A few years back I mentioned to Mr. David Price, a dear friend in England, that I was going to “preach a revival” in another state. The communication was through email so I could not exactly detect his tone when he politely requested that I clarify what I meant by using the term revival. Stumbling through my response I sought to explain how I had been invited to preach a series of meetings in Tennessee and that these types of meetings were typically called Revivals here in the southern United States. David, being well trained in doctrine and equally tempered in manners allowed just enough curiosity in the exchange to help me to realize that calling it a Revival before I ever crossed the Georgia/Tennessee state line might be a wee bit presumptuous. It seems I recall he said something to the effect of, “I shall pray that the meetings live up to their name.” Always the gentleman, often the utensil of God in my life, Mr. Price had brought me up a bit once again.
Lesson learned: no human being has ever scheduled true revival. If someone scheduled it, bank on it, it never arrived.
Sam Storms is a tremendous author whom I heartily recommend to you who read the TT blog. I recently came across a quote from him that I thought might benefit us as I’ve asked the Meadow family to intercede this week for a refreshing to be granted to us as individuals and as a church family. Here is what Mr. Storms has to say about our desire for revival:
We say we want revival…but on our terms. Sadly, we pray:
1. “Come Holy Spirit…but only if You promise in advance to do things the way we have always done them in our church.”
2. “Come Holy Spirit…but only if I have some sort of prior guarantee that when You show up you won’t embarrass me.”
3. “Come Holy Spirit…but only if Your work of revival is one that I can still control, one that preserves intact the traditions with which I am comfortable.”
4. “Come Holy Spirit…but only if Your work of revival is neat and tidy and dignified and understandable and above all else socially acceptable.”
5. “Come Holy Spirit…but only if You plan to change others; only if You make them to be like me; only if You convict their hearts so they will live and dress and talk like I do.”
6. “Come Holy Spirit…but only if You let us preserve our distinctives and retain our differences from others whom we find offensive.”
Now then, let me ask us honestly whether or not we truly desire God-ordained, God-sustained and God-purposed revival – well, do we? I think if God sends it we would be so startled that the event itself would likely usher most of us into glory via a heart attack. I have preached well over 2,000 sermons in nearly seventeen years and am quite confident that I’ve never been blessed to experience a sustained revival setting in any church where I’ve ever been graced to speak. That is not to say I’ve not been filled with the Spirit, deeply moved in heart and mind or been witness to mighty works of God. I’ve seen and experienced all of those things and more; but I’ve seen them in trickle-form, not over-the-banks flooding. I wish only to suggest today that we think about what we pray for when we nobly petition God to send revival to our hearts, our churches and our nation. What if He sends it and it results in us being convicted of the need for fasting and praying for several days? He might require us to sell our cars and give the proceeds away to an endeavor we’ve scarcely heard of. He might cause the staid and grave to do an unabashed holy dance in the quarterly business conference at church when they learn of the amazing financial giving He has ordained through this very same time of refreshing! He could possibly whisper to the emotionally expressive to learn how to enjoy silent worship with head lowered and body still. Yes, brethren, God reserves the right to change your normal mode of worship if He deems it fitting. What if your children or spouse become so owned by the Spirit of God that the dynamics of your daily living are impacted? Be careful, O ye who pray for revival, God might up and relocate you to the opposite coast. He could call you into vocational ministry… or lead you out of it and back into the marketplace when His reviving finds you. Friends, revival is recognized when God’s people take the Lord off the imaginary leash that they’ve been leading Him with in their minds. When that human surrender intersects with God’s sovereign timeline, no force of hell could frustrate the manifestation of God’s presence.
Jesus once said to a couple of His followers, “You don’t know what you are asking…” I suggest that He might say that to us when we mindlessly ask for our version of revival. You see, I don’t know all the dynamics of true, Heaven-sent revival, but I do know one characteristic of it that is certain:
You and I won’t be in control when it happens. Still want it? Take your time before answering.
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