The Lord has definitely been doing a work in my life over the past month. And I believe that He has been doing the same in this class. Your comments during class time, your e-mails, cards and phone calls have been very encouraging to me, and indicate that you are in favor with what is happening.
So, for the time being, I will structure my lessons around the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We will address topics like:
o What does it meant to be a Pentecostal - what sets it apart from other Christian bodies?
o Who is the Holy Spirit - and what is His importance to each believer?
o What is the importance of Spiritual Gifts?
o What are the differences between the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit?
o What is a Revival?
o What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
o What part do we play in a move of the Holy Spirit?
o What is the glory of God?
o What is the anointing of the Holy Spirit?
o What does it mean to come boldly to the throne of God?
I am quite sure that as we begin answering these question, more related topics will come to mind which need to be addressed as well.
Today, let me begin with a verse from the Book of Revelation.
Revelation 19:7 NKJV
7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready."
WHO HAS A PART IN MAKING THE BRIDE READY FOR THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB?
It says the bride, herself, had an important part in that preparation. We are that bride, and we have a crucial role in making ourselves ready to be united with Him. One of the questions I mentioned a moment ago was: "What part do we play in a move of the Holy Spirit?" While this verse does not mention the Holy Spirit, it does note that we play a role in our relationship with God. And it takes a divine merger between the Holy Spirit and us.
The Holy Spirit does not do everything. We have a part to play. And, as we go through the questions I listed a few moments ago, I think it will be apparent that we have a part to play in several of them. Our response to the Holy Spirit is important. He provides the grace - we embrace the fire. Most of today's lesson will focus on our role.
WHAT DO WE CALL A DIVINE ENCOUNTER WITH GOD'S PRESENCE - WHETHER BY AN INDIVIDUAL OR A BODY OF PEOPLE?
o A move of the Holy Spirit.
o An outpouring of God.
Sometimes people use the word, "visitation," when describing an encounter with God's presence. But I don't think that represents the Lord's desire. The Lord's desire is not a visitation, but rather, He seeks a habitation.
One of the greatest promises the Lord makes to believers is this:
2 Corinthians 6:16 NKJV
16 "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people."
What a statement! God, the Creator of the universe and everything in it expresses His intent to dwell in and among us. No, He does not desire a visitation - He seeks a habitation. To say it another way, God doesn't want visitation rights with his children, He is looking for full custody - where, as we just read, "They shall be my people."
We want to attract God's attention, but once we get Him to visit, or sense His presence settle down among us, we say, in effect, "Hi, glad You came - gotta go." - and off we go. Too often we want just enough of God in our place of worship to give us a tingle or make a little chill run up our spines. And we say, "Oh, He's here." My question: Now that He's here, will He stay?
We have a huge role in whether God stays or not. He won't stay if He's not wanted. So, what will it take on my (our) part that once He is here, He stays?
A little more than a week ago, Paula and I had lunch at the new Cheesecake Factory restaurant. We made our order, and they gave us hot bread and butter to eat while we waited for our order. That bread was oh, so good, and I ate several pieces, and, by the time our order came, I was already half full. I am afraid that we have built a religion and lifestyle around the appetizers while completely forgetting the main course. Why would we be satisfied in tasting something "good" when you know the "best" is waiting in the kitchen?
Today, I want to address one of the questions I listed earlier. And I want to investigate the role we have in its answer. The question: What is a Revival?
WHAT IS A REVIVAL?
One definition might be: "To restore from a depressed, inactive, or misused state." Others might define "revival" as:
o A specific blessing of divine intervention
o A spiritual awakening
o It is a sovereign move of God on behalf of His church.
Charles Finney defined "Revival" as: "Nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God.
WHY WOULD A REVIVAL BE NECESSARY?
Here is a Passage that might identify a need for revival.
Judges 2:7-10 NKJV
7 So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel.
10 When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.
If we are not continually examining ourselves and our spiritual level, over time, the fire for God that burns in us will become smoldering embers. You have heard it said that the church is only one generation from extinction. If the hot fires of your intimacy with God is not passed on to our children, their generation will not be able to pass it on to their next generation. The fully alive body of Christ will, quite naturally, without attention, tend towards lack of fitness. That's true of our physical body as well as the body of Christ, spiritually. This has led someone to define "revival" as: "The inrush of the Holy Spirit into a body that threatens to become a corpse."
Let me explain our need for periodic revival using a scientific statement. Almost 40 years ago, I was teaching the high school Sunday School class in our church. One of my goals as a teacher, was that these students not only knew what they believed, but had a good grasp on WHY they believed certain things.
In the area of Creation and evolution, I wrote a small paper. But first, I got a copy of all science books being used by all high schools in the area. My objective was to take the books used by the students, all of which had an evolutionary bias, to show that evolution has some very damaging flaws.
