3 Aug 2015
This morning my heart is heavy for the Church in America, for the Church in Indiana, for the Church in our Community of Greater Indianapolis, and for the Church in our specific area of Westfield. Why this heaviness? Because it seems clear that God deeply desires to bring revival, the kind of revival that changes the way communities think and function, the kind of revival where Jesus is a daily topic wherever people gather, the kind of revival that revives the cultural mores and moves them toward God.
So what is the problem? Could it be that we are the problem? Even a casual study of the Holy Scriptures would bring any thinking human to the conclusion that we are always the problem. But now in our time what is the problem? We, as God’s people, are not grumbling over the fact that we must eat manna every day. But, are we turning away from God’s provisions?
It seems to me that many of us who are called by His Name want God to work on our terms. We want Him to bless our plans. We want Him to work His power within the confines of our comfort. What will it take to move His Church to unity, to seeking His plan, to submitting to His will?
We have come to believe that we can pray for God to bless our plans and all will be well. God has never worked in this way since the Garden of Eden! God demands obedience. God demands faith. God demands that we follow Him, He will not follow us! But we, in each of our bodies of local expression, have developed our plans. We have our programs. We have drifted into the ditch of comfort and convenience. We are quite willing to serve God as long as it can fit our service into our nice little life without making any waves. Is it any wonder that God has allowed this land to languish onto the path of devestating destruction?
God has been putting into the hearts of a remnant a desire for revival. These have responded with prayers that give God permission to do whatever it takes. There are a few that are willing to have their lives turned upside down, their schedules changed, their possessions distributed even as we read of in the Book of Acts. These seem to be fanatics the bulk of the Church. These are those who are willing to obey the scriptures and follow wherever He leads regardless of the cost!
Somehow the bulk of the Church has become firmly entrenched in the attitude that we can do whatever we want and God is obliged to bless our plans, our lives, and our families. But all throughout His Word we see conditional promises. For example:
Matthew 9:29 (NASB)
29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, "It shall be done to you according to your faith."
While God is always the initiator, we must respond. There is always our part. We cannot even be saved without the active expression of faith on our part.
So what is our part in respect to revival? We must take care even as we think about this question not to specify to God our part. However we do have His Word and His instructions in scripture to consider.
2 Chronicles 7:13-14 (NASB)
13 "If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people,
14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Notice the four requirements that God clearly specifies that are our part. We must humble ourselves. This means at least in part that everything we are currently doing must be honest and authentically lifted up to God asking Him to remove anything that is from us. Our ways are not like His ways. Our plans are wood hay and stubble. His plans are gold and silver and precious stones. We have, as a general rule, made our thoughts and our plans much higher and much more important than the plans and ways of God. The humbling of the people who are called by His Name means at least that these are willing to do whatever He reveals and are daily seeking only His will and His way.
This cannot be about money. This cannot be about crowds. This cannot be about our name, or our building, or our precious plans. If we are to truly humble ourselves we must empty ourselves of all that is us, and ask God to replace it with Him. This is not an easy light switch transaction. But it is a necessary transaction if we are to see God work as He desires in our communities in our time.
In this scripture we see some principles to guide us:
First it says “If my people who are called by my name.” Note this is not just me. It is not just you. This is us. This is all of us. THIS IS UNITY. We must keep the main thing the main thing. We cannot reasonably expect the Holy Spirit to work in a space of disunity. He will do little in this place. Yes, when we proclaim that how we do things and the way we think of things is right and all those other folks are wrong …. this is ARROGANCE! There is room in the body of Christ for differing opinions about some nonessential things, but on the main things we must agree. Further we must not allow the nonessentials to divide us. Jesus said that the world would know the truth about Him if we are one. Is in no wonder that the world does not know who Jesus is or Who sent Him?
Second this scripture says we who are called by His Name must humble ourselves. This instruction has so many applications we could not begin to address them in this context. However the Holy Spirit delights to show each of us specific applications if we ask Him and continue to ask Him to do so. Those who sincerely seek revival and land healing are desperate for the development of humility in their lives. They seek it daily and with a very high priority.
Next this scripture directs us to pray. This is humble prayer that is infused with Faith. This is the kind of prayer that knows if God does not show up all is lost. This is the kind of prayer that completely relies on God for the plan and for His explicit directions for the execution of His plan. So we have unity and humility but next we will see hunger.
Seek His face is the next part of our part. Seeking His face implies a hunger for the presence of God and a hunger to be in sync with Him. We will not find the face of God holding on to our plans. We must have clean hands and purity of heart if we have any hope of seeing the face of God. We must desire this above all else or we will fall short. Seeking His face is hunger for God and for His purposes and His plans, and His power.
Now we see unity, humility, hunger and next we will see personal preparation, TURNING. Oh how we need to turn from our sin and repent. We will find this power in the presence of God. When we come into the presence of God His holiness and purity are like a brilliant light revealing our sin. When our sin is revealed God is saying that we must turn from it. We must repent from it. This is a choice. This is clearly a part of our part.
Unity, humility, hunger and turning, these four make up our part. These are not easy, one hour on Sunday morning, activities. But the power of God comes not to those who are looking for an easy trip but to those who are desperate for the changes that God alone can make.
God is willing. He desires to heal our land. He desires to have His Name lifted up. He desires us to be as His people to be unified. But, what about our desires? Will we sacrifice our independence in favor of unity? Will we put away our pride in favor of humility? Will we discard our desires for the soft and easy way to pursue with hunger the things and plans of God? And finally will we hold on to our private sin?
We want God to work for sure. But the question is, are we willing to change in order to allow God to work? This passage is very clear. There are clearly things we must do in order to activate the work of God. The good news is that God is willing to help us do our part. But even in this we must be willing for Him to make changes in our lives.
What will it be Church? We have been basking in the pot of warm water for a spell and we have become pretty comfortable. But as of late it seems that while we are a bit sleepy the water is getting a little too hot. Will we wake up before it is too late? There are thousands perhaps even millions whose eternities depend on our decision. There are generations that will be immensely impacted by our choice. If we are to join in humble unity it is a decision that we each must make. What will be your choice?