LORD, REVIVE US AGAIN!
by Polly Gwinn
Do we have a need of a revival today in our churches and Christian lives? A revival is not a group of special evangelist meetings, but of a sovereign move of God. The word ‘revival’ means a spiritual awakening or a refreshing from the presence of the Lord. The word ‘revival’ does not appear in the KJV of the Bible but is picked up from the combined translations of the Scriptures such as the word Rapture. That is to express the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). This is the beginning of the first church and the gathering together, the sermon of Peter and “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47b). A revival is the Lord God of Heaven becoming real to His people.
The prophet Habakkuk was conscious of something unusual in the air around him. He felt that he was on the brink of some manifestation of God and he was afraid. Habakkuk said that he heard what the Lord had to say and his heart pounded, his lips quivered at the sound (Hab. 3:16). He felt like God was drawing near and he did not wish to fight against God. Then the prophet cried out; “I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day; in our time make them known” (Hab. 3:2). Just as we cry out for rain when we see the grass beginning to burn, this should be our cry when we see our church and our Christian brothers becoming spiritually dry and stagnant.
In 2nd Chronicles 7:14 we have the call of God to His people to return to Him in repentance, forsaking their sins, that He may heal them, save their souls and bless them in mercy. Our prayer should be as the Psalmist; “Will you not revive us again” (Psalms 85:6). He promises that He will do just this in Isaiah 44:3; “For I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring and my blessing on your descendants”. Jeremiah prays for the backslider (14:7), Jeremiah asks the Lord to let us return to Him (Lam. 3:40) and Hosea tells us that it is time to return the Lord so He will revive us (6:1-2) and to seek the Lord (10:12). The Psalmist again asks the Lord to restore us that we may be saved (Ps. 80:3). In Revelation 3:20 we have the picture of Christ standing at the door of the church knocking for entrance. The church has become unaware of Christ knocking and that He is often outside of the church and our hearts. Do we talk about Christ in the church? Or do we talk about what happened this past week? Have we let the gathering together of the saints become a habit instead of worship?
A revival is the Lord Jesus living again in the midst of His people. Have we abandoned the authority of God’s Word? Does the average church member mold his life by the Word of God? Are we reading the Word or reading the words? The religious world made much of the Word but still they crucified Christ. Are we the same today? Are we so self-willed that we border on rebellion against the Word? Do we who claim to believe God’s Word tend to ‘add our opinion’? Have you said; ‘oh, I don’t think God really meant it the way the Bible reads’? Or perhaps when a passage is read someone will speak up and say; ‘what this really means is…..’! Do we sit in church and mentally criticize the ones in front of us? “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so” (Rom. 8:7). Maybe we need an evangelist like John the Baptist (Matt. 11:12)! Our evangelism is not a violent assault on the kingdom of darkness. Surveys show that 99% of those who respond in an evangelic service turn back to their old life.
Have we lost our compassion for the lost? Jonah was angry at the Lord’s compassion for the lost. He cared more for nature that he did the souls and the Scripture says he “was very happy about the vine” (Jon. 4:6). When God dried up the vine then Jonah was “angry enough to die” (Jon. 4:9). The argument ends with God asking Jonah if He should not show concern for the people of Nineveh (Jon. 4:11). Do we put more store in ‘things’ than we do the salvation of lost ones? Have we lost our prayer chamber and the knowledge of the power of prayer? We have substituted suppers, youth parties and banquets for prayer meetings. The Samaritan people would not welcome Jesus; “When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them’” (Luke 9:54)? This may seem like it does not apply today since none that I know can call fire down from Heaven, but I will tell you that a non-compassionate heart can be plenty fiery against a lost person. Carnal nature can be strong. Instead of having a heart of love for man we put ourselves in place of God and pronounce judgment. Have you said; ‘well, they brought it on themselves’?
One night an old man, a hunter, was walking down a section of railroad track where there had been a great flood. He came upon a bridge across the old creek that had been washed away in the flood. Only a few minutes until that fast express train would be coming around the curve, rolling across that broken trestle. He began running up the railroad track with lantern in hand. Faster and faster he ran and then all at once he heard the crackling of the steel rails on the ties. The express was coming at breakneck speed! He began to wave the lantern frantically but saw the engineer was not slowing down. Just before the engine passed, he leaped off the rails and flung that lantern into the lap of the engineer, crying; ‘My God, stop that train’! The engineer knew then there was danger ahead and brought the engine to a stop just as he started over the broken trestle. Do we care enough and have a voice loud enough to “snatch others from the fire and save them”? (Jude 23).
Have we lost Holy Spirit conviction (John 16:8)? Have we forgotten what the altar is for? “Everything that touches the altar shall be holy” (Ex. 29:37). Every sinner who, by faith, lays hold of Christ is cleansed (Mark 5:27-29). The horns of the altar were for binding of the sacrifice (Ps. 118:27) and a symbol of strength (Hab. 3:4) and protection (if truly repenting…1 Kings 1:50-53). Woe be to the one who misused the horns of the altar (1 Kings 2:28-30). Do we still pray unceasingly (1 Thess. 5:1-17)? One of the first manifestations of the convicting power of God’s Holy Spirit is to humble man and hide pride from him (Job 33:17) and then we will realize; “that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17b). When we humble ourselves then we will once again pray like our lives depended on it. Then revival will come within each heart and spread out into the congregations of the churches. We will see that revival is an excitement created and sustained by God through His Holy Spirit. It is an excitement promoted by prayer that becomes an intercession with groaning which cannot be uttered (Rom. 8:26-27). It is such a refreshing from the presence of God in which souls are quickened or made alive unto God. It is the Lord Jesus Christ walking in the midst of His people until hearts are broken down with weeping and brought to the place of repentance, realizing that some are going to hell.
God will live with the one with the contrite heart and the lowly in spirit and revive them (Isa. 57:15); He will esteem he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at His Word (Isa. 66:2); He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Ps. 34:18); Our sacrifice to God should be a broken spirit and contrite heart (Ps. 51:17); Like Jeremiah, our bones should tremble because of His Holy Word (Jer. 23). When the Spirit is allowed to ‘stir things up’ then the devil will also be stirred up. He will put forth every effort in his power to keep the sleeping church from awaking and to keep unconverted souls from fleeing from the wrath to come. The devil is filled with fury because he knows that his time is short (Rev. 12:12b) but so is ours. If invited into your revival, God will break down all opposition to the progress of His own work. Are you ready for a revival? Will you pray for a revival in MY heart as I pray for one in your heart? Pray that we no longer ‘play church’ but be totally committed to the work of the Lord.