This sermon is number 7 in a series of 7
Encountering God - Part 7
"Revival - A Community Encountering God"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2013 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
I want you to turn with me tonight to Psalm 24, please. I'm sure there's something I forgot to say that I meant to say, so forgive me. Now please don't fall asleep tonight. If you're warm take your coat off or your tie off - we'll forgive you if you take your tie off, but don't take any more off! If you need to get comfortable, do - we don't want anybody to feel stifled tonight in the meeting. We started last Sunday evening on 'The Call to Encounter God', the series of course has been entitled 'Encountering God'. 'The Call to Encounter God' is 'The Cost of Discipleship' - there is a cost to encounter the Lord. A lot of people want to experience God, but they're not prepared to pay the price. That's what we thought about on Sunday evening. On Monday night was 'The Atmosphere of Encountering God', 'Practising the Presence of God' - and we can be practising another presence, and we hit a whole lot of things we can be practising the presence of and not practising the presence of God. On Tuesday night we looked at 'The Condition of Encountering God', which is humility, not pride but humility. On Wednesday night we looked at 'The Energy of Encountering God', the power of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. On Thursday night we looked at some 'Obstacles to Encountering God' - if you're not getting through to this blessed life, why? We looked at 'Sins, Wounds, and Demons', and how many of us are a combination of all those three things. Then on Friday night we had a night where we looked at 'The Outcome of Encountering God', which was the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit.
Tonight we're looking at 'A Community Encountering God', which is just another description of 'Revival' - 'A Community Encountering God'. Verse 3 of Psalm 24: "Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face".
Let us pray. As we pray, as I have requested each night, I want you to ask the Lord to speak to you individually. Do pray for me and pray for those around you, but pray personally for yourself that God might meet you and deal with your life. Let's practice the presence of God together as we invoke, by faith, a very real sense of His reality here now. Let's pray: Father, we come to You as the Holy and the Lofty One. We say with the psalmist at the beginning of this Psalm: 'The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters'. We thank You that our Saviour has ascended on high, we thank You that He has led captivity captive and given gifts to men. We thank You that that angelic throng, and You, our Heavenly Father, have welcomed Him to glory as the resurrected, glorified Lord: 'Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle'. Lord, we want to join the throngs of Heaven here on Earth, we want to join in with the communion of the saints, with those spirits made perfect gathered around the glassy sea, as they sing unto the Lamb that was slain and has redeemed by His blood out of every tribe, tongue, kindred, people and nation. Lord, we pray that, as it were, Heaven and earth would unite tonight, and the very atmosphere of Heaven would come down to us. By faith, Lord, we would engage in order to invoke that as personal experience. Lord, we want the atmosphere of eternity to invade this space now. Lord, we want to encounter You, the Living God. So, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we say: come Holy Spirit, come to us Lord Jesus by Your Spirit. We thank You for the victory that the Lord Jesus wrought over principalities and powers, the rulers in heavenly places, those dark spirits. Lord, in the name of Jesus, we ask that You will rebuke them, You will cut off the influence of them in this place; and, Lord, that You will give great victory tonight for Your glory. Come now Lord, take a dealing with our lives, in the name of the Lord Jesus we ask it, Amen.
I've been encouraging you these nights to be real. We need to be real, we need to be real with ourselves, we need to be real with each other, we need to be real - primarily - with God. Transparency and truth is important. I did highlight that grace and truth come together. So if you want the grace of God to meet you, you have to be truthful. I'm going to be truthful now about something I believe is a real problem in our own province, and particularly in the Western world. There is an increasing discontent and hunger among Christian people. I'm not talking about naysayers - they will always be with you, the Sanballats and the Tobiahs, when you're trying to build something they're wanting to pull it down - but I'm not talking about people who are meddlesome. I'm not talking about Christians who are bitter and twisted, who have a chip on their shoulder for some reason. I'm talking about what we might call the cream of the spiritual society, I'm talking about people who really know their God, who have encountered and experienced God - and they are discontent, disillusioned with the church.
