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 The Womb of Revival: Whom Does God Use to Birth Revival? -smithers


[b]The Womb of Revival: Whom Does God Use to Birth Revival?[/b]
[i]by David Smithers[/i]


Is a genuine widespread revival really coming? Some claim that
the Church is already enjoying a mighty end-time revival. Others
argue that the Church doesn't even need revival, only better Bible
teaching or political reform. What does true revival really look like?
These kinds of questions and many others are increasingly being
debated within the Church today. Even some of our noted Church
leaders seem quite confused when trying to define the realities of
revival. Like many others, I strongly believe that a genuine revival is
coming. Yet with all this debate and growing confusion, I can't help
but question how prepared the Church at large is for such a
visitation. I am very aware that there will always be those who will
oppose the move of the Spirit, but how can we as the Church
prepare and pray for a revival that we can't even agree about? Our
call for revival must be clear and well defined if the people of God
are to correctly respond in faith and fervent prayer. It is my hope
that the following material will eliminate some of the present
confusion over revival and thus help many of us to be better
prepared for what still awaits us.

In spite of all this confusion, many within the Church are still very
HUNGRY for a supernatural move of God. Nevertheless, hunger
alone is never a sure guarantee for future blessing. Our hunger for
revival must be directed by the Holy Spirit, according to God's
biblical principles. Intense spiritual hunger, though invaluable and
a much needed quality, has its occasional draw backs. There is
such a thing as a kind of spiritual malnutrition that makes a
believer less discriminate and careful about what he consumes.
We must be aware of this and take care that our desperate hunger
for revival doesn't diminish our spiritual vision and discernment. I
believe that many today have wanted revival so badly that they are
now being tempted to settle for a mixed or incomplete work of the
Spirit. "To the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet" (Prov 27:7 &
Luke 15:15-17). Misguided spiritual hunger, if left unchecked, will
ultimately leave us unprepared and disqualified for the revival that
is still yet to come! This is a critical time in the Church, and we
can not afford to become prematurely satisfied with spiritual
foothills, while the mountain peaks of GLORY still await us! We
must give ourselves no rest, until we see the complete fulfillment
of all of God's revival purposes and promises for our generation.

Are we Looking for Revival in the Wrong Places?

The question is no longer if revival will come, but rather through
whom will revival come? Not only is it necessary for us to discern
the seasons of revival, we must also learn how to discern God's
appointed servants of revival. What kind of people does God use
to bring a genuine move of the Spirit? Some would lead us to
believe that revivals come somewhat randomly through anyone
who happens to be available. Don't you believe it. God is not going
to haphazardly entrust the next move of the Holy Spirit to a bunch
of careless and uncooperative people! The conditions and principles
of revival don't just conveniently change for the whims and
preferences of each new generation. God brings revival only
through those who humbly cooperate with His eternal values. If we
want to be prepared for the coming revival, we must learn how to
cooperate with God on His terms.

Absalom, the son of King David, was once presumed to be God's
chosen vessel simply because he was attractive and charming.
However, like a beautiful flower, he soon faded away and proved
not to be what he first appeared (2 Sam. 14:25, James 1:9-11).
God's revivalists are not selected on the basis of beauty and ability,
but rather brokenness and humility! The Father has always
preferred the humble for His revival purposes. Rarely have God's
revivalists been found among the polished and esteemed
churchmen of their day. Therefore, it would be a serious mistake
for us to expect to find the next move of God on some glamorous
stage bathed in glitter and bright lights. The birthplace of revival is
usually discovered in despised and lowly mangers, not elegant mansions!

Nevertheless, many Christians still refuse to accept this vital
spiritual lesson. Like the religious leaders in Jesus time, they
presume to find the glory of God carried by a beautiful white
stallion, not a homely little donkey! (Matt. 21:5). Most of Israel
missed the day of their visitation merely because they were
looking for the promised visitation of God in the wrong places.
While they were busy searching for some regal king or political
savior, Jesus was walking among them as a common carpenter
(Isa. 53:2). God's revival methods have never changed, it still
pleases Him to come through humble and lowly servants. How
many of us are in danger of missing the day of our own visitation,
simply because we are still thinking like mere carnal men? If we
like it or not God prefers the company of broken and lowly people.
God is no respecter of persons, but He is definitely a respecter of
CHILDLIKE FAITH and HUMILITY (Acts 10:34). As the old Puritan,
Robert Leighton, once said, "God's choice acquaintances are
humble men."

