Very rarely has a sitting American President made his way to Chattanooga. However, in the mid-eighties, Ronald Reagan came to speak honoring the high school graduates of that year. There was a buzz in the air that we have seldom experienced here. The entire city went to extreme efforts to prepare for his arrival.
The route he would travel was given a landscape makeover. Windows of buildings were washed and shined, and the roads were wiped clear of debris. The airport was put on hold and roads were closed. Helicopters flew overhead and secret service men combed the grounds to ensure his protection. Men and women left their jobs temporarily and lined the streets hoping for just a glimpse of the President.
When the moment of his arrival came, his visit came and went very quickly. Some might have thought all the effort was wasted on such a short visit. But to others, it was well worth it just to know someone special had passed by our way.
Have you ever wondered what is the real secret of revival? Charles Finney thought he had revival down to a formula, and others thought revival could be forced by the right prayer, program, or personality.
Educated sermons are preached and choirs sing with passion every week, but something is still missing. Our profession of Christ has been reduced to mere professionalism. There seems to be no spiritual buzz in the air any longer. What is the root of our problem? We have lost the conscious awareness of the presence of the Lord! The very essence of revival can be summed up in these words often found in scripture, “…and the Lord passed by.” I am convinced that such a moment cannot be manufactured, manipulated, or modeled. It is a Sovereign decision alone to give His sacred movement. The problem we face is the fact so few are asking the question as to why the Lord is not sending sweeping revival to this generation.
Substitutes have made us content with who we are and where we are to the extent we have grown satisfied with shenanigans instead of Shekinah. There is a genuine uniqueness to the Lord’s presence, and our hope as a nation does not rest in policies nor politicians, but in the desperation that the Lord will choose to pass by us just one more time.
When the Lord passes by, He will confirm His Lordship.
In first Kings 18, Elijah was facing a scenario that is similarly found in America today. The land was polluted with every kind of god and the people could not decide who they would trust and follow as the true God. After the Lord revealed Himself by fire in victory, by the next chapter we find Elijah having forgotten what the Lord had done and wallowing in self-pity. The Lord then sent him to “stand on the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by.” Elijah was quickly reminded that no matter the circumstances, He is still Lord! Our nation is being told that America was not formed as a Christian nation, and Christ stands on equal ground with Buddha, Confucius, and Muhammad. Must we be reminded that He is either Lord of all or He is not Lord at all?
It is difficult for the church to publicly refute their claims because we have become so “politically correct” that we have lost our voice of authority and respect. Society laughs at us because we have gone from theology to theories, from convictions to conformity, from facts to feelings, and from preaching to performing. May the Lord “pass by” another John the Baptist who is lit by heaven’s fire, who is submitted to nothing but heaven’s approval, and who has surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus!
When the Lord passes by, He will challenge our loyalties. In Mark 2:14, Jesus “passed by” Levi who was collecting taxes. The challenge to Levi was, “follow me.” As Jesus “passed by”, He did not pause nor linger. Levi did not have time to delay, discuss, or defer the matter. It called for immediate obedience. The same was true for Peter in John 21.
After his devastating fall, Peter returned to the old life of fishing. Jesus passed by on the shore and challenged him with the question, “lovest thou Me more than these?” Peter was forced to take a stand one way or the other and he was not given time “to pray about it.” In some foreign lands, monkeys are captured by placing peanuts into stationary vases. As the monkey grabs a handful of peanuts, his fist is unable to exit the vase. Rather than letting go of the peanuts and saving his life, he becomes a victim of the wrong loyalty. When Jesus passes by, you are confronted with making a choice. Is there anything else in life you love more than the Lord? If you have to ponder your answer, you may find yourself like the disciples in the tempestuous storm in Mark 6, in which Jesus “…would have passed by them” had they not cried out.
When the Lord passes by, He will change our lives.
Jesus could not pass by anyone or anything and leave it unchanged. Whether it was a fig tree, a stormy sea, a little man in a sycamore tree, a woman hemorrhaging, or a blind man sitting on the roadside, the passing by of Jesus meant the guarantee of change. Have you ever wondered: What is the worst thing the Lord could do to a people as a sentence of judgment?
The answer is not to send plagues, rain fire and brimstone from heaven, or to destroy by way of natural disasters. The worst thing the Lord can do is to let a people have their own way. We need change desperately in our nation. I do not mean change that is dictated by legislation or decrees, but change that begins in our hearts. Surely there is still a Moses somewhere that will dare to cry out to the Lord, “show me Thy glory.” Interestingly enough, the Lord heard one man’s cry and said, “I will…pass by”, and that man was never the same again.
I am reminded of blind Bartimaeus in Luke 18 who sat begging on the street corner of Jericho. Verse 37 records, “and they told him that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.” It was a once-in-a-lifetime meeting, and he had to act now or forever remain blind. What if genuine, heaven-sent revival never comes to our generation? Has the window of opportunity already “passed by” us? May we boldly cry out NOW like Bartimaeus and do whatever is necessary to prepare for the passing by of the Lord so the whole world will see just how special He is through our lives!
Your Most Proud Pastor,
© 2007 Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.