This morning I was reminded again about the longing many Christians have for real “Revival” to break out. Myself included, yet I am not sure we are all really prepared for the way revival would turn many of our lives upside down. God has used many means to trigger revival and there are many people who have theories why revival broke out at a certain time and place. Prayer sometimes by an individual other times by a community, has often been pointed out as preceding revival. However one thing stands out to me like the Morning Star, that it is entirely the prerogative of the Holy Spirit. The place and means and who He uses is unique to Him and in each situation. I think many have expected the sort of upheaval that the Covid pandemic may have been the key to revival, if not world-wide at least in local areas.
In the light of what I have been reading in Colossians, I have been reminded that whatever God is doing on the big screen, each one of us has the role to be a witness and be prepared to give an answer or take an opportunity to speak of the gospel all the time. Just look at the attitude of Paul revealed in Col. 4: 2-6. Despite being incarcerated he asks for prayer for an open door for his message, so that he may proclaim the mystery of Christ clearly, He urges the readers to be wise in the way they interact with outsiders, making the most of every opportunity, letting their conversation be seasoned by salt.
Now when Jesus was taken to heaven, the last words He spoke to His disciples were “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses”. Notice carefully, He did not say go and prepare yourselves to witness on my behalf. On the contrary He later says, do not worry about what to say, The Spirit will give you the right words to say.
Now I want to take you back to Colossians. Underlying the whole message of Colossians is a golden thread. The thread of thanksgiving. This is painted like the backdrop of a beautiful golden sunset across the sky against which the wonderful truths of the Gospel are told in bright shining letters in this astounding book.
Just look with me at a few places it appears Ch 1:9 ff, Paul’s prayer for the Colossian people: climaxes in giving thanks to the Father. This is slap in he middle of his proclamation of the wonders of the gospel and who Christ is in bringing it about. He ends this proclamation in 2:7 with the words “overflowing with thanksgiving”. This sort of brackets the section.
Then in the key paragraph in ch 3:15-17, he begins and ends with “be thankful” vs 15, and whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it in the name of the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Finally in 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
I was pondering this and the fact that elsewhere in the Bible, New an O T there are many similar vss, eg Phil 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. My thoughts started with “that is a very noble attitude to have”. Then I thought a bit deeper. This is not an instruction to add a few words of thanksgiving to our prayers to make them more authentic or whatever. No it should reflect a deep attitude of your heart which pervades your thinking. Yes one can and should give thanks. However real thanksgiving arises like a crystal fountain in the heart of the believer when he/she truly believes and embraces the great and mysterious truths of the gospel. When one is soaked in the truth of the scripture and fused to God through the reconciling work of Jesus and the power of the Spirit. It bursts almost involuntarily to the surface and friends, that is what turns us into true witnesses. That is what results in our conversation being seasoned by salt.
Can it be cultivated? Of course, but on its own it is like a bunch of grapes hanging on a fence, when it is actually fruit which comes spontaneously from a shoot of the vine of Jesus through the sap of the Spirit. It is the stalk which holds all the grapes, the fruit of the Spirit together in the bunch. That is what it means to BE a witness. When you ARE like that, you will be asked questions which you may answer in His power (Col 4:6b). And these are the people that God wants to use to build His revival on.
Just remember we can’t live the gospel by trying harder, it is the natural outflow which comes from our understanding the forgiveness and grace which comes with and from the true gospel message.