The saying goes if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. If anyone knows me they know I like to prepare. I might even say I over prepare. I’m the guy that you will see a half hour early to work so I can get a head start. Most of the time you will see me here early at the church so I can make sure all I do is ready.
I am sure that you also must do some preparing. During the holidays, you should prepare to have family over for thanksgiving and Christmas. You must clean the house, get the bird in the oven, get the side dishes ready, and make sure you have enough seats for everyone.
You must prepare for work by spending time with God, getting a cup of coffee, taking a shower or bath, getting dressed and making breakfast.
What If Jesus just showed up at your doorstep? What would you do? I am sure you’d give your best room to such an honored guest
And all the food you’d serve to Him would be fit for a king. And you would keep assuring Him you’re glad to have him there…
- Would you hide some magazines and put the Bible where they’d been?
- Would you turn off the radio and hope He hadn’t heard,
- And wish you hadn’t uttered that last word?
- Would you hide your worldly music and put some hymnbooks out?
If the Savior spent a day or two with you,
- Would you go right on doing the things you always do?
- Would you go right on saying the things you always say?
- Would life for you continue as it does always does?
Let’s see what God says in His Holy Word about “preparing the way” for such a guest.
Mark 1:1–8 NIV
The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him. ”
And so, John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In my last sermon, I talked about the valley of dry bones in the prophetic book of Ezekiel and how we need revival. Today I want to talk more about how revival happens.
V1-2 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”— “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.
Our text starts out by mentioning “in the beginning”. It’s not a bad way to start because it immediately catches our attention and makes us wonder what comes next in the story because it’s hard to understand the whole story without knowing the beginning. Have you ever tried to watch a movie half -way through? By the time, it ends you usually don’t know what’s going on because you missed a pivotal part of the story.
Our text though is referring not to the beginning of the world but, the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, his life, death, and resurrection. It gives us a glimpse of who Jesus is as Messiah and the son of God.
Jesus is mentioned as the messiah which can be translated as the anointed one. The nation of Israel was expecting a conquering king and what they got was a suffering servant. The new testament frequently applied the Greek term Christos to Jesus. That brings me to my first point.
“Revival begins when Jesus sits on the throne of our hearts”
Now every king has a kingdom. Now if we want to revive the church of God we should be for the kingdom of God. We must put him on the throne of our hearts. He is the king of kings and Lord of Lord. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Through him we aren’t mere survivors but we are thrivers. Through Him the gates of hell wont prevail against his church. If God is for us who can be against us.
Now every king has a kingdom. Now if we want to revive the church of God we must be for the kingdom of God. We must put him on the throne of our hearts. He is the king of kings and Lord of Lord. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Through him we aren’t mere survivors but we are thrivers. Through Him the gates of hell wont prevail against his church. If God is for us who can be against us.
Jesus was also referenced as the “Son of God”. In the ancient world, this phrase “Son of God” had three meanings…
- It spoke of a devoted servant
- Referred to someone who possessed gifts beyond normal expectations
- Was referenced toward political rulers
According to Mark Jesus was the son of God because
- He accepted the ministry God prepared for him
- Possessed supernatural abilities
- Jesus will rule at the right hand of God
If we are to have revival Jesus needs to be Lord of all or he isn’t Lord at all. He needs to be Lord over our jobs, our family, and our ministry. Personal revival must happen before cooperate revival does
“Revival continues with the servants of the King”
V3. “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
We see in verse 3 how it alludes to the custom of preparing the way for the coming of a conqueror by making straight paths for their travel. Now the crying from john the Baptist is literally a “calling out” suggesting an eagerness and earnestness in which he proclaimed the coming of the king.
That brings me to the next point. That “revival continues with the king’s servants”
We should with the same urgency proclaim the second coming of Christ! We have a huge role to play in God’s kingdom. God is all powerful but, he also has given us the gift of free will. God has this uncontrolling love and he won’t force us to do anything but he desires that we become participants in His plan. The king has given his servants gifts and talents to use in the kingdom. the best way to find out if your gifted in an area is to just try it out. If you say pastor Scott I tried teaching children’s Sunday school once but by the end of the lesson they had me tied to a chair and my mouth was duck taped shut…then maybe that area isn’t your gifting but,
“we shouldn’t fear failure we should fear succeeding at something that doesn’t matter”. Sometimes I think we put too much of revival on God’s shoulders. We sit on couch or our pew and pray “Dear God please revive me, revive your church. Sometimes we are our own answers to our own prayers. Sometimes God is just waiting for someone to stand up to take initiative and say “I will!”
