Welcome to the first post in this series. In this series, we want to know one thing: is God’s power predictable? Our theme verse for this series is taken from the book of Jeremiah:
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the
old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. – Jeremiah 6:16 (KJV)
If you saw the great manifestations of God’s power 20 to 30 years ago, let me ask you this: how often does that happen nowadays? Most will say almost never. It makes me think of that portion in 1 Samuel that talks about how “the word of the Lord was precious (rare) in those days ”.
While that may cause the hearts of some to lament, we need to be clear on something else: if the KJV 1611 is the Word of God, God’s power may be rare nowadays, but praise God it’s also AVAILABLE.
So if it happened back then, but it’s not happening now, what changed? Or maybe the better question is: if it worked back then, why are we doing things differently now? It reminds me of the expression, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it!
We live in a very cause and effect world. Cause and effect is biblically branded as the concept of sowing and reaping. Actions have consequences, both good and bad. So here’s the situation:
If God’s power is not predictable, it’s pure luck if we ever accidentally experience it. After all, God is sovereign and decides what he will do and when. Unbound by any greater authority than himself, nobody can require him to act any certain way… or can they?
On the other hand, if God’s power is in fact predictable, that means that God is predictable. If we know what God wants, and we know what he won’t tolerate, we are then in a position to decide if we will have God’s power or not. That means it’s up to us a whole lot more than we want to believe!
So in accordance with our theme verse, let’s consider some “old paths “. What’s so special about the way they did things back then? If we get back to doing things the way they did back then, is it possible that we could have the same reaction from God?
Let’s walk down these overgrown old paths:
- Preachers preached repentance
- People practiced repentance
- Praise went to God
1. Preachers Preached Repentance
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: – Acts 17:30 (KJV)
If there is one thing that’s missing everywhere you look nowadays it’s this: accountability. Our society is doing its darndest to try to remove any and all accountability for wrongdoing and a lack of self-control. If I hear one more person say, “well, it’s not really his fault because…” I’m going to scream. Well hold on, I suppose I’d be accountable for screaming uncontrollably, so that’s a bad example.
And what’s worse is the same lack of responsibility has crept into Baptist churches. Salvation has been watered down into a joke – gee I wonder who stir fried up this business of, “repeat a prayer and you’re going to heaven”? Thanks for nothing, Easy beliefis-I mean, Satan. How do we counteract it? With this: Old fashioned repentance preaching.
That being said, there’s a big difference between skinning a congregation in a mean spirit and preaching with righteous anger (be ye angry, and sin not). The only way a sinner is going to be saved is with genuine repentance, and he needs to hear it. Tap dancing around sincere repentance doesn’t do anybody any favors – in fact, it has the opposite effect, causing people to think they’re okay when absolutely nothing has been settled with God.
The saints need to hear it too. Have you ever gotten hardhearted? Why does that happen? I can only speak for myself, but usually it’s because I allowed something to fester over time. I thank God for those times when he sends a sermon to shake me by the neck. What’s needed are preachers who aren’t afraid to stomp on sin because in doing so, they’re helping – not hurting! If somebody gets upset, and the preacher is preaching what he supposed to preach with the right spirit, the upsettee is upset with God, not the preacher.
Preachers, we need you to preach Bible-based repentance!
2. People Practiced Repentance
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)
When Grade A repentance is preached, at that point, the preacher did his job. So now we’re ready for a Holy Ghost overflow, right?
Not necessarily. The best preacher alive can do the best preaching there is, and if it falls on deaf ears and hard hearts, the most powerful repentance preaching may go unheeded. Have you ever heard of Chorazin? Bethsaida?
And after solid repentance-laced preaching goes out, make no doubt about it – God’s going to hold somebody accountable. Who? The preacher who did what he was supposed to? No, guess again. The people (lost and saved) who refuse to do anything about what they just heard? Bingo.
Throughout Old Testament Israel, God sent them a steady stream of prophets – in the good times, and in those times of most despicable idolatry. Israel was often a stiff-necked and rebellious group of people, but they were God’s people. Does that sound like anybody we know? How about saved Baptist church members? I’m one of them.
