Do you remember the story of AI? AI was the city the Israelites attacked after the tremendous victory at Jericho. Joshua had led them across the river Jordan and for seven days they marched around the city. On the seventh day on a signal from Joshua they shouted and the walls of Jericho fell to the ground. The Israelites attacked and destroyed the inhabitants of the city per God’s instructions.
Much like any victory in a ballgame or any sport you want to carry that momentum into the next game or contest. The Israelites immediately started looking for their next city to conquer. They had it all figured out. They had the formula for success. They had the winning combination. AI was not a large city like Jericho. It would be an easy victory. Or so they thought. 36 Israelites died that day. They got their backsides kicked really good.
That was the day the Israelites learned a lesson. There is no formula for success. The Lord leads people into every battle in a different way. Now the problem at AI was not so much the method but a problem with sin in their camp. But it still shows that each victory requires that we listen to God, hear His instructions and to follow His directions. He will tell us if there is sin in the camp that needs to be dealt with. They failed to do what He instructed them to do at Jericho and the result was failure at AI.
For us each day is a new battle. Each church service is a new encounter with God. Every day, every encounter we should be following God’s specific instruction for that particular day, event or service.
When it comes to revival so many churches try to follow a formula, a tested plan, or somebody’s book that shows you how to do it in four simple steps. There are church building seminars, church growth seminars and on and on and on. We approach revival like the Israelites approached AI. We get a plan, we initiate the plan and then we pray for God to bless what we are doing. Then we wonder why it didn’t work. To make up for our inadequacies and failure we find what little bit of light we can and brag on how good the service was. We want everyone to believe it was a success. But if we were listening to God wouldn’t it be a real success. Wouldn’t many more people get saved and filled with the spirit and enter into a deeper relationship if we were listening to God and doing things the way He wants them done TODAY. The Israelites lost 36 people. That was 36 more lives than at Jericho. How many people are we losing by not following God?
So many churches are following a formula, a tested plan or traditions on every Sunday doing the same things the same way over and over because at one time this is what happened when they had an encounter with God. If God did it this way once upon a time then he will do it again they think. They are trying to take their Jericho victory experience to Ai. Traditions are good if they come from God. If he says so then yes. But most traditions are created by men, denominations and various fellowships of believers. Traditions make things easy. Traditions can eliminate all that extra hard work like spending time in prayer, studying the Word and meditation. You don’t have to spend so much time with Jesus when you have traditions to guide you.
When the Israelites were in the desert for forty years daily life was simple, follow the cloud of God by day and the fire by night. When and wherever the cloud or fire stopped that is where they stayed. When it moved, they moved with it. It is no different today. God moves differently in every service, every meeting or gathering. Our part should be simple, follow God. There are no traditions when God is present. We can start with an idea of what we think He wants but if or when He moves in a different direction we should move with it.
After Jesus was baptized the Holy Spirit led him up out of the river into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Even Jesus had to follow the Holy Spirit leading, so shouldn’t we? For the “what would Jesus do” crowd, to do what Jesus did we need to daily follow the Holy Spirit where ever He moves, whatever direction he wants to take. He may take us in a direction we don’t want to follow but it is God’s plan for us to follow Him anywhere. If we want revival in our church, our city, state or country we need to be following the Holy Spirit every minute of every day.
God’s want us to sit at His table and partake of His fullness, power and love. If we stick with traditions and formulas we are just eating the crumbs from under God’s table, not getting the whole meal.