Believing that as we move more deeply into the twenty-first century, that as Satanic forces intensify the program of the antichrist, we Christians must take Jesus’ warning of the times: He said, Because iniquity abounds, the love of many will wax cold!
I want to read two passages of Scripture: one from Genesis chapter six, where God looked down on the evil of the antediluvian world of Noah’s time and saw…
that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
Genesis 6:5-6, NKJV
Now I shall read from Isaiah 59, vv. 9-15, The Message, where God looks down on His Old Testament apostate people, decrying their condition, and the prophet is speaking for Jehovah:
We long for light but sink into darkness, … we look for justice–not a sign of it. … Our wrongdoings pile up before you, God; … mocking and denying God, … Justice is beaten back, righteousness is banished to the sidelines, truth staggers down the street, honesty is nowhere to be found. Good is missing in action…
But listen to God’s response from the NKJV to what He sees with the imploding society under evil influence: Here’s God’s Word through the prophet Isaiah: Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man (to intervene), and wondered that there was no intercessor (Isaiah 59:15-16, NKJV). Then we read in the NRSV that when He saw there was no one to intervene… He was APPALLED!
Ladies and gentlemen, a global fire is raging. The times that Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets foretold are upon us! The influence of the antichrist is building momentum. Nations are rising against nations. Earthquakes are in divers places. Famines, pestilences, tsunamis, and hurricanes are upon us. Fearful signs of violence, massacres, riots, anarchy, and rebellion are daily news reports right here in what was once a Christian, civilized nation!
Millions of American evangelicals are caught up in shocking fear, wondering what happened to their faith. Too many have ignored our Savior’s instructions as to His orders for our last days before His return. It must grieve God that in these times our family altars are broken down, our church’s prayer rooms are nearly empty, and few or no solemn assemblies are being called!
Surely, just as in Isaiah’s day, God must be looking down upon our twenty-first century America DISAPPOINTED, GRIEVED, and APPALLED that there are so few prayer warriors, so few intercessors, almost no one intervening with God for a tidal wave of spiritual power to push back the darkness.
But I do want to go back to Isaiah 59 once more for a powerful promise from God. Even after listing the evils of the day, here is God’s promise to His backslidden people — but remember there is one condition, that of repentance and intercession. But here is the promise if His people would meet the condition: When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him (Isa. 59:19, NKJV).
And this promise parallels our great Revival Text:
If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14, NKJV
God’s people! Called by His Name. Humble ourselves. Pray. Seek God’s face. Turn from our wicked ways — cold hearts, carnal attitudes, gossip, disobedience, cheap worship, indifference, spiritual laziness, spiritual pride, division, sins of omission.
God will hear! God will forgive! God will heal our land — our hearts, our marriages, our homes, our churches, our nation!
As Americans, we need to representatively beg God’s forgiveness for our national sins — the desecration of marriage, the murder of millions of unborn babies, our materialistic idolatry, our cheap worship, our bondage to the world. We need what Presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan used to call for — seasons of repentance and fasting!
I’ve been urging our pastors in Southwest Montana to call for days and nights of “Solemn Assemblies.” Not too much response. It isn’t personally convenient. Nor is it politically correct. Nor is it congregationally pleasing. Nor do the invisible evil forces plan to allow it to happen. It will take a moving of God of deep conviction on people who have an ear to hear what God is saying in these confused times!
But I pray we’ll have an ear to hear what God is wanting to say to us here this week in Sydney, Montana.
I must be up front with you about the main essential of effectual, fervent prayer: I’m here this week to teach on Spirit-anointed prayer. But no one, and I mean NO ONE, can pray effectually, fervently, and successfully unless they are filled with the Spirit.
I meet too many Christians who know almost nothing about the Holy Spirit, even people who are members of Pentecostal and Holiness churches. They seem to think that if they ask God to sanctify them that they are automatically filled with the Spirit. Well, even if you’ve had a fulfilling experience of sanctification, but did not ask God to fill you with the Spirit, you will lack in power for prevailing prayer. But even getting filled with the Spirit is not enough. We often need fresh fillings of the Spirit, times of rekindling the fires of the Spirit. Why? Because most of us leak a lot! And too many Christians don’t repent. They think repenting when they got saved is all the repentance they need. So the sins pile up and unconfessed sin is not forgiven.
And another thing, God doesn’t fill a sinful heart with His Holy Spirit. First, there must be repentance and cleansing, and then we can ask God to fill us with the Holy Spirit.
The apostle Paul ordered the Corinthian Church to Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith (II Cor. 13:5, NIV). But this week I’m going to ask my brothers and sisters in Christ to search your hearts and see if you are Spirit-filled!
We go to Ephesians 5:18, NIV, which reads: Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. This command is in the imperative mood — meaning that it is a divine command, not a mere human suggestion. (Billy Graham on drunkenness).
This command is in the passive voice — meaning it is not a human achievement, but a divine work of grace.
This command is in the progressive perfect tense — meaning that it is not a once-and-for-all experience; it is to be repeated time and time again. Keep on being filled with the Spirit.
Paul wrote Timothy in his second letter, Chap. 1:6-7, NIV: ...fan into flame (rekindle) the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Tim. 1:6-7)
The greatest sin across the evangelical movement today is the sin of grieving, quenching, or ignoring the Holy Spirit.
We grow careless, busy, preoccupied, and spring a leak. We can neglect the Word, talk too much, lighten up on prayer, grow too cheap and shallow in worship, and become insensitive to the Holy Spirit without repenting and recharging our spiritual batteries. And yet we think we can go on and cover it up.
No, as Paul said to Timothy, “My Son, it’s time to rekindle the fires of the Spirit in your heart. Get back to the power and confidence and joy and love and glory of God in your life that you once knew. Get back to prayer, and get back to enjoying answers to your prayers. Get back to love, joy, and peace in your soul.
I’m speaking to Christians here tonight who need to become honest with God and confess your coldness of heart, your lack of real joy and power to overcome the temptation to speak unkindly. You allow too many things to cheapen your public and private worship. You’ve run out of gas, fire, hope, joy, and peace.
Don’t continue in this coldness-of-heart state! Don’t go deeper into lukewarmness. Get a rekindling of fire! Go for the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and learn how to have times of refilling of the Spirit.
Pray in power! Worship in power! Give in power! Jesus promised, You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.
What do you think would happen this week if three-fourths of us here tonight came before the Lord in the close of this service and confessed honestly before the Lord what the Spirit has been convicting us of over the last few weeks … what do you think will happen, if after our telling God we are repenting of these sins, we ask Him to fill us … You see, He will not fill an unclean vessel! We need to repent before we get the rekindling of the Spirit!
Christians need to repent!