The Key to Revival: To Be with Jesus!
From her torment in the confines of a Nazi concentration camp, Corrie Ten Boom, the daughter of a Dutch watchmaker, penned these words, “You may never know that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have.” So, I would like to ask you, adding a little twist to her statement, If Jesus was all you had, would Jesus be all you need?
Never before has the Church been so active and so visible in America, yet what little influence the Church has had on our society. Not only that, but the same problems that plague our culture have crept into our churches. I read a sobering statistic recently that the divorce rate among Christians, and the percentage of active church singles having premarital sex, is nearly the same as secular society. Why no difference?
Our nation’s problems, known and proclaimed by ministers for decades, have only grown worse. Why has there been no change? Why does today’s Church or Christian community have so little influence on our culture?
One look at the modern church with all of its choreographed services, rock concerts, slick presentations, media features, and standing ovations, speaks that something is off center. Something is not quite right. We are busy indeed, but I contend that due to misplaced priorities and focus, little is being accomplished. There is much noise, but little construction. We have, like the Galatians, quenched the fire of the Spirit and replaced it with works of the flesh. We have forgotten that God doesn’t work with methods, but He works with men. We have removed the shields of gold from the temple and replaced them with shields of brass, a cheap imitation. We are focused more on the presentation than on Whom we are presenting. We have set a pretty table, but the meal is undercooked and lacks nourishment. And Christians are leaving the table still hungry and nibbling at the things of the world trying to find satisfaction.
Compare the Church in the Book of Acts with your own place of worship and you probably will see little similarity. Thousands of people were added to the Church and scores of souls daily, but we rarely see a convert each weekend. They turned their world upside-down, but we try to fit in and be accepted in our world. There was unity, but no microphones. There was revival, but no conferences and seminars. They went outside and compelled the lost to come in, but we sit inside and wait for the lost to come in to us. There was singing and praise, but no pastors of worship arts. Their worship was focused on God, but ours is focused on personal musical tastes. There was anointed and powerful preaching, but no polished Powerpoint presentations and meticulous media features. There were graphic displays of the Spirit, but no creative directors offering spirited displays of graphics. They had all things common, but we desire all things.
They had no Bible, but we have millions of Bibles, a library of books, an army of gospel publishers, a church on every corner, thousands of web sites, hundreds of Christian bookstores, and satellites beaming Christian networks and broadcasting Christian, uh, I mean, “family” radio across the land. And for all of our modern methods, what has been accomplished? How have we turned the tide of sin sweeping over our nation? We’ve seen it coming for decades now, but the barrier we’ve put up is full of holes. I would trade it all in for a single David Brainerd riding through the countryside on horseback, armed with nothing but his dog-eared Bible and the fire of the Holy Spirit on his soul.
The solution is simple really.
Before Jesus sent out the twelve to minister, He simply asked them to be with Him (Mark 3:14). Oh, just to be with Him! To learn His heart, to know His desires, to hear His voice. The consuming passion of the apostle Paul was simply that “I may know him!” But we have not given this all important step the attention we should. We rush through it so that we can go out and start working, like giving our spouses a quick good morning kiss as we head out the door (not a good way to build and maintain a relationship). We know the Word of God, but do not know the God of the Word. We praise and worship and sing to a God we rarely pray to. We are burdened with the work of the Lord, but don’t really know the Lord of the work. There are many “Marthas” among us, encumbered and troubled with many things, and burdened with the work of the Lord (or what we think is His work). But where are the “Marys” who take time to just simply sit at His feet?
John the Baptist thought he knew Christ. He heard the voice from Heaven and bore witness that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Yet, as the sun was setting on his ministry, sitting alone in a prison cell with nothing but his thoughts, he wasn’t sure if he really knew Christ after all. He sent a message to the Savior, “Are you the one? Or do we look for another?” Jesus responded in kind, “Go and tell John all that you have seen and heard.”
Peter thought He knew Jesus too. Like John, Peter make a declaration of faith, “You are the Messiah! You are the Christ, the Son of God!” Yet, after the arrest of Jesus, Peter began to doubt and declared “I don’t know Him!” not once, but three times. This wasn't a test of his courage, but a test of his declaration of faith.
In the restoration of Peter, the resurrected Jesus did something very beautiful for him. Peter, trying to get his mind on something else for a while, decided to go fishing. And after a night of failure, his shoulders and back aching, he was about to give up when he heard a strange yet familiar voice echoing from the shore, “Cast on the right side, and you will find.” Having nothing to lose but a little more time, Peter did as was suggested and nearly lost his boat to the weight of fish. This was another miracle. Yet more than that, it was a reenactment. It was Jesus taking Peter back to the day they first met.
If you have become disillusioned or disappointed in your ministry, or perhaps even with Christ, it is only because of one thing. Somewhere, at some time, something else became more important in your heart and life than Jesus. Something has taken priority over Him. Maybe it was your ministry or work or vision, however noble and worthwhile it may be. It’s not that you need more of Jesus, for He has already given Himself completely to you. You just need less of everything else. Like Peter, you need a new start. You need to be taken back to where it all began, back to when you first met the Master. You need to rekindle the fire again.
Let Jesus do that for you.
Remember what it was like when Jesus first called you to Him. Remember the fire that burned in your heart, and the joy that overflowed like a spring. Remember? Go back to the days before you were a pastor or worship leader or teacher; before you were witnessing or writing or blogging or feeding the hungry or singing in the choir or involved in ministry; before there was a vision or purpose or special calling. Remember the love you had for Christ, and the desire you had to just sit at His feet and get to know Him. Remember when you would sing the little chorus, “He’s all I need!” and the tears would flow down your cheeks. Remember?
Oh! To be with Jesus! To see Him and to hear Him. This is your need. But what will it take to get you to the place of a new vision? For Moses, he had to be removed far from the comforts of Egypt. He was separated from fellowship with his brethren and all of their activities. His busy, complicated lifestyle filled with meetings and parties and luxurious living was reduced to a simple life in the barren, wind-swept desert taking care of sheep. But what valuable lessons were learned there! And when all of the old Moses had been taken away, then God came with a new vision and revelation, and Moses became the prophet and leader for the people of Israel.
Your desert most likely will not be physical, though it might. But your desert will be spiritual, and it will come. It must. You may not lose the things you hold dear (or maybe you will), but you will lose them in your heart. Things will just not seem the same anymore, and everything will come under the magnifying glass. Your beliefs and faith will be questioned, and Jesus will whisper to you from the shadows, "Who do you say that I am?"
Let Jesus complete His work in you. Don’t rush out the door. Don’t become involved too quickly in labor. It will come. For now, get to truly know Him. Talk to Him. Delve into His Word. Let Him prune away everything that does not bear fruit. Just sit at His feet and spend time with Him. It will change your heart, your focus, your thinking, and your vision.
Jesus will question you repeatedly as He did Peter, “Do you love me more than these things?” He will search your heart and soul, and question your motives and priorities. And when you have been emptied, and can look into His eyes and respond with all confidence, “Yes Jesus, I love you more than these things!” He will commission you, “Then feed my sheep!” When He, and only He, says it’s time for you to get up from His feet and go, then you will see the world around you, and maybe even the entire world, turned upside-down.
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)