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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

Category

Revival

My House is Full but My Field Is Empty

This post was previously published. Enjoy.

 

My House Is Full, but My Field is Empty

Luke 10:2

Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.


There is peace and contentment in my Father’s house today,
Lots of food on His table and no one turned away.
There is singing and laughter as the hours pass by,
But a hush calms the singing as the Father sadly cries,

There is peace and contentment in my Father’s house today. Indeed, there is much peace and contentment to be found around the Father’s table; he has promised us that. For those who are saved children of God, He gave us the promise that Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Why do we have so much peace? We can have that because although born sinners, as all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, He loved us enough to provide a way to be restored to Himself,  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Lots of food on His table and no one turned away. What is it we are partaking of at our Father’s table? Jesus told us that; He told us that the sustenance He provides would last forever. Speaking to his disciples, Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. What we enjoy at the Father’s table will never run out, and we will never hunger or thirst again. But, there is more! The invitation to the Father’s table is an open one, and no one will be turned away, who comes to Him in repentance and faith; for whosever calls upon the name of The Lord shall be saved.

There is singing and laughter as the hours pass by. Hours? Try eternity, for we will be at our Father’s table forever! David, the Psalmist noted the following:

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.You anoint my head with oil;my cup overflows.Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

But we don’t have to wait for our passing from this life and eternity to enjoy the many blessings of God do we? All saved children of the Father know our blessings start the moment God’s Holy Spirit moves inside of us and we are saved and born again. That’s really when we first come to the table. So, what is the problem? Our chorus tells us what the problem is.

My house is full, but my field is empty,
Who will go and work for Me today.
It seems my children want to stay around my table,
But no one wants to work my fields,
No one wants to work my fields.

That’s right, we all love the blessings God bestows on us as saved children of His. But God needs workers. The fields are ripe for the harvest, as The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: 

Who will go and work for Me today? In the prophet Isaiah’s vision, we hear the Lord ask Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? In that occasion, the prophet promptly replied to the Lord Here am I; send me. Is that our answer when God calls us to reach out to a lost and dying world? Or are we a Moses, who resisted at first until God grew angry; or a Gideon, who required proof after proof; or a Jonah, who complied but even then remained angry at God’s decision to reach out to Nineveh?

So, then, what does does God want from us besides us sitting around enjoying His great blessings? Does He want us to just stay in his house, filling our bellies with His bounty? NO!

Push away from the table.
Look out through the windowpane,
Just beyond the house of plenty
Lies a field of golden grain.
And it’s ripe unto harvest,
But the reapers, where are they?
In the house,
Oh, can’t the children hear
the Father sadly say,

We have our orders, and our instructions are clear. Push away from the table. Look out through the windowpane, After he had spent 40 days showing himself to the world and his disciples after His resurrection, Jesus had these famous words to say to them jut prior to leaving this Earth and returning to heaven:  Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Go, Go Go. That is what Jesus said. Go! At some point after that, just before he ascended to be with His Heavenly Father, Jesus reinforced the point when he further told the disciples that ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. As if to further reinforce the point, after Jesus disappeared into the clouds two angels appeared to the disciples and asked them, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?

Who was this instruction for? Was it just for the disciples assembled there? Well, obviously not! How would 12 men reach the uttermost part of the Earth? This command is for all people, of all times, in all places. It’s not just for preachers, or evangelists, either; again, this instruction is for us all.

The instruction is for NOW. Of course, Jesus did tell the disciples to return to Jerusalem and wait for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, which did occur on the Day of Pentecost. We no longer have to wait for that, because as saved believers we are already indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and have all the tools we need at our disposal! The time is now, because the harvest of souls is ready and waiting, see again Jesus teaching His disciples, Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. This command is not for the future; it is for now, and it is for us all.

So, why are we in the Father’s House, gathered around the table, and enjoying His sustenance? Well, of course it is because He loves us and wants to bless us. But perhaps there is more, and the narrator in the video on this post may have captured it perfectly. Why do we eat and rest in the first place? We do it to keep our bodies nourished and to recover from previous efforts, right? We do it so that we can go back to our endeavors at a later time.  Maybe that is why God blesses us in His house, not so much for simply our enjoyment, but to get back out there and resume our endeavors.

So, let’s enjoy our Father’s house and His table. Let’s thank him for and enjoy the many blessings He gives us. Let’s remember however, that those of us who are saved believers will enjoy that bounty for all eternity. There are, however those, who will not, unless they are reached, because  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

So, then, beloved, let us fill our bellies and get our rest. Then, let’s not sit around and do nothing. Let’s push back from the table, look out that window, and more importantly walk out that door into a lost and dying world and share Jesus Christ with them!