Where Can We Expect to Find Revival?

When the Father first chose Israel out of all the nations of the
world, it was not because Israel was superior in size and strength,
but because they were weak and small (Deut. 7:6-7). The Father
promises revival not to the strong and self-reliant but to the
HUMBLE! "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is
of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble,
and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isa. 57:15). God is
looking for a people who are lowly and broken. The scriptures are
quite clear about this. "For the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for
man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh
on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7). "For that which is highly esteemed
among men is an abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15).

Again in 1Cor. 1:27-29, Paul plainly tells us where we should look
to find God's chosen instruments of revival: "But God chose the
foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak
things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things
of this world and the despised things and the things that are not,
to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him."
The most powerful revivals throughout the history of the Church
have always been nurtured by obscure and unlikely people. The
kingdom of God has the greatest impact when carried in the hands
of the HUMBLE.

Mary & God's Revival Grace

The Bible is full of examples of God giving abundant grace to the
humble for His revival purposes. Yet the most striking example of
them all is found in the gospel account of Mary, the mother of
Jesus. Mary typifies the kind of hidden and obscure people that
God delights to use in bringing revival. God, in His perfect wisdom,
chose an unknown virgin to be the channel for His ultimate visitation.

Though this was very difficult for Mary to comprehend at first, she
soon grasped the wisdom of God's decision. She boldly testifies to
this fact in Luke 1:46-53: "And Mary said: 'My soul glorifies the
Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has regarded
the LOWLY and HUMBLE state of His bondslave. From now on all
generations will call me blessed, for the mighty One has done
great things for me, holy is His name. His mercy extends to those
who fear Him, from generation to generation. He has performed
mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who with
CONTEMPT and PRIDE hold themselves above others in the
intellectual insight and moral understanding of their heart. He has
brought down the mighty from their thrones but has lifted up the
HUMBLE. He has FILLED and SATISFIED the HUNGRY with good
things but has sent the RICH away EMPTY-HANDED without a
gift." The strong and self-reliant are disqualified as the candidates
for true revival. They are full of their own success, talents and
intelligence. They are quite confident that they can handle
whatever comes their way. Therefore they are sent away empty
and dry because there is no vacuum within their lives for the glory
of Jesus to fill.

Obscurity & Revival

Lowly and humble people don't usually come from prestigious
places. Mary was certainly no exception. Luke 1:26 reveals that
Mary lived on the wrong side of the tracks in the infamous city of
Nazareth of Galilee. This city had a terrible reputation for being
one of the most irreligious places in all of Israel. It was considered
to be a ghetto or slum among most Israelites. Thus the saying:
"Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46). This
expression seems to accurately reflect the general attitude that
most people had about Nazareth at this time. Nazareth was the
last place you would expect to find one of God's special
instruments of revival.

Jesus is the Focus of True Revival

You may still be asking, "How was Mary an instrument of revival
and awakening?" "What did she do to help bring revival?" Matthew
1:23 reads, "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring
forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being
interpreted is, God with us." What is true revival, but God being
manifest with us. Through Mary's humble cooperation, Christ came
down and personally dwelt among us (John 1:14). She nurtured
within her own womb the tangible presence of Jesus, until the
appointed time of His delivery. Mary pushed and travailed until
Jesus Christ broke forth into a lost and dying world. Heaven came
down to earth through her obscure and humble life. Likewise,
Jesus longs to manifest Himself today through some humble
remnant of His virgin Bride and Church.

Revival is not just a series of good church meetings or a successful
evangelistic crusade. Nor is revival merely some inanimate spiritual
force or experience. True revival is much more than just a means
by which Christians get their spiritual needs met. Revival is not an
IT; revival is a visitation of HIM. Consequently, Christians quickly
forsake their sins and realign their lives with heaven. Soon their
hearts begin to burn and ache for the salvation of all men
everywhere, that they too might know the joy of worshiping and
obeying Jesus Christ. In true revival, Jesus Christ and His worship
is the beginning and the end of everything that happens. James A.
Stewart wrote, "The chief characteristic of true revival is that the
Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the center of the attraction: 'It was
heard that He was in the house and immediately many gathered
together. . .'" (Mark 2:1,2).

