America has a history of spiritual revivals and spiritual awakenings…
–The Great Awakening, 1734-43. In December 1734, the first revival of historic significance broke out in Northampton, Massachusetts, where a young Jonathan Edwards was pastor. After months of fruitless labor, he reported five or six people converted–one a young woman.
-He wrote, “[She] had been one of the greatest company-keepers in the whole town.”
-He feared her conversion would douse the flame, but quite the opposite took place. Three hundred souls converted in six months–in a town of only 1,100 people!
-The news spread like wildfire, and similar revivals broke out in over 100 towns.
-Starting in Philadelphia in 1739, George Whitfield’s dramatic preaching was like striking a match to the already-underway awakening.
–The Second Great Awakening, 1800-1840. In 1800, only 1 in 15 of America’s population of 5,300,000 belonged to an evangelical church.
-Presbyterian minister James McGready presided over strange spiritual manifestations in Logan County, Kentucky. The resulting camp meeting revivals drew thousands from as far away as Ohio.
-Rev. Gardiner Spring reported that for the next 25 years not a single month passed without news of a revival somewhere.
-In 1824, Charles Finney began a career that would eventually convert 500,000 to Christ. An unparalleled 100,000 were converted in Rochester, New York, in 1831 alone–causing the revival to spread to 1,500 towns.
-By 1850 the nation’s population exploded fourfold to 23,000,000 people, but those connected to evangelical churches grew nearly tenfold from 7% to 13% of the population–from 350,000 to 3,000,000 church members!
–The Businessmen’s Revival of 1857-1858.
–The Civil War Revival, 1861-1865.
–The Urban Revivals, 1875-1885.
–The Revivals of 1905-1906. Word of the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905 spread to Welsh-speaking settlers in Pennsylvania in late 1904 and revival broke out.
-By 1905, local revivals blazed in places like Brooklyn, Michigan, Denver, Schenectady, Nebraska, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Taylor University, Yale University, and Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky.
-Billy Sunday, who became a key figure about this time, preached to more than 100,000,000 people with an estimated 1,000,000 or more conversions.
–The Post-World War II Awakening. After World War II, in 1947 and 1948, Pentecostals experienced two strands of an awakening, one the Latter Rain Revival and the other the Healing Revival.
-Large numbers of evangelicals also experienced revival resulting in many conversions. It was at this time that a great generation of Christian leaders emerged.
-Bill Bright began Campus Crusade for Christ.
-In 1949, Billy Graham’s distinguished career, which popularized evangelical Christianity for a new generation, exploded on the scene during his Los Angeles crusade sponsored by the Christian Businessmen’s Committee. An estimated 180,000,000 people attended his nearly 400 crusades, and millions more viewed on television.
-College Revivals started as early as 1946, but when the prayer-based Wheaton College Revival of 1950 achieved national publicity, it sparked other college revivals throughout America.
–The Charismatic Renewal and Jesus Movement. During the late 1960s and early 1970s.
-The first strand was the Charismatic Renewal which spread far beyond Pentecostal and Holiness churches to college campuses, the Catholic Church, and mainline denominations.
-The second strand, the widely publicized Jesus Movement, emphasized turning from drugs, sex, and radical politics to taking the Bible at face value and finding Jesus Christ as personal Savior.
–The Mid-1990s Revivals.
–The Promise Keepers Revival
What is a Spiritual Revival (Spiritual Awakening)?…
Here is probably the best definition that I have seen…
In describing what happened in Jonathan Edward’s Northampton, Massachusetts church in 1734, observers said, “It pleased God…to display his free and sovereign mercy in the conversion of a great multitude of souls in a short space of time, turning them from a formal, cold, and careless profession of Christianity, to the lively exercise of every Christian grace, and the powerful practice of our holy religion.”
In revival we see certain characteristics…
Revival is a broad work: It changes lives… not just one aspect of a person’s life, but an overall change in a person’s life. People develop a great enthusiasm in their relationship with God and an excitement to be involved in His works. It is broad in that revival affects believers and unbelievers. Believers develop a renewed excitement… hence the term re-vival. Unbelievers come to a knowledge of Christ that they have never known. Revival is broad in that it typically affects all age groups and people groups. It is not confined to a narrow slice of individuals.
Revival is evident: Revivals are visible and apparent… think of the Day of Pentecost recorded in the book of Acts. God’s presence is easily discernible. In fact, it would be impossible to deny God’s presence in the midst of a revival.
