Preparing for Rain

 

Habakkuk 1:5

 

 

 

Read Habakkuk 1:5

 

Pray

 

 

 

A while back, while we were praying one Sunday night, I received this verse from the Lord as we sat silently before Him. It had such a profound impact upon my heart, that I wrote it on our white board in the café. “I will work a work in your days, which you would not believe, though it were told you.” As I said, this is a profound statement.

 

And although the Lord has done some amazing things here at Calvary Chapel, the Lord was telling me that He was far from finished and that He still had much he wanted to accomplish.

 

And as I thought about this coming New Year, I pondered on this verse and basically prayed boldly said to the Lord, “When?”

 

Boy did I get a shock when He answered and said, “When you have prepared yourself and the church for what’s coming.”

 

Last Friday night as Beatrice and I sat on our living room couch watching the tv channels flip by as I changed them, I suddenly stopped on the UP Channel recognizing an all too familiar scene. It was the movie “Facing the Giants.” One of my all-time favorites.

 

As we watched, I was uncomfortable, fidgety, restless. I could not figure out why. But then we came to the scene where Mr. Bridges comes to the coach with a word from the Lord.

 

Mr. Bridges has been walking the school halls for 6 years praying over the students’ lockers. And one afternoon, he walks into Coach’s office with a message from the Lord:

 

Mr. Bridges to Coach Taylor: “Revelations Chapter 3 says we serve a God that opens doors that no one can shut, and He shuts doors no one can open. He says ‘Behold, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know you have little strength, yet you have kept my Word and have not denied my Name. Coach Taylor, the Lord is not through with you yet. You still have an open door here. And until the Lord moves you, you’re to bloom right where you’re planted. I just felt led to come and tell you that today.”

 

Coach Taylor: “Mr. Bridges, you believe God told you to tell me that?”

 

Mr. Bridges: “I do.”

 

Coach Taylor: “I admit to you I have been struggling. But I’ve also been praying. I just don’t see Him at work here.”

 

Mr. Bridges: “Grant, I heard a story about two farmers who desperately needed rain. And both of them prayed for rain. But only one of them went out and prepared his fields to receive it. Which one do you think trusted God to send the rain?”

 

Coach Taylor: “Well the one that prepared his fields for it.”

 

Mr. Bridges: “Which one are you? God will send the rain when He’s ready. You need to prepare your field to receive it.”

 

Then it hit me, for I too have been struggling, trying to find the strength to continue on, thinking that maybe I had run out of gas, or the Lord was finished with me. But then I heard Mr. Bridges’ words to the coach and it was like the Lord was speaking directly to me. Many times, I have prayed recently asking if, it was time for me to retire.

 

It was a if the Lord was saying,

 

I am not through with you David, there is an open door here and until I move you, you are to bloom where I have planted you. Then I heard those words, “You need to prepare your field to receive the rain.”

 

So, as I continued to ponder over this New Tear’s message, I believe that the Lord is telling me and I’m now telling you, that He still has a mighty work to accomplish right here in Lower Township. The Lord said He would do a mighty work, he told us and I believe Him.

 

God is always working in our lives. Even when we feel like we are going through a drought, we must continually praise God and prepare ourselves for the work He will do to us and through us. We trust God and if He says he’ll bring the rain… then He will. If God says He will do a mighty work, then He will.

 

So, we are to prepare.

 

But how do we prepare for rain?

 

Well, it begins in our hearts. As Hosea says in Hosea 10:12, Read. we must break up the fallow ground of our hearts. The original meaning of fallow ground meant un-cultivated, which means un-plowed (not broken up), un-prepared. It may be hard or stony soil, and it is often covered with weeds and thorns. It might have been cultivated at one time but has not been cultivated lately and the weeds and thorns have over taken to land.

 

There is ground in our hearts that is hard to plow or maybe unplowed, we may have been hurt in the past and our hearts have hardened, or there might be thorns and weeds growing there from various circumstances which have caused us to not trust. There might be rocks and boulders in the way, things that we have placed in our lives before God or even take the place of God. When we do receive the seed, the Word of God, it is strangled and entangled by the circumstances of life, then we lose hope and do not trust in what we have learned and what we know. We quickly fall away back into the old bad habits of religion.

