As a church community, we have been praying and fasting to ask God to give us an awakening. We have been asking the Lord to move among us in unprecedented ways, and I believe that God wants to do that more than we want to see it. I also believe that the marks of revival can be very different from what we sometimes think. During the Great Awakening Revival of the 18th century, the great American pastor/theologian Jonathan Edwards suggested five distinguishing characteristics of a genuine work of the Spirit of God. Based on his study of 1 John 4, Edwards suggested that when the following conditions were present, we could be confident that God was truly at work among us:
1) When the operation is such as to raise their esteem of that Jesus who was born of the Virgin, and was crucified without the gates of Jerusalem; and seems more to confirm and establish their minds in the truth of what the gospel declares to us of his being the Son of God, and the Saviour of men; is a sure sign that it is from the Spirit of God.
2) When the spirit that is at work operates against the interests of Satan’s kingdom, which lies in encouraging and establishing sin, and cherishing men’s worldly lusts; this is a sure sign that it is a true, and not a false spirit.
3) The spirit that operates in such a manner, as to cause in men a greater regard to the Holy Scriptures, and establishes them more in their truth and divinity, is certainly the Spirit of God.
4) Another rule to judge of spirits may be drawn from those compellations given to the opposite spirits, in the last words of the 6th verse [1 John 4:6], “The spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
5) If the spirit that is at work among a people operates as a spirit of love to God and man, it is a sure sign that it is the Spirit of God.
I believe that our esteem for Jesus has increased, our dependence upon “worldly lusts” has been challenged, we have a higher regard for the Holy Scriptures, and we are experiencing a greater love for God and for man. Because of this, I really believe that God is at work among us in a powerful way!
We started this year off with a season of focus on prayer and fasting. We continue to pray and fast and seek God’s purposes for us as a community of faith. God is calling us to put hands and feet to that faith. There are people in this community that only you can reach. There are people only you can befriend. If God’s Spirit really is at work among us, we won’t be able to accept the status quo. We won’t be able simply to observe what is going on without longing to be part of the action!
One way that you can participate in God’s plans for our church is to invite people in your circle of influence to our “Friend Day” on Sunday, February 13. There are many people in your life who would come to church if someone would invite them. Don’t be afraid of rejection. Don’t allow complacency to rob you of the joy of participating in God’s plan to save people. There is nothing more exciting than seeing lost, hurting people turn their hearts to Jesus. Why not sit down right now and think of a few names of people you know need to meet Jesus? What would happen if you invited them and they came to this church and received Jesus on that Sunday? God’s Spirit is at work here. I am excited to see what He is doing among us, and I pray the awakening God has begun would inspire us to a greater love for Him, for His people, and for His world.