Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Meaning of Revival

The Meaning of Revival

 Have you ever stopped to think what revival is? Viv words are life-related. Vivid means “full of life.” A vivacious person is someone who’s energetic and lively. So with –viv- at the heart of revival, we know its meaning is life-related. The prefix re – adds “again”  to the mix. If a person faints, we hope he or she can quickly be revived. The same is true when someone’s spiritual life is faint. Unfortunately, lack of spiritual life can be hidden for awhile. If we were to know, we would want that person to return to spiritual health and vitality because the longer in that state, the harder to revive. The suffix – al means “that which pertains to.” So the word revival is literally, “that which pertains to life coming back again.” It is reviving the living. So revival is for believers. Now, I have been a part of revivals where people have come to know Jesus Christ for the first time. New life begins to course through their veins. That alone can start a revival among believers.

Revival is just what David is asking for in Psalm 51. After a tragic spiritual fall, he longs for his former closeness to the Lord. “Have mercy on me, O God,” he pleads (verse 1). God does just that. He has mercy on David and brings new life in him. A proper understanding of revival makes it attainable for everyone. It first begins with the individual and spreads to the family, the church, the community, and then to the nation. What David experienced by his spiritual life being restored is something God desires for all of us.

God wants life in its fullness to be experienced on a grand scale. For instance, in Ezekiel 37 the Lord tries to open his prophet’s mind to the passion he has for revival among his people, the Israelites. To do this God takes Ezekiel to a most unlikely place – a valley of dry bones: “He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I said, ‘O, Sovereign Lord, you alone know,’ then He said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! … I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life’” (verses 3-5).

You know the song, “The thigh bone's connected to the hip bone” and so on. Now I have that song going through your head. The point is that God did want to see revival in Israel, as He desires to see it in our church, our community, and our whole country. We don’t need to be convinced that we desperately need revival at every level. But it must first begin with the individual. We are accountable for our relationship with Jesus Christ. How invigorating it is to know that we can personally experience “life coming back again,” even if things around us are far from it. But oh, let me tell you, people will take notice. The things around you will eventually change or you will change the things that are around you. I am not talking about families breaking up. I am talking about habits, and some friendships that have dragged you down, will change or disappear. In order to sustain life, you have to be around things that will help you to grow daily in the Word and increase your faith in God. Your desires will change and you won’t want to do the same things you did before.

Read Ezekiel 37 and Psalm 51. Picture God’s desire for David and Israel as the same picture He wants for you and this generation. Read it over several times and allow the Holy Spirit to speak into your life.

Raymond Edman, a pastor in Pasadena, California, said over 40 years ago, “It is one thing to wish for revival, and yet it is something in addition to be willing for revival at any cost to come in any way through any means that God may choose.” Would you pay the price and set aside time to pray for revival with your church family? Starting Sunday, October 12, we will begin 7 days of prayer and fasting for revival. You have the choice to come to the church between 6-7 a.m. or 6-7 p.m. You can attend one or both each day. We will gather together to pray for revival to fall on our families, our church, and our nation. It only takes a spark to start a fire. Revival will come if we seek the heart of God together. Will you seek the manifest presence of God with me?

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Revival Spilling Out

Revival Spilling Out

Have you ever felt as though you were the only Christian in your workplace? Are people so faith inclusive that they bought into the lie that there are many ways to God? They say, “just be sincere in what you believe.” I know some people who are sincerely wrong. There’s only one way to God and it is through Jesus. Peter says in Acts that Jesus is the cornerstone. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). That settles it for me. There is only one way to heaven. No matter how much tension you may feel from others, it doesn’t change the fact that God may use an encounter you have to turn someone toward Him.

I think Noah knew what it was like having people look at you strangely when he was building the ark in preparation for the flood that destroyed the earth (Genesis 6:1-22). Even though he was in another time period and culture, people have a way of drifting away from God’s ways. In Genesis 9:20, Noah is called, “a man of the soil.” Perhaps he was a farmer instead of a shipbuilder. Whatever he was, we know that when God calls you to a certain task, He will empower you to complete it. The fact that he was building an ark made it virtually impossible for him to be a silent witness.

Do you know that when revival touches the church it’s not long before there’s a spillover into the home life and workplace? The Holy Spirit affects how people act on Sunday in church as well as Monday through Saturday at home or the job. In his book Ablaze with His Glory, Del Fehsenfeld, Jr., includes this report from a pastor whose church was powerfully touched by the presence of the Lord: “Revival has come to salesmen, printers, store managers, preachers, and church leaders, secretaries, schoolteachers, computer experts, nurses, dentists, doctors, veterinarians, bricklayers, housewives, CPAs, postal workers, electrical contractors, military personnel, beauty operators, counselors, students from grade school through graduate school, and on and on. These have been broken before the Lord, have confessed their sins, and are experiencing the continuing joy of forgiveness and an obedient life. They are reaching out in love to each other and to others in and out of the church.”

