By Pam Cowart
In January of this year we heard God calling us to AWAKEN. We gathered to fast and pray in a desire to respond to this calling with obedience. We prayed we would all awaken. We heard the knock on our individual and corporate hearts asking us to “open the ancient gate and let the King of Glory enter in.”
And enter He did! The Spirit of the Living God was among us as we gathered for early-morning and noontime prayer, as well as in our nightly revival gatherings. Again, in late April/early May we gathered to pray and fast for the Call to AWAKEN revival week with Mark Nyswander. We heard the call to AWAKEN to the fullness of the Holy Spirit. We experienced what the Holy Spirit in our lives can do to transform us, redeem us, restore us and empower us. There have been powerful testimonies of what God has done in the lives of individuals and in us corporately as we have woken up!
At both revivals we joined together in the war cry, “COME ON!” That cry has a three-fold meaning:
As we enter a third week of fasting and prayer leading up to a third week of Call to AWAKEN revival gatherings, this cry is still before us. It is still valid and needed as a war cry among us. Yet, I hear a stiller, smaller, quieter voice inviting us into something deeper yet. I hear the voice of Jesus cutting through the noise of this world. I hear His firm, confident, compassionate voice waking us with a call, “Come on.” I hear Jesus saying, “Come on ... wake up ... get up ... follow me.” I hear Jesus saying, “Come on ... follow me ... I am inviting you into something new.” I hear Jesus saying, “Come on ... I truly want you to know and experience an awakening to MY LOVE FOR YOU!”
This invitation into the depths of His love is not some sugary, sappy journey. The filling of our lives with the love of Jesus is the source of all we need. This deep filling is for healing and wholeness. This deep filling is for empowerment for battle. This deep filling is for pouring out to those in need around us. This deep filling is to grow us up together to be the mature and functioning body our Head needs us to be.
What a glorious invitation it is. Will you come? Will you say “yes” to his invitation”? Will you come on? Will you wake up?
Today's devotional again comes courtesy of Mark Nysewander. In an April 1 blog post, "Revival Hope is about Tasting the Future," Mark wrote: "Revival hope is ... not a fact you learn. It’s living! You actually taste what’s ahead." He then provided some examples of what we have to look forward to in the coming age.
Click here to read the entire post, and consider the following as you spend time with the Lord:
Our guest speaker next week, Mark Nysewander, recently penned a blog post, "What Humility Has to Do with Revival," that fits right in with where we're headed for A Call to AWAKEN.
“Revival comes to humble places," Mark wrote, "because they house humble people. Humility is the best conductor for God’s power. To be an instrument of revival, seek the posture that conveys such power."
Click here to read the full text of Mark's post, and consider these questions in your prayer time:
If you’re interested in going deeper into this topic, check out Mark's book, "Revival Rising: Preparing for the Next Great Wave of Awakening," available here.
Scripture: Isaiah 58:6-8
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter--
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard."
Earlier this year, we said that one of the fruits of a genuine move of God’s Spirit is holiness – a growing hatred of sin and longing for righteousness. While the work of sanctification is clearly the work of the Holy Spirit, He will not do it against our will. We must desire to be transformed and be willing to yield to His work. Fasting can play an important role in preparing us for that work in two ways.
First, fasting has a way of intensifying the power of prayer. Mark Nysewander explains:
Isaiah says that if you fast, “then your righteousness will go before you” (Isaiah 58:8). Righteousness will work itself out in your life so that people see holiness. But fasting doesn’t make you holy. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit the fire of God transforms your human will so that you can consistently and passionately choose for God. The Holy Spirit begins to manifest within you the character of Jesus.
If only the Holy Spirit makes you holy, how is fasting a key to holiness? When you couple fasting with another spiritual dynamic, whether it is prayer, worship or brokenness, that spiritual dynamic moves into a deeper dimension. Couple fasting with the baptism in the Holy Spirit and it intensifies the work of the Spirit in your life. Fasting becomes the fuel infector for the fire of the Holy Spirit! (The Fasting Key, p. 51)
Second, fasting has a way of exposing sin or areas in my life where I am resisting God. Richard Foster writes,
More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface. (Celebration of Discipline, p. 55)
Scripture: Hosea 10:12
"Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you."
From Pastor Keith
I’m going to throw you a change-up this morning. I was reading from "The Best of A.W. Tozer" (pp. 239-240, edited) and felt moved to share a portion of it in place of Mark’s article as we continue to pray and fast for a fresh move of God.
There are two kinds of ground: Fallow ground and ground that has been broken up by the plow.
