SERMON: ANTICIPATING REVIVAL (8.22.21)
We believe that the Holy Spirit is calling us to join other local churches to participate in a revival in our community. But what is revival?
-In revival, God does a fresh work among believers who have grown weary through sin or neglect.
-Revival is an extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit which results in extraordinary results.
-Revival is for God’s people when they need to be forgiven and restored to life with a strengthened spirituality and vitality.
Isaiah 40:10-12 and 26
You might think it strange that in our first discussion about revival we start with the very first creation verses in the Bible. I thought so, too, before I started preparation for this week’s message. But there are three reasons to start here:
-God created a wonderful place called earth that lacked sin.
-The Holy Spirit was there from the beginning, helping organize the chaos.
-The emphasis is on the word “light,” which is used four times in only four verses.
Revival is about restoring God’s kingdom on Earth as it was at the beginning. God transformed Earth by introducing human life. He created us in his image for two reasons: to worship him and to be good stewards of his creation. To start revival, we must remember how important it was for God to transform his beautiful world with people who he would use to transform it further. That’s the mission for his children. So, revival is about transformation and restoration of God’s earthly kingdom.
Revival is also about light—bringing more of God’s light into this world through repentance, prayer, and by inviting the Holy Spirit to join us and to do extraordinary things which will help strengthen and restore God’s children. We need to recall that it is only God’s light which dispels spiritual darkness. God invites us to live in the fullness of His glory and light where we can flourish, multiply, and most importantly, bring hope to a dark world.
Starting a journey toward revival means preparing the way for the Holy Spirit to act. Preparation is always important when we have “big plans,” but preparation is exactly what Jesus did before he re-entered Jerusalem for his last three physical days on Earth.
When we start a journey toward revival, we are anticipating future events we read in Revelation 5:11-12:
11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
This passage from John captures some of the majesty and glory of heaven. Who is worthy to step forward and break the seals and read the scrolls? Jesus steps forward as the only one worthy to bring about God’s plan for the end days. Jesus reigns with power, wisdom, strength, honor, and glory. He is the only one worthy of our praise, and revival is one way to invite him to reign today.
Anticipating revival also means inviting the Holy Spirit to join us in a powerful way. In 2 Corinthians 2: 4 we read that it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Try as hard as we might to invite Jesus’ reign, we need the Holy Spirit as a guarantee. Notice that word “guarantee.” A guarantee is an agreement between two parties (think one party is God and you are the other party), that promises the possession and enjoyment of something. God has promised us a place in his eternal kingdom and has guaranteed that through the presence and work of the Holy Spirit!
When you think about it that way, you should realize just how much God loves and treasures each one of us. No matter how much we let our faith lapse or to grow stale, God’s promise remains in place. And he guarantees the result, and he gives us his resource (the Holy Spirit) to make it happen!
As we prepare for the Holy Spirit’s special visit by committing to revival, we are doing what Christians have done for centuries. A faith community takes the initiative to invite the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit comes and manifests his presence in ways no one could do themselves or even understand, and the small fire of faith is relit and flames brightly.
God’s light comes back into this world, and the Holy Spirit takes the flames of revival to greater heights.
Our role is to pray, to trust, to listen, to anticipate with expectations, and to obey God’s plan for revival for our community. Now is the time for us to bring God’s light into a community which has become too dark.
Anticipation is a prominent theme in the Bible. The Jews wait in anticipation for the return of the Messiah. Noah waits in anticipation for the waters to reside.
Psalm 27:14 says:
Wait[a] on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!
Isaiah 30:18 says:
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore, he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
Revival is God’s desire. Revival happens when we obey God’s plan and recognize our need for revitalized spirituality. We wait in solemn prayer for your Holy Spirit to join us!
As we anticipate and pray for revival, here’s a prayer by Norman Motley, an Anglican priest, which can be a guide:
“We seek not to supply the Holy Spirit with a timetable and a specification of what we require. He has a way of dealing with such impudence, and invariably has the last laugh. What, then, are to be our priorities? To be available. To be accepting without being sentimental. The demands made upon us are only possible to meet if matched by openness to the Spirit. In the power of the Spirit, therefore, we make ourselves available. We are prepared to be vulnerable, to be sensitive enough to try to protect others who may not understand what we understand, and to be willing to spend and be spent in the service of Christ the King.”
Father, we thank you for this world, for your light, and for your grace and faithfulness in us. We try to show you how much we love you, and we await with prayer and urgent anticipation the visit of the Holy Spirit as we pray for the spiritual revival of our community.
Please consider this question as you pray this week:
-Father, please share your plan for revival in our community so we know exactly what you want and so that we can be obedient servants.