We have a revival scheduled for Sunday, October 19-22. We call it a revival but we all know that you cannot put revival on the calendar from an experience point of view. Some may say it is an opportunity to set aside time for exponential spiritual growth. I am excited for what God is doing in and around our church. I am even more excited because I believe there is more to come. For the next several weeks, I want to focus on different aspects of revival, the outflow of what happens, and look at revivals in history that swept across our nation and are still producing fruit. Would you join me in this journey of pulling all stops out and praying for a revival to move through our church and into our neighborhoods and workplaces?

On Sunday, we will be bringing in new members and continuing our series on, “Fresh Faith.” Make a difference today where God leads you.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

God's Church (And Our 4 Objectives)

God's Church

 This past weekend we had a board retreat. It was held here, at the church, and we looked at the wonderful things God was doing in and through our church. There are so many God-led stories in our church. I have really enjoyed hearing the stories of our people in our ConneXions tour, held every other month. God is bringing many faith journeys together to make an impact in our community. We want to be a simple people who are all about the Father’s business of reaching the lost. I am so glad to serve the Lord at such an awesome church with a unified leadership and congregation.

While being a people of prayer and truth, we have set out 4 objectives to work on in this year ahead. Let me share briefly what they are:

1. Create Irresistible Ministry Environments
We want to evaluate our facility and our ministries and be more intentional at doing everything with excellence. From our greeters to our classrooms, we want to prepare people for a move of God to be fluent every day. This will create an environment people can know God more and not deal with distractions.

2. Expand Ministry Involvement
Improving the way we go about sharing ministry needs and opportunities for people to serve along side of each other. Developing leaders, helping people to find their strengths, and giving people an avenue to make a difference are just a few of the things we will be focusing on.

3. Work on the Discipleship Process
We want a grace filled place where people can come to know the Lord, new believers can be discipled, and mature believers can continue to grow in their faith. This spiritual formation has to be simple and clear. It is our responsibility as a church to create a culture of Spirit-filled living.

4. Continue to Expand our Ministry in the Community
We don’t ever want to be complacent of the needs around us. As we continue to be generous and look for opportunities to meet physical and spiritual needs, we will be mobilizing our efforts to be a missional people by being a visible light in this dark world.

God is moving, people are growing, and lives are being changed. Jesus’ last commission to the disciples is found in Matthew 28:18-20. “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We need to live this out.

In the book of Acts before Jesus ascended to heaven, He promised the gift of the Holy Spirit. He said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Not only has God called us to make disciples, He has promised to personally live in us through His Holy Spirit. That same authority Jesus was given, now resides in us.

Let’s keep inviting our family, friends, and neighbors to come and be filled with the presence of God in order to make a difference in this dark hour. Just spending a few minutes watching the news is enough to know that our world needs a miracle of God in all things.

On Sunday we will be looking at what we need to do to revive our faith. We all need a Fresh Faith. My prayer is that people will not wait for the National Back to Church Sunday onSeptember 21, but that every Sunday people will feel welcome to come.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Obedience Through Suffering

Obedience Through Suffering

Hebrews 5:7-8
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. 8Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what He suffered…”

Did you see the deeper truth in these verses? First, Jesus provides a clear example of what a man of prayer is. He not only prayed, He prayed with passion and reverence. Verse 7 tells us that He prayed with such intensity that His prayers included loud cries and literal tears. That is intense.

In Luke 22 it says that Jesus prayed so hard that He sweat drops of blood. I can’t think of anything more intense.

But quite frankly, that doesn’t shock me from Jesus. He is all God and all man. He came to save the world and be a mediator between God and mankind. That needs intensity and reverence. So that is not shocking at all. The fact that God heard His prayer is not surprising. Jesus is praying to the One who is able to save Him from death. Here is the big surprise – although God heard His prayer, He waited!

Jesus, God’s one and only Son, still had to endure suffering and death even though God heard His prayer. Look at verse 8 again. “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered”(Hebrews 5:8). That is crucial to know as a follower of Christ. By God’s power, Jesus rose from the grave and lives today. God saved His Son from death. Where, oh death is your sting? However, He did it after death. It wasn’t before the betrayal, the mocking, the suffering; it was after all of those trials.

Do you understand what that means for us? The reality is that God may hear our prayers, and He may still ask us to endure suffering in obedience. He did that with Jesus, why not us?

This changes the way I look at prayer, suffering, and even answers to prayer. The big question we have to face is simply, “Are you willing to learn obedience through suffering?” Is your prayer life marked with the kind of reverence that means you will do whatever He asks? What if God doesn’t answer your prayer the way you want Him to?

This really puts a new light on Hebrews 4:14-16. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Receiving mercy and finding grace to help us in our time of need does not always mean that you will not have hardship or avoid suffering. It does mean that His power and presence are made perfect in our weakness, and we can endure anything in obedience – by His power.

Starting this Sunday, I will begin a new series entitled, “Fresh Faith.” We will look at the story of Joshua facing the walls of Jericho. Bring your story to church and let God fill it with His faith as we look at His Word.  Begin today and ask the Lord to give you a fresh faith that is willing to do anything He calls you to do without complaining.

May you glorify the Lord in your day no matter what circumstance you find yourself in. He will make a way for you to live above the trials and through the victory, one decision at a time.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike