I woke up to this headline (click to read it):
The Church of England are thinking about this:
That got me thinking about revival – today.
What does revival look like in our country where the statistics look bleak for Christians?
Revival is not…
…the number of Twitter followers a preacher has.
…the amount of people that fill the pews, chairs or rooms where Christians meet.
…how many people are converted at large events, however awesome that might be.
…more than anything we can do by ourselves.
…akin to spiritual renewal and restoration.
…powerful and desires a deeper relationship with God above all else.
Rather than getting overly concerned about the state of ‘religion’ in England and Wales, I call on the church to get on its knees and place God first before anything this world can offer. Let’s return to God with ALL of our heart right where we are.
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
Joel 2:12-13 (emphasis added)
‘Rend’ means to ‘tear (something) into pieces’. God wants us to ‘tear’ our hearts.
What does this mean?
It was Jewish custom to tear clothes to express grief, mourning and loss. God wants His people to tear their hearts rather than the tradition of tearing their clothes. Hearts should be torn because of the anguish and sorrow of sin and it shows true repentance. The Lord wants all of our heart.
My heart has been stirred deeply for our nation. It breaks because of the sin, shame and total abandon of God. It’s not about church decline. It’s about rejecting Jesus Christ and His love for all of us. That is heartbreaking.
As I write this post tears have fallen down my cheeks. God’s Word is alive and has meaning, grace and truth for all of us today.
Look below at these words and be still, be moved, be broken…
50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
Matthew 2:50-56 (emphasis added)
The holy temple was the centre of Jewish religious life. The curtain of the temple separated God’s presence on earth where only the High Priest could enter once a year, with the rest of the temple where others would come.
A curtain separated man from God because of the sin of man. That’s why the High Priest came once a year to make atonement for the sins of the people.
When Jesus died the curtain was torn in two.
Only God could have torn the curtain at that moment from top to bottom – it was about 60 feet high and it was made of thick, twisted linen! Jesus Christ’s death was the sacrifice – the atonement for our sins. Jesus removed the barrier between us and God. He is the great High Priest for all of us.
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are,yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:14-16 (emphasis added)
Jesus Christ made a way for every single person to come to God the Father. He took away the sins of the world and is faithful and just to forgive us from all of our sins. Will we give God all of our heart?
What about revival? Revival happens when we give our whole heart to God. What does this look like? It sets us apart from a nation that says ‘no to God’, and our lives will be so full of the Spirit of God that those we encounter will see the change. With God all things are possible (even when the statistics make it look impossible) and my prayer is that many will come to faith at this time.
Just like the curtain being torn in two, we have a two-way relationship with God when we believe in His Son Jesus Christ. We have access to God at all times. Because of Jesus we can approach God with confidence and we will receive His mercy and find grace in our time of need. It is God who transforms the heart, but it is up to each person to return to God with their whole heart.
If we do not return to God, should we be surprised by the news? We are even given a heads up that there will be increased godlessness:
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud,arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
I pray for revival in the midst of godlessness.
I pray that our nation will return to God, that God will bring forth His mercy and grace for our broken, hurting country and that we will see a revival that only God’s Spirit in us and through us can bring.
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
2 Chronicles 16:9
Below is one of my favourite songs which gets me excited about revival! It so happens that they are called ‘Rend Collective’.