I took one of the laws of science, as recorded in their textbooks as the basis for the paper. The law is known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics." Simply put, this law says all processes tend to run down - not up. The tendency is to progress steadily from a structured order towards less structure or chaotic. And the resultant energy will be less usable in the end. An example of that would be a gasoline engine in your car. The amount of energy at the point of combustion is always higher than the available energy at the wheels. There will be loss due to friction, and some energy is lost in the exhaust.
The problem this scientific law has for evolutionists is that evolution requires a migration towards more sophisticated, more complex, more highly adapted and more highly specialized organisms. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, contrariwise, recognizes the universal tendency towards disintegration, randomness, less usefulness, decay and death.
This is the way sin works in the world. The Bible reveals that there has been a moral decline which was introduced in our race by the Fall of man. And without a constant investment of higher power and wisdom and life, left to himself, man's moral character will decay, undergo disorder and die. This natural tendency of mankind, along with the activity of the devil, makes it necessary to be actively watchful of our spiritual condition.
Another observation in Physics is found in these two statements:
o An object at rest tends to remain at rest.
o An object in motion tends to remain in motion.
Simply put, it is always harder to get something moving than to keep it moving once it has started. A revival is where the Holy Spirit puts things in motion. Once it has begun, we need the Holy Spirit to help us maintain the spiritual momentum.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a role we all play in beginning a revival as well as keeping its momentum.
WHAT ARE SOME PREREQUISITES FOR A REVIVAL?
There are probably different ways to look at the prerequisites for a revival, but I think there are at least 3 prerequisites.
2. Brokenness (including humility)
WHY IS PRAYER NEC ESSARY FOR REVIVAL?
If we don't want revival - He won't send it. When we pray, it shows our desire for Him to respond. All revivals have been birthed in prayer. In the 1950's, a huge revival hit the country of Argentina. But it began as a result of 50 Bible School students praying for 49 straight days. They agonized and wept over their country. Dr. Miller, a missionary and teacher at the school, said that on day 50, a prophetic word came forth that declared: "Weep no more, for the Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed over the prince of Argentina." 18 months later, Argentines were flocking to stadiums, some of which held 180,000. And even the largest stadiums were not big enough.
Gypsy Smith was asked how to start a revival.
He answered: "Go home, lock yourself in your room, kneel down in the middle of your floor. Draw a chalk mark all around yourself and ask God to start the revival inside that chalk mark. When He has answered your prayer, the revival will be on."
God said these words to Jeremiah: "You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart."(Jer. 33:3) Revival cannot be "worked up" - it must be sent down from the Father. But we can - we must - pray that God would again visit His people with a quickening Holy Spirit. Habukkuk 3:2 records the prophet's plea, "O Lord, revive Your work." Psalm 85:6 asks the Lord: "Will You not revive us again?"
If you and I pray for revival, it means we understand that we are not at the place we need to be in our Christian walk. We, like the Ephesians in Revelation 2, have left our first love, and need to go back and do the things we did when first born again. The Bible is uniform in teaching that God sends revival to prepared people. God is the one who revives His work. But God does require us to pray. 2 Chronicles 7:14 begins with these words: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray..." As I said earlier, He won't send it if we do not want it.
Prayer for revival embraces our dependence on God. When we pray for revival, I believe we are obeying God's direction, in Hosea 10:12, to "break up the fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you." Our lives have to be made available for God to sow the seeds of revival.
When I was in high school, I was president of the Band. One of my jobs at the beginning of each class was to make sure everyone was in tune. The was a master source and all instruments would tune to its tone. Prayer tunes our minds and hearts to the same master tone of God. Prayer brings us into alignment with Him. It is the gradual changing of our minds and wills to mirror those of God.
If even a few believers begin to pray for revival in the church, God will grant change. God has promised to move in response to prayer.
Jeremiah 33:3 says:
"Call to Me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
Psalms 51:17 NKJV
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart - These, O God, You will not despise.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE A BROKEN AND CONTRITE HEART?
The Hebrew word translated "broken" also means: Crushed, shattered.
After we sin, the first step back to God is to have a changed heart. This always begins with humble contrition of heart because you have erred against the One who loves you dearly. This is to bow down before God because our inner spirit is crushed with a sense of guilt.
When we become aware of our sin and transgressions against God, and are broken and contrite, we need to know that:
o God isn't interested in empty apologies.
o God doesn't want simple New Year's resolutions to do better.
o God cares nothing about our efforts to balance your sins with a little more good.
Don't be conned into believing that if you have done more good than sin, then God looks on you as one headed for Heaven. God doesn't grade on a curve.
Rather, God desires a broken and contrite and humbled heart of one who determines to turn from their sin, to forsake their sin, and to abandon it. Only then is our sacrifice to God acceptable to Him. When we come to God with a broken and contrite heart, He has provided a promise through the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 57:15 NIV
15 For this is what the high and lofty One says - he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.
As a believer and a priest before God, your sacrifice of a broken spirit and a broken, contrite heart is not despised by Him.
Here is another thought I want to bring into our discussion. A broken heart is not the same as a divided heart!
