The New Year

Bible Book: Philippians  1 : 27-28
Subject: Revival; New Year; Awakening

It is a solemn thing, friends, to look over the past year and to face the New Year. We are facing, unquestionably, a dangerous New Year with the threat of nuclear war constantly. Someone has predicted that there will be a nuclear war very soon and that China will be the one that will set it off. That is the prediction of someone who claims to be a seer and able to foresee the future. There are all sorts of predictions. We know that at any moment there may be this terrible nuclear war upon the human race. So it is a dangerous year as long as men are fighting one another, there is no question about it. As long as they have weapons of destruction, it could be a dangerous year.

We are reminded also of the tragic world situation we are in, violence on our streets, sin abounding. And then we look at the church as we find so many who have a name that they live, but are dead.

First of all I want to` think about the New Year with a note of victory for the people of God. In Philippians 1:27 and 28, we read a tremendous statement, "Only let your conversation (manner of life) be as it becometh the Gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving for the faith of the gospel; And in nothing terrified by your adversaries." The latter part of that verse, "Stand fast in one spirit with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; And in nothing terrified by your adversaries," is the victory of the child of God. In the midst of a needy church, in the midst of a dangerous, tragic world, my beloved friends, facing a dangerous new year, I would encourage your hearts by this tremendous statement of God's Word. Paul lived in a tremendous day. The early Christians lived in tremendous days of danger. This has always been so, and it is increasingly as we come down to the end of the age. But we have resources, my friends that will never fail us. God never will.

So the apostle Paul says, "Stand fast in one spirit, strive together for the faith of the Gospel and don't be afraid of your adversaries. Don't be afraid of the enemies." We have three things here: Standing, fighting, and being fearlessly victorious, assured of victory. Standing, stand fast in one spirit. Fighting, striving together for the faith of the gospel. Keep the faith going out. That word striving together in Greek has the word athlete in it and we are fellow athletes. It is an athletic contest. You have seen men give the utmost of their energy and strength in games. Football teams cooperate together, eleven men. Today, a quarterback can't run a team by himself. If he does, he will be defeated. Recently in a great football game, the outstanding quarterback in the world was absolutely helpless because the other team was defeating his teammates and they could not protect him so that he could get off his passes. We are reminded of teamwork. If you think this is farfetched, let me remind you of the word for athlete, used right here in this particular passage of scripture. We are fellow athletes in the contest of keeping the faith of Jesus Christ in a world of lost people. We are in an athletic contest where it takes every bit of our devotion, only this is serious. While the football games and all other games in time will be forgotten, not this one you and I are playing. So we have that striving together, the contest for the faith of the Gospel. It means giving energy, it means effort, and it means suffering.

And then finally, "In nothing terrified by your adversaries", and that we are to be fearless and assured of victory. "Don't be afraid of your adversaries," says the Apostle Paul, "because victory is assured us in the Lord Jesus Christ." It doesn't make any difference what comes. The Psalmist said, "Though the mountains be removed and cast into the sea, I will not fear, my God is still God. "And so we would enter this New Year with a note of victory for those who really love God; those that are born again; those that are the children of the Lord. And we say to those who aren't, if you will turn to Christ, God will give to you this victory in the name of our Blessed Saviour.

I. Christians Can Hinder Or Bring On Revival

But having turned from that note of victory for the Children of God, I want to turn to a plea and a challenge to every born again child of God. I stood the other day with a friend of mine who is a man of God. He had just returned from Indonesia and he was telling of great revivals going on in Indonesia, 150 teams in one city going out and witnessing for the Lord Jesus with the early enthusiasm and energy and power and blessing of the early church. The Holy Spirit of God working in a tremendous way in revival power. Thousands of people being saved and coming to the Lord Jesus Christ. It isn't a theological matter. These men that God was using are not men of the seminaries, they are not preachers. They are just lay people that believe the Word of God and are set on fire for the Lord and just going out and doing what Christ told them to do, getting saved and telling others about Jesus and how to be saved, the simple message of salvation told with enthusiasm and vibrancy and love and power. My friends, I walked away from that meeting and my heart was heavy. I was rejoicing that God is giving revival in Indonesia, but saddened because there is so little of the spirit of revival here. And my question comes, "Why? Why Lord? Why?" and back comes the answer. The problem is with us. Only Christians can hinder revival. Only Christians can bring revival. It made me search my own heart and God began to speak to my own soul in a very tremendous way. I challenge you today, my beloved friends, because God can bring revival now. Think about our churches, think about our meetings, and think about the little courage we have, the little work that we do. Where is that enthusiasm that goes out and witnesses for Jesus everywhere at all times, of the love for the Son of God that is the evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit of God and great power. "They went everywhere," we read in the Book of Acts, "Speaking the word of life, men and women." Men and women set on fire of God, witnessing everywhere for Jesus with a holy enthusiasm, contagious enthusiasm, that swept people into the kingdom of God. They saw something in these Christians that was real. What’s the matter with us? The Holy Spirit of God isn't present in His fullness and power in our lives. Why isn't He? Because of sin. This is a plea and a challenge.

