Saturday, March 25, 2017

Revival Thoughts

I get so fired up about what would happen here if the Spirit were to work in extraordinary power among us. The signs of revival would be obvious. We would experience a raging hunger to hear and obey God’s Word; overwhelming awe of God and a desire to glorify him; true sorrow for sins and a commitment to get things right with God and each other. We would see lost people coming to Christ for salvation.

Genuine revival is a sovereign work of God. We can’t demand it, manufacture it, or schedule it. But we can prepare for it. Preparation begins with a commitment to pray for revival; with a sense of desperation; with a hunger for more of God. We will pray like this: “O Lord, give us revival. And start with me.” It’s no coincidence that the Acts 2 revival in Jerusalem was preceded by ten days of concerted, intense prayer” “Send your promised Spirit.”

The question is this: will you commit to pray?

Leonard Ravenhiil was correct when he wrote:

“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.”

Pray! Don’t delay! This is urgent. This is the need of the hour. We need revival. Pray now!

Friday, March 24, 2017


The first church was a worshipping church:

“They devoted themselves to … the breaking of bread (Lord’s Supper) and the prayers (the daily three times of formal prayer) . 43 And awe (holy, reverent fear/respect) came upon every soul.”

In times of revival, we forget about ourselves because God is THE center. We’re consumed with our encounter with the living God through faith in our Savior Jesus Christ. There is a vivid illustration of this God-entranced worship in Revelation 4. We’re given a portal into the throne room of God. There, in the presence of Almighty God himself, the elders and angels around the throne can’t help themselves. They fall down before him. They cry out “holy, holy, holy Lord.”

Such worship makes no sense to a cold heart. But it makes perfect sense to a revived heart. The Holy Spirit makes us sensitive to and grateful for our mighty salvation in Jesus Christ. We respond to the mercy and grace of God to us.

A revived heart wants to bring glory to God - in every part of life. This is reflected at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Their mission statement reads:

“We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.”

When the Holy Spirit is poured out in extraordinary measure, he makes God so huge in our minds and hearts that we want our whole lives to bring praise to him. We respond like the psalm writer:

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” - Psalm 34:1-3

In times of revival, we become 24/7 worshippers (see, for example, Romans 12:1-2). We live to bring glory to Jesus. It’s not so much about singing as it is about showing God’s majesty at home and work and everywhere through our joyful, faith-filled delight in and surrender to. We obey for the glory of the God who has saved us and kept us and loves us in his Son. A revived Christian believes his purpose is to be an all-out, in all things, all-the-time, “glorifier” of God.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Holy Spirit revival creates a raging hunger for the Word of God. These believers in Acts 2 “were devoted to the apostles’ teaching.” - v. 42. Every day, the apostles taught in the temple courts and in homes. And every day, the new Christians showed up to feast on the Word.

Revived Christians have an insatiable appetite for God’s voice. They have an experience similar to Jeremiah’s:

“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart …” - Jeremiah 15:16

I was a college student when I first turned to Jesus as my Savior and God. And my new Christian friends insisted that I go to church with them. The pastor’s name was William Still. He was a phenomenon in Scotland. Beginning in the 1940’s his preaching drew large crowds even when other churches were empty. I believe it was a revival that latest for decades. When I heard him explain and apply the Bible, I was gripped by God. It was a devastating experience. I wanted more and more and more. I started reading the Bible AND Bible commentaries. I couldn’t get enough of the Word. And I wasn’t alone - there was a whole church full of people with the same hunger.

There was a mighty revival when the Jews returned from exile in Babylon and the clearest sign was their hunger to heart the Bible:

“And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.” - Nehemiah 8:1-3

Churches in revival cry out, “Bring the Book!” They demand more Bible teaching. But that’s not all they do. When you’re in revival, you will love the Word, believe the Word, and OBEY the Word.

King Josiah was a godly young man who tried to bring Israel back to God. He destroyed pagan worship sites. But he had a huge obstacle to overcome: he had never read the Bible. He was mostly guessing at what the Lord wanted. Then, Hilkiah - the high priest - found a scroll of the Bible buried in a storage room in the temple. It was read to King Josiah. And it sparked a revival in the land:

“Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 And the king went up to the house of the Lord, with all the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the Levites, all the people both great and small. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. 31 And the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. 32 Then he made all who were present in Jerusalem and in Benjamin join in it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. 33 And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the Lord, the God of their fathers. 1 Josiah kept a Passover to the Lord in Jerusalem. And they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the first month. 2 He appointed the priests to their offices and encouraged them in the service of the house of the Lord.” - 2 Chronicles 34:29-35:2

Will you pray for an outpouring of the Spirit that results in a hunger to hear God’s voice in the Bible and a demand for more Bible teaching along with a commitment to obey whatever it teaches?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Revival Thoughts

Revival is not necessary. What is necessary is the ordinary, invisible, steady, work of the Holy Spirit and the Gospel. The ordinary work of the Holy Spirit is to keep us in faith, following Jesus, growing in grace. This is good and normal most of the time. It will get you all the way home (Romans 8:28-30).