Psalm 119:2 says: "blessed are those who…seek Him with all their heart." Notice other verses in Psalm 119. Verse 34: (NKJV) "I shall observe it (God's Law) with my whole heart." Verse 58: (NKJV) "The proud have forged a lie against me, But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart."
To seek and serve God with our whole heart means not to be divided with many things being the object of our affections. We will not really know God until our hearts are one toward Him. It is one thing to be divided. - It is quite another to be broken. One of these God hates. - The other He loves. In fact, there is no heart so complete and whole in seeking after God as a heart that is broken before Him. I am speaking of a heart where every fragment sighs and cries after the Savior's face.
It is the divided heart that the Scriptures abhor. A heart may be divided, but not broken. It may be broken, yet not divided. And yet, praise the Lord, it may be broken and still be completely whole. But it cannot be completely whole until it is broken before God.
Do we really want a reviving? We have to be broken over our sins.
To be broken and contrite is to have a spirit of repentance. It is daily dying to sin and living in the newness of Christ's forgiveness.
2 Corinthians 7:10 NKJV
10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
When we pray and drawn near to God, there will always be a conviction of sin on the part of the individual or church. A revival is a new beginning of obedience go God. To enjoy a revival, we must forsake our sins.
Isaiah 59:1-2 NKJV
1 Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear.
2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.
Spiritual revival cannot take place in the absence of repentance. Revival follows repentance. There is no shortcut to revival or the coming of His presence. God's glory only comes when repentance drives you and me to our knees. That is because His presence requires purity. I think we will all be surprised at the number of people who will start crawling out from the crevices of society when they see the Church repenting. Repentance must first begin in the house of God. Only then will society begin to repent. If the local churches are not a proper expression of God's truth and righteousness, how can they influence the world for Christ.
Do you want times of refreshing and renewal? The apostle Peter says, in Acts 3:19, "Repent...that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,..."
We have looked at 3 prerequisites of revival.
• Prayer - for God to revitalize one's spiritual life.
• Brokenness - for having sinned against the very One who loves them so much.
• Repentance - to reestablish a correct relationship with one's Savior.
For the time we have left, I want to go back to the first prerequisite - Prayer. I want to relate to you a true story.
The sun was lowering and the air was like an oven when the stranger rode into town. With every step his horse kicked up little puffs of dust from the dry, powdery street. No one had seen the likes of him before. He was a stranger to these parts, and no one knew for sure what to make of him. Leather creaked as he slid out of the saddle. The ground shook as the big man's boots hit the street. He hitched his horse to the rail, looked around, stepped up on the wooden sidewalk and headed toward the saloon. When his lengthening shadow spilled through the swinging doors a hush fell over the crowd. The bartender stopped pouring. The dealer stopped shuffling. Even the piano fell silent. Chairs creaked, and necks craned as every eye tried to catch a glimpse of the stranger. "Got any praying people around here?"
Those were the first words that Francis Asbury (an itinerant Methodist preacher) asked when he rode into a new town. "Got any praying people around here?"
We can win the battle for revival around here the same way our forefathers in the faith won theirs. But I've got to ask you something" "...Got any praying people around here?" Where are the praying people in this place?
I believe many of today's evangelists have it wrong. Many believe that revival comes through slick advertisement and extensive planning. They think you can have a revival if you can get enough billboards and posters hung. They act like a revival comes through buying ads on TV and radio. They treat a revival as though it was some political campaign with God as the candidate.
But revival has never come through such means. Revival has always come in answer to the prayers of God's people.
Do you want to see revival? I am certain God wants to see a spiritual revival here. Why do I believe that? Because the Bible tells me so.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 NKJV
1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,
2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
God wants people to be saved, but He wants us to pray for them. God's will is done in answer to prayer. That is why I say that prayer is vital to the success of any ministry. And that includes revivals.
According to God's Word, it is time for us to pray. When we begin seeking revival and winning the lost, we become involved in spiritual battle. Satan doesn't like it when we get serious about our relationship with our Savior. He will do anything he can to derail us.
2 Corinthians 10:4 tells us that we have "spiritual weapons" at our disposal. The main weapon is intercessory prayer.
In Ephesians 6, Paul describes the Christian's armor. Most of the armor mentioned are for the purpose of protecting the Christian. But, in verse 18, Paul describes how to go on the offensive.
Ephesians 6:18 NKJV
18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints...
Our offensive weapon against the devil is prayer. To win spiritual battles, we must pray. If you want revival, we must pray. If you want to win souls to Christ, we must pray.
Once we come to the Lord in prayer, and deep contrition of heart which leads to repentance, God has promised to show up. When true revival occurs, where God shows up among His people, there will always be the sense by those present, that He is there to deal with him/her alone. You will have an overwhelming sense of his holiness and where you stand in relation to that holiness.
Prayer is instant contact with Heaven. Dr. John R. Rice said "All our failures are prayer failures." Each of us are limited, but prayer taps the unlimited power of Almighty God.
Here's an acronym for you to remember.
Pray Until Something Happens.
Got any praying people around here?