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Read: Nehemiah 9:1-3, 6
Revival is not just a series of meetings, but a life changed and challenged to be more like Jesus. Revival is not an annual event in a church, but a moment in time that changes a church as the church collides with a God that desires a relationship that is real and relevant. Revival brings a church to its knees, seeking God’s way and will for that church to be a change agent in the world in which it serves.
Many will wait with great anticipation an evangelist or top name entertainer to come for revival services. People will become excited as they await the great messages or music this individual will present. All the while, the false thought running through the mind of individuals will be that their church is about to explode with the fires of real revival as the flames engulf them and bring them to a time of great awareness and awe-inspiring worship. This is not revival! This is emotion and emotion will leave you drained and wasted.
Revival is a time of repentance and reaffirmation of faith. Someone once said, “If revival is to be, it must begin in me.” A church is composed of people, and people are the hands and feet of the Savior; and revival must come to the life of the people.
A verse many have attributed to God’s dealings with the children of Israel-and rightly so- is from the second book of the Chronicles, in the Old Testament. I dare say, as much as this one verse was profitable and pointed for the Chosen Children, it is all the more so for the child of God today. Read carefully: “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 heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV) The instruction is for believers to humble themselves before Mighty God, pray to the Father, seek Him once more, and turn away from those things contrary to the life of Christ. Now, make a note of the result. God will hear, God will forgive, and God will heal. Now, that is revival! True, heart rending, God moving, enabling revival!
Let it be proclaimed with clarity and truthfulness: Revival is for the believer! Right? Revival is a renewing, revitalizing, restoring, recovering, resuscitation of the believer. How we need revival in the church, among the people of God today!
In the verse above, there is a little word which carries great weight. It is a word that means, “You might or you might not; the decision is for you to make.” The word is so small we sometimes miss the magnitude of it-“IF.” God is saying that the people have the choice and if they make the right choice this will be the result. To forbid the obedience of this request is to miss the blessing of the right choice. Again, dear believer, the choice is for you to make!
With this said, I think it would be timely for us to see the results of real revival. I would challenge you to conduct a study of the book of Nehemiah, take time to see the life of a man who willingly committed himself in service to God to rebuild the walls of the city of Jerusalem and lead a people, who had wandered away from God, to see Him in all of His glory.
There is without a doubt AN INTENSE DEDICATION TO THE WORD OF GOD which comes from true revival.
The Word of God is sharper than any two edged sword…The Word of God is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path… The Word of God! What a wonderful book the Bible is! We hold within our hands the history, poetry, and memoirs of the greatest men to ever live. Within the sacred pages we see the way God dealt with and deals with the people who trust Him to be their Lord. God’s word is not just to be read, but to be lived, for it is a living book. It is the only book you will ever read, where the author and instructor gives you guidance and quietly leads you through, lending understanding of its great truths.
Paul told young Timothy to, “Continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing those from whom you learned, and that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17 HCSB)
The beloved children’s song we all learned in Sunday School, singing with gusto, rings true today: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
True revival in the heart of the believer will create AN INTENSE DESIRE TO SEE OTHER PEOPLE COME TO CHRIST.
Do you remember Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8? Of course you do! I learned these verses as a young boy at Northside Church in Talladega, Alabama. Through Royal Ambassadors we learned we were representatives of Christ in this world.
For the believer in the 21st Century these verses give us our marching orders, our mandate, and an explanation of our mission. In Matthew Jesus said, “Go.” He was instructing us that His authority was our authority to go into the entire world teaching the gospel-the Good News-making disciples, baptizing new converts, and knowing without a doubt He would be wherever we are. In Acts, Jesus tells us how to “Go.” We are to go to all nations-within the community, the state, the nation and the world. Not a step at a time; but all areas of the globe is to be covered at the same time.
When real revival comes it will burn a desire in our heart, in our life to see others come to know Christ. There is nothing like standing on the stage, looking out over a crowd of nine hundred, giving the invitation and watching boys and girls, men and woman come streaming down the aisles to give their hand to a counselor and their heart to the Lord. But what will bring chills to your spine and a tear to a wooden eye is the applause of those who stand in the arena and cheer the new believers into the kingdom. There is nothing more satisfying than to sit under an oak tree in a bank executive’s front yard and personally lead his son to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than sitting by the swimming pool with the quarterback of the football team and son of the top law enforcement officer of the county and share with him the message of salvation and see him turn his life over to Christ for cleansing, saving and safe keeping. Oh, the stories I could tell; you get the fire of revival burning in your bones and you too will have a story to tell!
We will work to see others come into a relationship with the Lord when true revival comes. It will not be something worked up, keyed up, or wound up in us to the point we shove and push, but it will bring about an intense desire to pray for the nations, to share with those God places in your path, and to live in such a way that Jesus shines through you.
Remember the words of Jesus: “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lamp stand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 HCSB)
There are times I feel unfulfilled, as if some task is unfinished and I realize it is because I have not seen a lost person saved in a period time.
There will be AN INTENSE BOLDNESS when believers are endowed with the fire of revival.
