Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Revival: The word we seek is in the Book
Psalm 119:14-16 (NIV)
I rejoice in following your statutes, as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
POPULAR New Wine speaker and renowned Bible teacher Simon Ponsonby, beginning a theme for the week, told the story of an English couple travelling in one of the more turbulent Middle East countries with a car load of Bibles. At an intersection they were observed by a Mujahidin warrior, with automatic rifle and bandolier. Driving through nervously, they were struck by the thought of giving the man a Bible from their consignment – but how? What a risk! This feeling wouldn’t go away and a few miles down the road, they discussed it again and became sure that this was a word of knowledge – they needed to go back and offer the fearsome-looking man a Bible. Whatever he might do!
So they return, praying fervently, and he is still guarding the intersection. They park a little way away, get out, approach tentatively and ask him if he would like to accept the gift of a Bible.
He accepts. He not only accepts, but gets down on his knees to give thanks and praise. Then he explains in broken English: “Three days ago I had a dream about this place, that here I would be given a book with the words of life in it. I have been waiting here ever since.”
He waits for it – and it comes. And he treasures it as one who has waited three days, day and night.
How do we treasure the Bible we are carrying – or perhaps, not carrying?
This story points to how the devotional life of the typical western believer is being eroded, of the weakening of our devotion to the words of life in this book, our ‘wardrobe into Narnia’.
Jeanette Winterson once said: “It is lovers’ talk, a whisper in the ear, but also public truth.” This is the place where God meets us with His grace.
Until recently, the Bible at 100 million copies a year was the most printed single publication. Then the IKEA catalogue came along, which grosses 200 million copies a year – but everything it describes, you have to pay for. In the Bible, everything we want is already paid for.
How many times have you read the Bible through? Malcolm Muggeridge wrote about visiting Russia in the days when it was a more closed country than now, and seeing a handwritten Bible whose pages were shared around and swapped from week to week.
Yet we sometimes we find ourselves at Christian gatherings where no one brings a Bible.
Many people are looking for a word, a word of direction, or a word of encouragement, or a word of revelation. That word is in the Book, and it comes from the Book!
This is a call to return to the basics, to return again to God’s word, to return again to being those who “rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.”
We seek revival, but in truth revival comes as God revives His church – a person at a time.