Yearning For The Holy Spirit To Move In A New Way

As I have pointed out in a couple previous posts (HERE and HERE), preaching from the book of Jonah has me contemplating the idea of revival in our day and time. It’s not hard to understand why when you read this from Jonah 3:1-5:

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

The incredibly wicked city of Nineveh heard the Word of the Lord, and immediately confessed their sin and turned to God. Amazing. It makes me wonder, could it happen today? In his excellent book, “Revival”, Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out that there are some obstacles that must be overcome if there is going to be revival today. He writes this:

And we, too, must become aware of that, we have got to feel it until we become desperate. We must ask ourselves how we can succeed if we do not have this authority, this commission, this might, this strength and power. We must become utterly and absolutely convinced of our need. We must cease to have so much confidence in ourselves, and in our methods and organisations, and in all our slickness. We have got to realize that we must be filled with God’s Spirit. And we must be equally certain that God can fill us with the Spirit. We have got to realize that however great ‘this kind’ is, the power of God is infinitely greater, that what we need is not more knowledge, more understanding, more apologetics, more reconciliation of philosophy and science and religion, and all modern techniques-no, we need a power that can enter the souls of men and break them and smash them and humble them and then make them anew. And that is the power of the living God. And we must be confident that God has this power as much today as he had one hundred years ago, and two hundred years ago, and so we must begin to seek the power and to pray for it. We must begin to plead and year for it. ‘This kind’ needs prayer.

It is so easy, such a seductive trap, to think that our strategies, or our “slickness,” is what matters when it comes to building the church and making a difference in this world. It reminds me of what we find in the first chapter of Acts, “And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Let me summarize these verses, “don’t launch your church plant, don’t hold a Bible study, don’t do anything or go anywhere until the Spirit of God is empowering you. How many times do we run out in front of God and his Holy Spirit thinking that in our own power we can get things done? Strategies, systems, and plans have their place but for anything meaningful to happen we need to once again experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our midst.

Are you yearning for the Holy Spirit to work in you, your family, your church, and your city in a new way?

Will you join me in praying for a fresh work of the Spirit?

Featured picture is “Pentecost” by Jean II Restout (1692-1768)

We want revival, not brokenness

“Revival is the visitation of God which brings to life Christians who have been sleeping and restores a deep sense of God’s near presence and holiness. Thence springs a vivid sense of sin and a profound exercise of heart in repentance, praise, and love, with an evangelistic outflow.” -J.I. Packer

I recently began preaching through the book of Jonah. The fact that the entire city of Nineveh repented and turned to God got me thinking about revival. So I did what I normally do, I purchased some books so that I could explore this topic in greater detail. You can find the two books I have been reading HERE and HERE. During my study one of the things that I kept coming back to is that for revival to happen it is going to require brokenness among God’s people.

It was while I was praying about revival that I came to this sobering conclusion; I like the idea of revival but not so much the idea of brokenness. Revival means the Spirit of God is at work. Christians are having their love for Christ renewed and unbelievers are coming to know Christ for the first time. I genuinely long to see this happen here in Watertown, South Dakota.

Unfortunately, I am much less interested in the personal brokenness part.

Brokenness means admitting and repenting of my sin.  Brokenness involves my bloody death and my flesh resists this at every turn. It also means allowing my mind to think through the horrifying reality that there are countless numbers of people who are headed for an eternal hell.

The reluctance that I feel towards brokenness reminds me of an excerpt from one of my favorite books, “Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanauken.

Severe Mercy is a true story about a husband and wife who have made their relationship with one another into an idol. They love each other and want nothing to come in-between them, even God. At one point Sheldon Vanauken, the husband and the author, begins to realize that he likes the idea of God as long as God does not disturb his comfortable life too much. Sheldon writes this:

“Though I wouldn’t have admitted it, even to myself, I didn’t want God aboard. He was too heavy. I wanted Him approving from a considerable distance. I didn’t want to be thinking of Him. I wanted to be free—like Gypsy. I wanted life itself, the color and fire and loveliness of life. And Christ now and then, like a loved poem I could read when I wanted to. I didn’t want us to be swallowed up in God. I wanted holidays from the school of Christ.”

“I didn’t want us to be swallowed up in God.” I think that there are quite a few people who feel this way. We want a god to forgive us of our sin. We want a god that will bless us. But are we willing to be swallowed up by the One true God? The truth is that this kind of total surrender to God is frightening. What will God take from us? What will God ask of us? Will God be enough to satisfy us?

I don’t have a neat and tidy answer at this point. I don’t have a verse that makes the fear of being “swallowed up by God” suddenly disappear (neither do you). But I am aware that I must confess these fears and deal with them if I am to experience a renewing work of the Holy Spirit in my life. Will you join me in the process?

Above picture taken from wwwdotjasonisaacsdotme