We've got to face that. There are many reasons for that, which I don't have time to talk to you about - but there is no doubt in my mind that one problem that there is, is that there is a famine in the land. There is a famine of the word of God. Now you might say to me: 'How is that possible?' - because, as we speak, though things might be on the decline in Northern Ireland, there are churches that are full. This church is packed to capacity, and there are a few others like it right across the land - how can you say that there is a famine in the preaching of the word? Well, I'm not talking about preaching the word, I'm talking about a famine of prophetic word - that's a different thing. You see ad nausea I have heard quoted in evangelical prayer meetings Isaiah 55, where God says: 'My word shall not return unto Me void, but will accomplish that for which I have sent it' - how many times have you heard that? Now, if that verse is true the way people quote it, we ought to be in a constant perpetual revival - but we are not. We do so much sowing, and see very little reaping. But, you see, that verse is misquoted, it says: 'My word that goes forth out of My mouth, shall not return unto Me void' - that is the prophetic word, that is, if you like, the proceeding word of God, that comes from the heart and the mouth of God, to a specific people, in a particular situation, for a purpose.
Now that's different than just preaching the word of God. In fact, the Lord Jesus said: 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God' - not 'by every word of God', it doesn't say that. So our meat, our food and drink ought to be the prophetic word, listening for the word of God. Incidentally, Romans 10:17 also says: 'Faith comes by the word of God' - is that what it says? Faith does not come by the word of God, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. It is hearing the spoken word of God. Paul the apostle said: 'The kingdom of God is not word, but power' - that's what we need, and that is what is so desperately missing in a land where the Gospel and the word is preached continually.
But I sense that there is a group emerging - and when I say 'a group', I'm not talking about a recognisable established denomination or movement, I'm not talking about an organisation or anything of human design. I'm speaking about a group that has been birthed out of spiritual discontent and disillusionment, and being birthed out of a Holy Spirit desire and passion to encounter God. I believe that there are shoots of growth that indicate that God intends to revive His church in Ireland in particular. It's interesting that verse 6 reads: 'This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face'. It's an interesting statement: 'the generation of those who seek Your face'. Matthew Henry comments on it like this: 'In every age there is a remnant of such as these, men and women of character, who are accounted to the Lord for a generation'. Psalm 22:30: 'Accounted to the Lord for a generation', or as the NIV or the New Living Translation translates that, 'To ensure that future generations will be told about the Lord and His wonders'. A remnant of people, a generation of those who seek God's face, 'Who seek Thy face, O Jacob'.
I wonder are you one of those people? I had a retreat yesterday - probably too busy to have one, I should have had a day off! But I had a retreat with some elders of an evangelical church, quite a large church in Belfast, and they were looking some ministry on how to wait upon God. One of the elders very insightfully said to me that he had recently been reading a book entitled 'Why I Left the Church'. It wasn't by a backslider, it was actually by someone who really wanted to go on with God, but they couldn't find a church near them that wanted the same. Now don't misunderstand me: I'm not condoning people who leave the church. The Church is the Bride of Christ, and it's still the Bride of Christ. She may be in a very perilous position, and we need to pray, and work, and plead for the Bride of Christ - but let's not be blind to the state that she is in.
Yet there is a little remnant of people who are hungry after God within and without the church. These, look at verse 6, they join themselves to God like Jacob did - remember that Old Testament character? You remember he wrestled with God, and he prevailed. Jacob is a real encouragement to me, because he was not always so inclined. You know his story, in fact, if you know the definition of his name - Jacob means 'twister', 'conniver', 'supplanter', and 'thief'. There's a lot of those about in the church I'm sure, but isn't it wonderful to be encouraged to know that God actually took Jacob's name and said He was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! This is the generation of those who seek God, they're like Jacob. Now listen: if Jacob can ascend the hill of the Lord, and stand in His holy place, anyone can, anyone can if they're prepared to climb God's way!
What is God's way? I heard a wonderful story a while ago about George Adam Smith, who was an Old Testament Biblical Scholar. He once climbed the Weisshorn above Zermatt Valley in Switzerland, if you've ever been you may have seen it. With his guide, he made the ascent on the sheltered side of the mountain. When at the top, he was so exhilarated that he had reached it, and the thought that he had climbed it, and the panoramic view that was before him, the wonder of it - that he forgot where he was, and he forgot the gale that was blowing, and he threw his arms in the air and shouted with exhilaration. The guide just grabbed him and pulled him down to his knees, he said: 'On your knees! On your knees! You're only safe up here when you're on your knees!'. What a lesson he learned. To ascend the hill of the Lord is not a place for the foolhardy or for the shallow or the immature. It's not 'Climb, climb up sunshine mountain, heavenly breezes blow' - a whole lot of trash. It's not like that at all. To ascend the hill of the Lord is not a place for the proud, it's a place that is ascended on your knees.
