As I have pointed out in a couple previous posts (HERE and HERE), preaching from the book of Jonah has me contemplating the idea of revival in our day and time. It’s not hard to understand why when you read this from Jonah 3:1-5:
Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
The incredibly wicked city of Nineveh heard the Word of the Lord, and immediately confessed their sin and turned to God. Amazing. It makes me wonder, could it happen today? In his excellent book, “Revival”, Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out that there are some obstacles that must be overcome if there is going to be revival today. He writes this:
And we, too, must become aware of that, we have got to feel it until we become desperate. We must ask ourselves how we can succeed if we do not have this authority, this commission, this might, this strength and power. We must become utterly and absolutely convinced of our need. We must cease to have so much confidence in ourselves, and in our methods and organisations, and in all our slickness. We have got to realize that we must be filled with God’s Spirit. And we must be equally certain that God can fill us with the Spirit. We have got to realize that however great ‘this kind’ is, the power of God is infinitely greater, that what we need is not more knowledge, more understanding, more apologetics, more reconciliation of philosophy and science and religion, and all modern techniques-no, we need a power that can enter the souls of men and break them and smash them and humble them and then make them anew. And that is the power of the living God. And we must be confident that God has this power as much today as he had one hundred years ago, and two hundred years ago, and so we must begin to seek the power and to pray for it. We must begin to plead and year for it. ‘This kind’ needs prayer.
It is so easy, such a seductive trap, to think that our strategies, or our “slickness,” is what matters when it comes to building the church and making a difference in this world. It reminds me of what we find in the first chapter of Acts, “And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Let me summarize these verses, “don’t launch your church plant, don’t hold a Bible study, don’t do anything or go anywhere until the Spirit of God is empowering you. How many times do we run out in front of God and his Holy Spirit thinking that in our own power we can get things done? Strategies, systems, and plans have their place but for anything meaningful to happen we need to once again experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our midst.
Are you yearning for the Holy Spirit to work in you, your family, your church, and your city in a new way?
Will you join me in praying for a fresh work of the Spirit?
Featured picture is “Pentecost” by Jean II Restout (1692-1768)