Coming Alive: Renewal, Revival, Awakening!
Our July sermon series is all about life. New life. God’s life. Life in Christ. Life together with others who are a part of the new community Christ is creating called Living Word Community Church. We are called out of death to life.
This life is a life of flourishing. It is a life that is full and overflowing, real and eternal. It is more and better life than we ever dreamed possible.
Back to the Basics
“Gentlemen, this is a football.” Those are the words of the legendary coach, Vince Lombardi, as he was preparing to lead the Green Bay Packers to a winning season and a championship year. “Gentlemen, this is a football” means going back to the basics.
The “winningest” college basketball coach of all time was John Wooden of UCLA. He was famous for constantly taking his team back to the basics. Tie your shoes tight. Dribble. Pass. Shoot. Condition. Wooden didn’t believe in trick plays. He believed in the basics executed flawlessly.
Renewal/revival is God taking us back to the spiritual basics!
I mentioned in last week’s Sunday sermon that I spent about 2 years studying every time of revival/renewal in Scripture and then studying the major revivals in the history of the church.
I did that so I could learn the answer to these questions: What are the basics of renewal? What are the patterns and characteristics that appear over and over? It turns out there are several ingredients God stirs into every new time of coming alive. Here are four of those main features of times of renewal and coming alive.
Seek after God. Desire God. Long for God. Want more of God. Pursue God. Make God the number one priority of your life. Seek first the Kingdom of God. Live knowing that God matters most of all. Knowing God becomes supremely important. Read Psalm 73:24-26 and Philippians 3:10-11.
Read the Word of God. We begin to read, study, reflect, and pray through the Bible with a new intensity and passion. As we embrace God’s Word, our minds are renewed, our belief systems changed, and we begin to live into the ways of the Lord. If you want personal renewal, get back to the Word of God in personal and transformative ways. Read Psalm 119.
Develop a heart of worship. God gives us that heart. We love to worship. You want to celebrate, praise, adore, give thanks, lift up holy hands, bow down, and generally get passionate about God and giving him glory. Read 1 Chronicles 16 for an incredible time of worship.
Confess and Repent. Sin hurts us. The more we sin, the more we hurt. The more we sin, the more we hurt others as well. The more we sin, the more the suffering. Eventually, it becomes so much that once again we cry out to God. Our cry is a cry of confession. We acknowledge God is God and that we have sinned and become disobedient. We repent; that is, we turn from our disobedience. We receive mercy and forgiveness. We find a fresh start, a second chance, a new beginning. God is full of grace and love, but we must confess, repent, and receive. Every time of renewal has this basic spiritual dynamic taking place. Read Nehemiah 9 for one of the most amazing displays of confession and read Nehemiah 10 for a spectacular repentance.
These are not the only main features of revival (there are several other equally important ingredients), but they are always there. Without them, it does not seem as if there is revival. We do not come alive if these spiritual dynamics are not reintroduced into our lives. This is the way to personal renewal. This is the way to church renewal. This is the way to societal renewal.
In fact, we slowly die without these things. With them, we live. With them we flourish. With them we experience the abundant and eternal life God has for us.
There is almost nothing any one person can do for the renewal of our society. There is almost nothing you cannot do for your own personal renewal. And there is so much you can do for the renewal of the church you love.
So, by God’s grace and the empowering of God’s Spirit, put these things into practice. Not just for a day, but for the duration. Step by step. Long, slow, deep (even difficult), but you will come alive and flourish.
Here is the link to a YouTube video talking about the Welsh Revival. It is by the famous historian of revivals, J. Edwin Orr. You can find additional videos as well on that revival.
It is truly one of those incredible works of God when times were very dark.
Having the ability to empower and resource leaders to bear much fruit that lasts. Being a part of a team of friends and missional servants committed to changing the world.