Wednesday, June 15, 2016

So What's the Problem?

It was a crisp, clear January day in 1977.  My father, who had suffered a heart attack on January 6, had finally been moved from the ICU to a private room.  His first request was a haircut. Just before his barber came in, the doctors stopped by, gave him a quick check and said that everything was progressing favorably.  Shortly after the barber started, my father slumped over in the chair in cardiac arrest.  

My sister alerted the doctor and nursing staff, who responded to find my father blue and unresponsive.  No pulse, no respiration, no sign of life until . . . CPR was administered until a defibrillator was brought in.  With one shock from the paddles, there it was.  A cough, a gurgle, and suddenly, my father was alive again.  It was there that I first grasped the concept of revival.  From listlessness to lifelessness to LIFE because of an external force.  

Alive Again!! That's what it means to be ReVived.  The church of Sardis, found in Revelation 3, was a church with a rich, productive past.  But when Jesus addressed them in Revelation 3, their present was characterized by a listless, lifeless faith. Jesus' words were:  You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead . . ." Some might consider this a eulogy, but it was not. Indeed, it was an invitation to Revival!  Certainly if we or any church are to offer eternal, abundant life to those who are dead in sin, we must be alive and healthy.  

If Jesus' message to Sardis warns us of anything, it is a warning against looking to past glory and victories while neglecting the needs and opportunities of the present.  Far too many individuals and churches fall into the pattern of those who, as Paul wrote, ". . . hold to a form of godliness while denying its power." (2 Timothy 3:5)   Spiritual lethargy is often masked with religious activity.  Adequate attendance and offerings keep us comfortable and, as long as there is no major conflict looming on the horizon, we feel pretty good about things.  

But here is the problem.  A comfortable church is the equivalent to a spiritual couch potato.  Unwilling to experience the comfort and pain of an exercised faith and spiritual growth, we develop a survival mindset instead.  We avoid risks at all costs, we claim possession of what Jesus purchased with His own blood, and we expend our energy just trying to hold on to what we have.  The result is spiritual stagnation and ultimately death.  

What's the answer?   Revival!  But in order to be revived, we must be willing to admit that our health might not be good.  We must admit that we're on a course that is leading toward an ultimate death.  God described it in 2 Chronicles 7:14 as humbling ourselves.  Notice in that verse that the onus for revival is on US.  We must Humble Ourselves, Pray, Seek God's ways, and Turn from Our Wicked Ways.   God waits with great desire to give us Revival.  Perhaps we're just not desperate enough yet.   Leonard Ravenhill is credited as saying "The only reason God has not given us revival is because we're willing to live without it." Sad.  

Now I know the context of these verses.  I know that God spoke these words to Solomon for the nation of Israel at the dedication of the Temple.  But, are they not applicable for us today?  Hear them again.  Read them aloud.  "If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.  My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to every prayer made in this place."  

Sounds like HE might still be waiting to hear . . . from me and from you.

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