“And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it – lest you even be found to fight against God.”
~ Acts 5:38-39
In our day and age of religious superficiality and people seeking health, wealth and prosperity in this world rather than the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom, it is only natural that movements such as what is occurring in the small Kentucky town of Wilmore, at the even smaller Christian school of Asbury University, might raise some skepticism in the eyes of interested onlookers.
Therefore, I think we have to bear in mind a few things. First, what was occurring in the 1st century when the Apostles began preaching and teaching Christ and Him crucified, changed the course of history. The Holy Spirit erupted forth with a presence, power and authority the world had never known. And if what is occurring at Asbury University is of the same Holy Spirit and grounded in Biblical renewal and revival, then praise God.
But, if Asbury is of men, if it is just an emotionally filled, superficial gathering of young people who just want to “feel” something for their own sakes, then as the Bible says, it will come to nothing. Yet, we cannot read the hearts of men. We look on the outside while the Lord God peers into the very marrow of our spirit. And if the Asbury revival (and other similar revivals which have since sprung up) is of God – you cannot overthrow it – lest you even be found to fight against God.
“But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
~ Genesis 32:26
This verse is found in that unique passage of Scripture where it is said Jacob wrestles with God (Gen. 32:22-28). In this text we learn Jacob gains an advantage in the struggle and as he holds on tightly, he insists on the “man” giving him a blessing before Jacob will let him go. And we learn towards the end that Jacob does in fact receive his blessing because he has “struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed” (vs.28). Sometimes it seems God wants us to wrestle Him for His blessing and favor. It is as if we are telling God “Your goodness toward me is worth fighting for”. Therefore, if you aren’t experiencing God’s favor in your life right now, hold Him tight, and don’t let go till you discover His grace.
“Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”
~ Genesis 31:3
At this point in Jacob’s life he realized he wasn’t where the Lord wanted him to be. He was living with Laban and Laban’s family instead of with his father, Isaac, and other relatives. So, the Lord tells Jacob to go back to the land of his fathers. And then the Lord promises Jacob, “and I will be with you”.
Being in God’s will for our life fosters His presence with us. When we are where God wants us to be, we will find our closest experiences with Him. For Jacob, God wanted him back with his own family. For us, the place God usually wants us to be is spiritually close to Him. James 4:8 tells us, “Draw near to God and He’ll draw near to you”.
May we obey His voice that we too might know His promise, “I will be with you”.
[Y]ou reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.
~ Mark 7:9
Traditions in the life of God’s people can be of benefit unless they conflict with Scripture and the commandments of God. When we take more pride in keeping our traditions rather than in obeying the Lord, we have put ourselves in opposition to Him. In this passage, as elsewhere in Scripture, holding to traditions is not condemned all together. It is when Christ’s Church supplants God’s ways with their own that tradition becomes an idol. Therefore let us continue in those traditions which exalt Christ, enhance God’s glory and strengthen our faith, holding fast to that which is good, and reject anything, any tradition, that places our wants, will, or ways above His own.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”
~ Philippians 4:8
We must be encouraged daily to take captive our thoughts in obedience to Christ. The natural mind is prone to wander and to entertain thoughts, ideas, and imaginations which would tend against the holiness and righteousness of God. Therefore, as Paul concludes his letter to the Church at Philippi, he entreats them towards a kind of thinking, a meditating on the things of God, things which are true, and noble, and just. Things which are pure and praiseworthy. Things which are lovely and of good report that even the smallest inkling a believer might have, has the potential to be pleasing and acceptable to the Lord. Take this verse to heart and meditate on these things.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”
~ Philippians 4:6
Prayer Life Pause: Heavenly Father, may my heart and mind be in constant communion and prayer with You, that I may be anxious for nothing and live in divine comfort and peace each and every day. In Jesus’ name, amen.
The house of the wicked will be overthrown, But the tent of the upright will flourish.
~ Proverbs 14:11
God is faithful to both the wicked and the righteous. Sound strange? Think about it. His promises towards both are sure and certain. The Lord’s Word stands as true to one as it does the other. In our passage before us, we are told the house of the wicked will be overthrown. The meaning is all the wicked do, all they establish here on earth, any accumulation of power or prosperity, even they themselves, will one day come to nought. While the tent of the upright will be blessed, it will flourish and ultimately prosper under God’s faithful care.
Consider one other caveat from this text, notice the contrast between the house of the wicked and the tent of the upright. A house may appear more stable than a tent. The house may give the resident a greater sense of safety and security than the one dwelling in a tent. But in the Lord’s plans, the house will fall while the tent shall stand. Though the upright may do with less in this world, and live by humbler means than the wicked, God is faithful to both, and it is the upright who will flourish while the wicked are fully and finally overthrown.
“We are trying not so much to make God listen to us as to make ourselves listen to Him; we are trying not to persuade God to do what we want, but to find out what he wants us to do. It so often happens that in prayer we are really saying, “Thy will be changed,” when we ought to be saying, “Thy will be done.” The first object of prayer is not so much to speak to God as to listen to Him.”
~ William Barclay
Prayer Life Pause: Dear Lord, give me ears to hear and heed Thy will in my life. May my prayers be more about listening to You than they are about You hearing me. In Jesus’ name, amen.