I’m sitting here writing, my heart heavy and burdened with this topic. I’ll be honest that there’s times where I wonder why I keep writing. There are topics that I KNOW are more exciting or interesting…possibly better at drawing and captivating more readers. But I continuously feel God pulling me towards hard-hitting topics. Topics like this one. The ones that are more challenging to chew on and require some self examination. And honestly, they’re equally as challenging for me as they might be for you. What I write about is stuff that I’m currently wrestling with. Things that God is teaching me and revealing to me in Scripture. So I’d love to share it with you as I continue to work through this topic myself.
I’ve been stewing over the topic of Revival for quite some time now. A while back I listened to a sermon series that totally challenged the way I view revival. Then within the next couple weeks of that, coincidentally, I was going through a cultural study of the gospels and studied through the Lord’s Prayer with totally new eyes- I was surprised by the implications of the words “May Your name be made holy” and what that means for me as a believer. Then, as I happened to go through a couple other sections of scripture in my personal devo time, it overlapped with the theme of revival AGAIN. Then in the last weeks, especially after my discipleship course in Colorado, I’ve been thinking some more about the desperate need for revival in the Church. I’ve been going over and over these things in my devotions and prayer time and studies, to the point where I’m now inspired to write about it… and praying that God’s glory would be revealed.
Why don’t we start with a definition of revival. When you look up a google definition you’ll see things like: improving the condition or strength of something, restoring, regenerating, rejuvenating. I think we typically view revival as something that happens to “bring someone back to spiritual life”. A big, grandiose moment, often somewhere like an alter call at Church, where someone returns to God or rights a wrong. Almost envisioning someone being resuscitated with paddles and jolting back to life. Now this definition isn’t wrong per se, but when we limit our view of revival to this we really limit what God is able to do in our lives on a regular basis. Because that’s what I now believe revival should look like in the believer’s life: Regular recalibration. A returning to center.
Now, as much as I’d love to get all gung-ho about the need for revival in the Church, I’m reminded that before revival can happen in our Churches and in our nation, it must start with you and I. So what does that really look like?
I was inspired this morning to compile a list of states that we personally find ourselves in that most definitely require revival. And I’ll emphasize right now before getting into it more later on: God desires for us to be revived and sustained. Not to receive a “bomb-blast revival” and then fizzle out slowly over time.
So…do I need revival? Let’s ask God to search us as we look at this list.
- I’ve bought into a lie(s) of the Enemy. Are there some lies of the Enemy that you’ve been buying into? The lie that you’re not able? The lie that you’re defined by your past? The lie that you can’t have victory? Whatever that lie might be, it’s holding you captive. Only the truth will set you free. Jesus is the truth.
- I’m weighed down by burdens. Whether it’s a burden of illness, unbelieving family members, a struggling marriage or friendship, or anything else you could fill that blank in with personally… Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you REST.” His intention for our lives isn’t that we remain burdened.
- I’ve failed to recognize sin in my life. Scripture is super clear about what falls under the category of sin. There are sins that we are all too quick to turn a blind eye to or justify. What about sins like pride…apathy…knowing to do good but not doing it…being held captive by fear…having an unruly thought life…being a poor steward. As the Spirit of God searches you, are you starting to see the clutter that has built up in your life? Repent of it. Don’t let the hardened soil keep compacting, but with the help of the Spirit, till it up.
- I’ve allowed Satan strongholds in my life/in the body of Christ. Maybe it’s personal, but sometimes we forget that our personal sins actually have a ripple effect on the entire body of Christ- The Church. Have you allowed Satan to have a stronghold through things like unforgiveness? Bitterness? Unedifying or dis-unifying words? Fear? Idols? Selfishness? Have you bought into the lie that Christianity is about what you get from God, rather than how to sacrifice your life for Him and His body? All of these things slowly grow destructive roots into the body of Christ until it becomes crippled. I think of Joshua 7 where God tells Joshua, “The children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have things among them that are devoted to destruction. Neither will I be with you or bless you unless you destroy those things among you devoted to destruction…Get up and sanctify the people. Tell them that there are things devoted to destruction among them and they cannot stand before their enemies until they remove them.” Oh how my heart is burdened when I think of the things the Church has allowed in that are devoted to destruction.
- I’ve lost fervour for prayer and apathy towards His Word. Have you found yourself dragging your feet and struggling to muster up words to pray? Have you lost your perseverance to wrestle in prayer? Has time with Jesus in His word become a chore rather than an opportunity to deepen in intimate relationship? Has it become about information and intellect rather than the person of Jesus? These are signs of a struggling spiritual life in need of revival.
