John 11:25-27 (NIV)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
There is a small cry building momentum rising from churches across America and around the world calling out for revival. People want God to manifest His Presence. They desire a move of God beyond the natural confines of buildings and productions. Is this a need to see God for validation or is it a burning desire for Him to come closer? It makes a difference. Our church is crying out for revival. We want God to come in our midst. Our deepest desire is to be an institution completely given to the lost, dying and afflicted people all around us. Our vision becomes our mission to see all – saved, healed, developed and fulfilled. Knowing our purpose, one must come up with a plan. This morning as I once again petition the Lord send His Revival, the thought occurs to me, “Do we know what we are asking for?”
God is not like us. His Ways are not our ways and His Thoughts much higher than human consciousness or basic perception. As begin to dig deeper into this ancient cry now beginning to resonant again, it must be fundamental. The origin of the root word “revive” is to return to consciousness or restore to health. It comes from the Latin word “revivere” which is re – again and vivere – live. The dictionary defines “revive” to activate, set into motion, or take up again. To renew. To restore life. To quicken or renew our mind. When you add “al” to the end of the word, it means to set it into motion or make it a reality. There is nothing new about revival. It comes from something ancient and authentic that is inside of us.
Lazarus had died. They called for Jesus to come while he was sick, but the Lord did not make it in time so their brother had passed away. He had been dead and buried for three long days. When Jesus arrived, He found His Friends mourning and in the midst of grief. He presented a different option. He offered resurrection and life. Whoever lives believing in Jesus will never die but live again. After His Statement, Jesus asked Martha, “Do you believe?” What a respectful cover she gave, thinking fast on her feet, she offered all that she had in that moment, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Why didn’t Martha say something like, “Yes, I believe”? Because Martha’s faith was limited to the here and now. She was the sister consumed by activity and responsibility. The one who worked her way to approval and affirmation. She was the busy one who had no time to wait around but rather chose to make things happen. All she knew and believed was that if Jesus had been there her brother would not have died. She did not realize that before her stood the Resurrection and Life that would change her situation. The One who would end her mourning. Jesus would be her Revival that day.
Every moment that I spend with Jesus thinking I am getting to know Him is lost in the revelation that I am only beginning to discover His Love, Grace, Faithfulness and Goodness to me. Revival is not something we do. It is not like a fire beginning with a spark that we can add fuel to. Revival is Jesus. Plain and simple. Revival comes when we allow our faith to grow beyond this life to experience everlasting life – now. Initially, people come to the Lord desiring a better life now. Seeking release from the bondage of sin, its consequences, life’s hardships including sickness and disease. All of these things are now. Following Jesus will absolutely change our life now. But if we limit our pursuit to just this life, we are selling ourselves short.
James 1:4-6 (NIV)
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
We must allow faith to finish its work so that (God’s People) will be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Are you lacking anything today? I have a good life. Things are going well right now. However, I am lacking some things. If you have a single pain, ailment or sickness in your body – you are not complete. If your mind has an inkling of fear, stress, worry or anxiety, you are lacking. If you do not believe in any way shape or form that God is doing exactly what He promised in your life or you possess a dead dream – God is not finished with you yet. Faith and confident hope are the basis of revival. We must take the tiny seed of faith and take the time to build confident hope that connects us to Jesus until we become so rooted and grounded in His Love we are fully mature. How do I know that the church has not arrived? Simple.
Mark 16:16-18 (NIV)
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
This passage states that “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” and “these signs will accompany those who believe.” Accompany means to “go along with.” The New King James Version uses the word “follow”. Stop and think about that for a moment. I have ever since I studied this passage yesterday. Signs will follow those who believe. If signs, wonders and miracles are not following me or accompanying me – it is directly connected to my faith and ability to believe. If I truly believe, they will follow and accompany me which means that it is not something that I do but the Resurrection and Life who is Jesus Christ emanating from inside me.
Isaiah 57:14-15 (NIV)
And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.” For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.
Isaiah 61:1-4 (NIV)
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.
