2 Chronicles 7:13-14 “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 30:6, “So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria.”
There’s a longing in my heart to see God do something supernatural. I’m longing for one more wave of glory. I want to see revival one more time in my life. I can’t be satisfied living in “smoke” when I’ve been born in the fire. I’m praying that God will come down in a supernatural way so we can experience the unexplainable glory of God in these days.
I think about the church of Laodicea when Jesus was standing at the door knocking. Jesus wanted to get in the church where there was singing, preaching, and praying. Jesus said, “You’re not singing to me, because I’m not in the middle of it. You’re not praying to me, because you won’t let me in. You’re not exalting me in the preaching because I’m not in the church. I must get in before I can do anything.” Corporate revival is a new entrance of Jesus Christ into the church. It’s when we open the door and let Jesus come in to take over. He knows how to run the church. He knows what needs to be done and how to do it. If we will just swing the doors of our hearts open and say, “Lord Jesus, come in and take over,” we will experience a measure of revival and see the glory of God as we haven’t seen it in a long time.
I’ve preached thousands of times for more than 50 years, and I’m not interested in just preaching or even just going to church. I’ve done enough of that. I want to experience the presence and glory of God in the church and have a fresh encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ.
We may know a lot about the text of Scripture above but not be living in obedience to it. Jesus said, “Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only.” (James 1:22) We may have heard that a thousand times, and still not be profited by it, because we have not heeded it practically.
Jesus said that if we will do certain things: humble ourselves and pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways; then He will do some things: hear from Heaven, forgive your sins, and heal your land.
He mentioned pestilence, drought, and the devouring of the land. Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe the judgment of God is on our land. We’re in a mess in America! We’re in a mess politically, economically, and spiritually. This whole world is in trouble, and the only solution to our problem will be old-fashioned Holy Ghost repentance and getting God back on the scene to do something in the hearts and lives of God’s people.
If He had said, “If Washington would repent and pray and turn from their wicked ways,” I wouldn’t have much hope. I don’t know that that bunch would know what repentance is if they met it in the middle of the road. I know that most of them don’t know God. They are, for the most part, a Christ-less group. Our leaders are trying to dethrone God as never before in America. We have a President who doesn’t have the foggiest idea about what is going on in America and what the real needs of this country are. That’s why revival in the church is the only answer. It’s not going to come politically. Real healing and restoration of our nation will come only when the people of God have revival and pay the price to have one.
You can have as much revival in your heart as you are willing to believe God for. Don’t blame others if you don’t have personal revival. No one else is the problem for you. You can have personal revival even if no one else has one. The only way we can hope to have collective revival in the church and in our land is for us to have revival individually. If we are willing to repent and pray and seek the face of God individually, God can come among us and do something that we will never forget, and we will be changed.
If revival comes, there will be change. You see, we can sing; we can preach; we can pray, and never be changed. But if God shows up and we have an encounter with God and worship God, we will be changed! You can’t meet God and not be changed. It’s an absolute impossibility. I need God! I don’t feel that I’m super spiritual and have all the answers for everybody else. I am desperate before God for God to do a fresh work in my own heart and life. I have longed and thirsted for Him in recent days like I haven’t in a long time. My heart is thirsting for the Living God. I want Him to come in my own life afresh and anew.
First, if we are to ever have real revival, there must be humility. As long as we strut in pride exalting ourselves and exalting the flesh, we’ll never have revival. James 4:9-10 says, “ Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” The amplified version says, “Humble yourselves, feeling very insignificant in the presence of the Lord.” That’s what it means to humble ourselves. It is to see our insignificance in the presence of the Lord. If you feel that you are important, you’re a long way from having revival, because to have revival, we have to see our unworthiness. We must feel so insignificant in the presence of God, realizing we are nothing and can do nothing, but God is everything and can do it all. As long as we feel that we have it made, and God should feel honored to have us in church, we are far from glory and far from revival. There must be the humbling and brokenness of God’s people as we come to cry out for revival. Even in prayer there must be a humiliation of self and a humbling of ourselves as we come to call on Holy God.
