Through the years, the Lord has allowed me to see revival break out in churches that fundamentally changed the direction, the vision, the actions, and the attitude of those churches, and, in some cases, their communities. Other times, in my own life and in the lives of others, revival has simply changed the individual, yet made an impact in the church and ministry in which we served.
But, just what is “revival?”
Revival is often described as a moving of God. But on whom? Some have said that in order to be “re-vived” one must have been “vived” to begin with. Although not grammatically correct, the thought is that revival occurs in the lives of born-again believers.
It thrills my heart when I hear testimony of those who are saved during a “revival.” Please understand though that this is not revival; this is an evangelistic meeting. There is a difference. It is possible for there to be both at the same time: Souls may be saved when believers are revived and turn back to God. However, they do not necessarily always coincide with one another. God’s Word never returns void. When His Word is preached, even in the midst of back-sliding (un-revived) Christians, His Word will reach those who seek the truth of His Word and repent when it is presented to them. Jonah is a prime example of souls repenting of their sins and being saved in spite of the disobedient one reaching his field. This could also be said of Christians and churches alike today.
Revival occurs when the Lord moves on born-again individuals to make things right with Himself. Some might call this a re-dedication to the Lord. For some, it is gaining a renewed assurance of salvation; for others, it may be a renewed vision of what the Lord would have them do. Revival involves a new recognition and acknowledgement of sin in the life of the believer. This is the first step of revival for the Christian.
However, there is another step in revival that must be taken as well that is often forgotten. It has been my experience, that when true revival has broken out, whether individually or corporately (as in a church), believers not only “get right” with the Lord, they also take the next step and get right with others: family, friends, employers, employees, fellow church members, former church members, etc. In every instance the Lord has allowed me to be a part of, it was when the second step (Mark 11:24-26) of making things right with others took place, that the Lord truly began to work in individuals, in churches, and in communities. This working was not confined to the pew, the altar or the walls of churches; it was readily testified about in public.
Here are just a few examples of what this might look like and that I have either seen or heard testified:
- A businessman had been falsifying documents for a government contract. He contacted the appropriate authorities and confessed. Yes, there were consequences. His testimony, however, was that he was so relieved of this burden that the consequences, though great, were but a pittance from what he suffered prior.
- Ex-spouses have gone to former spouses and sought forgiveness. When possible, (no re-marriage preventing it) those ex-spouses re-married. Families were reunited.
- A pastor had embellished (lied) on his resume some 18 years before. He confessed it to the deacons and then to the church. The church forgave him, kept him, and revival not only broke out in the church but also in the community. Wrongs were righted; forgiveness sought and given.
- Gossipers have gone to their victims and sought forgiveness then confessed their lies in public. Public sins require public confession.
- A lady had stolen several hundred dollars of textbooks while at a Christian college. Years later, the Lord reminded her of this. She wrote a letter and sent a check for the items plus interest. Blessedly, the college forgave her and sent the check back.
- A man was convicted of robbing God with his tithe. He pulled his tax returns for the last 10 years, compared his giving to his income and realized he had robbed God terribly. He was able to write a check and presented it to the pastor of his church as his back tithes explaining to him that he had robbed God and was making it right.
- Former church members have gone back to the churches they left (church hoppers) and made things right with the pastor(s) and others. As a result, it allowed several churches to mend relationships in order to work together to reach their communities.
Revival involves repentance and humility. Once we come to a state of humility before God, it can be easy to repent at an altar to God alone. But we see in the Mark 11 passage that God requires us to make it right with others as well. That is a test of humility: confessing our wrong to another human. We may be forgiven by that one or not. We may face consequences or not. Regardless of the outcome, true revival for the Christian begins by being humble before God and man.
Do I need revival? Absolutely. Every day. How do I know where I fall short? I must keep, as some say, short sin accounts. The moment that the Lord pricks my heart about something I have thought, said or done I need to confess it to the Lord and seek forgiveness from anyone that may have been the recipient. The longer that I wait, the harder it is. Pride sets in. It is so difficult then to humble myself to seek forgiveness.
If you want to live in a state of perpetual revival, here are a few things to ask yourself and to ask the Lord to reveal to you.
- Relationships: Are all my relationships where they should be? Is there tension with anyone? Have I done wrong to them? Seek forgiveness. Have they done wrong to me? Either go to the person (Matthew 18:15-17) if it is warranted or forgive them and move on. What relationships should I examine? Family, friends, co-workers, authorities, fellow church members, neighbors, etc.
- Finances/Possessions: Am I tithing as I should? Do I give when prompted by God? Am I generous with what God has given me? Have I cheated someone financially? Do I owe any one anything? Have I stolen from an employer, a business, a person, etc.?
- Employer/Ministry/Educational Institution: Do I give my best at work, ministry or school? Do I live a holy, consecrated life at work, ministry or school? Have I lied in any way to gain my job, position or grade? Have I harmed another in order to obtain a position? Have my words or actions (whether by actually doing something or by not standing for right) harmed someone else’s job, business or ministry causing a loss of reputation, a financial loss or a personal loss?
- Five Senses: Have I said, heard, seen or partaken of something I should not have? Ask the Lord to prick your heart in every area necessary in order to live a holy life. If publicly known, seek public forgiveness and restoration. If necessary, seek accountability partners.
- Past: Specifically ask the Lord to show you areas in your past (10, 15, 20, 30 or more years) where you need to seek forgiveness, make restitution, or forgive someone else. Pray for the one the Lord has brought to mind if you cannot find them, whether you need to seek forgiveness or to provide forgiveness. Write a letter to them even if you cannot physically speak to them. Take that letter to the altar and speak to the Lord about it. Then, burn the letter and move on. If restitution needs to be made, but the person or business is no longer available, either make restitution to a family member (if known and found) or give the amount to your church explaining to your pastor why.
These are not easy actions. The Christian walk requires us to die daily to self. Revival requires us to slay the giant of pride that has crept into our lives in order to walk with our Lord as He desires us to do. No, we are not perfect. When we fail to seek forgiveness and to provide forgiveness as the Lord prompts us to, we tell the Lord that we are more important than He is. Our pride gets the better of us, separating us from our Savior by way of sin in our lives.
May we seek to walk in a perpetual state of revival – being renewed each day through His Word.
Original photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/16272203@N07/19201662690″>Down the aisle</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Photo editing by Melissa Woltmann