In the book of Isaiah, there are many passages that point to Jesus and His Work on the earth. He came to rebuild the way for mankind to return to their Creator. He became the Way. Note that in Isaiah 61 it says that “the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me.” On me versus in me. The Spirit of God is in us because in the New Testament – Jesus, the Sinless Son of God, sacrifices His Life for our life. The word “revive” becomes “resurrection” in the New Testament because now that same Spirit of the Sovereign Lord moves from on me to in me. (John 20:22) People can now be baptized with the fire that was promised that will send a spark of revival into their soul. Revival is resurrection life. Resurrection life will always be direct gift from Jesus Christ. We can do nothing to facilitate revival other than believe. To believe motivates us to follow the Lord which will be evidenced by the “signs that follow us.” I want to see people saved. I want them to be healed, oh how I desire it so. I want to see them fully developed and mature so the enemy can stop misleading and distracting all God’s People. I want to see others fulfilled. Martha’s belief only carried her as far as this life, Jesus wanted it to lead her to forever. Resurrection and life stood before her. She could see the Lord. However, now revival, resurrection and life live in us. Greater is He who is in me than He who is in the world. As I decrease, Christ increases. If I continue to pursue Jesus and only Jesus – revival will come from the inside out.
Romans 6:4-8 (NIV)
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
Something must die to live again. Revival cannot happen until something dies in us. Repentance is the beginning of resurrection life. (Isaiah 1:27-28) As we consistently and completely turn from sin and darkness into the Light of His Love. People repent in varying degrees. How do I know? If you do not live, look and talk the same way in the world as you do in church – then your repentance is limited. I know, I know. I am only human, too but I want to be like Jesus. If it makes me look over my shoulder, than I am going the wrong way. Revival requires repentance. We must die to our flesh and live by His Spirit in and out of church. I am the church. To live a double life doesn’t fool anyone. The psalmist in Psalm 85 ask the Lord to be revived. He says, I will listen to what God says.” God’s response – revival includes faithfulness born of love. It is given as part of our salvation. It is cultivated by those who desire to remain faithful and righteous before God in all things. It is a life of reverence considering God’s Word, Will and Way in all things not just things pertaining to religion or the church. It requires a life of sowing and reaping in the Spirit. It is revolutionized by obedience. God desires us to live complete lacking nothing. It must become our desire and mission in life to fulfill God’s Desire. We must die to our selfish, sinful nature and all of its wiles and take up our cross to follow Jesus. No matter how many times we may stumble, fall or lose our way – those who continue to pursue, press in, and persevere will see God’s Glory in their natural life.
Philippians 3:10-11 (NIV)
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Our desire to know Christ, really know the Lord, must become the drive and motivation of our natural life to experience the supernatural manifestation called revival. Just the revelation that revival is not something new, but rather those dead to sin coming alive in Jesus is exciting. Suddenly, I don’t have to do anything but believe which as we all know and will admit is tough sometimes. I can do nothing to promote revival or be resurrected except die to sin allowing Christ to live with in me and make His Way out into the world around me. Count me in. If this is revival, I want it. I am completely incompetent of laying hands on the sick so they will recover. However, Jesus makes me competent as a minister of the New Covenant to do exactly that. (2 Corinthians 3:5-6) The Spirit gives me life that allows me to resuscitate others with the Love and Grace that I have been given. The more I accept Him, acknowledge Him and allow Jesus to give me a new life allows me to let it flow from me to others. I am a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:16-17) I must stop allowing the world and its opinion to dissuade me from the Truth. There will be naysayers until corporate revival breaks out because a group of believers embarked on the same mission together. (Acts 4:32-35) Those same people that picked on you, persecuted you and rejected you will be first in line and you will receive them according to the Grace you have been given.
My belief in Jesus Christ must begin to believe in His Resurrection and Life of today not just forever. David said in Psalm 27, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Are you confident in the Lord today? Are you willing to bet your life on the new life and new creation that He promised? It is this kind of belief that brings Heaven to earth sparking a revival that will spread among believers and followers of Christ. I am afraid that we may have forgotten or become overwhelmed like Martha. In Matthew 24, Jesus warns us that “the love of most will grow cold.” He is not talking about the world. The world does not know love outside of Jesus. He is talking about the church. He concludes that those who endure to the end will be saved. He is definitely talking about His Followers. Revelation 3:16 warns that the “lukewarm” will be spit or vomited from his mouth. Church – He is talking to us directly. Are we listening? We cry out for revival? His Response is the same – “Come to me!” He is the Resurrection and Life. We must put all of our hope and trust in the Lord and His Word, Will and Way to see revival come. (Psalm 119:49-56) So do you still want revival? I do more than ever – even so come, Lord Jesus come!
I Peter 1:3-5 (NIV)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.