- I’ve become diverted and distracted from Jesus on the throne. Although this one is last, it’s actually the most important one. And likely the one that most of us can identify as a struggle. These diversions are things that aren’t, in and of themselves, wrong. So we justify them. We look to them, and as a result, take our gaze off of Jesus at the center. These diversions can even become the center. What about things like social media. Relationships. Gaming. TV. Food. Fitness/physical appearance. Even good things like serving in the Church, reading, studying doctrine, exploring nature, teaching…these aren’t bad things!! But have they taken the center? Have you become fixed first and foremost on any single thing other than the Person of Jesus?
I’m pretty sure that anyone reading this will have a hard time getting through the list and not being convicted in multiple of these areas. And I want to encourage you that if you’re feeling deeply convicted right now, that is a gift of God. He convicts because He desires to heal and restore. He desires for us to be in right relationship with Him, in a place of growth and flourishing rather than stagnation.
I think before I take you further down this path of revival and get into Scripture I need to share a bit of my own personal journey.
I’ve experienced revival in two very distinct moments in my life, and then since coming to a clearer understanding of revival I also now experience revival on a regular basis as a constant “recalibration” or “returning to centre”.
The first time I distinctly remember seeking after revival was back in 2014. This was now three years after giving my life to Christ. In 2012 my dad was in a severe head-on collision that almost cost his life. He spent weeks in ICU and Acute Care and then months in Sub-acute care and rehabilitation. This was a very testing season in my walk with God. I was still a very new Christian and had no one mentoring me or walking alongside me. When the accident happened it was a shock to my immature, already weak faith. In the years to follow I had difficulty trusting God. I developed an even greater tendency to desire control, create stability and predictability in my life, and make decisions on my own without consulting God. I hadn’t turned my back on God- I was still in Scripture, prayer and attending and serving at Church. But at some point in 2014 I very distinctly was convicted of the fact that I needed revival. I wanted more than what I had. I knew that I had taken much of my life into my own hands rather than surrendering to Him, and I wanted that to change. I knew I was not living a life to glorify and honour God in every moment of every day, but instead focused a lot on self. So that day I knelt before God and repented and surrendered. I asked God to take my life in His hands and remove the parts of me that were not pleasing. In the years to follow I saw much of the fruit from that. He continued to refine, purify, sanctify, correct, and teach me.
Almost a month ago I started the Bravehearted Discipleship Course at Ellerslie Campus in Colorado. That week on campus caused me to become raw and transparent before God in a way like never before. It was such a refining time for me. In the weeks and months before I wouldn’t have even identified myself as needing revival. But that week the Spirit made it abundantly clear to me that I needed revival. He revealed parts of me that were not bearing fruit. He revealed areas where I hadn’t forgiven, hadn’t sought forgiveness, or had left small roots of bitterness deep down. He revealed to me that I had justified my unruly thought life as “anxiety” and a “Type A Personality” for far too long. He revealed to me that I had lost some of my fire and fervour for prayer and getting into the Word. He revealed to me that there were things in my life, diversions, that were distracting me from having JESUS, only JESUS, at the centre and throne of my life. Wow, let me tell you that was a bit of a shocking week for me. The Enemy loves to keep blinders on us so we don’t examine ourselves regularly, take captive every thought, and make ourselves obedient to Christ. I had incredible time with Jesus of being examined, righting wrongs, and surrendering areas of my life that I hadn’t given full access to the Spirit. I renounced sins (specifically my unruly thought life) in the name of Jesus and became free from the power they had over me, now claiming the power I have in Christ to have victory daily.
I understand now that revival isn’t just for those who have turned from God or a big ‘moment’ that happens every year or two where you lay out all of the sins that have compacted and then have a big sigh of relief that you’re “good” before God again. No, revival is a constant recalibration. God desires for us to stay sustained in this state of revival. He doesn’t desire for me to fizzle out in my love for Him. He doesn’t desire for sins and burdens and weights to compact in my life again. Now I get up out of bed each day and rehearse truth. I say “I am IN Christ, I am dead to sin and alive in Christ, I am here on this earth to share Jesus and make disciples…my purpose is to bring glory to the Father. Today I consecrate myself to you, Jesus, and I’m Your vessel. Use me in any way you see fit. Spirit, help me to be quick to take every thought captive before you in obedience that I would not sin against you. Reveal Yourself to me in Your Word and may I just fall more in love with it and you. Give me Your burden for each person I encounter today and I want to love them with Your love. Empower me. I want to claim all the provision and power I have access to in Christ today.” THIS is the daily recalibrating to centre…To Jesus.
Okay, now that I’ve set some ground work I still want to get into Scripture and show you some really impactful examples of revival. Check out part two of this series to dive deeper into this incredible topic with me!