There is peace and contentment in my Father’s house today,
Lots of food on His table and no one turned away.
There is singing and laughter as the hours pass by,
But a hush calms the singing as the Father sadly cries,

My house is full, but my field is empty,
Who will go and work for Me today.
It seems my children want to stay around my table,
But no one wants to work my fields,
No one wants to work my fields.

Push away from the table.
Look out through the windowpane,
Just beyond the house of plenty
Lies a field of golden grain.
And it’s ripe unto harvest,
But the reapers, where are they?
In the house,
Oh, can’t the children hear
the Father sadly say,

My house is full, but my field is empty,
Who will go and work for Me today.
It seems my children want to stay around my table,
But no one wants to work my fields,
No one wants to work my fields….

Who will go and work in my fields

 

My House is Full but My Field Is Empty

As we have been doing for a bit, I have been recapping the message I got to deliver at our church a couple of weeks before our  Revival. We have talked about a few things regarding, “Revival,” and I closed with an oral presentation of this blog post to close things out and illustrate what it might look like to actually get revived. My wife and her friend sang this song to open our service. This is not them; they are actually much better! Don’t ever say blogging doesn’t pay, as there is nothing like literally having a message in one’s pocket at all times!

 

My House Is Full, but My Field is Empty

Luke 10:2

Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.


There is peace and contentment in my Father’s house today,
Lots of food on His table and no one turned away.
There is singing and laughter as the hours pass by,
But a hush calms the singing as the Father sadly cries,

There is peace and contentment in my Father’s house today. Indeed, there is much peace and contentment to be found around the Father’s table; he has promised us that. For those who are saved children of God, He gave us the promise that Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Why do we have so much peace? We can have that because although born sinners, as all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, He loved us enough to provide a way to be restored to Himself,  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Lots of food on His table and no one turned away. What is it we are partaking of at our Father’s table? Jesus told us that; He told us that the sustenance He provides would last forever. Speaking to his disciples, Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. What we enjoy at the Father’s table will never run out, and we will never hunger or thirst again. But, there is more! The invitation to the Father’s table is an open one, and no one will be turned away, who comes to Him in repentance and faith; for whosever calls upon the name of The Lord shall be saved.

There is singing and laughter as the hours pass by. Hours? Try eternity, for we will be at our Father’s table forever! David, the Psalmist noted the following:

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.You anoint my head with oil;my cup overflows.Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

But we don’t have to wait for our passing from this life and eternity to enjoy the many blessings of God do we? All saved children of the Father know our blessings start the moment God’s Holy Spirit moves inside of us and we are saved and born again. That’s really when we first come to the table. So, what is the problem? Our chorus tells us what the problem is.

My house is full, but my field is empty,
Who will go and work for Me today.
It seems my children want to stay around my table,
But no one wants to work my fields,
No one wants to work my fields.

That’s right, we all love the blessings God bestows on us as saved children of His. But God needs workers. The fields are ripe for the harvest, as The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: 

Who will go and work for Me today? In the prophet Isaiah’s vision, we hear the Lord ask Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? In that occasion, the prophet promptly replied to the Lord Here am I; send me. Is that our answer when God calls us to reach out to a lost and dying world? Or are we a Moses, who resisted at first until God grew angry; or a Gideon, who required proof after proof; or a Jonah, who complied but even then remained angry at God’s decision to reach out to Nineveh?

So, then, what does does God want from us besides us sitting around enjoying His great blessings? Does He want us to just stay in his house, filling our bellies with His bounty? NO!

Push away from the table.
Look out through the windowpane,
Just beyond the house of plenty
Lies a field of golden grain.
And it’s ripe unto harvest,
But the reapers, where are they?
In the house,
Oh, can’t the children hear
the Father sadly say,

We have our orders, and our instructions are clear. Push away from the table. Look out through the windowpane, After he had spent 40 days showing himself to the world and his disciples after His resurrection, Jesus had these famous words to say to them jut prior to leaving this Earth and returning to heaven:  Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Go, Go Go. That is what Jesus said. Go! At some point after that, just before he ascended to be with His Heavenly Father, Jesus reinforced the point when he further told the disciples that ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. As if to further reinforce the point, after Jesus disappeared into the clouds two angels appeared to the disciples and asked them, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?

Who was this instruction for? Was it just for the disciples assembled there? Well, obviously not! How would 12 men reach the uttermost part of the Earth? This command is for all people, of all times, in all places. It’s not just for preachers, or evangelists, either; again, this instruction is for us all.

The instruction is for NOW. Of course, Jesus did tell the disciples to return to Jerusalem and wait for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, which did occur on the Day of Pentecost. We no longer have to wait for that, because as saved believers we are already indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and have all the tools we need at our disposal! The time is now, because the harvest of souls is ready and waiting, see again Jesus teaching His disciples, Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. This command is not for the future; it is for now, and it is for us all.

