Sunday, June 21, 2015

Revive us Again!

Historically, revival tends to break out when Christians become desperate for God and seek His face. Revival comes when we reach the end of our good ideas, our programs, and our strength. When we lean into prayer, seeking Him as an absolute necessity. When we set our faces toward Him, humbling ourselves with fasting and ask, and ask, and keep asking until He answers. 

One individual on his knees, intensely longing for more of God, can strike a match that sets fire to the dry kindling of the status quo. Whole movements have begun that way. Jeremiah Lanphier prayed fervently and revival came to New York and grew into the Second Great Awakening. Evan Roberts prayed fervently and revival came to Wales. Frank Bartleman and William Seymour prayed fervently, and revival came to Azusa Street, birthing Pentecostalism. God alone knows how many other nameless individuals have prayed and refused to stop until they were rewarded with the 'more' they so desperately wanted.

I still vividly remember the ladies’ meeting I attended more than twenty years ago, at which a letter from a friend of a friend was read aloud. This was at the very, very beginning of the Renewal, before much had been heard of it, before we even had a name for it. The letter recounted a church service which had happened on the other side of the country—not a meeting where someone needed to say, “The Spirit is really moving.” In that meeting such astonishing things were happening that there was no confusion about whether God was present. As the account of the service was read aloud, there was a growing expectancy among the ladies; longing filled the air in that room. All I knew was, I wanted God; wanted His presence; wanted to experience His love; wanted more of Him in a way that I could not articulate. Sounds melodramatic, but my heart ached for Him. At the conclusion of the letter, it seemed natural to pray, pouring out our desire for more of God…and the Holy Spirit arrived in power, moving and ministering among us. It was the beginning of a season of revival in our church.  

In Bartleman’s book, Azusa Street, one man who was there said, “I would rather have lived six months at that time than fifty years of ordinary life. I have stopped more than once within two blocks of the place and prayed for strength before I dared go on. The presence of the Lord was so real.” I know what he was talking about. Meetings where the presence of the Lord was so real and so strong that the worship team didn’t play and the pastor didn’t speak. Meetings where people lost concern about their dignity, in their delight that God was present with them. We became childlike in our expectation that God would meet us, when we met together. It was a season in which I could not get enough of Scripture or prayer or worship. When friends called one another, the first topic was nearly always what the Spirit was doing. Social gatherings often turned into spontaneous prayer meetings. We were delighted with God, and He was delighted with our delight.

Whether the Renewal was a "real" revival or whether there were excesses are a discussion for another time. My point is, during that season God changed the way I related to Him in a fundamental way. I experienced revival. My faith expanded to encompass all of my life, setting adoration for Jesus square in the center. I was refreshed and strengthened. Of course that didn't make me perfect or solve all my issues (far from it!), but it put fuel in my tank to get me on down the road. To persist. To carry on carrying on. To this day that season stands tall as a major landmark in my journey of faith.

I need revival, and so do you. Not because we're looking for novelty and excitement, but because of what revival does. True revival is all about Jesus. It magnifies Jesus, which shrinks our problems, our issues, and our disappointments. Coming into contact with the power of God refreshes and strengthens us. Revival reminds us that this world is not our home and increases longing for our heavenly home. Our faith is all about our Messiah, but the wear and tear of daily living makes us dull and forgetful—revival sharpens our focus and holds our gaze…on Jesus! We are revived when we see Him in a fresh way and are reminded that this world (and its troubles) is the shadow; He is the true light and reality.

It’s easy to look at America today and despair. But that's not God's gain that, we need to seek Him on our knees. We are promised a great harvest before Jesus comes again—a revival such as we have never seen before. Wouldn't it be great to see it in our day?

Great Father, we need Your help. We need revival. We need You. We admit we are poor, blind, wretched and naked. Won’t you come and rescue us? Won't you send your Spirit in power and strengthen us to be the church? Won’t you show us your glory once again? Remind us who You are, and who we are because we belong to You. Oh how I long to once again experience Your presence…in which every mouth is closed and we gladly bow down under the kavod, the glorious weight of Your manifest presence. Help us see that we truly cannot do without You. Make us desperate for more of You. Revive us again!

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