READ: Psalm 67, Ezekiel 34-36, Mark 11, 1 Corinthians 2
THE INITIATIVE OF GOD
Our Christian walk inevitably leads us through dry seasons. There are times when Jesus seems remote and we can tell that we are not as intimate with Him as we once were. We desire to abide in Him, to be renewed, to sense His intimate presence, but hard as we try our hearts and spirits remain dry. It is of great comfort in seasons like this to be reminded that Jesus takes initiative for our abiding, for our renewal. Jesus compels us toward our own desires (Psalm 119:35). Jesus takes responsibility to feed us and make us lie down (Eze. 34:15). The longings we faintly hold originate with Him, and Jesus takes responsibility to renew us. Our revival does not depend on sheer effort or discipline.
The Great Shepherd is more concerned about our spiritual fatigue than we are. Jesus is determined to give us “a new heart and a new spirit…a heart of flesh…My spirit within” (Eze. 36:26-27), and most assuredly He promises that He will cause us to walk in His statues. God makes us walk in His ways, makes us lay down in green pastures, initiates a new heart and spirit, and causes us to walk in His ways. All this is the initiative of Jesus–Jesus watches over my soul and Jesus promises “showers of blessings” (34:26). All this is wonderful, and yet it is critical to note that God renews us for His sake, not ours.
God Revives Me for His Name’s Sake. Ezekiel reminds us continually (36:21-23, 32) that God’s acts are not for us alone. His acts towards us prove His character. Our renewal is not focused on us. Our renewal is intended to be a magnification of God, the God who has taken the initiative to revive unworthy and craven humans. When others look at our lives and see joy “inexpressible and full of glory,” the contrast between our capacity and our competence is to be so stark that there can be no recourse but to magnify the God who has obviously revived us.
God Revives Me for the Sake of the Nations. When God gives grace to impossible people in impossible situations, it is intended to serve as an invitation to the nations. Others are intended to see what God has done for the weak and to hunger for that same joyous deliverance. The nations will know that Jehovah is God “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes” (Eze. 36:23). Our renewal is an advertisement of God to the nations: “The nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it” (v. 36). God is enthusiastically devoted to our renewal. Our renewal is something God needs for purposes beyond us (Mark 11:3). Let us not think that our renewal is the end goal. God renews us to magnify His own name and to allow our renaissance to be a testimony of His mercy to the peoples of the world. How wonderful that our revival is not about us! Revive us again, Lord, for Your great name, and for the sake of the nations.