The Preamble . . . . . . . .The Preamble To Revival – Chapter 21b

Posted by on Jun 30, 2014 in The Story | 0 comments

A preamble, according to, “is a statement that is made at the beginning of something (such as a legal document) and usually gives the reasons for the parts that follow: something that comes before and leads to something else.”  In layman’s terms, it is the explanation of a document.  When we get to Nehemiah 9, we come to what  I believe is the preamble to revival.  We cannot experience revival unless we experience repentance and forgiveness as Israel did in Nehemiah 9.  Pastor Mac Brunson said this week, “Confession of sin is not a prerequisite to revival – it is revival.”  Here are two thoughts for you to think about:

  • If we are going to experience revival, it will take intentional, sacrificial time and effort on our part to show God that we really want His spirit to fall on us!
  • If we want our nation to experience a revival and a change, it is going to take intentional, sacrificial time and effort and most importantly a moving of the Holy Spirit in this country to bring it to it’s knees.

Here’s where it gets personal.  Are you willing to change your priorities for revival to come in your life?

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Rebuilding the Walls of Brokenness – Chapter 21

Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in The Story | 0 comments

Many of us were familiar with the film critic duo Siskel and Ebert. Gene Siskel died in 1999. Then, in
2006, Robert Ebert lost his lower jaw and his voice to complications from cancer. He has since relied on
Post-it notes, his writing, and various automated voices. The kind you find on your laptop. He types in
the words and then pushes a button that translates his written words into spoken words that come out of
his speakers.

One voice was called Alex. A generic American accent with no emotion. Very robotic. He had used a
British accent named Lawrence. But no off-the-shelf automated voice matched his distinctive voice, a
voice that millions knew from his show, At the Movies, for so many years. The voice he most wanted was
his own.

Enter CereProc. a Scottish company that customizes text-to-speech software for voiceless customers.
robot.1 The company custom-builds voices by mining an individual’s own archived voice recordings and
piecing together, syllable by syllable, Ebert’s voice. When it finishes its work, Ebert will sound like Ebert.
At least more so than Alex or Lawrence do.

Sometimes we don’t miss a voice until it goes silent. At the end of the Old Testament there is a period
of 400 years often referred to as “the silent years.” Years without any prophets or leaders whose words or
lives were recorded in Scripture. Years where there was no voice from God.

But before the silence Ezra read the word of God to the people. His desire was that they rebuild the wall
around Jerusalem for protection. And God’s greater desire was to rebuild the hearts of his people. The
men, women and children gathered together. They heard the word. They understood the word. And
then they did the word.

You can hear God’s voice in the same way these people did. Through his word. It’s not Alex’s voice.

It’s not Lawrence’s voice. It’s his voice. When you hear it there will be a response. The Israelites wept.
Others have repented. Still others have heard good news and rejoiced. And you? If you hear it today, it
can rebuild your life.

Ebert’s real voice may never be heard “live” again. But God’s is still speaking today. You only need to
gather the men, women, and children, open his book, and listen.


Read The Story. Experience The Story. Used with permission © Zondervan 2010

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There are Some Things Worth Finishing – Chapter 19

Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 in The Story | 0 comments

An author writes:

A few years ago we went on a cruise and got excited about art. We bought a few prints and could not
wait to get home, frame them, and hang them. We thought when people came over to visit they would
say, “Rick and Karen are so cultured. We wish we were more like them.” The prints are still in the
container they were shipped in. But we were sure excited at first.

A year or two ago my boys came home with a chin-up bar you hook on a door frame. I thought, “I’ll show
them how this is done. My boys will say, ‘Our dad is a beast.’” I think I used it once. But I was excited
when they brought it home.

I have a huge plastic container full of pictures. We dream of having these put in albums and arranged by
year on a bookshelf. We think when people come over they will say, “We wish we were as organized as
Rick and Karen.” We get excited about the idea every so often.

