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Lord, Send a Revival!

Romans  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Revival begins in us personally and extends through our words and deeds

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Have you ever heard the expression, “Put feet to your prayers”?
Often times we pray, but we have no intention on being personally involved in what we are praying for! We pray for the sad to be comforted, but do we write them a note or visit them? We pray for the sick to be healed, but do we take them to doctors or care for them personally? We pray for the needy to be fed, but do we invite them into our homes and make them a meal?
We pray for revival in our country, but do we take the step to be personally involved?
Last week, as we studied Romans 11, we asked the question whether or not our Christian lives would move anyone to jealousy… would anyone really want to know Jesus based on your life? If your example and attitude is what your kids see as the model of Christian faith, would they even want it?
And if God is worthy of worship as we concluded last week, then our lives ought to reflect that.
So today, we have to ask the question, How do we get there? What is the first step?
I mean, if we’re honest, many of us today really are concerned about those in our community who are lost- that have not received the salvation and victory of Jesus. But, we seem powerless to do anything about it. Even those of you who desire to share the Gospel are perhaps living yourself as uncertain or at least distracted. How do we, as a church, as children of the King, get to the place where our lives reflect the glory of the Lord in such a way that the power of the Gospel is revealed and celebrated;
How do we get to the place where, both inside and outside the church, people look at us and say, “I want that.”?
The answer is WE NEED REVIVAL!
Now, if you’ve been paying attention the past few weeks, you have noticed that across the nation, Christians are praying for revival. This past Tuesday over 200k people joined together in heart, mind, and voice to pray that God would send a revival to our communities and to our nation. And, friends, God can send a revival and you and I have a role in that.
So as we move into chapter twelve, we see that Paul gives us instruction that, I believe, will lead God’s people into revival. This chapter is divided into two main parts: We might say it is the platform and the practice, the internal and the external. However you want to say it, revival begins in the individual and overflows to others. You might call it a ripple, like a stone that is thrown into a still body of water. You might call it a pot that boils over or a match that ignites the campfire.
We begin then, with the platform, that is:

Revival Begins In Me (1-2)

So let us read together verses 1-2.
Therefore.... We realize that Paul is continuing from Rom. 11:36. Because God is worthy- for He is the source and the sustainer of all things, therefore we should give ourselves to Him fully.
That is to say:

Revival begins with my complete surrender.

Our complete surrender to God in our physical bodies is the reasonable and acceptable act of worship for Christians. This means:
We hold nothing back- we write God a blank check. We don’t say, “God I want to give you myself… but only on Sunday mornings IF I don’t have something better to do.”
Paul does not pull punches here- God deserves first place in our lives at ALL TIMES! We present our bodies to Him, having set ourselves apart for His purposes
We give ourselves sincerely - This is our act of worship, and you and I have learned that God does not desire for us to simply go through empty motions.
John 4:23 NASB95
“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
God asks us to be a living sacrifice. What does this mean?
This means that we are continually surrendering to God wholly and sincerely. Revival is not simply a one and done thing- it is the lifestyle of those who live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Revival begins with my complete surrender. But also,

Revival begins with my spiritual transformation

Here, Paul gives us a negative command with positive replacement. Let’s read v. 2 together.
First, the negative: Do not look to the world and culture for signalling and follow that example.
We see this all the time. Fashions and fads- you remember bell-bottoms and knee highs? Or how about hair styles? The mullet? Afro? How many of you look back and say, “What was I thinking?”
The culture in Paul’s day was one that had all kinds of virtue signalling from culture. This would include idol and emperor worship, sexual immorality, political oppression, racial biases, etc. We don’t have to use our imaginations much to recognize that our culture is speaking very loudly and persistently trying to tell us what we should and should not believe.
Instead, Paul says, we ought to be transformed. Now you may ask, into what? (Not a butterfly) Well, into the image of Christ! Let me remind you of Paul’s statement in Romans 8.
Romans 8:29 NASB95
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
This happens as God renews our mind. These statements are passive which means that we receive the action, not deliver it. In other words, we are naturally going to be influenced in this life. We cannot help it!
I won’t mention any names, but there is someone in our church whose husband picks on her when they go to the Mexican restaurant because when she orders, she is influenced by the accent of the waiter and her speech reflects it.
Paul says that we must not be influenced by the world, but instead that we must be influenced and transformed by God. We do this through exposure. Consider this:
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said:
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
The people you spend the most time with shape who you are. They determine what conversations dominate your attention. They affect to which attitudes and behaviors you are regularly exposed. Eventually you start to think like they think and behave like they behave.
So, if God is going to be the One to influence and transform us, to change our thinking, we better believe that this is going to be determined by the time we spend with Him. Let’s do some math together:
How many hours per week do you spend in prayer? Scripture? Meditation? Christian fellowship? Repentance?
Now how many hours do you spend on FB? Watching TV? Secular News? Political conversations?
What influence do you have greater exposure to?
We must position our whole selves to be surrendered and submitted to God on a continual basis in order to be the platform on which revival launches. Revival begins in me. Next,

