One night, a few weeks ago I was awakened in the night when I heard one word spoken close to my ear. It was just one word, spoken with irresistible enthusiasm and bubbling expectation: “REVIVAL!”
I sat bolt upright in the bed, wide-awake and looked at the clock: 1:11 am. One is God’s number, Remember, He is the Alpha and Omega. Three times is a confirmation, in my mind. It was many hours before I went back to sleep as the reverberations of one, power-packed word still bounced around in my heart!
Revival is a word often misused. Folks use “revival” as a euphemism for any quick spurt of church growth. This definition may include gospel music and a visiting evangelist or enthusiastic traveling pastor to preach nightly for a few weeks. A jump start to a sluggish battery or a shot of B-12 to a lethargic congregation is a good thing. However, that is not an all-caps, REVIVAL!
If a big tent in the parking lot is not the definition of a revival then what is? Whether we are talking personal, church, citywide, or beyond; real, honest-to-goodness REVIVAL is based on identical, “uncommon” denominators.
I belong to a small worship group. This funny, disparate family of prayer warriors has met for over 7 years to “soak” to worship music and pray. We pray, by name, for each pastor in this town, and their spouse and families. Sometimes we pray for salvation for those leaders, if we think that step is lacking. We pray specifically for the spiritual leadership of our little town to be protected, for wisdom and understanding cracked open and for them to ask for and receive the Baptism into the Holy Spirit. Not stopping there, we ask for this entire mountain valley to be flooded with the Holy Spirit. Then we move on to pray for similar things for leadership further afield or closer to home.
After these many years of specific prayer we are just now seeing things begin to move! The ice is beginning to break up and there are early, tentative signs of something wonderful busting out!
Prayer and worship then is a critical component of invitation for heaven to literally invade your family, church, your town or your country. You don’t need an overwhelming majority to make things happen, you just need a remnant of hungry, faithful people who are sick and tired of “church as usual”. People who know that they know that they know there is something MORE and something critical is missing!
Repentance. Nobody likes to discuss it or admit they need it. But, I believe it is the missing ingredient holding true Revival at bay. For ourselves as well as the church, we must be in alignment and agreement with the Word. On any level, if we find we are clinging to some old feud or bitter disappointment it is time to surrender it. If we discover ourselves comfortably cuddling up or returning to the same old sin, compromise or addiction (which in no way has Jesus at the heart of it) it may require deliverance to break free. All that un-forgiveness, offenses and muck need to be burned down—confess it and ask His forgiveness. Revival needs a clean and plumb foundation.
Before I move on, I want to toss one more, big steamer trunk on this repentance wagon. I know I beat this drum a lot. However, this is serious stuff so I want everyone to press in and listen hard. The Bible with testimony by Jesus and the disciples and then the first church were very clear about needing faith in Jesus and only Jesus as their Messiah for eternal salvation. They were equally clear that with that faith in Jesus was the firm understanding that as a separate step after water baptism was a specific need to request or invite, if you will, the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. (Read the book of Acts a few times, without concordance or notes.)
Many, like me, were taught, “The body of Christ no longer require any outward manifestations of the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t work that way anymore. We have the completed text of the scripture which obviously explains why we don’t see any people getting healed, or we don’t hear testimonies of miracles in church any more. Taking that old tack: if we don’t see “manifestations” anymore it must mean that God has changed.” It absolutely couldn’t mean that the church has veered away from some critical element which was allowing the early church to move powerfully. This is dangerous thinking that makes me cringe!
Finding no clear scripture to substantiate such tradition, I am obligated to label it for what it is, false doctrine. If a “church doctrine or tradition” flies in the face of everything Jesus did, the apostles taught and the first church emulated then it needs to be surgically removed because it is a cancer on the body of Christ that will continue to metastasize. (Deut. 4:2; Deut. 12:32; Proverbs 30:5-6; Rev. 22:18-19) When we perpetuate such thinking, we are perpetuating deception. It really is the doctrine of demons designed to suck the power from the pews. (1 Tim 4:1; Mark 7:8)
When/If we eschew the Gifts of the Spirit, which are intended to keep the body of Christ operational, whole and energized, we are squelching the Holy Spirit, and defying the plan of God. VERY Serious stuff. By default, one is stating they are smarter than Jesus, the son of the living God. He didn’t make a move without the Holy Spirit. Not one miracle or healing happened before he received the Holy Spirit. Let that percolate around in your heart a little bit!
Back to our simmering word “REVIVAL!” We need then, worshipful prayer to call it into existence. We in our personal lives or the wayward body of Christ, need a basketful of repentance resulting in changed behavior, pure doctrine and righteousness. Jesus, in John 4:24, states God is a Spirit who is even now looking for those who will worship in spirit and in truth- that sounds like REVIVAL to me!
No matter who you are, what you think or what denomination you belong to: Lack of these elements is ALWAYS the reason why testimonies evaporate and church people stay seriously ill. It is the reason your spiritual life has turned to dust or your family is in shambles. If your church has become a parched wasteland, dying on the vine, then these are the paddles needed to apply to the heart of any matter, to ZAP it back to life!
After 3 and a half years of ministry Jesus had 120 core believers who were free and unafraid to obey Him and go to Jerusalem and WAIT. By now, they understood something amazing was to happen on the next “appointed time” which was The Feast of Weeks—Pentecost.
The days between Passover and Pentecost are called counting the Omer- or sheaves of wheat. The Feast of First Fruits (resurrection day) was a celebration of the Barley Harvest. Jesus ascended on day 40 of the omer count. Pentecost is exactly 7 weeks and one day from Passover. For the final 10 days his group met to finish counting the omer-the sheaves-until the celebration of Weeks-the first fruits of the wheat harvest. Revival isn’t just to fire you up and make the church feel good. It is intertwined to a coming harvest. (Ex. 34:22; Deut. 16:10)
The 120 met and worshiped and prayed, and repented and fasted and worshipped and prayed some more—in one accord – in agreement-all together on the same page, waiting for what they totally didn’t understand. They only knew Jesus told them they needed what he HAD and Jesus had to go so that they could GET IT! Moral: Sometimes you don’t totally “get it”…what the Lord is trying to tell you… but you just need to obey anyway!
Now, don’t lose track of what is happening here: These people had known, walked and dined with Jesus for years. They were believers. They knew him as Messiah. They witnessed his miracles and experienced his agony. They were eternally saved. They had also seen and spoken with him since his resurrection. The only thing they did NOT yet have was the essential, mandatory, supernatural ingredient necessary to pull off the mission Jesus had called them to do. It’s that simple.
Holy Spirit arrived with power and fire and hit them like a ton of bricks! Those 120 rolled out of that room, super-charged and completely changed. Peter began to preach in a totally new and fearless way. The power of the Holy Spirit manifested before a huge crowd of temple-going, faithful, orthodox Jews. The effect, the change, the manifestations and subsequent fruit which sprang from that event- are to this day undeniable!
After THAT, there was no more “synagogue as usual” my friends. Get ready! True revival arrives on the wings of worship, prayer and repentance and invitation. In the wake of His undeniable and necessary power-NOTHING is ever the same!