Daniel Davis's Posts (114)

Revival Blog: Steps to Revival

Steps to Revival

I am distressed at the zeal of heretics and at the amnesia of the believers.
— Leonard Ravenhill

Everything in me knows that true spirituality is not the end result of a cook-book process.  You can no more dictate to the Lord what he will do and when he will do it than you can predict next week’s weather conditions.  We use models, science, instruments, and logic, but, all too often, we still get it wrong.

Throughout my Christian life I have come to understand that “God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform.”  He cannot be coaxed or manipulated into doing something that he does not want to do; prayer is not a form of magic or divine mind control.  God desires to move in regard to our prayers, but has made it clear that he seeks those who will worship him in spirit and in truth.  He is not an ephemeral figure in a lamp that is ready and willing to allow us to splurge our wanton pleasures after we have made them known to him.

Revival is that amazing condition when the people of God are graced with a visitation from the Lord in an extraordinary way, that allows him to accomplish his will in and through them, with spectacular spiritual impact.  We should pray for revival, for revival episodes have proven in history to be dramatically pregnant.  When revival occurs, all heaven breaks out.  Revival does not merely result in wholesale transformation of people’s lives and thousands of conversions to Christ (i.e., the transformation of folk’s spiritual condition), but also to healing of neighborhoods and communities, to the blessing and renewal of whole societies.  The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe, and the transformation of the communities in which they live.

Those of us in missions do not pray for God’s intervention and visitation because we are lazy, merely seeking to avoid the hard, arduous work of making disciples and suffering on behalf of the Gospel.  There are no shortcuts to spiritual depth, not even prayers for revival. We don’t  seek the Lord’s moving and manifestation to escape Jesus’ claim that we must crosses as his followers, even in a post-revival setting.  Revival does not eliminate our duty to suffer in the name of Christ, rather, it can actually enhance our chances of undergoing suffering on Christ’s account.

Not only this, but revival prayer is not meant to be seen as a guaranteed recipe for change, a once-for-all list of ingredients that once mingled together will automatically produce certain results, in the same way at the same time.  If this were the case, then prayer for revival would be more akin to magic than faith.  When God’s people pray, when they seek the face of God, turning from their wicked ways, earnestly asking God to visit and manifest his power and glory in their midst, God has promised to forgive us.  When we are broken before him, he said he would heal our land, he would visit our nation, and come and dwell with us (2 Chron. 7.14).  The standard God gave to Solomon for his visitation was clear and definite; he would move, but only if they met his standards of heart preparation, and genuine repentance from sin and idolatry.

The cities of America and the world are the crowning achievements of self-made society, religious impiety, human ingenuity and civilization, and the reckless lust of national greed and pride.  They are in open and continuous rebellion against the One who sits on the throne and the Lamb who deserve blessing, honor, glory and power (Rev. 5).  According to the apostolic testimony, the cities of the world are under the control and auspices of the god of this world, languishing under the domination and power of the evil one (Eph. 2.1-2; 1 John 5.19). Without God’s direct and sufficient intervention, none of the strongholds which plague and ravage the lives of millions of city dwellers can be torn down, and no deliverance or rescue can be made of its inhabitants.  Only the power of the Lord Christ can so intervene so as to break the power of sin, thwart the activities of the enemy, and open the door for the truth of the Gospel to spread its light, freedom, and hope.

This is why we should daily and fervently pray for the revival of the Church, and for the visitation of the Lord on urban America.  This is why we so desperately need thousands of Christians who will plead daily and hourly to the Lord to manifest his glory among the lost and the least in the ghettos of the world.  This is why, regardless of how it may look or appear on the surface, those of us who read the Scriptures are convinced that faithful, continuous, and longing intercession may move the very heart of God to come to the worst communities and make them into the very trophies of his high grace and mysterious power.  Nothing can break the power of evil but the working of the Lord and his Spirit (Zech. 4.6).

Revival is not the answer at the end of an equation, the sure product of a clear recipe, or the wonderful result produced after we have mechanically followed all the directions of the assembly instructions.  These images are far too static to understand the dynamics of revival.