Revival is full of mercy: Revivals are a time of conviction, repentance, and prayers… to which God responds with an outpouring of mercy. God’s abundant mercy is poured out on the repentant masses during revival.
Revival is from God: Revival is a work of God. -God supernaturally transforms believers and non-believers in a church, locale, region, nation, or the world. God uses men and women in ministry… no doubt. But the true work in a revival is the working of God. Only through His mercy, grace and love can true restoration with our Creator take place.
”We cannot organize revival, but we can set our sails to catch the wind from Heaven when God chooses to blow upon His people once again” -G. Campbell Morgan
Revival can be personal. Revival can be regional. Revival can be national. Revival can be worldwide.
What are our roles and responsibilities in a revival?
What are our our responsibilities in revival? In 2 Chronicles, God gives us an outline for our responsibilities in revival… If My people who are called by My name will 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. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
There are four responsibilities identified in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that each of us is called to fill: humble ourselves, pray, seek My face, and turn from our wicked ways.
Humble Ourselves – Word of God
Often, we read scripture and immediately want to apply it to the lives of others. More times than not, we are doing a poor job of applying the scriptures to our own lives. Jesus’ instruction to “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5) is applicable here.
In order to humble ourselves, we must first acknowledge that there is room for improvement in our lives and then invite God to do a work in us. We then turn to the Word of God, the Bible, and begin to read and apply the scripture to our lives. By allowing the scriptures to be an outline for our lives… we are putting God in control.
Here are some scriptures that detail the importance of the Word of God and His work in us…
-“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” ( Romans 1:16)
-“Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” ( James 1:21)
-“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;” (Psalms 19:7)
-My soul clings to the dust; Revive me according to Your word. (Psalm 119:25)
-Plead my cause and redeem me; Revive me according to Your word. (Psalm 119:154)
The word of God is full of mercy and grace. You can hardly read a chapter of the Bible without seeing an example of God’s mercy and grace. Not because man deserves His mercy and grace… but because God loves man that much.
Recall the witness that I shared previously that could be used as a definition of revival… “It pleased God…to display his free and sovereign mercy in the conversion of a great multitude of souls in a short space of time, turning them from a formal, cold, and careless profession of Christianity, to the lively exercise of every Christian grace, and the powerful practice of our holy religion.”
Revival involves God displaying His mercy and grace. Where do we find God’s mercy and grace… outlined in His word.
From the psalmist… 1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. (Psalm 1:1-3)
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explains the parable to the disciples in this way…
11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience. (Luke 8:11-15)
God’s Word is full of truth and light… something that this world is great need of today. Only through use of the the Word of God can we overcome the darkness and lies permeating the world today. If we are to see revival in our families and our nation… it will require that we present the word of God. Sharing the Word of God is necessary to experience revival… because revival is all about God. He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30)
It is our responsibility to pray for our nation and our leaders if we desire to see revival in the United States. J. Edwin Orr stated that “History is silent about revivals that did not begin with prayer.”
Habakkuk prayed… O LORD, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2)
I believe that this should be our prayer today…. God revive Your work in the United States. Many of the original settlers of the “New World” were religious groups seeking a place to live and worship freely. Many of our founding fathers were Christians. In fact, they attributed the successful creation of the United States to the work of God. Our Constitution was very much influenced by the Bible and many Christian authors. Therefore, to pray for God to revive His work in our nation is quite appropriate.
The psalmist prayed… Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your mercy, LORD, And grant us Your salvation. (Psalm 85:6-7)
Acts 10 records the account of a gentile centurion who has been praying and the disciple Peter who has been praying. Through their prayers, God brings them together. He uses Peter to share the gospel with the centurion, his family, and his friends resulting in the first gentiles receiving the gospel.
Are you praying for revival? Revival in your own life? Revival in you family? Revival in the church? Revival in the nation? If you want to know how God wants to use you… pray and listen!
Seek My Face – Worship
Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley (the founder of the Methodist Church), wrote more than 6000 hymns. Writing over 6000 hymns requires a lot of time worshiping. When we place God in His rightful place in our lives, we can’t help but to worship Him.
Revelation 5 records a worship scene…
8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power, Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
14 Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever. (Revelation 5:8-14)
This scene described in Revelation is a scene in the future… but Christ is no less worthy today! Christ sets on that throne in Heaven today! He is worthy to be worshiped today.
