strife of class warfare and the insidiousness of vicious politics, we claim Your promise of true and lasting peace. May You bring about Your purposes in us and through us. May we become salt and light in this troubled age.

Thank You, Precious Father, for the steadfastness of your grace, mercy, and unfailing love. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.