A number of years ago I ask the Lord to - I was preparing for a message - to give me revival in a nutshell that I could deliver to the people. That's exactly what the Lord did, and He answered me through Isaiah 57 and verse 15, which reads, listen: 'For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, with him'' - or her - ''who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones''. This was the message God give me, revival in a nutshell: reaching high can only be obtained by bending low. If you want to dwell with the High and Lofty God in Heaven who is the transcendent One above all, you must get as low as you can in contrite humility before Him.
There's a lot of activity and noise and fuss concerning revival. In all sorts of denominational circles and movements there are claims being made, and declarations pronounced, but there is little atmosphere of the heavenly mount. There is little evidence that we are ascending the hill of the Lord. Duncan Campbell, that great prophet of the God who was used mightily in the Hebridian revival, he was once in a prayer meeting with a lot of young people. They were good young people, and he was encouraging them and he was ministering to them, but he witnessed a great deal of exuberance among the young people. During the recess he was asked to join them for lunch and say a word of grace, and as he prayed he said: 'Lord, we could be doing with much more steam going to the pistons, and a lot less coming out of the whistle' - do you understand what he's getting at? It's not wrong, let the redeemed of the Lord say so - and we've been enjoying the praise, and some have been making declarations that have paved new life for you in Christ - but let us be aware, let's be sober and serious about this matter: if we truly want to know what a community is alive with the presence and life of God, we've got to realise the price that has to be paid.
That's perhaps why there aren't many at the mountain tops. Have you ever noticed that? When you climb a mountain, at the bottom there's a whole lot of people mingling with their rucksacks and all the rest, and their packed lunches - but when you get up to the summit, there are not too many people hanging about there. Some have fallen by the wayside, and the reason is: you've got to pay a price. You've got to pay a price to reach the hill of the Lord. I'm not presuming that I've reached that summit, but I feel I have little enough experience to know that it can be lonely, and it can be isolating to seek to go on with God in the days and the age in which we live - even in the church. You've got to be prepared for this. Even as a church here, as God moves in your midst - and I believe He is doing so in a mighty way - you've got to be prepared to be ostracised, to become a laughingstock, to be the pulpit fodder for those who would criticise you and preach against you. It will be lonely.
A.W. Tozer, that great man of God, said this, and I quote him: 'The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians, as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share his inner experiences he is forced to walk alone. The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way. The man [or woman] who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and over-serious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens. He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart. It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else'.
Who would ascend the hill of the Lord? Let me sum it up like this: revival comes when Christians are longing for God and God alone - and when you're prepared to have God and God alone. Now let me give a word of warning here: I've been ministering on the supernatural this week, and on the gifts of the Spirit and the fullness of the Spirit, and various blessings that we can receive - but I don't want you at all to misunderstand, it must be not the gifts but the Giver that we seek. It was that great man, Frederick Brooks, who said in his hymn:
'My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God'.
Wasn't it Gordon who said: 'Once it was the blessing, now it is the Lord'. Duncan Campbell said: 'Revival is a community saturated with God'. Do you want God above all? Brian Edwards, in his great book on revival, says: 'When we are reading the serious, yet exciting, stories of God in revival, the only response possible is an awesome: 'God has come''. A people saturated with God! As Duncan Campbell said in that revival in the Hebrides: God was everywhere! A community encountering God.
