Revival - Do You Need It?
Some folks know me as an outdoor enthusiast. A while back on a rainy morning, I decided to go deer hunting. I chose a place my hunting buddy and I call "Shack Attack" to get out of the rain a little. "Shack Attack" is an old feed crib obviously used years ago on someone's old home place. It's a bit dilapidated with several holes at the bottom of its remaining walls but a little burlap added to it makes it a great shooting house the deer are very used to seeing.
On this particular morning my mind was distracted as I sat there in the dark waiting for a little daylight. I looked at the old gravity fed feeder and pictured some old man in overalls coming in, lifting the lid off a barrel, adding more feed and maybe bellowing out over the hills..."here, here, here". In fact, I had used the barrel lid to cover a big hole in the corner.
Well, I was paying little attention to hunting when suddenly something was storming the shack from outside. It ran through the hole, banged the barrel lid and RAN ACROSS MY FEET!! Let me tell you, I had my own version of Ray Steven's "Mississippi Squirrel Revival", except this was an Alabama boy's rendition! I jumped in my seat and wanted to shout "Something's got a hold on me!!" It was "a fight for survival, that broke out in revival." I never did see exactly what it was but the fact that "something was among us was plain to see." Needless to say, I paid much better attention after that. It was a revival for sure!
When it comes to our lives before God, nothing is more important than revival and we surely need a good reviving from time to time.
God's ideal is for each of us to keep a constant watch over our spiritual zeal and keep our fervor meter topping out. But the sad truth is that too many times we don't do it. Our hearts grow cold to the cross. Our enthusiasm wanes in the greatest cause of all. Our drive to take pursue heaven becomes lethargic.
When our spiritual lives become dilapidated, God is not beyond allowing things to come our way that may revive us. Amos 4:6-12 is a classic example. Israel had long been unfaithful to God, so God brought famine, lack of food, lack of rain, blight and mildew, plagues, death in battle, and so on. None of it worked. With every effort God says, "Yet you have not returned to Me." We never know what these soul-shaking things might be. I have witnessed several along the journey and it is sad that it took some of these things to bring people to obedience or revival.
It might be an untimely death. Consider Acts 5 where Ananias and Sapphira lie to God and are struck dead. You would think such a thing happening in the church would stifle its growth...but no!! It brought great fear to all who heard of it (vs. 11) and believers were increasingly added to the Lord (vs. 14).
I once heard of a young man who continued to put off his obedience to the gospel. He knew God's plan of salvation but would not surrender in spite of his wife's prayers for him and continual encouragement. Tragically, a day came when his wife was killed in an intersection. It moved him to obey the gospel.
Would it take someone close to you dying to awaken your need for God?
It might be a close call for you personally. Acts 16:25-34 recounts the conversion of the Philippian jailer. Seeing the prison bars open after an earthquake, he was about to kill himself. Had Paul not cried out, "Do yourself no harm", he likely would have died at his own hands. What a close call! But praise God, the circumstances rattled the bars around his heart and he became a Christian.
Those close calls can come at any time. I remember once when I was returning home late at night from a gospel meeting, I was heavenly engrossed in listening to a sermon. It didn't register with me that because of construction work my 4-lane road had become a two-lane. I topped a hill, saw nothing but headlights in front of me and almost "met my Maker". It can happen suddenly and without warning (James 4:13-17).
It might be sin bringing you "to the end of your rope". That's what brought the prodigal home (Luke 15:11-24). A pig pen and memories of his father's house did the trick. Too many times I have seen even Christians take a path I know leads nowhere. I've even prayed for them to hit bottom in hopes of revival. Is this what it will take for some?
It might be a sermon that "storms the will" much like Peter's did on the day of Pentecost and 3000 repented and were baptized (Acts 2:22-41). The most public responses I ever had to one sermon was ten people; with a mixture of baptisms and restorations. It's been preached a time or two since...with no responses. You never know what words, at what moment, will finally break through.
It may be seeing a bad example in another Christian and then realizing you haven't been such a good example yourself. Are you leading your friends toward God? Or is your duplicitous life blaspheming God and hurting Him (Romans 2:21-24).
It could be experiencing God's grace after a fall like David did that ignites you like it did King David (Psa. 51:10). Or maybe envisioning the Lord's disappointing look like Peter did. He was a blazing fire for the Lord after that (John 21:15-19). The point is, it sometimes takes such things to stir some of us.
But here is my burning question. Does it have to take a tragic death, a close call, cancer, a 9/11, a hard road or such like to revive us? Do we not have enough before our faces every day to stir us to a life a devotion to God? How about the following?
Without Jesus, I am lost (John 3:36; 8:21-24). If I am not a Christian, I am lost. If I am living in rebellion as a Christian, I am lost. Hell has not gone away. Is there a need for God to put something else in front of you?
Jesus of Nazareth was crucified to save me. Does it take more than that to break into your heart? Do we understand what He did? He became poor that we might be rich (2 Cor. 8:9). He died the death of "even the cross" (Phil. 2:9).
Back when the movie, "The Passion of the Christ" was popular, I decided to go see it in case it provoked some good conversation with a seeker. It was hard to watch. When we all walked out, there was no laughing, no chatter and no stops for popcorn. I just got in the car and went home. Those who saw the real thing had a similar reaction (Luke 23:48). I drove to the church building, walked to the front pew and talked to God for a long while about what He had done for me. Someone later asked me, "What did you think about the movie?" I said, "I don't want to watch it again. Only if I needed a dynamite blast to my cold heart, would I ever watch it again." To this day, I haven't. Is a crucified Lord, written about one the pages of your Bible, enough to revive your heart?
A resurrected Lord, lifted my burden off my back. I get so upset at the lies of non-believers who want to suggest that Mary Magdalene was immoral and had a sexual relationship with Jesus - even married to Him. Let me tell you...yes, she loved Him but there was no physical relationship with Jesus. She loved him for reasons mockers in their cold blasphemy will never understand! She loved him because He took a mega-burden off her back (Mark 16:9). Has he taken your burden away? Go to the tomb and weep with Mary and then feel her revival when she knew He was alive (John 20:11-18).
Is your sin, a crucified Lord, and resurrected Saviour enough to revive you until your dying day? Are you thankful for everything God has done and still does to revive your soul? Do you need a revival? If you do, seek the Lord now!