Saturday, March 19, 2011

Revival in Bakersfield, California

God greatly blessed during the revival meeting at McKee Road Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California- the church where Linda and I were married nearly four years ago. The pastor is one of my dearest friends in the ministry- Fred Fies. He and his family have faithfully served at MRBC for over five years now, and they have seen God do some wonderful things.

I had never preached a revival meeting before, and I truly felt inadequate. But God, through His Spirit, directed me to 1 Thessalonians 1, and gave me the exact messages He wanted to be preached.

Sunday morning, I started in 1 Thessalonians 1:5, where the Bible says, "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost..." I stopped at the word "gospel" and preached a simple salvation message. The focus was that when Paul, Timothy, and Silas entered Thessalonica, they did not take some man-made religion or power of positive thinking message. They took with them the Gospel- the glorious message of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for the sins of the whole world.

Sunday evening, I moved a little bit further in the verse, where it says, "but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance..." The gist of the message was that when Paul, Timothy, and Silas entered Thessalonica with the message of the Gospel, they did not go in their own wisdom or in the power of their flesh. They entered Thessalonica filled with the Holy Spirit. The points of the message were: 1. The Clash (the flesh vs. the Spirit) 2. The Choice (to whom will we yield, the flesh or the Spirit?) 3. The Consequences (what happens when we yield to the flesh, and what happens when we yield to the Spirit?)

Monday evening, we continued through the verse, and focused on this portion: " ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake." Basically, when those young Thessalonian Christians looked at the lives of Paul, Timothy, and Silas, they saw that their message and their lifestyles did not contradict each other. There was something distinctly different about the lives of Paul, Timothy, and Silas. The message was primarily about sanctification.

Tuesday evening, we continued through the passage, and shifted the focus from the lives of the three missionaries to the lives of the Thessalonian Christians themselves. On Tuesday night, I focused on this portion of the verse: "And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, and with joy of the Holy Ghost..." The premise of the message was that these Thessalonian Christians were not merely saved; they were disciples- followers of the Lord. Tuesday night, I preached about the meaning of discipleship from Matthew 16:24. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."

Wednesday evening, we went on to verse 9, where the Bible says, "For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad, so that we need not to speak anything." On Wednesday night, I preached about the ministry of discipleship. Basically, God showed me in studying this passage that true discipleship does not lead us to become hermits, or scholarly, stuffy, puffed up pious prune-heads; rather, true discipleship leads us to become servants.

I believe that God met with us in a might way. I certainly sensed His grace at work in my heart as I preached, and it was a blessing to see people responding to the work of the Holy Spirit.

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