Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Getting back to God!

I was reading the book 1 Samuel last week and as I came to chapter 7 I received a revelation of sorts. I read it like I've never read it before. 

Turn to 1 Samuel 7 now to read it, then keep on reading here. 

The way I've seen it this time is more clear and I've understood parts differently then before. I love that God's Word never grows old! 

Last year our church family learnt about prayer and fasting. And in fact everyone in our church was given a copy of Jentzen Franklin's book on fasting. I now know and believe that fasting is essential. Having that understanding and knowledge that fasting should be a part of every Christians walk; it has opened up my eyes and made my walk with God closer than before. 

I would encourage you to get a copy of Jentzen's book and read it yourself. Now of course it is not gospel. It is based on the scriptures. So like anything we should check that it lines up with Gods Word and take it from there. The take some and leave some approach. 

Back to The Word! 
1 Samuel 6 tells us Israel had just recovered the Ark of The Lord after it had been stolen by the Philistines. 

1 Samuel 7:2 The Ark remained in Kiriath-jearim for a long time—twenty years in all. During that time all Israel mourned because it seemed the Lord had abandoned them. 

The Ark of The Lord is moved to another town and it stayed there a long time - 20 years. However the people mourned because even though God was with them, they felt abandoned

Now who knows that God never leaves us? In this account in 1 Samuel we know that they even had a physical, tangible presence of of God with them. The Ark of The Lord was with them. Not only was it with them but it had been there for 20 years. That for me is a long time! 

Note it says "because it seemed the Lord had abandoned them" The Lord had not abandoned them! It just seemed that way. The only reason for that feeling was their own doing. They were living in the past! They were not living in the present -- the now. The Ark of The Lord was among them. God was with them. God did not abandon them. 

1 Samuel 7:3 Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the Lord; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” 

Samuel knew that it was the peoples feelings of abandonment not God. He tells them what to do: If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the Lord. 

Point 1
Get rid of the foreign and false gods and their images. Set your mind on obeying only The Lord. 

In the same way, we should get rid of the things (foreign gods) in our life that are holding us back and the things (images) that are distracting us from being with God. 

What is holding back and distracting you? Money, busy-ness, television, social media, the love for another, family of origin patterns, fear, sin guilt, shame, apathy, bitterness, an attitude... Anything can be a foreign god or distraction if we let it. The enemy will try to get a foothold however he can. He doesn't care that it's one way or the other. He just wants to distract you and rob you of what God has for you. 

Point 2
Then it says, to 'determine to obey only The Lord'. I find the word determine interesting here. If you google the word determine the dictionary definition is... 

cause (something) to occur in a particular way or to have a particular nature.
"it will be her mental attitude that determines her future" 

So we have to cause it to happen. When I think of it that way I think that I need to put solutions and boundaries in place to make it happen. It's like me saying that 'we should catch up' but never actually getting my calendar out and organising the details with you means that it is just a passing comment. It won't happen. I need to cause it to happen. 

In the same way we need to cause ourselves and our life styles in such a way that we will be obedient to God. Don't put yourself in a difficult position -- in front of an unnecessary temptation. Position yourself to be right standing with God. 

Point 3 
1 Samuel 7:5 Then Samuel told them, “Gather all of Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 

Now that we are living in the New Testament we no longer require anyone to pray and intercede on our behalf as Samuel did for Israel (as their Judge). We can pray to God directly. So make it a priority to pray. 

Ephesians 6:18 says to keep on praying at all times and in the Spirit. 

So pray when you are alone and when you are with other believers. It says in v5 they gathered and then Samuel prayed. Get a prayer walk with a friend happening. Mum's pray while your kids are playing instead of drinking coffee or go to a church prayer meeting! 

Quick side note:
What is prayer? Talking to God. Talk to Him about anything and everything at any time. Be open. Trust Him. 

I remember when I was 8 years old my Sunday School teacher told me of you're not sure what to say to God use these three words as a guide -- sorry, please and thank you. Be sorry for your sins. Politely ask God for your requests. Thank Him for being God and give Him praise. 

You can't have a relationship with someone you don't know. How do you get to know someone? Spend time talking with them. Wanna know God: Pray! 

Point 4 
1 Samuel 7:6(a) So they gathered at Mizpah and, in a great ceremony, drew water from a well and poured it out before the Lord. 

The Israelites gathered in a great company and drew water from a well and poured it out before the Lord. So... They came together and gave something to God. 

There are a two parts to this point: 
A) gather together with Gods people - go to church, a connect group or a bible study. 
B) give something to God - it is not all about you!! God is a giver yes. But we have to give to Him also. 

What can we give God? Praise. The Word tells us that if we don't praise Him the rocks will cry out! Let everything that has breath praise The Lord. Offer up your praise. Give to God. 

Again it said to gather. So praise Him when you're alone and praise Him with other believers. 

Point 5 
1 Samuel 7:6(b) They also wentd to gather without food all day and confessed that they had sinned against the Lord. It was at Mizpah that Samuel became Israel’s judge. 

They fasted and prayed! They sacrificed something and confessed their sins to God. Fasting is a physical way of showing God that you want to be nearer to Him. It is an act of submission and worship. Fasting releases us from mindsets that are wrong. Because we are causing our Spirit self to be in control rather then our minds and bellies. 

Now I know this is long revelation (post) but don't get distracted. The best bit is coming.... 

In verse 8 we see that the Israelites indeed had a mindset change. After all the above they realised they needed God. They even asked Samuel to keep on pleading to God for them to be saved from the Philistines. 

1 Samuel 7:9-10 So Samuel took a young lamb and offered it to the Lord as a whole burnt offering. He pleaded with the Lord to help Israel, and the Lord answered him. Just as Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines arrived to attack Israel. But the Lord spoke with a mighty voice of thunder from heaven that day, and the Philistines were thrown into such confusion that the Israelites defeated them. 

God helped Israel! They received the blessing of God. He answered their prayers and rescued them from the hand of the enemy. The Israelites knew they had God with them. Then they were victorious. Praise The Lord! 

My points in summary for getting back to God are: 

1. Get rid of the foreign and false gods and their images.
2. Set your mind on obeying only The Lord.
3. Pray to The Lord 
4. Gather with Gods people and give praise to God 
5. Fast and pray! 

I believe God showed me this so that I would know that as I draw near to Him and put Him first - He will draw near to me. The same is for you. Draw near to Him. You will not be disappointed. 

Also because I long for and recently have dared to pray for revival. I believe he showed me that revival comes as a result of the church - all of us individually to come back to Him and His Word. Right here is what we need to do. We need to get back to God and Samuel shows us how. 

If you have been a Christian for a while you may feel like you're not the same as when you first got saved. Like when you first received Gods salvation. For me back when I was 14, I was on fire and unstoppable. All I wanted was God and His ways. People often commented to me that I was different. I was a Jesus Freak and proud of it. 

As I have applied these 5 points and really sought God, I have found Him. I am again feeling that same on fire new Christian feeling. I am going to be unstoppable for God. I am going to be a Jesus Freak! I want to share this message with all my Christian friends. And more importantly I want to tell the world about my friend Jesus Christ! 

Do you dare to seek revival in your own life? 

Jeremiah 29:13-14 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. 

God is good! Amen! 

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