REVIVAL

Acts 10:44 ¶ While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.

I remember praying for revival for years; the only problem, what would it look like when it came. Christians all seem to have their own version of what ‘real revival’ looks like stored away in their brain. I was no different. I imagined tears of repentance, huge altar calls, whole cities being changed; I never imagined in ten thousand years what I saw suddenly happen in our church in 1994. People being stuck to the floor under the mighty presence of the Lord, contagious laughter that seemed to have no end, trances, visions and dreams. People were getting converted but I never imagined such power and such joy. Preconceived ideas can really keep us from receiving the real thing. Arthur Wallis touched on this in his revival classic IN THE DAY OF THY POWER. Here is an excerpt from his book and a quote from David Brainerd’s journal.

“True revivals have ever been marked by powerful and often widespread outpourings of the Spirit. Many, many times the preaching had to cease because the hearers were prostrate or because the voice of the preacher was drowned by cries for mercy. Who will deny that these were outpourings of the Spirit? Who could find a more appropriate description of such scenes than the words of Luke: “The Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word” (Acts 10:44)? David Brainerd recorded the beginning of the wonderful movement among the American Indians in 1745 thus:

The power of God seemed to descend upon the assembly “like a mighty rushing wind,” and with an astonishing energy bore down all before it. I stood amazed at the influence, which seized the audience almost universally; and could compare it to nothing more aptly, than the irresistable force of a mighty torrent. . . . Almost all persons of all ages were bowed down with concern together, and scarcely one was able to withstand the shock of this surprising operation.”

Brainerd saw the same manifestations in the Native Americans that lived in the wilderness that had been taking place in the churches of New England. God had come down and revival was in the air. They were falling under the power out in the woods. No preconceived ideas of revival, the Wind of God just began to blow and their lives were being effected. Maybe the wind will begin to blow again in our generation. If it does, don’t allow your version of what revival should look like block you from stepping in for yourself.

MORE WITH US

2Kings 6:15-17 ¶ When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Do you believe in angels? How much do you believe in them? Enough to know they are with us helping fulfill the plans of God constantly? Elisha’s disciple was quite disturbed when the enemies’ army was surrounding their city. Elisha seemed to be unaffected nor bothered by the soldiers and the weapons. The disciple was apparently paralyzed with fear. “Open his eyes, Elisha prayed.” Suddenly the disciple saw them, the whole mountain was filled with angels and the chariots of God. “Don’t be afraid, there are more with us than there is with them.”

This story always reminds me of a painting a church member painted years ago at Feed the Multitudes. It showed the crowds of people at the festival and angels with watermelons coming to feed the crowd. The unseen army of the Lord was there amongst us watching over and orchestrating the whole event. So why is this significant? Feed the Multitudes started out of a financial need we had as a congregation. The Lord told us the way out of trouble was to be a blessing to the poor and hurting. As our church began to serve and minister to the afflicted, the angels of God were busy taking care of all the details. The good news about this story is this, the angels of the Lord are always working on our behalf. They are not just involved with big events like Feed the Multitudes, they are involved in the everyday circumstances of our lives. He disperses His angels to those who love Him and belong to Him.

The event that the painting depicted was July 4, 1994. Within the next 2 months our church was swept into an incredible revival that we are still benefitting from today. There are more with us than with our enemies and these angels of the Lord are working to guarantee the success of the kingdom of God.

GOD AWARE

Acts 2:2,3 – And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

One of the problems that people who have been around church a lot is this, they know about God, they may even have all the revival talk down, but there is no awareness of the God in their lives. That was the problem with the Jewish people when Christ appeared on the scene, they thought they knew but they didn’t recognize Him when He was right in front of them. A similar thing happens in times of revival, it didn’t look the way you thought and it passed you by. When the Holy Spirit fell on the day of Pentecost those in the upper room were filled with an awareness of the Lord. There was the rushing mighty wind, the tongues of fire; the atmosphere in the room was alive with God. The same types of things happened when the fire fell in Wales and Azusa Street and when the joy broke out in the outpourings of 1994. Some were clueless, others were caught up in the holiness and power of God. Here are some thoughts from Arthur Wallis on being God conscience.

