October 22, 2007

Monday Morning Message - The Pattern for Continuing Revival

We enjoyed a wonderful and memorable week of revival services at our church this past week. The music was a celebration of our life in Christ and led us to whole-heartedly worship. The messages were challenging as they held up a mirror to the spiritual reality of our lives, suffice it to say I didn't like what I saw and had real business to do with God about issues in my own life. I believe this will be one of those high-water marks we look back on as a key time in our lives.

It was a good week, however that was last week. We are now facing a new week full of of challenges, opportunities, crises, and unexpected events. How do we continue in revival? Revival is more of the Holy Spirit actively working, stirring, and moving in our lives. How can we have this be the norm rather than the exception? I believe there is a clear pattern in Scripture for us to have more of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.

It begins with encountering God. Anytime we encounter God is a crisis moment. It will always result in a reaction on our part. Very often it is in the midst of crisis that we encounter God. C.S. Lewis famously stated, "Pain is God's megaphone with which He rouses a sleeping world." When things in our life are difficult or painful it is an opportunity for us to seek God. Hosea 6 speaks of this, "He has torn us to pieces, but he will heal us" Is God trying to get your attention through circumstances or events in your life?

An encounter with God always produces a recognition that things in our lives are not as they should be. Just like dirt shows up in intense light (I think this is why a lot of restaurants are dimly lit;-)!) sin shows up when we encounter God. God is deadly serious about sin. In fact, throughout Scripture God has only one response to sin - wrath. He hates sin because He know what it does to us. It kills us. The Biblical formula never changes, Sin = Death. Death in our relationships, death in our ability to love and enjoy life, death in our pursuit of personal satisfaction, death to contentment, death to peace (both personal and corporate - even international) all brought about by sin. When we encounter God we immediately recognize our sin. (See Isaiah 6 for a clear example of this).

Recognition of sin offers us the opportunity of repentance. Repentance is the clarion call of all the prophets in Scripture as well as the singular message of John the Baptist, "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!". Jesus began His public ministry with this same message, "Repent." There must be a turning in our life. A turning from the path we've been following to the path laid before us by God. A turning from self-directed and self-destructive choices to the God-centered and life giving ways offered to us in Christ. Not a half-hearted glance over the shoulder at the things God is offering us while desperately clutching the very thing that has been bringing death into our lives, but a whole-hearted, unreserved turn to God. The time to do this is NOW.

As we repent we discover grace. Grace that says, "You're forgiven." Grace that says, "You're accepted and welcome." Grace that says, "What I have done for you is sufficient." We can quit trying to impress or earn the favor of God. What He's been trying to tell us all along is that He loves us and has simply been waiting for us to turn to Him and discover arms wide open ready to give us real life. It is amazing that we resist this amazing grace.

And in grace we discover His greatest of gifts to us, the very presence of the Holy Spirit living within us. To dust dry throats crying out for water and seared souls the Spirit is water to slake soul thirst and balm to heal the worst of wounds. But there is more. The Spirit of God at work in the life of the believer is power to display the very nature of God to a world desperate for a touch from the Creator. Paul, states in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21, "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."

It is possible to live in a continuing state of revival. The question is will we?

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