"Upheaval" (March 2011)
I want to share something that the Lord showed me at prayer group yesterday. As we were praying I heard the Lord speaking to me in my spirit and I could see a picture of what He was saying in my mind’s eye. The word He said was: Don’t think that it is necessarily always the devil behind all the upheavals that are taking place. When He said that, I sensed that the Lord was allowing a greater purpose to be fulfilled in some of what we see happening around us. Let me explain, and please do not misunderstand what I am saying. The Lord does not do evil. The devil is the one who steals, kills and destroys, and he is going around seeking whom he may devour. The Lord does, however, allow disasters, unpleasant situations, hardships and even calamity to come. We see this more clearly in the Book of Job. It was not God who brought calamity upon Job but He allowed it to happen. “And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.” (Job 1:7,8,12) Joseph is another example. His brothers plotted to kill him, and though God did not allow them to kill him, He did allow Joseph to be sold into slavery and wind up in Egypt. “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:20) In both of these men’s lives there was an “upheaval”. God did not do it to them, but He did not stop it either so that a greater plan could be accomplished. We see this even in the life of our beloved Savior Jesus when He went to the cross. Our sins were the reason He was crucified, the religious crowd condemned Him, the Roman soldiers physically nailed Him to the cross, but it was by the will of God that He should become the sacrifice for our sins. “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:4,10,11)
So on the subject of the causes of “upheavals”, sometimes it is the devil trying to destroy us, sometimes it is the consequences that come as a result of sin, and then there are times that the counsel of God dictates the best course of action is through the avenue of calamities- or in other words, “upheavals”. “Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Ephesians 1:11b) “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:5-7) It is interesting to note that the word for “chasten” here in the Greek when referring to God means “to chasten by the affliction of evils and calamities”.
The dictionary defines upheaval as: strong or violent change or disturbance; an upward warping of a part of the earth's crust, forcing certain areas into a relatively higher position than before; another word for uplift. (Please keep this definition in mind as we talk about this further.)
Not only are there “upheavals” taking place in the physical earth through earthquakes that are happening all over the world daily, there are “upheavals” taking place in the “spirit realm” too. When an “upheaval” takes place by an earthquake, several things happen. I want to compare what happens in the “physical upheavals” with what I believe is happening in the spiritual ones- namely in the church. (I believe that this is what the Lord is doing in these last days.) I do need to say that this “spiritual upheaval” that I am going to talk about primarily relates to the church, but it can also be applied to the spiritual life of nations and individuals as well. When God allows “upheavals”, “calamities” or “chastisement” to come, it is not because He wants to destroy us. It is because of His mercy- He is trying to get your attention before it is too late.
1) There is always a “shaking” that is associated with the kind of upheaval that an earthquake brings. “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” (Hebrews 12:25-28) There is a “spiritual shaking” that is taking place in the church. The Lord is desiring to shake us out of our complacent and compromising state. When a person has fallen asleep and you want to wake them up, what do you do? You shake them to try to wake them up. “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” (Matthew 25:1-5) “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.“ (Mark 13:35,36) “But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.” (Ephesians 5:13-15) Wake up church! Make sure you have oil in your lamps! Stop sleeping in the light and start being the light of the world that Jesus said His disciples were to be.
2) An “upheaval” brings a change in direction. I said earlier that I could see a picture in my mind’s eye when the Lord spoke to me about “upheavals”, it was a picture of a blacktop road that was all buckled up in the middle all the way across the two lanes. It reminded you of what it would look like if that section of the road had been pushed up from the bottom- it was an “upheaval” in the road. From this picture of the road all buckled up in the middle, it was obvious that the road was impassable. Therefore, the automobile that was driving on the road had to turn around and go in another direction. The Lord is bringing an “upheaval” to the church that will cause us to go in another direction. We have been going in the wrong direction for so long. That direction has been influenced by our own fleshly, selfish and self-centered desires and not God’s word. We have ceased to “seek the Lord first, His Kingdom and righteousness”. (Matthew 6:33) We have sought after houses, lands, wealth and material blessings. We have sought to make a name for ourselves and become “Christian celebrities”. We have been doing what is right in our own eyes instead of in the eyes of God. We are going the way of Balaam. Going the way of Balaam means: to preach something contrary to God’s word in order to receive personal gain; to compromise your own standard of morality and truth in order to accommodate someone or something else and gain acceptance; to use your authority to teach God’s people that it is all right to compromise God’s standard as laid out in His word. “Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.” (2 Peter 2:14,15) “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) I use to think that this was talking about those in the world who did not know Jesus as Savior, but I see these characteristics in the church. This is the way we have gone. The Bible warns of going in a direction that will not bring us nearer to God but further away from Him instead. Jesus called it a “broad way with a wide gate”. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13,14) If we continue to go in this direction, destruction will come to us. We must turn in repentance and begin to head back to the Lord and go “His way”, in His direction.
3) During an earthquake a separation happens. Just like in the picture I described of the road that was buckled up, the upheaved area separated one end of the road from the other. This “spiritual upheaval” will bring a separation. It will bring a separation between the wheat and the tares, the sheep and the goats. It will draw a dividing line between those who only profess Christ and those who follow Him; those who are religious and those who have a relationship with Him.