Revival is not necessary, but it is very, greatly, deeply, desirable. When the Holy Spirt visits a church in extraordinary power, he sets the church ablaze and it leads many to Jesus and salvation and new loves. And most of all it glorifies God.

On June 20, 1630, during a church service at the Kirk o’ Shots in central Scotland, a revival broke out. The church was meeting outdoors for their annual celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The crowd was large - drawn from all over the area by the Holy Spirit.

In 1669, Robert Fleming wrote about it:

“There was so convincing an appearance of God, and down-pouring of the Spirit. . . that near 500 had at that time a discernible change wrought on them, of whom most proved lively Christians afterward … many of the most eminent Christians in that country, could date either their conversion, or some remarkable confirmation in their case from that day.”

When I read about that outpouring, I want it. I want to see it here, now. Don’t you?

Every day, at 9:00 am., a notification pops up on all my devices. It says, “Revival Generation.” It’s a reminder to stop what I’m doing and to take a moment to ask the Lord to make us a revival generation - and to start with me. Would you consider adding this to your daily prayers? “Lord, please make us a revival generation - and start with me.”

Friday, March 17, 2017


By church I’m talking about people not buildings. These first Christians were “devoted to (intense & constant commitment to - see 1:14; 2:46) … the fellowship” - verse 42.

In seasons of revival we “re-commit” to each other. We …

Look forward to meeting together - verses 44, 46.

Sacrifice to take care of each other - verses 44-45.

Open our homes for worship together - verse 46.

This sort of devotion to the church is modeled for us in Philippians 1:

“God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more …” - Philippians 1:8-9

It is the Holy Spirit who gives us a deep yearning, affection, and love for each other. In seasons of revival, that commitment to the fellowship is renewed and intensified. Church takes on a new important and priority in our lives.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss is something of a revival expert. She said this:

“Revival is something like the roof coming off and the walls coming down. When the roof comes off, people get right with God. That's the vertical dimension. Then, the walls come down—the horizontal dimension—as people make things right with others … some of the fruit of revival can be seen in forgiveness, clearing of consciences, reconciliation, and restitution.”

Forty-five years ago, there was a revival in the churches of Saskatchewan. Thousands were converted. Thousands more who were already saved, got things right with God. The pastor of the church where the revival began was Bill McLeod. He explains this horizontal dimension in the story of Gordon, one of the men in the church:

“During the revival on Sunday morning in our church, he came to the front, stood by the communion table and laid his heart on the table. He said, “You know, people, for three years I've been sitting in the back pew. The reason I sit in the back pew is because I don't like some of you people. I used to sit there and shoot arrows of hatred at the backs of your heads. God has dealt with me and I want your forgiveness. I want to be right with God.”

We’ll know we’re in revival when we have that kind of deeper love for our fellowship.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hearing God's Call

As we come to Him, we can have confidence to pray that He will come to us.  David heard God's call to seek His face and made it a lifelong pursuit.  In Psalm 27 David says,

One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek Him in His temple.
(v. 4)

As David sought God's face, he grew in confident hope that God would bring His transforming goodness into the predicaments in which David and his people lived.  That is why he called for a persistent kind of prayer that would not let go of God's promised goodness:

Wait on the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
(v. 14)

David sought God's face, which led him to seek God's kingdom in full-hearted hope.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


What happens when the Holy Spirit shows up in extraordinary power at church? The answer is found in Acts 2. This was a church in revival.

Before we go further, let's read Acts 2:41-47.

Our passage begins where Peter’s sermon ends. He preached to a large and hostile crowd of Jews. 40 days earlier, they had condemned Jesus to death for claiming to be their God, Savior, and Messiah. But Peter stood and preached with boldness: Jesus. Crucified, risen, exalted. God. And then something completely unexpected happened. They were "cut to the heart." Peter pointed them to salvation in Jesus and 3000 men trusted in Jesus as their God and Savior. And were immediately baptized.

It was an extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit that opened their hearts to Jesus. Nothing else can explain the immediate transformation of their thinking about Jesus. That’s revival. Unbelievers come to Jesus - they see him as he is: Savior and God. Also, in times of revival the believing church returns to Jesus as our first love. That’s why the ministry here is all about Jesus! Jesus first, Jesus last, Jesus always. This was Paul's heart when he preached:

“I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” - 1 Cor. 2:3

The Great Awakening was a revival that shook Colonial America. In the 1730s, God used the “Jesus-only” preaching of George Whitefield to bring new life into the churches of New England. Christianity had become “routinized.” Most people assumed they were OK with God by virtue of their birth into church culture, but they lived careless, godless, lives. God drew great crowds to hear Whitefield. He preached with such laser beam focus on Christ - the need to turn from sins in order to cling to Christ alone - that the people were shaken out of their sleepy false assurance and awakened to the absolute necessity of Holy Spirit rebirth and salvation in Jesus alone. Tens of thousands turned to Christ.