Cookie-cutter approaches to spirituality are doomed to failure, because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3.17).  The Lord has made it plain that his work will not be accomplished by human ingenuity or fleshly might, but rather by the moving of the Spirit of God on his people, through his people, for his people.  Thinking that all we need to do is to woodenly follow some specially crafted steps, which will without fail lead to God’s visitation and the revival of his people and the nation, is naive and untrue.  Thinking like this reveals a shallow picture of God, and a unclear notion of how intractable evil really is in the city.

The Lord is the Great I Am, the One who was and is and is to come (Exod. 3.14).  he who is alive, whose ways are past finding out.  The work of the Holy Spirit cannot be deciphered or mapped out by the natural mind (1 Cor. 2.9-16); our God is God, truly divine and absolutely free, and he will do whatever he pleases in whatever he chooses (Ps. 135.6).

Insights like this ought to make us humble.  We ought not demand that the Lord show up in our endeavors, or expect him to arbitrarily reveal his power on our behalf, just because we think he should.  If his work in the Old Testament teaches us anything, it ought to show us that God is both sovereign and patient, that he works his own will for his own sake in his own time.  We pray prayers, not demands.

I am not shocked when I hear of the Moravian’s hundred year prayer meeting; that sounds about right in both seeking the Lord, and him responding in his own time.  Those of us who desire the Lord to move should not fail to overlook this one fact, as Peter declares, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord will fulfill his Word; he is not slow to fulfill his promise but, rather, will prove to be patient towards us.  He knows our weakness and our motives, and he also knows his purpose and his plan.  He will bring us into the place he has for us, in his own way and at his own time (2 Pet. 3.8-9).

While it is always good to study revivals and to induce from them the “steps” and principles we can from them, we would be much better off if we simply prepared our hearts, and sought the Lord with all our might.  Rather than seeking to discover a science of revival, we ought to be broken before him, and be constant in our begging and imploring him to transform us as we pray for the cities of the world.  Let revival begin with us, with our hearts, in our lives.

In the end, perhaps the only sure step to revival is our own personal repentance, and our long perseverance in obedience and prayer.  Revival starts with a broken hear, either yours or mine.

Rev. Dr. Don L. Davis, Director
The Urban Ministry Institute

 

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If God Gave Revival to the City, What Would it Look Like?

If you are a believer, you probably have some idea of what revival looks like, or, at the very least, have longed for an extraordinary move of God to come in your family, church, and city.  Within believing circles, saints and congregations have historically prayed for revival.  Prayer concerts, camp meetings, special services, all night vigils, and seasons of seeking God dot our various church calendars, albeit less than a century ago.  Still, believers long for revival, for a fresh visitation of the Lord, for renewal of faith, for corresponding actions of justice and compassion, and for an abundant harvest of souls.

Often times, though, we associate revival with wild eyed preaching, scary spiritual manifestation, or targeted rants against particular social sins.  Those who do not wish to be associated with fanaticism will steer clear of revival speech, not wanting to be connected to an Elmer Gantry-style outreach of weird people all claiming that the Lord had spoken to them.  Others, disillusioned altogether with this kind of spiritual focus, opt out of any talk or vision of revival in any way, tending to view such behavior as extreme religious emotionalism without deep intellectual roots.

I do not believe that any serious thinking Christian who loves the city can avoid the importance of seeking God’s presence in our urban populations.  The history of dynamic change among the people of God is directly connected to his presence, frankly, to God’s “showing up and showing out,” to demonstrate his power and accomplish his will for his glory.  It is the Christian’s belief that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is God.  When he shows up, when he visits his people, then transformation, judgment, and grace occurs. To put it another way, if God does not show up, his Kingdom will neither advance or display.

To be sure, certain forms of revival possess a checkered history of sorts when it comes to lasting spiritual renewal and fruit.  We can easily seek the supra-normal manifestation in the spiritual realm, emphasizing flamboyant shows of spiritual showmanship, equating it with the demonstration of great miracles and manifestations.  As a matter of fact, when many hear the word, “revival,” they think about low church, emotionalistic religious proclamation and song, with hell-fire and damnation preaching, with street corner evangelism that may be heavy on condemnation and light on grace.

