‘The shop is always open’

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2014 Issue – ‘Revive us again’

Today’s text for reading and meditation:

Revelation 3:14-22 (NIVUK): “‘To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.  I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so that you can see.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

In today’s study, Selwyn considers ‘some of the arguments of those who believe that revival is irrelevant in today’s Church’.

The curious thing for me, is that since starting this issue (May/June 2014) on ‘revival’, the number of people who read this blog has noticeably dropped. Perhaps, the lack of interest is due to this belief – that, revival is irrelevant. My only response would be – just look at church attendance in the western world – is it dramatically growing?

Selwyn has this to say: “The exponents of this view say that the Church possesses everything she needs to live an effective life here on earth.” I think you can extend this view a little further – in that, there are many people who believe that the Bible holds an answer to any spiritual problem and all that is needed is the appropriate application – by the individual – of the truth of God’s Word. While the core component of what they say is indeed true, the focus is solely on the individual’s actions, to the exclusion of the Holy Spirit.

Further on, Selwyn goes to the heart of the matter: “Those who see the Church as an institution rather than a community of people brought into being and maintained by the influences of the Holy Spirit and the Word will see the whole issue of revival as unnecessary and irrelevant.

The Church is a body empowered and made alive by the Holy Spirit. And the secret of her survival in this world is in continually opening herself to the Spirit who gave her life. She was not only born of the Spirit but survives and thrives by the Spirit. No Spirit – no life.”

The church at Laodicea was wealthy; probably had an eloquent and popular preacher, nice buildings and comfortable chairs. (I don’t know if they did, but it’s a reasonable assumption, based on my limited experiences!) From all external human measures – this church had the appearances of a church blessed by God. Yet, this is what He says: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”  You probably couldn’t receive a more comprehensive, ‘fail’.

I think they were operating on their own strengths and total dependence on their wealth – at some point they had drifted away from seeking direction from God’s Spirit. Yet, even with such a huge failure – God is full of compassion and mercy; He is prepared to lead His people into repentance and full restoration of their relationship with Him. (As indicated by His willingness to sit down at the same table, and share a meal.)

What did you think of today’s study – do you agree with what Selwyn has written?

What revival is not

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2014 Issue – ‘Revive us again’

I’ve only mentioned the key verse (notice that Selwyn uses the spelling Habbakuk, whereas, many use Habakkuk):

Habakkuk 3:2 (NKJV): “O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years!
In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.

Selwyn considers it important to make sure that we understand what he means, when he uses the word ‘revival’; and, spend one more day on this topic.

He writes: “Revival always begins, not with the conversion of the godless, but with the reanimation of the people of God. … Great evangelistic plans and advances are currently being made around the world, but this must not be seen as revival. Evangelism is the expression of the Church; revival is an experience in the Church.

Revival is much greater then the restoration of backslidden Christians. … Again, some of the large healing services we hear about, are not revival. We can see people converted, renewed, restored, healed, and yet fall short of revival. Revival includes all these things yet surpasses then all.”

Perhaps it’s useful to go back to yesterday’s discussion on defining revival: which is – “an unexpected, awesome and overwhelming flood of God’s power upon a community of His people; revival is life at its best, life in all its fullness, life abundant, life overflowing with the grace and power of God.”

I was trying to think of a good example to illustrate Selwyn’s point, but I can’t find anything that comes close. Maybe, many of us operate on spiritual reserves which are always close to empty, we become exhausted on doing a little. Whereas, when revival occurs – we are full of God’s spiritual power and we don’t tire of doing His work. That is, the Holy Spirit has full control of our heart and minds and we become 100% committed in following His way. In revival – there are no impediments in living a loving life – for Jesus.

Any thoughts on this topic?

Defining revival

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2014 Issue – ‘Revive us again’

Today’s text for reading and meditation is:

Acts 3:11-26 (NIV):“While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: ‘Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus. Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.”

Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, “Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.” When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.'”

In today’s study, Selwyn talks about the meaning of the word ‘revival’. He goes on to say that he is using the word ‘in its classic sense to denote an unexpected, awesome and overwhelming flood of God’s power upon a community of His people’.

I enjoyed the Evans’ quote: ‘Revival is God bending down to the dying embers of a fire just about to go out and breathing into it until it bursts into flame.’ And Selwyn provides this wonderful summary of what ‘revival’ means, in his conclusion: ‘Whichever way we look at it, revival is life at its best, life in all its fullness, life abundant, life overflowing with the grace and power of God.’

Now, doesn’t that encourage you to pray for revival, for you church community?

The other aspect of today’s study that I liked was the set text for reading and meditation; it’s an excellent group of verses that highlight the truth that the prophets of the Old Testament spoke about Jesus. Yet, the teachers of Scripture at that time, failed to recognise Jesus, as the fulfilment of those prophecies. Perhaps, we too can become so familiar with the New Testament that we miss some of the obvious teaching that Jesus gave, in regard to how we should live.

Your thoughts?

Revival

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2014 Issue – ‘Revive us again’

Today’s text for reading and meditation is:

Isaiah 44:1-8 (NIV):“But now listen, Jacob, my servant, Israel, whom I have chosen. This is what the Lord says – he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.
Some will say, “I belong to the Lord”; others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, “The Lord’s,” and will take the name Israel.
This is what the Lord says – Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: ‘I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come – yes, let them foretell what will come. Do not tremble, do not be afraid.
Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.'”

We read in Mick Brooks’ word of introduction, that no theme was closer to Selwyn’s heart than ‘Revival’. And, it should be a theme that is also close to our hearts because our tired, disaster-ridden, world is in urgent need of resuscitation.

The following excerpts from today’s study provide an excellent overview of this issue: “We begin today a two-month exploration of what is without doubt one of the greatest themes of Scripture – heaven sent revival. I say ‘heaven-sent’ because I believe revival is not something that springs up or out of the normal activities of the Christian church but something that comes down to us from heaven.

Whilst we are not unappreciative of the fact that God is clearly sending showers of blessing upon His Church, we must not forget either that the God who sends the showers can also send the floods.

In fact, revival is just that – God flooding a locality or a community of His people, stirring up the complacent, and producing the conviction and conversion of a great number of people.

It has happened at various times in various places throughout history, and as sure as night follows day it will happen again.”

I know that I long for a revival of our hearts so that we may serve our loving God with all our strength and not be exhausted by the many struggles that we face, each day. Or, if widespread revival does not occur then I pray that Jesus returns, as soon as possible. I say this because the forces that pull upon the structure of our Church, appear to be getting stronger and signs of division between Christians (in the western world) are becoming more noticeable.

It’s my view that we are a dry and thirsty people, covered in a clinging dust that smothers our love for each other. We need a flood of Christ’s love to revive us!

Your view?