Made for Revelation

Over the last few weeks, we’ve looked at key principles to help you discover what you are made for. I trust this series has blessed you! This week, I want to continue looking at the effectiveness of prevailing prayer. Particularly, I want to discuss how hearing from the Lord, receiving His insights or revelation on a matter, builds faith and energizes prayer.

Last week I looked at Acts chapter 12, the story of Peter’s miraculous escape from prison. There was persecution against the church. James was killed by Herod, then Peter was put in prison, and they proposed make him a martyr, too.

What was the response of the church? Acts 12:5 gives the answer,

“Peter was, therefore, kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” NKJV

I submit to you that effectual prayer, prevailing prayer, is constant prayer.

Sometimes we pray once or twice or get someone to pray with us once or twice. Perhaps we then get discouraged when we don’t see the results right away. But scripture reveals consistently, “You pray without ceasing.” That’s what the early church knew, and that’s what the early church did.

I received an email from another pastor this week explaining about a fresh wave of persecution against the church in Pakistan. He shared how some are burning churches, burning homes of Christians, and burning homes of pastors. He went on to share that Pakistani pastor, wife, and family that he knows literally escaped with just the clothes on their back and are in hiding, trying to escape this attack.

I want to stir us up to be vigilant in this hour, to “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8 NKJV) We must stay steadfast in faith. The hour is urgent.

The Acts 12 account reveals that the church kept praying for Peter. What was the result? He was free. God answered! And then they were astonished when he showed up at the door knocking on the door.

How often are we astonished when suddenly we get the answer, when we get a breakthrough?

This week, a man in our church named Tony shared how God healed his legally blind eye after 65 years! God gave a word of knowledge, specific to his condition earlier this summer, and we began to pray for him. An optometrist saw the improvement, performed a procedure, and Tony can now read fine print with both eyes without glasses! Jesus healed him through the prayer of faith, His power, and using a medical professional.

What started this sequence? Jesus revealed what He wanted to do, and the church prayed. Should we be surprised, or should we expect God to move like this as normal?

Expectancy opens your life to God’s possibilities.

If you don’t expect God to move, you won’t see God move. Is God stingy? No. But it’s faith that moves the heart of God. Sure, love moves His heart. He loves us. He demonstrated that love towards us in Christ, absolutely. But faith is as much a component. There are ways that we can grow our faith, and there are ways that we can position ourselves for more faith. If you lack faith, simply ask God. “God, I am weak in faith in this area, Lord, help me. I want to have more faith to believe you for the miracle,” and watch, He will increase your faith.

So, pray with expectation. If we would expect our prayers to be answered, we’d see more people knocking at the door and saying, “I don’t know what just happened, but Jesus set me free. I don’t know what’s going on, but the answer came. I don’t know how, but God did it! And I believe God is ready and able to answer our prayer.

And I think you know that prayer shouldn’t be an aside or something we kind of tack on to our busy lives and schedules. If we’re believers in Christ, it should be the foundation of our life in God. I learned a long time ago that if we want to prevail in spiritual power, it requires a lifetime of intimacy with God. All fruitfulness flows from intimacy with God, by abiding in Him (John 15).

As we abide in Him, as a branch does in a vine, the very life flow of God is flowing through us. Doesn’t mean that everything you do is perfect. Doesn’t mean that you don’t have a bad day. Doesn’t mean you don’t have an argument. Doesn’t mean that something doesn’t happen. But what it means is you go back to Jesus. He is our source, our life.

And you know that if you mess up or worse fall into sin, that you know that you have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, who’s the propitiation for our sin. That if we confess our sins, 1 John 1:9, “he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (NKJV)

We must believe that eternally. We must know that I’m abiding in Him, and I have a relationship with Him.And Paul says in Romans that nothing will separate me from God, nothing, neither death nor life nor powers or principalities, nothing present, nothing future can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8)

Which means that even when you make a mistake you can return to God and confess your failure or sin. “Lord, this is what’s happened. I don’t know how I stumbled here, but Lord, help me in this area.”

This doesn’t mean you get a free pass to do whatever you want or live a loose lifestyle. No, no, that’s not what I’m saying.

But God is waiting for us, with open arms to return, and He says, “Son or daughter, I’ve been waiting here. Here I am.” He runs and He throws his arms around you, and He says, “The blood of Jesus already covered it. Confess it, forsake it, now I’m going to cleanse you.” (Luke 15 story of the prodigal son returning home)

We must live out of that reality. And by the way, we must live it out when we look at one another. If we only look at one another as sinners, we’ll always see them as sinners. If we only see people as prone to sin and that they are totally depraved, and that’s all that they’re going to do, then that’s what we’re going to expect, and that’s what we’re going to see out of them. But rather, if we look at people as made in the image of God, who God loves and cares for, including those in our own church family, that when they make a mistake, we’re not so quick to crucify them. Rather, we say, “Okay, God loves them. I need to love them, and I know they’re a work in progress because I’m certainly a work in progress.” And we begin to live out of a whole different functionality.

