The First Prerequisite For Revivalby Myron Heckman on August 21, 2015
The First Prerequisite For Revival
by Myron Heckman, Glory of God on Cape Cod Steering Committee, and Pastor, Cape Cod Bible Alliance Church
Among the prerequisites of revival are humility and prayer and forsaking sin. But first on the list is humility. II Chronicles 7:14 "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves…(then I will hear from heave…and will heal their land)."
Humility is then the first prerequisite of revival. So if we are truly seeking revival we dare not pass over it because we assume we are close enough to it.. One important lesson in it is in one of Jesus' parables told at a dinner at which he was a guest of honor.
Luke 14:7-11. The setting was a dinner.
So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The tables at the dinner would have been arranged in a U shape. The guest of honor and host would sit at the center of the table connecting the others, and the highest honors went to those sitting the closest to them, and then on down the line. So when it's time to find a seat, the closer to the head the higher the prestige. And the guests jockeyed for the best seats.
Observing this, Jesus paints the scenario of a wedding feast and tells the guests not to aim for the highest seat possible because once you get settled in the host could ask you to give up your seat to a more highly honored guest, and you'd have to make the walk of shame down to a lower seat.
Such blatant jockeying for position may seem an obvious social faux pas to us but for them it was a normal, accepted practice. On the other hand, perhaps when you were sitting down with a group you were with at a restaurant, you recall scanning for the best seat possible.
What ways might we unthinkingly try to show that we are above our peers? By our car or house or job or clothes or electronics? By our superior knowledge and expertise? By our friends (or number of friends on facebook) or our social circles? By our better prayers, our better church, and better Christian books (perhaps unread but proudly owned)?
If there is any way in which we as a matter of normal course are looking to show ourselves better than our peers or relatives, may God reveal it to us, and may we turn from it.
How much better to take a lower seat and get an invitation to take the walk of honor.
"…Go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you.
Years ago at our denomination's national meetings in Lincoln, Nebraska we stayed at the University of Nebraska dorms and were bused to the civic center. One day as my wife Rita and I and my brother walked out of the dormitory doors we saw a large crowd of people in front of us waiting for the next bus. Things had gotten backed up. We calculated we wouldn't get on the next bus or even on the one after that, and as we waited for several minutes, not even one bus had yet shown up. It was discouraging as we waited at the very back of the crowd. We watched as a large sedan pulled up to the curb and the driver rolled down the passenger window and said something to the people lining the curb. The message was passed back through the rows until it got to us. The driver was looking to "give a ride to the Heckmans." Hey, that's us! Our mood quickly elevated. We began making our way through the crowd. "Excuse us, excuse us, Heckmans coming through." When we arrived at the vehicle, still not knowing who the driver was, we discovered he was a man who knew both Rita and me through his daughter. It was a walk of honor followed by a ride of privilege. The reversal of our position felt good.
Jesus Christ promises a reversal of infinitely greater magnitude. Taking the humble place is an act of faith that God will invite you to a place of true significance. You do not need to promote your own significance and strive to maintain or improve your own standing among your peers. Serve the Lord humbly and happily where you are - "bloom where you are planted." Believe in the principle of God's upside-down Kingdom. If you exalt yourself you will be humbled. If you humble yourself you will be exalted. The first will be last and the last first. God's way is always the reverse of our fallen instincts. In God's Kingdom, the way yup is down.
The core of humility is to abandon all ideas that somehow in us there resides some reason, some righteousness, for God to accept us. Can He not see how hard we have worked? How sincere we have been, how our misdeeds are more than compensated for by our timely contributions? When He looks upon the sea of humanity, does not our righteousness rise well above the average? Any such ideas will manifest in us trying to show we are comparatively better than our peers.
But in saving faith we cast ourselves upon the Lord's mercy as our only hope. And in our continuing faith for Christian living we still must cast ourselves upon the Lord. Have any of us been able to precipitate revival, to somehow make it happen? Of course not. Only God can do that. "If my people will humble themselves and pray…'
It is good news that Jesus goes before us in this. Jesus is the epitome of his own parable. He humbled Himself and God the Father exalted Him.
Philippians 2:7-9, describes the low place Jesus took in His incarnation. "… But made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Here's the great reversal) Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name…" In God's ways, upward mobility is through humility.
"Lord God, cleanse us of our bent to be seen as superior to others. We want Jesus Christ to be seen as supreme in all things. Enable us to be willing to take the lower places, serve you in that place, and wait for Your invitation to go up higher, should You choose. Amen."