Renewing Our Commitment!

-Our Entire City Needs Revival!

In preparation for a meeting, in a large city, Evangelist Billy Sunday wrote a letter to the mayor, of that city, and asked him for the names of various individuals that he could pray for that needed spiritual revival. The mayor surprised Mr. Sunday by sending him a city phone book!  “Our entire city needs revival,” he told him.  And, so does ours! And, so does yours! Every day I need God to revive my heart; because, left to my natural tendencies, in my flesh, I will choose the path of least resistance spiritually! I will remain apathetic! And, be honest with me— so will you, right? We all need a fresh outpouring, of God’s Holy Spirit, every day!

-Remove The Spiritual Indifference!

That’s revival! We need God to revive us daily, by removing our spiritual indifference & renewing our commitment to live for Him! Only as God revives us will we willingly rebuke ourselves— and, beat our chests in repentance— over our indifference toward God & His Word! Only then will we renew our commitment to crucify self daily & offer ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice. In 2 Kings, chapters 22-23, we find that nation of Israel in a really bad place spiritually. They’ve drifted far away from the Lord God. They’ve given themselves over to idolatry & the worship of vile, heathen gods! They’re stuck in a deep sinful hole & they’ve been warned multiple times, by various prophets of God, that they were in danger of the imminent judgment of God!

-An 8-Year Old King!

And, it’s with that background that we’re introduced to an 8-year old boy, named Josiah, who becomes king of Judah. Scripture says he “…was eight years old when he became king and reigned 31 years in Jerusalem… He did what was right in the Lord’s sight and walked in all the ways of his ancestor David; he did not turn to the right or the left” 2 Kings 22:1,2.  And, there’s a great verse of Scripture, in 2 Chronicles 34:3 that parallels the story of King Josiah, here in 2 Kings. It says, “In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still a youth, Josiah began to seek the God of his ancestor David, and in the twelfth year he began to cleanse Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherah poles, the carved images, and the cast images.” I hope you can get a picture, in your mind, of what’s going on there; because, this was a GOD thing! In the 8th year, of his reign, while he was still a youth, he “…began to SEEK God…” He was 16 years old! And, in his 12th year, at age 20, he began to “clean house.” Please take that to heart if you’re a high school student or young adult! You can make a difference, in this world, for the Lord!

-Difference Makers!

We desperately need young leaders— both in the church & in the world— who will take their faith very seriously! Who will be intentional about reading & studying the Scriptures! Who will be intentional about prayer! And, about making disciples! And, for those of us, who belong to an older generation, let’s not be too harsh or quick to judge the younger generations! Let’s humble ourselves & admit that much of the Church, that we’ve led, is a mess! It’s a far cry from what Jesus intended for us to be! Let’s listen to those who are younger! Let’s dialogue with them so that together we can seek God’s help in correcting the mess we’ve made of Jesus’ Church! That was King Josiah’s dilemma! He was 8 years old & he inherited a nation the older generations had messed up! So, he sought the Lord God for help to lead a nation to revival!

Signs Of Revival!

-A Shipwrecked Man!

The story is told of a shipwrecked man who somehow managed to reach a small, uninhabited island. To protect himself from the elements & to safeguard the few possessions he had managed to salvage, from the wreckage of his boat, he builds a small hut from which he constantly scanned the horizon, looking for a ship that might pass by and rescue him. One day, after searching for food on the other side of the island, he returned to find his little hut completely engulfed in flames! Nearly everything he had left had perished inside of it! Devastated, his sorrow was turned to joy the next day when he awoke to find a small ship anchored off the island! When the captain came ashore, he told the man, “We saw your smoke signal & came to help!”

-Loss Leads To Rescue!

Ironically, it was the destruction of everything that the marooned man had left that led to his rescue! And, after the fact, he gladly gave up all his stuff in order to be saved from his plight! That story, in many ways, illustrates what it feels like when you’ve experienced a spiritual revival in your life. Like that man, you think you’ll lose some things, that have become precious to you if you agree to give up control & give it all to God.  But, in reality, holding onto all those things, that keep you from giving your life in total to God, has left you shipwrecked, marooned & impoverished. Spiritual revival is different from salvation! Salvation is to make someone alive who was dead, spiritually! That’s what God does, for us, when He saves us! We were “…dead in our trespasses & sins…” Ephesians 2:1-3.  But, God makes us alive when we admit our sinful brokenness & trust Jesus’ work on the cross to save us. If you made that decision, you probably still remember how alive you felt at that moment.

