REVIVAL: Awakening to Our First Love
This fourth installment of our Ministry Distinctives series is written by Class Director Bob Chambers. Bob and his wife Joy are the parents of eight children, many of whom have participated in TeenPact as students and volunteer staff. Mr. Chambers has more than 35 years of pastoral experience and holds a Masters in Theology from Southwestern Seminary. Based in Orlando, FL, Mr. Chambers currently works as the Executive Director of PeopleLinQ, Inc. Here, he writes about personal revival.
I’ve been asked to write a “short” blog post on revival, which is like trying to describe your experience at National Convention in one word! Almost impossible (at least for me), but doable – so here goes!
Merriam-Webster defines revival as:
1. a period in which something becomes popular again after a long period of time;
2. the growth of something or an increase in the activity of something after a long period of no growth or activity;
3. renewed attention to or interest in something;
4. restoration of force, validity, or effect.
Spiritually speaking, revival is most often mentioned as positive, spiritual change, something corporate in nature that affects the masses. No one would argue that our nation is in desperate need of revival. The less talked about aspect of revival is personal in nature, and individual spiritual renewal will always precede and be foundational for what happens corporately. Thus, the main focus on this subject will be the personal aspect of revival.
First, let’s ask ourselves a question concerning personal revival: “do we really need or desire it?” As the departed British evangelist Leonard Ravenhill expressed, “as long as we are content to live without revival, we will.” Taking one’s spiritual temperature often provides both a painful, yet revealing experience. Personal evaluation, or looking in the spiritual mirror, done openly and honestly, measures passion levels and heart desires.
“As long as we are content to live without revival, we will.”
The angel of the church in Ephesus revealed to the apostle and Biblical writer John an amazing truth. John wrote it down for us in the book of Revelation, chapter 2, verses 2-4: “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love” (NLT). The Ephesian church, strong in righteous behavior, lacked genuine love for the Father.
The angel exhorts the people to focus on what is most important. Rather than “doing” the right stuff, the reality of personal revival begins in the seedbed of a “first love awakening” in each of our lives! Oswald Chambers appropriately concluded, “the greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service to Him. It is never ‘Do, do’ with the Lord, but ‘Be, be’ and He will ‘do’ through you. The only way to keep true to God is by a steady persistent refusal to be interested in Christian work and to be interested alone in Jesus Christ.” The overflow of devoted relationship to the Lord becomes the catalyst of all good works. Vance Havner, a famous evangelist of past days, put it this way, “revival is falling in love with Jesus all over again.”
“Revival is falling in love with Jesus all over again.”
The secret to a “first love awakening” happening in an individual’s life is found in “the ministry of the interior!” Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) challenges us to “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” God has not called us into “mechanical” expressions of religion whereby our behavior is dictated by external formulas and “cookie cutter” lifestyles. He has invited us into His very presence to know Him as Abba Father, to cast our cares upon Him, to find rest when our souls are weary, and to be assured of His love for us! Only then can we minister from full hearts, even in times of inconvenience and when “political correctness” dictates otherwise.
The Old Testament prophet Hosea understood this love focus. He has been called the tender prophet, the prophet of grace, the St. John of the Old Testament. Hosea, both by his life and preaching, taught passionate truths about the love of God. Hosea’s constant love and loyalty to his wayward wife Gomer provides a beautiful picture of the Lord’s unfailing love and loyalty to His people Israel, even in their waywardness. This crystal clear picture calls us to love those in a culture who live in opposition to God’s ways, but it is impossible to love others if our hearts are cold and indifferent to God Himself. Hosea chapter 6, verses 3 and 6 powerfully express, “Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring; I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings (NLT).” God beckons us to have a deeper relationship with Himself, allowing His love to flow, satisfying our hearts, and causing our pharisaic rituals to cease.
“Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him.”
Therefore, the invitation God issued to Solomon applies to us today, “if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 – NIV). Once famous British evangelist Dr. G. Campbell Morgan sums up the practicality of revival so well, “we cannot organize revival, but we can set our sails to catch the wind from Heaven when God chooses to blow upon His people once again.” And the potential of that fresh wind of the spirit of God blowing our way will be fueled by our budding love relationship with Him.
It has been said, “if we can remember a day or a time in our lives when we loved Jesus more than we love Him today, then we are in need of a first love awakening.” The love of our Father is flowing our way; may we receive it and return it in all reverence and passion! May revival be the experience of this generation! May the revival begin in me!
To learn more about PeopleLinQ, click here or send Mr. Chambers an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.