“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
The Great Reveal, by Randall D. Kittle

Over the past few years both of my daughters have gotten married. In each of their weddings, they did something new and different on their wedding days from when I married my beautiful bride. They called it “the Reveal.” This is when the bride presents herself all dressed and adorned to her groom for the very first time. It is quite exciting and emotional … and is preceded by a lot of planning and anticipation. First, they had to decide where it would occur. This had to be a beautiful location because many of their wedding photographs would be taken at that location. Then, of course, there were all the decisions from choosing the wedding dress down to how their hair would be done, what jewelry they would wear, how their makeup should look, and much, much more.

In today’s society, I think “the Reveal” is a great idea for weddings. First of all because a good portion of the wedding photos are taken at the reveal prior to the wedding ceremony so there is no need for a 2–3 hour delay between the wedding and the reception. The reveal is also a good idea in case the groom becomes overwhelmed by his bride’s beauty (like I almost was) … at least he would faint in front of fewer people.

The Great Reveal
Over the years, I have been involved in many weddings in various ways, from being a guest, to officiating, to being everything from the candle lighter to the Father-of-the-Bride (a very important role in which you must primarily do two things: say “Her mother and I,” and pay a lot of bills). But there is an upcoming wedding where I have a completely different role than I’ve ever had before. As a minister of the Gospel, I have a new duty in this wedding that I have never before performed. For this wedding, I’m a “wedding coordinator.” My job is to help prepare the Bride, which is the Church, for the Groom, who is the Lord. What a great position to have, especially considering this will be the most amazing wedding ever with the most glorious Bride in all eternity!

It is also a day for which God awaits — the day when Jesus will see His Bride, the Church, clothed in glory… without a spot or wrinkle. How the Lord longs for this —
the Great Reveal. Not only does God look forward to this day … all creation does! “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” (Romans 8:19). The Phillips translation begins the passage this way; “Creation stands on its tip-toes …” Like little girls at a wedding excitedly standing on their tip-toes trying to catch their first glimpse of the bride as she comes down the aisle, all of God’s creation longs for you and me to reveal the glorious kingdom of God … displaying it for all to see. That is the Great Reveal for which God is waiting.

Preparing for That Day
As one who has been given the duty of helping prepare the Bride of Christ, I want you to know that the Lord is coming to the Church in these days to call out and draw to Himself a radical remnant who will be His Bride and display His kingdom. So what needs to be done if we are to be a Bride who is prepared to reveal the kingdom of God to a waiting, watching world?

As I was praying, the Spirit of God filled the room with His strong presence, and declared:
“Why are my sons and daughters so indifferent to My Son and His Kingdom? Although they proclaim they are His, their hearts are passive towards Him while being passionate about many other things. They go through the motions of devotion, but their lukewarm hearts are fixed on pursuing other goals … other hopes … and other dreams ahead of Him. They do not even realize how cold their hearts have become and how far away they have drifted. They must be awakened from their apathy and called to passionately pursue their Lord … while they still can.

“So many in My Church have become prodigal believers living in a prodigal generation. They have so little time for Me, but waste so much time on the trivial games and goals of this world. They give a token of their energy and finances to Me, but indulge themselves acquiring the temporary toys and trinkets of this world. Even though My Son poured out His life so they could be made new, they spend their lives upon themselves … looking no different than the rest of their prodigal society. Remind them that they have been bought with a price and call them to stop wasting their spiritual inheritance and choose to spend their lives — their time, their energy, and their finances — on that which will never pass away.

“The battle for souls is raging, yet My sons and daughters sit at ease. The harvest fields are ripe, but the workers are few. In these tumultuous times, the enemy has been declaring ‘Peace, Peace’ and My children have embraced this declaration instead of becoming the overcoming conquerors I would have them be. They make merry when they should prepare for battle. There will be many needless casualties until My Church takes her place in the ranks.”

While this word is strong, the Lord is speaking this not to
condemn the Church but to awaken our hearts. Remember, Romans 8:1 tells us, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This isn’t about condemnation; it is an invitation for transformation into the Bride of Christ we are called to be.

How do we become this glorious Bride?

#1 – The Lord sees much of His Bride as lukewarm, apathetic, and complacent.

The Lord’s warning that many have “lukewarm hearts” is a strong admonition. After all, how does God feel about lukewarmness and complacency? The Bible tells us that God spews … spits … or vomits the lukewarm out of His mouth (see Revelation 3:16). In the book of Revelation, the Lord precedes His judgment upon lukewarmness by declaring, “I wish you were either cold or hot!” If we are not passionately pursuing God, He would rather have us coldly opposed to Him than comfortably complacent. There is hope that the cold-hearted will see the errors of their way, but too often the lukewarm remain comfortable in their indifference.