So how can it come? Well, those in pursuit of God, who would ascend the hill of the Lord, have at least four characteristics about them that we see in verses 3-6 of Psalm 24. Four things: deeds, desires, devotion, and declarations all mark them out as people who are ascending the hill of the Lord. Let's look at them one by one, first of all: deeds. Verse 3: 'Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands' - your deeds have got to be right if you're going to encounter God. Collectively, if we as God's people are going to be saturated with His presence, and know an outpouring of His Spirit that can be sustained in new wineskins to flow out to the community around us, we've got to know that our deeds are right before God and men. Isn't that what Paul strove toward: to have a conscience void of offence before God and before men. Specifically, the psalmist says here: 'Clean hands' - he's alluding to our members. As Paul the apostle said: 'Make sure that your members', your bodily faculties, your limbs, your instruments, 'are instruments of righteousness unto God, rather than instruments of unrighteousness unto wickedness'.
So let me ask you tonight: is the Lord Jesus Christ Lord of your body? You see, we as Christians can fall into this trap of what was called in the early church 'dualism'. We spiritualize everything so that we almost despise the body and the physical - but, you know, God wants to be Lord of all, Lord of us: spirit, soul and body. That sealing of the Spirit that we receive when we are born again, deep down in our human spirit, that is the anointing of God where we are marked out, just like a farmer marks out his sheep or his animals. We are marked out, but God wants from that place, the human spirit, by His Spirit, to control the spirit, the soul, the mind, the emotions and the will - and then to fill the whole body as the Temple of the Holy Spirit!
Do I need to remind you what Paul said? 'You are not your own' - you are not your own! You're a child of God tonight, you're not your own, you're bought with a price, the precious blood of Jesus. God intends you to be a Temple of the Holy Spirit, and we are all living stones that He has put together, making a holy house, a holy habitation - and so that means: if you get Spirit-filled believers, individually before God, who are infused with Divine power, and then you bring them all together in a church context - wow! Does God inhabit His Temple suddenly! What are your deeds like? Clean hands?
What about your ears? Is the Lord, Lord of your ears, what you listen to, who you listen to? Some of you have been listening to the enemy, to his lies. Some of you listen to gossip and slander and so on, but many Christians are listening to the insinuations, the diabolical poisonous untruths of Satan - and we start to believe. We, as it were, sign a contract with him by milling over it and analysing it, and dissecting this: 'Is this right? Is this right about me? Is this right about those around me?'. We're actually accepting his lies, and that means the Lord Jesus is not Lord of our ears.
What about our eyes? Is He Lord of everything that you look at? We live in a very visual age, and voyeurism is at epidemic proportions - particularly through Internet pornography, but the television can be as big a problem, in fact the daily red-top could be bigger. Is the Lord, Lord of your eyes, what you look at? What about the looks you give out, the looks that you give to other people? Your deeds. Is the Lord, Lord of your sexuality? Is He Lord of all its expressions? Is He Lord of your feet, every path that you tread? Is He Lord of your hands, everything that they do and everything that they touch? You see, we as Christians have a tendency to compartmentalize our lives, and we give only certain things to God when He wants it all - He wants it all! That's why Paul said in Romans 12 verses 1 and 2: 'I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God', because of what Jesus has done for you, dying for you, being buried for you, rising again for you, 'that you present your bodies' - do you see what he saying? Bodies! I believe the inference was: if He's got your bodies, He has more than likely got your soul and your spirit! If He's got anybody's body, I would say He's got everything! 'Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service' - it's only expected of you, child of God - 'And do not be conformed to this world', as J.B. Phillips said, 'Do not let the world push you into its mould, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind', there's the soul now, 'that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God'.
Do you want to ascend the hill of the Lord? Do you want revival in your heart, in your home, in your fellowship, in your community? Well, what about your deeds? Are your hands clean? Are mine? 'He that has clean hands' - deeds. The second thing the psalmist says here is that our desires need to be right. 'He that has clean hands', verse 4, 'and a pure heart'. I believe that's more likely speaking of motives, what are our motives like? Now you have to be careful - and I've spoken in the week that has gone by about the disease of introspection. If you're one of these perfectionist people, (who can be failures, and if you can't get it perfect then you bail out and you just do nothing - if you can't do it, you'll not do it at all). Or you can be at the top end of the scale, a high achiever doing well, and you're devastated when you don't achieve perfection - which no one ever does - and so you have this constant syndrome of putting yourself on your own dissection table, and analysing and cutting yourself up, and not being affirmed.
