Gospel For Asia: Road To Reality Radio Program
Come Up Higher Part One
Aired on September 17, 2011
You know, this is true, if I have my choice, I would like to meet you in person and talk to you, talk to you over a cup of tea or coffee or something. You see the invitation of the Lord, you read in the Scripture: Come, let us reason together (Isaiah 1:18) talk about it. And I'm convinced one of the biggest problems we deal with often is that we hear so much preaching and teaching that just goes over our head. We can tune in and tune out. But so little do we have the understanding of actually coming to God, talking to Him, listening to Him, and then making our decisions.
You read in the book of Revelation, chapter four, verse one, the Lord said to John the Apostle: Come up hear, and I will show you what must take place after this (Revelation 4:1). You see, when all the kind of stuff that goes around us, the state of things, the way we see it, the way other people see it, when we encounter problems, peoples voices and you know there is a million things going on around us, but then there is a voice that comes from above saying, Come up here. Seeing things from God's perspective, and only when we are willing to leave the plains, the valleys and come up, wait and listen, we will be able to have the clear understanding, the way God sees things.
As you know in the book of Revelation, the church at Ephesus and Laodicea, and Philadelphia and of course all these seven churches, they had their own understanding of their reality. Look at the church at Ephesus. People saw these people and said, dear me, they are really radical, they are committed. Look at their work, their sacrifice and their agony and being exhausted in doing things for God. They're intense! But you know what Jesus said, I'm going to put out the light. I'm just walking out. The reason you're doing all these thingsthe whole world thinks you are the best and the most radically committed sound evangelicaleverything is perfect, but I see something else. From my point of view, the Lord Jesus said, you have left me. You don't love me anymore. You do all these things for you. Your reputation, your honor, to make your life feel good and to have everything wonderful for you and it has nothing to do with me. And you don't love me anymore. Repent, and then you do these things, otherwise I'm going to put out the light.
You know, I'm not a prophet of doom, but my dear brothers and sisters, and as a friend I'll talk to you. For me it's been a daily agony and prayer for quite a while for the people of God, especially the Body of Christ. And then particularly the shepherds, the pastors, the teachers of the Church. You say, well that sounds quite heavy, why? Well the thing is this, we are living in a time when it seems plenty of preachers and plenty of teachers are telling us, don't worry, everything is going to be ok. Things are getting better, revival is coming and God is on your side and He's going to bless you, hang on. And then some say, send me your offering, I know you're poor and I know you're broke but you can even borrow some money and sow the seed and see how God will bless you. Well do I have to explain any further than that? You know it. Why do we have to play games anymore. You know what is going on. But here is a problem. The reality, what is happening to us as a nation, as a people of God, the church, the leaders. I think, unless we are willing to walk away, come away from that mess and be with God and listen to him we will not know what's going on.
I am deeply concerned for our nation, for the future, and I say, for you my dear brother my sister. You know I keep telling young people that I often talk to, keep in mind, you came into this world alone. Even though you got a million people around you, actually you are alone, and some day you will die alone, and you'll stand before the Lord alone. Yes, with the body of Christ we learn and grow and become like Jesus, yet keep in mind it is your personal choice. The discipline, the sacrifice, you embrace, you accept. Knowing what the Lord is calling you to do is what actually counts, nothing else.
You read in the book of Jeremiah, which I've been reading during these days, it just troubles me to no end. Why? Because there is a real parallel that happened in ancient Israel among the people of God and what we are looking at today. In the book of Lamentations chapter one verse twelve, Jeremiah says this: Is this nothing to you, all you who pass by? I just stand here, he says, I'm weeping my eyes out but you people are walking by and can't you see the pain, the anguish, the judgment, the crisis, don't you see what is going on? And you just walk by as though its nothing. And he says, is there any crisis and pain and anguish like this but you don't care?
What is happening? The people of Israel, they came to the place of no return. What do you mean by that? You see, God gave plenty and plenty of opportunities for the people to repent and turn away and forsake idols and give up sin. The sin of greed and convenience, self-centeredness and idolatry. They just wouldn't listen. Instead, they said, Jeremiah, you are a real nutcase. You just don't, I mean, what's wrong with you. Don't you see that millions are listening to that prophet and this prophet and you don't have anybody listening to you. You just stand there on the street corner and talking to nobody. Nobody cares, they're spitting at you. If God is with you you should have a very large following. Where is God? You're talking nonsense. But Jeremiah says, you don't understand. I've been with him. I saw him, and I heard him, and he told me to tell you, this is the Word of the Lord.
And today, people are desperate. We may not talk about it but we know things are not that well. And we go to church and we should to hear a Word from the Lord. But often instead of hearing, this is what the Lord is saying, we hear a plain nice Bible study. No, no, no, I'm not saying we should not have Bible studies, we should and I do that, study the Bible and teach. But the problem is, the pastor who is supposed to bethe teacher who is supposed to bea prophet speaking on behalf of the Lord. For the time we are living in, to the people he is ministering to, unfortunately he is not coming up higher. He is not waiting to hear from God. He is often more worried about the illustrations and the stories and fitting his sermon so that it will sound nice, it will be uplifting, encouraging and strengthening, and all those things are needed, we must. I wrote books about it. But here is the thing. This is exactly what happened to the people of Israel. And if you look at the book of Jeremiah, this is a very serious verse in chapter eight verse twenty: The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved. And my precious brother, my sister, it is critically important that you and I bear this burden, this responsibility also, for the Body of Christ, for the Church and for our nation, for our time, for this our generation.