I read with interest a story that drives this point home. It seems a girl at school heard a group of football players swearing, using God’s name in vain and she shouted over the din, “Stop it! That’s my Father you’re talking about!” As a result, the starting quarterback accepted Jesus as his Savior as did several other players.
Real revival will cause us to boldly go where no man has gone before. We become so brazenly bold, ready to face the enemy down and to charge the gates of hell with a water pistol. The fear of a life that has stayed on the fence one day too many will be erased. Trembling hands will be steadied, lips that have been silent will speak, hard hearts will be softened, and the power of God will replace the powerless life of the believer. This is the result of true revival!
Our boldness will come because we know for certain whose we are and what we are to do in this dark, cold world. We are made bold because we realize that, “greater is He that is in you, than He that is in the world.”
Boldly, the church will take a stand against sin. Boldly, the family will cleanse their house of those things which promote and advance a sin nature. Boldly, the believer will be a change agent in the world.
Lastly, revival will restore the INTENSE LOYALTY of the believer.
An intense loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ-that is what I desire to see in the church and among the brothers and sisters of Christ. When revival sweeps through a persons life and they experience a rekindling of the faith, they will stand for Christ while all the world around them bows in the muck and mire of this world. The believer will stand above the shifting tides and plant his or her feet on the rock that will not move. That Rock is Jesus!
An intense loyalty to the fellowship-revival results in believers finding their place in the family of God. Because of the boldness, we examined earlier, the revived believer will stand with and up to those who might bring sorrow and shame to the name of the church and to Christ. They will be like the girl in her school and speak loudly and plainly, protecting the name of Christ and the reputation of the church.
May I include a personal word here? It amazes me that so many take so lightly the fellowship of Christ. Their attendance to worship is spotty, their service to the kingdom work is shotty and their testimony for Christ is in shambles. Then they ask, “Why are things the way they are in my life?” I believe the writer of Hebrews said, “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 KJV)
An intense loyalty to those who have yet to surrender fully and completely to Christ and His purpose in their lives-revival results in seeing the world through the eyes of Christ. We are more aware of the lost nature of the soul, the morality of society, and sinners doom. A burning fire of revival within the heart of the believer will make the lost a personal issue. It will be the driving goal of the believer to make every effort to win all, so some might be saved!
An intense loyalty to the work and ministry-for the heart will truly desire to follow the Savior all the way. A true believer: one who has been saved and sealed, rekindled and revived will serve in the work of building the kingdom. I have seen those who have been touched or moved by some experience and emotionally throw themselves into ministry, but it does not last long. I have witnessed the one who comes with tears streaming down redden cheeks as they proclaim themselves anew to dedicated service, then the first wave of storm comes pounding in on them and they run for higher ground.
We do not need weak minded and cowardly folks in the service of the King. Judas was weak, Peter was strong; the rich young ruler was cowardly, John was tough and strong. When I think of men and woman who have made an impact on the world and on the ministry of the gospel-Moody, Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, McGee, Vines, Graham, and Mother Teresa-I see them as loyal to Christ and to their fellow men. I see a commitment to go all the way, no matter how rugged, how hurtful, how difficult the task becomes.
That God would give us those who are loyal; their heart aglow with the light of heaven! It truly saddens me to see those who proclaim Christ as Savior, but who come and go with no thought of making an impact for Christ. My prayer is always, “God move them to you or move them out of the way!”
I am told that William Sprague, a witness to the revivals of the Second Great Awakening, said, “The efficiency of the church depends greatly on its purity.” He wasn’t talking about the smooth operation of the church. He was talking about the church’s ability to fulfill its God-given role, that of calling a lost and dying world to the Savior. He recognized that the church was sick, that it was cancerous, and that it was dying from the inside out.
The cause, you ask? Well, that is so simple an answer, you will be totally astonished. Sin! That is the answer.
A church that harbors and tolerates sin of any kind is a church that no longer savors the sweet smell of forgiveness. Instead, it reeks of spiritual death. Rather than living as their Lord lived, rather than living as the world should live, they live as the world presently lives. There is no longer a significant difference between the people of the church and the people of the world. Is it any wonder that our children and grandchildren see no use for the church? They see a Christianity that doesn’t really matter. They see a Christianity that doesn’t make a difference. And, they see no use for it.
A great Baptist preacher of day’s gone by, Vance Havner, once said, “A revival is the church remembering, the church repenting, the church repeating.” If you wish to make that personal, returning to our previously stated assumption that if real revival is going to take place it will begin in me and you, then you might want to say, “A revival is the believer remember, the believer repenting, and the believer repeating.”
We as a church must remember all that God has done for us and all that He has commanded us. We must repent of our individual and collective sins. We must return to our first love, sharing our faith, raising our voices in praise, and once again living lives worthy of a people called to bear His wonderful name.
We must look at what the Bible says must take place before God graces us with new life in our churches. We must look into our hearts, we must search our souls and we must prepare our churches. After all, the stakes are high. At risk is not just the reputation and future of one church. The reputation of Jesus Christ, His sacrifice, and His church are on the line.
(This message was originally delivered at Rockford Baptist Church in Rockford, Alabama on September 12, 2010 during the 11 AM service. On September 12, 2011 it was the devotion for the Central Baptist Association Pastors Conference.)
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