While such a caricature may be true (at least to some degree), revival ought not to be ignored or treated as unimportant in the transformation of the Church and of society.  When revival is defined in terms of God’s visitation, as God actually manifesting himself in a powerful, meaningful, and personal manner, transformation occurs.  Anyone familiar with the rich tradition associated with revival knows this: the multiplication of mission societies, the creation of dozens of parachurch organizations dedicated to evangelism and justice, the emergence of servant leaders dedicated to serving God’s Kingdom, and the enrichment of the life and ministry of the Church can all be tied to specific moments and episodes when God, in answer to the prayer and brokenness of his people, decided to visit and renew his people.

In my mind it is better not to speculate about what revival might look like if it occurs as to think about what changes would occur in our lives if God were to manifest himself to us personally.  This kind of language might trouble some, but the Scriptures are filled with stories of God revealing himself to his people, to sending the prophets to warn and rebuke them of their error, or to comfort and encourage them about his will.  It is not lost on me that our Lord Jesus is called the Word (John 1), the One who communicates the mind and will of God to humankind.  His incarnation into the world, his “tabernacled” among us (to change a noun to a verb) is arguably the greatest life-giving visitation in human history (John 1.14).  Our God delights to be longed for, desires to reveal himself and his glory to us, and wants to see us transformed as we “behold his glory” as the apostles and saints did long ago

The freedom of God suggests that we cannot map out God’s visitation, as if we can determine what he will say and do in absolute particulars, if he decides to manifest his glory in an extraordinary way.  Candidly, for those of us who believe that the Church is the body of Christ, we know that he dwells in the midst of our communities whenever Christians gather in his name, in as few numbers as two or three (Matt. 18.20).  God reveals himself consistent with his own purposes and will; God’s timing, manner, and method of revealing himself is linked to his sovereign will.  We cannot wind him up, or simply, in a wooden and dispassionate manner, go through certain outward religious motions and expect him to show up.  Revival is neither shamanism nor magic.  God will show up only if he wants to.

Futhermore, in seeking God’s visitation, our motives must be pure.  We must desire the Lord to reveal himself in order that his glory might be manifest, his name exalted, his Kingdom advanced.  Revival is not religious sideshow-ism, but rather our God making himself known in order that his people might be renewed, cleansed, prepared, and transformed to be better agents of his Kingdom life and better trophies of his saving grace.  Revival’s purpose is not in order that we might be entertained but rather that we might be empowered to fulfill his will as the people of God.  Truly then, revival, when and if it comes, will look like us who believe transformed by the power of God.  Our churches will become communities of grace, our own broken lives will be changed and healed, our own poor will be cared for and empowered, and the forces of evil that ravage our lives will be overcome and put down.

This kind of revival, then, is about my own change when I encounter the Lord in a new, fresh, and life-changing way.  In this manner, this becomes a personal longing, not just some abstract idea.  This is the kind of revival I am praying for, the kind that will change me first, heal my life, transform my mind, and bend my will to God’s own kingdom purpose.  The revival I seek is the kind that will revive me.  I am coning to see that only if I receive this kind of Spirit-given visitation from the Lord, then and only  then, perhaps, may he choose to use me to help others see him more clearly.

Rev. Dr. Don L. Davis, Director
The Urban Ministry Institute

 

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So you read Dr. Davis' Sacred Roots and you are wondering, "Are there more books about this?" Guard the Good Deposit is a practical guide based on Sacred Roots that explores some of the everyday questions and issues related to retrieving the Great Tradition. 

Does retrieving the Great Tradition make us Catholic? Does it go against Scripture? Does it restrain the Holy Spirit? If you have questions like these, Guard the Good Deposit will help address them so you can see that retrieving that the Great Tradition empowers the whole church to represent Christ with freedom and faithfulness.

