It's the last day of our fast. If you're starting to dream about how you're going to break it tonight, you're in good company, but let's be careful to make this last day count in prayer.
It was quite remarkable to see God breaking people free from chains of generational sin, and to commission our prison ministry team for the work God has for them. I believe God still has some great things to say to us and do in us.
Today, I'd like to focus on revival as a third reason why God's people have fasted through history.
Jesus, when questioned why his disciples did not fast like the disciples of John the Baptist, he answered, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days"(Mark 2:18-20)
Essentially Jesus was saying that his disciples would fast after Jesus was taken away, because they longed for Him. They would fast because they missed His presence and power. Now we know that although Jesus has ascended to heaven, He has given us the gift of His Holy Spirit, who communicates Jesus' presence and power to us. And yet there also seems to be an ebb and a flow of the sense of Jesus with us; both in our own lives and in the history of the Church. Revival, at it's essence could be described as an undeniable sense of the presence and power of Jesus with His people. This is why we fast. We long for more of Jesus.
Martin Lloyd Jones spoke of revival often during his ministry. "I am profoundly convinced that the greatest need in the world today is revival in the Church of God. Yet alas! the whole idea of revival seems to have become strange to so many good Christian people... [This] is due both to a serious misunderstanding of the scriptures, and to woeful ignorance of the history of the Church. My prayer is that as we read it and are reminded of our glorious God, and of His mighty deeds in times past among His people, a great sense of our own unworthiness and inadequacy, and a corresponding longing for the manifestation of his glory and His power will be created within us. His arm is not shortened."
J. I. Packer, writing in God in our Midst, suggests that, among the variety of God’s ways, five constants appear in biblical revivals:
1. Awareness of God’s presence: “The first and fundamental feature in renewal is the sense that God has drawn awesomely near in his holiness, mercy and might.”
2. Responsiveness to God’s Word: “The message of Scripture which previously was making only a superficial impact, if that, now searches its hearers and readers to the depth of their being.”
3. Sensitiveness to sin: “Consciences become tender and a profound humbling takes place.”
4. Liveliness in community: “Love and generosity, unity and joy, assurance and boldness, a spirit of praise and prayer, and a passion to reach out to win others, are recurring marks of renewed communities.”
5. Fruitfulness in testimony: “Christians proclaim by word and deed the power of the new life, souls are won, and a community conscience informed by Christian values emerges.
Today, let's simply pray for these marks of revival to be increasingly evident in our church and in the Church in our nation. Let's pray that great revival prayer from the prophet Habakkuk:
"Lord we've known of your deeds, we've heard of your fame,
In the midst of the years revive them, renew them in our day,
In wrath remember mercy!"
See you tonight!