Unstopping the Wells: Judgement of God and the Fear of the LORD

Tuesday online prayer rooms 
8am prayer 30min
9am prayer 60min

So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:28-29

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Proverbs 9:10

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

Ecclesiastes 12:13

He is seated at the right hand of the Father

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

The Apostles’ Creed

Another cardinal doctrine essential for revival is that of God as judge. The Apostle’s Creed declares of Jesus – “He will come again to judge the living and the dead.” Throughout the gospels, Jesus talks often about God’s judgment, often telling parables of the coming of the Kingdom that involve judgment. 

This doctrine of the judgment of God upon sinful humanity has been lost and covered over by the work of the ‘post-modern Philistines.’ The idea of a holy and righteous God who calls sinful humanity to account and evaluates each of us according to our deeds is a doctrine that has fallen out of vogue. It is written off as “hellfire and damnation” preaching and associated with oldschool, fundamentalist religion. 

I remember when I was on staff with InterVarsity at Brown, I would systematically avoid talking about anything related to judgment, hell, or the wrath of God. I was afraid it would sound unpalatable to starry-eyed millennials who believed they were fundamentally good and thought they would go out and change the world. (I don’t actually think my avoidance of the doctrine of judgment and human sin helped them or the world in the long run.) But it’s not just me, in our desire not to offend a world that doesn’t want to hear about it, the church has systematically avoided judgment talk for decades. 

But read the Bible, and it is plain as day. God is the judge of the earth. He will not leave the guilty unpunished. He will hold every human being accountable. In the mercy of God, this judgment has already taken place. All our sins have fallen upon Jesus on the cross, and if we fear God, and surrender our lives to Jesus as King…we can and will be justified by Jesus. But for those outside of Jesus, judgment remains. 

While the doctrine of the judgment of God was unpopular at Brown University, the alternatives are not good. The ‘Philistines’ have given us essentially two alternatives to a Biblical view of justice. The first is no judgment. From late modernity up until the mid 2010s, the western world jettisoned any notion of objective morality, based on God and his righteous judgments. In the place of Biblically grounded morality, our culture gave us, in Dale Keuhne’s words, 3 taboos. He wrote about this in an insightful book called Sex and the iWorld. Here they are:

  1. You can do anything you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, especially a minor.
  2. You can do anything you want with another person, as long as there is consent. 
  3. You are not allowed to pass judgment on any other person unless they break one of the above two rules. But it is okay to pass judgment on someone who passes judgment for any other reason.

In this frame of morality, there is no judge. This system of taboos became so intuitive in the West, especially the more secular edges of the culture like New England, that the idea of God as the judge of the earth was obscured and lost.

It is no wonder then, that in the mid 2010s, what we witnessed was a giant pendulum swing. At this time, the zeitgeist in our culture shifted fairly dramatically, as evidenced by the MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter, cancel culture and other similar movements. One of the things this reveals is that humanity needs justice – the human spirit cries out for it. We do not actually function well in a world without a judge. All of the sudden there was a revival of the idea of objective, external judgment. Instead of no judge, we went to a world with a million judges. Everyone with a Twitter account became a judge. 

What we need is not a world with no judge or a world where everyone is a judge. What we need is to dig out the wells the Philistines have filled in and recover the doctrine that God, and God alone, is judge. This is a fearful thing, as we will stand before him one day, we will be held to account. And it is a great relief, because if God is our judge, we don’t need to worry about what others think.

For too long, the church has cared too much about what the world thinks. It is time to stop that. It is time to fear God, the just and merciful judge of the whole earth. Because as Martyn Lloyd Jones says, “fear Him, and you won’t need to fear anything else.” For too long we have lost track of this glorious doctrine of God as the judge. It is time for us to remember and recover it.

For Reflection:

What makes you uncomfortable about the idea of God as judge? What do you find relieving about the idea of God as judge? Where do you fall on the spectrum of having lived as though there is no judge or a million judges? What does it look like for you to fear the Lord and Him only. 

For Prayer:

Let’s repent of our neglect of the judgment of God. Let’s acknowledge his role as our judge. Let’s give thanks that the penalty for our sin has fallen upon Jesus. Let’s ask God to bring his justice and mercy upon a world that has turned away from him. If there are patterns of ongoing sin in your life, repent and turn to God for mercy. If we say we have no sin, we lie and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin. Let’s pray for those called to teach and preach and lead Bible studies not to avoid the clear Biblical doctrine of God’s judgment. Ask God to free you from the fear of anything but God, especially the fear of man and the opinions of others. 


Unstopping the Wells: Theological Barrier

Tuesday online prayer rooms 
8am prayer 30min
9am prayer 60min

“The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him–and of her.” 