Holiness & Revival

In Luke 1:27 we can learn something else from Mary about the
character of God's revival instruments. In this verse, Mary is
identified first and foremost as a chaste and pure virgin. As far as
the scripture is concerned, this was her most defining
characteristic. In faith, she had reserved her heart and body
exclusively for the love and affections of her coming bridegroom.
She was not available for common or worldly use. She refused to
allow herself to be touched or handled by the enticements of this
world. Mary was a "fragrant garden enclosed, a spring shut up
and a fountain sealed" (SOS 4:12).

Likewise the Church is also called to be a chaste virgin, betrothed
and reserved for her Husband, Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:25-32 & 2 Cor
11:2). If we truly want to be used in the coming revival, we too
must surrender to a deep work of consecration and holiness. God
will not bring revival through a proud and unrepentant people (2
Chronicles 7:14). Faith-filled repentance and humility are always
the nursemaid and cradle for every young and growing move of the
Holy Spirit. The coming river of God is waiting to be set into
motion by our tears of brokenness and repentance! By FAITH in
Christ, we can be prepared and purified for God's coming visitation.

Because Mary had reserved herself in holiness and purity, she was
rewarded with some very special privileges. Have you ever
considered that it was Mary who first touched the precious face of
our Lord Jesus? She was the first to embrace Him, and it was she
who first looked into His gentle yet searching eyes. Mary was the
very first one to intimately embrace the tangible presence of God.
She was truly blessed above all other women. The promises of
God are true: "Blessed are the pure in heart: FOR THEY SHALL
SEE GOD" (Matt. 5:8).

God's Methods for Revival

In Luke 1:34 we find another lesson on revival. Here Mary asks the
angel Gabriel, "How can these things be, since I do not know a
man?" How can an inexperienced young girl bring forth the
visitation of God without the help of man? To the natural mind,
such things seem completely impossible. Nevertheless, Zech. 4:6
reminds us that the works of God are not born by might, nor by
power, but by the Spirit. True revival is not the product of human
planning and creative fund raising. Revival is never dependent upon
our temporal holdings and material assets. The only assets the
Church of Acts had on the day of Pentecost was a 120 humble
intercessors. Still, there are those who claim that if they just had
enough money and manpower, they could revive America and save
the world. All such boasting is complete nonsense!

For too long the Church has been victimized by ambitious men
who cut corners by leaning on the arm of the flesh. No amount of
promotion and clever scheming will ever make God's Kingdom
come to earth. E. M. Bounds plainly states it this way, "It is much
easier to engineer a great religious movement by human forces
than it is to break our hearts and humble ourselves in the dust
before God." In Luke 1:35 Gabriel answers Mary's question in the
following way, "And the angel answered and said unto her, 'The
Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest
shall overshadow thee.'" In other words, stop looking to MAN and
start seeking God alone as your Provider and strength. Revival
power is born of the Spirit through faith and humility, not by the
power of fleshly methods. Are we planning and pleading with
fickle men, when we should be fervently praying to a faithful God?

The Reproach of Revival

In Luke 1:38 we observe Mary's final response to the Lord's revival
commission. Though shaken by Gabriel's remarkable message,
Mary confidently replies, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let
it be done unto me according to your word." With those simple
faith-filled words, Mary surrendered complete control of her life
and reputation to the sovereign Spirit of revival. She accepted all
the potential risks and consequences that so often come with
believing and obeying the promises of God.

Because Mary chose to do things God's way instead of man's way,
she no doubt suffered severe reproach and rejection from her family
and neighbors. She willingly bore the shame and misunderstanding
of becoming mysteriously pregnant before her marriage. For Jesus'
sake she was willing to sacrifice her family, friends and reputation.
If we choose to participate with God's ordained revival process, we
too will be painfully misunderstood and cut-off by some within the
religious community. Church history teaches us that with the
seeds of revival come the fiery darts of slander and false
accusations. Revival participants have always had to be willing to
be misunderstood and accused of being unorthodox and
illegitimate. Carnal men cannot understand or appreciate the
things of the Spirit. Therefore, it should not surprise us to find
God's revival instruments surrounded by ridicule and bitter
controversy (Rom. 8:7 & 1 Cor. 2:14).

