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The Satisfaction of Seeking God

You shall seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with ALL YOUR HEART. (Jer.29:13) That really is the issue, isn’t it? ALL your heart. We should not, in essence, be seeking revival … we should be seeking God. It is while seeking God, that revival WILL come. You may ask, is this Biblical, is this New Testament theology? I believe it is, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God, for he that comes to God must believe that HE IS, and that HE IS A REWARDER OF THOSE WHO DILIGENTLY SEEK HIM.” As Leonard Ravenhill said, “The one main reason why there is no heaven-sent revival in America today, is because we are content to live without it!”

What really is involved in “Seeking God?” Is this something that is done individually, as a family, or corporately as a church, a community, or as a nation? The answer to that question is undoubtedly … YES! It incorporates all these levels – and as you look at church history – it has started at different times in each of those settings. Sometimes revival seems to begin TOTALLY as a Sovereign pursuit by God to us, however … it also cannot be denied by any honest church historian, that at times, it was out of the desperation of men’s hearts, that God moved in answer to their cries. Oh, I know that ALL OF THAT IS GOD’S IDEA … for every good and Godly desire we’ve EVER had, began in the heart of God and was implanted in our hearts by the Spirit of God Who lives within us as believers. So now that we’ve settled this thing of God’s will versus the freewill of man (like that is ever going to be settled this side of eternity LOL), let’s move on to OUR responsibility in SEEKING GOD. There are SO many verses and exhortations for us to seek Him, that I cannot quote them all here, you can do your own search with a good commentary, I just want to give you the bottom lines, and then say to YOU … GO FOR IT! SEEK HIM WITH ALL YOUR HEART, FOR THE REVIVAL WE SO DESPERATELY NEED.

1) Seek Him first! Let God be our first stop and not your last. How many times do we only draw near to God when we want something? Our motives sometimes in this Christian life are so fleshly and self centered. Mt. 6:33 – Seek you first the kingdom of God … Zech. 8:21,22 – Let us go SPEEDILY to pray before the Lord, & to seek the Lord of Hosts … many people & strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of Hosts …

Many of the kings urged and led the people in seeking God – David – I Chr.22:9, Solomon – II Chr. 7:14, Rehoboam – II Chr. 11:6, Asa – II Chr. 14:2,4,7, Jehoshaphat – II Chr.20:3,4, Uzziah – II Chr. 26:5, Hezekiah – II Chr.30:19; 31:20,21, Josiah – II Chr. 34:3.

2) Seek Him early. Oh God, Thou are my God, early will I seek Thee. Psa.63:1. in their affliction, they shall seek Me early – Hos.5:15. Psa. 53:2 – God looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were ANY that DID understand, that DID seek after God … take a minute to ponder that thought … the implication is that IF we understood, we WOULD seek. Understood WHAT? The heart of God? The purposes of God in eternity? The desire of God for YOUR life? The depth and richness of God? Whatever is means … IF WE UNDERSTOOD … WE WOULD SEEK. I think the essence of what this phrase means –early (quickness, speed, urgency, determination, intention and deliberateness – all in the original meaning) the bottom line is this – I think it means SEEKING GOD out of conviction, rather than out of crisis.

3) Seek THE LORD, not an experience. We are such a feelings oriented society today, especially in our “American christianity.” We have almost demanded of God, that He give us a good feeling, an experience. So many of our services are geared toward getting us a “quick fix” so we can go on another day. And what happens if we don’t get our “fix,” we start to question the integrity & reality of God. If God really “loved me” or if God really “cared for me” He would make me feel better, or meet my financial “needs” or “bless me.” Only in America do we equate the blessing of God with money and things! I have often told people, “God would do YOU an injustice if every time you met with HIM, He made you feel good.” Then you would begin to relegate your relationship with God to good feelings. Then, your faith would be based upon feelings and experience, rather than faith! Without FAITH it is impossible to please Himthe just shall live by FAITH … now FAITH is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN. He that comes to God must BELIEVE that He is, not feel that He is.