The fallow ground is smug, contented, protected from the shock of the plow and the agitation of the harrow. Safe and undisturbed, it sprawls lazily in the sunshine, the picture of sleepy contentment. But it is paying a terrible price for its tranquility: Never does it see the miracle of growth; never does it feel the motions of mounting life nor see the wonders of bursting seed nor the beauty of ripening grain. Fruit it can never know because it is afraid of the plow and the harrow.
In direct opposite to this, the cultivated field has yielded itself to the adventure of living. The protecting fence has opened to admit the plow. Peace has been shattered by the shouting farmer and the rattle of machinery. The field has felt the travail of change; it has been upset, turned over, bruised and broken, but its rewards come hard upon its labors. The seed shoots up into the daylight its miracle of life. All over the field the hand of God is at work in the age-old and ever renewed service of creation. New things are born, to grow, mature, and consummate the grand prophecy latent in the seed when it entered the ground. Nature’s wonders follow the plow.
There are two kinds of lives also: The fallow and the plowed. For examples of the fallow life we need not go far. They are all too plentiful among us. The man of fallow life is contented with himself and the fruit he once bore. He does not want to be disturbed. He smiles in tolerant superiority at revivals, fasting, self-searchings, and all the travail of fruit bearing and the anguish of advance. The spirit of adventure is dead within him. The curse of such a life is that it is fixed, both in size and content. To be has taken the place of to become. He has fenced himself in, and by the same act, he has fenced out God and the miracle.
The plowed life is the life that has, in the act of repentance, thrown open the protecting fences and sent the plow of confession into the soul. The urge of the Spirit, the pressure of circumstances and the distress of fruitless living have combined to humble the heart. Such a life has put away defense, and has forsaken the safety of death to the peril of life. Discontent, yearning, contrition, courageous obedience to the will of God: these have bruised and broken the soil till it is ready again for the seed. And as always, fruit follows the plow. Life and growth begin as God “rains down righteousness.” Such a one can testify, “And the hand of the Lord was upon me there.”
Throughout this week of preparation for our second Call to AWAKEN, Pastor Keith will provide a daily devotional to encourage you in your times of prayer and fasting for a fresh move of God’s Spirit. Included in the devotional is a brief daily word from "The Fasting Key," a book by Mark Nysewander, who will be our guest speaker during A Call to AWAKEN 2. Keith will add a focal scripture and a few application questions. Don’t forget, we are gathering at 6:30 a.m. and noon each day in the Prayer Room, and would love for you to join us!
Scripture: Hebrews 4:12-13
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."
Today’s Fasting Encouragement: Revelation
From Mark Nysewander, "The Fasting Key" (London, Sovereign World Ltd., 2015)
So how should you read the Bible to get revelation? Read it in faith, expecting God to speak. And one way to turn up the light of revelation is through fasting. In my life the Bible never seems as alive as when I fast. One couple saw an immediate difference in their ability to receive revelation through the Bible when they started fasting one day a week. “God has opened our eyes to things that we have read before,” they reported, “but have never seen specifically – it’s as though ideas are just jumping out at us!”
Fasting played an important role in giving us the inspired word of God. Moses fasted for forty days before he received the illumination of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28). Daniel fasted when he got inspired words of the end-times (Daniel 9:3). Paul, who wrote a significant part of the New Testament, said he fasted often (2 Corinthians 11:27). If fasting helped these men receive so much of the original inspiration of God’s Word could it not release in you a present illumination from His Word? (Page 37)
We’ve been talking a lot about revival at CCC in 2017. In fact, our theme for the entire year is AWAKEN, which we adopted with the prayer that God will bring a fresh move of His Spirit and reveal to us a new and fresh vision of what He wants to do in and through this local church body.
Mark Nysewander, teaching pastor at RiverStone Church in Kennesaw, Georgia, has some thoughts on revival, too. A key component, he says, is humility.
Writing for Seedbed, Asbury Theological Seminary’s media platform for gathering, connecting and resourcing the Church, Mark says “revival comes to humble places … because they house humble people. Humility is the best conductor for God’s power. To be an instrument of revival, seek the posture that conveys such power."
Mark will be at CCC during our next Call to AWAKEN gathering, set for April 30-May 3. You can read the rest of his blog post, "What Humility Has to Do with Revival," right here.
And if you’re interested in going deeper into this topic, check out his book, "Revival Rising: Preparing for the Next Great Wave of Awakening," available in the Seedbed store.
We look forward to Mark joining us this spring as we continue to be awakened by an exciting move of the Holy Spirit here at CCC.
The CCC Blog is a collection of writings and images from staff members and guest contributors, all pointing to the extraordinary life made possible by a relationship with Jesus.