God's Sovereignty and Man's Responsibility in Revival

What other effects did this birthing process have upon Mary's life?
Was she an active participant in the process or merely the idle
pawn of God? Mary's pregnancy beautifully illustrates for us
something of the mysterious union between God's sovereignty
and man's responsibility in revival. God the Holy Spirit miraculously
placed the seed of Christ within Mary's womb, independent of any
outside influence or help. Mary did not seek or initiate this
incredible miracle, nor could she have even dreamed of it. It was
totally a sovereign act of God. God alone exercised the power to
open Mary's virgin womb.

However, after that supernatural conception, it was Mary who then
had to make a conscious choice to participate with the pregnancy
and birth. Mary's involvement with God's prophetic plan was not
the actions of some mindless machine, but the willing expression
of love and humble submission. Norman Grubb explains this
principle in the following way, "Revival is not an act of divine
sovereignty apart from human cooperation, but the legitimate
outcome of man's compliance with divine conditions for revival."
Duncan Campbell of the Hebrides Revival wrote something similar,
"We do not believe in any conception of sovereignty that nullifies
my responsibility. . . We are the human agents through which
revival is possible." When Mary surrendered to God's calling on
her life, she knew that it would mean sleepless nights and months
of discomfort and pain. Yet she willingly chose to be stretched
and burdened, as the life of God grew within her.

The Birth Pains of Revival

Mary not only had to learn how to patiently endure a long and
painful pregnancy, but also the tears and travail of child birth.
Natural births are either helped or hindered by the actions of the
expectant mother. It all depends upon the mother's willingness to
push and travail, as each pain or wave of contractions comes upon
her. The timing of these pains is not something that the mother
can control or postpone for a more convenient time. If the baby is
to be delivered quickly and safely, she MUST push with each birth
pain as it comes.

As the Bride of Jesus Christ, we are called to participate with the
birth pains of revival. We all love to recall the thrilling stories of
past revival power and glory, but are we willing to labor and push in
our pursuit of revival? Are we willing to give ourselves to sleepless
nights of fasting and travailing prayer? There is no such thing as
giving birth without travail and violent pushing. "The kingdom of
heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matt.
11:12). Fervent prayers and rivers of tears are always the
forerunners of genuine revival. Remember, the prayer room is
God's delivery room for revival. If we are neglecting prayer, we are
neglecting revival, regardless of how many famous renewal
meetings we may have attended!

There will be no mighty visitation of God without the travail and
fervent prayers of the Church. As Brother Ravenhill use to say,
"We need a revival of weeping to precede a revival of reaping!" Are
you willing to weep and travail until a heaven sent harvest comes?
When God's house is once again filled with the bitter-sweet tears
of travail, then we can know with certainty that revival is truly
imminent. "For as soon as Zion TRAVAILED, she brought forth
her children" (Isaiah 66:8).

The Birthplace of Revival

It was at Bethlehem that Mary first realized that she was going
into labor. Evening was fast approaching, and Joseph had to
quickly find an appropriate place for Mary to give birth. He was
turned away at one inn after another, as Mary's birth pains grew
stronger and closer together. Luke 2:6-7 says, "The time came for
the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She
wrapped him in swaddling cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn." Remember, there
was nothing extraordinary about Joseph and Mary to warrant them
any special consideration from Bethlehem's inn keepers. They
were just humble and unassuming strangers without wealth or
influence.

They were finally forced to bed down in a damp and musty cave or
stable where the livestock were fed. It was here that Mary was
hidden away to bravely push and travail until the presence of Jesus
broke forth into the world. Have you ever noticed how most babies
seem to be born in the middle of the night? This was the case with
Mary. While others were comfortably sleeping, she was pushing
and crying out in pain in obedience to her God! The final fruits of
revival shine brightly, while the pains of travailing prayer usually go
unnoticed in obscure and hidden places. In John 16:21, Jesus
Himself said, "A woman when she is in travail has sorrow, because
her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she
remembers no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the
world." There are many who want the joy of revival without the
sorrow of travail. God's chosen revival instruments have always
embraced both.

Who are the First to Witness Revival?

