Friday, November 08, 2013

A Revival Prayer

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence—
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him. (Isaiah 64:1-4, ESV)

This passage, taken from Isaiah, so faithfully expresses the heart of those who truly want to see God glorified in these last days. The picture is so captivating. As if God cries, "Enough! I have heard the prayer of my beloved, I have seen the enemy's schemes, I can no longer tolerate the unbelief and indifference of those who once called me their Father. Enough is enough!" And he tears open the heavens, not like a sheet being torn from top to bottom, but like a door being busted down. The verse from Hebrews comes to mind, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!" (Hebrews 10:31).

As much as it would be wonderful and terrible to see such a sight in our day, this passage, for me, brings focus to another aspect of revival.  The person praying.

This dramatic picture was the heart cry of a humble voice for God who deeply lamented the spiritual deprivation of his nation. He wanted to see God move so badly that he could almost see it with his natural eyes.  How badly do we want to see God move?  Do we want it so badly that we will take risks?  What risks?  How about losing friends and family?  Leaving our well paying job? Giving up on our affluent American dreams?  Respect from our worldly friends? Jesus promised that if we left everything we would get so much more in return...including persecutions!   Do we want to see God move so badly that we will give up everything to gain...persecutions?   This is what waiting for God truly means.

Also note that this prayer doesn't promise that God will actually rend the heavens.  Rather it tells us that God will not forsake the one who waits for him. Isaiah knew that the only solution to Israel's current situation was for God to do something to fix it.  We can have all the revival services we want, we can buy all the "christianware" we can afford, we can join every political and social movement we have time for, we can scream and jump up and down until we are blue in the face and hoarse. But if God doesn't move we are wasting our time.

Can we make God move?  No, but I believe he will move if we do one thing constantly: wait for him.  If we are dedicated to shutting ourselves in our closets, where no one can see us and complement us for our godliness and diligence, and seek God's face, longing in our deepest being to see him rend the heavens, he will move.  Not because we made him do so, but because he longs to be so desperately wanted by his children that they will do anything for it.  Anything.

Yes, we need to be "doers of the Word and not just hearers only" (James 1:22).  However, it is a profound misunderstanding of this passage to equate doing the word with being busy.  It is a very American idea that busy=productive.  If all we are doing is "doing" then we are wasting our time (and God's).  Yes, visit those in prison, yes feed the hungry, yes take care of the widow and the orphan.  But if your day is spent doing, doing, doing and none of it involves the type of prayer mentioned above, then you are doing nothing.   Nothing, that is, that will bring God crashing through heaven's gates to storm the world of men.

Are you ready to see God move?  Are you ready to see this world turned upside down for his glory? Are yo ready to see people saved by the thousands or even tens of thousands?  Then get busy and start waiting for God!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

I wish we had Communion every day

Today, in our fellowship, we are having Communion or, what is sometimes referred to as, The Lord's Supper.  This is were we share, as the church, the wine (we use grape juice, but I wish this would change) and bread (unleavened, but again, I wish this would change too).   We do this once a month.  But I wish we would do this every day.

I have three reasons for this.  The first is due to the symbolic nature of the elements (the bread and the wine).  The bread reminds me of the body that was broken for me and the wine reminds me of the blood that was shed for me.  But more than this it reminds me that I've forgotten the terrible sacrifice that was made for me personally.  It reminds me that in one single day I have cheapened that sacrifice and I've abused the grace and mercy represented in these two humble icons of our Lord's body.

I need to repent in tears for, what many times, amounts to carelessness on my part.  Careless to let my sinful nature creep back into the control seat of my heart, sometimes without me knowing, many times with my explicit permission.  If I need this at the end of each day, can you imagine what one whole month brings?  I need this every day because I am a slow and stupid man.

Second, I need this for the actual presence of our Lord in the elements.  No, I do not believe that the bread physically becomes his body and the wine his blood.  I believe our Lord's words were spiritual (John 6:63).  But I do not believe they are purely symbolic.  Not only was this a much later addition to the Church's understanding of this holy feast, but it isn't what "spiritual" means.  I believe, as the church historically believed (akin to her teaching of the Trinity), that this is a mystery.  That, in some way that we can't quite grasp with our brains, the elements are both symbolically and actually his body and blood.  I believe the more we try to think this out the more warped and heretical our understanding of this precious feast becomes.

I need his presence, and although he is with me always, there is something special in these elements, something that brings me closer to him then any other time.  This happens through faith.  Or perhaps this happens in spite of my lack of faith.  Either way, I wish I had this every day.  I need it because I am a faithless and sinful man prone to wondering far away from my precious Savior.  I need this for the physical closeness it brings to the love of my soul.

Thirdly, Communion is called Communion because it must be participated within the communion of other  believers.  It cannot be done alone.  To do this alone, privately, is to strip from it a necessary element that ruins the experience.  We need one another.  Salvation is found in the midst of the whole body where Christ is the head.  We cannot do this alone.  Jesus didn't just die for me, he died for his Church.  When I say I want to do this everyday, I am expressing the desire to be in communion with my brothers and sisters everyday of every week of every year for all eternity.  Yes...I do know what I am asking.  I have lived with other believers in a communal type setting in the past.  It is very hard.  But it is right.

I am sure you will present the argument that Communion would become boring and common.  Yes.  It would.  I've lived with my wife now for over twenty years.  Do I take her for granted?  Have I become "bored" with our relationship?  Yes, I am ashamed to say that I have.  It is up to me to stir up that first love I had for her.  It is up to me to remember why we married in the first place.  To remember the first day I fell in love with her. To remember the beauty, the charm and yes, even the emotions.  When I do this I find my heart warming and my desire for her grow.  I look at her and fall in love with her all over again.

When I partake in the Lord's Supper whether it is daily, weekly, monthly or (God forbid!) yearly, I must stir up the first love (Rev. 2:5). I must remember when we first met 2,000 year ago on that cross when he, though I were still a sinner, died for me; his flesh broken and his blood pouring out upon the ground.

This is why I wish we had Communion every single day.