This short video summarizes this resource and how it can help you know the foundation of our faith: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=dQpzacSF2JM

You can purchase this resource: Guard the Good Deposit: The Great Tradition for the Whole Church

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Set Our Eyes On the Lord



Set Our Eyes on the Lord: Revival under Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20)

See also the following:

Our eyes are upon you, O God. 2 Chron. 20.5-12

Keep your eyes ever toward the Lord. Ps. 25.15, Ps. 121.1-2

Lift up your eyes to the Lord, who alone can show mercy to us. Ps. 123.1-2

Take refuge in God as you look to him for help. Ps. 141.8

Hold in yourselves the sentence of death and rely on God. 2 Cor. 1.8-9

God alone can vindicate his people when they are vulnerable and powerless.Deut. 32.36

The Lord arises to defend the poor and helpless. Ps. 3.7, Ps. 12.5, Ps. 35.1, Ps. 35.23, Ps. 44.26, Ps. 68.1-2

The Lord himself will fight for those who trust in him. Exod. 14.13-14, Exod. 14.25, 2 Chron. 20.22-23

No one can withstand those who fear the Lord and trust in his WordNum. 14.9, Deut. 20.3, 2 Chron. 20.17, Ps. 27:1-2, Ps. 46.1-3

God will keep us in perfect peace because we trust in him. Isa. 26.3, Isa. 30.15, Phil. 4.4-7

Take confidence in the words of Scripture – God will fight our battles2 Chron. 32.8, Ps. 46.7, Isa. 8.9-10, Isa 41.10

Believe in the Lord and you will be established. 2 Chron. 20.20, John 11.40, Rom. 8.31, Heb. 11.6

Believe in God, believe also in Jesus. John 14.1, Acts 3.15-16, 1 John 2.23, Exod. 14.31

 

Some individuals, who are basically well meaning and who strive to do what is right, are also very naive and easily misled. King Jehoshaphat fitted squarely into this category. … But for all of Jehoshaphat’s sins and weaknesses of character, he mastered the discipline of prayer. And few chapters in the Bible can better illustrate the effectiveness and power of prayer than 2 Chronicles 20. If 2 Chronicles 7.14 serves as the paradigm for the whole book, as I have argued, then chapter 20 and the events narrated from the life of Jehoshaphat focus on an important component of all revivals: prayer.  The preaching of the Word moves men and women to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God and to turn from their wicked ways and seek God’s face in a renewed way. Prayer moves God to graciously pour out the blessing of heaven on sinners, undeserving as we are.

                ~ Walter C. Kaiser,
Quest for Renewal
Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1986, pp. 89-90.

No matter how godly and sincere you may be, you can wind up depending on the wrong people, bad advice, and phony solutions. This is precisely the journey that King Jehoshaphat walked in his reign over Israel. What is significant is not that the man or woman of God may find themselves in trouble, but how do they handle that trouble, i.e., to whom do we look when we are in desperate need of help?

When you are in trouble, real trouble, who you gonna’ call?

Revival comes during times of recognized need, when trouble, calamity, and danger loom over us, and we are quite literally forced to seek the Lord as the ground of our life and the source of our hope. When Jehoshaphat was confronted with a huge malevolent army determined to wipe Israel from the face of the map, he did not seek human allies or military solutions. Jehoshaphat was afraid, and set his face to seek the Lord, and commanded the people to join him in that spirit of prayer, dependence, and humility:

2 Chron. 20.1-4 – After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. [2] Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). [3] Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. [4] And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

Growing up as a boy, my mother used to make it plain that the key to living in God is not confusing what your role in life is with God’s role. Truly, Jehoshaphat’s prayer reveals a deep understanding of who God is and what God (and only God) can do in the face of our enemies and eminent destruction.

Kaiser nicely summarizes Jehoshaphat’s vision of prayer in five propositions that underscore his view of God:

  1. God rules over all kingdoms of the nations (2 Chron. 20.6)
  2. God delights to do what he has promised to do (2 Chron. 20.7-11)
  3. God judges all who oppose his work (2 Chron. 20. 12)
  4. God delivers us from all our distresses (2 Chron. 20.14-17)
  5. God upholds those who believe him and his Word (2 Chron. 20.18-30)

What is striking in this simple outline is the focus: God and God alone must be the source of our hope, our life, and our strength. Amazingly, nothing reminds us of our neediness and finiteness before God more than real trouble, the kind we can’t easily shake loose and won’t simply be resolved or go away. The kind of trouble that keeps us awake at night, that gnaws on the spirit, and wearies our hearts and minds from anxious deliberation and overmuch thinking. The kind of trouble that no pat answer or glib comment can satisfy or silence.