The Lord longs for His Church to be passionate about pursuing Him, zealous to know Him, and desperate for His presence. He longs for us like a groom longing for his bride. He
requires each of us to have the heart of a seeker. If you are a believer, you’re engaged to Christ. Any groom would be more than disappointed if they were engaged to be wed and yet their bride could find no time for them.

There are many great promises in the Word of God, but perhaps there is none greater than Jeremiah 29:13,
“You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” “All” means nothing is held back, nothing off limits to God; you’re “all in.”

A. W. Tozer’s mentor, A. B. Simpson, rightly observed that,
“One of the first signs of a spirit-filled life is enthusiasm.” A heart yielded to the Holy Spirit will always become desperate for God’s presence and zealous for His glory to be revealed.
So allow me to ask you, “What are you enthusiastic about? What are you looking forward to? What are you telling others about? What do you have expectations toward?”

#2 – The Lord sees much of His Bride as prodigal believers living in a prodigal generation.

The word “prodigal” means: “wasteful, extravagantly lavishing on self.” Prodigal living extravagantly spends its resources on luxurious living. This always makes me think of an old television show entitled Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. This program featured the lives of multimillionaires by showing off their exotic cars, opulent homes, exorbitant jewelry, etc. Almost any American watching the program would walk away feeling that they certainly “hadn’t arrived” … that they didn’t have enough … that they needed more.

Yet, in the history of the world there has never been a society that has been given so much yet feels they needed so much more. The truth is that even those who consider themselves poor in America are richer than most people in the world. Even the most impoverished American strives to indulge himself and pamper his flesh … and most of them somehow end up acquiring nearly all the same “toys” that others have.

My friends, God
does want to bless you. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that His heart is to “prosper you.” But as spiritual children of Abraham, we are called not only to be blessed, but also to be a blessing to others. Listen to the promise God made to Abraham, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). God wants to bless us just because He loves us and wants to bless us. He is like a good father who wants to bless his children, or a good groom who delights to bless his bride. But as spiritual children of Abraham, God expects us to also be a blessing to others.

Living Poured Out Lives
Christians are called to a different kind of spending. The new, abundant life we have been given should be spent to bless God and bless others. Paul put it this way, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering …” (2 Timothy 4:6). The Greek word translated “poured out” in this verse is “spendo” which means: “to pour out, to devote, to spend, to lavish.” That is what God wants. We are called to spend our lives on the Lord — to be poured out in worship, spent on serving Him, and given to building His kingdom.

When our lives are spent on God, they will have a focus, devotion, and pursuit of God like you might find in those who come to a Christian conference or go on a mission trip. And what are the results of such a focus? God normally does great and amazing things as we are poured out pursuing Him. But this isn’t just supposed to happen only now and then as you go to a conference or on a mission trip. That is supposed to be normal, ordinary Christianity!

Spending our lives on Jesus will seem like a radical waste to this world. But it is not a waste; it is God’s way and His will. Serving the Lord and seeking to bring Him glory will never seem like a waste to anyone who has come to realize that Jesus Christ spent His life to purchase them for God by His blood.

We shouldn’t count the cost of spending our lives on Jesus … for He deserves all we have and all we are! Nowhere in the Bible does it ever tell us to count the cost of following Jesus. Quite the opposite, it tells us to follow the Lord
at all cost … to sell all we have to possess His kingdom. We are even warned that if we shrink back or turn away that we are not worthy of it (see Matthew 13:44-46, Luke 14:33, Luke 9:62).

God isn’t looking for just
more of your heart … He wants all of it! The Lord is looking for those who will surrender and make a final and complete commitment to Him. God is searching for those who will willingly spend their lives on Him!

#3 – The Lord sees much of His Bride as “living at ease” when they should be preparing for battle.

While we live in a spiritual war-zone, many are fulfilling Jeremiah 6:14, “Saying, ‘Peace, Peace!’ When there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). It is true that as believers we have peace with God. It tells us this in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Because we are now His, He has given us His peace. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). Since the Lord has given us His peace inside our hearts, we can have peace on the inside even in the storms of life.

Yet the Bible also promises us we will have tribulations — not just peace — in this world.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Gaining a Wartime Mindset
God is calling us to remember that there is a war for the souls of mankind raging, and we need to trade in our peacetime mentality for a wartime mindset. A wartime mindset will cause us to strive to resist the enemy, pray continually, declare God’s Word into situations, and share our testimony whenever possible.

