Longing for Revival

The very word revival stirs up a variety of thoughts, feelings and sentiments when raised in the context of church culture. I suspect most of us have at some pointed prayer or longed for one, ideally both. Whether or not we have ever read about or experienced one I want to look at how we view them. I believe there are two primary ways of thinking about revival. We can view revival as an event or an outcome.

This may present as a strange way of considering the subject but I think it highlights something very important. I remember decades ago reading a comment by Dr. Larry Crabb in one of his counselling books. He raised the idea of working toward our goals and praying for our desires. I think there is wisdom in that idea. I can easily apply it to my arthritic knees, particularly my left one. I pray for healing, my desire, while at the same time working toward my goal of maintaining the function of my knees by specific and regular exercises.

In applying that to revival, as with my knees, there is a twofold process to consider. We have revival as an event and when I hear people speak of it that is how others often seem to perceive it. Yet if we dig and little deeper and excavate some of the rubble, I think we will see it as an outcome,  an event as the result of something. Clear examples of that are major revivals we see in scripture. We will begin with Josiah.

2 Kings 22:8–13 (NKJV)

Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. So Shaphan the scribe went to the king, bringing the king word, saying, “Your servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of those who do the work, who oversee the house of the Lord.” 10 Then Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.

11 Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes. 12 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Achbor the son of Michaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”

Here the book of the Law was found and was read to Josiah. He began to reign at age 8 and was now 26. In hearing the book of the Law read Josiah was moved to initiate a major revival in Israel. The event we see is a revival, major change in Israel. However, this event is the outcome of something that took place 8 years earlier.

2 Chronicles 34:3 (NKJV)

For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images.

The groundwork for the major revival and reforms of Josiah was his pursuing of Yahweh years earlier.

The most important revival most of us in the church know of began on the day of Pentecost after Jesus crucifixion and resurrection. We find it in Acts and the event in response to Peter’s first sermon was 3,000 people being saved (Acts 2:1-42). This was only the beginning of powerful revival, healings and miracles. In Acts 1 we have evidence that the event on the day of Pentecost was the outcome of a 10 day prayer meeting. Yet a deeper look shows that all of this was preceded by a larger plan.

Revelation 13:8 (NKJV)

All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Jesus crucifixion and resurrection were planned from the beginning of the world. So, back to my knee example. Let us desire revival in our lifetime, an event that transforms our communities and the lives of many. In concert with our desiring revival let us continue in the place of prayer trusting that our Father is planning on bringing it about as an outcome of our praying and a furthering of His purpose.

Unite My Heart

In this post I am continuing to focus on our heart focus. To that end here is something significant that David wrote.

Psalm 86:11 (NKJV)

11   Teach me Your way, O Lord;

I will walk in Your truth;

Unite my heart to fear Your name.

The note in my bible says the alternate translation of the phrase ‘unite my heart’ is ‘give me singleness of heart.’ In essence David was praying for his heart to have a singular focus on the ways of Yahweh so that he could walk in truth. If we study David’s life it is obvious that he had a few failures on this journey. I am confident we have all had failures. Yet if we want to walk in Yahweh’s ways, which are truth, we need only look to David’s approach and emulate it.

In addition to the above verse David is also recorded as the author of the following two verses.

Psalm 103:7 (NKJV)

7     He made known His ways to Moses,

His acts to the children of Israel.

Psalm 27:4 (NKJV)

4     One thing I have desired of the Lord,

That will I seek:

That I may dwell in the house of the Lord

All the days of my life,

To behold the beauty of the Lord,

And to inquire in His temple.

We don’t know the order in which David wrote Psalms 27, 103 and 86. However, what is evident is his possession of a singular desire to pursue God with all his heart, a recognition of the need to go beyond His acts to His ways, and an awareness that he needed God’s help to succeed. If we examine David’s life both the failures and successes are evident. While David only receives a passing mention in the hall of faith chapter in Hebrews 11:32, scripture testifies about two commendations that David was given that no one else in scripture ever received.

David is referred to as a man after God’s own heart in 1 Samuel 13:14 by Samuel and in Acts 13:22 by Paul. David is the only one in scripture described in this way. The description was given before David was anointed and called to be king because God knew his heart, both the coming failures and the continual pursuit of God’s heart. The other commendation is that Jesus is seated on the throne of David even though Saul was Israel’s first king. The throne was seen by God as being truly established by David and was prepared for Jesus (Luke 1:32).

In relation to our hearts the message of David’s life is twofold. First, it isn’t about whether we fail, we all will to some extent, it is about the desire of our heart before and after we fail. Secondly, it is about the reality that God’s final analysis of our lives is based not on our failures but on our pursuit of His heart. David had some major failures but each time his eventual response was one of repentance and a renewed seeking of God’s heart. Should we choose to do likewise we too can look forward to a commendation from the Lord on that great day. 

Let’s ask Him to help us to be people after His heart.

Heart Focus

Heart focus may sound odd given that we see through our eyes. However, what affects our lives the most is not where we have our focus at any given moment so much as how we are looking. That is, the factors that are adjusting our focus. What we see depends both on what we see and how we see. This is why Jesus highlights the importance of how we look.  

