Seeking God for Arkansas: When God Calls Our BluffNov 26, 2018
The following is the continuation of a series that began with a post titled Seeking God For Arkansas, which I highly recommend for the context it provides.
Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden. - Isaiah 29:13-14
For the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ - Matthew 15:6-9
In this season of ‘breaking up my fallow ground,’ the Holy Spirit has highlighted a series of passages that I believe are a timely indicator for our churches. We have talked about Evan Roberts’ four conditions for revival, prayed through Hosea 10:1-4, Isaiah 59, Malachi 3, and now we come to Isaiah 29.
Jesus quotes Isaiah 29 to the Pharisees in Matthew 15 and Mark 7. Isaiah sought to confront the lip service of Israel, just as the Holy Spirit seeks to confront the intellectual assent of our own hearts in this season. No one can claim total innocence in this area. All of us are subject to claiming beliefs that have yet to connect to our hearts. Conflict arises when we make a claim to the Lord without any substance to back it up.
Here is one reason why I believe Jesus so loved John the Baptist. John embodied the message he carried with profound humility. He didn’t just proclaim one message and live another. Even in moments of tension, when John’s ministry began to fade in the shadow of Jesus, look at John’s response:
For I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease. - John 3:28-30
Which do you think is easier: claiming humility with our mouths or demonstrating it with our lives? Which do you think Jesus would prioritize? Such words sting my conscience, and so they should!
Which do you think is easier for our churches: claiming hope for revival from our pulpits or demonstrating it with our lives? Which do you think truly moves heaven? AH! There’s that sting again.
Isaiah 29 is another example of the controversial notion that God offends the mind to reveal the heart. The “wonderful things” aforementioned are not necessarily cheerful, but the root word pala’ actually means “difficult to understand,” which better explains the perishing wisdom of the following verse.
History demonstrates how we continually exhaust our own wisdom before standing in the council of the Lord. Meanwhile, we resist the work of the Holy Spirit to bring us to an end of our cleverness. This time I intend the lean in the other direction and embrace the correction of the Holy Spirit for the promises of God.
For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened? - Jeremiah 23:18
Just as before, I cannot claim any authority in this area as I am just as guilty. I believe the Holy Spirit is highlighting this issue in my own life and in our churches if we truly want to experience true revival.
The Holy Spirit is inviting us to evaluate how our lives demonstrate our faith. It’s time for our spiritual hunger to be seen, as well as heard. If we are to cry out for revival this January, we must take serious care to cry out with more than words, but with our very lives.
Accordingly, this will likely be my last post of this nature as I carefully consider the consequences of my own words. I don’t want these posts to be guilty of lip service!
HOWEVER, I would love to share your stories. What is the Lord speaking to you about your own life and revival? I would love for you to send it to me and allow me to share it with our email list of intercessors. Let us continue to seek the Lord together. I believe the Lord has much to say, and it would be great to hear from each other if you have anything to share. Thank you for continuing with me on this journey!
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