Recent reports of revival on the campuses of Asbury University, Asbury Seminary, Lee College, and other Christian institutions across the United States are creating world-wide chatter. These reports of revival have resulted in folks flocking to the various schools seeking first-hand exposure/experience and an attempt to validate the authenticity of what is going on.
I am excited about the reports of revival. I have been praying for over 40 years for revival/ renewal in the body of Christ and specifically in The United Methodist Church. Even as I pray for and hope that the winds of revival will continue to blow and spread, I am reminded that revival should not be a surprise. Revival is supposed to be normal within the church of Jesus Christ.
The fact that any movement of God, within the body of Christ, is treated as a new phenomenon, should be the shocker. After the ascension of Christ and the descension of the Holy Spirit, revival/renewal should be an ongoing reality. Signs, wonders, and an outpouring of the Spirit of God should be regular, ongoing and normal in the life of Christian believers and within the Body of Christ. The fact that we are captivated by reports of fresh manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s work is a testimony to just how far we have drifted away from our spiritual center.
Please understand, I welcome and I embrace what God is apparently doing. All I am saying is that these renewal experiences should be normal and should not be seen as a “fluke on the spiritual landscape.”
As we enter the Lenten season, I pray for the revival fires to spread. I pray that the winds of revival will continue until the church is completely restored, like the day of Pentecost and its subsequent days.
I long for revival and renewal. Let me share seven things that I know about revival:
1. Only the Holy Spirit can bring genuine revival. There is no revival apart from a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
2. Every revival that has ever occurred started because of a renewed commitment to prayer. Prayer is the launch pad for revival, both personal and corporate.
3. Revival does not start with lost people being saved, but revival starts when saved people get right with God. Revival is marked by a return of Christians to our “first love,” Jesus Christ.
4. Revival, always (according to II Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land”) begins with an expression of our need and dependence upon God.
5. Revival is rooted and grounded in confession of our sins and repentance (a turning away from) our sins.
6. Revival changes hearts, lives, and lifestyles, as revival spills over into society. Nothing is safe when it is exposed to the wind of God. The debris and clutter of sin gets replaced by outward, Christ-like expressions of love and mercy.
7. Revival is sustainable! The book of Acts shows the fruit of revival, and the effect revival should have on an ongoing basis. Acts 2:42-47 -- “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
My revival prayer continues to be, “Lord, send the gentle wind of your Holy Spirit, blow across the embers of our hearts, and fan us into flames for Jesus. Amen.”