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Revival and The Heart of the Matter

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Revival and The Heart of the Matter

 

1Corinthians 5: 6-8 Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

 

 

The modern Pentecostal Church has always been enamored with the notion of revival. We have always sought out revival in one form or another. Visiting tent meetings and holding prayer vigils as we desperately seek the face of God to make things right again. The dictionary defines revival as, " an awakening, in a church or community, of interest in and care for matters relating to personal religion. I had a Pastor once preach that if we could ever keep things right, we wouldn't need revival. In order to need an awakening, we must have somehow allowed ourselves to slumber when we should be awake.

 

But revival is not the heart of the matter. It is the need. You get to revival and closer to the heart of the matter through repentance. The key fact we always need to remember about repentance is that it always starts with me. "Me" meaning that we all are in need of repentance. Paul teaches in Romans 3 that none are good, no not even one. All have turned from God. But it is always easier in the church to look at someone else and say they need repentance. It is always easier to look at those in the world and say they need repentance. The hard reality is that whenever we are looking at someone else's need for repentance it is probably because we don't want to look at our own. When we are quick to diagnose sin in some else's life it is probably because we don't want to look at our own sin. Instead of being introspective we become outwardly focused. Instead of doing the right things, we merely say the right things. Sometimes the church gets pretty good at talking the talk but not so good at walking the walk. Even all the way up to leadership. At the end of the day, Elder or congregant, we stand the same before a holy God. We both have to answer for our sins and every careless word spoken. Preacher and lay-person alike. Standing piously over someone else to pray when there are unresolved and un-repented issues in our hearts is not lost on God. Fervently worshipping and making a show of public prayer or worship while there are unresolved and un-repented issues in our hearts is also not lost on God. In the days of the Prophet Malachi, Israel had become good at talking the talk. Malachi delivers a hard message:

You have wearied the LORD with your words. "How have we wearied him?" you ask. By saying, "All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them" or "Where is the God of justice?" - Malachi 2: 17 (NIV)

The Bible says to not call good evil. The Prophet here is saying that what we say is not nearly as important as what we do and what we are. When we clap each other on the back for our fine works and declare that God is pleased when there is still sin in the camp, we weary God with our words. When you cry out for justice while living unjustly towards others, God understands the hypocrisy we fail to see. We should not be so swift to ask where the God of justice is because we may not like the answer!

Repentance means that we must turn away from the sin that separates us from God. We all claim to want to seek the face of God. To walk in His power. To be showered by His blessings. Well here is the harsh reality for us today. None of that is possible if we are separated from Him! And sin is what separates us. The Prophet Ezekiel defines it for us:

But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die. All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done. "Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign L ord . Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. Ezekiel 18: 21-23 (NLT)

God wants us to live! He wants us to walk in His power! He wants us to be under His blessings! But a holy God cannot commune with sin. It must be repented of. That secret hurt you carry. That angst you hold against a brother of sister. You unforgiveness, jealousy, or hatred. What you know you did wrong and never confessed. It all separates us from God. Repentance is about turning from what separates us and back to the God that always forgives. The answer is repentance and it must always start with me.

But that is not the heart of the matter either. Revival is the need and repentance is the way. But at the heart of the matter is the cause. Too often we prefer to deal with the symptoms as opposed the disease. It is a subject that is not discussed much anymore in modern Pentecostal circles. Churches tend to shy away from discussing it because it isn't very seeker-friendly. The heart of the matter always has been and always will be sin. The three letter word that no one wants to talk about because it hits too close to home. Because it reveals who we truly are. In the dark, when no one else is around. Who we are when temptation comes across our desk at work or across our computer screen at home. Proverbs teaches us why revival will not work without confession of sin:

When the godly succeed, everyone is glad. When the wicked take charge, people go into hiding. People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Proverbs 28: 12-13 (NLT)

Revival is prosperous by definition. We cannot expect to be prosperous or see revival if there is still sin that is concealed. The Book of Joshua details a great many victories the Israelites enjoyed when they finally came into the land promised by God. Those victories were secured through God and by obeying God. Similarly, when we find ourselves lined up correctly with His will and obeying His Word, we too will experience great victories in our lives and in the life of the church. Revival will not even be necessary because we will have no need to be awakened. The great walls that block our prosperity and progression in Christ will fall with nothing more than a shout, like the walls of Jericho fell before an obedient Joshua. But when there is sin in the camp...

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
 
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