A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, for anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

Hebrews 11:6

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Matthew 7:9-11

Our prayer assignment during this season is to “re-dig” and “unstop” the metaphorical “wells of revival” through prayer. As in the story of Isaac in Genesis 26 who needed to access water so his family and tribe could survive in the desert, the church today needs to access the same supply of life and power which nourished her in past seasons if we want to survive and flourish during this post-Christian secular decline. 

But, as Isaac comes back to the wells that Abraham dug in the desert, he notices that in the intervening years, the Philistines have thrown rubbish and dirt in the wells to render them non-functional. In like fashion, as we look back to the past, to the revivals that have brought the church out of its seasons of past deadness, we find “rubbish” blocking us from the life and power of God. The wells are there. The water is there. But the post-modern Philistines have filled the wells with dirt and trash. It is our responsibility to pray and to work to remove this rubbish. 

One very important kind of rubbish we must remove is theological. There are certain cardinal truths and doctrines of the faith that are so essential and vital that it is very difficult, perhaps even impossible, for revival to take place without them. These truths and doctrines were believed in the past. But in the intervening years, these truths have been lost and forgotten. The people of God might say that intellectually we believe them, but practically, as a whole, we are not building our lives and our churches upon them as theological bedrock. 

If we want to see revival, part of our work is to rediscover and recover these fundamental doctrines. To believe them again. To trust them. To apply them and act upon them. And to renounce the lies the enemy and the world have sold us. To repent where we have believed these lies and falsehoods. As Tozer notes in The Knowledge of the Holy, “the heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him–and of her.”

The first truth to recover is about God. God is a sovereign God who is mighty and who acts in history. He does things. He intervenes. He does not sit aloof in the heavens, uninterested in us or our needs or our prayers. He is not the God of the deists. He is a person. With a name. YHWH. A God who hears prayer, responds, initiates, moves, and acts. History is the story of the acts and movements of this God in the lives of human beings. And that this is a God who hears and who answers prayer. He always has and he always will. When we pray, this sovereign God  hears us and acts and does things in the world that are noticeable and wonderful to bring his Kingdom. 

Well of course we all believe that, you might say. But do we? Do we really believe that? At the core of our being? If we did, we’d behave differently. We’d pray differently. 

Here is what Corey Russel writes: “sadly, a majority of the Body of Christ has been more impacted by the father of lies, Satan, who constantly bombards us with doubt and accusations against our Father in heaven. The enemy knows that if he can sow unbelief into our hearts and minds concerning who God is and how He feels about us, then we will never pray. 

Russell goes on to write: “This unbelief is typically rooted in two areas: God’s ability and God’s emotions towards us. Either we believe He is stingy and will withhold those resources from us. Many of us view God as a middle-class working dad with seven billion children; He has a good heart, but there are so many demands placed on Him, and we are just another voice crying out for something. Others view God through the lens of their relationship with their earthly dad who was emotionally absent and unwilling to meet their needs. Without even realizing it, they attribute those same characteristics to God.”

For Reflection:

Where have you allowed the enemy, Satan, or the “Philistines” of our age to obscure the truth that God is a loving and able father who hears when we call and acts and intervenes in human affairs and our lives? How is this lie about God inhibiting your prayer life? The prayer life of the church? 

For Prayer:

Ask God to give you faith in who he says he is. He is a loving God who answers prayer. He is a sovereign God who acts in the world and in your life. One of the most important questions Jesus ever asked was to Peter, and it is to us as well. “Who do you say that I am?” Ask God for revelation of who he is. Ask God to give the church greater faith and confidence that God is a) ABLE to answer prayer and b) WILLING to answer prayer. Ask God to pour this truth like gasoline on the embers of our collective prayer lives and ignite us into a church that is contending for revival. Knocking on the door of heaven, asking for spiritual nourishment for ourselves and the decaying culture around us, with a boldness that will not be denied. Ask God to restore to the church the vital truth that has been covered over by the rubbish of the Philistines – that God loves us and earnestly rewards those who seek him. 

For Response:

As you pray, either alone or with others, begin as Jesus teaches his disciples to begin praying – by addressing “Our Father in Heaven,” reminding yourself of who God is. Ask yourself honestly, “as I pray, who am I praying to today…is it the real God? The sovereign God who acts in his mercy and answers prayer? Or am I praying to an idol…an exhausted middle-class dad with 7 billion kids…or an absent aloof father who is unconcerned with me or those I love?”


Digging out the Wells of Revival: The Need for Time with Jesus

Tuesday online prayer rooms 
8am prayer 30min
9am prayer 60min

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him.

John 1:35-39

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” 

Revelation 3:20

As we continue our journey of digging out the wells of revival, praying through the barriers and hindrances to revival in our lives and in the church, we must pray about time. 

