I have a friend who told me that he wanted to be a motivational speaker. And I think that he is finally on a leadership team where he has the opportunity to do just that. And we all need to be motivated, don’t we? I believe the old-time evangelists were in fact spiritual motivation speakers!
Several years ago we had Rev. Fred Lester here to preach revival service. Actually, we had him on two different occasions. He has gone to heaven down. He was of the old school evangelists. We called him an evangelist but he stated that he was really a “Revivalist.” He would walk up and down the aisles and really preach—sometimes loudly so. I remember his illustration in his opening sermon in that revival meeting… He talked about a can of paint. It has all the ingredients of good paint, but some of the ingredients had settled to the bottom of the can., so it had to be stirred. He said that it was not good enough to just half-heartedly stir the paint. He went to great details of how you had to take the stir stick and reach way down to the bottom of the can and stir the settled ingredients until it was again mixed thoroughly. And then He said that was his mission. To reach way down into the life of the church and stir up those good qualities that had settled down in the life of the Christian until he or she was once again fully functional as a dynamic Servant of God.
Paul was Timothy’s spiritual dad and mentor. He on several occasions referred to Timothy as a preacher and pastor and Church Leader in very positive terms. There can be no doubt that Paul considered Timothy as being strong and stable in his Christian faith. Now, in perhaps his last letter that he would have the chance to write, Paul tells Timothy, “…I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God….” It sounds to me that Paul was encouraging Timothy to take time to experience revival in his personal walk with Christ!
Next week we will begin a series of services that we are calling “Revival services.” In early generations revival services would go for 2 or more weeks. Then the trend was for a Sunday through Sunday, then a Tuesday through Sunday, and as Sunday through Wednesday. The trend now is not to even have revivals, and, instead, have special conferences or seminars for a day or a weekend. And, truthfully, we backed off holding the traditional Spring and Fall revivals because people just would not attend, especially on weeknights. The desire for “more of God” has been crowded out by school activities and work commitments. It just takes too much time and energy out of our over-committed lives to attend more than one or two church services a week. A large number of churches have even abandoned Sunday evening services altogether.
So why should we bother with scheduling a special evangelist, tie up a few extra nights, and pay out an extra salary and expenses — things that are involved in scheduling special services?
Let’s explore our rationale for Revival by considering these questions:
I. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF REVIVAL?
a. The word “Revive” means to bring back to life something that was alive but has lost that zest for life and is dead or dying. A dying man who receives medical treatment and begins to improve is in the process of “reviving.” When a person stops breathing we give CPR in order to revive him.
b. When we speak of revival the usual thought is that we want to see sinners getting saved. But, in reality, Revival first of all means getting the Christians revived. Evangelism comes as a result of Christians getting on fire for God!
c. In our Prayer Awakening Service last Tuesday evening. Rev. Cory Jones told of his experience when he went to pastor a church in Fort Worth that the district was ready to close down. He told of how the church was located in the rough part of the city and they were ministering to gang members, drug addicts, prostitutes, and others we would consider hard core sinners. He talked about how, after a period of time that he was ready to resign. In Counseling terms he was experiencing “burn out.” But the change came when he realized that the church was dead—cold—lifeless because the Glory of the Lord had departed. And the church had no life. The Glory of the Lord had departed. But after spending a week with his friend in New York and attending the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church where Pastor Jim Cymbala serves, He came to the realization that what he needed was the Holy Spirit. After praying a prayer confessing his prideful attitudes and his coldness and lack of love, He asked God to fill his heart afresh with His Spirit. He prayed that He would love God like the two women loved God that were praying next to him. And He said when he flew back to Fort Worth and His wife met him, she immediately saw a new glow on his face. And it was the glow of the Holy Spirit.
d. The purpose of Revival is to restore God’s anointing on the church and on our lives.
II. WHY DO WE NEED REVIVAL?
a. The simple answer is that we always need more of God on our lives!
b. I read about an old time evangelist named Gypsy Smith who when praying for revival, drew a circle on the ground and then he knelt in the circle and prayed,”Lord, send a revival and let it start in this circle.” There’s an old chorus that we used to sing that went something like this,” Lord, it’s not my brother or my sister, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer!” Like Timothy, we need to “fan into flame” the gift of God in our own personal lives.
c. I can tell you that each of us needs a fresh touch of God. Each of us needs His power to be unleashed in our lives. Each of us needs to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Each of us needs to be more aggressive in our witnessing. Each of us needs to see God high and lifted up and recognize afresh His awesomeness. Each of us needs a more intimate prayer life. Each of us needs to get into God’s Word more.
