Isaiah 58:11-12 (NIV)
The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
In preparing for the sale of our home, my husband and I began to examine the house for all repairs that were needed. Little things that didn’t seem pressing would be taken care of so that our home would show well to prospective buyers. Taking the time to clean out cluttered cabinets and overflowing closets getting rid of unnecessary and unwanted items. My husband took to the yard cutting, pruning, clearing and cleaning until everything was just right. It’s funny how we let things go in life. Not intentionally but as the busyness of other endeavors demands our attention. The squeaky wheel gets the grease and the enemy loves to create as much noise and confusion around God’s People to stop His Work and Word from circling the globe – saving, healing, developing and fulfilling the purpose and plan that He created for us.
Neglect is a natural selection in the priorities of life when man takes control of his own destiny attempting to make his own way through the chaotic matrix created by the enemy to distract, discourage and destroy the Body of Christ from the inside out. The attack on the church that God created for the edification of His People is driving them away rather than gathering them in. Organized religion is not the answer. The disease of devastation running through us today must be stopped. God’s Spirit has been poured out on mankind with purpose. Not only to save and heal but to develop and fulfill. The first is salvation which is a quick work by God at the invitation of mankind. Healing comes as His Spirit begins to fill the voids of the body, mind and spirit. But what about development? What about the equipping of the saints? How about fulfillment? Where do we find it? How do we make the necessary repairs to the breaches within our walls? Does God require it?
Isaiah 61:1-4 (NIV)
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.
If you are like me, sometimes when I read the Word of God, I forget to read what comes before and after a desired promise or verse. We skim past all the other words to get to the promise that we are after. The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me. Notice the word “sovereign” in the first sentence. This word means the one who has supreme power and authority. God’s Power is not challenged by inability or unwillingness to surrender our life to Him. It is the final word. It is the final plan. He does not lie or change His Mind, even when we do. This is important. So when the Spirit of the Lord comes to live in us, it does not change to be like us but rather constantly and consistently presses and shapes us into the Image of God. He does not stop when He meets resistance but continues to apply pressure to that part of our life with a purpose. While most of the time, we stop reading around verse 3 today let’s take it one step further shall we?
“They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” To proclaim is to speak, announce, declare, and praise the Lord publicly to all people. It is the message of our mouth, the word of our testimony, and a whole lot easier than what comes next. God does not want our lip-service. (Psalm78:35-37) We are to rebuild, restore and renew that which has lied in ruin. Are we truly ready for that? If you listen to the cry of God’s People calling out to Him, we seem to be after one thing – “revival”. Revival is not a manmade product. It is the moment that God’s Glory comes so close to us and dwells in our midst. No one can be left unchanged. I want to see God’s Glory today. Lord, make the necessary repairs in me so that I may become a repairer, too.
Exodus 33:18-22 (NIV)
Moses responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.” The Lord replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” The Lord continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.”
The moment I stepped into the church that has become our home, it was the Glory of God that overtook me. From that point on, it didn’t matter how things looked, what people said, or how far I have to go to get there – it was the place I wanted to be. It was not the people or the pastor while I love them all. It was God’s Glory that met me and changed me instantly that night. I was healed and delivered from the chains that had overtaken me. The traumatic insult to my battle-weary mind, heart and soul were instantly filled by a healing touch that I did not think was possible. Suddenly all the changes in me by God became evident as the haze lifted and I realized that I was once again free. This is my story…what is yours? If you go to the same church over and over again, week after week, Sunday after Sunday, but never experience the Glory of God and His Hand upon you or working in you – it may be time for a change. There may be some necessary repairs needed in you or around you to allow His Goodness to pass by you.
