Tuesday, August 3, 2004
Building a fire is one of those things a man is just supposed to know how to do. I hate to have my fire fail in front of other people frankly, so I can really empathize with my friend Rich who set out to get a fire going one winter that I was with him. He was trying to get this thing going in his fireplace when we were with him one Sunday afternoon. So, of course, he did all the right things. He rolled up the necessary amount of newspaper. He stacked logs with plenty of room for air circulation. Now, he didn't have much kindling. That was the only weakness in his fire. Well, the fire flared, and then it sputtered, and then it smoldered. So real quick, he rolled up two or three tight paper logs, and a newspaper, and that didn't do anything. Then finally, he said, I thought it was kind of strange, but he said, "I've done all I can do. Only God can start it now." We talked for about an hour without a fire, and suddenly this little flame appeared. It grew steadily, it became a really cozy fire, and Rich and I just looked at each other and smiled!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "You Built it - He Starts it."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Chronicles 7:14 where God says, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." This, of course, is the classic formula for revival - that Holy Spirit take-over of a life or a church or a community or even a nation. And God says that, "I'll make sure that your sins are dealt with, your relationships are restored, your prayers are answered, the power is released, the lost get swept into the kingdom." That's the history of revival, and a lot of us are restless for more. We haven't seen that kind of power released and that more we want in our soul is called revival - this overwhelming sense of the personal presence of Jesus Christ.
No man starts revivals. You can't, in spite of the fact that it's sometimes scheduled on some church bulletin board - "Revival This Week!" No, it's like Rich's fire. You might say, "Well is there anything I can do to help it happen?" God says, "If you will, then I will send the fire." You can create the conditions in which God can spark revival. You can prepare it. He says humble yourself. That means bringing yourself to Him; asking Him to bring you into a total sense of dependency on Him - a sense of personal powerlessness. Then He says, "Pray." This is desperate prayer, recognizing where the power is, and going to the throne room of God boldly and passionately.
Then He says, "Seek my face." That's what a baby does. They want to touch your face to get to know you, just to touch your face. This is beyond knowing about. This is saying, "Lord, I really want to touch you deeply." Then He says, "Turn from your wicked ways." This is where a lot of us stop. In essence, we don't want to deal with our sin, except to maybe feel sorry for it. But He says this is beyond feeling bad about it. This is turning from it. This is abandoning it. This is throwing it in the fire.
In essence, you want revival so much, you want this spiritual take-over so much, this power so much, you will do whatever it takes to get God's best. And then the fire starts. God says, "Okay, then, I will hear from heaven, I will forgive your sin and heal your land - new beginnings, healing broken things - a great new start."
Let's begin to talk to each other about getting the logs and the kindling together, and then let's start to build that fire that we all really want and desperately need in our spiritual saneness and mediocrity. And then, with the fervent prayer of people who are tired of the cold spiritually, let's ask God to do what only He can do and make it into a blazing fire.