Posted July 20th, 2013 at 3:30 pmNo Comments Yet
PART 2: CONCLUSION
BY REVIVALIST TODD BENTLEY
Hey! We all have to wash our vehicles once in a while don’t we?! There’s the usual hunt for the bucket, grabbing the hose, and then checking to be sure that the old dry sponge is still at the bottom of the bucket. Then it’s time to fill the bucket with water. But suddenly we’re distracted and before we know it, the water is overflowing and the sponge no longer looks all dried up the way it did a minute before. We squeeze the sponge, water runs out, and away we go washing and scrubbing!
Today I want to begin our study emphasizing the sponge and the water because sometimes we’re like that old dry sponge before we come into contact with the fountain (source) of living water (Is. 58:11; Jn. 4:14). But listen. When the fountain of living of water touches us, and it can come suddenly like an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we won’t look the same anymore! And when the pressures of life put the squeeze on us, God’s words and His ways will actually spill out of us like rivers of living water (Jn. 7:38). Then—away we go in His name!
In fact, with the right attitude, being dry can be a driving force that will propel us to bear down and really seek the Lord—the outpouring of His presence; His friendship and protection; His forgiveness and His cleansing power. In fact, the dry times turn out so often to be the best times!
WHAT ELSE IS GOOD ABOUT BEING DRY?
Last week I shared with you about my journey, being so desperate and hungry for God, and how I began to be transformed by soaking in His presence. We examined several conditions of the heart, such as hunger, thirst and desperation. All of these attitudes go hand in hand with softening our hearts to the point that we really long for God, above all else.
So let’s take a look at David, because he models for us just how holy desperation and devotion will give us an important key for breakthroughs to be released in our lives.
“O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips” (Ps. 63:1-5).
Here David expresses the longings of his heart. He knows the lovingkindness of the Lord. As a matter of fact, when he wrote this Psalm he was in the wilderness running for his life from King Saul. Now don’t miss this. When David said, “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips” he was actually making a prophetic decree. This declaration held the key to breakthroughs being released to him, breakthroughs that would deliver him from that dry and weary land. Here’s the key. He offered the sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15).
No matter what was happening in David’s life, his attitude was: I’m in a dry and thirsty land, filled with hardship and persecution. Saul is trying to take my life. There’s no water, there’s no refreshing. God, it feels like You are a million miles away. I’m in the valley, but I’m going to seek You, I’m going to bless and praise You. I’m going to lift my hands up in Your name anyway because I know that’s the key. That’s the key to breakthrough. That’s the key to finding You. That’s the key to going deeper. And I will be filled. I will be satisfied. I can say I’ll be satisfied because I know that if I can seek You and praise You even when it’s dry, You’ll fill me.”
Today many believers are dry, finding themselves in the wilderness. To those who are in this situation, it may look like a never-ending desert. However, if you can come up higher and dare to offer God the sacrifice of praise, your desert experience will begin to be transformed. David didn’t stay in the wilderness forever and neither will you. In fact, the journey into his destiny, his God-ordained race, kept on advancing, and so can yours “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Heb. 12:1b.)!
God is faithful and He will see you through. Look at the words of the Lord spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “The poor and needy seek water, but there is none, their tongues fail for thirst. I, the LORD, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers in desolate heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water” (41:18).
Just as the dry times are often the best times, so too, are the desert (wilderness) times. Look what God’s Word says in Psalm 107:35: “He (God) turns the wilderness into pools of water, and dry land into water springs.”
WHAT ELSE IS GOOD ABOUT BEING IN THE DESERT?
Do you know what the desert is? The desert is a place of prayer; the quiet place. The desert speaks of the secret place (Ps. 91:1). You can’t walk in the power of God without the desert. But before we discuss this further, I want to note with you a statement that I made last week about coming into “the embrace of God, pressing into His heart of love and allowing Him to bring conviction of sin so that we can be cleansed and forgiven.” I went on to say that then we’re on our way to becoming that pure, spotless bride. You know, the true church is the bride of Christ and the bride must go into the wilderness for refining, which involves conviction of sin, forgiveness, and cleansing.
Such purification is part of the answer to our question (“What else is good about being in the desert?”). However, there’s more! Scripture says in Song of Songs “Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” (So. 8:5). “Who is this…?” That’s us; whole-hearted lovers of God who believe in Jesus Christ. And listen! There is an appointed time when we come up from the wilderness. But having said that, the way we go into the wilderness and the way we come up from the wilderness are two different things. Jesus went into the desert “filled with the Holy Spirit” but after He came up from that place, He was “in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:1, 14). God wants us to know that the way we go into the wilderness, or desert, isn’t going to be the way we come out! He intends for us to come out with an increase of His Spirit on our lives. With the right attitude we will come out from the wilderness changed for the better!
