Next week, Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church is going to embark on a journey to seek spiritual renewal through a season of fasting and prayer. I’m sending out this blog/devotion to prepare our church and our people. If you aren’t a member or attending the church, please tag along with us. Just as an FYI, the devotions next week will all be geared toward spiritual renewal. If you are not currently getting the Daily Devotions (Monday through Friday each week), please considering signing up at: http://mpbc.ws/emailsubscriptions/ Click on “Pastor Kevin’s Daily Devotions.”
Did you know there has not been a Great Awakening in this country in over 100 years? In fact, when I typed those words in italics: Great Awakening, they might not mean a lot to you. In fact, you might scratch your head and think, “Great Awakening? What does that mean?”
A “Great Awakening” is simply a term for a spiritual revival or movement of God. Many of us have forgotten, or might not even know about such events in the life of our nation. We might know more of what happened in Bible times, however. We might recall and remember the reforms that were instituted under the two great kings of Judah, Hezekiah or Josiah. We might remember the revival that was sparked when Jonah (after first being disobedient and shaken into action from a three-day trip in fish’s belly) went to the pagan city of Nineveh and preached and revival swept the city. We might even remember Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2, when 3,000 were saved in one day after the Holy Spirit came and the Apostle Peter preached. But, is something like those events even possible today? Could any of these events even remotely happen today?
Well, they are happening! It’s just not in America. God is doing a mighty work in Northern Africa, South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific Rim. This is called the 10/40 window.
Over 3 billion people live in this block of the world and there is a growing hunger for Jesus. It’s why we as a Church in America should be sending money and help to evangelize this part of the world. “But, what about America?” you ask.
It’s interesting as I talk to many Christians about the past in our nation. Most Christians today do not know of the Great Awakenings in our country’s history. Take this man:
That’s Jonathan Edwards. He would be instrumental in leading our young nation to what is often called and described as the “First Great Awakening, which began in the 1730’s (even before we established our independence from Britain). He would preach the famous sermon: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” which would move many to come running to Christ. According to reports, the revival meetings that broke out under his preaching swept through the crowds like musket fire mowing down rows of soldiers. People literally fell to the ground crying out to God to save them. Reports record where Edwards would preach for hours on end without stopping, as people would leave the meeting, go and get family members and friends and bring them back to be saved. Thousands were saved! By the way, Edwards would end his career as President of Princeton University. Oh how that university has changed in 300 years! Princeton is now one of the most liberal, pagan universities in the nation.
A Second Great Awakening would erupt in the late 1700’s-early 1800’s, under the preaching of this man, Charles Finney.
Again, there was a powerful move of the hand of God as people would at times, stand in the rain for hours, listening to the Word of God preached. People would come and stay at the “revival grounds” for days on end lapping up the message of these preachers like a thirsty dog drinking water from a stream.
Historians also chronicle a Third Great Awakening in the 1850’s with the preaching of D.L. Moody.
These men literally helped to shape our nation. The principles of Scripture and the teachings of Jesus indelibly marked our nation and without question helped to make us into the powerful country we are today.
Again, when these men preached, crowds of thousands came to listen (think frontier days…that’s a lot of people for Daniel Boone days). People gathered in public squares and on hillsides; they clung to pews listening to the men of God, preach with the power of God.
Thousands upon thousands were saved. Historians tell of itinerant preachers who would travel on horseback throughout the countryside of our nation spreading the Gospel. Even college students in our early universities, (mostly Bible colleges), would fast and pray until revival broke out across campuses throughout our young nation.
Can it happen again? Can there be another Great Awakening in this land? The answer is: “Yes.” But, it will not come easy. In fact, it can’t come to a church or even an individual until there is brokenness and full surrender to Jesus Christ. Awakening doesn’t come without a cost. Spiritual chains and bondage aren’t broken without great cost. There must be a genuine and sincere brokenness over our sin and confession of wrong and gut-wrenching prayers of repentance, if we want to see real change in our lives.
