St Paul's UMC
February 19, 2023
  • Lord, I need you
  • To God Be the Glory
  • My Savior’s Love
  • Doxology
      • John 17:24–26ESV

      • Romans 8:9ESV

  • Last week, I shared with you how God is moving students at Asbury University in Kentucky to worship him in what many are describing as a revival. It started out as a regular Wednesday chapel service on February 8th when several students sensed that they were not to stop. They lingered, continued to praise Jesus, and prayed for one another.
    J.D. Walt posted this picture of the handful of students on that Wednesday afternoon praying together.
    Students who had left chapel came back. According to eyewitness reports, the tangible presence of God was felt as young people worshipped him in song and lifted up prayers or repentance. Soon many others were drawn to this sacred space. Word began to spread.
    This movement of the God is still going strong. Nine days later - this is what Hughes Auditorium looked like.
    Two other buildings, including the seminary chapel across the street, and a local church opened up their space to handle the overflow. Thousands have made their way to Wilmore to be a part of it. The Asbury Revival, as it has been called, has made national news.
    Krista asked me if I wanted to go. My answer was no. As exciting as it is, and as much as we have been praying for a spiritual awakening over the years, my desire is not to go there, but for God to move here.
    I believe we had a taste of it last week. During last Sunday’s service, when we entered into our time of prayer, something happened. As several of you shared this past week, there was a shift. The environment changed. Hearts changed. This has been a very difficult season here as St. Paul’s. Our board has been stressed to their limit. As pastor, I did not see a viable way forward. Too much division and hurt feelings. Then Jesus showed up. While it is too early to know if lasting change will occur - I do know that there is healing that has taken place. My prayer is that this shift is only the beginning of what is to come.
    Asbury Theological Seminary President, Timothy Tennant, wrote something a couple of days ago that I would like to share with you. It is a bit lengthy, but contains some good insight on what the Lord is doing.
    “Something special happened last Wednesday in the chapel of Asbury University chapel.  The Lord began to move in the lives of a group of students. These embers have now been fanned into flame and there is clearly a definite move of God in our midst.  We should not spend too much time looking for human causality, though there have been many praying earnestly for years for this.  It is first, last and foremost a tribute to the grace of God to reveal himself and to call a new generation to faithfulness at a time when we most needed it.  There comes a point when the people of God become tired of causal prayers and move to that point of desperation which opens us up in fresh ways to God’s surprising work.  That is what I have experienced most over the past week in my own life.
    I have been reticent to write blogs, or make a lot of public statements about this outpouring at Asbury because it is always better to stand in awe of something than to talk about something.   I have been in Hughes auditorium or Estes (Chapel), or both, every day and night, and it is like stepping into a flowing spiritual river.  You sense the presence and power of God working in people’s lives.   Since last Wednesday when the outpouring began, I have reflected many times on Jesus’ statement about the Spirit when he said, “the wind blows wherever it wants.  Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”  This is not a time to “manage” this or to try to “shape” it.  This is the time to simply receive from God’s hand.
    Several people have commented on some of the differences between these sacred days and the more well-known outpouring which took place in February of 1970.  A lot has been said about the impact of social media in telling the story, or about the focus on worship. 
    However, a deeper look at this outpouring reveals that it has the same elements which are found in any authentic revival:  people repenting of their sins; people being filled with the Holy Spirit; men and women finding reconciliation with God and their neighbor; people capturing a renewed love for Jesus, the gospel and the Holy Scriptures.  All of the above has been happening here day after day.
    Another similarity is that this outpouring has the same “inner” core and “outer” core as in 1970.   There is the inner work of God in the lives of this younger generation.  This is the focus of the outpouring.  The leadership has wisely reserved the central, front section of the chapel for the students themselves, since this is their space and God choose to begin this work among them.  The “outer” core are the hundreds of people who are pouring in from the outside who are catching this fire and bringing it back to their churches and communities.  Both are important.
    Another point regularly observed by those who have been a regular part of these services, is the solemnity and peace in the various places where this movement has spread around town.  Sometimes we envision “revivals” as times when people hear fiery sermons and there are big outbursts of emotion.  This move of God is marked more by quiet weeping than emotive shouting.
    Despite the endless coverage in social media and the regular media which is calling this a revival, I think it is wise to see this, at the current phase, as an awakening.  Only if we see lasting transformation which shakes the comfortable foundations of the church and truly brings us all to a new and deeper place can we look back, in hindsight and say “yes, this has been a revival.” 
    An awakening is where God begins to stir and awaken people up from their spiritual slumber. This is definitely happening not only in Wilmore, but as this move of God spreads to other schools and communities across the nation and even the world.  There are many reports that this is what is happening.  But, we must keep our hearts and eyes fixed on Jesus and ask for him to complete the work he has begun so that, over time, there is a lasting transformation in the lives of those who are being touched by God.”
    Church - let’s keep our hearts and eyes fixed on Jesus!
    During Revival, Jesus pours his love into his children which causes a hunger and desperation for more so that we may see his glory.
    Listen to His words in our scripture passage this week as we wrap up this Prayer of Jesus.
    John 17:24 CEB
    “Father, I want those you gave me to be with me where I am. Then they can see my glory, which you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
    Here at the end of this prayer, which we have been studying for several weeks, we hear what Jesus wants. What he desires.
    For the person who has been reading John’s gospel from the beginning, they may recall what Jesus said to his disciples in chapter 15.
    John 15:7–8 ESV
    If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
    Whatever you want will be done for you - if you are living (abiding) in Jesus and He is living in you. In that kind of close relationship - you will not be asking for needless or selfish things, but you will be asking for that which is aligned with God’s will - and such a prayer is powerful - and God will provide.
    If this promise is good for his disciples, then think about what it means for Jesus to pray for what he wants with His Father.
    As we heard last week:
    John 17:21 ESV
    that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
    Jesus abides in His Father and His Father abides in Him. So what is that Jesus wants in this prayer?
    John 17:24 ESV
    Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
    Jesus wants those whom God has given Him, those who have heard His Word and believed that He is the Son of God, to:
    “be with me where I am, to see my glory”
    This is what Jesus has already promised his disciples - now he is making known in this prayer to His Father.
    John 14:3 ESV
    And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
    Jesus wants you to be with Him and to see for yourself what we now know by faith alone. One day He will return and he will take us with Him.
    Until that time comes, He will be in us and we will be in Him through the agency of the Holy Spirit. While the Spirit is not mentioned in this prayer, He is referred to in the previous chapter.
    John 16:13–14 CEB
    However, when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you in all truth. He won’t speak on his own, but will say whatever he hears and will proclaim to you what is to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and proclaim it to you.
    Jesus sits at the right hand of God interceding for us and waiting for that time when all things will be brought into submission to Him. As we wait for that day, the Spirit of God resides in those who believe to teach, guide and protect.
    Occasionally, through every generation, the Spirit of God moves in an unexpected and powerful way - waking people up from their slumber. Reminding us of His power and presence, healing and reconciling those who respond in faith, and transforming the life of the body of Christ.
    This may be such a time. Are you hungry for it? Do you thirst for the living water that Jesus offers? Do you want to see this holy fire spread here?
    If yes, let us cry out in prayer and ask the Lord to bring revival here.
      • John 17:24ESV

      • John 15:7–8ESV

      • John 17:21ESV

      • John 17:24ESV

      • John 14:3ESV

      • John 16:13–14ESV

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