So, why are we in the Father’s House, gathered around the table, and enjoying His sustenance? Well, of course it is because He loves us and wants to bless us. But perhaps there is more, and the narrator in the video on this post may have captured it perfectly. Why do we eat and rest in the first place? We do it to keep our bodies nourished and to recover from previous efforts, right? We do it so that we can go back to our endeavors at a later time.  Maybe that is why God blesses us in His house, not so much for simply our enjoyment, but to get back out there and resume our endeavors.

So, let’s enjoy our Father’s house and His table. Let’s thank him for and enjoy the many blessings He gives us. Let’s remember however, that those of us who are saved believers will enjoy that bounty for all eternity. There are, however those, who will not, unless they are reached, because  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

So, then, beloved, let us fill our bellies and get our rest. Then, let’s not sit around and do nothing. Let’s push back from the table, look out that window, and more importantly walk out that door into a lost and dying world and share Jesus Christ with them!

There is peace and contentment in my Father’s house today,
Lots of food on His table and no one turned away.
There is singing and laughter as the hours pass by,
But a hush calms the singing as the Father sadly cries,

My house is full, but my field is empty,
Who will go and work for Me today.
It seems my children want to stay around my table,
But no one wants to work my fields,
No one wants to work my fields.

Push away from the table.
Look out through the windowpane,
Just beyond the house of plenty
Lies a field of golden grain.
And it’s ripe unto harvest,
But the reapers, where are they?
In the house,
Oh, can’t the children hear
the Father sadly say,

My house is full, but my field is empty,
Who will go and work for Me today.
It seems my children want to stay around my table,
But no one wants to work my fields,
No one wants to work my fields….

Who will go and work in my fields

 

Revival Is Not Primarily an Emotional Event

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We have talked about why we even need revival, why revival is not just an even and why revival is not primarily a tool of evangelism. Let’s move on and talk about how a revival should to more than just give us an emotional charge

Psalm 85:6

Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? 

God is clearly all for us expressing joy, and even emotive joy over the blessings He has clearly given us. In our verse above, the Psalmist clearly asks to be revived so that the people can rejoice. We see this in other places as well:

After his sin with Bathsheba and his restoration(revival one might say) David had the following to say:

Psalm 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

The congregation sang the following in song to celebrate their return from captivity in Babylon:

Psalm 126:2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.

Who can forget David dancing for joy upon the return of the Ark of the Covenant in 2 Samuel 6?

Obviously, joy and excitement at revival and restoration is very appropriate and highly encouraged by our Lord. Why then, do I raise this issue? What do we need to consider when we balance the emotional aspects of revival?

Did revival make me happy, or did it make me change? I can be whirling in the aisles and barking like a dog during service, but If I leave as the same person I came in as, then I was not revived.

Was the focus on the emotional aspects of revival, or on the sound preaching and admonishment of the Word of God? If the focus is on how excited I got, then I have become the focus and not God. If I, or anyone else was the focus, then we were not revived

Revival is NOT primarily for evangelism

Student-Revival-large

Many differing thoughts exist as to what a revival within a church consists of. For many, if not most of us, a revival is simply an event; it is something we attend or go to see. It is something our church does because, well, we always have. Many of us head out to revival, with some hope that, “Gosh, I sure hope somebody gets saved at revival.” I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but that is not what revival is for!

Don’t misunderstand me at all; if a person comes to a revival and gets saved, that is wonderful. Just as it is wonderful if they get saved on a regular Sunday morning, Sunday night, in their fishing boat, on the golf course, or any other place where God chooses to reach out to a lost person and convert them. The salvation of a lost soul should always be a cause for great and joyful celebration by the saved themselves; however, the salvation of lost souls is not the purpose of a revival.

Let’s look at the word itself. Re simply means “again,” while vive simply means “life.” So, what we see here is the revival literally means “life again.”  It doesn’t mean new life or the birth of life; it means the restoring of life that already exists.

Here are some other passages that seem to express the sentiment here:

Psalm 85:6 Wilt thou not revive us again: that THY PEOPLE may rejoice in thee?

Habakkuk 3:2 O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive THY WORK in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land

.  Revival then is not primarily an effort to give life to those who do not have it. It is primarily an effort to bring back to life those who already have it, His people so that they can be about His work.

Even though a revival is not primarily for evangelism, it will certainly produce it.

Acts 2:1-4 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:46,47 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

I think we have established in the previous devotional that Revival is not for the nonbelieving world primarily; it is for the believing churches of the world. It is not primarily for giving life to lost souls but is primarily reviving life in souls already possessing it.

A revived church will result in evangelism.  I found the following which captures the essence of the difference between revival and evangelism very nicely. I have lost where I found this, so good job to the one who did.