The fact that we were created to enjoy God and to worship Him forever is etched upon our souls. -Jim Cymbala
Worship makes God the center of our lives. Worship takes our eyes off of the world and places them on Him. We were created to worship and serve God. That is why Jesus was able to say… “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Mathew 26:39) there in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Worship is an important ingredient in the live of a Christian. Whether it is personal revival or a national revival… worship is always present. Worship is a key ingredient in a revival. It is hard to imagine revival without picturing crowds of people gathered together worshiping God.
Turn from Our Wicked Ways – Repentence
Revival involves men exchanging their own ways (actions rooted in pride and flesh) for God’s way (love and mercy). There must be a response to the word of God… there must be repentance.
Jonah chapter 3 records a great example of a revival…
1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent. 4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. 6 Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?
10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. (Jonah 3)
This may be the greatest revival ever recorded. Chapter 3 starts with… the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time. Why did the word of the Lord come to Jonah a second time? What happened the first time? The first time God called Jonah to go to Ninevah… Jonah went the opposite direction.
-Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. (Jonah 1:3)
-This is only the second verse of the book… Jonah is running from God.
-Jonah boards a ship headed to Tarshish. God sends a great storm that is about to destroy the ship. Jonah was willing to take an entire ship load of men down with him in his disobedience to God.
-Jonah is thrown overboard to save the boat and swallowed by a great fish.
-After three days Jonah cries out to God and is vomited out onto dry land.
Here is where …the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time… comes into the story. God says… That didn’t go so well. Let’s try again… Before Jonah could be used to lead the Ninevites to repentance… Jonah had to repent himself. God had to light a fire under Jonah before Jonah could light a fire in Ninevah.
Don’t miss the real story of Jonah. The story of Jonah is not about a whale. The story of Jonah is about repentance! Jonah was living in a life of sin and disobedience to God just as much as the citizens of Ninevah were. What has God been telling you to do (or stop doing), but you have chosen to ignore?
If you are running from God right now… who are you willing to take down with you?
-Are you willing to sacrifice your family because you are not willing to accept your God-given role as the husband and leader within your family? Or support your husband as God has called you to?
-Does your family take a second seat to something else? Are you too busy with worthless pursuits to answer God’s call to invest in your family?
-Has God called you to serve Him in some capacity in ministry? In the church or other Christian organization? Has He given you talents and abilities that you are willing to use for financial gain, but not for advancing the Kingdom of God?
-Is there a person (or group of people) that God has shown you that need to experience His love, mercy, and grace… but your heart is too cold towards them?
While you are busy running from God… your family is suffering. While you are trying to avoid God’s call in your life… people are dying in their sins. While you are telling God to choose someone else to help… your brothers and sisters are waging the battle. In fact, you may be the topic of their prayers. You may be the person for which they are interceding and asking God to bring revival to.
You say that the problems are just too big for you to make a difference… Jonah entered into the work with less than a stellar presentation… “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” That’s not exactly a textbook presentation of the Gospel. Graciously, God has worked through some of my most pathetic attempts to represent Him. Even when my heart wasn’t right… God’s mercy was poured out on the undeserving.
God told Jeremiah… I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart. (Jeremiah 24:7)
What is our response to what we see in God’s Word regarding revival?
Consider our people, our families, and our nation today…
-People professing to be Christians look more like the world than they do Jesus.
-Biblical truth is rare in our nation today… even in many of our churches.
-Many of our families are broken. There are numerous groups that exist to attempt to re-define what a family is or destroy the family as God designed it.
-We have groups organized to protect us from the influences of religion… most of these groups couldn’t explain the difference between religion and real Christianity.
-Christians often become more focused on what they disagree on than what they have in common.
-Worship… well we find people worshiping anyone and anything to avoid acknowledging God. You could even say that the apple is still preferred to the word of God today.
Is it just me, or is this country ready for revival? Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” (John 4:35-38)
Think about the problems that we see in America today. How would those problems be affected by prayer? How would worshiping God influence those problems? What would happen to those problems if the Word of God were applied to them? If people began to repent… turn from their ways to God’s ways… what would happen to the problems in America?
If My people who are called by My name will 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. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
How about if we put it this way… If you who are called Christians will worship me, and pray and proclaim my word, and repent, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive your sin and heal your nation.
Revival begins in the church! Revival begins in the Christian! Revival begins in You!