Wednesday, 30 May 2012

From rut to revival (Part 1)

Jim and Barbara lent me a copy of Out of the Rut, into Revival by Tozer.  Caroline began to read it and was really impressed.  So I have based this evening's meeting (and next week's too) on the contents of this book.  But before we look at that we will begin, as usual, with a testimony.


Matthew 5:2-12; John 14:21-24; Phil. 2:12-13; 1 John 1:8-2:2.
Last week we thought about contentment.  Godliness with contentment is great gain.  But we also said that there is such a thing as godly discontentment.  Tozer picks up on this when he challenges us to move from rut to personal revival.  He explains that being in a rut is when we expect nothing from God and are happy with the way things are.  But surely every one of us wants to change.  We all know that we are not what we ought to be.  So we should be seeking God's enabling to change.  Indeed, Tozer suggests that if 'we compare what we ought to be and could be with what we are, and we don't see that we are in a rut and we are not concerned, then one of three things is wrong.'  We are either not converted, sin has blinded us temporarily from the light or we are so self-righteous that we are impervious to the work of the Holy Spirit.  'But if [we] are concerned, wounded by the Spirit's sword and are deeply dissatisfied with the religious rut, there is hope.'

Tozer warns against false solutions to the rut.  For example, some people try to work their way out of the rut but getting busy, others blame the church for their spiritual stagnation, and I have a friend who I think is simply waiting for the Holy Spirit to 'zap' him and then all will be well.  The problem with all these attitudes is that they either fail to take personal responsibility for our spiritual lives or fail to see that the problem is deeply personal and internal.

Tozer points out that it is sin that is the cause of the rut and suggests that we examine ourselves.  'An unexamined Christian lies like an unattended garden,  Let your garden go unattended for a few months, and you will not have roses and tomatoes but weeds.  An unexamined Christian life is like an unkempt house.  Lock your house up as tight as you will and leave it long enough, and when you come back you will not believe the dirt that got in from somewhere.  An unexamined Christian is like an untaught child.  A child that is not taught will be a little savage.  It takes examination, teaching, instruction, discipline, caring, tending, weeding and cultivation to keep the life right.'  He urges that have examined our lives we confess our sins and assures us that there 'is nothing, not even the devil himself, that can hinder the confessing sinner.'

He then encourages us that the fact that we want to move beyond the rut is evidence of God's work in our lives.  'And if God worked in you to want to get out, then when you ask Him to get you out, do you suppose He would not help you out?  Would God put an impulse in your heart and then refuse to accept your prayer when you came in answer to that impulse?'  

'What our Lord taught was this: when we obey the words of Jesus, in faith and in love proving that we love Him, He shows Himself to us.'  Remember, the one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them (John 14:21b), without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14) and blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matt. 5:8).  This last verse operates on a number of levels, including on the level of personal experience.  As Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out that 'there is a sense of seeing also in the sense of knowing him, a sense of feeling he is near, and enjoying his presence ...'  This sense is dependant upon our willingness to let him deal with our hearts!
We have been thinking about moving from the rut to personal revival.  We can conclude that to make progress in the Christian life we need to see that we are not what we ought to be (including asking God and his people to show us where we need to change), then we need to sincerely ask God to forgive us (delighting in the fact that his blood goes on covering us from all sin) and commit ourselves to obeying him (remembering that it his Holy Spirit that we depend on to experience real change).

Spend time asking God to show you areas in your life where you need to change and ask him to enable you to become more like Jesus in you attitudes.


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