Kentucky is having amazingly warm weather for February and actually broke records the other day. My grass is turning green and soon, everything will be budding, and we will be out mowing. Kentucky has also been in the news about having a spiritual revival at the Asbury College campus for the last several weeks. We are encouraged to see that many revivals are now happening around the nation. I’ve written a couple of columns recently about spiritual awakenings and that we do not need to wait for someone else to repent and cry out for God, we can do it ourselves anytime we want. Revival is a “personal” event that is ignited within the individual when we see our need to be filled with His Holy Spirit, and we choose to draw closer to Him.
It is said the Asbury revival started with confessions of sin, sincere repentance, prayer, worship, and testimonies of God restoring and saving those who received Him by faith. This went on for several days, and when the word spread to social media, hundreds of people began to come. So what is at the core of a spiritual movement? Is it repentance? Is it being convicted of sin? Can we see the holiness of God at work? Some might say these are emotional feelings, but when people testify they were lost before they arrived, and they gave their lives to God and were saved and restored by His grace and love, we cannot deny the Lord was leading them to His salvation.
This week my wife and I, and a good friend, went to see the new movie Jesus Revolution. I do not believe it’s a coincidence this is being released at the same time these revivals are going on across America. It’s about how Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California, began back in the late sixties and early seventies. Because of the obedience of a few people who felt the Lord leading them, that revival was one of the largest spiritual movements in history. The basic theme of the movie is exposing the negative and condescending religious attitudes that have been around since the beginning. Has anyone out there ever felt snubbed by the church? The spirit of religion relies on tradition and legalism that refuses to see that God loves everyone and is also inviting them to the banquet feast. Many churches have closed their doors to people who do not look like them and do not fit the preconceived molds that religion requires in order to be included as a member of their clubs. Is this not the sin of prejudice and being judgmental based on our political opinions?
When we read the New Testament, we see that Jesus also faced much criticism from the religious world because they wanted Him to act like them and support their haughty views. Instead, we discover that He wanted to mingle with the outcast, the poor, the sick, and those who felt rejected. He ate with them, prayed for them, and embraced them as precious human beings whom the Father loved as much as anyone. In fact, Christ came to sacrifice His life for all who would accept that He was the Father’s plan to save those who believe. He boldly rebuked the leaders of the church for being blind and refusing to understand spiritual truth. The ones who thought they knew everything about God actually knew very little. One problem with this arrogant attitude is that it tries to control instead of seeing others as God sees them. If Jesus were here today, sadly, His teachings would not be welcome in many churches.
There is a huge difference between being religious and having a personal relationship with God. There are many divisions in the spiritual realm, but this is the most deceptive. God’s message to everyone, including the religious, is that He is pleased with consistent faith and obedience. There are many levels of commitment and dedication, but God is seeking those who want all of Him and are willing to give all of themselves to Him. Every person decides what percentage they will receive and how much they will give. Many pretend to serve God by only attending church while living a spiritually lukewarm life. Mary was so desperately in love with Jesus that she anointed Him with costly perfume as a way to express her worship and adoration. When Christ becomes our Lord, we will live in the awareness of His presence.
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