One of the best teachings on the importance of having a wartime mindset can be found in John Piper’s book
Don’t Waste Your Life. He writes:

“There is a war going on in the world between Christ and Satan, truth and falsehood, belief and unbelief. There are weapons to be funded and used, but these weapons are not swords or guns or bombs but the Gospel and prayer and self-sacrificing love. The stakes of this conflict are higher than any other war in history; they are eternal and infinite: heaven or hell, eternal joy or eternal torment.

“I need to hear this message again and again, because I drift into a ‘peacetime mind-set’ as certainly as rain falls down and flames go up. I am wired by nature to love the same toys that the world loves. I start to fit in. I start to love what others love. I start to call earth ‘home.’ Before you know it, I am calling luxuries ‘needs’ and using my money just the way unbelievers do. I begin to forget the war. I don’t think much about people perishing. Missions and unreached peoples drop out of my mind. I stop dreaming about the triumphs of grace. I sink into a secular mind-set that looks first to what man can do, not what God can do. It is a terrible sickness. And I thank God for those who have forced me again and again toward a wartime mind-set.”

Piper then goes on to share a story about visiting the Queen Mary and how it affords a stunning contrast between the lifestyles appropriate in times of peace and war. When the ship was built in the 1930s, it was the pride of England, the ship everyone wanted to travel across the Atlantic on. Now, the Queen Mary, lying in repose in the harbor at Long Beach, California, is a fascinating museum of the past. Because it was used both as a luxury liner in peacetime and a troop transport during the Second World War, they decided to put in a partition dividing the ship so, by contrast, they could graphically demonstrate both uses.

On one side of the partition you see the dining room reconstructed to depict the peacetime table setting that was appropriate to the wealthy patrons of high culture for whom a dazzling array of knives and forks and spoons held no mysteries. On the other side of the partition the evidences of wartime austerities are in sharp contrast. One metal tray with indentations replaces fifteen plates and saucers. Bunks, not just single or double but eight tiers high, explain why the peacetime complement of 3,000 passengers gave way to 15,000 people on board in wartime. How repugnant to the peacetime makers of this great ship this transformation must have seemed!

Piper concludes his commentary on the Queen Mary by saying:
“To do this conversion took a national emergency, of course. The survival of a nation depended on it. The essence of the Great Commission today is that the survival of many millions of people depends on its fulfillment.

“Given the vulnerability of my heart to the seduction of the peacetime mind-set, which is pushed into my mind every day by media and entertainment, I need these images and these reminders. We are at war, whether the stocks are falling or climbing, whether the terrorists are hitting or hiding, whether we are healthy or sick. … The repeated biblical warning to ‘be alert’ fits the wartime image. And I need this warning every day.”

You and I also need to hear that so we will remember that we are living in days of
“not … peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).

What Time is it for the Church?
So, how can we sum up this call to the Bride of Christ? “It’s time for the Church to be the Church,” as my former pastor Sam Mayo was fond of saying. Vance Havner would put it this way, “It’s time for Christians to just be Christians.” It is time for the Church to stop playing trivial pursuit with their lives and start living the grand adventure and great crusade of true Christianity! The Lord is looking for a remnant to be called out.

God has placed a divine dissatisfaction in the hearts of many believers in this day. He is calling us to leave behind being satisfied with such a low level of church-life, and calling us to become the Church He died to birth. As blood-bought followers of Jesus Christ, we were meant to live for so much more than standard American church-life. Let us determine to cast aside every hindrance and overcome any obstacles until we become the glorious Bride He deserves and begin to display His kingdom to a watching world!

The Lord of the Rings — Return of the King, Elrond brings the restored sword of the king to Aragon and tells him, “Put aside the Ranger. Become who you were born to be.” I believe the Spirit of God is saying the same to this generation of believers, “Put aside the pleasures of this world. Become the men and women of God you were born-again to be!”

So what must we do if we want to start revealing the glorious kingdom of God to this world? Let each of us willingly ask the Lord to show us what needs to change. In Jeremiah 17:10 God boldly declares,
“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” Are we willing to let Him, the Living God, search our hearts and examine our minds and show us what needs to be changed so we can be a bride without spot or wrinkle?

Let us pray:
Lord, what do we need to change in our lives — what spending habits, hobbies, or goals? What things would You have us lay down, shut the door to, or pick up? Lord, how do You want us to change our lives in order to pursue You, worship You zealously, and fellowship with You more intimately? Show us how we can be more pleasing to You and bring You more joy. Lord, how do You want to use us in your battling, as weapons in your warfare — to rescue the lost and push back the enemy in these days that rage? Help us to hear your voice and heed your call to become passionate about pursuing You, poured out in worshiping You, and willing warriors who advance your kingdom and declare the glory of our King. Amen.

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