Editor's Note: This is part 2 in a two-part series. Read part 1 here.
It Is Time to Restore the Glory
Years after Samuel's ministry was established, David rose to restore the glory of God back to its rightful place (see 2 Sam. 6).
When God-appointed men are placed in leadership, their first agenda is to make sure the glory of the Lord is restored and dwelling where it belongs.
The ark did not belong in the Philistine camp, Abinadab's house or Obed-Edom's house (see 2 Sam. 6). It belonged in the temple of the Lord. David gathered all the choice men in Israel with an eagerness and a zeal to restore that which was lost.
I believe the highest priority on God's heart for 2018 and beyond is the restoration of His glory in His church.
What the church needs most right now are God-appointed leaders who are jealous for His glory.
True leaders are always seeking to find grace in God's sight, and like Moses, they will not lead without the presence of God. The greatest concern of a godly leader is for the church to be separated from the world and wholly consecrated to God. A true leader's longing and desire is to see the glory of God and have it restored among His people (Ex. 33:15-18). It is not popularity, bigger buildings, increase in attendance and more money that has priority in the hearts of godly leaders. It is the glory! Men who live close to the heart of God know that it is only His glory that will change everything.
It's time for the glory, the manifested presence of God, to return to our churches, our personal lives, our homes, our thinking, our conversation and our conduct. The glory of God will break us from going through the motions, and make everything new, fresh and alive again.
Here are some mindset changes we must make to recover the true glory of God:
- Don't be impressed by the trappings of the production of the church and fooled by its big names and big conferences.
Elaborate buildings, large numbers of people and an increasing flow of cash have fooled much of the modern church. The church did not begin with that focus, and yet somehow, modern church principles have put the emphasis on attendance, buildings and cash. Some have called it the ABCs of modern church growth. But many false religions of the world have a large following, magnificent buildings, and lots of cash, too. Although we are not opposed to any of these things in and of themselves, they are not the true indicators of spirituality. As a matter of fact, often these things serve as a sort of faÃ§ade or smokescreen that hides the real problems and issues that are facing the church in this hour. We've been guilty of painting and decorating the cart while neglecting the sick horse.
My younger biological brother, who is a bit of a wordsmith, came up with the following quote that illustrates the "cart before the horse" mentality that is so prevalent in the body of Christ today:
"Another meeting, another offering, another song, another convention, another banquet, another special speaker, another concert, another project, another program ... and so 'church life' continues, but the changed life remains scarce. If the horse is healthy, the cart will be pulled. If the horse is unhealthy, making the cart more attractive is useless." —Roy Farias
There is a subtle, almost subconscious mentality in the church today that places great emphasis on the outward and external appearances of Christianity. We are trained by example to esteem appearance, presentation, professionalism and showmanship and mistake it for real success and the true glory of the Lord above hidden service and meeting the everyday, pressing, oft-unspoken heart-needs of individual people. We are easily impressed by the trappings of the production of the church and fooled by its big names and big conferences. I'm afraid there is a large gap separating the culture of the modern Western church from the heart of God as revealed through Jesus in the Gospels and through the early church.
Aren't you growing tired of hearing about new mantles, double portions, debt cancellation anointings and breaker anointings? Not to mention the gross overemphasis on personal prophecy and prophetic ministry, the inordinate attention given to deliverance and demonic warfare, angelic activation, atmosphere changes and opening portals. And have you ever noticed that most of the Christians who are enamored with such things live dysfunctional lives? The bane of every shepherd and ministry gift is when your preaching and teaching breeds such people.
Undoubtedly, there are truths in each of the aforementioned themes, but there is still such an unholy mixture that is working against us and diluting the real glory and power of God. How do you convince a believer that what they have is a counterfeit if they've never witnessed the real? I'm afraid so much of it is New Age gobbledygook and psycho-babble tainted with false motives and a desire for filthy lucre at the root of our agenda. We have so irreverently cheapened and merchandized God's sacred gifts and grieved the precious Spirit of God. Let's stop this mess! This is not Kabod (the heavy glory). This is Ichabod—further evidence that the glory has departed.
Holy is the Lord.
- Restore the culture of the kingdom of God.