Revival is what the church experiences. Evangelism is what the church engages in.

Revival is the spiritual renewal of God’s people. Evangelism is confronting those without with the claims of Christ.

Revival is God crying to lethargic Christians: “Wake up — and get to work.” Evangelism is an awakened church crying to sinners: “Repent — and be saved.”

Revival is getting one’s own heart warmed. Evangelism is setting other hearts on fire.

Revival is periodic. Evangelism is continuous.

Those who understand the difference between revival and evangelism never say, “Oh, we didn’t have much of a revival — just a lot of church members warmed over!”

But that is revival.

A legitimate claim could be made that the day of Pentecost in Acts Chapter 2 represented the greatest Revival in recorded history. The Disciples had, as instructed, returned to await the event which was to occur, which was the giving of the Holy Spirit to them. The group that was gathered was given the power of the Holy Spirit, given new life, and revitalized with a new mission in mind.

That mission was to turn the world upside down; that mission was to evangelize the world. 3000 souls were added to the church that day, and they continued on in that endeavor as we see in Verse 47 when “The Lord added to the church daily…”

Revival Is Not just an Event

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In the first point we covered in our little talk about “Revival,” we discussed the issue of why we might or might not need revival in the first place. I think we came to an agreement that, while we ought not to need it, that we unfortunately do. We then went on to discuss the nature of “Revival” as simply an even, or a thing that we do.

We toss that word around rather loosely sometimes, and I wonder if we really think about what it is, what it is not, and what we even expect of this thing we call, “Revival.”

  • We “go” to a revival
  • We say, “My church is having a revival.”
  • We ask people to “come to our revival.”

Revival….every night this week except Tuesday! All welcome!

Reading the above, as it was seen on a church sign a couple of years ago just made the question arise in my mind: So…what happens Tuesday? Does everybody have to get re revived come Wednesday?” 

I asked around some, and it was very common for people to say that they thought revival was just something their church does and has always done. That is still true, in that for many churches revival is simply something they do once a year to punch the revival ticket.  So, just some random thoughts here:

Revival is not something a church does, it is something the Holy Spirit causes to happen to a church.

I don’t go to revival, I become revived.

Why Do We Even Need Revival?

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As I have said, we are just poking around a bit regarding this thing evangelical churches do that we call, “Revival.” I really appreciate the comments people have made on the topic, and many great points have been made. As I also said, I am sharing what amounts to the notes of the message I got to deliver at our place a couple of weeks before the actual event. So, it may seem a bit informal and conversational in nature.

What is a revival? One of the definitions of Revival, from the Merriam Webster online dictionary, read in part as follows:

Revival: restoration to life, consciousness, vigor, strength, etc.

I found the following definition in the online KJV Dictionary:

REVI’VAL, n. from revive.

  1. Return, recall or recovery to life from death or apparent death; as the revival of a drowned person.
  2. Return or recall to activity from a state of languor; as the revival of spirits.
  3. Recall, return or recovery from a state of neglect, oblivion, obscurity or depression; as the revival of letters or learning.
  4. Renewed and more active attention to religion; an awakening of men to their spiritual concerns.

Now that we have provided a book definition of revival, let’s talk a bit about thoughts about revival.

Why do we even need Revival?

Revival was a recurring event in the Old Testament. Israel had a common pattern of falling away, judgment, repentance, and restoration to God. From the very beginning, as Moses led the Israelites from Egypt all the way to the captivities of Israel and Judah, we see this very pattern.

An important factor is this constant falling away and revival has to do with the nature of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. Simply put, the ministry of the Holy Spirit was not on a permanent basis then. The Holy Spirit was never given to the Israelites as a whole, and individuals were never seemingly indwelt permanently by the Holy Spirit. As a result, the fallings away and restorations were simply part of life, more or less.

In Acts Chapter 2 we see a key thing; It was then that the nature of things changed forever. The Holy Spirit was poured out on the church that day, and from that day forward we see a steady progression through the Book of Acts in the permanence of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Now, we can see that believers are permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit upon their salvation.

So, what are the points and ramifications of all of this? If the Holy Spirit is at this time permanently among the church and permanently inside of every believer, how does that relate to our need for revival?

Well, the answer is a tough one. The simple fact is, we should not need to be revived. If the Holy Spirit dwells within us permanently, then it should be as simple as walking with Him. We all know the truth, however, and that truth is we do not. We remain, sinners, until God completes His work of sanctification in us and ultimately completely glorifies us in Heaven. Until then, we remain works in progress. Works in progress fail sometimes.

We do need revival, and we need it because we do not always allow the Holy Spirit to perform his work in us.

So, to answer the question asked: Should we need revival? No. Next question: Do we need revival. Yes

Wait a Minute, You Aren’t the Preacher!