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-17) “Come out from among them”. Since when did we begin thinking that we can be of the world and of Christ at the same time? When did the “gap/separation” that is between us and the world close? When did God drop His standard of holiness and allow His people to live a lifestyle of sin? I become more and more alarmed at the “mentality” that has invaded our churches. We are labeled as being “intolerant” yet we tolerate those things that the Lord never did. It is as if “anything goes” and it is all right. If you want to find a place that will make you feel comfortable in your sins, then go to church- because we don’t preach against it, we accept it. People who are on staff in some of the churches can sit in the services and live a life of adultery and it is never addressed. You have homosexuals leading the worship service. Youth pastors getting tattooed all over so they can “fit in”. Then you have “Pole Dancers for Jesus”, pastors using profanity in the pulpit and deacons seducing young boys into having sex with them. We may be in the world but we are not suppose to be of the world. Jesus was “in” the world, but He never compromised the will of the Father, or His Word, by indulging in the sinful practices of the world. Jesus even said He did not come to destroy the Law- He obeyed it. We have stopped warning the wicked man of his wicked way. We don’t preach that the wages of sin is death and that hell is real and the soul who sins will spend an eternity there when they die. We don’t preach against sin and about hell because we don’t want to “offend” anyone. We want to make everyone happy and have everyone like us. We stopped preaching the message of holiness because it is “out dated’ and “old-fashion” and we will lose people if we preach it and besides the youth will be bored if that is what we talk about. The message of holiness is never outdated, it is the standard to which God has called His people to live (and He has not changed His standard). It is not old-fashioned because it is very nature of God. And He warned us that without holiness we will not see Him. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
On this subject there is much more I could say, but many of you would accuse me of being “nit-picky”. But the truth is we have deviated from the Word of God, and doing that will only bring death and destruction. We are trying to imitate the world and be like them in order to “win” them. We act like them, talk like them, look like them, dress like them, follow their latest fads and pattern our music after theirs. We have been so busy trying to “fit in” with them that we have lost our witness and have nothing that they want. When sadly, we have what they need only we have hid it under a basket. Somewhere we adopted the idea that we can win the world through our own efforts- through entertainment, through acceptance, through embracing their sin, through our programs, etc. If you try to win people through your own efforts you are operating in the flesh and you may win them to yourself or to your church, but you have not won them to Christ. Flesh never wins flesh to Christ- it only breeds more flesh. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galatians 6:7,8) “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)
In some cases many churches aren’t even concerned about winning the lost to Christ, instead they have become introverted and nothing more than a “Christian subculture” group, no longer reaching out beyond their four walls. This happened to the early church. They were so involved with each other that they weren’t reaching out to fulfill the commission. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” (Acts 2:41-46) Then an “upheaval” came in the form of persecution which got them out of the comfort of their “church” and caused them to be scattered abroad taking the gospel with them to the rest of the world. “And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.” (Acts 8:1)
4) The last thing I want to point out is that when there is an earthquake, the landscape changes- there is a transformation that takes place. When an earthquake hits, the whole scenery changes. What was there is now gone- buildings, streets and even whole towns- nothing looks familiar. (On that note, my heart goes out to and prayers are with those who have recently been hit by these horrendous earthquakes.) I don’t know what good can come out of the devastation and grief that accompanies them. But I do believe though that many times when something “bad” happens it gets our attention and will often give us a “reality check”. When an “upheaval” of the spiritual nature comes, I do know that this same introspection often comes with it. It makes us stop and think about where we are and what we are doing. This happened with the prodigal son. His world got turned upside down, it was shaken to the very core when he was in the pigpen and the end result was repentance and return to his father’s house. “And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.” (Luke 15:13-18)
Earlier we talked about the calamity that Job went through. Through this “upheaval” in his life a transformation took place in Job- in his lifestyle, his way of thinking, his worship and his revelation of who God was. “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5,6) The “upheaval” that comes to our lives individually, or as a church, is intended to bring about a transformation in us. It is intended to change us from being self-centered to Christ-centered; from conformity to the world’s way of thinking to having the mind of Christ; from walking in the flesh to walking in the Spirit. It is intended to transform our attitude about sin, about what pleases and displeases God, about holiness and right living, our speech, the way we present ourselves and the way we conduct our affairs. How do “upheavals” help bring about this spiritual transformation? “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth thepeaceable fruit of righteousnessunto them which are exercised thereby.” (Hebrews 12:5-11)
The primary evidence of an “upheaval” is the transformation that it brings. Spiritually speaking that transformation is a good thing. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1,2) When we looked at the definition of upheaval, it said it was a word for “uplift”. If God brings or allows an “upheaval” in our lives- and in the church- it is always for the purpose of lifting us up out of a low place, or state, into a higher one. “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” (Psalm 40:2) And it is always prompted by His love and mercy- not willing that any should perish. When a transformation in the physical occurs through an earthquake, it looks like chaos. But when a spiritual upheaval happens, the transformation that it brings will look something like this. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1,2) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)