I'm not talking about that, analysing your motives all the time, but what I am talking about is repenting, and admitting your pride, as we said on Tuesday night - and just asking God in your brokenness and surrender to fill the empty spaces in you with the graces that you need. So, if your motives are wrong, and you are self-seeking and self-centred, well, confess it! That's the way to get rid of it - not deny it, not wrestle with it, but become present to the issues and say: 'Lord, this is my problem, and You know it, and I know it, and I'm telling You' - and by confessing it you actually bring it up and out of you, did you know that? You bring it up and out of you, and you create a space where God can fill that emptiness with His grace, whatever that is.
A pure heart - well, a lot of the heart is synonymous with the thoughts in the Bible. Let me ask you: does the Lord have your mind? He wants all of you, does He have your mind? Does He have your thoughts? Does the Lord have your understanding, and is He Lord of your imagination? Is He Lord of your will? That comes into motivation as well. Is He Lord of your intentions and all your decisions? Is He Lord of your emotions that often drive you to those, and Lord of your feelings? We're touching now on the area of the soul, for the soul is tripartite - made up of mind, emotion, and will, volition. So He needs to be Lord of the body, and He needs to be Lord of the soul - is He Lord of your soul?
You want to ascend the hill of the Lord? You want to stand in His holy place? Well, you need to have given Him your deeds and given Him your desires. Thirdly: you need to give Him devotion. Look at verse 4 again, the second half: 'Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol'. Now, the good old Authorised Version which we love, says: 'Who has not lifted up his heart to vanity' - but that really doesn't mean anything now today. A lot of people confound that, and think that's somebody admiring their hair-do in the mirror - that's not what it's talking about. 'Vanity' there, that old English phrase, is actually referring to an idol: 'Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol'.
Now, this is the realm of the spirit. We've covered the body, and the Lord wants to be in control of the body. He wants to have your soul: your mind, your emotion, and your will. But now this is the realm of the spirit, and the spirit is that part of us that is human, but God breathed it into us - that connecting part with God. You see the body is the part of us that engages with the physical, it is physical and it encounters the outside environment, and the senses are the things that we do that with. The soul well, it's mind, emotion, and will, as I said - it's the self-conscious part of us, the seat of the personality we might say. But the spirit is actually our identity as spiritual beings, it is the real you - but it is the God-conscious part. You see, we as human beings are like an interface between the physical and the spiritual realm - do you understand what I'm saying now? The angels and demons are spiritual, they are celestial beings; the beasts of the field are physical; but we are both physical and spiritual - we are an interface, a connecting place of both dimensions.
So I'm asking you really tonight: what is your spirit bent over towards? What is it worshipping? 'Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol' - that's worship, the spirit bent towards something. This is just what Jesus said, do you remember? He said: 'Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also'. Your treasure is just what you're bowing down to. Now we can think of people who may be millionaires, or who are celebrity and famous, and they might bow down to that - but we as Christians can bow down to our family. We can have, as I said on previous nights, a disordered love. We ought to love our family, but Jesus clearly said that we're not to love them more than Him - that's a struggle for us all, but we at least need to be, by the help of the Spirit, striving toward that, because we can have a bent, disordered love that becomes idolatrous - even with a husband, or a wife, or a parent, or a child, or with a career, or even with a ministry or a church. The Lord says specifically here: 'If you want to climb My hill, if you want to stand in My Holy Presence, you need to rid yourself of all idolatry, all heart ties, anything that your spirit is bending down towards, taking My place'.
This can often be indicated by what we invest in. I'm not talking about financially - although that can tell us a great deal: what are you spending your money on more than anything? What are you spending your time in? What are you expending your energies on? That really is a sign of what you devote yourself to - that's what we're talking about: devotion is an indication of those who are ascending the hill of the Lord and those who are not. What are you investing your life in? Those who are climbing God's Mount, their deeds show that their hands are clean, their desires are coming from a pure heart - God has their body, God has their soul - and their spirit is not lifted up, bowing down to vain idols, but God owns them: spirit, soul and body.
There is one final thing here: deeds, desires, devotion - and declarations. Declarations. It was the Lord Jesus who said: 'Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks'. Now look at verse 4 at the end, the one who ascends the hill of the Lord does not swear deceitfully: 'He shall receive blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation' - the one who does not swear deceitfully. Your declarations have got to be right, for out of the mouth the heart speaks. As someone put it once: the mouth, or words, project personality. It's worthy of thinking about.
