Thursday, January 26, 2012

Revival Reflections

The revival that wasn’t is about as captivating as the one that was. Real revivals are not re-runs or overruns. They are moments in time when God gets sick and tired of being misrepresented and people are so misinformed about the meaning of revival that God shows up himself, takes over to revitalize and inspire an impotent and anemic church.

The Church at Ephesus was still going through the motions. They hadn’t closed up shop, but they were in a rut trying to keep up their reputation of being exciting and dynamic. Their services were about as exciting as sitting out on the lawn with the heat of the sun bearing down their neck and watching the grass grow.

God had a shocking description of their sad state. He said, “Maybe there’s life in you yet, but I wouldn’t know it by looking.” Then he concluded, “Be watchful, and strengthen the thing which remain, THAT ARE READY TO DIE.”

The “ready to die” needed a revival. Boredom needed to be replaced with blessings, indifference with inspiration and monotony with a mighty move of God.

The word “revive” means to breathe new life into. This is my prayer. “O God, breathe new life…

· into my relationship with your Son Jesus Christ

· into my passion to worship you freely and spontaneously

· into recovering rejoicing in the Spirit as a way of life

· into my on again off again prayer routine

· into my expectations of seeing miracles here and now

· into studying the Bible not for the sake of reading it through but to assimilate into me through and through

· into my vision of and adoration of God until I tremble in your presence

· into the endearment and solemnity of the sacrament.”

During the great Welsh revival, a newspaperman went down from London to report at first hand the marvelous happenings of the historic revival. One of the reporters asked a policeman where the Welsh revival was. Proudly he placed his hand over his heart and declared, “Gentlemen, the Welsh revival is inside this uniform!”

This is what Jesus meant when he told the woman at the well, “But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; BUT THE WATER THAT I GIVE HIM SHALL BE IN HIM a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”(John 4:14) Praise God. Since God gives it and it is within you, there are a few things you need to understand about revival.

Number 1: Revival is not something we can produce apart from God.

A genuine, honest to goodness revival is an act of God. It can not be orchestrated by a committee or manipulated by slick marketing. John 15:5 Jesus made it perfectly clear that without him we can do nothing. In Psalms 77:14 the Psalmist declared, “You’re God who MAKES THINGS HAPPEN; you showed everyone what you can do.” Make note of this and don’t forget it. God can make revivals happen!

Number 2: Revival is not dependent upon a gifted speaker.

The speaker should only be a mouth piece of God. His (her) message should be “thus saith the Lord…” Speakers are not apologist. They are spokespersons for God interested only in conveying God’s message to mortal men. Richard Baxter condensed preaching “thus saith the Lord” as the preaching of a dying man to dying men. It’s preaching with conviction and compassion. Having a word from God is critical to having revival. Preaching is effective as long as the preacher expects something to happen-not because of the sermon, not even because of the preacher, but because of God. When a preacher can say, “thus saith the Lord” he (she) can face the audience with the zeal of a friend, with the sincere interest of a father, and with the exuberant affection of a mother. A word from God is the spark which starts revival.

Number 3: Revival is not a mere protracted meeting.

Revival is a soul piercing encounter with God. Without that encounter our efforts are in vain. They can be drawn out affairs afflicting the saints and annoying sinners. However, this is really not a problem now days. We don’t have protracted meetings. Our revivals consist of being protracted from 10:30 Sunday morning until noon. We put God on a time clock having concluded that revival should be quick and painless. I agree with the person who courageously declared, “We would like the positive results and benefits of revival - all at little or no cost. We want gain without pain. We want the joy of new life without the travail of labor pains. We want healing, without surgery. We want joy without mourning. We want to enter into the power of the Resurrection, without first suffering the agony of the Cross. We want our schedules and programs and institutions to stay intact - we want a minimum of disruption or interference with our plans and traditions.”

When we have an encounter with God, time loses it meaning. He is all in all. His heart beat becomes our heart beat. Communion with him is all that counts. Revival is not a drawn out affair. It is a dynamic, life changing encounter with God.

Number 4: Revival is not reformation. It is transformation.

Revival is more than a proliferation of information or reformation. It is transformation. It is resuscitation for spiritual suffocation. It is drinking from the fountain that never runs dry. It is feasting on the bread of life for the famishing. It is fire of inspiration shut up in the bones.

Billy Sunday declared, “Trying to run a church without revivals can be done when you can run a gasoline engine on buttermilk.”

I was impressed by these words from Duncan Campbell. “The average man is not going to be impressed by our publicity, our posters or our programs, but let there be a demonstration of the supernatural…and at once man is arrested.”

O, God, give us the supernatural to supplant the normal. We are so predictable in our services that little room is left for God to do the unexpected. Help us to get out fingers out of the mix until men will cry as did the people of Egypt after they experienced the miraculous visitation of God, “This is the finger of God.” At that moment, we will know TRUE REVIVAL HAS COME!!

Believing For Revival

Pastor Jimmy & Bob

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Revive Us Again

Revival is like breathing halitosis into the face of the devil. It stinks to him, and he hates the thought of revival because he understands what it means and how paralyzing it is to his kingdom.

The lack of genuine revival is not coincidental. It is contrived. Satan is at work in the church, the community and the country. It is a crafty but effective strategy for preventing revival to come. He knows the awesome result of revival and will stop it at any cost.

