“We often have a tinted view of revival as a time of glory and joy and swelling numbers queuing to enter the churches. That is only part of the story. Before the glory and joy, there is conviction; and that begins with the people of God. There are tears of godly sorrow. There are wrongs to put right, secret things… to be thrown out, and bad relationships, hidden for years, to be repaired openly.
If we are not prepared for this, we had better not pray for revival.”
In our Men’s Bible Study yesterday here at Q90 FM, we got on the subject of revival. Specifically we were wondering if there is one major revival that could yet happen in America that would suspend the coming judgment of God upon this nation for the sins of the nation and our turning away from God. Some very interesting points were discussed and made in our discussion which has continued the past 24 hours through email.
One thing mentioned is how we as Americans have come to expect something for nothing. We used to be a people who worked hard and earned the good things of this life with hard work and sweat. But these days more and more of us just decide to let others or the government give us things as if we have the right to expect someone else to provide for us while we sit on the couch and watch Oprah Winfrey spin her new age beliefs into “Christianity”.
And this entitlement attitude has infected the church in many ways. We want salvation without being sanctified; we want God’s blessings without obeying Him; and it seems we want revival without repentance.
2 Chronicles 7:14-15
“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.”
Now many argue that this specific passage pertains only to the dedication of the temple built by Solomon. But the principles of what God is saying in these verses can certainly be applied to born again believers since we are to be a temple of the living God. So let’s break this down:
“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves..”
How are we doing with this as Christians? Are we humbling ourselves before God? When we gather on Sundays in this place we call “church” are we coming with hearts of humility before the throne of a right and just God? Do we approach Him with fear and trembling? Or do we approach him like a distant relative that we call or visit just because we hope to be in his will and receive something?
Are we arrogantly flaunting the salvation we claim to have received through grace, all the while denying that the Bible tells us that grace is to also teach us to walk away from sin?
“pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,”
What does our prayer life look like? Are we even taking the time for meaningful prayer? And when we pray are our prayers a list of things we want God to do for us or others? Or is our prayer time a time of humbling ourselves before this holy God, asking for His will to be done in our lives?
Do we truly seek His face? Or do we only seek his mercy and grace? See we cannot treat God like going to a restaurant buffet. You can’t just pass over the broccoli, fruit and meat and head for the dessert bar—you know the Joel Osteen plan. We either worship God for His entire nature or we worship a false God. You cannot accept the grace of God that forgives and saves without accepting the grace of God that is taught in Titus Chapter 2—the grace that teaches us to walk away from sin and ungodliness.
So, let’s model what God says in 2 Chronicles 7:14-15:
First God places some conditions upon prayer that He will even HEAR: We who are called by His name must humble ourselves. And we must seek Him—really seek Him. Not just approach His throne casually, but seek to know Him in His Word.
And the other condition is this: we must turn from our wicked ways. To pray to God with blatant and unrepentant sin in our lives is beyond futile—it is dangerous. It is arrogant and presumptuous, treating God like a butler instead of a right, just and holy God. It is like standing before a judge when we have been accused and convicted of a crime—and asking for leniency all the while showing no remorse for the crime we have committed. What judge worth a grain of salt would have mercy and hear the pleas for leniency from a guilty criminal who shows no remorse or regret for his offenses?
Once these two conditions have been met—humbling ourselves and turning from our wicked ways—then God will listen to our prayers.
Verse 15 says “Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.”
So what does this have to do with hoping for revival in our nation? Everything! Because if we as Christians were truly righteous, humble and repentant God might just move the hearts of our earthly kings and bring revival to our nation. But when we pray without humility, acknowledging our own wicked human thought process, our prayers fall on deaf ears.
We have become a lazy, narcissistic self-absorbed people. And I am not just talking about America as a whole—I am talking about those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. We want God to move when we ourselves are too arrogant to humble ourselves before Him. And if we, who are called by His name, are not willing to humble ourselves, what makes us think unbelievers will? Just how stupid can we possibly be?
Historically real revival always starts with two conditions: First, things have become so wicked and twisted that people have no place to turn but God. We have exhausted our human “wisdom” and nothing has worked, so we turn to God.
Second, we humble ourselves, repent of our wicked thought process, and turn to God, throwing ourselves upon His mercy, begging Him to forgive us and give us another chance.
Does America as a nation have it within her to meet these two conditions? I doubt it. We are the Romans 1 generation I believe. We have rejected the truth of God and he has turned us over to a depraved mind. So I personally do not believe we will see a real, lasting revival back to God within our nation. That ship may have already sailed.
But is revival possible in individuals and small pockets of people? Unquestionably! But it will not happen as long as we—people who have been called by God’s name—do not humble ourselves and turn from OUR wicked ways. The revival I see happening is in the individual hearts of men, not in the nation as a whole.
The world and our nation is like the Titanic. Proud and thinking we are something special. But we have hit the iceberg—God’s judgment—and the boat is sinking. The revival that can happen is Christians sharing the gospel and making disciples one at a time—getting people one at a time off the sinking ship before the day of the Lord.
Arrogance, self-righteousness and pride—we expect these things from those who are still blind to the ways of God. Church attendance hit an all time high the Sunday after 9/11—and the next week the numbers were even lower than the week before 9/11.
We better face facts—this world that hates God is going to be judged one day soon. There is nothing man can do to stop it. No social justice movement or PEACE Plan will override the prophetic scriptures. But if we who are called by God’s name will humble ourselves and turn from our wicked ways, we can be the instruments of God to help our friends and neighbors get off the Titanic and on to the solid rock, Jesus Christ.
It is time for the church—the real church, the ecclesia, to start backing up our words with actions. Stop claiming to love Jesus more than anything all the while acting ashamed of Him and His Word.
“For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
A pretty good thought to leave us with today…We’ll be right back.
Next Week we have some great guests and topics:
Rich Christiano, producer of a new film we are bringing to the area “Matter of Faith”; Dave Wager; Jay Seegert on creation and Genesis; and Colin Gunn who has produced a powerful new documentary on how technology and media are actually making us dumber.
*Join Amy and Nancy today at noon for Naomi’s Table and This Sunday night for HopeNet radio with Jeff Strommen and Dave Wager.
And if you are at Lifest this week, do not assume everyone there has received the gospel and saving grace of God. Share the gospel in truth and love, never missing an opportunity to explain the reason for the hope we have.
Revival starts in the hearts of true believers. God can work thorough our humble hearts to bring people to His saving grace—but we must be willing to be His conduits.