It’s not enough for the call to repent to go out – those who hear it have to do something about it. When saved people are satisfied to compartmentalize their Christianity into ritual church attendance, take a wild guess what their church services are going to be like.
But when a group of people decide that they’re going to fix the way they are living and do what ever it takes to get God to show up, take a guess at what their church services are going to be like!
Keep on preaching that old-time repentance, preacher. And when that message from God himself is broadcast through the preacher, we need to fall on our faces and fix it, just like church members did back then.
3. Praise Went to God
Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. – John 12:28 (KJV)
Didn’t you hear? GoWithTheFlow Baptist Church is having Bro. BigNamePreacher – I mean, excuse me, DOCTOR BigNamePreacher for a revival! He’s authored several books and pastors an enormous church, so surely we’ll see a great movement of God! Right?
Maybe, but if we do, it will have nothing to do with his degrees and accomplishments. It would be because he knows how to channel all glory in a service to the Lord, directly off of himself. It would be because he’s more interested in God being glorified than him being recognized as a great this-or-that.
I remember going to a camp meeting when I was little. Looking back, of the 10 to 15 preachers who would show up for the camp meeting , it didn’t matter which one took the pulpit, because every one of them could preach and have God smother the tent with conviction.
And when it happened, everybody was blessed, other preachers included. In other words, he wasn’t preaching to get the crowd’s attention on him, he was preaching to get the crowd’s attention on the Lord. And that is why God would show up – preachers used to be after God’s glory, not their own.
One of my favorite preachers told a story I’ll never forget: after preaching, a woman came up to him and told him that was some of the finest preaching. In his heart, he said, “I know it was”. And as soon as the woman walked away, the Lord told him, “I could have accomplished that with a 3-year-old.”
God bless the preacher in this story, because he used it as an illustration of how NOT to act. It seems to me there needs to be more preachers like this one, who understand which direction the glory needs to go – God-ward.
Preaching, singing, testimonies, and any kind of action there is within the church all needs to be done for one reason and one reason only: to glorify the Lord Jesus. That’s how it was back then, and it’s something that we’ve gotten away from today.
So the next time you preach, teach, sing a special, sing with the congregation, testify, or serve, here’s a question to ask yourself that will let the Lord know that you mean business when it comes to making sure he gets all the glory from what you’re about to do. Ask:
How do I do this in a way that will bring the Lord Jesus the most honor and glory possible?
If you do that in an honest heart, your service will matter. Don’t be surprised if you are asked to serve more often. And don’t be shocked when other people come up to you and tell you how much your service encouraged and helped them.
Back then, they wanted one thing: to give God the glory, not themselves. More and more nowadays, it’s preachers, singers, and others looking for the accolades. Let’s get back to giving glory to the one who deserves it, and who can tell? Maybe, according to John 12:28, he “will glorify it again” someday soon! Every bit of me can’t wait until he does.
Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD. – Haggai 1:12 (KJV)
God tells Haggai to articulate God’s displeasure with Judah for fixing their houses, and leaving the Temple in shambles. God tells them to finish the Temple. The Governor of Judah, and the son of the high priest (who was probably executing the office high priest) get the message, and compel the people to finish the Temple. This is a sterling example of corporate repentance.
And in similar fashion today, if God’s preachers get back to the old paths, we’ve got a chance. When they get back to repentance preaching, saved church members have a choice to make: repent or business as usual. If God can stir the leaders, whose actions enable God to stir the people, we could be staring at revivals in the churches unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. – Haggai 1:7 (KJV)
And here’s what else Bro. Haggai told them: you better think it through. It’s not enough to know what the old paths are. If we know what they are, it’s time to heed Bro. Haggai’s preaching: it’s time to consider our ways, and get real serious about getting back to doing what works.
In the next post, we will answer the question: is God’s power predictable? We’ll expand the position that God himself is deliberately predictable, regardless of which generation calls on his Wonderful name.
I want to thank the Lord for the great life he’s given me. Himself, my wife, my kids, my Church, my parents, my home, my job, my health, all of it. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.