Wouldn't it be great if this would be the year of the great revival here in America? Wouldn't it be great if this would be the year of revival in your city, where you are sitting right now? Wouldn't it be great if this would be the year of the great revival in your home and in your church? Oh beloved, wouldn't it be great instead of just coming and sitting down and listening to messages and going out and living the same old way, we would be on fire with vibrancy, with love and enthusiasm, with expectancy because of the presence of the Holy Spirit. What's wrong? There is no use for us preachers to stand up and beat people over the head and try to push them to do this work. There is no use in us just preaching messages. We don't need more sermons. What we need, beloved friends, is to be filled with the Holy Spirit and then automatically we will go. We will have a pusher from the inside. We will have then enthusiasm that is radiant and contagious because of the Lord Jesus and His presence.

II. Three Facts

A. Lacking Fire

I would like to present three facts to you if you are a child of God. First fact is: Most of us who are Christians are lukewarm. We are indifferent about the souls of men. You remember Jesus talking to that church in Revelation. He said, "Thou art neither cold nor hot, and because thou art lukewarm, I will spew thee out of my mouth." Christ cannot stand lukewarmness. Oh beloved, if that isn't the term for Christianity today in America I don't know what is the term. Rarely do you find Christians on fire for God. Rarely do you see Christians who are just radiant in their love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, we think we have arrived and we are just waiting for the coming of the Lord with our hands folded and sitting down and the world is going to hell all the while. Jesus left us down here to do His work, to get the job done. The church is lukewarm because of sin. We need to confess our sins.

Oh, how God spoke to my heart the other day as I awoke in the middle of the night disturbed about this very thing. I turned to my precious Bible and read in Psalm 38 the words of the Psalmist. I love them because they are so honest. This man confesses his sin. He is a child of God. His hope is in the Lord, but he recognizes sin in his heart and life. Oh, that the church today would look at itself in the eyes of God's Word and believe God and get rid of sin.

My friends, that is what we need more than anything else. We need to confess our sins. We need to see that sin is come into our hearts and robbed us of the power of the Holy Ghost. God is holy. The Holy Spirit is holy. Wherever there is sin, instantly He must walk away from it. He will not have it, and my beloved friends, insidiously in a terrible manner, we have allowed sin to come into our minds and our hearts to grieve God's Holy Ghost and rob us of the radiance of the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. And a world perishes while we fail to see this. God help us to realize this condition and today remedy it by His help, to search our souls before God, to confess our sins as the Psalmist did. Get down your book of Psalms. Read it on your knees. Mine is just marked from one end to the other. I have lived with these men. I have lived the words of the Holy Ghost. If you don't know how to pray, you will find out. God will put words in your mouth from these Psalms. Pray these very passages. Read them over and make them your prayers before God. Confess your sins. "Lord, there isn't any rest in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities are gone over my head. My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness." Thank God for the next verse. "For in thee, O Lord, do I hope, Thou wilt hear, O Lord my God." So let's admit, friends, that we are lukewarm. I am not what I ought to be. I have failed my God during the past year.

Not long ago, I asked a group of preachers how many had a real prayer meeting in their church. Not a man raised his hand. I asked preachers how many soul winners they had in their church. Many preachers are not winning souls themselves.

Oh my beloved friends - lukewarmness in the church! How many people were born again in your church last year? How many people were born again in our churches up and down the land"? Here we are fat, flourishing, and big buildings nice choirs, everything comfortable, packed pews. Upholstered seats, everything wonderful and comfortable but it is lukewarm and dead and failing Jesus, and failing lost souls. Here is a world of lost souls. God has put us down in it and told us to go and we are entrenched and seated and comfortable. God help us! Realize it today and get on fire for God. We must face the first fact that we are lukewarm because of sin, and confess sin and get it out of the way so Jesus can fill us with Himself. The Holy Spirit can do it.

