It seems that recently many of God’s people have been experiencing an unprecedented sense of heaviness. Perhaps you are among those who have wondered lately, “I am a seeker of God and I am not living in willful disobedience. I have searched my heart and am walking in the light He has revealed to me. Yet suddenly great heaviness has come upon me. Is depression coming into my life? Is this a result of the hour in which we are living? What is causing this feeling?”
I suggest that what many have been experiencing is actually a precursor to something God desires to do in our world today. He wants to do it in His church—in your life and in mine. As we look at the way God has dealt with His people in the past, it will give us a better idea of what exactly this is.
Throughout the Old Testament, we see that the nation of Israel often found itself in a very precarious position. Society would be failing and people faltering—evidence of the common pattern found throughout history that no matter how God blesses us, we somehow foolishly find a way to walk away from it. For instance, look at America! In just a few hundred years, God’s blessing helped this nation rise to preeminence in the world. America was birthed as a country where people could freely worship God; the Judeo-Christian ethic was the foundation of law and practice at this country’s inception. Society was not perfect, however, and we are now living in an hour marked by a casual handling of truth. The value system of a fallen society has found its way into the church and now dominates much of today’s preaching, resulting in a powerlessness among the people.
In the book of Isaiah, we find that Israel once again found itself in such a situation. In His mercy, the Lord decided He was going to speak one more time to the people, just as He is preparing to do in our day. God drew a young man named Isaiah into His presence (see Isaiah 6). Isaiah, a student of the Word, had already been given a measure of revelation and had been prophesying prior to this point. He was a sincere and honest man, yet when he was lifted into the presence of God and beheld His holiness, he cried, “I am undone! My works are but filthy rags in the sight of a holy God! No matter how we claimed to know You, I realize that we truly did not, for my eyes have now seen the King of Glory.”
A weight of heaviness had come upon Isaiah. For a moment, he experienced the heaviness that many people in society would soon feel—people who were living without God yet who were about to hear the voice of a holy God speaking to them in some measure. It was at that moment of being undone that a living coal from the altar touched Isaiah’s lips. God filled his mouth, and the message was beyond anything that humanity could produce. The message was about God, originating from His very heart. In fact, Isaiah was given a panoramic revelation, one of the most momentous revelations in all of the Old Testament. He saw the cross, the Savior, the gentiles coming to Christ. He saw a day of jubilee for all who wanted to be free from bondage and burdens and he saw the returning King! Isaiah was given this incredible vision of Christ so that he might preach to a generation for whom the Messiah was simply a fading illusion.
Just as the Lord touched Isaiah’s lips and filled his mouth, a similar theme is found in Psalm 81: “I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalms 81:10). God is essentially saying to His people,
“I want to fill your mouth. I want to fill it with that which could come only from heaven. I want to give you a testimony and do something in My people that would astound those who live outside the kingdom of God. I want to lift you into the supernatural and empower you with the Holy Spirit.” Remember, the kingdom of God is not to be a natural kingdom—it is a kingdom of faith. It is not a kingdom where the naturally strong rise to the top, but rather where the nothings and nobodies are empowered by the Spirit of Almighty God. It is a kingdom of men and women of whom the secular leaders say, “I don’t understand how they speak with such wisdom! We know they do not have the learning that we have. The only thing we can say about these people is that they have been with Jesus!”
Despite all that God purposes to do in His people, isn’t it appalling how we turn away from Him time and again? As it says in Psalm 81, “But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels” (Psalms 81:11–12). “I gave them up!” It is tragic how we in America took the embodiment of the constitution of this country—the inalienable right of all men and women for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—and allowed it to become a substitute for the worship of God. Now we have been left to walk in our own counsel, and look at what has happened. My heart breaks every time I look at the news—parents killing their children; schools unsafe; people becoming dull to the abject violence that abounds. Social engineers are working behind the scenes to produce a nation where evil is called good, and good is called evil. It is a plot generated under the guise of tolerance, but when it gets into power, beware, for it will be anything but tolerant of the church of Jesus Christ.
OPEN YOUR MOUTH WITH A SONG
We have come to a critical hour when we as the church of Jesus Christ must make a decision. To those who still have ears to hear, the psalmist says, “Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob. Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery. Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day” (Psalms 81:1–3). In other words, God is saying to His people, “Here is where it starts; open your mouth with a song.”
It does not matter how many backstabbers are in your workplace—when you get off that elevator, do not join them. Instead, when you walk in, have a song in your heart. The psalmist David said it is a song that can be seen long before it is heard—a song of joy and hope (see Psalms 40:3). As the days grow increasingly difficult, you and I must remember all the Lord has done for us, for our tendency is to get lost in the present if we forget the past. Think about where you would be today had He not broken your chains and set you free from what captivated your heart. In the book of Deuteronomy, God even told His people that when they walked with their children, when they got up in the morning, when they went to bed at night, they were to rehearse what He had done for them, lest they forget who He is.
Open your mouth and celebrate with a song. Psalm 89:1 says it this way: “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.” Do not allow the devil or the evil of this society to take the song of God out of your mouth. Keep singing, keep repeating, keep rehearsing that song. Sing it every day and every night: “Great is thy faithfulness, O God!”
