Today’s Bible Reading:
Today’s Bible Verse(s):
Jonah 3:5 (CSB): “Then the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackcloth—from the greatest of them to the least.”
Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):
Anyone who has read about, heard about, or experienced a time of revival also realizes that we desperately need revival in our current churches.
A Christian revival is simply a time when God demonstrates His presence and power in an unusual way. It is only unusual because it is, unfortunately, not the norm. It is not the norm because God’s people allow sin (or their love for Him to grow cold) to thwart their experience of their God and they have grown accustomed to their spiritual anemia.
Anyone looking around at the lethargic state of the American church today acknowledges that we have more in common with the church in Ephesus that lost its first love (Revelation 2:1-7) and the church in Laodicea that was lukewarm (Revelation 3:14-22) than we do the powerful, Spirit-empowered Jerusalem church.
In their masterful book, “Fresh Encounter,” Henry and Richard Blackaby wrote the following about the plight of so many churches that are in desperate need of revival.
“… when a church is not experiencing God’s power to set people free, it clearly is in need of revival. When congregations go year after year seeing few if any conversions; when they witness marriages dissolving in their midst into acrimonious divorce; when they observe their young people leaving church in droves; when carnality rages throughout the membership as well as the leadership; when they witness their neighborhood sinking into increasing immorality, crime, and brokenness, the church must ask itself, “How far have we fallen? Have we left our first love?” Making excuses is easy. The rising influence of secularism, consumerism, pluralism, tolerance, humanism, big government, and corporations can all become scapegoats for the church’s powerlessness. But the truth is that none of these can thwart God’s might when the Holy Spirit moves in the midst of a church.”
As I observed the Brownwood Revival in the early months of 1995, I noticed that one thing started the whole revival. It was a heightened sensitivity to the Word of God and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Previously, the preached Word was typically lifeless and boring. The promptings of the Holy Spirit were often too quiet to hear and were often ignored when it was suspected that God was leading someone to do something uncomfortable.
But, as revival swept that chapel service in 1995, I noticed that our ears, minds, and hearts were opened. We heard God’s Word loudly and clearly. The Holy Spirit’s conviction and promptings were so crystal clear and compelling that we felt that the only option we had was to submit and obey.
That’s what we notice in Jonah 3 this morning. The people of Nineveh were in sin. They didn’t follow God. In fact, most of them had never heard of the true God of Heaven.
At any time previously, if Jonah had gone through the city and warned them of God’s destruction, they would have mocked him and gone on about their business. They may have thrown things at him to shut him up. Some people may have even tried to kill him.
But, what we see in Jonah 3 is the preparation for revival. Jonah gave his message … and the people listened intently and responded with brokenness.
Jonah 3:4–6 (CSB): “Jonah set out on the first day of his walk in the city and proclaimed, ‘In forty days Nineveh will be demolished!’ Then the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackcloth—from the greatest of them to the least. When word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.”
What is it currently like in a church service where you attend? Are people singing with the joy of the Lord? Are people engaging in heartfelt prayer? Are people listening with rapt attention and responding to the taught and preached Word of God? Are people regularly getting saved? Are saved people constantly growing in their knowledge of the Lord and His ways and in their obedience to Him? Is the community outside your church being drawn to King Jesus?
If not, your church is in desperate need of revival?
Ask God to create a desire, a passion within you to pray for God to show up in revival at your church?
One way that God has typically created a desire for revival within people is for them to read about previous revivals. If you would like to investigate revivals online, search for topics like:
- The First Great Awakening
- The Second Great Awakening
- The New York Revival (1850’s)
Some books that you could purchase are:
- “Firefall” by Alvin Reid & Malcolm McDow
- “Fresh Encounter” by Henry & Richard Blackaby
- ”Brokenness, Surrender, Holiness: A Revive Our Hearts Trilogy” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
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Lord Jesus, the churches across our land are in desperate need of revival. We are not experiencing Your overwhelming presence. Therefore, we aren’t experiencing Your power to do the things You have called us to do. Please do what You must in our midst to prepare us to experience Your presence so that we can experience the Holy Spirit power, like You always intended, so that we can once again do what You have commanded of us with much joy and fruitfulness. Amen.