B. Little Prayer

The second thing we must face: The fact that we are cold and lukewarm because of sin is mainly because we and our churches are prayerless. We are not men and women of prayer like we ought to be. In Isaiah, chapter 56, God says. "My house shall be called a house of prayer." In the future, in that great millennium, "Even them will I bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer." Above everything else, it should be a house of prayer. I was reading Charles Spurgeon the other day. He talked about that great Metropolitan Tabernacle and he called it "this house of prayer." I wonder how many men of God can stand in the pulpit on Sunday morning and call their church "this house of prayer. I know churches with big beautiful buildings, beautiful prayer rooms even, but as empty and cold as the Arctic Circle. Nobody is there. Nobody is crying to God. There isn't any real prayer going up. No burden for the lost.

The other day a friend was telling me of a man who came from some far off place where there is real revival going on and people come together in great power, but he said there is a church there that got together and determined that they were going to have revival. They had round-the-clock prayer: somebody on their knees twenty four hours a day, day and night bombarding heaven for Gods power and God's blessing. They would not let Him go and after prolonged persevering prayer, over several years, God broke loose and gave to them a great outpouring of His Holy Ghost.

Oh beloved, we must get down on our knees and ask God for revival, and bombard heaven. How God likes to be taken by force! How God likes for us to take hold of His promise and claim His blessing and not let Him go until He blesses! Prayerlessness. Isn't that the reason why you are cold'? I am cold? The church is cold? Our church members are cold?" Oh we will come and look at pictures and sing songs and study the Bible and the other things, but we won't pray. "My house shall be called a house of prayer." Prayer is first before preaching. Preaching is no good without prayer. Teaching is no good without prayer. No lives are changed. One of my friends back from South Africa on a preaching mission, told me of people gathering together until they could not have room for them in the churches, and 50, 60 and 70 souls coming to Jesus when He preached and gave the invitation. Oh beloved, there are a few places on the North American continent that this is going on today. Wherever it is going on in any measure you will find a group of people praying.

Are you lukewarm and cold because of sin? Isn't it because you are prayerless? Isn't your church cold because it is prayerless? Don't our preaching words fall to the ground because we are prayerless? Oh beloved, when a church prays and prays for its preacher, prays for themselves, and we all pray together, God's Word doesn't fall to the ground. It burns into the hearts and men cry out, "Men and brethren, what must we do?" and they get converted. They get saved and come to God and become children of the Lord.

C. Lagging Witness

Now the last thing that is in this plea and challenge for revival. Face the fact that we are lukewarm because of sin, and that it is because of prayerlessness. Our churches, our own lives are prayerless lives. We are not fulfilling the destiny for which Christ called us and this: to be His witnesses.

A world is going to hell, my friend, without God. Who cares? Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. Jesus cried over people and there is something moving to me to see our Blessed Lord standing on an eminence over the city of Jerusalem and looking down on it and tears begin to fall down His cheeks. His heart profoundly moved. Why? He is not weeping over the buildings. He is not weeping over a city of memories, memories of past gone days of prophets and all. He is weeping over souls that are rejecting Him and going to hell. Oh beloved, listen. When you and I see souls going to hell, we will become soul-winners. We will do something about it, and God will use us.

I had a letter from a young girl, just the other day. Thank God in her own particular church, she has caught the vision. She wrote me a two-page letter and told me how she is giving her life to the Lord Jesus Christ. She caught the vision. My heart was cheered, but why wouldn't it be? Why don't all of our people get the fire? Why does one here and one there catch the gleam? Oh, beloved, when revival comes, it won't be to one or two. One or two can't do the job. We need a vast number of Christians like in Indonesia, teams in one city, 150 times composed of Christians going out every day witnessing to people in the streets, in the shop, and everywhere like they did in the early church, about the Lord Jesus Christ; and with reality, and they were compelled to do this because hearts were on fire for God, until sin was crowded out of their lives and they were filled with the Holy Ghost.

Back there a blind man is saved, selling peanuts. But his soul was set on fire for God. God used him to lead 3,000 souls to Jesus Christ. In the span of a few short months, one blind man selling peanuts, uneducated, never saw the inside of a seminary, witnessed to thousands. We have more education today than we ever have had, and less power. Beloved, we need the power of the Holy Spirit. It comes when sin is confessed and when we pray and call upon the Lord.


God help us today to yield to the Lord Jesus Christ. I challenge you to search your own soul before God. Confess your sins and join me in prayer until God can fill us with the Holy Ghost and send revival and we will be set on fire and witness for the Lord and souls will be saved. That is what I want for my life and I know it is what you want for yours. God teach us to pray.