Jesus wants to spend time with his people. Quality time. When the two disciples of John saw Jesus, they asked him where he was staying. Rather than give them an answer, Jesus invites them to spend the day with him. Their lives were changed by that afternoon with the Lord. 

There is no substitute for time with Jesus. Time is indispensable to any relationship. It is simply not possible to be intimate with anyone on any meaningful level without spending significant time with them. We only truly know the people we spend time with. We are only influenced by the people we spend time with. We are influenced for example by Donald Trump, Elon Musk and others (for better or worse) when we spend time with their twitter feeds. Likewise, we are influenced by Jesus when we spend time with him in the word and in prayer. 

Sarah and I try our best to do some sort of regular date night. It doesn’t always happen. Some dates are amazing, some are ordinary, some are distracted by the worries and cares of life. But unless we set aside the time to be together, to talk, to connect, it is easy to lose touch with one another. Time with another person is a necessary (if not always sufficient) condition for intimacy with them. 

Time with Jesus is a prerequisite for revival. Look back at any and every revival in history and you will notice that the people God used and touched and activated and brought to a deeper level with him to bless the church and the world around them have at least one thing in common…they spent time with Jesus. Significant time. 

Evan Roberts went to a prayer meeting almost every night for thirteen years before the outbreak of the Welsh Revival. Martin Luther once said, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.” Moses built the tent of meeting after the Golden Calf incident in Exodus 32, and he and Joshua lingered there, speaking with the Lord. Joshua never left the tent. Perhaps these examples seem extreme, but even if it is not three hours a day in God’s presence…we need significant time in God’s presence. 

If we truly want revival. If we want the presence and power of God in our lives, families, neighborhoods, workplaces, church…and in our nation we might start by asking this question. Are we spending enough time with Jesus? Are we blocking our time for him? We may not know what exactly to do in the time we block out. We may not know what to do on our “date night” with Jesus – but if we have not set aside time for it, one thing is for certain, there will be no date night.

Two of the most significant breakthroughs in my spiritual life happened when I set aside time for Jesus. The first was when Sarah and I decided to set aside Tuesday nights to build an “altar of prayer” in our living room. It was a sacrifice. We gave up our usual habit of netflix, to seek Jesus in the presence of friends. Some nights it was costly – but it became the primary driver and space for renewal in both of our lives and has yielded so much fruit over the years.

The second was when I decided to actually commit to spending time with Jesus first thing in my workday. We had small children and so waking up before them was not an option. It was hard for me to take precious work time when we had childcare/school and not do “work.” But Jesus so honored my decision and my resolution to set aside time to be with him. I experienced the truth that if we abide in him, we will bear much fruit. 

In Revelation 3, Jesus comes to the lukewarm church of Laodicea. It is a church in many ways like the American Church. Proud,, wealthy, and spiritually lukewarm, like the water in the city that had to travel five miles from a hot spring through the Roman aqueducts. By the time it got to the city the water was lukewarm – just like the faith of the Laodiceans. (And perhaps much like the faith of the church in America.) What is the solution to lukewarm faith? It is time with Jesus.

“Behold,” Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Jesus wants to have a meal with us, a coffee with us. And he wants to talk with us. And this requires time. 

A while back, my wife started correcting me about time. When I’d say to her, “sorry honey, I didn’t have time to do that thing you asked me to,” she’d start replying, “what you mean is that it wasn’t a priority for you.” And though I hate to admit it, she was right. For much of the church, many of us included, spending time with Jesus has not been a priority. It’s time to repent. There is no way revival will come unless a group of people resolve to spend time with Jesus. Regular, quality time with Jesus. Every day. 

For Reflection:

When can you spend time with Jesus in your life? Extra grace goes to parents of young children and people with non-predictable schedules. But even here, creativity is possible. Consider looking at your calendar and adding up the time you spend with Jesus, versus time you spend on your newsfeed or social media or watching TV. Ask God to show you what you could eliminate so as to be with him more.

For Response: 

Consider making a commitment to a regular space in your life for time with God. Many in the church are rediscovering the power set hour prayer…praying in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. Try this out for a season and consider making it a lifelong practice. 

For Prayer:

Let’s repent for not making time with Jesus a priority. Let’s ask him to rearrange our priorities and our schedules to reflect what Paul calls “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3) Let’s ask him to fill our time with him with his Spirit and stir our hearts to want to be with him. Let’s pray for the lukewarm faith of the western church to become hot as we spend quality time with Jesus. Let’s ask God to guide our time with him so that it becomes a space of soul refreshing. Not only that, let’s pray that we grow in spiritual power and authority and character and Christ-likeness as we spend time with Jesus in the word and in prayer. Pray that you and the wider church will hear the sound of Jesus knocking on the door and will get up and let him in and eat with him. On the regular.