I don't know if this is accurate or not, but this is what I read, this survey that was done, that shows the average Christian believers spend less than eight minutes a day in prayer, and pastors spend less than twelve minutes a day in prayer. No I think one should spend enough time studying and researching and analyzing your Greek and Hebrew and whatever else you want to do is fine and be very warm and positive and uplifting, use illustration stories and Jesus did that but I'm telling you, please listen to me, when you are thinking about people and what they want to hear, in stead of saying something that cuts across like a sharp blade just dividing and giving them a different perspective, you know, of God's perspective. I tell you we miss it and people suffer for it. And Jeremiah of all the prophets, the only one who remained telling people what God is saying.
Did you know that when we fail as people of God to speak a word on behalf of the Lord, because we don't know what the Lord is saying, he often picks up unconverted people of the world to speak on his behalf. Strange isn't it. What is happening in the media and some of the stuff we here about our economy and the crisis of faith. These kind of things should alarm us, not frighten us, but help us to understand that this is not peace time. And the Scripture says, when they say peace, peace, then comes destruction (1 Thessalonians 5:3). And we have so much talk going on about our life and our future and how to make things better and the honest truth is the answer is not politics, the answer is not some new person running the country, or this system that system, no. The answer is, God said, Abraham if I can find ten people in Sodom and Gomorrah I will not destroy the land. Well you know, Abraham bargained with God for more than that but in the end you know he said ok, if ten would you destroy? He said no I will not. But God could not find even ten people in Sodom, and you know what happened, read the book of Genesis. What does that mean?
God is looking for a mighty minority. People who take God serious. People who read the four Gospels and read the statements of Christ about discipleship: unless you love me more than father, mother, son, daughter, even your own life you cannot be my disciple. Forsake all and follow me. Don't worry about tomorrow. Seek his kingdom first, love one another. Deny self and dying to self and saying no to sin, forsaking wickedness and walking in holiness. And disassociating with anything and all things that hurt, cause pain for our Lord. Unless we take these things seriously I'm afraid we are going to miss it. And honestly, I think we are not yet in the place where the people of Israel ended up, of no return. I believe there is still hope. And I pray and plead with my brothers especially in the ministry, stop, stop this busyness and running and doing this twenty-four hours. Pause and spend time before God and ask him for understanding.
Strange enough, believe it or not, one of the major moves of God took place in this country when all the banks went under. When the economy was completely shattered. I do not know what the future is, I don't understand money and banks and all these things to a great extent, I know very little but I can tell you something. If those are the kind of things God must use to bring us to the place of repentance and turning to Him and giving up greed and ungodliness. And you know, one of the crisis we deal with is the sin of religious convenience. You say what do you mean by that? See, we are always looking for things that make us feel better and happy and joyous. We are not looking to choose the way of the cross. What do you mean by the way of the cross?
Well let me ask you this, not to put you on a guilt-trip or a condemnation-trip, when was the last time you heard a word from the Lord saying, would you share my burden with me? Would you stand in the gap on behalf of the land, for this your church, for this your community, this people group in Afghanistan or Iran or Albania or China or India or Bangladesh. When was the last time you heard a word from the Lord, a burden from him, his burden, and spent a whole day in fasting, a week fasting. When was the last time you knelt for prayer and before you knew it a few hours went by and you had to rush out because you had an assignment. Because you found yourself being so lost in the presence of the Lord and you just wanted to be with him. And he talked to you, you heard him, your heart deep down was burning, and it was there you knew his presence. And when you talked to people the words were very few but they were gripped and changed.
The need of the day for our nation is people coming away, getting away from all the busyness, all the noise, all the concerts and all the group studies, that study and I'm not against any of this stuff but oh our lives are so packed busy, seven days we have programs one after another, yet so little do we have of any understanding about being with God.
Fasting and prayer is the missing jewel in the church today. We will do everything else in the world but not that. If anything we need to do today is to stand somewhere alone. Be somewhere alone to pray and plead on behalf of the land. Whenever that happens, one of the first things that take place in the individual life, in the family, in a church, in a preacher's life, in a priest's life, anyone, it is the deep conviction of the inadequacy, sin.
In Isaiah chapter six you will find this. This man who was preaching to the whole world. Finally when he sat before God, he said oh dear me, I am the one in trouble. I am lost, I am undone. I see things in me, in my heart that I never knew was there and he wept and repented and there was cleansing.
When was the last time you heard one of these popular preachers talk about sin that grieved the heart of God. I urge you read the book of Jeremiah, the book of Ezekiel. Read these biblical portions because that's given to us for us today the Scripture says. You read and see how God again and again and again His heart is breaking with one thing: my people have forsaken me. They have gone after idols. They are creating their own gods of convenience and comfort and ease, they don't care, they will not repent.
My prayer and my hope is this that somehow, we will stop. Stop long enough for God to speak to us as individuals and about our family, about our community, our congregation and somehow we will be able to say, this is what the Lord is saying. And if you are a minister, a pastor, a shepherd, a priest, may I plead with you as a co-pilgrim in this journey. I love you and respect you more than you can imagine because I am in the same road and the same journey as you. I plead with you to hear the words of Christ: Come up here. Be with me. Seek my face. And get to know the Lord. Then stand before the people. Don't worry about what they think, what they say. Jeremiah in the end said, God, I am tired, I am worn out, I don't want to say a word anymore because anytime I open my mouth it is all dark and judgment and crisis and calling for repentance. God I am rejected nobody like me. But then he says, I can't keep quiet. Your word is like a fire in my bones. And he spoke and God stood by him.
And may the Lord touch our hearts, and may he break our hearts, and may he draw us close to him and may we come to the place as people of God, that we are the people, you and I, that God finds and says, I have my people in the land. And for their sake, on their behalf, I will cleanse and rescue and protect. And that's what the Lord is looking for. May the Lord give us wisdom, may the Lord continue to speak to us and may he draw us close to him. Thank-you for listening.