KEEPING OUR FRIENDSHIP WITH CHRIST GROWING IN FERVENT LOVE
KEEPING OUR FRIENDSHIP WITH CHRIST GROWING IN FERVENT LOVE
The Ephesian church left their first love (Rev. 2:5). This was a very serious fall from a higher plane on which they had previously lived. Our Lord called them to repent and do once again those first works that spring from fervent love for God. Otherwise the Lord would take the lamp of testimony out of their church. A church that is no longer vibrant with the love of God has lost that special life that shines as a light in our heartless world.
Our Lord told the Ephesian church "Remember therefore from where you have fallen." We cannot be revived until we recall the heights from which we have fallen. We would all like to think that our love for God is all it could be. But is this really true?
How many of us have ever seen the amazing love that we read about in the book of Acts? The Lord has used David Brainerd's diary to show me that love and to make me hungry and thirsty to be filled with that love. David Brainerd was born in 1718. He died at thirty years of age. Jonathan Edwards wrote, "From the time Brainerd began to study theology until his death, he daily `walked with God' or mourned the absence of the light of his countenance." During his life Brainerd witnessed a great awakening in the churches through Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield. God used Brainerd as a missionary to give birth to the church among the Indians in revival power.
Let me share some quotations from his diary with you. On April 2nd, 1742 David cried, "Oh that my soul were wrapt up in divine love, and my longing desires after God increased!"
On April 4th he wrote, "O my blessed God! Let me climb up near to him, and love, and long, and plead, and wrestle, and stretch after him, and for deliverance from the body of sin and death." On April 6th he added, "Then God gave me to wrestle earnestly for others, for the kingdom of Christ in the world, and for dear Christian friends."
Notice how he poured his heart and soul into his prayers on April 19th. "In the afternoon God was with me of a truth. O, it was blessed company indeed! God enabled me so to agonize in prayer, that I was quite wet with sweat, though in the shade and cool wind. My soul was drawn out very much for the world; I grasped for multitudes of souls ... I had great enjoyment in communion with my dear Savior." And on the 20th he added, "I think my soul was never so drawn out in intercession for others, as it has been this night. Had a most fervent wrestle with the Lord to-night, for my enemies..."
His prayers were rewarded. On August 8, 1745 while he was preaching "the power of God seemed to descend upon the assembly" of Indians. "I stood amazed," he wrote, "at the influence which seized the audience almost universally ..." Those who were under conviction included all ages from little children of six or seven years to old men and women "who had been drunken wretches for many years."
A self-righteous man who had quite confidently told David the day before that he had been a Christian for more than ten years "was now brought under solemn concern for his soul, and wept bitterly. Another man advanced in years, who had been a murderer, a "powaw" or conjurer, and a notorious drunkard, was likewise brought now to cry for mercy with many tears." Nearly everyone in the house and many out of doors were under conviction.
New believers escaped the depths of sin and entered into an amazing love which they now shared. "Love seemed to reign among them!" David wrote on August 25th. "They took each other by the hand with tenderness and affection, as if their hearts were knit together, while I was discoursing to them; and all their deportment toward each other was such, that a serious spectator might justly be excited to cry out with admiration,
`Behold how they love one another.' Numbers of the other Indians, on seeing and hearing these things, were much affected, and wept bitterly; longing to be partakers of the same joy and comfort ..."
As he began speaking the next day, "the dear Christians in the congregation began to be melted with affection to, and desire of the enjoyment of Christ, and of a state of perfect purity. They wept affectionately, yet joyfully; and their tears and sobs discovered brokenness of heart, and yet were attended with real comfort and sweetness. It was a tender, affectionate, humble and delightful meeting" (from "The Life of David Brainerd", Baker Book House).
This transformation did not wait for years of Christian growth. New believers coming out of pagan idolatry began to immediately share the amazing love of Christ. God used David Brainerd's prayers bathed in tears and agony to release the powerful work of the Spirit in their midst.
Most of us are total strangers to such high and pure love. As W. Bingham Hunter put it, "Christians are like fish, living in a fluid medium (society) which has become so morally murky that `light' seems abnormal. We were born in dirty water and have gotten used to it. Mud and murk are normal; clean and light are threatening ... We have learned to live comfortably with unholiness" and see lots of other Christians who do too (p. 20, "The God Who Hears", InterVarsity Press).
We really begin praying for revival when we hunger and thirst to be filled with the pure love of Christ and all the rich fulness of God's holy character. We want that holy life of love so much we pray for ourselves and for the church as Paul did for the Ephesians (3:14-21) and plead with God to grant our request no matter what it costs. We pray in desperation to escape the morally murky water and in fellowship with the whole church share heaven's pure love.
David Brainerd wrote, "My faith lifted me above the world, and removed all those mountains over which of late I could not look" (April 12, 1742). My own faith for revival is lifted above the world and its mountains when I claim the power of the blood of Christ and the strength of His intercession for us to revive all of us again and fill each heart with His love (Revelation 12:11; Hebrews 7:25; 13:20-21).
Would you join me in praying for revival daily in your private prayers and then plan to spend at least one hour with our Lord in prayer each week. Get together with others to pray for revival especially on the first Monday of each month.
Copyright by Oliver W. Price 1992 All Rights Reserved