In times of turmoil and uncertainty, people are forced to the realization that they are not in control and turn to God looking for answers and guidance.
Many have found their wealth evaporate, their confidences betrayed, and their families broken. The wisdom of the world has proven to be hollow, empty . . . an illusion with no trustworthy answers.
. . . in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.
~ 2 Timothy 3:2-4
In the midst of experiencing the consequences of the attitudes and actions listed above, people look for answers, for relief, for a Savior to redeem them.
Where do they find these answers?
This should be the perfect time for the church to be a resource to turn to. Churches across the nation should be experiencing growth not seen in generations as the Holy Spirit is working in lives, both in the lives of the lost and of his people.
The strongholds of exaltation of self (reliance on money, job, connections) and pride are being broken.
Now is the time when there is need and an openness. A time for the church to feed the hungry, care for the widows and orphans, and to comfort the brokenhearted.
Is this opportunity recognized? Is the church experiencing this growth?
Not in the U.S.
Mainline churches in the U.S. have experienced continuous, and sometimes precipitous, decline in membership over the past decade.
Why is that?
Why is it when God is blasting open doors that Christians are not hearing God’s voice and are failing to rise to the call?
Is it because of what Paul warned of in the very next verse in 2 Timothy 3?
They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.
~ 2 Timothy 3:5
Is the U.S. church just “acting religious?”
It is placing its reliance in its programs, its doctrine, and its “head” knowledge rather than letting Holy Spirit work in the heart?
It is Holy Spirit working in us and through us that brings about godliness, not our works.
It is Holy Spirit that convicts a person’s heart, not someone else’s words or arguments.
It is the presence of Holy Spirit in a body of believers that causes that body, the church, to grow.
That is revival.
The presence of Holy Spirit.
The presence that is allowed in when we realize that we are just helpless sinners without it.
Even as Christians, we may have eternal salvation but we have no power over sin in our lives if we are not empowered by Holy Spirit.
If we place our reliance on our own works, our own knowledge, our own resources, we are denying the power that really can make a difference and transform.
The presence of Holy Spirit is heaven on earth, what Jesus talks about when he gives instruction in the Lord’s Prayer:
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in Heaven.
God’s will, not ours.
His kingdom comes through the presence of the Holy Spirit as his will is done as instructed by Holy Spirit.
Who experiences his kingdom on earth? Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount in the first of the Beatitudes:
God blesses those who are poor in spirit and realize their need for him for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
~ Matthew 5:3 NLT
Is this talking about today? Yes, the promises and power of Holy Spirit are for right now.
. . . we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory.
~ Romans 8:23
The Holy Spirit is our promise and assurance that God will do what he said. He is our downpayment, our surety, our foretaste.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses telling people about me everywhere.
~ Acts 1:8
The disciples saw the risen savior, they knew Jesus was Lord, but they were instructed to wait until the Holy Spirit came to them.
And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.
~ Luke 24:49
He didn’t tell them to set up programs, have councils on doctrine or debates about theology.
He told them to wait to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
~ Zechariah 4:8
God’s will is always accomplished through the Holy Spirit, not by our will or plans.
You Can’t Force Revival.
Because it doesn’t come from man’s plans.
It comes from the Holy Spirit . . . that foretaste of glory.
The same reason that the apostolic church exploded in growth and was willing to endure persecution. Because they experienced the reality of the risen Savior through the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is the reason churches in areas of Africa are experiencing exponential growth in the face of persecution. Because they have the foretaste of glory.
They aren’t reliant on their own resources or efforts, they know they have to be solely reliant on God and depend on the power of the Holy Spirit.
Revival Starts with One
Revival doesn’t start with telling others what they need to do.
Revival starts with realizing that we ourselves need God.
This is what Jesus says about finding the Kingdom of Heaven:
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.
Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!
~ Matthew 13:44-46 NLT
It starts with each one of us asking ourselves if we are all in.
Or are we holding on to friendships, associations, and goals that we putting before what God tells us to do?
It states with each of us asking, “Are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?”
“Is the Holy Spirit resident and ruler of my heart?”
How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep your servant from deliberate sins.
Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.
~ Psalm 19:12-13
We can’t do that on our own, we have to have the “power that can make us godly” do that for us, the Holy Spirit.
Create in me a clean heart, O God
and renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and make me willing to obey you.
~ Psalm 51:10-11 NLT
Our house has to be clean and the Holy Spirit is the house cleaner. If we refuse to allow the Holy Spirit to work, it isn’t going to happen.
Once we allow him to work in us, then he will:
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and make me willing to obey you.
~ Psalm 51:12 NLT
And . . .
Then I will teach your ways to the rebels
and they will return to you.
~ Psalm 51:13 NLT
The verses in this post are from the New Living Translation. If you are new to studying the Bible, the NLT version uses modern language and is easy to understand while still being faithful to the accuracy of the translation from the original text.
There are a number of study Bibles available in the NLT translation, including Life Application study Bibles. These will help you gain a fuller and deeper understanding of the verses, as well as explain the context of the culture and times in which they were written. The NLT study bibles are also available in a digital format for Kindle on Amazon.