I heard a preacher say, recently, “You want revival? Don’t pray for God’s miracles, pray for God’s presence.” Because when you pray for His presence, all that He is comes with Him… all His love, all His holiness, all His power.
This is a very different mindset. It requires some introspection about our relationship with Christ. It requires us to consider seriously whether we’ve embraced “His love” and “His holiness,” first, before we expect to see “His power.”
Jesus relayed two stories in Luke 14:28-35: One, about anyone who might want to build a tower, and, two, about a king who wanted to wage war. He says wouldn’t they, first, estimate whether they had the resources to be successful? Wouldn’t they count the cost? Certainly, they wouldn’t want to start something they couldn’t finish.
In the same way, Jesus asks us to count the cost with respect to our relationship with Him. Is He first in our lives? Do we love Him with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, all our strength—the first commandment (Mark 12:30)? Quite frankly, that involves our whole being. What does Jesus have to say about this? How does He lay out the cost?
Very definitively, Jesus declares: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-17).
Of course, putting this in perspective, God, who said honor your father and mother, would not contradict Himself by asking us to hate them. He means only to warn us against making anything or anyone an idol above Him. That understood, the declaration Jesus made calls for a total, sold-out commitment. What if we were to live this way? Prioritizing and channeling all our strength toward loving God? What would that look like? Take a minute and consider what must change about our walk with Him.
Our new nature defines our walk
The Bible likens the relationship between Christ and the church as a marriage (see Ephesians 5:32). As his bride, we’ve been united with Christ—one in the Spirit with him—so, like Christ, we call God our Father. As the bride of Christ and as God’s children (John 1:12), we’re new creations in the spirit (1 Corinthians 5:17). As such, we’re called to live by the guidance of God’s Spirit, not by the desires of our carnal nature (Romans 8:4). Born again, not from our mothers’ wombs but born anew in the spirit by the Spirit of God, we now live eternally in Christ. Without Christ, we were dead in the spirit, but through Christ, we’re made alive in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18). So, then, what is our relationship with this “groom” with whom we’re wed, that is, with whom we’ve become one spirit (John 14:20)?
It’s a love relationship… not carnal love… spiritual love. God is spirit (John 4:24). And those who worship (love) Him, worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). God seeks worshipers (John 4:23). Not in a worldly, egocentric way, like some earthly leaders, who demand obeisance devoid of affection (Mark 10:42-44), but in a profoundly loving way, imbruing the worshipers with joy. Remember, we love Him, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). The worship of God involves an exchange of unadulterated love and inexpressible joy (1 Peter 1:8 NIV).
God made a way for us to enter into the Spirit of Holiness, cleansing us from all sin and unrighteousness by the blood of Jesus Christ, who laid down his life to pay for our redemption. So, we lay down our carnal lives (already damned to death because of sin) and take them up again in the Spirit with Him—essentially trading our death for His life (Matthew 10:39).
What’s important is how we live daily—either by the Spirit or by the flesh (our carnal nature). Not as if it’s optional without consequence, because the scriptures warn: “For the one who sows to his own flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit” (Galatians 6:8).
The point, here, is how we live will determine how God shows up when we pray for revival.
In 2 Corinthians (5:16-7), the apostle Paul explained, “… from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view” (NIV) … “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (NKJV).
As members of Christ’s body (his arms, his legs, his mouth, his ears, his eyes, etc.), we carry out God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. That is, we take the authority He gave us (Luke 10:19) and speak the message of God in power and demonstration of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:4). We’ve been empowered to bind the “the enemy”—the rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12)—and plunder his goods, i.e., set souls free (Mark 3:27 NKJV).
We must not focus internally. We must be about our Father’s business… (John 5:17) reaching our communities, mindful of who we are—that is, what it means to be born again, a new creation, filled with the Spirit of God, in love with Christ, and laboring with Him to fulfill God’s will.
Counting the cost
A time is coming and is now that Jesus asks, “Am I first?” Recall His admonition to the church at Ephesus: “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen!” (Revelation 2:4-5 NIV)
Let’s not be like the contemporaries of Jesus of whom He said, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3 NIV).
Spiritual battles are now raging and revival winds are now blowing… Are we ready? Have we counted the cost? Let’s get our spiritual priorities in order. Let’s embrace our first love and pray for His presence. Let’s prepare to be used by the Master as vessels of honor in His house (2 Timothy 2:21) to reap a harvest in our community, in our nation, and in our world.
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