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“Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” Luke 10:2 

As we have been discussing, at our little church we recently did that thing we call, “Revival.” We do it every year; one year when the Holy Spirit seized us mightily, we did it TWICE in on year! We usually do it for 5 nights, but that year we did it twice, we only had it 3 nights on the second go around. I guess the Spirit was on a sabbatical or something. I’m not being sarcastic; really I promise I am not!

Of course, I am. We have, historically, “had Revival.” Meaning we have met for 3-5 days, heard a guy preach and exhort, then gone back to doing what we do. To my knowledge, we have never had a revival, in the sense that long-term change was produced among us. That is sad but is simply the truth.

I think some would like to see a change; I think quite a few actually would like to see a renewed working of the Holy Spirit so that we would see real change in our assembly, our families and our communities.  Our pastor certainly wants to see this, and a few of the more steadfast among the body is willing to jump in with him. So, he made a real commitment this year to do more than just “having Revival.” He laid some groundwork, along with the preacher who was to be our Revival Speaker, to help us prepare our hearts and minds for this in advance.

One of the first things had to do with me personally. The Pastor came to me about 3 weeks out and asked me to bring the message on Wednesday night two weeks out from Revival. Using the word he used was unusual. Normally, if he won’t be there, he says something like “give a devotional.” Oh, that’s the other thing; he was NOT going to be absent. He was going to be there just like normal on a Wednesday night. Then, he said something like this, “You can talk about whatever you want; Revival would be good, but whatever you want.”  He said he would open things up as normal, then turn it over to me for what he termed “A Message from the Pews.”

This is a strange occurrence. The truth is, preachers, love to preach and rarely give up the chance to preach. Also, ours only has a fill in when he will be absent. Normally, one of our Deacons fills in that case. I finally got it in my head what was going on. I had been pestering him about Revival forever, and why we never seem to change afterward. I think he just got tired of me yacking at him and figured I could just tell everybody! I seriously think that, as he tires sometimes of saying the same things to the same crew with nothing changing that a different voice would maybe help.

So, we hatched a plan and waited. I had to let a couple of people in on it; my wife and a friend knew because I picked them to sing a special song for us(that was almost insanity for us on a Wednesday night, because we NEVER have special music on Wednesday night!) They sang the song, “My House is Full, But my Field is Empty,” which would later become part of the evening message. Also, normally on Wednesday, it’s jeans and boots for me. When I showed up in slacks and a collared shirt, some seemed to wonder what was up.

At any rate, everything went off fine and dandy. God’s like that isn’t He? Here are the points I covered for this message, and over the next few days, I will break them down a bit.

 

Why do we even need Revival?

 

Revival is NOT primarily for evangelism

 

Revival Is Not just an Event

 

Revival Is Not Primarily an Emotional Event

 

It’s Time to “Go.” My House is Full but My Field is Empty

What the Heck IS a Revival, Anyway?

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As I pick up blogging where I sort of left off a few weeks back, I find myself not sure exactly where I feel led to take this thing. So, just bear with me while I make the trip. I really like the very straightforward devotional stuff, but also seem to have all this STUFF rambling around in my head that needs to get let out. I think I may start letting some of those things out, and see where they go.

A couple of weeks back at our church, we had, “Revival.” Yep, revival. Meaning we had this “thing,” where we meet for 5 weeknights in a row and listen to some guy from out of town hurl exhortation at us until he turns purple. Then, we go back to business as normal. That’s what it’s all about eh?

Of course, it is not! But, then what is it all about? I have about a billion thoughts in my head on it and want to just sort of toss some of them out over the next bit if readers don’t mind.

I do know that this year, we took a different approach to the whole thing because we(some of us, anyway) actually recognize that what we have done for literally decades has accomplished….a big fat nothing. We did some neat stuff, and I think we may actually see some change this time.

Meanwhile, I’d welcome thoughts from you out there on the topic. What have you seen? What does it mean to you? Is it needed? Is the idea even Biblical. It’s all fair game, so have at it if you wish.

 

 

Let’s Talk Revival!!! Part 7

This week, we will close out our recap on the series on Revival and the Seven Churches of Asia with our devotionals on the churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia, the two churches that seemed to be revived and thriving. As last weeks was rather short, this one will be somewhat longer.


Read all of Revelation Chapter 2 here

The Church at Smyrna

Revelation 2:8-10

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.


Smyrna, a Church Under Fire

Note right away the very short nature of this particular letter. Jesus had nothing bad to say about this church. He merely had some commendation to pass along to Smyrna, as well as a warning later in the letter. He had a warning, not an admonition. In fact, only Smyrna and Philadelphia escaped without any words of critique from our Lord.

