Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dying for Revival

The 2012 U.S. Presidential Election is quickly approaching. This is NOT a political message. It is a call for Christians to define and live their faith. Most of the churches I’ve attended in the U.S. display two flags on the platform behind the pulpit. There is the American flag and the Christian flag. I have no doubt that everyone listening to this message knows the pledge of allegiance to the American flag, but I’m not as convinced we all know or agree on the pledge to the Christian flag.

According to what I found on the internet when I Googled “pledge to the Christian flag” there are three versions of the Christian pledge of allegiance. The pledge I learned as a child:

"I pledge allegiance to the Christian Flag and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands. One brotherhood, uniting all true Christians, in service and love."

The new more all inclusive version:

"I pledge allegiance to the Christian Flag and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands. One brotherhood, uniting all mankind, in service and love."

The version apparently for Home Schools:

"I pledge allegiance to the Christian Flag and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands. One Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty to all who believe."

If Christians cannot agree as to what and whom we are pledging our allegiance, how can we ever be an effective witness to the world? God has called True Christians to be living sacrifices, examples of His Love, His Grace, and His Compassion. Christ came to redeem All Mankind, but the brotherhood of believers is reserved for those who have accepted the gift of salvation and allowed the Holy Spirit to transform their lives. It is a choice we make in response to His sacrifice.

John 12:24 “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels — a plentiful harvest of new lives.” (NLT)

In this verse form the book of John, Jesus was speaking to His disciples about Himself, and yet it holds a truth for us today. Christians in Scripture have been described as wheat. Christian pretenders have been described as tares or weeds resembling wheat. Our effectiveness within “the Body of Christ” is dependent upon our willingness to die. Just as Christ’s death brought LIFE to all who believe our death reproduces His LIFE and increases our effectiveness in a plentiful harvest of new lives.

The title of this message is “Dying for Revival”. Let me assure you, we will not be serving any “Red Kool-aid” following the service. Anyone sitting close enough to my wife please lean over and tell her what that is referring to. If you are sitting by anyone too young to remember the event, please explain it to them.

The church needs a revival, and I for one am dying to experience a fresh move of God’s Spirit among us. Revival comes at a cost. In order for something to be revived it first has to die. I ask you tonight, “Where is your life?” Are you as I am “Dying for Revival”? According to Scripture, the wrath of God is coming as the result of sinful nature. The only way of escape is putting to death those desires in us. Each of us has been affected by sin. I cannot judge your sin and you cannot judge mine, neither can we kill those desires in each other. The hunger for revival and the actions required to put to death our sinful nature are exclusively individual. If we make the right choice we will experience the glory of God in our lives. If we make the wrong choice we will experience His wrath.

Colossians 3:4-6 “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.” (NIV)

America needs a Christian Awakening. The church needs a revival and the world needs to hear the message of salvation. The answer to ALL of those desperate needs begin with our individual willingness to “Put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature.”
Romans 8:12-14 “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (KJV)

Too often we are holding on to a lifestyle, keeping pace with a society that we owe no allegiance. The Bible clearly states: Following that path leads to destruction.  Being led by the Spirit of God brings us into relationship with Him as His children.

Wisdom, knowledge and understanding are gifts from God. They are granted to those willing to search for them. Lifting our voices to God, crying out for His plan and purposes, sitting aside our goals and ambitions, these are the steps that lead us down the road to revival. God’s wisdom is reserved for the upright – Not for those living by their own standard. God’s protection is reserved for those walking in integrity – Not for those twisting every situation to their advantage. God is guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones.

Proverbs 2:1-8 “My son, if you will receive my words And treasure my commandments within you, Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the Lord And discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones.” (NASB)

Do we qualify by His standard? Are we dying for revival?

Matthew 16:24-26 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also]. For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting]. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed life in the kingdom of God]? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] life [in the kingdom of God]?” (AMP)

Just the other day, Michele and I were talking about how comfortable our life was when we were both working full time. She was teaching at a local High School and I was teaching at a Middle School. We did not have to worry about finances. We knew what was coming in and the only rule was: Don’t spend it all!

Since I left my job in search of ministry opportunities money has been tighter, but the blessings God provides far outweigh the sacrifice. I’ll admit at times I am tempted to think I’ve given up more than I’ve gained, but these words draw me back. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed life in the kingdom of God]?”

Are we dying for revival or are we laboring in vain? I’m closing with this passage from Psalm 127. You see, when I was in college I literally applied these verses to my life. I was not a very good student. I hated to read. When I told this to Michele she could not believe I actually did this but every word is true.

I would read my text books until I could not stand it any longer. I’d lay them on my chest and ask God to give me what I didn’t have. “For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.”  Then I would get up in the morning go to class and never get below a B+ on an exam.

Psalm 127:1-2 “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.” (NASB)

What I am saying is this, the more literally you take the promises in God’s Word, the more powerfully He will respond to your need. I cannot tell you how many of my best sermons have been the result of sleep and I’ll leave it to you to decide if this is one of them.

Are you dying for revival?

Do you believe God’s promises?

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