So, are you honest with your words? Are you trustworthy with your promises? Do you have integrity in your conversation? Turn with me back to Psalm 15, we see the same sentiment. Psalm 15, declarations - it's on the very same theme too. Verse 1: 'LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle?', that's His dwellingplace, 'Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness', that's deeds, 'and speaks the truth in his heart', that's declaration, 'He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbour, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honours those who fear the LORD; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change' - even when it's not in your interests - 'He who does not put out his money at usury, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved'.
There's an interesting paraphrase of that Psalm that goes like this, it's a bit strange you might say, but I think it gets to the point. Listen: 'God, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list? 'Walk straight'', God says, ''act right, tell the truth. Don't hurt your friend, don't blame your neighbour; despise the despicable. Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe. You'll never get blacklisted if you live like this'' - isn't that good? If you want to be invited to God's table - I love that story, Moses, do you remember he was invited up to the holy Mount, do you remember? The seventy elders, and they were taken up, and it says: 'They saw the God of Israel'. They sat down, and it says they dined with Him.
What are your declarations? Or, to put it another way: is He Lord of your mouth? Is he Lord of your mouth? I said on Friday night that some people want the supernatural gift of tongues, but they won't allow the Holy Spirit to control their natural tongue. Is He Lord of everything that comes out of your mouth? Is He Lord of everything that goes into your mouth, for that matter? James says that the child of God can exhibit this phenomenon: that out of the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. So that can happen from a believer - and, wait till I tell you: it's happening all the time. In church contexts, history of grievances and business meetings, where pure vitriol and bile has been expulsed at one another, there has been cursing from the mouths of the children of God - and I believe it brings cursing upon God's community. I don't believe that when you say things, 'Oh, sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me', I don't believe that. I believe there is power in words, spiritual power in words.
Now we don't want to become obsessive about it, but I believe that many things that are said have to be broken, have to be broken and renounced. In fact, the Galatians had a great problem with legalism in the flesh. We looked at the fruit of the Spirit on Friday night, but we didn't look at the works of the flesh that were exhibiting themselves in their midst. One of the fruits of legalism - that is, trying to live the Christian life in the power of an energy of humanity, rather than the Spirit - is that you exhibit the works of the flesh. That's what Paul said in Romans, that the law actually multiplies sin, it amplifies sin, it encourages you to sin. It's like telling a child: 'Don't steal out of the cookie jar' - and what do they want to do? They want to steal out of the cookie jar.
The Galatians exhibited this fleshliness. Paul said: 'You bite and devour one another'. It came through their mouth. You remember at Pentecost, they spoke in tongues in the great praises of God? In Ephesians 5:18, it says: 'You are filled with the Spirit, you will speak to one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs' - it affects your mouth! What is it that is coming out of your mouth? Is He Lord of your mouth?
Who will ascend the hill of the Lord? Those with deeds right before God, clean hands; desires right before God, a pure heart; devotion before God, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol; declarations that are right before God, that even swears to his own hurt. This is holiness - and you know I'm not talking now about some legalistic or old-fashioned holiness. I'm talking about real, Holy Spirit engendered holiness that comes from God - but it is exhibited in who we are: in what we do with our bodies; what we think, and feel, and act with our souls; what we worship with our spirit.
Brian Edwards said: 'God looks for men and women who will be willing to surrender anything and everything, so long as their life can be kept clean. Without exception, those whom God uses in revival are men and women who fear God and sin, and nothing else'. Fear God, and sin, and nothing else! He says: 'They take seriously the command 'Be holy, for I am holy, says the Lord''. Is that not just the record of the Bible, but history? John Wesley declared, listen, 1734: 'My one aim in life is to secure personal holiness, for without being holy myself, I cannot promote real holiness in others'. Can I let you into a wee open secret? That was four years before he was converted. Four years before he was saved, he saw the need for holiness! He got it the wrong way round, I know - but later, when he did come to Christ, he said: 'Give me one hundred men that fear nothing but sin, and the devil, and God, and I'll turn the world upside down'.
