A terrifying collision with the Glory of God

Many who were once vibrant soldiers, today languish in a shadow existence.  They are out of church, disconnected from their former passion and sick in body and soul.  The ongoing political debate and demonstrations have only added to the crisis. The conflicting opinions of church leaders leave the army of God baffled and vulnerable.

The problem is, with all the anger, division, loud perversion, and persecution, Christian teachers find their instructive messages woefully inadequate.  What happened?  The answer is…life.   Life happened, and it is gripping believers with fear.  This is a new kind of fear coming from the screaming villains, who now have an out-sized influence.

The church in America needs a terrifying collision with the Glory of God.  But right now we are awash in ‘advisory sermons.’ The titles are similar and predictable: “How to handle fear, uncertainty, finances, relationships, marriage, and children.”   We are drowning in whiteboards, blackboards, statistics, PowerPoint Presentations, props, and illustrations.

We’ve been taught to death. We need to pour gasoline on what we’ve been taught and light it on fire.

Happy-face sermons do not give believers the power they need to overcome in a time like this.   What is happening now runs clear off the over-optimistic maps drawn in pulpits. Tragedies can uproot neat formulas like a palm tree in a hurricane.   Hip theories will collapse like a brick house in an earthquake.

Leaders have brought a lot of this on themselves.  The culture has changed dramatically in the last few months—but the American pulpit has not.

Why are we surprised that modern believers suddenly need more?  The power that could answer a thousand questions and extinguish a myriad of personality ills has been ushered out of church.

Closing the altars, ordering people to tone it down, and focusing on recovery programs indeed brought in a crowd.  However, what is the end game if the crowd leaves as weak as they came—and in some cases weaker—without power to face the culture of a nation gone berserk?

Paul’s cure was simple: an undeniable encounter with the fire of God…”that your faith should not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:5).

The answer for conquering fear today is to burn it out!  Just for shock value, I’ll use this phrase…perfect love casts out fear but so does perfect fear.  No doubt many will think it is crazy to take a wonderful verse like 1 John 4:18: “perfect love casts out fear” and mess it up.  But I am not messing it up I am fulfilling it!

PERFECT FEAR DOES INDEED CAST OUT FEAR!  We have downplayed and even banned something that Christians desperately need…A TERRIFYING COLLISION WITH THE GLORY OF GOD.

Go back with me to 758 B.C.  Isaiah the prophet enters the Temple in fear for his life.  The tide of public opinion has turned against him.  The death of his friend and protector King Uzziah has put the finishing touch on 5 years of ministry that seemingly had no impact on Israel, and Isaiah felt like he had just been treading water.  His despair is now complete. He enters the Temple looking for comfort from God.

He kneels in prayer, resting his elbows on the altar seeking solace from the storm. Instead, the building starts quaking, knocking his elbows so that he is now punching himself in the face.

He looks up and sees Seraphim:  Angels of fire, fire that burns hotter and brighter than any sun. They tower over him from either end of the altar.

Their voices roar, vibrate, boom and dislodge the mighty beams of the Temple!  “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, IS THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY.  THE WHOLE EARTH IS FILLED WITH HIS GLORY!”  Back and forth, again and again, they blast this mighty proclamation until Isaiah could not bear the fright!

The mighty God Himself stands before Isaiah unfurling the indescribable train of His Glory!  The prophet convulses beneath the weight of glory.  From the very core of his being came an all-consuming cry… “WOE IS ME!”

The startling effect of the Glory of God—a wonder-working fear—overrules human fear.

No threat matters now.   This demonstration of Glory conquered his suffering.   Isn’t this exactly what Paul meant?: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).   Of course, Paul is speaking of the final GLORY…but it is a part of our birthright to have earthly collisions of glory: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (1 Corinthians 12:7).  An overarching, fear-destroying encounter is the legacy of every child of God.

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.”

The twelve disciples were in a boat out on the Sea of Galilee, gripped by fear of the storm.  But when Jesus rebuked the storm their fear of drowning was replaced with an awestruck wonder. They exclaimed: “what manner of man is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him!?”

We are told that General Patton won battles because his men were more afraid of him than the Germans.   Again, ours is not a negative fear, but the holy awe born from the manifestation of God’s glory.

