‘...Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.’ Psalm 80:18 NKJV
The Psalmist prayed, ‘Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.’ Almost a century ago, A. W. Tozer laid out the steps that lead to personal revival. Some of the language may be outdated, but the principles still work today. First, get thoroughly dissatisfied with yourself. Complacency is the enemy of spiritual progress. A complacent soul is a stagnant soul.
Second, set your face like a flint towards a sweeping transformation of your life. Timid experimenters are tagged for failure before they start. We must throw our whole soul into our desire for God.
Third, put yourself in the way of blessing. It’s a mistake to expect God’s help to come as a windfall apart from conditions known and met. There are plainly marked paths which lead straight to the green pastures; let us walk in them. To desire revival, for instance, and at the same time neglect prayer and devotions, is to wish one way and walk another.
Fourth, do a thorough job of repenting. Do not hurry to get it over with. Hasty repentance means shallow spiritual experience and lack of certainty in the whole life. Let godly sorrow do her healing work. Until we allow the consciousness of sin to wound us, we will never develop a fear of evil.
Finally, make restitution wherever possible. If you owe a debt, pay it, or at least have a frank understanding with your creditor about your intention to pay, so your honesty will be above question. If you have quarrelled with anyone, go as far as you can in an effort to achieve reconciliation.
‘See, I am doing a new thing...’ Isaiah 43:19 NIV
Can you imagine Moses surprise when God talks to him from a burning bush? As doors shut without explanation, Paul is surprised by a man from Macedonia calling to him in a vision, ‘...come over here and help us’ (Acts 16:9 TLB). Well, He’s still the God of surprises who says, ‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?’ Ah, there’s the challenge – our perception.
We fail to recognise God at work! Maybe you’re saying, ‘I’ve prayed, claimed God’s promises, done all I know to do, yet nothing seems to be working for me.’ Then try this promise: ‘Therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you...’ (Isaiah 30:18 KJV). Notice the word ‘wait’. God has a plan and a timetable. ‘Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails’ (Proverbs 19:21 NIV).
Even when your plans flounder, if your heart’s right God will still make things turn out for your good and His glory. When it comes to God’s guidance, here are some things you need to know. First, ideas go away, but His direction stays. There’s persistence in His leading; that’s why time is on your side. Second, His direction is impossible to follow without His help. He plans it that way. ‘...without Me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5 NKJV). Third, His direction usually begins with discomfort. Like ‘an eagle that stirs up its nest… The Lord… led him...’ (Deuteronomy 32:11-12 NIV). A baby eagle is shocked when its mother forces it out of the nest. But that’s when it ‘finds its wings’. Think about it!
‘...Samson went down...’ Judges 14:1 NKJV
Samson lost everything for several reasons. First, wrong relationships. When God says no to a relationship He’s not being punitive, He’s being protective. ‘But I feel so good when I’m with them,’ you say. God sees where the road leads, you don’t! It’s better to want what you don’t have, than end up with what you can’t handle. Second, wilful disobedience. Three times we read, ‘Samson went down.’
The third time it was to Delilah! So, is this relationship taking you up or down? The poet wrote, ‘My old companions fare thee well; I will not go with thee to hell.’ The Bible says that ‘Samson went down’ to Timnath and married a Philistine girl, breaking God’s law. And even though she betrayed him ‘...the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men...’ (Judges 14:19 NKJV).
Perhaps Samson thought God would excuse him because he was ‘special’. No, ‘He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed...’ (Proverbs 29:1 NKJV). Repent, before you run out of time! Third, misplaced confidence. ‘[Delilah] said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke… and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.
Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down...’ (Judges 16:20-21 NKJV). When God’s blessing is no longer upon what you’re doing, it’s time to realise that there’s sin in your life and you must deal with it, and that the secret of your strength is in God, not you.
‘Let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything god has for us...’ Philippians 3:15
We must never stop asking, 'Is there a better way?' You can't pray for progress and fight change. In 1829, Martin Van Buren, Governor of New York, wrote to President Andrew Jackson cautioning him about the future: 'President Jackson, the canal system of this country is being threatened by the spread of railroads. We must preserve the canals for the following reasons:
1) If canal boats are supplanted by railroads, serious unemployment will result. Captains, cooks, repairmen and lock tenders will be left without jobs, not to mention farmers now employed in growing hay for horses
2) Boat builders would suffer, whip and harness makers would be left destitute
3) Canal boats are absolutely essential to the defence of the United States. In the event of the expected trouble with England, the Erie Canal would be the only means by which we could ever move the supplies so vital to waging modern war.
As you may well know, Mr. President, railroad carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 mph by engines, which, in addition to endangering life and limb, snort their way through the countryside belching out smoke, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. Surely the Almighty never intended people should travel at such breakneck speed.
' Poor Martin - what would he think if he knew we were flying 33,000 feet high, at 500 mph sipping coffee and typing on a notebook computer? God is the author of all true progress, so we must never stop asking, 'Is there a better way?'
‘...Be quick to listen, slow to speak...’ James 1:19
Want to become a good leader? Become a good listener! Here are two stories of what happens when we don't take time to listen. The first is from a young woman hurt by a manager who constantly cut her off: 'We expected he would wait and give us answers to serious questions about our work.
Many times he walked off when we were in mid-sentence, having heard nothing.' The next is from a church youth director who was fired: 'After serving the Lord there for two years, I was called into an elders' meeting. They took out a list of all the things I'd done wrong in the past two years. Most of what they said was true, for I was brand new in this work. Then they called for my resignation. What did I learn?
a) not once did anyone care enough to coach or shepherd me
b) I'd no idea or warning that I was doing anything wrong
c) the church leaders never built a relationship with their staff.' Why is it so hard for some leaders to listen? Because leaders love to talk, and as they gain more authority there is the danger to think they have less reason to listen. Leaders by their very nature tend to be removed from the frontlines of battle.
To win, they must constantly listen to those who are in the trenches and rely on that information to make wise decisions. Before Ezekiel was qualified to prophesy or lead God's people, he wrote: '...I sat among them for seven days - overwhelmed. At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me' (Ezekiel 3:15-16 NIV).