“Here is another conspicuous feature that characterizes revival. “There came . . . a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind. . . . There appeared unto them tongues . . . like as of fire”. Wherever the Spirit of God is poured out, saints and sinners alike are made acutely aware of the presence of the Almighty. The spirit of revival is the consciousness of God. Just as the “light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun” struck down the zealous Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, and brought him to his knees, convicted and repentant (Acts 26), so does the Eternal Light, in days of revival, burst upon the slumbering consciousness of men with much the same result. On the Day of Pentecost, God manifested His presence first to those in the Upper Room and then to the multitude who had gathered outside, who were soon “pricked in their heart”, until that strange, mysterious influence from heaven had spread over the whole city “and fear came upon every soul”.”
So maybe today is the day for you, look to heaven, acknowledge the Son of God and worship Him. Maybe your room will be suddenly filled with the mighty presence of the Lord.

GOD’S STUMBLING BLOCK

Acts 2:12,13 – “So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean? Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”

The Lord does things differently from what anyone would expect. He chooses unusual people to be carriers of revival. At Pentecost He chose an uneducated fisherman, to reach the gentiles He chose a murderous, cursing Pharisee, in the Great Awakening in America He used a 24 year old Englishman, in Wales He used a 26 year old coal miner, and Azusa Street was led by the one-eyed son of a slave from South Louisiana. Paul said that God chooses the foolish to confound the wise. In a similar way revival doesn’t come the way one would expect. It often includes extreme laughter, unusual bodily movements, trances, falling to the floor, intoxicated behavior, and speaking in strange dialects. Revival can be quite messy. As a result, church people can easily become offended and actually oppose outpourings of God in His church. Here are some thoughts from Arthur Wallis on God’s Stumbling Block.

“There are always some who are desirous of revival until it comes, and then they bitterly oppose it because it has not come in the way they anticipated. The instrument that God used, or the channel through which the blessing flowed, was not what their convictions had led them to expect. They looked to see an Eliab or an Abinadab chosen for this great work, but the Lord, who “looketh on the heart,” chose a David. They thought that their own local church, their own fellowship which was so scriptural and right, would see the beginning of the work, but God chose to work elsewhere, and this became to them a stumbling block. To all who handle the work of revival, this should be a solemn warning of the great danger of yielding to jealousy and prejudice, which blind the eyes, harden the heart and hinder the Spirit.”
Jesus was actually called a ‘stone of stumbling’ to the spiritual leaders of His day. They never expected to see the Messiah cloaked in humility. When He began to heal the sick on the Sabbath day the leaders were totally offended. On the Day of Pentecost, the unusual response by the 120 followers of Jesus caused quite an upheaval. Many were attracted and converted, many others were offended by the strange effects of the outpouring and opposed the move of God. The question begging to be asked, are you attracted or offended by the unusual outpourings of the Lord?

SUDDENLY

Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

Revival happens suddenly. A church, nation, or an individual could be waiting for the move of the Spirit for years and in a moment of time everything changes. That is a common thread in revivals throughout history, the Lord began His visitation suddenly and circumstances were immediately changed.

Our church had morning prayer meetings at 6 a.m. from 1979 all the way until 1994. We prayed for everything imaginable in those prayer meetings but one thing that remained constant was our crying out for revival. I can remember praying “one more time Lord” hundreds of times over the years. Suddenly, our world was changed in August of 1994 as we experienced a visitation beyond anything I could have expected. Our church changed and I changed. Not everyone liked it but it was undeniable and unignorable. God was in the house, revival had visited our church. Here is a description of the spontaneity of revival from Arthur Wallis.

“With the brevity and simplicity characteristic of Scripture, we are shown in four words the source of the outpouring: “There came from heaven . . .”. Revival is spontaneous, because it is “not forced or suggested or caused by outside agency.” It is the result of a divine and not a human impulse. In language plain to all, it cannot be “worked up”. It is true that spiritual conditions must be met before revival can be expected, but fulfilled conditions do not provide the motive force of revival. At Pentecost it was “the windows of heaven”, not the windows of the Upper Room, that were opened. The source of the blessing was the heart of God, not the heart of man. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that such “seasons of refreshing” have always come “from the presence of the Lord”. We may believe that during those ten days of waiting, there were revived hearts in that Upper Room, but there was no revival; there were empty vessels but no outpouring. When it came, it came direct from heaven and found in that waiting band a channel through which to flow.”

