‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it’. God is not only present in the spaces and places that are part of our everyday lives, he is working. Some of that work is a baffling mystery to me and some of it God makes plain to us so that we can join in and participate. What is God making plain at the moment, what must we pay attention to and what is he preparing his church for?
In Revelation 3 the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus writes to the church in Sardis ‘Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of God’. There are three rooms of revival that we must be awake to, rooms where the Lord is present and wants us to be aware of what he is doing. Rooms where God is strengthening and reviving his church and waking us up that we might finish the work he has given us.
The upper room
The Hughes Auditorium at Asbury University was an upper room. It was also a symbol, a sign and a provocation for what God is wanting to do in upper rooms all around the world. It is a signpost that is pointing somewhere and is highlighting important information. At the centre of that sign is the risen Lord Jesus, he is in the middle and by his Holy Spirit he is drawing our attention to the heart of the Father. In the upper room Jesus is the trinitarian lead and it is his likeness and standard that is being revealed and provoked. Out of his loving kindness this current move of the Spirit is about unburdening, purifying, realigning, and empowering his body. The head needs the members to be one and in holy surrender to the will of God. There is deep, holy, and profound work that Jesus wants to do in this room.
Jesus is jealous for his church; our allegiance to him and his ways are how we are designed to live and flourish.
In the upper room there is a lot of loosening and letting go. Letting go of hurt and pain, letting go of offense and misunderstanding, letting go of sin and unforgiveness, letting go of unrest and anxiety. It is an invitation to come and lay down heavy burdens. It is an opportunity to welcome and respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Lots of things can’t be let go of without repentance. It is incremental work, and one visit isn’t enough. It isn’t about an emotional high, although some of this will feel good, it is about learning to be Spirit led, to repent quickly and be led by conviction more than feelings. Surrender is the new strategy.
Some of the very tangible fruit from the Asbury Outpouring is that the student counselling services at Asbury University are experiencing an eight year low in referrals. It should be no surprise that surrender to Jesus is good for mental health!
The upper room space is where two or three are gathered or two or three hundred/thousand are gathered. It all depends on who or what the focus is. It isn’t about endless meetings, although some may go on longer and disrupt other agendas, it is, however, a space we must prioritise over the coming months and years. To begin with we may need to enter once a week or more. It is also a space that isn’t exclusive to Christians, it is for anyone who is thirsty and in need of a doctor.
The upper room is where we wait, listen, and respond to God in an atmosphere of worship. Where we dare to linger a little longer and open our hands and hearts to God. It is a transformative space where God is working to strengthen what remains and in some cases, stripping back to the foundation that is Christ. Some things that have been built on that foundation have been weakened over the decades, eroded by culture, and subtle changes in values have caused gradual subsidence. The cracks are now evident and unless what remains is strengthened the church will not be able to bear the weight of what Jesus wants to build.
When we wake up, we see plainly that Jesus isn’t interested in maintaining our standard of living, he is fully invested in us living to his standards. It is because we are in the grip of slow awakening that there is now an intensified work of the Spirit that is causing some painful stripping back so the church can bear the weight of a greater awakening over the coming decades.
The inner room
Jesus declared ‘I only do what I see my Father doing’. How did he know what the Father was doing? He spent time in the inner room. Time in solitude to pray and process big decisions, grief, adversity, and next steps. For many in the last year what has started in them has not been a result of the upper room, but the inner room. A pull towards the Father and increased appetite and hunger for the reality of God. The secret place for deepening intimacy with the Father.
The Father takes the lead in the inner room, it is space for affirmation and instruction, fine tuning, listening, and prayer. It is where we learn to receive the good gifts the Father wants to give us, it is where our true identity is bestowed on us. The Father doesn’t just want to give us more, in Jesus he has plans to give us everything!
For others, the upper room has been the catalyst for a deeper walk with God and if the upper room encounter is real and embraced it will lead to a longing and desire for the inner room.
In the inner room God is stirring personal revival. Some of the decisions made in the upper room – enough is enough, surrender, confession, no more addiction to porn, to drugs, to alcohol, to social media, create a vacuum. The question is what will fill the place of what was consumed before? Will old habits live on or will new ones form? Will our appetite for God increase and lead to us prioritising time in the inner room? The inner room is the room of awkward personal revival – it doesn’t always feel good, it can feel hard and a battle to enter. For many they have entered the inner room for survival and refuge, life circumstances have hounded them there, desperation has driven them there. Thankfully what feels like enforced abiding is not benign, living water begins to flow and slowly filters out the toxins. Rest and peace and joy begin to glisten like the prospector glimpses gold.
The inner room in Scripture is also called the throne room. We must approach the throne of grace with confidence where mercy and grace abound. The invitation is to come as we are, with raw, unguarded honestly, to wrestle through the pain and be prepared to be active in aggressive waiting. To sweat blood if necessary, before eventually yielding. Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength and learn to see from different vantage point. The invitation to come is accompanied with an invitation to trust. There is no coercion, we discover we have been wooed and won by a love that knows no bounds. The Father loves us, we receive his love and we learn to love God back.
The inner room fuels personal revival and inner fire. It is a place for being alert and awake, ready and responsive. Jesus withdrew to a quiet place to listen to the Father. It is where he was nourished, ‘I have food that you know nothing about’. The inner room is where conviction and confidence builds – we understand more fully who we are in God.
The outer room
If those first two rooms sound a bit self-indulgent, they are preparation for where we spend most of our time and energy. The fuel and fire we carry from the upper and inner rooms leads us to the outer room. If the upper room is about healing and surrender, and the inner room is about identity and calling, then the outer room is about serving and blessing. Jesus came not to be served but to serve and to pour his life out. He modelled how to live well in the outer room. However, it is the Holy Spirit who takes the lead in the outer room, helping us in the face of temptation, filling us with boldness and showing us what the Father is doing.
We live and work in a world that is hurting and hungry where people are ‘spending their money on things that are not bread and working for what does not satisfy’. People are hungry for bread but if it isn’t available they will consume anything to feel alive. Like the disciples in the feeding of the five thousand, we have bread that we must share with the world. The comfort we have received in the upper room we get to give away in the outer room. This is a room where God wants to raise our expectation for receiving and distributing daily bread.
The outer room is where people encounter God through us. Every single day our words and actions make an impact, create an aroma, write letters the world is reading. We are the signposts pointing people towards Jesus, and more than that we are his hands and feet. God wants to open our eyes to see and understand just how much of a Kingdom impact we can make. We are a powerful spiritual presence, we aren’t neutral, we are marked by the Spirit of God and influence the spiritual atmosphere. In the sight of God our deeds need not be left unfinished through ignorance or apathy.
In the outer room we are guided and empowered by the Spirit. Life is adventurous with assignments everywhere and it is also abrasive. In the outer room the spiritual battle is more fierce and we will get bruised, wounded and beaten up. We aren’t as tough as we’d like to be or think we are, we mess up and get stuff wrong, we get hurt and we hurt, we need forgiveness and the grace to forgive. We need to keep coming back to the upper room for healing and the inner room for encouragement. They are rooms we must continually cycle round and through.
These three rooms have always existed, they are familiar places and spaces, so much so that when we wake up we might also exclaim ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it’. The invitation in this season is to wake up to how much more God wants to do in each of us, in each of these rooms. They are rooms of revival for revival.
W I D E A W A K E
Fusion are gathering those who are wide awake to what God is doing and as the Holy Spirit leads the charge for a rolling awakening in the universities, you are invited to join us in an upper room space (only 120 places) for a couple of days to wait on God. Find out more here: https://www.fusionmovement.org/wideawake