  • Experience must flow out of relationship, and not vice-versa. Rom.5:3-5
  • Experience must always be subject to the Word of GOD. Heb. 4:12 (Today, people are throwing off doctrine for that sake of their experience – “I don’t care if it’s Biblical or not … I know what I experienced!”) That is very dangerous! I actually saw a t.v. preacher tell about his experience to an audience, then mockingly say to them, “so you ask me, where is that in here”(mockingly holding up his Bible), then continue by saying, “it ain’t in there” as he took his Bible and threw it across the stage! What did the crowd do? Did they rebuke him, did they walk out, did they in shock gasp at his actions? No … they applauded and went right along with his blasphemous actions! How sad, how grievous! We, as fleshly, casual, CARNAL (at best, if saved at all) as American believers are going to have a lot to account for in judgment!
  • Experience must not become the standard of comparison for others. II Cor. 10:12 (some “push” their experience on others, and even whether or not that person is “spiritual” on whether or not they’ve had the same experience you’ve had)
  • Experience must never be raised to the level of inspiration. II Tim.3:16; Heb.1:1,2; II Pet.1:16-21 Some today in America have elevated to their experience to the level of inspiration –“you may not find it in the Bible, but I know what I experienced … and you cant tell me it was not ‘of God’ “
  • Experience must validate itself through visible change in one’s life. II Cor. 4:2; 6:3,4
  • Experience must be open to challenge and Godly counsel. Acts 11 (even though Peter had encountered God on the rooftop while God was opening the gospel to the Gentiles – when he went to give account to the brothers in Jerusalem – it was validated through proper channels -there was prayer, a vision, a voice, it was confirmed three times, the Spirit commanded, it was witnessed by these 6 men, the Holy Spirit fell upon them as on us at the beginning, then I remembered the Word of the Lord. All things were done decently and in order.
  • Experience must not become a determiner of doctrine. Eph.4:13-15 – grow up and stop being children swayed by every wind of doctrine!

 4) Seek Him in the Word of God. This one should be obvious, but many times today, people will seek everywhere it seems BEFORE they get into the Word. Do you want to SEE Jesus … do you want to KNOW Jesus? Then get into the Book!

 5) Seek Him wholeheartedly!

  • Herein is the promise of finding Him : You shall seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jer.29:13; Psa. 119:2; Deut. 4:29; II Chr. 15:5
  • Herein is the place of rejoicing: Let all those that seek Thee, rejoice and be glad in Thee… Psa. 40:16; Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord … Psa. 105:34

6) Seek His face, not His hand! The scriptures are filled with word pictures that help us in “seeing” God, as He is. Those pictures many times relate to different parts of our body, as human beings, in essence to reveal to us different traits within the nature of God. The theologians call these anthropomorphisms – that is the attributing of human characteristics to “non – humans” (which of course certainly fits God). We are told in scripture to seek His face for revival – II Chr. 7:14. Too many times we seek His hand instead. We use God in essence as our Santa Claus … gimme’ … gimme’ … gimme’! We want power, we want provision for our earthly needs … but we do we really want His face to be known? His face is synonymous with His favor, His pleasure, His smile. Psa. 105:4 – Seek His face evermore.

For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers, but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. I Pet.3:12

Do we really want the favor of God? His face is inherently tied together in scripture with fearing God and righteous living. Hos. 10:12; Mt. 6:33; Zeph.2:3; Isa. 51:1; II Chr. 7:14 – seek My face and TURN from their wicked ways.

7) Seek Him continually. Seek the Lord, and His strength, seek His face continually. I Chr. 16:11. Seek His face evermore Psa. 105:4

Will you set your face to seek the Lord? What if revival never comes in your lifetime? Will you still continue throughout the rest of your life to seek Him in behalf of our nation … in behalf of His kingdom. Do you remember where God said, I looked and wondered that there were no intercessors! Isa. 59:15,16; 63:5 Will you “follow hard after God” Psa. 63:8

Do you remember where God says, Seek ye the Lord WHILE HE MAY BE FOUND, call ye upon HIM, WHILE HE IS NEAR! The implications of this verse are astounding. There seem to be certain times when God is “near.” Oh, don’t let your theological mindset ignore or deny this truth. There are certain times when God draws near and draws near the hearts of those who are seeking Him. Oh, dear people, DO NOT MISS THIS! Even Jesus, while walking on this earth was looking for earnest seekers, those who would not give up on seeking and searching (Jn.4:23 – the Father seeks such to worship Him) … those who were great in faith to pursue Him until their prayers were heard and their need was met. In Mt. 15 & Mark 7, Jesus leaves the Sea of Galilee area in order to go to the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, a roundtrip of somewere between 70-100 miles. There he meets a woman, a Greek, a Syrophenician whose daughter was demon possessed. She begs him to heal her daughter, he ignores her (answered her not a word), his disciples ask him to send her away, and even when she begins her plea he compares her to “a dog,” and yet she worships at His feet, reasons with Him, and he grants her request, and states, “Oh woman, great is your faith!” Are you “okay” with this? Does your view of a “kind. loving, gentle Jesus” allow for Him appearing to ignore and deny this womans initial need? Please don’t miss this … He was wanting to find out if she would follow hard after God! She did … and her need was met. From the text of Matthew and Mark, it appears that this was the only “project” Jesus took care of while in the coastal region of Tyre & Sidon – he then returns to the Sea of Galilee. I am convinced He went that 100+ miles specifically to meet this woman and daughter’s need … but it would only happen if she diligently sought Him. The same for blind Bartimaeus – had he listened to the crowd instead of continuing to cry out to Jesus, he would still be blind. I think Jesus heard him the first time he cried out, I believe He was waiting to see if Bartimaeus would listen to the crowd or get to God! Would he “follow HARD after God.”

