My husband, Jim, was preaching the other day and spoke about some of the great people of faith in American history. He mentioned that many of them had come to know the Lord, not in a regular Sunday service but in a revival service. Revivals went out of style about twenty years ago and Jim’s sermon made me wonder why.
When Jim first started preaching, he was asked to do revivals, and he often accepted the invitation. I would go with him when I could. They were not the huge tent revivals that I’d seen pictures of. Historically, those revivals rolled into town on wagons, lasted a week, and made a huge difference in a lot of lives.
For the most part, churches quit doing revivals when they became just a series of services for the people who were already coming to church. The revivals took a lot of energy and a lot of time for the staff to prepare, and they didn’t seem to make a huge difference in anything but the annual budget. Eventually, those annual revivals became winter Bible studies and then faded out of the program entirely.
This is a mid-January week. My Dallas Cowboys are out of the playoffs, the skies are bleak, and the trees are bare. I dream of a trip to a warm beach, but I think what I could most use is a really good tent revival.
Our spiritual lives need a boost once in a while. How long has it been since you saw a man or woman walk an aisle because they truly wanted Jesus to change their lives? How long has it been since you heard a great testimony of someone’s recent salvation experience? I want to stand in a huge tent, sing those great revival hymns, and see people bow before God as they recommit themselves to serve him as Lord. I want revival in my own life and in the life of the body of Christ.
So, I decided to focus some time reading about revival in Scripture. Here are the verses I discovered for my own soul:
With Isaiah in verse 38:16, I can say, “O Lord, by these things men live, And in all these is the life of my spirit; O restore me to health and let me live!” Spiritual health is the key to living our best life. Our spiritual lives need a check-up and every now and again, the occasional shot in the arm.
With King David I want to pray: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). I want to wake up tomorrow morning with the joy of the Lord that comes from a clean heart and the certain confidence that all is right in this temporal world when we have the promise of heaven.
Finally, it is Isaiah who gives me the word I most need for personal revival. He wrote, “Those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:31). God’s people have always wanted heaven on earth. We tend to want the blessings of eternal life now. None of us can be fully blessed until we are fully alive, with Jesus. In the meantime, we can renew and revive the hope we have been given in our salvation. We can gain “new strength,” and we can serve God with a renewed passion.
Those old-time revivals were effective because the Christians who attended were reminded of the power of salvation and the privilege of evangelism. God blesses people for reaching out to others and working to bring them into the body of Christ. People’s spirits are renewed when they see the power of God at work in the lives of their friends, their towns, and their churches.
I think personal revival comes when we remember everything we have been given in Christ, rejoice in our own salvation, and work to share our joy and hope with others. We have an amazing God who keeps all of his promises. And God has promised to “keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
Whatever you are thinking of on this mid-January day, consider taking some quiet time to rejoice in the Lord and his promise of salvation. And sing a chorus with those tent revival crowds:
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Revive us again.
Join us at www.christianparenting.org and chime in on this week’s discussion question: How do you help your “out-of-the-box” child thrive?