[I was asked by one of our deacons last night if I were going to preach the sermon I delivered last Sunday again. I understand his question, because God blessed the message and stirred our hearts. While I am not planning on preaching it from the pulpit this Lord’s Day, I am sharing it today via print in hope that God will reinforce these truths in those who heard it previously and reach a wider audience among those who were not there. May God bring conviction to our hearts from His Word!]
“Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him: I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a temple of sacrifice. If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence on My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. My eyes will now be open and My ears attentive to prayer from this place.” (2 Chronicles 7:12-15 HCSB)
We drive on parkways and park on driveways. Does anyone keep gloves in the car's glove box? We announce we are having a revival and don’t have one. Now, there is nothing wrong with a week of evangelistic church services. There is always the possibility of God moving in an unusual way. But, you can no more schedule revival than you can make the wind blow. What you can do is set your sails. You can prepare yourself for a visitation from heaven.
We can’t work it up, but we may pray it down! Remember what happened at Pentecost—120 prayed for 10 days and there was an invasion from glory—the Spirit came as a rushing mighty wind—and the church came to life. That is what we need again—the breath of God to revive the church! That is revival—real revival.
Note first, THE CANDIDATES FOR REAL REVIVAL “My people who are called by My name” (v.14).
God told Solomon that there would come a time when God’s people would turn from Him—and the Holy One would chasten the nation (v.12-13). But, God gave a promise that if His people would turn back to Him, then He would answer. We whine about the condition of the culture, but that isn’t the real problem—it is the corruption of the church! The world can’t be reached until the church is revived!
We become CANDIDATES BECAUSE OF THE GRACE OF GOD, “My people.” In sovereign grace, God reached into a heathen nation and found an idolater named Abram and called him to salvation. Abram responded to that grace by faith, and God purposed to build His descendants into a holy nation. God did not set His heart on the Jews because of any merit on their part, but because of His grace. There were times God had to discipline them, but He never disowned them. They could be so rebellious! Ultimately, they rejected Christ, and Israel is estranged from God today. But, He isn't through with them--He has a plan for their future. God does for the church also--despite our low spiritual state. We are God’s children. We have been saved by God’s grace. He loves us and longs to bless us. He has not paid such an awesome price to redeem us, to now reject us!
Further, see that we are CANDIDATES BECAUSE OF THE GLORY OF GOD, “My name.” My children were given my name at their birth. What they do either honors or dishonors the Thurman name. God’s glorious name is bound up with His people. We are a reflection on Him—for good or bad. There is no greater reproach brought upon Christ than the hypocrisy Christians. The world ridicules Him because of what they see in us. Never forget that God is zealous for His glory. Everything exists for His glory here and ends in His glory hereafter! The Lord wants to roll away the reproach. Real revival does that for it elevates our performance to the level of our profession.
God discloses to Solomon, not only those who are THE CANDIDATES FOR REAL REVIVAL, but lays out THE CONDITIONS FOR REAL REVIVAL . The Lord begins this discussion with the proposition “If” (v.13) that leads to the promise “then” (v.14). The promise is conditional.
Real revival requires THE CONDITION OF POVERTY WE ADMIT as God’s people “humble themselves” (v.14). Pride causes us to say, “We may not be all that we ought to be, but we’re not THAT bad.” Never say that! There was another church that made that claim. Here is Christ’s response:
"Write to the angel of the church in
‘The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God's creation says: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I'm rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing,” and you don't know that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent. Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me. The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.
‘Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.’” (Revelation 3:14-22 HCSB)
Are you listening? We’ve been given a mission to change the world, and we aren’t even changed ourselves! It starts by humbling ourselves. "A broken and a contrite heart--these, O God, You will not despise." (Ps.51:17b)
Real revival also demands THE CONDITION OF PRAYER WE ASK “pray” (v.14). James tells us that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Pious phrases in prayers may please human ears, but they will not penetrate heaven’s gates! It isn't formality, but fervency that is required. Intensity in intercession is indispensable. Recall old Jacob who had struggled against God’s will for so long, until God had to break him, but then the battler became a beggar, crying, “I will not let you go until you bless me!” Peter, is drowning and in desperation shouts, “Lord, save me!” We read the story of blind Bartimaeus begging to Jesus as the Lord walks by, “Have mercy on me!” In each case the desperation was answered by deliverance. James said, “You do not have because you do not ask.” We will never have real revival until we really request it!
Real revival necessitates THE CONDITION OF PASSION WE ADDRESS “seek My face” (v.14). We do not just seek God’s hand for what He does, but we seek His face for who He is. Suppose a father returns home from a long business trip, so eager to see the children and hug them and love on them. But, when the kids spot him in the airport, they race by him and open the suitcases to get what he’s brought them. Even though Dad intended to give them something, what He most wanted to share was himself. Put yourself in that father’s place. Wouldn’t you be disappointed? So God is grived when we treat Him that way! Instead of seeing Him as a Father to love, we make Him a genie in a bottle to grant our wishes. Perhaps this is why we say, “I’ve asked for God to bring revival, but He hasn’t answered.” James also said, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss.” Could it be that we want the benefits that come from revival instead of the blessing of the Reviver?
Yet another prerequisite for real revival is THE CONDITION OF PENITENCE WE ACKNOWLEDGE “turn from their evil ways” (v.14). There can be no revival until there is repentance. A holy God will not bless sin. If we meet the right conditions, then we can experience real revival. So, we discover that revival is much more than sticking a sign in the church yard announcing “Revival” or inviting an evangelist to some and preach a “Revival.”
Having understood THE CANDIDATES FOR REAL REVIVAL and meeting THE CONDITIONS FOR REAL REVIVAL we may expect to know THE CONSEQUENCES OF REAL REVIVAL “If…then” God says and the promise is as valid today as when God first gave it.
One consequence of real revival is that GOD WILL HEAR “then I will hear from heaven” (v.14). God isn’t deaf. The problem is pinpointed in Isaiah 59:1-2, “Indeed, the Lord's hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear. But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide [His] face from you so that He does not listen.” Once the barrier of sin is removed and the bridge of faith is built, the blessing of God is sent!
Another consequence of real revival is that GOD WILL HELP and “forgive their sin” (v.14). No matter how low we have sunk into the quagmire of sin, He can reach us and raise us! The state of the church has been horribly low before, and God has come down in power and lifted His people through revival. He can do it again!
How we need Him to do it again, to discover GOD WILL HEAL us as he promised to “heal their land” (v.14)! We need healing and no man has the cure. There is nothing that our world needs more than for the church to be the church. We can be healed of the dread disease of divorce, the perverse plague of pornography, the awful abomination of abortion, the sickening shame of sodomy, the monstrous malignancy of materialism, and the hellish heresy of humanism. In this election year, people are looking for some politician to ride to the rescue—some government program to make us well. That isn’t unimportant, but that isn’t sufficient. We must look higher than
. We need God! The old prophet Jeremiah asked, “Is there no balm in Washington Gilead? Is there no physician there?
So why has the healing of my dear people not come about?” (Jer.8:22).
So why has the healing of my dear people not come about?” (Jer.8:22).
There is a balm in
Gilead! As, the old spiritual says,
“There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in
To heal the sin-sick soul.
Some times I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again.” (
God, do it again! Bring real revival!