You’ll know it when you see it.
This Sunday marks the celebration of the first revival of the Church, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on those who believed. We’ve all heard about the great revivals of the past, when spiritual awakening swept through entire continents and people came rushing to God in droves, starving for the forgiveness and empowerment that comes from a relationship with God and other Spirit-united believers. We’ve read in the book of Acts of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon those who were waiting, sparking a stampede of those who were convicted by the Spirit to repent and turn fully to God. So how did these great movements happen? What brought about the radical turn toward God which affected entire nations?
It appears that it began with handfuls of believers who were filled with longing crying out to God. Those who just knew that “there has to be more to the church than this”. Even those who have never experienced a genuine spiritual awakening know that somewhere, somehow, there’s got to be more to God, to the church, than what we’ve seen in our lifetimes. At the heart of every revival movement throughout history is a sense of brokenness, spiritual need, and humble repentance. Job seems to capture the spirit of complete surrender that makes us irresistible to God when his prayer was recorded for us…
Then Job replied to the Lord:
“I know that you can do anything,
and no one can stop you.
You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
It is I - and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
things far too wonderful for me.
You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!
I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’
I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
I take back everything I said,
And I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”
So here’s my question for the church today. What is keeping us from recognizing that we simply have not yet fully experienced the undiluted, full strength power of God’s Spirit poured out upon us, uniting us, empowering us, emboldening us, washing over us in a way that we, along with Job can say, “I had only heard about this stuff, but now I have seen it with my own eyes. I didn’t have a stinkin’ clue before, and I now surrender completely to your plan, your way, in your timing.”
Peter, in his address to the revival taking place in the book of Acts is recorded as saying “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” In this simple statement, which led to the great revival in Acts, Peter reveals the key to revival. It starts in you. Revival in your heart can begin today. And it all begins with repentance. All that means is we come clean, completely, before God. Holding nothing back, we open ourselves up to him and ask him to search us, forgive us, cleanse us, and revive us!
Nobody has this thing all figured out. Along with Job, we’ve all heard of him, but until he reveals himself to us, nobody has seen him with their own eyes. Revival is a product of God pouring himself out upon a repentant person, or people. It’s all Him, at his pleasure, moving toward those who are humbled before him. Listen to this promise from God recorded in our Old Testament…
“…if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14“Holy Spirit, we simply do not know you. We have heard of you, we have read about you, but we really don’t know you. Please God, stir in our hearts and bring us to a sense of our need for repentance. Stir within us a determination to fall on our faces before you, to truly seek you, and to turn away from our slavery to our own desires. Please hear us and reveal to us the truth of who you long to be within us and among us in the Church. Rise up O Lord, and take your rightful place on the throne of our hearts, our families, and our Church. In the name of Jesus Christ we ask this, Amen.”