Pastor, are you saying man doesn’t have a sinful nature? Yes, we have a sinful nature, but God in His infinite wisdom, even after the fall of man, there’s enough of the goodness of God in man, and some have called it prevenient grace, that draws us to the Father. It’s not that we wake up someday and say, “I need Jesus.” Maybe we’ve heard the gospel, but it’s that the Spirit of God, the very life of God, the goodness of God, even though we have a sin nature, and yes God is drawing us to Him because He loves us.

And He died for you, and He died for me. He took us out of the miry clay and set our feet upon the rock. He says, “I love you. This is not who you are anymore. You can abide confidently. You can spend time with me in prayer, and all of life’s grace and virtue flows from Christ in you.”

To be a people of prevailing prayer, we also need to be a people of God’s Word. Do you believe that? I like what Paul says in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God.” (NKJV)

You know, God’s Word reveals truth. God’s Word reveals that Jesus came as I just shared, died for us, rose from the dead, is coming again. God’s Word reveals that we can be forgiven, cleansed, restored. God’s Word reveals that there’s healing for our body, soul, and spirit. God’s Word reveals that there’s provision in Him. The Scripture says, “I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken nor his descendants begging bread.” Do you believe that? His Word reveals truth.

So, if we want to pray with effectiveness, we must know what God’s Word says. Now, the Holy Spirit will illuminate our understanding. He’s, our teacher. He’ll take the Word and make it come alive once we’re born again. The Spirit of God’s in us, dwelling in us, and so now the Spirit illuminates the Word, and we begin to get understanding.

But the Spirit, in addition to the Word, also gives us understanding in different situations. There’s the word of knowledge, there’s prophecy, there’s the gift of wisdom, some of the spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. These things are still available to us. We can learn how to hear the voice of God, know what God is saying, and know what God is revealing, both in His Word and what the Spirit is revealing. This is what we typically call revelation. We can call it learning how to hear God’s voice. We can call it learning how to be led by the Spirit. However, you want to phrase it, it’s illumination by the Spirit.

In Psalm 119, God’s Word says, “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Pastor Carolyn was reminding me of that verse today. She shared with me how God revealed to her, “The Lord was just showing me it’s not just His Word that is a lamp under our feet and a light into our path, it’s the Lord who is a lamp under our feet and a light under our path.” I said, “Absolutely!” Why? He is the living Word. Jesus is the Word that came down from heaven. He is the living Word, so He is revealing and showing and inviting us into something that is greater.

Now, here’s the thing: revelation or inspiration or illumination occurs through God’s Word and our communion with Him in prayer. So, I want to ask you, what was the last revelation you received from the Lord? What is the last thing that He’s illuminated to you? What is He inviting you into? What is He convicting you of? What is He trying to get you to believe for?

I think part of what God’s doing in this season, and we all sense it, our world senses it. We’re moving into some great changes in our world, not all dire either, by the way. We’re moving into, and yes, there’ll be some hard times, we are already experiencing them, but we’re going to move into one of the greatest phases of history the Church has known.

The numbers of people coming to Christ is already happening in the southern tier of our world, the southern hemisphere is seeing a great explosion of numbers of people coming to Christ and the miracles happening. It’s reality yet in North America, but it’s coming.

We all sense these great changes, and so it’s important for us to learn how to clearly hear from the Lord, in both His Word and by the Holy Spirit. We are to obey His Word. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” To obey His Word, live in His Word, be a people of the Word, but also not be a people afraid to get revelation by the Spirit.

Paul said, “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons or daughters of God.” (Rom. 8:14) We should expect to be led by the Spirit. This is New Testament Christianity. When you gave your life to Christ, it was by one Spirit. Paul says that you were baptized into the body of Christ. It is the Spirit of God that affects new birth, and so your new life in Christ is a life in the Spirit.

You are spiritually alive in Christ! God’s Spirit is within you! Maybe you’re new to learning how to hear the voice of God. If you’re new to it, don’t be afraid of God’s impressions and leadings. Stay grounded in the Word. The best way to avoid getting weird with the things of the Spirit is to know what the Bible says. So be a people of the Word, understand the church creeds, understand church history, some of the mistakes that have been made in the past, so you don’t fall into traps.

To neglect prayer then is to stifle God’s spirit and presence in our lives. To know His heart, His direction, His longing, and His vision for our lives and ministries, it can only be understood through consistent prayer.

Consistent prayer yields understanding and revelation from God.

This week I was praying about some different things, how to decide about a particular matter, and I said, “Lord, I really need to know your heart on this matter,” and just as quick as I asked Him, He gave me a simple vision and word to me. As a result, I knew confidently that what I’d heard from Him previously on the matter was correct.

God wants to reveal; He wants to show. And then, once you receive His leading, you must be confident in that. It’s important. As you spend more time with the Lord, you’ll get more and more confident in it.

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Bob Sawvelle

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