Who was the FIRST to hear of this glorious visitation? Was it the
high priest, the king or some other prominent person? Luke 2:8-11
tells us that it was the lowly shepherds: "And there were
shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their
flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the
glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But
the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of
great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David
a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.'" Like Joseph
and Mary, these shepherds were humble and lowly people. This is
why they were the first to be chosen to witness the birth and
visitation of God. Contrary to our modern nativity scenes, the wise
men from the east did not visit the manger that first night with the
humble shepherds. They found Jesus much later in a house (Matt. 2:1-11).

The shepherds had been given a specific sign to help them know
exactly where to find the presence of God. Luke 2:12 reads, "This
will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling
cloths and lying in a manger." Being local shepherds, they were
very familiar with all of the nearby stables and knew right where to
look. Others might have been offended and stumbled by such a
sign, but to these humble men this was a word of welcome and
encouragement to their hungry hearts. The scriptures say that,
"They made haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby
lying in a manger." They had found the promised Glory of God,
not in some beautiful temple but resting in a despised and lowly
manger in the form of a helpless child. This is still God's sign for
us today who are looking for the birthplace of true revival.

Revival History is the History of Humility & Brokenness

All the great revivals of the past have been birthed in much the
same way. The First Great Awakening was powerfully birthed in
the open fields of England, as Whitefield and Wesley preached to
the lowly coal miners. The Second Great Awakening started in a
simple country church and went on to have its most powerful
effects among the common frontier people who gathered in the
woods of Kentucky. Of the Third Great Awakening, J. Edwin Orr
wrote, "It was no man's monument." This Awakening could not be
traced to the influence of any one particular evangelist or
organization. The revival was miraculously born in the hungry
hearts of thousands of humble and praying people.

The Welsh revival of 1904 began in a small young people's
meeting, under the direction of an unknown and half-educated
twenty-six year old coal miner named Evan Roberts. The Azusa
Street revival was born in a simple cottage prayer meeting. As the
revival grew, the meetings were moved to an old run down church
building that had once served as a livery stable. The revival
flourished from 1906-1909 under William J. Seymour, a humble
one-eyed black preacher from Texas. The history of revival will
forever be associated with extended seasons of deep brokenness
and humility.

Are You Willing to Embrace the Burden of Revival?

As I said before, the question is no longer if revival will come, but
rather through whom will revival come? Where are the humble and
broken people who will allow God to birth a mighty visitation
through them? Where are the ones who are willing to empty
themselves of their own agendas and plans in order to become
pregnant with God's vision for revival? Will YOU allow Jesus to
break you and use you in the coming revival? Invite the Holy Spirit
even now to fill you with that kind of all-consuming vision and
calling. Yield to the Spirit and give Him permission to ache, weep
and pray through you! Humble yourself and repent of ANYTHING
that would hinder or quench the Spirit of revival! Ask the Lord to
let you feel what He feels about the state of the Church and the
world. This is the season and time for us to fast, weep and pray
for a true visitation of God. In fact, it could be our last opportunity
to cooperate with God's revival purposes. Most believers never get
more than one chance in a lifetime to be involved in a true move
of God. Will you humble yourself and pray, or must the Lord look
elsewhere to find a willing and humble virgin? "Ask the LORD for
rain in the time of the latter rain" (Zech 10:1).


_________________
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2007/9/13 18:19Profile









 Re: The Womb of Revival: Whom Does God Use to Birth Revival? -smithers

Revival, this word is really overworked, it really is, it too has become sooo mainstream.. We need the outspouring of God's Spirit as the disciples received, and It will come when God is ready my brother, and not sooner... Becuz, our flesh doesn't really want it or him to that degree, that is generally speaking. We are going to put in the position both individually and as a whole to want him on our own desire to have him. We can talk revival, but we need to pray and continue in our walk with Jesus day by day until we are thoroughly dissatisfied with the present LACK.

I believe catastrophe, heartache, and the many other calamities that have invaded life as we know it will continue to bear down upon the Children of Men, and then they will call out with God's people and he WILL rend the heavens just as he told John in many words of symbology.

He will not forget us, just as when Israel was in drought for 400 plus yers , he sent his Christ, then he began his body (only with his spirit could that have been done), and this day it will be brought about by our true desparate and tumultous need for him.

Love for the brethren

 2007/9/13 19:24





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