The sad truth is that in much of the church world, the culture of the kingdom of God has been lost to the culture of hype, greed, religious politics, a Hollywood Jesus and the professional business of the church to such an extent that many churches resemble a political machine or a corporation more than God's culture. God's culture begins with the family, the home, making disciples through life relationships, reaching and caring for others with the gospel and the love of God.
The true disciples of Jesus are losing their taste for the shallow and superficial, and are separating themselves from those entangled in the appearance of spirituality. Many people have become disenchanted with the church because of hurt, misuse and abuse, religious politics and leadership caught up in the things of the flesh. People are looking for depth in the Word and in their relationships, a free-flowing move of the Spirit, personal empowerment and leadership that does not play political games.
Here is a significant word from the Lord that a prophet friend of mine received in a visitation:
Do not look at the TV and larger media ministries to try to understand what I am doing in My body today. They have a part to play, but they are the visible to the eye, [the] veneer of the body that people see. Those who are carnal and immature see the outward appearance and are impressed, thinking that these are the height of ministry and where the Spirit is concentrating today. But they are mistaken.
See what I see, many small churches and ministries investing in relationships, walking in love, pouring their lives into each other; this is where the Spirit is moving today. There is a revolution taking place in my body, a revolution of relationships, discipleship and love. This will affect whole communities and economies.
See what I see, many churches all over the world in which people are accountable to one another, working through conflicts, walking in love and growing as my disciples. That is where my Spirit is moving today.
Many are running to and fro asking, 'Where is the next move; what is the next season of the Spirit?' And I say to you that it is under their very noses. They stumble at the supernatural work in their midst and refuse to humble themselves and be taught because they seek the sensational and that which appeals to the outward man. They fail to recognize the true move of God because it must be spiritually discerned. —John Fenn
- Return to the preaching and practice of the cross.
The cross-less gospel is the greatest lack in Western Christianity today and the reason for many of the church's failures and the biggest reason why it is becoming increasingly difficult in many places of the world to tell the difference between a real Christian and non-Christian. It is also the most common place where men are duped into thinking that there can be a shortcut to revival and the power and glory of God. Listen to the following quote from a hero of the faith who knew God deeply and experienced His glory:
"The way into the glory is through the flesh being torn away from the world and separated unto God." — Smith Wigglesworth
The major cause for failure in ministry today for those who profess Christ's Name is the same – not knowing the true nature and quality of God. Unless we understand and know the nature of the gospel and of our God, we will continually sacrifice His life on the altar of convenience and serve God on our own terms. It is those men like Wigglesworth in every generation who have risen above this pretense and lived out the real gospel that have changed the world.
Until the American Church gets back to that, no real and lasting change is forthcoming. You can listen to all the New Year prophecies that speak of what a great year this next one is going to be for the church and how you will prosper and be favored. You can listen to empty promises and predictions of how the glory and power of God will be made manifest—how this will be the year of revival and awakening—even how our president will lead the nation back to God (I've heard that too). However, these types of words without implementing the cross will continue to leave us empty.
I believe God's promises are true, and I am all for instilling hope in people, but sometimes the best thing the church can hear are the warnings, rebukes and roadblocks of what is actually hindering revival, the glory of God and His promises from coming to pass.
There is a new gospel and new so-called national prophets—really, wolves in sheep's clothing or just misguided ministers, running through the land. They speak peace to all those who have itching ears for something new and exotic and they cause them to trust in a lie, and subtly supplant within their hearts rebellion against the Lord (Jer. 28:15-16). But the word I hear remains the same year after year. God is not doing something new. He is doing something old.
This is what I hear: "Tell the people that I am not doing anything new. I am doing something old. Return to Me with all your heart. Return to the gospel. Return to the traditions of your forefathers. Get back to the cross. Get back to the blood. Get back to holiness and repentance. Get thrilled with the Word and the basics of your faith. Get thrilled with soul-winning. Get excited about making disciples. Until the basics of your faith come alive in your hearts, you are dead and need reviving. If these things are not appealing to you and do not bring you joy, then you are in need of repentance."
Another word that leaves us in our deadness and full of ourselves is not a word from God. Beware of false empty New Year prophecies and promises. Beware of the satanic nature of another gospel. It's a Trojan horse intended to undermine our faith and keep us trapped and powerless in our anemic version of Christianity.
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