During the course of study, I read several commentators who referred to Smyrna as the “suffering church,” because apparently things were not easy for them. It seems the church at Smyrna faced trouble from two directions.

It needs to be noted that the city of Smyrna was somewhat of a leading center for the Roman practice of Emperor worship, with the Emperor of the day being Domitian. Of course, the Christian community was more than willing to obey and support the civil laws and government of the time. On the other hand, they were unwilling to extend worship to the Roman Emperor and offer sacrifices to him.

Not only was the church at Smyrna being persecuted at the hands of the Roman government itself, but they faced it as a result of the actions of the local Jewish community, which was quite large. At the time, the Jews enjoyed the protection of the Roman government, and they were not required to participate in worship or sacrifices to the Emperor. They were, however, very quick to hurl accusations at the Christian community. Jesus said, I know the blasphemy of them, indicating that He well knew the lies the local Jews were spreading about the Christians. Because they seemed to have conspired and planned out these lies in an intentional effort to erase the local Christians, Jesus referred to these Jews as the synagogue of Satan! The lies were many, ranging from cannibalism, to immorality, and oddly enough they were even accused of being atheists for not believing in the assortment of Roman Gods

The important part here is to understand why this church was undergoing persecution. Obviously, they were doing the right things; they were putting themselves out in the world clearly and definitively as what they were, and that was Christians. They were different than the world around them. As throughout the history of the church, anytime Christians do what they should and live as they should, persecution and troubles arise.

If the life our our churches is trouble free and easy, with no one questioning us or rising in opposition to us? We might be in need of revival.

A Warning for Smyrna

We have seen  that this church has already suffered substantially for their faith; in fact, they had gotten a double dose of persecution. They were being persecuted by the Roman government for staying true to the Faith, as well as some claiming to be among God’s chosen people, the Jews. Life had not been easy thus far for the church at Smyrna.

Jesus did not have an admonition, or negative words for this church; He did, however have a very solemn and honest warning. Unfortunately, more and possibly worse was to come.

What is coming? Well, more tribulation is coming. Our passage teaches us that some will be jailed, and tried, possibly for exercising their faith. Let’s talk quickly about this period of ten days . Some assign very symbolic meaning to this in terms of it representing perhaps ten phases of persecution under the Romans yet to come; some say it could represent some undermined amount of time, perhaps even ten years; others say it literally means ten days.  There is some credence to the idea that in other places, ten days was simply a “short time.”, signifying that this persecution would be intense yet short lived. Who knows, really?

We can absolutely conclude, however, that more was coming for these believers.  God has told them it is coming; but more importantly, He has basically told them, “Do not be afraid!” They need not fear this upcoming persecution, because what awaits them in Heaven with their Savior someday is far more wonderful than anything they face here could be bad. They will receive “The crown of life.” Note the similar reference to this crown in James 1:12. Just a quick note; there is nothing in this passage which would cause us to teach that the Crown of Life represents a gift of Salvation. In other words, this church is not being taught that if they persevere through the trials they would be rewarded with eternal life. This gift is only for those who have accepted God’s gracious gift of salvation, and will then be rewarded for their perseverance, which they are capable of because of the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

What’s the application for our discussion on revival here anyway? Seems an odd connection, really. Here is what I saw.

If we do what we are supposed to be doing in our world and our communities, we will suffer. If we are living live on easy street, then we may need reviving.

If we do what we are supposed to do, then God will take are of us, protect us, and ultimately reward us.

So. let’s get busy. God told Smyrna they could handle it, and He is telling us that as well.

Read all of Revelation Chapter 3 here

The Church at Philadelphia

Philadelphia, A Revived Church

Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. Everybody knows that, right? The name literally means “love of the brethren,” and is simply two Greek root words combined. It comes from the word pheleo, “to love” and adelphos, “brother.” The city has borne several names throughout history, but we know it as Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, much like it’s namesake right here in the United States.  Just a small tidbit of history here might be fun to note; the name of the city actually never had any roots in The Bible whatsoever. It actually comes from the story of King Attalus II whose brother, Eumemes was the King of nearby Pergamum. The love and loyalty Attalus had for his brother was so great and well known that the city was named in honor of that great love. Not necessarily relevant to our discussion, but very interesting nonetheless.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, much like the church at Smyrna, had no negative words to say to the believers in Philadelphia whatsoever. I have read of this church being referred to as “The Faithful Church,” and “The Revived Church.” Just because it seems to fit, we are going to consider Philadelphia as The Revived Church.

I think we will spend some time discussing the many things this church was doing right over the course of the next few days. Ironically, the little we know about the church in Philadelphia comes from only this very short passage in God’s Word;, yet the words of praise Jesus had for this church could fill a book if expanded on fully. So, for the next few days, we will do a little filling.

Who’s In Charge Here?