Second, we must pray. I’m not talking about saying prayers; I’m talking about real praying. I’m talking about getting hold of God. I’m talking about staying until the answer comes. How long has it been since you’ve been in a half-night prayer meeting? I used to say “all night prayer meeting,” but I would be foolish to say that today. What about a prayer meeting that lasted even a few hours? I’ve seen prayer meetings that would start after a service at night, and people would pray all night until daylight. Then God would show up in the services. We don’t have that kind of praying anymore, and neither do we have God showing up anymore like He did in the past in a supernatural way. I’ve seen people come to the altar and pray, broken before a Holy God for hours. They didn’t just come and pray for a minute and go back to their seats. They prayed hour after hour until God showed up. I’ve seen the time when you couldn’t even find a private place on the grounds at our church to pray because people were calling out to God all over the grounds for hours. Do you know what happened? We had revival as a result of it. We saw the glory of God and the manifested presence of Jesus Christ. He was changing people. We need to learn again to stay in prayer until the answer comes. We must humble ourselves and pray. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we would all see old-fashioned prayer meetings in our churches? You know, it’s not the outside world: the drunks, the homosexuals and the drug addicts who are keeping us from revival. It’s the people of God who won’t humble themselves and pray.
Third, we must seek God’s face. What does it mean to seek the face of God? It’s to seek God’s presence. I don’t think it’s revival that we need to seek. I think we need to seek the face of God. We need to seek the presence of God, and when God shows up, we’re in revival. Seek – My – Face. That’s what I’ve been doing recently; just seeking the face of God. I’ve been saying, “God, I want to get one more glimpse of your face. I want to look into the face of Jesus until “the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” I want to see you in your beauty, in your holiness and in your glory. As the Bible says, ‘In him is light and there’s no darkness at all’ and God, I want to be able to look through illuminated eyes until I can see you in your glory.” I know that when I do, it will bring repentance to my own heart and to my own life.
James 4:8-9 says in the amplified version, “Come close to God and he will come close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners; get your soiled hands clean.[ Realize that you have been disloyal], wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery]. [As you draw near to God] be deeply penitent and grieve, even weep [over your disloyalty. Let your laughter be turned to grief and your mirth to dejection and heartfelt shame [for your sins].”
Fourth, we must turn from our wicked ways. That’s what James is talking about in this passage. We need to be deeply penitent and grieve and weep over our disloyalty and over our sins. We need to have heartfelt shame. We take sin too lightly. There is no real repentance over sin and no heartfelt shame in our day. We don’t see much repentance in the church anymore. How long has it been since you have seen the Holy Ghost of God come on a congregation and bring conviction to the point that people begin to weep over their sins, confess their sins to God, and then get up and confess their sins to a congregation? How long has it been since you’ve seen wives confess to their husbands their indifference to God, husbands to their wives, children to their parents, and church members getting right with one another and with God? How long has it been since you have seen that in a church? I haven’t seen that kind of thing in a long time, and that’s why we are not having revival. To have revival, we must become deeply penitent over our sins. We must be ashamed and sorry for our sins. When you approach God, are you ashamed of a lifestyle of indifference and disloyalty to Jesus Christ? Are you ashamed for the sins that have crept into your life that have never been fully dealt with? We will never have revival until we come to that point. It’s going to take repentance. We’re going to have to be ashamed of our sins and have heartfelt grief over our spiritual adultery and our waywardness and sins to ever have revival. “If my people will …turn from their wicked ways” That’s repentance. You can’t have revival without repentance. There isn’t much repentance preached anymore. That’s too negative for most churches, but unless there is repentance, there will be no revival. Unless there is repentance there will be no glory. The only way we can get back to God is through the repentance of sin. You may say, “Preacher, I don’t like that.” Do you know why we don’t like it? We don’t want to repent. We’d rather be pumped up. We don’t want to get down into the dust of the carpet and cry out to God in humiliation and shame for forgiveness of sin.
