11/01/2007

Digging Ditches


Two posts in one day! Trying to make up for lost time!

Seriously, however, I need to draw attention to an awesome sermon by Dr Ern Baxter posted by my friend Dan Bowen. He has posted two entries on his site about it (here and here).

The text is 2 Kings 3 - the record of the three kings of Israel, Judah and Edom pursuing the king of Moab, finding themselves lost and without water and then, finally, seeking the Lord through the prophet Elisha. The prophet called for a musician, and the word of the Lord came to him - "Make this valley full of ditches." They did, and water from nowhere (from the Lord) came and filled the valley. There was drink for the armies, confusion for the enemy, and victory for the people of God.

The message is truely awesome and so timely. It speaks about:
  • The danger of doing anything without seeking the Lord (they only sought the Lord after spending a week going round in circles). Today we are quick to act and slow to seek the Lord - and the result for us is going round in circles without lasting growth.

  • The danger of settling on our own experience. These were three important kings going into battle; surely they could win easily? But they couldn't - and nor can we without an abundance of God's water equipping us for every good work.

  • The power of God-anointed worship. Something happened to Elisha when the musician played. Ern mentions in the sermon itself that something awesome happened in the worship that night. Oh, how we need the breaking in of the glory of the Lord as we worship Him!

  • Waiting for the word. Elisha didn't just speak out or say "let's have a discussion", he waited for God to speak to Him. What a need for us. To quote Ern directly, "Blessed be the day when there is a restoration among the servants of God of an understanding that to be a servant of God and a leader is not to be theologically instructed or ministerially ordained. It’s not to have a charge or a parish but it is to stand in the counsel of God until you feel a burning of the Word of God in your spirit and until your mind is blanked out with a consciousness of the Almightiness of God and you come out of that counsel with the Word of the Lord burning in your spirit and you know that then and only then have you fulfilled your responsibility of being a prophetic voice to God’s people."

  • The visitation of God through a man of God. This wasn't an official, titled important man, but one whom God had anointed. Our validity isn't official names and titles, but the presence of God.

  • We ourselves are divine recepticles for the water of God. There is a visitation in the wings! We need to be filled. And we need to stay filled... To many movements have come and gone - they had the water but didn't have the ditches to hold the water.

  • Finally, practically. How do we dig? Time seeking His face; digging into things, loosening our ties to the things we have that hold us back; digging in relationships (see Mal 3v16); digging in devotion; and digging in faith - the expectation that the visitation is coming!
I'll close myself with the comment I put on Dan's website when I first read his "taster" about the sermon.

I'm shaking with the awesome weight of this. Firstly, the statement "The badge of your validity is the Presence of God." All the things we look to to identify our "importance" in the kingdom of God (scholarship, size of church, number of influential friends, whatever) - these are nothing, totally nothing. We need the awesome presence of God.

Secondly, this cry "where is the church?" The church as God intended her to be? Not weak and ineffectual. No longer "by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed." No longer wracked by scandal of ungodly saints and fallen ministers. But instead a church drenched with the glory of God, vibrant in truth, beautiful in purity, and awesome in power. Because she has fulfilled her destiny in being "a dwelling place for God in the Spirit."

Thirdly, the challenge of ditches. One of the cries that has arisen among our church leaders is "Come, Lord. But don't just come, STAY". We long for the permanent residence of His glory. God, help us to dig deep, deep ditches. And let the glory come, and let the glory stay.

1 comment:

Baxter's Boy said...

I think that cry from your church leaders is absolutely key and resounds with this concept of digging ditches.

"Come Lord! But STAY!".

Our theology of revival seems so poor. I have been greatly blessed by reading Brian Edwards fine book; "Revival - a People Saturated with God" and he too makes the point that although as evangelicals we all know of the omnipresence of God we don't seem very clued up on the Biblical principle that He can and does come in active and special power.

Not only that but of course when we do stir ourselves to long for revival, it seems like we are so shocked when He answers our prayer that we stop praying and stop longing for Him! So maybe the revivals that should have been just become touches from Him.

Oh that we might see Him come in our day and understand WHY He has come!! That the waiting coastlands may see His light and the nations may be glad and indeed so glad that they flow up to Zion - the City of God!

Come Holy Spirit!