J. Edwin Orr, the great Bible scholar, teacher and proponent of spiritual awakening in the past century said, “Revival is like judgment day. When revival comes, conviction exposes all that we have been ashamed to admit. Our pride, our greed, our lust, our fears, our secret sin–everything that identifies the ‘real me’ stares us in the face as though the dreaded day of judgment has arrived.”
K. Allan Blume, editor of the Biblical Recorder recently said this:
“The need for a great spiritual awakening in 2014 is more than obvious. An American culture once saturated with Christian influence is spiritually empty. Biblical values are not respected by the large number of secularists who dominate the worlds of politics, business, entertainment and media. Churches and Christian leaders have drifted from biblical orthodoxy, embracing popular opinions at the expense of eternal truth. Internationally, evil aggressively taunts us (ISIS, Hamas, Putin), daring us to engage in battle. Like Goliath in scripture, the threats are larger than life. Fear, war, disease and financial collapse are not artificial threats.
So, what is our motivation for wanting a revival? Maybe we want a culture that is less stressful, more comfortable and less challenging. Maybe we want to go back to the good ol’ days when everyone attended our churches for the same reason they joined the country club. I don’t believe God has any interest in our comfort. He has not given us a gospel of prosperity and popularity. Historically, great revivals have never broken out in the context of prosperity. They have flourished most through times of persecution.”
According to Scripture, Blume is right. It is nothing less than a massive humbling of ourselves in deep repentance, fervent prayer and fasting and thorough cleansing before our loving and holy Heavenly Father that will bring spiritual awakening in the lives of individuals, churches or a nation. The familiar words of Ezra in 2 Chronicles gives us the prescription.
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 if 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 and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Will we humble ourselves? Will we turn from our wicked ways and seek the face of God? Will we pray? I mean REALLY pray for cleansing?
Over 100 years ago, Oswald Chambers (My Utmost For His Highest) said these words about humble repentance:
“Repentance does not cause a sense of sin— it causes a sense of inexpressible unworthiness. When I repent, I realize that I am absolutely helpless, and I know that through and through I am not worthy even to carry His sandals. Have I repented like that, or do I have a lingering thought of possibly trying to defend my actions? The reason God cannot come into my life is that I am not at the point of complete repentance. Get to the end of yourself where you can do nothing, but where He does everything.”
It is time we break up the fallow (unplowed/hardened) ground in our hearts, as the prophet Hosea described:
Sow for yourselves righteousness;
reap steadfast love;
break up your fallow ground,
for it is the time to seek the Lord,
that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.
It is TIME TO SEEK THE LORD! Oh, how true this is. It is time. It is time! IT IS TIME!
This week we are going to go on a spiritual journey together that can lead to a stronger, deeper and more profound walk with Jesus Christ. I said: “can,” because Jesus won’t force Himself on you or me. He cannot move in your life or mine if there is unconfessed sin.
If you want to know freedom, you will have to accept the truth of God’s word, confess your sin, repent of it (walk away from it in the opposite direction) and then you will know holiness (which will be freedom in Christ).
What is described above is God’s specific desire for us as His children. The Bible says so:
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
God wants to make us holy (sanctify us). How much? Completely! 100% (Your WHOLE spirit, soul and body). He is faithful and will surely do it, but you have to be willing and you have to want Him to cleanse you. Are you ready to cry out to Him?
Oh, how I pray that we will desire to take this journey together. I pray you will be willing to think about what you might fast (give up) this week, particularly on Wednesday. Ask the Lord to guide you to where you might give up something that means a lot to you, so you might sincerely focus on Him. But, understand something. Satan will not like it. Be prepared for him to seek to through you off and detain you from even beginning the journey. He will give you excuses and tell you, “It’s no use! God won’t change you!” Don’t believe those lies. Why not right now bow your head and humbly ask the Lord to break up the hardened ground in your heart. He knows where that is and He will show you. Just talk to Him now. Begin the journey. If you will, then I promise, you will be embarking upon a journey that will lead to a Great Awakening in your life of refreshing renewal for your soul.
You are loved!