Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Case FOR Revival

Over the past month, Christians around the State of Louisiana have been uniting in prayer for revival, twenty-one days of petitioning heaven for the church to awaken, rise up, and be the salt and light it was called to be.

No, the ground has not quaked. There has been no newsworthy event of extreme religious fervor or any other symptoms equaling that of The Great Awakening. Yet, that does not mean God has not sent revival, nor that He will not send it still.

I may know little, but of three things I am certain: one, that not all revivals will look the same; two, that one soul can experience a revival and that be a miracle; and three, revival could still be waiting just off-stage in the wings.

This morning, though, my husband mentioned that not everyone believes a revival is possible because America is too far gone in its moral depravity.

Throughout the afternoon, his comment has haunted me. How hopeless a world view! That this is I'm sure is shared by numerous others. What's more, how limiting is this view to God, for revival does not start in the heart of man but in the heart of God. Salvation, prayer, revival--they all start in God's heart. And who is to say what God will choose to do or not to do with the soul's of those who reside in America?

But to be fair, perhaps it's the term "revival" that is the problem, what with its connotations of entire communities flocking en mass to church buildings. Revival, though, need be nothing more than a reawakening of one soul towards God. Such an awakening then can spread outward from that one heart to another heart. Also, by the very nature of revival being defined as a "re-awakening," the term implies that revival begins in the hearts of God's people (not the unsaved), the ones who have once been awakened but who now need to be re-awakened. Hence, revival starts at the house of God.

Charles Spurgeon wrote, "While a true revival in its essence belongs only to God's people, it always brings with it a blessing for the other sheep who are not yet of the fold. If you drop a stone into a lake the ring widens continually, till the farthest corner of the lake feels the influence. Let the Lord revive a believer and very soon his family, his friends, his neighbors, receive a share of the benefit...and thus the world gains by revival" ("What Is a Revival". Sword and Trowel. Dec. 1866).

This concept of revival being for the child of God is Biblical, found both in the Old and New Testaments.

Many times, God pricked the heart of His people and they repented, turned from their evil ways and followed Him with renewed fervency. In this space, we have studied a revival after the captive Israelites returned from exile in Babylon.

Another great example is Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the temple. He prayed to God for "when" (not "if") God would stir His people's hearts towards repentance so they would reawaken and "return" to Him, bow the knee: "When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near; if they take thought in the land where they have been taken captive, and repent and make supplication to You in the land of those who have taken them captive, saying, ‘We have sinned and have committed iniquity, we have acted wickedly’; if they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul...then hear their prayer and their supplication in heaven Your dwelling place, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people who have sinned against You and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against You" (1 Kin. 8:46-50).

In the heart's returning is a revival.

In the New Testament, no passage speaks of revival more than the chapters in John's Revelation where he speaks to the seven churches, most of which had serious need of revival. For instance, to the Church at Ephesus he says, "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first " (Rev. 2:4-5).

Repent. Turn away from sin because only in true repentance can one re-awaken his first love for God. Reawakening--revival.

When God sends revival, it may not look like a page out of our history books...or it might. But our God is consistent and true to His character in that He constantly seeks to refine those sheep who are His and to bring back into the fold those sheep who have gone astray.

My prayer is the one we still sing in Will­iam Mac­kay's old hymn:

Revive us again;
Fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Hallelujah! Amen.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Revive us again.

No matter how dark it looks, my God is big enough to bring revival--to one. to millions. Revive us, O Lord.

Image from Tim Beddingfield.

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