“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves,…seek my face,[ seek my glory, seek my presence]…”. You see, when we get the presence of God on a congregation, and we seek His face, we no longer measure ourselves by everyone else. When we stand in the light of His glory and of His grace, and He is the measuring stick, we find out that we don’t measure up like we think we do. I can pick out some backslider in the church who is a spiritual dwarf or has never been saved and compare myself to him, and I can feel pretty good about myself. But whenever I measure myself in light of the glory and beauty and holiness of Jesus Christ, I become an insignificant nobody! It makes me cry out to God for mercy! Like Isaiah, when he came into the presence of God we will cry, “Woe is me for I am undone.” The reason there is no more repentance than there is, is that there is no more of the presence of God than there is in the church. If you have God show up, people will repent. I’ve seen services where people repented and the altars were wet with tears from one end to the other. People stayed broken before God for hours and hours seeking God in repentance until they met God. Today, it’s a one-minute trot to the altar, a half-minute trot back, and 45 seconds at the altar, and we think we get it all settled. I have news for you: I just can’t settle it that easily. I’ve been repenting for days lately. I’ve been saying, “Oh God, I want to have a fresh touch. I want to see your glory. I want to have your glory. I want your power in my life. I want to dig up everything and be honest. I want you to search me. You bring it to light and reveal it, and I’ll deal with it.” That’s the only way I’ve ever been able to have revival.
We must turn from our sin. It isn’t enough to just confess sin. You can confess sin every time there is a service. You can get down at the altar and confess it, but that’s not repentance. Repentance is when we confess sin to God and get up and walk away in a new direction. Leave it behind us. We need to come to God, repent, and walk off and leave our sin. We need to walk away in the freshness and fullness of Holy God so we can keep on walking in the Christian life.
God said, “Then… .” Oh, there is hope, hallelujah! He said “If you’ll humble yourselves, seek my face, turn from your wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive your sins, and heal your land.” God said, “If you’ll do that, I will hear you.” Is God hearing and answering your prayers, or do you pray, pray, and pray, and nothing ever happens? When you get down on your knees, are you able to say as Micah, the prophet said, “My God will hear me”? Can you believe that as you pray, God hears and will answer your prayers? Can you say, “This is the confidence that I have in him: I can ask anything according to His will and He hears me”? And if He hears you, do you know that you have the petitions that you desire of Him? When you pray, do you know that you can believe that God will answer your prayers? You see, there isn’t a lot of faith in the world today. The Scripture says, “When he comes, will he find faith?” Not many people believe in God anymore. There’s a lot of wishful thinking and hoping, but there aren’t a lot of intercessors and prayer warriors anymore. When I was a young man, I knew people who knew how to stand in battle in the prayer closet and do battle with the powers of Hell to see the glory of God. Not many people are willing to close the prayer-closet door and stay until the answer comes.
God said, “Then will I hear from heaven… .” There is nothing like knowing that God hears us when we pray. Then he said, “I will forgive your sins….” Oh what joy there would be if we would deal with our sins in such a way until we know that they are forgiven and the burdens are rolled away. When you have dealt with your sins and know that, as far as you know, there is not one thing between you and God, and the guilt of sin has been taken from your heart, and you are free, the by-product of revival – great joy will be yours. When you have revival, there is rejoicing and you are clean and made free in the Lord Jesus. There is nothing in the world like it. It won’t be something that is just pumped up, but it will be something that God does in the heart and is initiated by Him. Our lives are cleansed by the blood of Jesus because we have confessed our sins, acknowledged our sins before God, and God has cleansed us and washed us with His Word.
Then, He said, “I will heal their land.” That’s God’s promise. I believe what was literal and physical to Israel in the Old Testament is spiritual to us in the New Testament. The book of James says basically the identical thing. It says, “Draw nigh to God.” We draw nigh to God by lifting up our hands that are soiled and unclean, and asking God to clean us up and forgive us, and give us a fresh washing with the Word of God. It is experiencing the blood of Jesus Christ cleansing us from every spot and shame and even the guilt of sin. What a blessed thing it is to have God remove our guilt.
“If my people who are called by my name…” is, I believe, a promise to us. I believe that in these days, we can see the glory of God if we will just yield to the preaching of the Word of God, come before God with heartfelt shame confessing our indifference and disloyalties to God, our waywardness and backsliding, and just lay it all down before God. Don’t worry about telling God something He doesn’t already know. Most folk will get down and deal with some things that don’t really matter much to them – some sin, but there are always some things that they keep off limits to God and to the Holy Ghost. We will not have the manifested glory of God in our lives if we will not come absolutely clean with God. If we are willing to meet God like this on His terms, God will show up. He will keep His Word.