 

We must allow the Word of God to do that which it is sent to accomplish. In 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul commends the saints for believing the Word of God. Read.

 

So, breaking up the fallow ground is an action; this is not a passive kind of thing. How do we begin to break up this fallow ground?

 

We need to seek the Lord. (Hosea 10:12) Unfortunately we seem to be seeking everything else except the Lord. We think happiness is dependent upon our circumstances, our bank account, our love life, our relationships, our status, our children or our careers. Now please, all these things are not necessarily bad in and of themselves, but when they are placed before seeking God, then they become a problem.  When we seek these things without God, we find emptiness and pain. According to scripture, God does not reward us for seeking these things. He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. Seek firdst the kingdom…We must seek Him daily, individually, and corporately as a member of the body of Christ. We seek Him by fellowshipping with Him through reading His word, studying it, and meditating on it. We seek Him along with the saints by attending church, and bible study regularly. We seek Him by praying and spending time with Him. This should lead us to repentance, seeking Him for forgiveness.

 

The prophet Joel says this about repentance. Joel 2:12-13, Read. Rend your hearts not your garments. What Joel is saying here is that our return to the Lord, when seeking the Lord, it must not be a religious activity, it must be with the heart. Love the Lord you God with all your heart.

 

We should ask ourselves, “Why do we do things the way we do towards God? Do we worship Him in Spirit and in truth or are we just going through the motions, doing what we always did? Or, are we just showing off to our friends, making them think we are more spiritual than we really are? Sunday Saint, Monday Ain’t.

 

Joel is saying that it is easier to be involved in a religious ceremony, like tearing your garments while lamenting, but quite something else to humbly confess your sins and bring to God a repentant heart.  It is godly sorrow that leads us to repentance.

 

God doesn’t want sacrifices of animals and offerings, but a broken and contrite heart He, will not despise.

 

Is your heart broken before God today? This more than just being sorry, or feeling sad, it goes deeper than that. God is calling you deeper than ever before. Rid yourself of those things that bind you. Rid yourselves of those religious attitudes. Rid yourselves of the ceremonial ways of coming to God and come with a broken heart, come with a broken spirit.

 

 

 

Maybe you are afraid to come back to the Lord. Maybe you think you have strayed too far. Maybe you think you cannot come back. Maybe you even think that the Lord will not accept you.

 

 

 

If I can encourage you this morning with just one thing, this might help you to repent and come back to the Lord. The one thing about the Lord, He never changes, He is always the same, yesterday, today and forever, and when we look upon His character we are encouraged.

 

Joel 2:13, Read.

 

Look at these characteristics of our God, remembering that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Gracious, merciful, slow to anger, of great kindness, relenting from doing harm. Wow. Look at these definitions from Webster’s 1828, gracious, this means, “Favorable; kind; benevolent; disposed to forgive offenses and impart unmerited blessings;” merciful; “Having or exercising mercy; compassionate; tender; disposed to pity offenders and to forgive their offenses; unwilling to punish for injuries;” slow to anger….Gayle Erwin, sssssssllllllloooooowwwww tooooooo annnnggggger;our God is ever so longsuffering. Of great kindness. His kindness is great. God is so gracious, so merciful, so slow to anger, and so full of great kindness that He will spare me of what I deserve if I turn back to Him. He relents from doing harm, ‘To soften; to become less rigid or hard; to give, our God would rather bless us than harm us. Did you hear that, our God would much rather bless us than cause us harm!

 

Has your spiritual life gotten better over the last year or worse or stayed the same? If you are not moving forward you are drifting away. We do not want to be stagnant in our walk with the Lord. We need to be ever moving forward. We need to be pressing onward.

 

We need to prepare for rain…but,

 

It seems like the church as a whole, especially in America is in a deep sleep, a long slumber.

 

We need to awaken from our sleep, we need to awaken from our slumber and prepare for the rain that is coming. The last days are here. We must shout from the rooftops the name of Jesus so that all may hear, so that all may come. Behold, Jesus stands at the door and knocks, whoever opens and bids Him to come in will have everlasting life.

