Over the last several weeks I have been encouraging all of you to help us by doing four things: 1.) Pray daily for Revival in our church and Spiritual awakening in our community, 2.) Unless providentially hindered attend every service, 3.) Call members who have not been here for awhile and encourage them to come back, and 4.) Invite unchurched friends and neighbors to come to church with you. Over the next several weeks I want talk to you a little bit more specifically about each one of these activities. Beginning with the first and most important, praying daily for revival and Spiritual awakening.
When most of you think about the word “Revival” you probably think about having an evangelist come and preach a week long meeting. I was saved in that type of meeting and have always been fond of them, however, that is not what I have in mind when I ask you to pray for revival. There is a major difference between having a “meeting” and having “revival.” A real revival occurs whenever the Spirit of God begins to focus our affections on Jesus. In other words, a revival occurs when we are drawn by the Holy Spirit back to our first love, Jesus. Revival always begins with a deep sense of conviction over sin and a desire to turn away from any habit or attitude that would be displeasing to Jesus. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “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 will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
I don’t know about you but over the last several weeks God has been dealing in my heart with some habits and attitudes that are sinful and displeasing to Jesus. My heart has been broken as God has revealed to me the depths of my depravity and the subtle ways in which my wicked and faithless heart will be carried away from Jesus by the allurements and enticements of this world. But as I have been preaching through Exodus over the last several weeks and spending time with God in my quiet times, He has been drawing me back to my “first love.” In the beginning this is a painful and difficult process. As God shows us the wickedness of our hearts we often recoil in shame and our pride rises up against the things of God. But if we will continue in prayer, if we let the Holy Spirit do His deep work in our lives, He will always bring us to Jesus. He will always bring us to the cross where our sins were pinned on the broken body of our savior and the wrath of God was poured out as He slaughtered His precious Son. At first, such language and such a horrible scene will turn our stomachs and offend our sensibilities. But as we linger on the thought, the glory of the cross begins to shine through the darkness and we begin to praise God for the price that was paid to bring us salvation. The more we gaze at the horrible, rough, brutal cross, the more beautiful it becomes. There, on that cross, the Son of God, died in agonizing pain to pay the ransom to set us free. When we think of the cross and all that Jesus did for us there, how can we do anything but cast ourselves at His feet and shout “Hallelujah, What A Savior!” When we look to the cross, all of that in this world seems to lose its pull on our hearts. When we look to the cross, all of the pleasures of this world and the enticements of sin lose their grip. When we look to the cross, we encounter a love goes beyond anything this world can ever comprehend. When we look to the cross, we see awfulness of our sin and the beauty of God’s grace and it drives us to praise. When we look at the cross, we see the hope of the nations and it drives us to be on mission. When we look at the cross, we see Jesus and it drives us to love Him more than anything or anyone in this world.
Brothers and Sisters, look to the cross. Look to the cross and live. Look to the cross and repent. Look to the cross and gain hope. Look to the cross and be revived. Pray with me everyday that God would grant us a new vision of the cross. In closing, I leave you with the words of my favorite hymn. I encourage you this week to reflect on these words and to pray for a new vision of the cross.
When I survey the wondrous cross,
on which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt, on all my pride.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’re such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.
Were the whole realm of nature min,
that were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.