OPEN YOUR MOUTH IN PRAYER
Not only should we have a song in our mouths, we must also open our mouths in prayer. It is time to go into our prayer closets, even if we have to go there with trembling, weakness and tears, as Paul did. God promises to fill our mouths.
Consider what happened after the Day of Pentecost (see Acts 2–4). Miracles were abounding and thousands of people were being added to the church. Yet suddenly voices began to rise up and threaten the very testimony of God, and the disciples were commanded not to speak in the name of Jesus.
At that point, the disciples did not strategize or form a committee; they did not say, “Let’s find seven steps to get out of this mess.” No! They lifted up their voices to God with one accord in prayer: “And now Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, by stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:29–31).
The Bible says that the place where they were gathered was shaken when they prayed. What a reminder for you and me that this is not a time to be quiet or to recede. We must open our mouths and pray boldly just as the disciples did. “Lord, stretch out Your hand and heal. Give me power in my speech so that I can speak to the people around me—power to heal wounded hearts, broken homes, hopelessness; power to bring victory to somebody who might want to take their life. God Almighty, put something in my mouth!”
You and I can no longer live in silence in this generation. However, I am well aware that I cannot do this without the Holy Spirit, and neither can you. God forgive us as a church for trying in our own natural strength to advance a kingdom that cannot be seen or rationalized.
OPEN YOUR MOUTH WITH THE POWER OF GOD
When the 120 disciples initially came out of the upper room and burst into the marketplace, they were speaking the “megalios” of God. In the Greek New Testament, the “megalios” of God were words spoken by faith regarding what the living Christ within them was about to do through them. The disciples were given the ability to speak to people of other languages and other cultures—languages they had never learned. They were speaking eternal truths.
Peter then opened his mouth with the power of God and preached an eloquent sermon that could only have come straight from the throne of God. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:36–37). Bear in mind that these were people who were alienated from God—Christ-haters in their generation. Yet they saw something supernatural at work in these disciples, and all of a sudden their hatred dissipated. It was just like the Lord said in Psalm 81, “Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto him…” (Psalms 81:13–15). Suddenly those who hated God were melting in His presence, and thousands were asking, “What must we do to be saved?”
Likewise in our generation, our cities will not be saved in any other way but through a body of believers in Jesus Christ who are filled with the Spirit of Almighty God. There is no other plan of God for the time in which we live—no Plan B; no superstar who will suddenly rise up. There will either be a church or there won’t be a church, and that is the choice you and I must make now. We must choose to be a people who are God-gripped by the Holy Spirit, walking in the supernatural, filled with the tenderness and compassion of God. We must be willing to be yielded and ridiculed; willing to stand out in the marketplace no matter what the cost so that others may come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
We have a window of time where multitudes may turn to Christ, where churches can live again, where the testimony of Christ can rise out of the ashes and have a great effect on our society. I do not know how long that window of time is, but I feel that it is not for long. We do not have a hundred tomorrows to get this right. We must go into that prayer closet now and say, “God Almighty, whatever You have to do in my life, wherever You must take me, whatever You need to speak to me, I invite You to do so. I know that I cannot do this apart from Your strength inside of me, and I am not even willing to try. When I open my mouth, You said that You will fill it.”
A FRESH INFILLING
My prayer for weeks has been: “Jesus, baptize me afresh in the Holy Spirit. Give me strength, and strengthen Your people for this journey. Make us a testimony for the sake of Christ and for the sake of the lost in our cities. I am not willing that people should perish in their sin when the church of Jesus Christ is still here!”
Is it possible that the Lord has brought this heaviness upon you to remind you of your need for Him? Perhaps He has allowed the distress in your mind and heart in order to bring you to the end of yourself, to bring you to the place where you once again cry out, “Lord, I need You! I cannot do this unless You fill me with the Holy Spirit. I need Your thoughts, Your words, Your plan and Your power to accomplish it. I want to make a difference in my generation. I am simply unwilling to stand one day at the throne of God with a full notebook from church but an empty basket to bring to You. I want to believe You for the miraculous.”
I cannot cry out for you and you cannot cry out for me. This is something that must be birthed in your own heart. When I picture the disciples gathered in that upper room, I certainly do not imagine it was a nice, quiet little prayer meeting—”Would you pray now, Brother Peter? Okay, now it’s your turn, Brother Matthew.” No! I see a group of people desperately crying out, “Oh, God, if You don’t do something in us, we are going to have no effect! Glorify Your name in us!” And suddenly a rushing mighty wind came, cloven tongues of fire sat upon them, and they began to speak about the wondrous power of God that is available to all who turn to Him.
I urge you today—do not sell yourself short in this hour. Do not settle for powerless religion or mere thoughts of God. Get hold of a living relationship with the Lord. If that means you have to hang on to the altar until He comes, then do it! Open your mouth and He will fill it. Cry out to the Lord until He baptizes you afresh with His Holy Spirit, that the power of God may rest upon you in this generation!
©2012 Times Square Church