Friday, January 24, 2014

Three Signs Personal Revival is Needed

Here are 3 signs that personal revival is needed:

1) You struggle to be merciful and forgiving toward others.

2) You cannot be still in silence or solitude.

3) You do not want to be with other followers of Jesus.

A bit of an explanation and some remedies:

#1: If you are harboring anger or resentment toward another person, it is because you feel they owe you something. It may be as simple as an apology or as serious as a prison sentence. Regardless, this sense of "deserving justice" reveals that in your own heart you believe you are worthy of due payment. 
     On the contrary, the person in a vibrant walk with Jesus Christ doesn't feel like they deserve a thing. Instead, their heart is overwhelmed at two things: (1) The ugliness of their many sins and (2) The extravagance of God's free grace. We accept our poverty of spirit as something we deserve, and yet marvel that God would fill us with the treasures of His grace. The result of this is not a sense of others owing us, but rather as Romans 13 describes, we respond by paying what we owe: the obligation to love one another. We possess the treasury of forgiveness and can freely dispense it to others. We see the multitude of our sins and see ourselves as the chief of sinners. Others' sins pale in comparison to our heinous actions before a Holy God. 
    If you are struggling with mercy and forgiveness, take inventory of your own soul before a Holy God. Which of the commandments have you disobeyed (hint: it's most/all of them)? What would you owe God apart from Jesus' payment on the Cross? Then pray for and receive God's grace. May this grace revive your heart to forgive whoever has a much smaller debt against you than you ever did before the LORD.

#2: If you cannot turn your phone off, avoid social media for a few days, or allow an hour or two each day with no music, movies, or gadgets, freedom is needed. You are enslaved to relationships. You are dependent on distraction. Most likely, this means your own heart is empty, depleted, and dry. 
    The remedy, according to John 4 (which is a tale of a needy woman who needed a man to be satisfied), is to have a fresh encounter with Jesus. Find a place where no-one else is around. Listen again to His voice (the Word of God). Believe once again that he alone is the spring of living water that satisfies the soul. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill the emptiness. Pray that the Father would remind you of his tender mercy. And here's the kicker, keep the gadgets away until you experience the peace that passes understanding. It may be hours before you can detox from the frenzy, but Christ is worthy of our devotion. We either believe Christ is sufficient or we believe something else is. One response brings salvation, the other, death.

#3: If you dislike worshipping with other Christians, constantly prefer any activity besides Bible study, or have 10 reasons why non-Christians are better to hang with than Christ-followers, something is wrong with you (not them). Because I already know (and so do you) that every Christian is a sinner. Every Christian is a hypocrite at some point during the day. Every Christian will hurt you and fail you in some way. BUT (and notice that it was a big but), only Christians will help you keep Christ at the center of your life. Only Christians will say Jesus Christ is the due north that guides all our travels. When you are ready to roll with those who won't challenge you to run after Jesus, you are in need of revival.
   The remedy probably starts with 2 things. First, you will probably need to identify how other Christians have failed you and sinned against you. Then you'll need to work toward forgiveness (see #1 for help there). Second, you'll need to probably confess your own sins. When I've struggled with this sort of thing, I've often discovered an unforgiving spirit, pride and judgmentalism to be the leading culprits. I confess  my sin before God, and then ask the Holy Spirit to give me a deep love for fellow sinners/saints who He has put in my life and church to help me become more like Jesus. The love that is called for in 1 Corinthians 13 is the kind of love the occurs when I'm dealing with difficult and sinful people. Thanks be to God, I can love because Christ first loved me.
   And one bonus idea...the goal of life is not to be happy and free from pain. Rather, the goal is conformity to Christ in Word and Deed. Suffering (even at the hands of Christians) is God's school for transformation...even Christ learned obedience through what he suffered (and often through those fellow believers who said they loved him and would never leave him). Like Paul in Philippians 3, may the Spirit move us to want to know Christ even through the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings. All efforts at love and obedience will be rewarded at the resurrection.

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