I feel certain that almost everyone in ministry who has a heart for our nation will agree that unless America makes a dramatic turnaround, we are in dire straits and in deep trouble. America has been on a serious spiritual and moral decline for decades and now seems headed for disaster at breakneck speed. If we were to take the time to poll pastors, Christian leaders, even church laity as to the solution to this crisis, the resounding response would be WE NEED REVIVAL!!! Not just a series of services but the type of REVIVAL where true changes take place … salvation, repentance, healing, and deliverance in the lives of people, the lives of the church and in the lives of society. I think all would agree the revival we need is that type that took place in the late 1800’s early 1900’s. The type of revival recorded in Acts 19.
In order to reach this goal, we must first determine what changed in church culture to change true revivals where lives were changed into just a series of meetings with little or no tangible spiritual results or effects. The first would be the emphasis on the b of REVIVAL coming from the Evangelist. Too much credit and attention is often given to the performance of preachers and evangelists. The scripture says that one man sows, another waters, and yet another reaps but IT IS GOD who gives the increase.
1 Corinthians 3:7 (KJV)
“So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”
As the church got away from the proper attitude of Revival, God began to withdraw his anointing and power. Hence we went from having real life changing revivals to just having a series of meetings that were at best entertaining yet yielding few, if any, spiritual results. This mindset has culminated into a culture where pastors have either totally given up on revival or constantly search for the anointed evangelist that can bring revival to our church. REVIVAL DOES NOT COME FROM ANY MAN but rather from God as He pours out His Spirit upon a people from the pulpit to the pew that are desperately seeking after God and hunger for Him.
What God has done before He will do again. That pattern of revival is the same throughout church history.
2nd Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Often Revival is interpreted as the church or a person having their spiritual batteries recharged and renewed. While this thought is indeed a part of revival, when true revival comes people that are walking in one direction begin walking in another. Probably the most significant and yet simplest step to revival is found in the very beginning of this verse. “If my people will humble themselves and pray and seek my face”. If we will call our people aside to serious prayer, God will show up!
I’m not talking about a little thirty minute prayer meeting but rather the types of prayer meetings held just prior to the Day of Pentecost, during the late 18 early 1900’s, and just prior to the Azusa Street revival. Just prior to the outpouring on the day of Pentecost, the Apostles spent DAYS in prayer waiting on the promise of the Father. In the late 1800s and early 1900s came the period known as the great awakening. Although this time is marked by numerous dynamic and remarkable preachers, it is characterized by a devotion to prolonged periods of prayer on the part of the people. As a result of this devotion to prayer and hunger for God, the Lord “heard and answered” their prayer. He moved in miraculous ways during this time period.
Simply put, if we want to Get what they Got we must Do what they Did! The formula for Spiritual renewal and revival is a constant throughout scripture and history!
WE MUST LEAD!!!
Malachi 3:6 (KJV)
“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”
If we examine two very poignant examples in scripture, we find that each time God honors 2nd Chronicles 7:14. One such instance is in the book of Jonah when God sent Jonah to Nineveh to declare to them that judgment was imminent, the King gathered the people and they repented and prayed in sackcloth and ashes. Because of their actions, they were able to stay the judgment hand of God upon their city. Modern day interpretation of this story might be that Jonah preached a mighty Revival. But closer examination of the story yields the truth of a two sided coin if you will. Before we give Jonah too much credit, we must remember that he was an unwilling vessel at first who ran the other way. Once convinced and motivated by God, he did go and he did preach the message that God had for the people. This is the first side of the coin, an obedient vessel. Not even so much as willing as Jonah, though he was obedient, he was, even in his obedience, a reluctant vessel.
The second side of the coin was the response of the king of Nineveh and the people. THEY, both the king and the people, clothed themselves with sackcloth and ashes. THEY prayed with a sincere heart and repented. Another occasion is found in the book of Judges when Gideon stood against the Midianites. The children of God were being harassed because they were worshiping idols. But when Gideon tore the alters down and stood for the Lord, God began to bless and set his people free!!
In the book of Ezekiel, God admonishes the prophet that He has set him as a “watchmen on the wall”. God charged his prophet with warning the people against sin and error lest they die, their blood be on his hands. In short, God does call for His leaders to LEAD!!! He told Joshua “only be thou strong and courageous”. He even calls us at times to lead against the grain. He tells Jeremiah to “set your face like a flint” and to “be not afraid of their faces”.
Whereas the people of God have a part to play in revival, the men of God; pastors and evangelist, the ones called by God to lead, WE must NOT shrink back from our roll. In my efforts as an evangelist trying to schedule revival meetings with pastors, I am alarmed at the number of pastors who will say to me “Our church has voted to no longer have revival meetings.” So many pastors have relinquished their God-called office as the spiritual leader of their congregations and allowed men to dictate the spiritual direction of the church. Much like how the children of Israel voted to refuse to possess the promise land because of their unbelief and because of it that generation DIED in the wilderness, so too I fear will this generation DIE in the wilderness if pastors don’t rise up.
Romans 10:14-15 poses some questions that I think fit.
Romans 10:14-15 (KJV)
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things”
This scripture illuminates a paradox that fits our age! Everyone agrees that our nation and the churches in our nation are in crises. We all agree that we need REVIVAL in America and in the churches. The question that this scripture implores us to ask is this. HOW CAN WE HAVE REVIVAL UNLESS PASTORS AND CHURCHES CALL REVIVAL MEETINGS?
Pastors and church leaders MUST have the courage to take the lead and CALL for revival and then have REVIVAL MEETINGS if REVIVAL is to ever take place!
He’ll do it again!
Acts 17:6 (KJV)
“…..These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.”
The early apostles had a reputation of turning their world upside down. We KNOW through church history and even recent church history that when God’s people approach Him in the proper prescribed manner as described in 2nd Chronicles 7:14 if we will humble ourselves because we have become much too proud. If we will pray, like Jacob of old and not let go till God blesses us.
Hosea 10:12 (KJV)
“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.”
Seek His face till he comes and rains righteousness upon us! Turn from our wickedness like they did at Ephesus when they confessed and showed their deeds.. and those which used curious arts (witchcraft) brought their books and burned them!
Acts 19:18-19 (KJV)
“And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.”
Then God will show up and He will change a people, change a church, a community, a city, a state, a nation, and even the world!
We find ourselves asking the same questions today that Gideon asked in Judges 6:13.
Judges 6:13 (KJV)
“…….. Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of….”
I think if we will be honest with ourselves we will find a simple theological truth that all of us have heard a thousand times is the case. It is not God that has moved but us! It is not God that has changed but us!
Rev. Robert Goodbread August 2013