“…you were unwilling.” (Matthew 23:37)
1) We do not want revival. Not really.
2) God does not trust us with a revival, and for good reason. He refuses to arm an enemy, to endow a rebel.
There! Those are the answers to the question.
Now, pull up a chair and let’s talk about it.
It’s that plain and simple: we really do not want a Heaven-sent, life-rearranging revival.
We want the results, the good part, but not the upheaval in our personal lives, priorities, and schedules which a Heaven-sent revival would demand.
We want our churches filled, the community changed, and the believers encouraged. What we do not want is to be caught up in a spiritual fervor that drives us to resign certain affiliations, stop unworthy activities, and devote ourselves to lengthy prayer meetings and Bible studies and ministry.
We want the harvest without the cost. We want certain aspects of the harvest, but not all.
So, God will not force revival on us.
We could wish He would. “This is for your own good,” He might say, as He force-fed Heavenly blessings down our church steeples and into our hearts and homes and fellowships.
But no. The Lord has chosen to set His blessings before us and to let us decide whether we are willing to receive them on His terms.
Jesus told the church at Laodicaea: “I stand at your door and knock. If anyone hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and will sup with him and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
The Lord is so eager to bestow Heaven’s goodness that He brings it right up to our door. But He is so respectful of our right to choose that He will not force them on us.
We get to choose.
We have to choose.
“The word is nigh thee and in thy mouth,” Paul told the Romans (Rom 10:8). He said, “That if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
God is not playing hard to get with us. He puts Heaven’s blessings on the lowest shelf so even a child can reach them.
In fact, Jesus says becoming a child is the correct way to access Heaven. (Matthew 18:3)
Why then are we not saved? Why are we not receiving Heaven’s blessings on a regular basis? Why are our churches not experiencing continual revival?
Put another way, why do we limp along under the burden of our failures and addictions and fears, while our churches go through the motion of faithfulness and see little of the fruit of righteousness?
Where are the Lord’s blessings in our lives and churches?
The problem is with us, not with God.
He’s willing. Jesus told the leper of Mark 1, “I am willing,” as He did the unthinkable and touched the untouchable, thus making the man whole.
He is willing for you to be saved (see II Peter 3:9), willing to pour out Heaven’s gifts upon us (see Romans 8:32), willing to give to those who ask (Matthew 7:11).
We are the snag, the bottleneck, the frog in the pipe.
My friend Dr. John “Bud” Traylor tells of a college dorm where the water had stopped flowing through the pipes. As the plumber ran his lines, he made a discovery. A tadpole in the waterline had grown larger and larger until it filled a pipe and blocked the flow of the water. The plumber cleaned out the pipe, and the water flowed again.
The offending blockage is all our doing.
We simply do not want revival enough.
We want the fruits of revival. We would like to see lives changed, society transformed, schools safe and peaceful and joy-filled, homes reclaimed and marriages saved.
What we do not want is to have to pay the price to get these effects.
Honestly. If the Lord were to tell your church that by praying 2 hours a night for two weeks, a Heaven-sent revival would pervade the community unlike anything ever seen, I predict that half the congregation would yawn in His face and tell the pastor to get started with his prayer program.
We want the fruits without sowing the seed or cultivating the tender growth.
That’s why we do not have revival.
God refuses to arm a rebel.
Were the Lord to pour out blessings on a son or daughter living in open sin and rebellion, He would be violating His own will, endowing the rebel with resources to continue in wayward paths, and blessing the person attacking Him.
A longtime friend who had recently retired was invited to become pastor of a small church that would be “just right” for this time in his life. As he had preached there a number of times over the past months, the pastor knew of a problem within the congregation that needed to be confronted. He was assured by the deacons it would be dealt with if only he would agree to become the pastor.
Two of the leaders of that church–a deacon and a woman in the choir–were living together as husband and wife but were not married. Scripture knows this as fornication and God forbids it. Everyone in the church knew about this couple but no one had the courage to speak up. Oddly, this man and woman were outspoken in their Christianity and quick to judge others not doing their share around the church.
When it became obvious the deacons were not going to deal with the situation, the pastor took it upon himself to speak to the couple. The matter blew up in his face and the woman attacked him verbally throughout the community. Church members, long accustomed to letting this Jezebel rule the roost, urged the pastor to leave well enough alone.
So, the pastor resigned and walked away.
Before he left, the chairman of deacons admitted that “we’re all cowards,” and they would not be confronting the man and woman.
I suspect some in that little congregation may wonder why nothing good is happening in their worship times. We know the answer to that.
All of them are living in sin.
Every one of them: members and culprits alike.
The couple openly flouting God’s laws are in sin, and the church leaders and members who tolerate it are equally rebellious.
Incidentally, that pastor had earlier invited me to hold a revival in that church. When he resigned, I canceled the meeting. Scripture says if we regard iniquity in our hearts, the Lord will not hear our prayers. To try to have a revival while condoning obvious sin would be an insult to the Heavenly Father.
For any church members unwilling to “present (our) bodies a living sacrifice,” to do whatever it takes to be available to the Heavenly Father, there will be no revival, and praying for one would be pointless.
However, if we are willing to do His will above all things, then let us ask and ask and keep on asking until Heaven arrive in force. “Pray without ceasing.”
Let us obey what we know God wants us to be doing. Let us be found faithful.