By Brooke Holt
Many people in the church have been praying for revival, and it seems God has heard the prayers of his people. For those of you who haven’t seen social media recently, people are making frequent posts about the revival at Asbury University. Many skeptics have criticized what is happening there; however, that criticism has not seemed to deter the work of the Holy Spirit nor the enthusiasm of those gathered there. As of February 23, the New York Times reported that over 50,000 people have come to Wilmore, Kentucky to experience what God is doing at Asbury.
Beyond Asbury, it seems revival has come to Cedarville University in Ohio, Samford University in Birmingham, Lee University in Cleveland, and Belmont University in Tennessee (according to the Washington Post). Each of these college experiences are marked by prayer, worship, and repentance. In fact, the Asbury momentum started with one student who publicly made a confession of sin before his classmates. More students followed, repenting of their sins and finding incredible joy in the grace given through Jesus Christ. My daughter, a graduate student at Beeson Divinity School located on the campus of Samford University, attended some of the services there. She was shocked at the people who stood up to give testimonies. Each of them publicly repented of their sins with tears streaming down their faces. But it didn’t stop there. She then said that incredible joy broke out with each of these testimonies followed by worship. All student-initiated and all student-led.
This has taken me back to Paul’s words in his letter to the Romans: “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4) In this tumultuous time for the church and the world marked by division, isn’t it refreshing to remember how God works? It is the kindness of God that leads to repentance -- not rules, mandates, expectations, and all the manipulative means we humans use to control each other. Thanks be to God; he does not work as we do! In his perfect wisdom and understanding, the Lord knows how to change hearts and minds. He knows what leads to true amendment of life.
The Lord is pouring out his mercy, grace, forgiveness, joy, and reconciling power upon these students throughout our country. And it all began with repentance. What could that mean for you, for your church, and your community? Could revival begin with you?
Last week, the church began the season of Lent in preparation for the great celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter day. Throughout this Lenten season, you are invited into a time of self-examination, prayer, self-denial, reading and meditation on Scripture. Beyond that, you are invited to walk with Jesus on the road to Calvary, the road to the cross. It is a time to acknowledge and appreciate that your sins led Jesus to that cross; your sins were the nails in his hands; and your sins were then forgiven through his shed blood. It is why on Palm Sunday, the church reads the Passion narrative and together we proclaim: “Crucify him, crucify him!” Luke 23:21)
The way to Calvary is a hard road! Self-examination is not easy as it does call you to confess your sin, repent of that sin, and to then receive the mercy and grace of Jesus. While a costly road to walk, it is the road to freedom, healing, and restoration – the very things our world so desperately needs right now!
Will you receive this invitation to a holy Lent? Are you willing to walk the road to Calvary? What if God has something extraordinary for you through this season? Would you be willing to share what God does in your life, even if it means making a public confession of sin? God is in the business of revival, and I wonder if that revival might start today with you.
To guide you through this season of Lent, Bible Study Media has written Lenten studies: The Crucified Life focuses on Jesus’ words spoken from the cross while Waters of Baptism reminds you what it means to be washed by the waters of baptism and marked as Christ’s own. Consider using one of these resources through this season and join us in prayer for God’s revival to come to you, your home, your church, and then throughout the world.
More on the Recommended Resources:
Jesus’ great commission to his apostles after his resurrection was to go into all the world to preach, teach, and baptize in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. From the very beginning, baptism has been understood as the doorway into this new kind of family. Explore what Jesus expects of this new family that finds its origin and purpose in him. The baptized are called into a new life of faith. From passages in Matthew to the shining examples of faith in our passage from John, Waters of Baptism is a helpful resource for those seeking the sacrament of baptism or those who want a deeper understanding of their faith. This six week study will help us understand the importance of baptismal living.
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