What do you do when God Himself walks into the room? Your own plans and agendas seem quite insignificant, Greatness had made His way into our world. Sometimes you have to stop, be still, and know He alone is God.

COULD THIS BE REVIVAL?

Acts 10:44 ¶ While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.

The first I heard of the outpouring in the 1990’s was from a pastor friend in New York who called me about things that were happening in services near him. He told me preaching was being interrupted by outbreaks of laughter in the congregation. I was shocked and not very happy about what I was hearing. I just wrote it off as another side journey of the flakes often associated with the charismatic renewal. You know what I mean; one week everyone needed deliverance, the next week everything was prophetic, and then there was the banners and Jewish symbolic rituals in the worship services. “Just great”, I thought, “now everyone is laughing”. I didn’t think much of it until I went to revival services myself in Rockwell, Texas. That’s when I saw it first hand, this was more than laughter, way more: God Himself had come down and His Glory and majesty were on full display. This was my first taste of revival for myself. Here are some thoughts from Arthur Wallis on the nature of revival.

“True revivals have ever been marked by powerful and often widespread outpourings of the Spirit. Many, many times the preaching had to cease because the hearers were prostrate or because the voice of the preacher was drowned by cries for mercy. Who will deny that these were outpourings of the Spirit? Who could find a more appropriate description of such scenes than the words of Luke: “The Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word” (Acts 10:44)? David Brainerd recorded the beginning of the wonderful movement among the American Indians in 1745 thus:
The power of God seemed to descend upon the assembly “like a mighty rushing wind,” and with an astonishing energy bore down all before it. I stood amazed at the influence, which seized the audience almost universally; and could compare it to nothing more aptly, than the irresistible force of a mighty torrent. . . . Almost all persons of all ages were bowed down with concern together, and scarcely one was able to withstand the shock of this surprising operation.”

When the Lord comes down like this it is time for man to be silent. What can you say in the manifest immediate presence of His Greatness. Lord, split the heavens one more time and come down amongst us, our generation desperately needs Your visitation.

IN THE DAY OF THY POWER

Psa. 110:3 Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,

in holy garments;

from the womb of the morning,

the dew of your youth will be yours.

Seasons of revival are rare and precious. I remember a picture of John Wesley that was on the wall in the home of one of my teachers in Bible School. Just that picture invoked a fear of God and a longing for revival in my soul. Our teachers and leaders at school spoke often of those days of revival in history that changed our world. Have you ever thought about what revival is really like? What is its purpose from God’s perspective? Jonathan Edwards gives us a glimpse into the heavenly purpose in this short quote.

“God hath had it much on his heart, from all eternity, to glorify his dear and only-begotten Son; and there are some special seasons that he appoints to that end, wherein he comes forth with omnipotent power to fulfill his promise and oath to him. Now these are times of remarkable pouring out of his Spirit, to advance his kingdom; such is a day of his power.”
The whole purpose is to magnify Jesus, the one and only Son of God. David called it “a day of His power”. Jesus become the focus of life when the Lord pours out His Spirit in this way on the earth. Outpouring turns our attention off of His gifts and onto the Lord Himself. Jesus is magnified and hungry hearts are attracted to Him as the source of all life. Edwards also warned about the danger of preconceived ideas about revival that can actually cause us to reject it when it comes. It seldom happens the way we thought it would or should. Here is Edwards’ warning.

“Persons are very ready to be suspicious of what they have not felt themselves. It is to be feared many good men have been guilty of this error. . . . These persons who thus make their own experience their rule of judgment, instead of bowing to the wisdom of God, and yielding to his word as an infallible rule, are guilty of casting a great reflection upon the understanding of the Most High.”
This sounds like the way I was before I was touched by God in 1994. I had some strong opinions about the way it should be and the way it shouldn’t be. Thankfully, the Lord was persistent and broke down my barriers so that I could also enter in to His great outpouring.