The following edited message was given at Heart-Cry Southeast in March 2010 in Tennessee U.S.A. Used by permission (www.heartcrysoutheast.com).
These are very crucial days. There is an element in this nation that is seeking to remove Christ from everything about the nation and to remove any mention of a Christian God. That places your life and mine in a very significant moment in history. This is a time for us to speak up and not let the world around us remove everything that this nation was founded on.
In the Book of Acts we read about the giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples so that they were immersed in the power and presence and activity of God. Out of that moment of the Holy Spirit’s involvement in the life of the disciples, it was not long before it was said, "These who have turned the world upside down have come here too" (Acts 17:6). It would be wonderful if our nation began to say, "There are some Christian folk who have had an encounter with the risen, living Christ, and the Holy Spirit has filled their life and they are now being used of God to turn our nation and our world upside down!"
Does our nation need a deep touch of God? The only means that God has for turning the world upside down is you and me. But so often we have moved away from the intimate relationship with God and we are simply practicing religious activity. Are you going to say, "Lord, I do not want to think only about the death and resurrection of Christ, but I want to be involved in Your eternal purpose, and Your eternal purpose included Pentecost."
Jesus told His disciples to "…tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). They did, and they were endued with power from on high and they turned their world upside down. The same Lord who said that is the same Lord who today is speaking to your life and mine. Would it not be a tragedy for you and me to know the truth of God and then ignore it and our lives be just the same as they have always been, not making a bit of difference in the world in which we live?
Jesus’ Way of Revival
There are two major Scriptures I want to use to show how Jesus describes revival. The first is from Matthew 4:17-25. Verse 17 is very crucial: "From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’" Next He gave an invitation to four fishermen: "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men." If they would follow Him they would experience what He was preaching. He said in effect, "If your life is not at this moment experiencing the full presence and power and activity of God, you are going in the wrong direction."
I would say that to you. If you are a child of God, a believer, it is God’s anticipation that you should be experiencing day after day the mighty presence and power and activity of God. It may be in your own personal life where He can turn things upside down and rearrange everything about your life. Or maybe it will be in your family when suddenly God encounters your children. But you ought to be able to see the activity of Almighty God expressing Himself in and through your life.
So Jesus looked at the people and said they needed to repent. That is, they were going in the wrong direction. Repent means to turn around and go in a new direction. Jesus was standing right there and He basically said to these men, "You need to repent. You need to turn around and follow Me, and the reason you need to do that is because the kingdom of heaven is at hand – the whole rule and activity of God is right next to you."
These fishermen immediately left their nets and began to follow Jesus. If you read the rest of Matthew chapter 4 you will discover that the fishermen could have never experienced how near God was and how near the activity of God was if they had stayed at their fishnets. They had to leave their fishnets and follow Jesus. Then you will notice that as soon as they began to follow Jesus they saw what it is like for all of heaven’s resources to rest on the life of Jesus. Jesus also became the pattern for you and me of the activity of God. What does God want to do in your life and mine? Look at the life of Jesus and you will see the pattern in Him.
As these fishermen began to follow Jesus, for the first time they saw the blind receive sight, the deaf hear, the lame leap, the dead raised back to life, storms stilled and multitudes fed. They were experiencing what it is like for heaven to release all the resources of God into the life of any child of His. So Jesus said to the fishermen in essence, "You are going in the wrong direction because it is obvious you are not experiencing the fullness of God’s presence. Follow Me and you will experience how near the kingdom of heaven is."
Now, that is true for your life as well. Do you know that the kingdom of heaven is right next to you, the rule of God is right near you? God wants to express all the resources of heaven into your life and through your life. If you are not experiencing the nearness of heaven, you need to repent. That is, you need to say to God, "I realize I am going in the wrong direction. I need to turn around and walk in an intimate relationship with my living Lord." That is not just a theological statement. It is a practical invitation from God.
Every great revival in history has brought people to their knees in repentance, and it has also brought near to them all the resources of God. One of the great movements of God is what He did through Evan Roberts, a young man in Wales. He was in a Bible college and he heard a visiting preacher say, "What is needed in the church today is for God to bend the church back to His will." Evan Roberts fell on his face before God and cried out, "O Lord, would You bend me?" God saw his heart and did. History records that in the next six to eight months a hundred thousand people came to faith in Christ through Evan Roberts and those who joined with him.
What would happen if God did that kind of a thing in every life reading this? What impact would it have on the nation(s)? We read the record but have no intention of letting God do anything like that for us. We are in a comfort zone. Revival always moves us out of the comfort zone. We want to say, "Lord, I want You to bless me where I am, but do not change anything in my life." But God cannot bring revival that way. He will say to you, "Repent!" That is, turn around and find out where Christ is going.
God is always at work around you and He is seeking to draw you into an intimate relationship with Himself. When God begins to do that it will create a crisis of belief in you. But He will let you know clearly what He is saying. What you do next will indicate what you believe about God. If He is speaking to you and He clearly opens your mind to the Scriptures, He then watches to see how you are going to respond to Him. We love to say, "Lord, I am Your servant." And He may say, "I have not noticed it yet because when I speak there is no response from you. You like to hear Me speak but you do not connect it to your life. When I speak you ought to tremble and then immediately respond." When He spoke to the disciples they left everything immediately and began to follow Him, and they had an experience with the kingdom of God like they had never known.