Moses asked one simple thing. God show me Your Glory. He was asking God to renew his hope and to strengthen his faith again. He needed the Presence of God to overtake him. The Israelites were not an easy bunch to lead. Moses was not comfortable confronting Pharaoh either. He had many insecurities but the moment that He experienced the Glory of God – each time he was back in the good fight. What about you? I am not implying that our pastors and preachers have to carry the load of the people. They must stand in the gap for us. We must stand in the gap for them. When the Glory of God passed by, Moses was hidden in the cleft or gap of a rock. Isn’t God awesome that when we feel weak and vulnerable – He comforts and empowers us all at the same time? Moses thought that he was hiding so as not to be destroyed by the Goodness and Glory of God when the Lord was standing in the gap, but He was showing Moses His Position and where He was placed. We are to stand in the gap so that God’s Glory can fill His House again.
Ezekiel 22:30 (NIV)
“I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.”
Revival will come when we humble ourselves and stand in the gap for others. To decide that it is our privilege to pray for them, reach out to them and draw them in as Christ has done for us. To repair the walls and fill in all breaches are the repairs needed in the Body of Christ. We do not have to worship at the same facility but we are all in this together. I feel like the Lord has poured out His Spirit and a new anointing on the church with the expectation that someone one will say, “Yes! I will stand in the gap in the wall.” Is that you? Is it me? Revival will grow in the midst of congregations that choose to pay attention to their walls and repair every breach before it is too late. When the Glory of God comes again in the form of widespread revival will we be ready to receive it? Will our place of worship will be one that is a willing vessel that captures the lost and completes the process of salvation, healing, development and fulfillment of each person who walks through our doors? Perhaps, we should heed the proverb, “Physician, heal thyself.” (Luke 4:23)
Ephesians 2:4-10 (NIV)
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Saturday afternoon was spent cleaning out the Fellowship Hall of our church. As I have shared the recent purchase of a property in need of renovation, this would be the room that contained every bit of stuff that came with us from the old church. Piled, heaped and loaded on top of the contents left behind by the previous owner. All of the building supplied filled the leftover space as well. Our first service would be the next day so it was imperative that this hazard be restored to order so we would not lose people who just needed a restroom. I walked in and out of the room a few times before I rolled up my sleeves with several others to conquer the beast. It was quite overwhelming. In the end only a handful of workers remained to see the glory called the dirty floor beneath it. Order was restored. It was not a fun project but we laughed right through it.
In the midst of our cleaning frenzy, I began talking to a woman who recently began attending our church. By the end of the day, I found out our lives had crossed paths significantly over the last decade or so. I would probably have never had the opportunity to bond with her if we were not knee deep in dirt and rubble. Now rather than sharing a religion, we know had a relationship. God works in mysterious ways even in the most undignified ways.
We have been given a gift called grace – it is up to us how we will use it. Until our heart and mind wraps around the completion of our purpose in God’s Plan even when it is filling in the holes and breaches in our churches and developing relationships with each other, we will not see the Glory of God. Sometimes we are so focused on God fixing us, using us, and fulfilling us that we do not see Him putting our purpose right before us. We are given this great and wonderful gift to share with a lost and dying world. Our passion must be for people. Other people and not always ourselves. In doing so, we are fulfilled and while others are saved. This is how God’s Glory resonates through the walls of our homes, to the buildings we call church and into the surrounding community building a watchtower where we can watch and wait for the Lord confidently.
God rich in mercy and filled with love gave…He gave us Jesus. He filled us with grace. Grace requires us to reach beyond ourselves and restore the breaches in the walls. The walls of God’s Kingdom are not build with brick and mortar. We are the Living Stones that construct the place that we long for. If we could adopt, accept and activate the call of Nehemiah in our churches, we would become places of worship known for revival. The enemies of restoration and renewal came to fight God’s People as they began to rebuild. They were fierce with opposition. The people prayed and God confirmed that He was with them, so they strapped swords to their side and continued to work. (Nehemiah 4) Do not let the enemy stop the move of God in you. Do not step from the gap of grace that you have been called to. We are to rebuild the walls and fill in the breaches. You cannot do that apart from Christ. Religion will fail and church buildings will fall but God’s People, His Kingdom, will rule and reign forever. I want to be part of His Kingdom. I want to see God’s Glory. I want to be the next great move of God. Lord, please make the necessary repairs. Lord, show me Your Glory.
Psalm 84:3-4 (NIV)
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.