Revival Emanates from Me (3-21)

If Romans 12 was like a cake recipe, the first section would be the combining of ingredients. We have cake batter… and I like cake batter. My mom would always let me lick the spoon when she made cake. But friends, cake batter is difficult to share. So, now, we bake at 350, ice and serve.
This is the point where revival begins to transfer from us out to others. It’s the turning point from internal to external, from position to practice. This stage is not isolated from the first. If you put an empty pan in the oven, you will pull out an empty pan.
So, having surrendered and submitted to God, saturating ourselves in His Word and truth and thus being transformed into the image of Christ, we are instructed to to emanate revival

Through the Exercise of Our Gifts

Now, we need to note that there are some qualifiers put forth here: In using our gifts, we must evaluate them.
We must evaluate our gifts honestly
Some folks think they are gifted teachers, but maybe not. Some people want to be gifted in areas of music, but aren’t. (That’s me) We must, as Paul notes, use sound judgment. Don’t lie or flatter one another- God has gifted you the way He desires for building His Kingdom.
We must evaluate our gifts humbly
Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought. Just because you are a talented singer or teacher does not mean that you do not need others to help. Friends, one of the great things about a Christ-centered church is that we come alongside each other and work together to show and share the Gospel!
Have you evaluated your giftedness for God’s kingdom?
I am keenly aware that the word ‘exercise’ is not usually favorable. But it carries with it some important ideas:
using our gifts will strengthen them
Just like a muscle, we become better teachers and musicians through exercise/ practice.
this will in turn strengthen the church
When you use your gift, members are encouraged, missionaries are funded, and people are discipled.
Using our gifts will please God
God gave you your gifts to use and when we use them, He is glorified.
A few years ago, my wife bought me a really nice golf bag. I mean, it’s got full-length club dividers, insulated beverage pouch, water-proof valuable pocket- the works! She got it for me to use. Now, if I just put that bag in the closet and never even put my clubs in it, she would be a little more than slightly offended. This is illustrated by Jesus in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25) We must use what God has given us!
So, (read 6b-8)
Teach, show hospitality, give, train, serve, encourage, etc. to the glory of God and with excitement!
And watch as the revival that began in you spills over to those who experience your gifts. They will receive your mercy and hospitality as from the hand of God. They will learn from your teaching as God’s Word penetrates their hearts. Revival emanates from us through the exercising of our gifts. But also

Through extending of our love

There is perhaps more to say about this than we have time today. Let me give you some quick bullet points here and I encourage you to study more on your own.
We must love genuinely.
v. 9 says without hypocrisy- we should be authentic. Our actions and words should not be fake or put-on, but rather we should extend love sincerely and without expectation.
BTW, love is not an emotion, it is a choice. People do not need to deserve love in order to receive it from a Christian. I am so thankful that God chose to love me and it isn’t dependent on human emotion!! So ought our love be for one another
We must love devotedly
This means for the long-haul. There are ups and downs, but through Christ, we can extend love even in the hard times
We must love diligently
That means hard-working. Some folks are easy to love… like me (J/k-) But there are some folks who don’t make it easy to love them. Maybe they are abrasive or misunderstood. Maybe they aren’t like you and you can’t easily connect to them. As Christians, we love even though it’s hard work
We must love fervently
This means excitedly. We don’t begrudgingly show love to people, but rather as unto the Lord! Jesus said, “that which you’ve done unto the least of these, you’ve done unto Me.” (Mat. 25:45)
5. And finally, we must love inside and outside the church.
They will know we are Christians by our love. And so often, we only want love on our terms. Yet, God calls us to a higher love. I hope that you show love to one another within the church- that you encourage, serve, and build one another up in the Gospel. But don’t stop there. The love of the Gospel has no limitations.
Paul says to bless even those who persecute you and to walk through life with people in good and bad.
We live in perhaps the most divisive of times- politically, socially, morally. Spewing words of hate towards those whom we disagree is not likely to win them to Jesus. Ranting on FB about those on the other side of the political aisle is not doing anything positive for your argument or the Gospel.
As we have surrendered to God and are being renewed in our thinking and transformed in our lives, we are called from this platform to use what God has given us to serve and love one another in such a way that His name will lifted up high and we will overcome any evil with good.
How will this look in your life this week? Will you humbly serve your neighbor? Will you speak hope and kindness in the midst of the fear and chaos?
Folks, we need a revival. But we cannot expect that it will happen outside of our surrender and service to the Lord. We are the agents- you and me- that God has ordained to be the salt and light into the dark and decaying world.
Will you commit today to give your life over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and be the spark that lights the revival fire in your home, church, and community?
Lord, send a revival! And let it begin in Me.
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