We have a collection of unfinished projects. There are some books and exercise programs too. Things
started but left unfinished. Do you finish everything you start? I imagine not. And to be honest, some
things aren’t worth finishing.

But don’t think, even for a second, that you can put God in your collection of unfinished projects. For
starters, he isn’t a “project.” Besides, he’s not going to sit on a shelf contentedly waiting for you to give
him your attention once the kids are grown or the retirement is funded or other tasks are completed.

The Israelites learned that lesson the hard way. They returned from Babylonian captivity to rebuild the
temple. They started strong but in time turned their attention to other endeavors. What was important
to God became unimportant to them.

Sixteen years passed without any work being done on the temple. So God allowed drought and
downturns and difficulties to come upon them. And he said, “Give careful thought to your ways”
(Haggai 1:5, 7).

God is either the main thing in your life or he is nothing. At the end of the day, each of us are responsible
for our own schedule. There is really no such thing as partial obedience. God begins as the priority
and then we schedule time with him. We schedule the things that are important to him. Jesus said,
“Seek first the kingdom of God . . .” (Matthew 6:33).

The Jews eventually got back to God’s priorities and took part in one of the greatest works of heaven.
You can too. There are some things worth finishing.

Don’t let God’s BIG THING become our little thing.  Make God’s BIG THING become our BIG THING!

Read The Story. Experience The Story. Used with permission © Zondervan 2010

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There Will Be a Day When You Feel Like You “Fit” – Chapter 18

Posted by on Jun 11, 2014 in The Story | 0 comments

Sometime after Adam and Eve committed their world-changing act of disobedience in Garden of Eden, I
can imagine Adam walking with his young sons Cain and Abel. They happen to pass by the ruins of the
Garden of Eden. One of the boys asked their father, “What’s that?”

Adam replied, “Boys, that’s where your mother ate us out of house and home.”

A lot happens in Scripture following the time Adam and Eve took that bite of fruit that gave mankind
perpetual indigestion. As a result, they attempted the first cover up. But since their leaf loincloths were
not very practical, God sacrificed an animal to clothe them. The pair was banished from the Garden and
began life anew as exiles away from their homeland.

It wasn’t the only time God’s people lived as exiles. They spent a few summers in Egypt. Then more
wandering in the wilderness of Sinai. Later, the Babylonians captured the nation of Judah and deported
its people to captivity.

The first group deported included the young, elite men who would be trained as leaders. In that group
were Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Shadrach, and Azariah. They were given the Babylonian names
of Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. (If you decide to give your child a Babylonian
name, you might try “Intobedwego.”)

While in exile these young men lived powerful, purposeful, prayer-filled lives. They remained on a diet
that helped them find more energy than other workers. They prayed to their God when they were told
not to. They were bold to do what was right regardless of the obstacles placed in their path. And they
made a difference.

It may be difficult to put yourself in their shoes, but according to 1 Peter 2:11-12 those who follow God
today are exiles too. Peter writes: “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful
desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the Gentiles that, though they accuse
you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

You may have days when you just don’t seem to “fit” in this world and that’s a good thing. It’s simply
because as a child of God you don’t. You were made to live with him. Until we are home in heaven, you
and I are exiles. Until then, we have things to do. We can add some good to this life so that others can
get a glimpse of God. We can make a difference.

According to Peter there will be a day God will “visit” us. That’s when the exile will end. And that’s
when you and I will “fit.”

Read The Story. Experience The Story. Used with permission © Zondervan 2010

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Adopt a Revolutionary Motto for Your Life – Chapter 16

Posted by on May 30, 2014 in The Story | 0 comments

In the early formation of our nation George Washington had the opportunity to become king of the
burgeoning nation. But given the young nation’s experience with England and because he had a robust
prayer life he knew there was only one King, so he declined the offer.

The people of the land apparently knew the same. “In a 1774 report to King George, the Governor of
Boston noted: ”If you ask an American, who is his master? He will tell you he has none, nor any governor
but Jesus Christ.” The pre-war Colonial Committees of Correspondence soon made this the American
motto: “No King but King Jesus.”