What will you do with this truth? Will YOU follow hard after God. Will you seek Him with ALL YOUR HEART? IT IS TIME TO SEEK THE LORD, TILL HE COMES AND RAINS RIGHTEOUSNESS UPON US! Hos. 10:12

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God’s Select Order for Revival

Leonard Ravenhill, whom I had the privilege of hearing in person and meeting with for questions and answers on several occasions stated it plainly, “The one main reason why there is no heaven sent revival in America today … is because WE ARE CONTENT TO LIVE WITHOUT IT!”

I wonder how much that is true … I wonder how often that is true in MY own life. Though I have carried a burden for revival for 35 years now, and seen it on numerous occasions … how often am I content to live without it! I am convinced that THE GREATEST NEED in America is REVIVAL. Some are even uncomfortable with the word – they would rather talk about restoration, or renewal, or refreshing … all good words, and all a PART of genuine revival … but they are by-products and not the ultimate need. Psa. 51 would make it clear that they are all needed, but it seems we don’t want to admit WE NEED REVIVAL. The other ideas “seem” a bit more positive, and we are more comfortable to say we need refreshment & renewal … but we need to admit we are in many ways dead! We need to LIVE AGAIN. That is what revival means – God breathing LIFE back into the souls of His children.

I am firmly convinced that 2000 years of church history reveals that THE GREATEST TIMES OF LOST, UNREGENERATED PEOPLE COMING INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD, CAME, NOT AS A RESULT OF AN EVANGELISTIC EFFORT, BUT AS A RESULT OF REVIVAL. I spent 30 years of my life with Life Action Revival Ministries – where at that time (and as far as I know still) we stated our purpose for existence as a ministry was this – “To glorify God, through a revival among God’s people, resulting in a spiritual awakening among the lost.” I think there are several key things stated in that missions statement.

1) To glorify God – this is the ULTIMATE purpose for your life and mine while on this earth. It is not “soul winning” as vital as that is; it is not to build a large church building so people can come once a week for a couple of hours – then go out the rest of the week and “live for themselves”; or to be sure we have the best entertainment available in our community. Our purpose is, “whether therefore you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, DO ALL TO THE GLORY OF GOD.” I Cor.10:31

2) Through a revival among God’s people – the very word revival means – to live again. I submit to you, that in order for something (someone) to live again, they must first of all to have possessed life. REVIVAL is for God’s people. Are you hungry for new life to be breathed into you? Into your value system, into your choices, into your words, your use of time, your use of the finances entrusted to you, your morals, your viewing habits, your priorities. Can you think of any of those areas in which you need God to “breathe new life into it?”

3) Resulting in a spiritual awakening among the lost – certainly in our country we need moral reformation, we need character restoration, we need political replacement, we need historical return to the Judeo – Christian foundation that this nation was, without a doubt, founded upon … but undergirding all of that … we need millions of people in America to come to God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Once they are truly regenerated – they will begin to understand the need morally, politically, spiritually, socially in our land. Think of this – the last great revival that SO impacted the world took place in Wales in a 14 month period in 1904 – 05. Think of this – what if God were to move in America in just the same approximate level that He moved in Wales during that time … we would witness over 30 million people getting saved in 14 months in our nation. Remember – He is able to do exceeding ABUNDANTLY ABOVE ALL (the name of this ministry) we can ask or think! How does He do that – through the power that works in us (believers) – what power – resurrection power. The same resurrection power that He demonstrated in raising Jesus Christ from the dead (Eph. 1:19) He longs to demonstrate through us (Eph. 3:20) in revival.

So what are those ingredients in chronological order (which is important, since God outlines it as He did) II Chronicles 7:14 – we must:

1) Humble ourselves

2) Pray

3) Seek God’s face

4) Turn from OUR wicked ways.

I will expand on those at a later time (though, if we are honest, we probably don’t need someone to expand because the Holy Spirit in every believer is able to clearly expose to us, if we are listening, the specific needs in our own life).

