Summary: This series of messages was part of the preparation for our SAW (Spiritual Awakening Weekend). May it be used by others.
The Notion of an Awakening
Aiming At An Awakening - #1 of 12
* On Monday I was praying about the upcoming SAW weekend with its logistics, promotion, buildup, expectations, and more. I worked on the announcement (screen), prayer emphasis, message schedule, and weekend particulars – consumed with connecting to God.
* It was then that God gave me a gentle reminder that this weekend is not an ‘end’ in itself, but a pathway to a new direction and focus for each of us, this church, and hopefully – the entire community. These next 30 days are like the training days.
* Next Monday is the “BCS National Championship.” The young men and coaches who are involved in this game have been planning, preparing, and training for YEARS to get ready for this one event which will – be a part of them for the rest of their lives.
* Think about the USA Space program. The men and women in this program were selected as the ‘elite of the elite’ and trained for YEARS to go into space and have that experience which, literally, changed their lives.
* My heart is that during the next 30 days, as we plan, prepare, and pray, that God will visit us in such ways that we will be renewed and revived because we are awakened to the manifest presence of God in our daily lives. Every message I will speak to you for the next 4 weeks will focus on “Spiritual Awakening.”
* The question for some is this: “Pastor, why are you so focused on Spiritual Awakening?” For me, it is a heart issue. Recently I read that Billy Graham said the #1 need for the American Church is “REVIVAL.” Candidly, “Revival” is a good word, but it is misunderstood & misused.
* A Revival is not a series of meeting. A Revival does not center on gospel preaching & singing. A Revival is not a week, two-week, 4 day, or 1 day event. A true “Revival” is a restoration of ‘God being in charge.’ The reading material which I have points me to this.
* I have a book (from ReFresh) entitled “Revive Us, O Lord” and is a collection of sermons by the great men of God. Today, I read a message by John Avant. Dr. Avant was formerly Vice President for Evangelization at NAMB and today he is pastor of the great FBC West Monroe, Lousiana. His message is sobering, let me read a couple of parts to you:
* “The time I spent at NAMB was a valuable time for me. There was something wonderful about being able to travel the continent and see what was actually happening in the body of Christ. I’d love to be able to tell you that I would come back from trips overwhelmed by what God was doing among our people called Southern Baptists. I can’t tell you that. What I found was that I’m not sure we really believe in God. That thought hit me over and over again…I didn’t really see much that looked like what we read about in the book of Acts.” He goes on to say we live like we don’t believe there is a God!
* We live in a nation which was given, blessed, and protected by the hand of God. As an aside, let us never forget those sobering words spoken by God to Israel in Deuteronomy.
* Take a look around and ask, “Is God being honored?” Is God pleased? Is He among us?
* Today I read an article by a “Pentecostal” brother who, since 1995, has been traveling the globe to wherever it is said that “Spiritual Awakenings or Revivals” are taking place. He’s & his teams are doing this to investigate & see whether or not these occurrences are authentic movements of almighty God. Know what he discovered? Of the nearly 800 cases of authentic, transforming revival/awakening in the last 17 years – only 2 were in North America. Know what this tells me? We are in deep need. Romans 13:11 says it clearly.
* In order to be awakened, you must be asleep. Remember all the nuances which sleep brings. The most notable one is that, when you are asleep, you are unaware of your surroundings. The Bible refers to ‘awakenings’ in several ways.
* I remember Jesus being asleep in a storm and even the Son of God had to be awakened to calm the storm. The disciples were asleep in Jesus’ storm (the Garden).
* We all know about being awakened out of a deep sleep and coming to consciousness to discover that something bad was going on. In 1978, Deb and I went to sleep in a house owned by the church – I awoke and saw flickering – and went to discover that the front bedroom had ignited in a fire. Had we remained asleep, we would have been dead.