Matthew 6:22–23 (NKJV)

22  “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

The above verses, like any others, have a context. Jesus message here and in the broader passage is about our heart focus. The word ‘good’ is translated as ‘healthy in the ESV and ‘clear’ in the NASB but the literal meaning of the Greek word haplous is ‘single,’ as in being focused on one thing. This is how the KJV translates the word and captures the meaning. In the preceding verse Jesus addressed our focus by referring to our heart and later He connects it to pursuing two things, God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

Matthew 6:21 (NKJV)

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

From these verses and their context, we should arrive at the idea that Jesus thinks our focus is important. That what affects our seeing is what our heart is treasuring. We can ‘see’ this by reflecting on many different gospel examples. Think of how the religious leaders saw the poor and broken as sinners deserving of their status while Jesus saw them as broken and lost and needing compassion and salvation. They saw the same people but they looked through different hearts. Jesus even had to rebuke His followers at times for holding wrong heart attitudes that affected their seeing.

So, let us get to the ‘how’ of what Jesus is instructing. Adjusting our focus by adjusting our heart attitudes. If we familiar with how a laser works, we know it is concentrated light. Its effectiveness comes from a intense concentrated focus. In a similar manner our spiritual effectiveness comes from developing a concentrated focus. What enables us to develop and maintain a single heart focus is intentionally shaping our heart attitude. Paul put it this way.

Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.

When we choose to intentionally and habitually focus on the true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good and virtuous we develop hearts that sees as Jesus sees. Our eye is good and our body is full our light. Our heart focus is on what He values and we walk in agreement with the kingdom of God.

The Sound of Heaven

I am no musician, as I am sure others will attest, and though I love to worship I cannot read a note of music. Yet I do know that in tuning an instrument it needs to be tuned to vibrate in harmony with the note on the tuning fork. For example, the tuning of a piano. When the tuning fork is struck it gives off sound and then the tension on the string on the piano needs to be adjusted so that it vibrates in harmony with the sound of the tuning fork. The tuning fork sets the standard.

In a similar manner our lives are to be tuned, adjusted to His presence and purpose over and above our desires, adjusted to His standard. Ideally our desires will align with His. Yet in my experience, and I know it is the same for many others, they are often in conflict. I don’t believe we will ever fully understand all the where’s and whys of His purposes from the perspective of earth. However, just as the piano string needs to be turned, stretched and adjusted to stay in harmony with the note on the tuning fork, He is continually adjusting our lives to be in harmony with His purpose whether or not we understand it.

To carry this a little further think of a traditional upright piano. We see the pianist striking the keys and we hear sounds come forth from the piano. However, the keys are not producing the music. The keys activate a pad that strikes a string that produces a sound. Activity is taking place inside the piano. In a similar manner, what expresses Jesus character through us is something that takes place where He works, on the inside, in our spirits.

I believe that we need to tune our hearts to hear and respond to the sound of heaven inside! One way I find to do this is to engage deeply in worship. When I worship Him and begin to encounter His presence, I find He is tuning my heart to hear His voice. I become sensitized to what He is saying and doing in a room, with a group of people. He begins to reveal things to me. You may experience that through reading the word or praying. I find intimate worship the most effective tool to tune my heart to hear His voice, to move in harmony with Him. My desire is expressed in a line from a song I wrote in the 90’s, “I’m moved by Your moving within.” I desire to encounter His presence within and then give expression to what He is doing and minister to others.

Let’s ask Him to tune the strings of our hearts to vibrate in harmony with His presence and purpose. As Paul put it.

Colossians 1:27 (NKJV)

27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Here is a song that reflects the tuning of our hearts Can you hear the sound of heaven – YouTube

The Hope of Glory

I last wrote about the idea of Jesus drawing us to Himself and us being drawn to Him. I want to go a little further. When Jesus walked on the earth He lived in two places at once but He only acted out of one place. That may sound strange but He both lived on earth and before His Father. Yet His every action flowed out of His communion with His Father. He described His dual location this way.

John 3:13 (NKJV)

13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

He then went on to describe the place He lived from.

John 5:19 (NKJV)

19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.

Jesus acted out of this place of communion with His Father and revealed His Father. We are called to reveal Jesus. In fact Paul expressed succinctly in Colossians the reality of the source we are to live from.

Colossians 1:27 (NKJV)

27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Jesus being manifest through us happens by our learning to live from Him in us. Paul told us that the way to do this was to recognize where to put our focus.

Colossians 3:1–4 (NKJV)

3 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

I believe based on scripture that Paul stepped into this way of life from his conversion on. I don’t believe he did it without error but it is clear that he did it. He expressed it this way.

Galatians 1:15–16 (NKJV)

15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood,

Just as Jesus revealed Himself through Paul He has revealed Himself through many down through the centuries and wants each of us to be part of that company. In January of 2020 I felt the word the Lord gave me for the year was, “The church needs to find her voice.” I had no idea at the time how true that would prove to be. While many seemed to feel it was about voices raised in protest, over the year I became convinced it was about finding our voice in the place of intercession before Him. As 2021 begins I feel He has emphasized Psalm 29. I encourage each of us to read it because it isn’t about our voice, it is about His voice being heard. There are many voices in our culture competing for our attention. To sort through them let us get into His presence and tune our hearts to hear Him speak. Let us pray that many will be raised up who will speak His word for this hour, that we will both hear His voice through His servants and be servants through whom His voice is heard.