What keeps a church in a revived state? That almost sounds like an oxymoron I know, as the stay in a revived state implies that one never needed reviving, but it’s the best way I could think of to ask it! But as much as anything, focus on one thing might be just the thing which keeps us in the state our Lord wishes us to be in. The state of being, not necessarily “re” vived, but simply alive and well in the first place.

This might be a little stretch with the text we are talking about, but I don’t really think so. It has to to with our focus, and our text clearly explains some things about what our focus as a church should be, and why. So, the title question remains: Who is in charge here?

Jesus Himself proclaimed Himself, when delivering these letters to the churches, and specifically the one we are addressing, to be holy. Who is holy? Well, only God is holy. One could construe this as Jesus stating quite clearly that He is also God. Being God certainly provides some credentials, some bona fides, if you will, as to His authority over the church He is addressing. He referred to Himself as he that is true. He is pointing out that He, and not any of the pantheon of false gods worshiped at the time this letter was written, is the one and True God of the universe. Again, impressive credentials for one establishing His authority over the church being addressed. He possesses the key of David. In this context, possession of a key clearly establishes authority. It is no accident that those in charge of some establishments are referred to as “key carriers.” Along with keys come authority; this is ultimate authority in fact. Authority for what? We may ask. Perhaps the door to the Kingdom? No one can enter the Kingdom unless the door is opened by Jesus Himself, and no one can be shut out from the Kingdom except by Jesus Christ Himself. Again, powerful credentials!

Colossians 1:17,18 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

So who, or what, is the head our our churches? If it’s anything other than Jesus Christ who possesses the ultimate authority which was handed to Him by God the Father, we might be in need of revival.

A Faithful Church

We are still talking about the church at Philadelphia today. As we have talked about over the last couple of days, this church was already revived, or had never had need for revival in the first place. I have also heard Philadelphia referred to as the faithful church.

First things first. Jesus Christ knows the works of our churches. We may have the most beautiful building, the biggest flashiest auditorium, and the most people; however, Jesus Christ knows the real story behind the scenes so to speak. He knew that with this church, and we know that because He told them in the letter He sent them. He knows our churches as well.

This church had only a little strength. This was in no way anything negative being said about this church. In fact, when we read on we see that this reference to their apparent lack of strength was in fact a great compliment regarding the reality of their actual great strength!

We don’t really know exactly what the problem was which caused Jesus to refer to them as having only a little strength, but we all know some things which might cause us to  think that about a church we know, or even our own church. Perhaps it was small unimpressive numbers of members; perhaps they did not have a great place or fancy home to meet in; perhaps their members came from the poorer, most unfortunate sections of town. We don’t know exactly what the issue was, but we do know that, on the surface, they may have appeared to not be very strong.

We all know God had some things to say about our position of strength in Him when we ourselves are weak as we all know how Paul concluded his noted writing on his thorn in the flesh, and the conclusion he reached:

2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

So, while this church was perhaps poor, small, and weak on the outside, according to our Lord, their works were strong and powerful. What was happening here? Well, later in the passage some specifics are talked about, but some we can assume. What can we assume? Certainly people were being saved, lives transformed, and the Gospel was being preached!

Are we in a place serving which seems small and of little note? Don’t be discouraged, as later we will see that Jesus made some wonderful promises to this church; these are promises he has in fact made to all of his churches which remain faithful and true to His Word and in His works.

God’s Promises to a Faithful Church

Yesterday we talked about how this church at Philadelphia may have seemed small and weak by the standards of the world around them, but how the truth was that Jesus considered them to be of great strength. Over the next day or several, we are going to talk about some of the promises God has made this church because of their faithfulness.

The first thing we see guaranteed to this church is that Jesus has set an open door before them, and no man can shut it. Previously we talked about Jesus as the one with the keys, and the fact that the keys clearly symbolize authority.

What is the open door set before this church that no man can shut? Well, there are a couple of possibilities we can see here, I think. It seems that at least on the surface, that what we see is the guarantee of security in the grace of God through Jesus Christ to the saved believers in this church.  In other words, because of their status as redeemed of God, their salvation and entrance forever into the Kingdom of Heaven is promised and secure.

There is also something deeper here, having to do with things of importance right here on, this earth, in this life. Has anybody ever prayed for God to “open a door?” I think most have, it is common for many to ask The Lord to open one door and shut another, as a way to share with us what His will in a particular situation is.

So, then, what might be the door that is being opened here? The door for additional and greater service to Him of course! I have heard it said that the biggest thing we can offer God is not our ability, but our availability. Many of us dream of doing what we would call “great things” for God, and He certainly gives some the chance for that. But perhaps He also wants us to show we are willing are willing to do the small things.