 

So, we here at CC will continue to reach out. We need to reach out into our homes, we need to reach into our families, we need to reach out into our community, reach out and reclaim this land for Jesus Christ. Christians we need to make a stand. The time has come to stand up for righteousness; to call all unto repentance by being the example, an example of good, not evil; an example of hope and not despair, an example of love, not hate.  We want to be different than the world, not the same. We do not want any part of this worldly view, but we want to have a Biblical world view and have the boldness to proclaim it.

 

How can we accomplish these things? You might think that you do not have the resources to accomplish this. Well, truth be told, we have one hundred times more the resources than the 120 men and women in the upper room the day of Pentecost. And yet we have the same ultimate resource, the exact same ultimate resource that they had. The Lord has given to us the most reliable resource of all; Himself, in the form of the Holy Spirit.

 

The only way any work will be accomplished is through the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

We must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us, to empower us, to help us and be our strength. It will be by the Holy Spirit that we are led into this holiness, by the Holy Spirit that we are transformed into the image of Jesus. “Not by power nor by might but by my Spirit says the Lord.” (Zechariah 4:6)

 

The church of today needs a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit. Without the ministry of the Holy Spirit, believers cannot witness with power, Acts 1:8; believers cannot understand the Word of God, John 16:13; believers cannot glorify Christ, John 16:14; believers cannot pray in the will of the Father, Romans 8:26-27; and believers cannot develop Christian character, Galatians 5:22-23. We must constantly yield ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

 

It’s the Holy Spirit that leads us into repentance, beginning with the confession of sin. The Holy Spirit leads us into forgiveness and into unity. 

 

We would be foolish to go forth without Him, and we as a church will not.

 

So, we as a church will continue to Love the Lord our God with all our strength, mind and soul. We will continue to teach the Word of God boldly and without shame. We will continue to grow to love one another through Christ’s love, we will forget what is behind and move forward, we will press onward towards our call to Jesus Christ. We will pray fervently, we will continue to reach out, we will open the doors of the hospital declaring, Whomsoever, will may come, come and be healed, come and be forgiven, come and be made whole again, through the power of Jesus Christ. And we will seek guidance from the Holy Spirit, allowing Him full reign in our lives, and in the life of our church. We will yield to Him and pray for strength and boldness.

 

Yes, we will prepare for rain and we will watch the Lord do a mighty work, a work that he has told us about, but we did not believe. A work He wants to do.

 

Let us not sleep nor slumber any longer.

 

After the initial wave of aircraft surprised the American Fleet in Pearl Harbor, when Admiral Yamamota was asked if the next wave would be launched, he said, "I am fearful that all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and filled him with terrible resolve.”

 

I see the devil saying, let the church sleep, let the church slumber. Relax, there is plenty of time.

 

 Why?
Because, if the church ever rediscovers the power of the Holy Spirit, and if the church ever rediscovers the resurrection power of Jesus, a sleeping giant will arise and it will shake the world.”

 

I think its high time we rediscover these things. I think it’s high time we prepare for rain.

 

I would like to leave you with a poem I wrote in 2012.

 

Awake, Christian, Awake

 

Awake from your slumberly sleep.

 

Awake and take heed to your calling

 

The Spirit bids to come deep.

 

 

 

Arise Soldier of Christ, Arise

 

Stand firm upon your feet

 

In the strength and power of your Lord

 

You will never suffer defeat.

 

 

 

Make Haste Christian, Make haste

 

Many souls yet to be saved

 

Go and preach the gospel’s truth

 

And keep many from the grave.

 

 

 

Pray Ye Christian, Pray

 

For this is where the battle is won.

 

The Lord’s army moves upon its knees

 

In total submission to God’s Son

 

 

 

Beware Christian Beware

 

Time is ever so short

 

False teaching and false doctrine

 

Will draw away all sorts

 

 

 

Prepare You Saints Prepare

 

The end is coming fast

 

In the twinkling of and eye and trump

 

Our Lord, our Savior comes at last

 

 

 

Awake, Christian Awake

 

You’ve been sleeping way to long

 

Be counted a child of the Most High God

 

And sing to Him a new song

 

 

 

Happy New year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Pastor Dave's Desk . . .