This truth reinforces the fact that “Perfect love casts out Fear” because love disciplines, love gives us what we need… and what we need today is not a subtle pat on the head.   We need a fear-killing encounter!  Solomon said in Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

Why are we blocking people from experiencing the fire of God?  Why would we keep this miracle from people?   I am talking about fire—fire that keeps them from the evil one—fire that forges a reverence, and turns them into your best soldiers

We should have made room and time for people to be so filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit and fire that they are equipped to prevail against all enemies.  If we had, we would not be nursing hordes of Christians on life support. We would have an unstoppable army!

There is still time to reverse course.  If you have never been drenched by God then obey Him and seek to be overcome by His Glory.  If you have received a filling of the Holy Spirit in the past, now is the time to receive FRESH FIRE!

THE HONOR

Darkness hangs over Thanksgiving like never before. Millions of Christians will gather with family and friends over a feast that can be overshadowed by a nation in distress.  There is something defiant you can do that will take the oxygen out of Satan’s attacks. It is a confession that flips the script.

Try this: When it is time to give thanks…thank God that you were born for this time in history. It may be hard to believe, but I am asking you to tell God that it is an honor to be living in this moment in history.

What I am about to I tell you may be hard to believe.  Especially in these times that are dark, evil, angry and dangerous. There is no question that they are the most challenging days ever: in which to be married, have children, own a business, or lead a ministry.

Paul waged war for the Lord in the perilous times in which he lived, and he told Timothy to “fight the good fight.” A warrior shines best in the hottest battle. We must put on the armor of God, and learn to use the sword of the spirit.

Why should you learn to fight? Until you face the fact that you are locked in mortal combat, you will never stop being confused and you will never take adequate measures to arm yourself. Some even coddle the notion that if they remain a commonplace Christian, Satan will not attack them. But the warrior understands that it is the unarmed who are taken out first.

Rejoice in the honor of being born in these times! How can we do this?

 First, it is an honor because of what you get to see God do.   These are times when you will witness the power of God working miracles and doing special things through special people.  He gives grace that is not available in other, less chaotic times.  It is in times of crisis that He grants extraordinary power, wisdom, and courage. A life of knowing God and serving God is available to you—a life that was not available to prior generations.  Daniel wrote about dangerous times: “…but the people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits.” [Daniel 11:32b]

It is in the darkest times that the greatest glory rises.  Isaiah 60:1: “And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. 2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you and His glory will be seen upon you. 3 The Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”

It is God’s grand finale. It is the time when He will at last reveal the mystery of His work in the world, and He will release all the provisions He has been storing up.

 Then there is the matchless honor of suffering shame for Christ.   Acts 5:41 says, “So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

Jesus said in Luke 6:22: “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they excommunicate you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! Indeed, your reward is great in heaven, for their fathers did the same things to the prophets.”

 You were born for this time.  It is not punishment, it is not an accident, and it is an honor—because there is a glorious plan!  There is a holy design, and God in His perfect timing has placed you here on earth right now. We might yearn for simpler times, but the rewards are much greater in this time in which we are living.

But there are consequences for not participating… 

Let me take you back to another dangerous time, and urge you to embrace this, your hour of destiny.

Moses had sent out twelve men, one from each of the twelve tribes of Israel to do reconnaissance and then report back on the status of the land Jehovah promised to give them. They were at war, but only two of them were eager and ready to enter the land and fight to take it.

Here are the highlights of the story from the book of Numbers:

13:30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are. 33 There we saw the giants…and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight.”

14:1 So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. But Joshua and Caleb, tore their clothes; 7 and said: “The land we passed through is an exceedingly good land. 8 Since Jehovah delights in us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us. Only do not rebel against Jehovah, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and Jehovah is with us. Do not fear them.” 10Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. 30Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” 36 The men whom Moses sent to spy out the land and brought a bad report of the land 37died by the plague before Jehovah. 38 But Joshua and Caleb remained alive, of the (twelve) men who went to spy out the land.

The great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us and who are, at this very moment watching from the grandstands of heaven, would give almost anything to be in your shoes!  Jesus said, “I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.” [Luke 10:24].

Today you can terrify the enemy and glorify God by turning the tables. Instead of withdrawing out of fear and feeling like you are victims for being born in these times, like Joshua and Caleb, fully embrace this moment. See it as a great opportunity. Embrace your destiny!

Mechelle and I would like to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!