It's still the same today: who will ascend the hill of the Lord? Who will stand in His holy place? He that has clean hands, and a pure heart; that does not lift up his soul unto vanity, nor swear deceitfully. David Brainerd recalls a time when, among the Indians in North America, one night before a pagan festival he went to the woods to be alone with God, and his experience during that night reveals the kind of men and women God can trust with revival. I quote him: 'All things here below vanished; and there appeared to be nothing of any considerable importance to me but holiness of heart and life and the conversion of the heathen to God. All my cares, fears and desires, which might be said to be of a worldly nature, disappeared; and were, in my esteem, of little more importance than a puff of wind. I exceedingly longed that God would 'get to Himself a name among the heathen': And I appealed to Him with the greatest freedom, that He knew I 'preferred Him above my chief joy''.
Oh, can you say that tonight? That the things of this world vanish, and you prefer Him above your chief joy? Duncan Campbell, who I have mentioned several times already, describes his own experience of surrendering completely to Christ. He was shot from off his horse, and seriously wounded in one of the last cavalry charges of the Great World War, World War I. Whilst a Canadian trooper was carrying him on horseback to the casualty clearing station, Campbell reviewed his life. He saw how empty it had been, even as a Christian. It was there, not knowing whether he would live or die, he prayed Murray M'Cheyne's prayer: 'Lord, make me as holy as a saved sinner can be'. Who in the meeting tonight will pray that prayer? 'Lord, make me as holy as a saved sinner can be'. Vance Havner rightly said that most church members live so far below the standard, you'd have to backslide to be in fellowship with them: 'We are so subnormal, that if we were to become normal, people would think that we were abnormal'. We are so subnormal, Christians, that if we were to become normal, according to the Acts of the Apostles and the early prophets and evangelists, we would be seen as abnormal - that's the way they were seen! They were seen as madmen, they were seen as drunken, and yet they turned the world upside down!
Do you want to ascend the hill of the Lord? Who here tonight wants to ascend the hill of the Lord? Who wants to stand in His holy place? There is a cost. Your deeds have to be surrendered; your desires must be right, and holy, and pure - if they're not, they can be, but you must surrender them to the Lord. You devotion must be absolute, no idolatry; and your declarations, your words must be weighed and not found wanting, full of grace and seasoned, salted with truth.
A group praying with the Reverend McKay, at 10:00pm, around then, in a barn in Barvas about 12 miles away from Stornoway in the Hebrides - while leaning on the straw, they pleaded with Almighty God that He would open the windows of Heaven and pour out revival blessing. There was a young deacon from the Free Church of Scotland who stood up, and he read this very Psalm, Psalm 24: 'Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol, nor swear falsely'. He read the passage again, and he read it again, and then he challenged the praying group - and this is what he said: 'Brethren, we have been praying for weeks, waiting on God - but I would like to ask now: are your hands clean? Are your hearts pure?'. He inferred that they were wasting their time if this was not in place. As they continued to wait before God, Duncan Campbell says: 'His awesome presence swept the barn, and at 4:00am they' - and this is his own words - 'moved out of the realm of the common and the natural sphere, into the sphere of the supernatural' - and that is revival!
Let us pray. D.L. Moody (or at least it was attributed to him) said: 'The world is yet to see what God can do with a man', or a woman for that matter, 'fully consecrated to Him'. D.L. Moody said: 'By God's help, I aim to be that man'. Can you say that tonight? There are some young people here, some children even, will you say tonight: 'God will have my life. He'll not just have my Sundays and my Saturday nights, or my midweeks, or my youth clubs. He'll not just have my teenage years in the University Christian Union, or in the school lunchtime Bible studies and prayer meetings. He'll not just have my team ministry here and there before I marry and settle down'. I'm not talking now just about service, I'm talking about the heart: 'He will have my all'. It's not you can't serve Him in your job where you are - you can, but do you serve Him where you are in your job? Does He have your all? Does He have your heart? Does He have your very body?