Are you in a church that seems small and without much strength or power? Does it get discouraging because other churches seem more vibrant and growing? Do you dream of God doing great things in the local assembly you are part of? Perhaps He has great things planned for you, but also perhaps He just wants to see us become willing to tackle the small stuff too.

God’s Promise for Protection

As I said earlier, we are going to spend a little time talking about this church in Philadelphia. Because not only are we talking about what our churches are doing wrong these days, but when we can we will find good examples to follow as well. Philadelphia certainly provides a good example which we could all be following. They were a likely small, poor church, and yet had remained faithful and true to God’s Word and God’s work. In effect, they were  a church in revival. Because of this, God had made them some promises; He makes those same promises to us today.

Again, we see this reference to those which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie;. Obviously this church, like Smyrna, was facing a similar tribulation in that they were being persecuted by those who themselves were claiming to be children of God. Again we see this reference to the Synagogue of Satan. Who were these people? I’d love to hear some views on this, as there are a couple of ways we could look at this. One thought I found that I rather liked was the idea that because of their rejection of Jesus, that He Himself regarded them as no longer being true Israel. One commenter from earlier made the point that maybe they weren’t really Jews at all, but trouble making out of towners  basically come to give the Christians grief. Interesting discussion if anybody wants to have it.

Regardless of who was causing the trouble, the point really is that somebody was. This church was doing the right things and not having and easy time of it as a result. God’s promise was a long term proposition; note that He did not promise them relief from their troubles, nor did he offer them protection in the sense that we would consider it. His promise was in the future, and it was of an eternal nature. Some day, God Himself will deal with people like that, and then all will know why; all will come to know those who stay true are being rewarded, and those who do not, or reject him, will be dealt with also.

God’s word has quite a lot to say about how He will deal with the enemies of His churches, and many involve footstools. Let’s take a look.

Psalm 110:1 (A Psalm of David.) The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

That particular passage obviously means something, because it was given much mileage later in Scripture. I would venture to say it’s repeated use would be a clue this is a promise for us today.

Matthew 22:44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?

Mark 12:36 For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Luke 20:42,43 And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Acts 2:24 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,

Then, of course, we see the same promise repeated to this faithful church in Philadelphia. God’s promises to us are sure, and this one seems extra sure as God seems to have offered the assurance of repeating it, as if to say, “Got that?”

If we do the right things, we won’t be treated right. If we preach God’s Word as it is written, and do God’s work as it is commanded, we won’t have it easy. The Jews in question were just an example to us; ours will be different. The point is, if we do as we should, we will get grief from somewhere. There are two ways to avoid this:

Don’t preach God’s Word

Don’t do God’s work

But, if we do what we should, troubles will come. God, however has promised us protection from that. He guarantees it.

More Promises From God

We have been talking about the church at Philadelphia, who we have referred to as the faithful church, or the revived church. As we have covered, Jesus had nothing but words of praise and commendation for this assembly of believers. We have been using them as an example of what a church in a living, vibrant state looks like. This is what our churches should look like.

God has made some promises to this church, and we are working our way through them. These folks have been faithful with a little, and now God is blessing then with a lot.  He has promised them additional opportunities to serve, and protection for them if they do that. Now we see a promise to protect them from the hour of temptation.

Well here, we go, because this is a controversy just waiting to happen. Fortunately, we aren’t going to have it!  It seem fairly clear that what is being referred to here is not just some local pot of trouble that these people will find themselves in, but a larger spot of trouble, involving more than just them. We see this because this is referred to as the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Here, we are seeing a trouble which will seemingly affect everyone. So, what exactly is coming?

Therein lies the controversy. It’s possible this could be referring to some coming systematic persecution by the Romans; in that day that would have certainly fit how “the world” was considered. It could also be something much bigger, involving literally the entire world, What we may be seeing here is the idea that the believers, and others, will escape the wrath of the coming Great Tribulation prophesied in Daniel. In other words, many see this as evidence of a pre tribulational rapture of the church. Others see this as evidence that, even though they think the church will be present during the Great Tribulation, that she will be protected and preserved during it.

So, again, readers feel free to come on board and talk about this, but as always be nice. This is one of those things we can diverge on and nobody is a heretic okay? Just for the record, I am a pre tribulational rapture kind of fellow.

But the point is not a debate about the end times; the point is God’s promises. Earlier we saw God had promised to protect this church from the local issues they were facing. This promise just expands on that. As a reward for their faithful keeping of God’s Word and performance of God’s work, this church will also be protected from much larger things.

We will be also. Got that? In our churches we need to stop fearing the world around us. God’s Word and God’s work has not changed; it is us who has changed. One of the main reasons we have changed is fear of the world and desire to fit in that world. We need to stop that, as God has clearly promised that if we do the right things, He will protect us.

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