· It brings vitality and vibrancy back into faith

· It is falling in love with Jesus all over again

· It is a special invasion of heaven which brings us into an acute awareness of God.

· It puts life back into praise and worship

· It causes the Word to come alive

· It convicts of sin and inspires genuine repentance

· It turns rote praying into revolutionary passion for the impossible

Leonard Ravenhill was absolute right when he prophesied, “As long as we are content to live without revival, we will.” Unfortunately, in many, if not most cases we are content. We have a “DO NOT DISTURB” sign hanging over the door of our heart and sadly enough over many churches. The frost of mediocrity has smothered out the fire. Services are run by the stop watch without the assistance of the Spirit to moderate, instigate and illuminate. Revivals, so called, are pre-packaged for convenience sake and sermon re-runs. We even call them by different names for fear of scaring or offending someone.

God help us when the church and believers become rollers of marbles when we are commissioned to move mountains. I hope he was stretching it, but Dr. Perry once declared, “The atmosphere in some churches is so cold, you can skate down the aisles.” People are tiring of letting empty buckets down into empty wells and growing weary with drawing nothing up.

Revivals begin when God wakes us up, preachers speak up and saints pray up and it ALWAYS DEMANDS CHANGE.

Most of us just don’t like to change. This may be one reason why revival is ignored and not implored. When Christ shows up in an extraordinary, powerful, new way, it will impact the status quo dramatically and radically.

Perhaps we are not drastic and desperate enough for revival because we are NOT eager to change. John Maxwell put it like this. People change when they...

  • Hurt enough that they have to;
  • Learn enough that they want to:
  • Receive enough that they are able to.

The Psalmist must have reached that preverbal point which called for and demanded a change when he prayed, “Revive us again.” It was time for change. Time for revival. Time for a sovereign act of God to restore, resuscitate and release the blessings of heaven in abundance and at an ever expanding base. Revival is not an isolated shower. It is a general, copious down pour.

Several words are used in Scripture to describe the desperation that often precedes revival reality.

  • Psalms 42:1 As a heart pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul after thee, O God.
  • Luke 6:21 Blessed are you that hunger now: for you shall be filled.
  • John 7:37 If any many thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
  • Genesis 32:26 I will not let you go, except you bless me.
  • Acts 17:17 They should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.

I never had the opportunity to meet Albert Barnes, but he impacted and affirmed a cry of my heart when he said, “That day which shall convince the great body of professing Christians of the REALITY AND DESIRABLENESS OF REVIVALS, will constitute a new era in the history of religion; and will precede manifestations of power like that of Pentecost.”

Psalms 85:6 provides us with a plan to follow to recover the true spirit and dynamics of revival.

Step #1: A Prayer For Revival.

(Psalms 85:6 – “revive us again.”)

The prayer is simple, short and straight forward. No words are menaced. No motion is lost in moving toward an open invitation to God to invade earth with all his glory and power. Prayers of this nature do not require a book of prayers. Three words spoken from the heart is all it takes. “Revive us again.” God understands it. God underwrites it, and God undertakes miraculously and all gloriously.

Mean what you say when you pray for revival because you may get more than you bargained for. It will expose sin; encourage reconciliation; enhance enthusiastic adoration for our Lord; eradicate hypocrisy; eliminate some programs and engineer other which are more consistent with God’s plan not ours; emphasize holiness; empty the church and individuals of idols; embolden pastors and church leaders to be spiritual giants and not autocratic manipulators; empty the committee room and fill the prayer rooms.

Pray for revival NOW! God is listening and ready to respond.

Step # 2: The Source Of Revival.

(Psalms 85:6 – “will YOU not revive us…”)

G. Campbell Morgan had the right interpretation in mind when he wrote, “We cannot organize revival, but we can set our sails to catch the wind from heaven when God chooses to blow upon His people once again.” The simple, not subtle message is: Revival comes from God. He is the source, substance and surety of actual, authentic, awesome revival.

Someone once said, “Revival is not some emotion or worked-up excitement, it is rather an invasion from heaven which brings a conscious awareness of God.” It is from God, for God and features God and His glory. HE employees every necessary function and order to cause it to happen. HE undoes the efforts of adversaries whose design is to stop it. HE is unstoppable because HE is God – supreme – Sovereign – and supernatural. HE is our Source, and HE will not fail.

Step #3: The Results Of Revival.

(Psalms 85:6 – “that your people may rejoice in you.”)

C. S. Lewis gave us something to seriously take to heart when he declared, I think we all sin by needlessly disobeying the apostolic injunction to "rejoice" as much as by anything else.” Joy unspeakable has evolved into joy unthinkable. Enthusiasm has been euthanized. Spontaneous shouts of joy have been shanghaied.

No wonder we cry, “Revive us again SO THAT YOUR PEOPLE MAY REJOICE IN YOU.” It is imploring God to restore joy; remove artificiality; release us from the bondage of becoming ritualistic; and re-create within us a pure, uninhibited response to the awareness of God’s presence.

Help us to be emotional without embarrassment and responsive in adoration without regret. Revival will return the joy and rejoicing.

A young, unskilled and uneducated lad explained it in his own less than eloquent way like this. “I am only a poor boy; I have no money and no learning, but in my heart I have an unable-to-speak-it-out joy.”

Peter encouraged us to “rejoice with joy unspeakable…” (I Peter 1:8) It is a sure sign of revival.

Praying For Revival!

Pastor Jimmy & Bob