I know this church, some of them anyway, the core of them, want to ascend the hill of the Lord. I believe you're getting there - but there's more, so much more. It might take - do you know what it might take? It might take some of you who have issues with each other, to get up and go over the aisle, and to put it right. 'Oh', you say, 'I've put it right in my heart' - God does desire truth in the inward place, but He desires putting things right. Faith without works is dead. If your brother has aught against you, and you know it, leave your gift at the altar and go - don't even worship - go and sort it out! That's what we need! That's what we need! The wrong needs to be put right, wrong deeds, wrong motives. Maybe God is laying something on your heart now, about your hands, your heart, your devotion, and your words. I want to ask you tonight, those of you individually and maybe as a group who want to ascend the hill of the Lord, and are cognisant of the cost, what this means - you're not living in cloud cuckoo land, you're not one of these spiritual lusting people who just want an experience - you know what we're talking about. You want to go through with God for what He has for you, and you're willing tonight - I'm not looking for numbers - you're willing tonight to surrender all, spirit, soul and body: would you stand to your feet? Just stand where you are. Eyes are closed and heads are bowed, it's between you and God. We'll wait a moment or two for anyone else.
God has been doing mighty things, meeting people - don't miss out tonight. If God has spoken to you, sort the issue out. I want to lead you all in a prayer, those standing and those still remaining seated. You might not be standing, but you still want to deal with God. It's quite a lengthy prayer, but it's a very meaningful prayer - it's what I call 'the Lordship prayer', and you can repeat it after me. I would encourage you please to take it on your lips. You don't have to let the person beside you hear, but if you mouth it on your lips - I think it's important for confession. So just repeat it after me if you're wanting to surrender all to the Lord: 'Lord Jesus, I acknowledge my need of You. I accept You now afresh as my Lord, and acknowledge You as my Saviour, my Redeemer, and my Deliverer. I invite You now to be Lord of every area of my life. Be Lord of my spirit, of my worship, my conscience, and my spiritual understanding. Be Lord of my mind, of my thoughts, my understanding and my imagination. Be Lord of my will, of my intentions, and of all my decisions. Be Lord of my emotions, and all my feelings. Be Lord of my body, and of my physical health, all my actions and all my senses: of my ears, and everything that I listen to; of my eyes, and everything that I look at, and of every look that I give out; of my mouth, and everything that goes into it, and every word that comes out of it. Be Lord of my sexuality and all its expressions. Be Lord of my hands, and everything that they do and touch. Be Lord of my feet, and of every path that I tread. Be Lord of my finances, and my material goods. Be Lord of my time, of my work, my free time, my sleep and my dreams. Be Lord of my relationships, of my family, of my marriage, my church fellowship, my friendships. Be Lord of my plans, my ambitions, and my future. Be Lord of the timing of my death. Lord Jesus, I thank You that Your blood was shed so that I might be free and I might be cleansed. I commit, or I recommit, myself to You: spirit, soul, and body. To Your glory, Amen'.
You may be seated. Now, God has been near again tonight, and you don't need me or the pastor or any human being - you need the Lord. But if you should desire some counsel or prayer, we're here. The prayer rooms are to my right and left, and in the foyer there's a door to the major prayer room, and we can meet you in other places if there is a great number of people. We invite folk to stay in the presence of God tonight, so we would ask you please to observe the quietness and stillness, as the presence of God is so evident amongst us. Please know that people are dealing with God, and do not disturb them. I would ask you: do not chatter, there will be no music after we sing our hymn. If you want to talk, feel free to talk out in the foyer or the car park, but please don't talk here. Do feel at liberty and at your leisure to hang on seeking God.
'Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence; as fire burns brushwood, as fire causes water to boil; to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence! When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, the mountains shook at Your presence. For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him'. Lord, we wait for You, we look to You, for the times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, we thank You. We give You all the praise and all the glory for what You have deposited in our lives this week, but Lord, we know there is so much more! You are the God who does exceeding abundantly more than we ask or think, and so we say: even so, come Lord Jesus! Come suddenly into Your Temple, pour water upon him that is thirsty, and the floods upon the dry ground. Oh, let it come, O Lord, we pray Thee, and we will give You all the praise and all the glory. Bless us now as we go in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit - and remain with those who stay, and those who are ministered to and prayed with, and those who must go. But may none of us go without going with God, and going through with God. We thank You, Lord, for this Divine encounter this week. Amen.
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This sermon was delivered at Abbots Cross Congregational Church in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the seventh recording in his 'Encountering God' series, entitled "Revival - A Community Encountering God" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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