-Have You Lost Your 1st Love?

Over time, however, you may have lost that “1st Love”— to use the phrase, from Revelation, that described a backslidden church (Rev. 2:1-7).  Perhaps you were once on fire for Jesus! He was you “1st Love.” But, other things— perhaps college & careers & marriage & kids & houses & stuff—began to crowd Jesus out of that 1st place position, in your life, that He once held! So, you live with a divided heart & divided loyalties! The vibrant life you first experienced has been replaced with a sort of “dullness” toward spiritual things that you were once “alive” over! If that describes you then you are in need of REVIVAL! You need to be “restored” to the spiritual fervor you previously enjoyed! You need to be REVIVED spiritually!

-Revivals Are Nothing New!

Revivals are not a new thing! Because God’s people have always been prone to backslide in their faith— dating back to the Israelites under Moses; to, the times of the judges and the kings; and, to the Church today— God has found it necessary to bring revival to His people! We are sinfully depraved & broken & incapable of doing God’s work without the help of His indwelling Holy Spirit! We regularly need His reviving work in our hearts! All of us! We all need a fresh outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit! Daily! We need God to revive us by removing our spiritual indifference & renewing our commitment to live only for Him! Only as God revives us will we willingly rebuke ourselves; and, beat our chests in repentance over our indifference toward God & His Word! Only then will we renew our commitment to crucify ourselves daily & offer ourselves to God as a “living sacrifice” Romans 12:1-2. We’ll say more about this next week!

When Someone Curses You!

-Discerning God’s Work In Our Lives!

Over the last few posts, I’ve commented on the difficulty we have of identifying; or, discerning when & where God is at work in our lives! We struggle to see Him behind the difficult & painful experiences of life! But, God does, in fact, use those experiences to grow us and sanctify us! In fact, God may use someone’s cruel words to humble us! That’s the main point of this post! Perhaps you recall that when King David’s son, Absalom, betrayed him, David was forced to run for his life. As David; and, all of those who remained loyal to him, were fleeing the city, they came to this place where there was a hill above them! And, up on that hill, a man named Shimei began to curse David!

-David’s Response To Being Cursed!

Shimei was from the family of Saul & he must have believed some conspiracy theory that David was responsible for King Saul’s death; because, he throws stones at him! I love the loyalty of Abishai, one of King David’s men, when he asked David permission:  “My lord, the king, let me go cut off his head” (1 Samuel 16:9). And, clearly, David would have been within his rights, as king, to have Shimei executed because it was a capital offense to curse the king! But, David shows restraint! He shows great humility:  “The king said, ‘If he is cursing because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?” (v.10). 

-Does God Use The Cursing Of Others?

It seems that David is thinking more about the wrong he had done to others (his sexual sin with Bathsheba & his murder of her husband) than the wrong that Shimei was doing to him.  “Don’t touch him,” David says to Abishai, “Don’t cut off his head! It may be that God has sent him to remind me of my sin.” So, how do you respond when someone curses you or speaks cruel words to you? Do you return evil for evil? Or, do you recognize it as God’s work in your life? Will you humble yourself & ask God to show you if there’s any truth to your opponents words?

-The Mysterious Way God Works!

If there is anything to be learned from this whole story— of Absalom’s & of David’s running for his life— it’s that God often works in mysterious ways! Not just in our lives; but, through the “events” that become part of the story of our lives! There’s another gem, to uncover, in this miniseries! What we see is that God sometimes uses someone’s wise counsel against them! But, how can that happen? It can happen only by the providential hand of God! Ahithophel had been one of David’s trusted counselors!

-Confidence In God’s Sovereignty!

But, he had swung his allegiance to Absalom against David. In an interesting side story, his betrayal came most likely because he was Bathsheba’s grandfather; so, he had observed David’s sin. He had reason to be bitter! He had observed David’s abuse of power & when he had the occasion to turn against him, that’s exactly what he did! And, when Ahithophel spoke, it was as though God was speaking (v.23). In ch.17, he gave Absalom a sound military strategy to defeat David. But, in God’s Sovereignty, Absalom rejected it & accepted the counsel of another! “Since the Lord had decreed that Ahithophel’s good advice be undermined in order to bring about Absalom’s ruin, Absalom and all the men of Israel said, ‘The advice of Hushai the Archite is better than Ahithophel’s advice.’” (v.14) God is Sovereign! He is in control of the affairs of your life; so, if you find yourself on the run, like David, trust God’s plan even if it seems unorthodox.