The story of God’s chosen people might have gone very differently had they chanted the same motto.
Instead, they wanted a king. Over the period of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah there were thirty-eight
kings. Only five of them were good. Of the others a refrain heard throughout the Old Testament goes
like this: “They did evil in the eyes of the Lord.”

Prophets appeared exhorting the people to turn back to God. God spoke through one prophet—Isaiah—
to tell the people of Judah that they would be captured and deported to Babylon but afterward he would
bring them back home. The purpose? “Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me
will not be disappointed. Then the whole human race will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your
Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob” (Isaiah 49:23).

In Isaiah 53 the prophet depicts the coming Messiah. “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others, a man of
suffering, and familiar with pain” (Isaiah 53: 2, 3). God did not want the people to miss him. But they
did. And still do.

Our nation would have gone a much different route had Washington agreed to be king. But he seemed
to know what many others didn’t. When we displace God on the throne of our lives, the outcome will
go horribly wrong. But when we put God on the throne in our lives, we put ourselves in the best possible
position for godly success.

Maybe our American ancestors knew the best way to start a revolution. Adopt the motto “No King but
King Jesus” in your life. See what changes that ignites in your life.

1 Idea from Randy Frazee’s sermon on The Story, Chapter 16. Reference from “Is America a Christian Nation?”

Read The Story. Experience The Story. Used with permission © Zondervan 2010

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Can You Hear Him Now? – Chapter 15

Posted by on May 20, 2014 in The Story | 0 comments

Verizon Wireless created one of the most memorable marketing campaigns ever in 2005. In their
commercials a so-called “test man,” accompanied by a crowd of network engineers, travels the country
asking the simple question, “Can you hear me now?” in an ongoing exercise to determine the reliability
of the mobile phone carrier’s network.

The “catch phrase” caught on. The company’s market share went up and employee turnover went down.
It seemed people could relate to the struggle to connect. Folks were tired of dropped calls and unreliable
communication systems. And Verizon sent a message that they wanted desperately to connect with its
subscribers and wanted its subscribers to be able to connect with each other.

At the risk of selling him short, God has done the same. Even when the Kingdom had split in two, he
kept sending his message. He gave the people of the Divided Kingdom some 208 years to decide whether
they would “accept” or “reject” his call. He sent his own “technicians” to get the message out. We call
them “prophets.”

The job of the Verizon technician is unique. But not nearly as unique as the task given Hosea. Hosea,
himself a prophet, appeared in a down time in the nation of Israel. The reality is that people often hear
best when things are at their worst. So Hosea signed on with God. But God gave him a most unusual
assignment. Hosea’s life would be his message. He was to marry a prostitute named Gomer and love her.
What an incredible request! (Just imagine a young man with a seminary degree in hand trying to explain
that one to a pastor search committee.)

The tough assignment was made even more difficult as Gomer left Hosea. She would conduct her ‘transactions’
with customers and all the time in her mind believing they were the ones supporting her. In
reality, though, it was Hosea who continued to care for her and provide for her necessities even during
her times of unfaithfulness.

God tells Hosea to go and demonstrate his love for her, so he does. Now picture this scene, as ugly as it
is: Hosea pays some Hebrew “pimp” for some time with his wife, Gomer. When she enters the room
expecting her next customer, she comes face-to-face with her husband. It is then that Hosea tells her
again he loves her and wants her to come back home.

It’s the lived-out message that Hosea later gives in words. And it’s the same message God sends today.
He loves us—even in our extreme unfaithfulness. And he wants us to come back home, even though we
have abandoned him. But much like a call on your cell phone, you can hit the “accept” button or the
“reject” button. You have the power to send God to voicemail and make him wait. Or you can answer his
call today. The people of Israel had 208 years to pick up and they never did. The network is clear.
The message is reliable. Can you hear him now?

Read The Story. Experience The Story. Used with permission © Zondervan 2010

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