Here is an excerpt from the conclusion of one of Whitefield's sermons. I've adapted it slightly for use here:

“O that you would seek the Lord to be your righteousness! You will be the children of God, if you believe in Jesus. Did you never read of the eunuch belonging to the queen of Candace? He believed. The Lord was his righteousness. He was baptized. When you also believe, you shall be saved. Christ Jesus is the same now as he was yesterday, and will wash you in his own blood. Go home then, turn the words of the text into a prayer, and entreat the Lord to be your righteousness. Even so, come Lord Jesus, come quickly, into all our souls! Amen, Lord Jesus, Amen and Amen!” George Whitefield, adapted from the sermon The Lord Our Righteousness.

In seasons of genuine revival even the most godless people turn to Jesus. They trust, love, cherish, worship, and obey him - as their precious Lord, Leader, and Loving Friend.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Co-working with God

As you pray and display God's kindness
in practical ways, watch for God-given
opportunities to share His love.
They can come up suddenly with
such perfect timing that it's hard
not to believe that you are
co-working with God.

Simplicity and sincerity:
Following God's Lead

Instead of dreading evangelism as something
that will make you a bother or a bore,
you will find yourself following God's lead
with timely authenticity and 
heartfelt sincerity.

Confidence to be His story-teller

Because you've been praying along with
God's Word and heart, don't be surprised
to find that ideas to creatively convey
God's love occur to you.

As you pray God's story, you will find
confidence to tell your own story to
communicate the Gospel in fresh,
relevant ways.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Seeking God for the City Makes a Shift

This devotional 40-day season has two parts.

During the first 11 days we've been seeking God's face - claiming Zechariah 1:3, "Return to me... that I may return to you."  It is today that a shift happens and the devotions will nudge us to seek God's kingdom.

I hope that you have found God in face-to-face nearness over the past 11 days.  As you turn your attention toward him, his love will examine you - lifting and changing you.

To seek God's face means that we are coming to God.  To seek God's kingdom means we are callling for God to come to us.  We want his presence moving in our homes, neighborhoods and throughout the entire city.  We may not be able to do either without doing both.

We pray with this in mind over the balance of our 40-day devotional: "Not all times are equal.  Sometimes God make it possible for an entire people to make a u-turn back toward him."

Thursday, March 9, 2017

As we do the seeking,
we will find God's way of serving.

As you envision God's best intentions for
particular people with your prayers, you will
be seeking them along with God.  They may
or may not know you are praying for them, but
as you pray, look for God to open practical ways
for you to serve the very people you have been
praying for with simple acts of kindness.

Kindness: God's love on display

Discover the joy of demonstrating God's love
in practical, tangible ways.  Don't be afraid to
show kindness to those you don't know.  Team
up with others to give back to those that you've
been lifting up in prayer.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Think of Peter—God built His church on Peter. But long before he was "Peter," he was "Simon."
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said to Simon, And I tell you that you are Peter, which means rock, and upon this rock I will build my church." Christ gave Peter a new identity that pointed to his calling. Just like Peter, who you are in Christ must come first. God cares so much more about who you are than what you do. 
Before you walk into this busy Easter season, remind yourself who you are in Christ. From that stable foundation, you'll be able to do exactly what He has asked you to do to reach more people for Christ. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

For those far from God

Intentional prayer for neighbors, friends or co-workers
will set you to "seeking" or watching attentively, for
people who are distant or alienated from God.
In Jesus' words, they are "lost" to God.

Beyond known needs:
Pray your way into their story.

We are accustomed to forming our prayers
around needs or requests.  People don't always know
what they really need and therefore may not request prayer.
That's why we pray for our neighbors and neighborhoods
even before we have been asked to do so.

Pray with Scripture

As you learn to pray with Scripture, you will be
praying your way into the great story that God is
unfolding in families, businesses, neighborhoods,
peoples and cities.  God will fulfill all that He has
promised.  That's why we can pray in hope for others.
The daily topics in "Seek God for the City 2017"
will give you ways to envision what great things
God desires to do in our city.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

As we do the seeking,
Christ will do the saving.

Jesus said that His mission was "to seek and to save"
people who were lost to God (Luke 19:10).  The risen Christ
is pursuing the same mission today.  He is calling you
to collaborate with Him in that mission right where you live.
Simply put: As we do the seeking by prayer and service,
Christ will do the saving by the power of the Gospel.
Jesus calls His followers to become His co-workers
in His mission.  He gives every believer a way to join
with Him in seeking people by prayer, serving them
by demonstrating His kindness, and introducing them
to Himself so that they too, will experience His saving love.