In the midst of facing unusual horror and being on the brink of total annihilation, Jehoshaphat addressed the Lord. Standing in the assembly, he prayed a simple prayer to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and asked for his aid and deliverance:

2 Chron. 20.5-12 – And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, [6] and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. [7] Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? [8] And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, [9] ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you— for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ [10] And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— [11] behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. [12] O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

“For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” We are powerless; we are ignorant, but our eyes are on you.

Nothing reveals the heart of revival like the focus of the soul, where our hope is, where our eyes are. The one (or ones) to whom you turn when you are in trouble are revealed to be the sources of your hope and strength.

For Jehoshaphat, this source during the time of trouble was the Lord. I have always said that Jehoshaphat didn’t quite tell that truth in this prayer. Actually, he did have power–he was the king of Israel, and he did know what to do–he had plenty of generals who would have provided him a plan, if he had asked. Jehoshaphat didn’t care about his kingship or military power; when facing destruction, he went to the source, relied upon his God, and God, in a mighty deliverance, gave him the victory.

Ironically, God’s reply was given by Jahaziel, which was literally fulfilled the next morning: 2 Chron. 20.15: And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.’” In a glorious scene with the choir marching before the army, God delivered the surrounding armies up to Judah without their aggression. God caused confusion among them, and they destroyed themselves–a striking end with none of the armies escaping, and so much bounty in terms of spoils that three days of gathering wasn’t sufficient to retrieve it all (cf. vv. 24-26). On the fourth day the people blessed the Lord for his amazing deliverance and great provision.

What an amazing picture of true revival! Simple yet profound. God does not need our help, he only needs our awareness of our helplessness, and our belief in his Word that if we trust in him and him alone, deliverance, victory, and provision will come. This is both the soil and the fruit of revival: believing the Lord, believing his prophets, and leading the army with a chorus of thanksgiving.

2 Chron. 20.20 – And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.”

What will it take for us to be made aware that we are powerless against the multitude coming against the city, nor do we know what to do? Truly, may we, like Jehoshaphat and the fasting nation, turn our eyes to the One who alone can provide us with grace and help in this, our desperate time of need.

Amen.

Example of Believing Confidently in the Lord’s Word: Jehoshaphat

2 Chron. 20.20 – And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.”

Biblical Principle: Revival results from the deeply held conviction and realization that, in the

face of our spiritual enemies (the world, the flesh, and the devil) who seek our destruction, only one answer suffices. God through Christ alone is our source of victory and deliverance. We are powerless against our foes, and do not know what to do about them, but, if we turn our eyes toward God and believe his Word, he will come to us, deliver us, and lead us into his perfect will.

To read the complete article and explore our full array of Let God Arise! resources, click here:1

http://www.tumi.org/images/stories/uploads/docs/letgodarise/revival08.pdf

 

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Are picture Bibles just for kids? Do we ever outgrow stories? No and No! The Bible Blossom is a visual Bible for everyone, every age, everywhere. When you add up all its parts, the Bible is a wonderful story full of images and drama. Our goal in The Bible Blossom is to tell this grand story of Christ and his Kingdom so the whole world can see that Jesus is Lord!

For more information, or to access a free storybook, or purchase the storybook or storyteller's handbook: Bible Blossom

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TUMI Fellowship Teaching: "Abba! Father!"


"Everyone of any epoch or place that comes to Christ through the word of the Spirit is in fact a child of God. Where the Spirit is, so there is liberty, and now we have received the Spirit of adoption as God’s children, crying like little children, “Abba! Father!” Now, through faith, we are children and heirs of God in Christ." Rev. Dr. Don L. Davis

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