A lot seems to be happening at present . New surges of Covid 19 infections.
Devastating fires. Melting glaciers raising sea levels, floods and diminishing biodiversity. Own goals of human origin. We humans seem to be losing control. We seem to be losing hope and becoming more fearful. So what’s going on? I believe there is a spiritual dimension underpinning all this. Spiritually the world seems to be holding its breath and many Christians feel that God is using this present time to send us a message. We pray that God will act and bring change andrevival to our land and world. We as Christians are waiting for the Holy Spirit to do something about our damaged world. To bring revival.
But, I ask, can Western Christianity as practised today be the crucible in which revival is birthed? I hope and pray so. But I am reminded of words spoken by Jesus to the Ephesians, who did many good deeds and worked hard with perseverance. “Yet,” he said “I hold this against you: you have forgotten your first love.”Rev.2:4. Are we in the Christian west just coasting? Taking God for granted. Does the Church really want revival and the responsibility to discipline and change that comes with it? Indeed do we as individual members of God’s people really want revival which will undoubtedly require us all to change in one way or another?
‘He will be a sure foundation for our times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge, the fear of the Lord is a key to this treasure.’ Isa.33:6
How many of us Christians take God for granted.? We know that he loves us and we take comfort from that, we know that for we who believe that there is a place in heaven. But how often do we thank him for thatWe have an awesome God who only wants good for us.
In a recent word from God made to me while praying healing for the world and our nation on our Healing Rooms Zoom site God spoke to me, maybe prophetically, about preparing the way for revival by creating an environment for revival, using just four words. Which I will call the four R’s. Reverence, Realignment , Revolution, Revival. He also meant it not just as a message for me but for me to write about it.
To revere God means to respect and esteem him, but more than that it means for us to capture and retain a high sense of awe from which flows veneration, worship and adoration. To revere God then is to adore him and worship him and to declare his glory among the nations. Psm 96. Reverence is our movement toward God as we recognise his movement toward us. In Africa sleeping out in the open under the stars and waking in the middle of the night I was awestruck by the vastness of the universe displayed in the stars above me and was immediately thankful and full of
wonder and worship that God could love me; just a almost infinitely small speck in his universe.
Moses saw the burning bush and moved towards it. Realising it was God he was filled with awe and fell to his knees in submission. So perhaps reverence also has an element of submission and obeisance. Humility is a key part of reverence. We esteem God when we seek his wisdom and knowledge, and knowledge for all our every day decisions. When we follow his directions. When we allow him to direct our lives. I must say I have much to repent of here. Too many times as a leader of a project have I got a plan together and then asked God to bless it rather than asking
that God direct me to his plan and his wisdom and knowledge in pursuing it.
Finally reverence is like falling ‘head over heals in love’ with someone, it comes from the heart; you can’t always explain your love in words but you absolutely venerate the one you love.
The Western Church, maybe particularly its established Leaders, need to fall in love with Jesus again.
‘Then the church throughout Judea, Galilea and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.’ Acts 9:31. For ‘fear’ read reverence. When we fall in love with Jesus this will naturally lead to:
‘Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to testand approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ Rom.12:2
This is all about priorities. I believe that God is saying that we have got our priorities wrong. That his church is allowing the culture to determine its direction rather than the church being the driver of the evolution of culture. The church in the west seems more concerned about finding ways to grow its numbersthan influencing and moving culture in accordance with God’s will.
We give more time to and worship of idols than we do to God. Our modern culture seems to have made idols of sports stars, pop stars, and money and in some instances we have even made gods of ourselves.. We have moved away from what’s good for the ‘we’ to what’s good for the ‘I’.
‘For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared aboveall gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendour and majesty are before him, strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, O families and nations, ascribe to theLord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name;’ Psm.96:4-8a.
I believe God is saying to each one of us who are Christian, and perhaps in particular Christian Leaders, seeking to be involved in revival that they will need to examine themselves , especially asking whether more concern is given topolitical correctness than biblical correctness. To see whether or not we needto repent and allow God to transform and realign our lives; to believe and act in accordance to the the non-redacted gospel and in line with the way God wants us to live. Seeking his good and perfect will. We need to embrace the ‘we’ of church community and get away form the ‘I’ of my church family.
The world we thought we knew is now disrupted, shaken up, disfigured. I believethat God is calling us to repentance and a healed world and a new life where Christ is centre stage.
