I’m sitting in a hotel room in Florida taking a little time to rest. They call it respite. Life has been a whirlwind these last few years, but especially in the last several months. My candle has been burning at both ends. At this point, it’s burning in the middle, so that’s not a good thing. While on this short respite, I decided to search for the sermon everyone is talking about – the sermon that launched the Asbury revival in Kentucky on February 8, 2023.
I’ve listened to a few commentators. I have seen the various posts and dialogue going back and forth, but I hadn’t seen the actual message that started what is being labeled as a revival. So, rather than jump on the bandwagon of a lot of assumptions and presumptions, I watched it for myself. I am a note-taker and Bible opened person when listening to sermons, so I jotted down some notes of things the guy said.
He started out with this question – Do we really love?
His feature passage comes from Romans 12:9-21. Let’s look at this for context.
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[b] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[c]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Do we really love?
We think we do, but do we really? Let’s break down the list above. After all, in 13 verses, there are almost 30 commands. After reviewing the list, ask yourself the question again.
- love must be sincere
- hate what is evil
- be devoted to one another in love
- honor one another above yourself
- never lack zeal
- keep your spiritual fervor
- serve the Lord
- be joyful in hope
- be patient in affliction
- faithful in prayer
- share with the Lord’s people who are in need
- practice hospitality
- bless those who persecute you, do not curse
- rejoice with those who rejoice
- mourn with those who mourn
- live in harmony with one another
- don’t be proud
- associate with lowly people
- don’t be conceited
- do not repay evil for evil
- be careful and do what’s right
- live at peace with everyone
- don’t take revenge
- leave room for God’s wrath
- feed your enemy if hungry
- give your enemy something to drink if thirsty
- don’t be overcome by evil
- overcome evil with good
Am I meeting all of the above? Killing it? No, and I am not alone. The guy who delivered the message admitted he is not meeting them all either. Glad to know I am not alone. Does that give me an excuse to continue my failings? No.
So, again, do we really love?
“How do we love? How do we do this?
How are you doing with those in your community, the circle that loves you? Hates you? Even despises you and what you stand for?
Love is not hypocritical, polluted, evil, giving preference to, or deceitful.
You cannot love until you are loved by Jesus. Stop striving. You love because Jesus loves you first. We love because he first loved us. If you’re loving someone and not becoming more like Jesus, then you need to search your heart. Some of us need to sit in the presence of Almighty God and taste and see God’s love.
If you want to become love you have to prostrate yourself before the Lord.
If you want to become love in action then you have to experience the love of the Lord first.
We cannot do the above commands or earn our way to heaven. You have to experience the love of Christ.
The world needs this kind of love – filled with God’s love.”
And with that, he prayed and walked off the stage.
I don’t believe based on what I saw that he thought his sermon, as tired as he was from driving the night before and getting up early that morning would have sparked such a response.
The sermon wasn’t very long, but I thought the points he made about what we are not doing were on point.
The Asbury Revival has many people talking on social media, YouTube, and news channels here and in other countries. There are varying opinions about what is happening there. Yesterday, I saw reports that the line to get into the building was more than a half mile long. I have watched several live videos from inside.
Are people going for the experience? True repentance? Curiosity? Seeking answers? I don’t know and I cannot put myself in their shoes.
But this is what I see happening as I survey what’s happening here and around the world. I best describe it this way and I am by no means an expert or claim to be. I’m just someone who surveys the whole landscape as much as possible, both inside the U.S. and outside.
There is what appears to be a movement surrounding Jesus inside the United States. It started with a very popular show, ‘The Chosen’ more than a year ago. Set to release shortly is another Jesus movie titled the ‘Jesus Revolution.’
In recent weeks, we have seen commercials during the Superbowl, ads titled ‘He Gets Me’ which are about Jesus. And let’s not forget what grabbed media attention in the sports world and everywhere else, but Damar Hamlin, the football player who suffered a cardiac arrest on the football field in the middle of the game. Football as we know it stood still that day, and many prayed for that young man. He is now speaking on national television about his experience. He is also drawing negative attention from a jacket he wore recently depicting a very sick-looking Jesus on a cross.
This has all happened in a very short time, and now the Asbury Revival is making big news. I heard a pastor say this morning, several colleges around the country are experiencing the same thing. You need to check your news sources. Notice that many of these events involve young people.
On the other side, we have wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, typhoons, evil, lawlessness, murder, hatred, greed, the rise of world powers, deception, satan worship on live television, on YouTube, in Disney cartoons, attacks on children, sickness, etc, etc. These events are happening at the same time and some have been happening for quite some time now.
What is happening? Only God really knows.
We can surmise all we want about the legitimacy of what is happening at Asbury and other college campuses, but only God knows what is truly happening. He knows the hearts of the people. He knows our hearts.
So what can I do as I sit here and look out a 4 story window at nothing? Pray and read my Bible.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 24 days like this will come. Why are we surprised? We were given a heads-up.
Is what is happening at Asbury what everyone has been praying for? Has revival in this country started?
Asbury, from what one commentator said, has seen this kind of thing before in the past. Is it because the media wasn’t so popular back then that we didn’t hear much about it? I don’t know, but I do go back to two things:
God knows our hearts
And are we really loving as God has commanded up to love?
No matter what you may think about what is happening at Asbury, the dude who delivered the message does have a point. Are we loving the way God has told us to love? Are we doing what the Apostle Paul said to do in Romans 12?
Are we loving God first; with all our heart, soul, and mind, and then loving our neighbor as ourselves?
Jesus answered the question – What’s the most important command? It’s to love the Lord God first, then your neighbor.
I think we have a twisted view of love and the definition of love has moved away in many hearts in this country from loving God to loving self first.
If we are to see a revival in this country, we must all get back to loving God first, then our neighbor as ourselves. All this hatred, violence, and evil that dominate 24-hour news outlets is NOT love. It is exactly what it displays – evil and the enemy rejoices he gets so much air time.
My prayer for all those involved in the Asbury Revival, and anywhere else in the world whether coming or going there is that they will be changed by God for the better. I pray they will go into all the world and be used by God to shine his light into the dark places, and love – really love as Jesus loved. Not what this nation or any other nation has defined as love.
Jesus said we are not to hide our light under a basket. It’s time to shine the light. It’s time to speak up and lift our voices. It’s time to quit hiding for fear of the enemy.
Revelation 12 says the accuser, the devil, accuses night and day, That isn’t going to stop, especially in the last days because he knows his time is short.
God can and will use any situation to bring Him glory, even the Asbury Revival. We may not see it right away if at all, but I trust the Lord knows exactly what is happening at Asbury, and I trust he will bring his plan to fruition in the lives of all those affected.
So, let me ask you again – do you really love?
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a][c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-38