What comes to mind when you hear the word “revival”? A widespread movement sparked by a prayer meeting or a sermon? Outdoor services held under a tent? An emotional experience?
Our parent ministry, Life Action Ministries, defines revival as “a renewed relationship with Jesus that revolutionizes relationships with others.” It’s not something you can schedule on a calendar. It’s not a feeling you conjure up during a worship service, nor is it synonymous with evangelism. It’s a Spirit-induced change of heart that transforms both your vertical and horizontal relationships.
While revival can gain momentum and affect hundreds or thousands, it cannot begin until at least one individual completely surrenders his or her life and will, saying “Yes, Lord.”
The Impact of One Revived Heart
In 2 Kings 22, we find an example of how one man’s tender heart changed the course of an entire nation. The story takes place during the reign of Judah’s young leader, King Josiah, who ordered that the house of the Lord receive some much-needed maintenance. However, what’s notable in this chapter is not the repairs made at the temple but King Josiah’s response to a discovery made within it.
For years, the divided nations of Israel and Judah lived in direct opposition to God’s Law, having both figuratively and literally lost track of the written words of the Lord. But that all changed when the high priest found the forgotten scroll among the rubble and took it to the king. Upon hearing the words read aloud, King Josiah realized how the nation of Judah had failed to keep the Law, and he mourned over their sins. The passage says the king tore his clothes, humbled himself, and wept (vv. 11, 13, 19).
God did not ignore King Josiah’s cry for mercy:
“Because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the LORD . . . and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the LORD” (v. 19).
God delayed His just punishment against the kingdom. Because of one man’s humble response and reverence for God’s Word, an entire generation was saved from sure destruction.
The characters in this narrative have long since left this world. But our God has not. He is still alive, watching over His people. Judgment is coming, but there is yet hope. The God who answered Josiah’s plea for mercy promises to hear the prayers of “he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isa. 66:2).
Who Needs Revival?
While the fate of the nation may not depend upon you (who knows?), what about your family or community? Is there a repeated generational sin that needs to stop with you? Your refusal to acknowledge and repent from destructive habits or sinful behaviors can affect not only yourself but your children and grandchildren and close community.
We need the Lord’s help to overcome sin and temptation. That’s why we must cry out for mercy. When you rely on yourself for personal reform, you are scorning God’s wisdom and grace. Self-reliance cheapens and discredits the cross, blinding you to your sin and your need for a Savior. You must come to a place of full surrender and brokenness for God to continue His work in your heart.
Revival is not for the unsaved; it’s for the children of God who have drifted away from following His Word. It’s for believers who have become allured and ensnared by lust and worldly pleasures. It’s for the self-righteous, the ignorant, the rebellious. It’s for you, and it’s for me. We cannot content ourselves to simply pray for revival for the masses. Revival begins with the reflection you see in your mirror.
Let It Begin with Me
The late Del Fehsenfeld, Jr, founder of Life Action Ministries, described well the effects of personal revival: “Revival awakens in our hearts an increased awareness of the presence of God, a new love for God, a new hatred for sin, and a hunger for His Word.”
Do you need an increased awareness of God’s presence? Have you left your first love? Do you see your sin for what it really is in God’s sight? Do you hunger for God’s Word like your life depends upon it? Have you let things or people take over your affections for God? Is there anything you have withheld from Him?
If the Spirit is convicting you right now, don’t ignore His prompts. Isaiah 55:6 tells us to “seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.” Your very desire to see and know and love God is God-initiated (1 John 4:19). If He has brought to mind anything that has stolen away your affections from your First Love, humbly repent and mourn over your sin. Then stake your hope in the character of a holy God who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6).
To help you honestly examine your need for revival, ask yourself the following questions drawn from Seeking Him, a study on revival by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Tim Grissom. Confess each sin that God exposes, and praise Him for His power to forgive.
- Was there a time in my life when I placed all my trust in Jesus Christ alone to save me?
- Do I love to read and meditate on the Word of God?
- Are my personal devotions consistent and meaningful?
- Do I apply God’s Word to my everyday life?
- Am I quick to admit when I am wrong?
- Am I willing to give up all sin for God?
- Is my conscious clear with every person?
- Does my schedule reveal that God is first in my life?
- Does my checkbook reveal that God is first in my life?
- Do I love what God loves and hate what God hates?
- Am I allowing Jesus to be Lord of every area of my life?
- Am I devoted to Jesus, filled with His joy and peace, and making Him the continual object of my affection?
- Am I more concerned with what God thinks about my life than with what others think?
Father, how good You are to your undeserving children. You are patient and kind and good, even though we are faithless, proud, and selfish. Thank You for loving the unlovable. Thank You for initiating a love story and pursuing me, holding me, keeping me, saving me. I love You, Lord. May those words not be a struggle to say but a joy to shout. Help me to know the height and depths and breadth and length of Your love. May it overwhelm me and overjoy me. I want it. I crave it. I need it. Help me to believe that in Christ Jesus it is mine! Thank You!