DEAR FRIENDS … we must humble ourselves. Shhh … go … get quiet … listen to the Lord … and let us agree with God, pray, seek His face and repent. Seek the Lord … till He comes and rains righteousness upon us!

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Pricetag for Revival

Revival – real revival is always costly. I think of Covington, Indiana. When we began the meetings, little did we know what God had in mind (of course, we never do). During the first days, the revivalist’ wife miscarried their next child. That was hard to go through.

When the meetings began, just a few days into the week, there came a huge snowstorm which so blanketed the area, that it became “against the law” to drive anywhere in the city (‘stay off the roads’ was the message). The blessing hidden in this was that the church happened to have a radio station broadcasting right out of their facilities – a Moody affiliate. When it became impossible to have the regular services – as we prayed, it was determined to take the meetings to the airwaves – so we did. There was a small room in the broadcast area, which we set up for services, we asked the people in town who could walk to the church to come on and we would hold services in that room – we had the team sing, and we continued our services of teaching Family Revival principles and Personal Revival principles, set up a Prayer Room and continued on, watching God work. Only now, it was not just for First Baptist Church, it was going out to the entire station coverage area! Once the snow was cleared, it was determined that we should continue the services on the radio, because so many people were listening in and obeying the Lord. When the services were moved back to the main sanctuary, there were many attending who did not even normally attend that church. The Spirit of God used this to impact within a 30 mile radius of the church, extending at least over into Danville, Il.

People began obeying the Lord – sin was confessed and repented of, marriages were being restored, one lawyer went ‘on the air’ saying he had been making a living off of peoples tragedy in divorce cases and under the conviction of God he would no longer take divorce cases – but would do all he could to salvage troubled marriages. A former chairman of the deacons testified that he had stood by during a tragic split which had occured in the church five years before and watched people leave ‘in mass,’ and his response had been ‘good riddance’ we are better off without them – he was convicted he had done nothing to stop the split – he had not been a ‘peacemaker’ – that is, one helping others make peace with God.

A man invited me one day to go with him to work out at the YMCA in Danville, when we finished our workout, as I was finishing up in the locker room, I noticed across the room a man looking curiously at me – he opened the conversation saying, ‘I don’t recognize you, are you new to the area?’ I explained I was part of a revival team holding services in Covington – 30 miles away. He had been listening to the services – when I mentioned that, he began to cry and said, “I thought so … I just knew it … I need your help!” Long story short – he was deeply under conviction about an adulterous relationship he had been involved in for 14 years! Not only that – he was a pastor! I walked through that process with him over the next few weeks as God put his marriage back together & gave he and his wife a new marriage. In the process of those weeks, he also came to realize he had never been saved – A Pastor! Trained in seminary, working in ministry … and lost. He was gloriously saved and God gave a new beginning to his life.

The strange thing in the meetings was that the more people testified of being freed up by God from their sin and bitterness and unforgiveness, etc., it seemed that the pastor of the church became more uneasy. Somehow, with all this ‘junk’ being confessed and repented of, he took it personal – as if it were a reflection of his ministry being ‘a failure’ – his pride was being confronted, and God was tryiing to bring him to the cross. The ‘free-er’ the people became – the more bound up he became. One Sunday afternoon, while at home, he called his Head deacon and said, “if the church is in this bad a shape, my ministry is a complete failure and I want to offer you my resignation!’ The deacon knew his pastor, just like all the rest of us, was struggling with “coming to the cross, humbling himself through brokeness and obedience, and acknowledging his own need.” The deacon merely responded – “pastor, if you believe that is what God wants, then I will meet you later at the church and accept your resignation.” This is not what the pastor expected – he fully expected the deacon to try to talk him out of it, and tell him what a great pastor he was, etc.. When the pastor got off the phone, by his own testimony later on, he went into a angry rage in the privacy of his own home – again, his pride being crushed and eventually, when he saw it, he fell on his face in his dining room, weeping like a baby under the weight of his own stubborn, prideful heart – crying out to God. His wife witnessing what had just happened, came into the room where he was laying on the floor, just fell right over his body, and began to pray for her husband – asking God to break him and reveal to him what was really going on in his heart and set him free! This happened and when that pastor stood before his people that evening in the service … he was a free man – his countenance was different – instead of reacting negatively to the ‘broken – new found freedom testimonies,’ he could finally enter in and rejoice in what God was doing in peoples lives.

