Sometimes it’s from reading something on social media. Other times it is when watching the evening news. Occasionally it is from hearing something in a meeting. There are nights when I lie awake or during my prayers that I feel burdened, in agony or desperate beyond words so that all I can do is cry out, “Dear Lord, please, please move among us! Revive your church! Revive our dear Salvation Army! Not for our glory but for the glory of Your name, for the sake of the people You died for, please move in a mighty way!”
How is a great moving of the Lord to come? We acknowledge His sovereignty demonstrated throughout history. We acknowledge that our little slice of the world is not all there is and that there is proof of His moving in places like Africa and Asia. We acknowledge that He is often at work when we cannot see it, in ways we cannot perceive. And yet. Can barren altars equal blessing? Can busy activity with no one claiming salvation prove God is at work saving souls? Do the hosts of sheepish Christians who dare not even whisper His name in the public arena indicate God is at work?
How can we partner with God for His movement among us? The great revival under King Josiah provides some answers.
In 2 Chronicles 38:3 we read, “While he (Josiah) was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David. While this seems to be so basic, to0 often we presume upon God rather than seeking Him. How many Salvation Army programs are planned, scripted, promoted without any more than a sentence or two uttered in prayer about them or worse, omitted altogether? We plow on assuming that God is with us without ever inviting Him.
How many personal plans or key life decisions do we make that have never been put before the Lord? Perhaps there is a “bless us” kind of thing but not a waiting, an assurance that what we are doing is indeed of the Lord.
And what of our corps? How many of us go without praying for God to move? And if there is a movement of God, and the meeting goes on a little longer, how many look at their watches and wonder when it will be over? Is this seeking God? Or getting through an obligation?
In seeking God, Josiah knew things had to change. We read in 2 Chronicles 38:3-7, Josiah ranged throughout the land destroying the altars to false gods and ferreting out anything that stood against the worship of the one true God.
Look at your life. What in your life has become a god that pollutes you rather than makes you holy? A simple examination of how you spend your time provides answers. Video games? Pornography? Binge watching? Sports? How does the allocation of your time compare with the time you spend reading your Bible? Praying? Serving the Lord? Just where are your priorities? Tear down those idols!
Life if often doing a lot of things that are not particularly “spiritual” like going to work or school, raising kids, running errands, household chores, etc. And there is nothing wrong with having down time, recreation and some time when our brains can go into neutral. But it is when we turn aside to forbidden paths or linger too long in self-centered pursuits that idolatry has a beachhead that signals a wholesale invasion.
Honestly ask God to help you look at your priorities and show you where your idols may have been erected. But only if you want Him to tell you the truth and you are willing to obey.
What we invest in, we care about. In Josiah’s revival, 2 Chronicles 34: 9-13 we are told that the people gave money for the repair of the Temple. Often I have heard people complain about the small numbers of people in our corps or the time officers spend in administration instead of pastoring their people. But if those attending our corps gave God the ten percent He is due, would our officers have to spend so much time finding other ways to pay for the corps utilities, upkeep, salaries? Sadly, the average giving by Salvationists is an embarrassment. We ought to be ashamed. We ought to repent. We ought to write our checks and honor God.
There are some who say they can’t afford to give. But these people in Josiah’s day all lived in a state of constant economic desperation and yet they gave. For the most part the Bible was written by poor people for poor people, and no one was exempted from giving to the Lord. We have no right to ask God to supply our needs, to intercede in our situations if we have not put Him first with whatever He has placed in our hands.
Revival will not come until we offer God our first fruits.
Returning to the Word of God
While cleansing the Temple, the long forgotten Scriptures were rediscovered. “’Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.’ And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king” (2 Chronicles 34:18-19). The people had for so long drifted from God that they did not even know where the Scriptures were. In cleansing the Temple, the scrolls were found.
With the easy availability of Bibles in multiple formats we can hardly imagine a similar scene now. But has the Bible not been lost for too many? How many who read this have even read the Bible through once? Let alone made a sincere study of it.
In His Word God has revealed His heart, His intention for you, His mission for the world. And yet, Bibles gather dust or if read, flipped through until we find the shortest of the Psalms.
No revival will come until there is a return to the Word of God, believing it and allowing the Holy Spirit to apply it to our lives.
The final condition for revival is repentance. “When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes… ‘Great is the Lord’s anger that is poured out on us because those who have gone before us have not kept the Word of the Lord; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book” (2 Chronicles 34:19, 21).
Our culture emphasizes the individual. But we are all connected, and everyone needs other people to be able to function. It is especially true in the body of Christ. It is not enough for you to have a wonderful relationship with the Lord while others around you do not. We bear a responsibility for each other.
Josiah was living a holy, righteous life. Yet, when he understood how far the people had strayed, their sin weighed heavily upon him. He repented not only for himself, but all the people of God. We need to feel the burden of the coldhearted believers, of the impotent spiritual work in many of our corps, of the drifting away from the gospel that is happening in the Army in many countries. We need to repent not only for ourselves but for our Army.
When we cry out to God and we must ask, “What must I do?” When He shows us the next step, we must take it without reservation.
Following Moses’ example we need to plead with the Lord. “‘If Your Presence does not go with us,’ Moses replied, “do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that Your people and I have found favor in Your sight, unless You go with us?’” (Exodus 33:15-16).
Dear Lord, send revival. Not for our sakes but for Your glory, for the salvation of the lost and the sanctifying of your saints!