Summary: Our country, communities, and even churches are in need of a spiritual renewal like we haven't seen since the 19th Century
Keys to Spiritual Renewal
* Our country is in desperate need of a spiritual awakening, but we have a problem. When we consider that the last true, widespread, landscape changing spiritual awakening in this country was in the middle of the 19th century, it is safe to say that no one “alive today” has first hand knowledge of what it's like, how it feels, or even how it begins. My observation is that this culture is more dangerous than almost any previous culture, but it's not because of the crime rate, the immorality, or even the growing drug culture. This is because as a culture who exists absent a true spiritual model of life, we have chosen to follow what seems to be best by human standards rather than what divine scriptures tell us is best. We have become a people who believes if we 'follow our hearts, minds, and wills' to determine what is right or wrong we will be okay. I call this “stinkin' thinkin'” because our thinking continually changes so our standards change. Because we have engaged in this type of thinking, the standards of our culture have now digressed to the point of what used to be considered unmentionable is now the norm. The tragic results are that we fail to see ourselves as God does, through the lens of His holiness & expectations. We have set aside next Friday through Sunday for a time of “spiritual renewal.” I want you to give some thought to this term, “Spiritual Renewal.” In your mind what does this look like, feel like, and even 'how does it start?” Just as an aside, a true spiritual awakening does not happen for people who do not really, truly, and genuinely, desire it. Candidly, renewal involves change and most people don't care to change & sadly, they don't think they need to. We need a renewal, but what are the keys to open this door for the blessings of God to pour out.
* As we consider keys to spiritual renewal we can learn much from the church at Laodicea. There are so many similarities between this church and today's culture that a great argument can be made for us living in the “Laodicean age”. Here is our problem: Because our tendency is to view our life and ministry through the standards of this culture, generally, we don't realize there is a problem. This is huge in this culture, country, & even church. To unlock deadbolts, we need keys. I suggest we find some keys in our text. These are keys, not steps, here are 3 of the needed keys:
1. Be Clear about the Sovereign (God) – This could be one of the most tragic issues of the modern day church. Many are unclear in their beliefs about God. You can look back at each of the seven letters and discover that God will be whatever we need. In our text we can see what is important:
a) Who He is – Verse 14 tells us the three part of who our Lord is. He is forever, today, and yesterday. He is the “Originator of Creation” which tells me that He was here when the world began. He is the “Faithful and True Witness” as He is presence in every place in time. He is the “Amen” which means at the end of time, He'll be the last King standing! Be about who HE is!
b) What He knows – It is easy to say, “He Knows everything.” While true, sometimes it feels so 'general' that the depth of His knowledge escapes us. In verse 15 He says, “I know YOUR works and that you are neither cold nor hot.” We can revisit the other 6 churches and discover that our Lord knows about them also. Don't miss this; HE KNOWS ABOUT ME & HE KNOWS ABOUT YOU! This is a huge key for us to truly desire renewal in our life. Vance Havner said, “The situation is desperate, but the saints aren't.” Why aren't we? Perhaps because we have lulled ourselves into thinking that Jesus; the one with hair like wool, feet of pure brass, a voice like Niagara falls, and eyes of fire, cannot or does not know our every thought, attitude, word, and deed. His words are, “I know who your really are. And I know that you are not really hot for me or cold about me, I know what you really are.” Here is what I know; Every sinful thought I've had, Every lustful look I've given, and Every ungodly word that I spoken, HE KNOWS ABOUT IT & me better than I know myself.
c) What He desires – All my life I have both heard and preached about finding God's will for our lives. Our Lord gives us His heart right here. He says, “I wish you were cold.” A heart that is cold is a heart that is uncomfortable and can be thawed and melted by the fire of God's Holy Spirit. For most people, this is salvation. A heart that is hot is a heart on fire for God and can be used to do unimaginable things. But a heart that is lukewarm is a heart that is comfortable. Most of the time a lukewarm heart give a person of sense of security, safety and even apathy. It is a heart that is difficult to stir. It seems to be that God wants us to either be cold or hot because He can impact us, but He can't do much with lukewarm.