On the third Sunday morning when the Chairman of the Deacons testified about his bitterness, he asked the people to forgive him and then stated that on Monday evening, he was going over to the new church (started by the split) and stand before those people and seek their forgiveness. (That church ‘just happened’ to have revival meetings of their own going on at the time!) We then asked if anyone else needed to join him on that venture – to our amazement over 80 people said they needed to be a part of that reconcilation meeting. What had been happening inside this church was now about to begin impacting the entire community! One deacon in this small town, after that reconciliation meeting confessed that “he had not driven on a particular street in that town for five years because Deacon ‘so & so’ lived on that street, and he had been one of the folks who had left the church during the split – so he would never drive again on that street because of the bitterness he felt in his heart toward that man.” When God set him free from that bitterness and his relationship with that man was restored, he said, “Yesterday I got in my car, and for three hours … all I did was drive up and down that street – rejoicing and praising God for freeing me up from my bitterness!”

Oh the joy of a people set free by God! There is nothing more powerful than God’s people walking on in obedience. God’s people walking in revival opens the door to share the gospel in a whole new way, with power and a clear conscience. Lost people in the community listen with ‘new ears’ because NO LONGER are the lives of professing believers standing in the way of their coming to Christ for salvation. The question then, which we all must ponder is … am I a catalyst for revival or a hindrance to it coming? Oh, may God’s power be unleashed in a free, broken, surrendered, holy people!

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Genuine Revival – Never Got Over It!

It started with a prayer meeting early Thursday morning, (that none of the students knew about). Then while the revival team was out of town (30 miles away) God’s presence invaded – a spirit of conviction began to spread into the classrooms at the Christian school. Students began asking teachers (who were teaching their normal subjects) if they could say something. “I do not mean to interrupt, but could you please pray for me … I need Jesus!” These pleadings spilled over into the schedule of the pastoral staff because students were lined up outside their offices and down the hallwaysdoing eternal business with God!
No one preached a sermon, no one told an emotional story, no one was presenting a Christian concert … God just began placing conviction on the hearts of the students; they were not prepared to meet God, and they could stand it no longer! It went from classroom to classroom; it was happening out on the athletic field, and even in the locker rooms in the gym.
(IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT PEOPLE WILL SHOW UP AT CHURCH FOR TWO THINGS … A FIGHT … OR A FIRE! THANK GOD … THIS WAS FOR A FIRE!)
By the time the evening service began, in a meeting where only 30% of the church had been involved (including students who were required to be there), now suddenly, in one day, that number had doubled! On this evening there were about 3,000 in the services! Word had begun to spread about town as to what God was doing in the Christian academy that day! That night as opportunity was given to testify about the work of God in the school, there seemed to be a lingering question in many hearts. In a crowd of 3,000 +, will any young people have the boldness to share? The aisles were flooded with volunteers! By the time the evening service was drawing to a close,over 50 teenagers had testified – and when the invitation was given, as hundreds found their way into the Prayer Rooms, over 90 adults had encountered God in genuine salvation!

When I returned to the dormitories that evening, I could not sleep! I just lay in bed rehearsing all that God had done the last 14 hours on campus. It was amazing! Since I obviously was not going to be able to sleep, somewhere around 2:30 a.m., I got dressed and went down to the lobby of the dorm (an old downtown hotel we had converted into a dorm), only to discover there were others who could not sleep either … 400 hundred of them! They were not partying … not just hanging out … they were all praying and crying out to God to “not let up!”

Later that morning our chapel service began around 10:00 a.m., like normal … but it was anything but normal! At 2:30 that afternoon, we were still going (we had continued right through all the lunch periods and no one seemed to notice or even care)! At that point, the president of the college stood to announce, “There will no classes the rest of the day … we are calling everything off in favor of God!” We knew without a doubt we were in the midst of something not contrived by man, but sent from heaven! It was a divine encounter that no one could deny!
What happened in the Christian school, college and church that first 48 hours began to spill over into the community and a one hour television program that went out live on hundreds of stations on Sunday morning. By the time those days of revival were completed, there had been almost 700 people (683 recorded) giving their lives to Christ in genuine salvation (many of them had believed they were already saved … until they witnessed the great power of God in conversion of multitudes around them) and then eventually, a book written (“Glory in the Church” by Dr. Ed Hindson [Thomas Nelson Publishers]) to record and testify the goodness of God in revival.
To this day, as I reflect back, as I ponder, as I dream … I find myself asking … why do we continue to settle for less? Why do we not as believers, once again, bombard heavens gates with our heart crys …“Oh God … do it again!” Will you join me in that passionate cry to heaven? Oh God, give us intercessors … God gives us a holy dissatisfaction for “business as usual” and an insatiable desire for Your holiness and glory to once again be known in the church which you purchased with your own blood! Lord, send a revival … a REAL revival … and, let it begin in me!