“Revival requires sacrifice of our own kingdom so we can build Gods”
V4-6-And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.
We see in verse 4 the uniqueness of John the Baptist. His ministry was to prepare the way of the Lord and preach a baptism of repentance. He was God’s messenger. He went from town to town proclaiming that the king is coming. He
had a simple lifestyle. He wore camel hair and ate locusts and wild honey. He didn’t have a popular job as he was going against what the religious elite of the day stood for. Remember it was him who called the Pharisees and Sadducees
a brood of vipers but, it was all worth it. He had large crowds coming to him confessing their sin to him and wanting to be baptized. He was accomplishing what every good preacher or Sunday school worker wanted he was leading
broken people to Jesus the lamb of God who was slained for the world. He knew his ministry and that everything he was doing was preparing for the way of the Lord. In humility, he didn’t accept praise for anything he did. Ever.
When Jesus came on the seen John the Baptist said that he must decrease while the ministry of Jesus must increase.
You notice how people came to him. Now in our text it says ALL THE PEOPLE went out to him. Now this is the language of a hyperbole which is an exaggeration and a figure of speech. An example would be “I am so hungry I could eat a horse” or “I had a ton of chores to do”.
When it says ALL THE PEOPLE it means every kind of people in the community such as the poor, the rich, the educated, the uneducated and so on. So, what about this guy who ate wild
honey and wore camel hair, had people flocking to him? It was the message of Christ. It was Grace and the forgiveness of sin that were drawing people to him. This is something that the church is horrible at today. This is something I’m horrible at.
This is the way Christians should be. When we stop, and help someone change a tire and they thank us we should respond by saying friend God has changed a lot more than a tire for me.
When we provide clothing or food for someone we should direct the praise to God and say my God has never left me naked or hungry.
Is it not far more convenient to pray for growth in our church than it is to relinquish control of His church?
Is it not easier to pray for the salvation of a loved one than it is to allow God full use of our voice to share the message of salvation with them?
Is it not far more convenient to pray for God to bless the poor than it is to sell all we have and give to them?
This is the difference in seeking the hand of God, rather than God Himself. One merely wants God’s blessing, the other desires His lordship. Are we willing to get uncomfortable and let go of our egos?
Remember God calls us to carry our cross and not our pillows.
V8. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit
“Personal revival happens when our faith in Christ outweighs the doubt of God’s faithfulness.”
When we make plans to go somewhere we always make sure that we have enough gas in our tank to get us to our destination so we aren’t running on
empty. When it comes to revival though we must watch who is filling our tank. If it’s us, then it won’t get us to far and we will easily get tired, frustrated,
and legalistic. But when God is filling our tank it will stay full and we will experience freedom and joy in the Lord!
We have a vital part to play in the role of God’s revival.
I think a lot of times in the church we forget one factor when counting the cost of revival. You know what that is? FAITH? We forget that part of the bible
where it says “without faith it is impossible to please God” or with God all things are possible or faith without works is DEAD.
That means yes, we must do something. Yes, we must get our hands dirty for Jesus.
I can’t blame us though. The first disciples did the same thing. You see their math and God’s math just didn’t add up. You see when we mix God into the
equation we will see that He is not only the great physician he is also the great mathematician. As we see in the miracle Jesus performed when he fed the 5,000.
The disciples said master, we just don’t have enough. Jesus was like your right, but I do. It makes me think, maybe God does want to move here and begin a revival. Maybe he has for a long time but, we just haven’t allowed him to due to our lack of faith and trust?
Now in verse 8 of our text we see John the Baptist the forerunner for Jesus say “I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit”. Water
Baptism is one of two sacraments of the church and it is an outward sign of inward grace to the regenerate. Now when John calls the Jews to be also baptized
the religious leaders such as the Pharisees were outraged because that was saying that they were unclean but how can Gods chosen people the Jews be
unclean. The law of the day was that when a gentile converted to Judaism they had to accept all their beliefs and had to be circumcised and do a ritual
known as a ceremonial bath of purification known as “proselyte baptism”. What the religious leaders of the day didn’t see was that when John was calling people to repent and be baptized it was because a new movement in redemptive history was happening. It was the arrival of the messiah that they have been waiting for so long now.
So how are you going to prepare for revival? Revival begins with you! John Wesley said…
“set a man on fire and people will come for miles to watch him burn”
revival comes from the inside out but we must be willing to pay the cost of it.
Can you imagine the impact if our hearts were set on fire for the Lord? If our message was all about the grace and forgiveness of the Lord?
Revival begins when our religion ends.