Also, did you realize that when Jesus came up from the desert place in the power of the Spirit that it was the set time to choose His disciples? Look. I believe when we are changed, individually and corporately, as the bride of Christ coming up from the desert, we will be in a very good position to make important choices and decisions.
And there’s more! Almost right after Jesus chose His disciples He went to a wedding in Cana. Think about that. One of the first things that Jesus did after enduring His extremely intense time in the desert and then making history by choosing His disciples, was to celebrate at a wedding! Do you know what was at this wedding? Wine! Lots of wine! The best wine! Joy! The wedding was a party and a feast; a celebration. Can’t you just envision Jesus in all His glory dancing and celebrating with all the wedding guests?
I’m convinced that when we come out from the wilderness with the increase of His Spirit upon us, one of the first “places” that God wants to bring us to is actually our own heart, filled with a revelation of His goodness. He wants us overflowing with joy as symbolized by the wedding celebration at Cana. Look at this. I believe that where the wedding celebration was happening must have been where His glory was! And when our hearts are filled with joy and celebration we’ll be able to be where His glory is. It’s about the hidden place of our heart—that’s where we can be surrounded by God’s glory.
So there is a God-purpose in our desert experience that’s meant for our good. In the dry desert times we’ll learn to give God the sacrifice of praise; we’ll be purified; transformed; as well as being in a very good position to make important decisions. And last but not least, God will bring us to the place in our hearts of joy and celebration, where His glory is.
GOD IS WAITING FOR US
Jesus taught the multitudes and His disciples, in His famous Sermon on the Mount, that “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6). Our hunger shall be satisfied! Friends, God is waiting for us to come into His presence and spend time with Him, to be with Him. We get to celebrate and experience God’s glory when we soak in His presence.
However, it takes Holy Ghost discipline to shut out everything that pulls us away from God and the secret place. Do you know what happens to a lot of pastors, leaders, and evangelists? They start out soaking; they start out in passion. They start out being so in love with Jesus, so lovesick that from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed, it’s Jesus. And the presence of the Lord is fresh on them; they’ve got “edge.” The Word of the Lord falls on their lives. Then people take notice of their new flame and the phone starts ringing and they get so busy with a mindset of give, give, give, minister, minister, minister. And all this stuff starts happening. But we need to stay at the feet of the Lord.
There is something about sitting at the Lord’s feet. Let’s listen together. It’s like I hear God saying softly, “Shhh … Shhh … Be still.” Psalm 46 at verse 10a says: “Be still, and know that I am God.” What happens when we’re still? We come to the revelation of knowing— knowing that God is God. In fact the very word know in this verse means perceive [Strong’s Concordance 3045]. It means to know by revelation—the same kind of revelation that inspired Simon Peter with the knowledge that Jesus was (is) the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you . . . for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 16:17).
By just being still and sitting in God’s presence not saying anything, all of a sudden we understand and we perceive, and we come to know God by revelation. Remember, David knew the Lord so well that he had the revelation of God’s lovingkindness. The Bible says: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Is. 30:15). Isaiah shares God’s message about being in that place of quietness. There is a confidence and strength that we can only get from being in quietness, being in stillness; then God strengthens us.
There is a place to receive. In his gospel account, Luke the physician wrote that Mary (the sister of Martha and Lazarus) “seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was listening to His teaching” (Luke 10:39 AMP). She positioned herself in the place of receiving and surrender. She just sat there quietly looking at His face, listening. How are you positioned in prayer? Oh! That’s where God wants to bring us! Oh, how the Father longs for our fellowship—that we would walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8b). Soaking is like basking and bathing; it’s about being in the right position for intimacy with God. I say, “LET’S SOAK!”
It’s time to invite you to join with me in prayer.
Father, we are hungry and thirsty for Your presence. Thank you for stirring up our hunger and passion for You. We want to submit ourselves to You, Lord, in the desert places where the hidden matters our heart come to light for correction. We want to learn the lessons of the desert and we want to offer you the sacrifice of praise . . . we say we trust You.
We are coming to know that where Your presence is, so is Your glory. God we say that we want to come into a new level of understanding, respect and awe for Your glory. Lord, when we come out of the wilderness we want people to see the evidence that we have been with You—Your glory shining through us.
Thank You God for helping us to go the distance so that we can come into the secret place of Your presence and soak there. Oh, the promise of joy and celebration! And in this place we want to bring great delight to Your heart. How can we ever thank You for all the great benefits You have given to us? It’s all about You! Words are inadequate, Lord, but today we want to rest in the fact that You are receiving the message of our love and devotion to You. It’s heart to heart.
To Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit be the Glory! Amen.