Sunday, November 10, 2013

Joel 2: Spirit of Revival & Missions

Joel 2:28-32 And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the survivors whom the Lord calls.

Every church pastor and leader want revival, but very few are willing to pay the price of revival. When I say "price" I don't mean the price to get revival (for that price has been paid fully by Jesus Christ at the Cross). I'm referring to the price of seeking and saving the lost that is part of the Spirit-initiated revival. I refer to price of commitment we must pay to sow and reap and bring in the harvest. Jesus said the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. The reason we are not seeing revival is not because there is not enough prayers, but not enough workers. Jesus never asks his disciples to pray for the harvest but to pray for workers because the reason why there is no revival isn't found in the harvest but in the harvesters. We don't have enough harvesters who are willing to commit their time, money and energy to bring in the harvest. And so we don't have revival in our churches. We can have revival anytime we have harvesters.

We all want revival that will edify us with spiritual gifts and blessings: "Your sons and daughters wil prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions." But we may not want revival that upsets our comfortable lifestyle and demands us to sacrifice our personal time, money and energy to seek, save and disciple the lost. But alas, these are the fruits of of Spirit-initiated revival: "And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." But I have come across too many churches who just want the kind of revival that will make their congregation grow (usually by attracting Christians from other churches) so that the church will have more exciting worship services and more people to serve in the Sunday ministries. But not many churches are keen for revivals that will give them more work, especially work that is focused on non-members and outsiders. We don't want our "family church" traditions and coziness to be upset by too many new people who cannot fit into our church family culture and habits. And we are not prepared to give up our traditional ways of doing church.

So, we may pray for revival. But until we are prepared to pay the price for the answers to our prayer for revival, we remain double-minded. Such prayers will not be answered: "That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does" (James 1:7-8). Revival comes regularly to those who are willing to pay the price of laboring in the harvest: "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." (Matt 28:19-20). Jesus' presence is promised to churches who are constantly seeking and saving the lost. Many churches think that exciting worship will bring in Jesus' presence. But Jesus' promises His presence and power to the church that is seeking and saving the lost.

God's Spirit is given to make us "witnesses unto Me" (Acts 1:8) and the Book of Acts details for us what it means to be "witnesses" for Jesus Christ. It is proactive and intentional evangelism which results in multitudes coming to Christ. If we want to be Spirit-filled, we have to be Spirit-led. And the Spirit leads us to fulfill God's kingdom agenda to seek and save the lost. Much of what goes under the label of "discipleship" is just a religious form of self-focused endless bible study sessions. If our discipleship program does not produce leaders who are passionate to lead the congregation outwardly to seek and save the lost, then it's not discipleship at all. 

In the context of the outpouring of the Spirit, Joel 2:32 says that "every who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." The connection between these two events is obvious. The reason why churches are stagnating and without divine life and power is because they are not filled with the Spirit. And the only reason they are not filled with the Spirit is their lack of focus on seeking and saving the lost. The Holy Spirit is not given to make us feel good but to turn us into workers in the harvest.

Father, we repent of our self-centred lifestyle and inwardly-focused ministry. Open our eyes to see the harvest that is already ripe so that we may be sent as workers into the harvest. Amen.

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