Further, I believe that God is asking all of us who are looking earnestly toward a massive move of the Holy Spirit to consider our way of life and to see how it measures up to Jeremiah’s prophesy ‘if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and attentive to the prayers offered in this place.’ 2Chron.7:14-15. When we re-align ourselves back to reverently seeking and doing God’s will, then we create the environment ready for battle against the spiritual forces of darkness and we will be ready for battle as soldiers of the ‘light’ and there will be a:
‘For though we live in the world we do not wage war as the world does.The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have devine power to demolish strongholds. We demolisharguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive of every thought to make it obedient toChrist.’ 2Cor.10: 3-7.
I believe God is asking us all, especially Christian leaders , to take up the cross and banner of the gospel to engage in this revolutionary battle. To spread the good news of the undiluted gospel and God’s promises therein, regardless of opposition. To stand up, and courageously speak up, against the unbiblical and contrary to God decisions of our culture. To continuously pray seeking God’s eternal will in all things and to live a life of spiritual excitement and joy. Joy because we know that victory is already achieved in this battle through the sacrificial conquest of Jesus his Son. This may at times be personally painful; but when we walk with God, the promise before us is always greater than the pain behind us.
And so God wants us know that he is with us in the outworking of this victory in thenow but not yet.
‘So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ 2Cor.4:18.
Revolutionary soldiers need to prepare for battle. I believe that God is talking to us through Paul in Ephesians as exhorts us to ‘be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take a standagainst the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.. In addition to all this take up the shield of faith, which can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one.’ 6:10-16.
The flaming arrows that a revolutionary has to deal with are disappointment, discouragement, depression and temptation, particularly the temptation to quit. So Paul continues: ‘Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind keep praying for all the saints.’v.17-18
Prayer is one of the greatest weapons of all, especially against the attacks of satan, which will surely come to revolutionaries for Christ. Revolutionaries must pray for each other in unity. We are all connected spiritually to each other and to Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Father God. Revolutionaries do not strive against each other but areunited in one purpose and one cause.
The greatest defence against attack is to allow Jesus to remain in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Holy Communion is a Universal way through which the spirit is imparted and where we open ourselves to the indwelling of Jesus through the Holy spirit- and He is the one who gives us the strength and the discipline to use the full armour of God to gain complete protection as we battle with the ‘principalities and powers’ not only of this world but especially of the spiritual world.
Revolutionaries must commune with God regularly.
God through the workings of the Holy Spirit will raise up leaders of these
revolutionary soldiers who may or may not be chosen among the ranks of present day leaders. One characteristic of such leaders will be to see the bigger picture and a willingness to work with others enthusiastically whatever their background; a willingness to work outside the boundaries of their own church family and an understanding that church is not just about numbers but more about alignment and the passion of the heart.. These leaders may lead small or large groups but will connect together as a ‘we’ community of revolutionary believers.
‘But select capable men from all people- men who fear God, trustworthymen who hate dishonest gain – and appoint them as officials overthousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.’ Exodus 18: 21
In the midst of this battle with soldiers that are reverent and seriously aligned towards God we will be fulfilling the spiritual environmental requirements and God will send his Holy Spirit to swamp the land in:
‘Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers living in fear [reverence] of the Lord.’
Revival is not a word that appears in the Bible. That’s because when revival comes we won’t be talking about revival, we will be talking about Jesus. Revived people look like Jesus, act like Jesus, talk like Jesus, walk like Jesus, and live like Jesus.
Revival will bring the Church back to life in a massive and permanent
community and culture shaking movement of the Holy Spirit. And the
Church won’t be Anglican, Catholic or any other Denomination; it will simply be people of the Kingdom of God gathered together wherever they are to worship and adore Jesus. People return to him who have previously revolted against Him and Jesus will replace earthly idols.
He will come in such power that his presence will be like a magnet drawing people to him like a magnet as he, the Holy Spirit, points them towards Jesus their salvation and insurance for eternal life.
‘Like a lion coming up from Jordan’s thickets to a rich pasture land, I willchase Babylon from it’s land in an instant. Who is the chosen one I will appoint for this? Who is like me and who can challenge me? And what shepherd can stand against me?’ Jer.50:44
People will appear drugged by his presence and there will be incontrovertible signs and wonders. And such an outpouring of the spirit that all who are drawn to Jesus will bow their knees before him. Revival will be accompanied by joyous singing and dancing. No more depression, no more covid, which will be swept away by the tsunami of the Holy Spirit and no more heartache. A people full of hope not fear.
But it may not happen unless the environment for revival has been improved through reverence, re-alignment and revolution. And this is an individual Christian as well as a corporate Christian responsibility.
And so let us finish with this short but apposite prayer uttered by Habakkuk around 2,600 years ago. Which I believe and pray is relevant to our time.
‘Lord, I have heard of your fame: I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.
Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in your wrath remember mercy.’ Habb.3.2