d. Isaiah was a prophet and a priest steeped in the knowledge of the Old Testament and trained in the duties of priesthood. But in Isaiah 6 He writes of how when He saw the Lord high and lifted up and beheld His glory and His holiness, he immediately cried out, “Woe is me, for I am undone, I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell among a people of unclean lips.” And when He realized his own unworthiness to be in God’s Presence, God sent a Seraph to touch his lips with a live coal from the altar and say to him, “Your sin has been purged.” We need to spend time with God and allow His Spirit to show us our own uncleanness, our own weaknesses, our own wrong attitudes, our own complacency.
e. Years ago I was watching a video about church leadership and motivating God’s people to do the work of the Kingdom. I believe it was Dr. Howard Hendricks speaking. And he said something like this: “It is easy to motivate someone. Just back him up to 50,000 volts of electricity and watch him move!” We need to be backed up to the fire of the Holy Spirit so that we will be motivated to move for God!
III. SO, HOW DO WE PREPARE FOR REVIVAL?
a. First of all, we must admit that we need revival. We must come to the point of recognizing that we can’t live a victorious Christian life under our own power. We must come to the point where we realize we need the Holy Spirit to fill us completely.
b. Secondly, we must humble ourselves before God and confess our need to Him. We must surrender our pride and arrogance. We must confess to God our complacency and our lack of zeal for Him We must confess that we have allowed the pollution of this world to settle in our spirits and dull that sharpness and glow. In Hebrews 12:1 & 2 we read, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith…” Maybe we have neglected our Bible reading. Maybe we have allowed the mindset of this fallen world to dull our sensitivity to the things of God. Maybe we have substituted television or social media to crowd out time we used to spend in communion with God. Maybe we have picked up some careless habits that cast a shadow on our desire for God. The Letters to the Seven Churches found in the 2nd and 3rd chapter of Revelation give warnings to the church about the dangers of tolerating immorality, of thinking we are self-sufficient and have no need for God’s intervention. In the case of the Church at Laodicea, the problem was they had allowed their first love—that intense love for God and the things of God—to cool off so that it had become “lukewarm”—not too hot and not too cold. What is it in your life that has dulled your sensitivity to God and drained away your spiritual energy and desire to serve?
So, we need to own up and confess our need for forgiveness because we are not living up to our full potential and God’s people!
c. We were reminded in our Prayer Awaking Service this past week that in order to have the glory of God restored in our lives we must be people of prayer. And 3 key steps in our prayer life are:
i. Desperation. When we come to the end of ourselves and realize we can’t do it anymore, in desperation we call out to God, pleading for His anointing, His strength, His Power, His Holy Spirit to take control, full control. In our Prayer Summits we often heard the statement, that instead of seeking the Hand of God, we must seek the face of God. That meant that instead of asking God to act or do something for us, we should be seeking to know Him intimately, to be in His Presence, to experience His Heart! Are you desperate for God? Do you want Him more than anything else?
How many times have I heard people say that they don’t come to church because that’s the only day they have to do family things? In essence they are saying there are too many other things that are more important to me that worshipping God!
2. Secondly, we must pray Dependent Prayers. In other words, we must come to the place in our outlook where we realize our true dependency must be upon God. It is not about how smart I am or how talented I am or how capable I am. It is realizing that without God we can do nothing of value. It is all about God and His power, not us or our efforts!
3. We must pray Determined Prayers. In Luke 11 Jesus told about a friend who had company arrive unexpectedly, so he went to his neighbor late at night to borrow a loaf of bread. The friend told him to come back tomorrow because he and his family were already in bed. But because the friend kept on knocking the man finally got up and gave the man the loaf of bread—not because he was a friend, but because he wouldn’t stop knocking on the door. And then Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened “(Luke 11: 9). And Jesus was really talking about prayer. The old timers talked about “wrestling with God in prayer.” Referring to how Jacob wrestled with God and refused to give up until he received God’s blessings. And I remember hearing the admonition of praying until you pray clear through and touch the throne of God. And I’ve heard testimonies of people who were so burdened about some special need that they spend the entire night in prayer. These are examples of what it means to be determined in your prayers. And yet, we often just pray a little prayer, and then get up and forget about it. We need to get serious about our prayer life.
Our evangelist has sent some prayer cards for us to use as we prepare for the upcoming special services. I still have several if you would like to have one. I challenge you to take the card and use it to guide your prayers everyday this coming week. And let’s pray that God will come in all His fullness, that this place will be shaking with His present and glowing with His glory.
It’s Revival that we need. And instead of pointing spiritual fingers at others and judging what they need to do, each of us should examine our own hearts and seek to experience whatever it is that God wants to do in our hearts and lives.
What about sinners being converted? If we truly get God’s Glory on our lives, we will be so filled with His love that sinners will seek us out to find out about God. Evangelism comes when the Church is revived—alive again with the anointing of God. And that will only happen as we individually experience that hungering and thirsting for God!