Do you ever feel like you don’t matter in the grand scheme of God’s moving and working? Do you every feel as small and miniscule as the average insect? As missed as a flittering butterfly in the fading colors of a late summer sky? In like fashion, why do we resign ourselves to the fact that we are not a spiritually significant part of divine activity today? I believe it is because we feel inadequate or we don’t want to be accountable for our contribution of individual malaise in words, actions, and attitudes. You must realize that your “little” heart, mind, soul, life, family, church matter to the grand God of every sweet, fire-from-heaven kind of revival.
Isaiah 57:15 “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; 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.”
How do we conduct a “revival of one?”
Revival is the result of ONE person practicing two decisions as described in Isaiah 57:13-20:
- Individual Direction (13-15)
Have you heard about the new shampoo for men who are going bald, called “What’s the Point?” While that is light-hearted jab at the follicle-challenged, it is true that many of God’s men and women have become fatalists in the arena of revival. We often think we are to simply wait with passivity when God definitely requires our active participation.
Revival is directed by your hope.
This hope is your choice (13). While the religious compromises of the idol-worshiping Jews shall profit them nothing, the Scripture now declares that whoever shall put his trust in the Lord Jehovah shall possess and inherit the land. We have a choice in this thing of personal revival! (“But he”) As one author stated, “It is choice, not chance, that determines our destiny.” You are in the exact spiritual condition that you have chosen!
This hope also requires our preparation (14). Cast ye up refers to the constructing of a cross-country highway by heaping up a long mound of earth and stones. The stumbling block is an unrepentant and idolatrous heart. The exhortation to prepare a road for the people of faith recalls 40:3–5 which speak of a road being prepared for the Lord which is fulfilled through the ministry of John the Baptist. Is your heart filled with faith in a God who can use your heart and influence to be path that brings many into revival?
Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady” of England, once stated, “There are individual men and women and there are families and no (organization) can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first… There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate.” We must recognize that our fatalistic view of revival is blatantly unbiblical; we have a part!
Revival is also directed by your humility.
Pride and revival are NEVER in the same church auditorium, home living room, or spiritual heart! We must first respond with a humble recognition (15a). Placement is everything in revival! You must recognized God’s “high” place and your “humble place.”
Isa 6:1 “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.”
Isa 6:5 “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
Herein we learn one of the great lessons of the spiritual life: revival comes only to those who are humble and broken before God. You must realize that only by pride comes contention even with God!
We must also manifest a humble spirit (15b). Revival does not start with physical manipulations but spiritual brokenness.
Psalm 34:18 declares, “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” It is not God’s job to humble us as His people; that is our responsibility! Don’t ever forget that God chooses to only dwell into two concentrated places: His elevated heaven and your lowly heart (Isaiah 66:1-2). A wise old evangelist was once asked, “Why don’t we see revival happening in the Church in the United States today?” The old preacher scratched his chin and thought for a moment. Then he said, “The reason why we are not living in revival today……is because we are content to live without it.”
- Individual Dependence (16-22)
I recently heard a preacher who jokingly said, “I’d like to be rich enough that I can throw soap away after the letters are worn off.” Too often even our spiritual activity possesses an independence that subtracts the power and working of God. It is impossible to concoct a revival by mere self-effort and organizational enthusiasm. One may conduct a meeting by such a means, but there will be no genuine revival. Revival comes when the people of God set aside their idols and find a renewed and total dependence upon the Lord God Himself.
Revival is dependent upon God’s power.
We must first depend upon God’s powerful restraint (16-17). Speaking to the prophet, God proceeds to announce that He would not contend for ever (referring to the outward manifestation of God’s wrath) against those whose spirit would fail (faint) before His presence. The souls (lit., breaths, a term used as an equivalent for soul) are those human souls who are created by God and are so inadequate in themselves. This passage contains a great promise of hope to those who in their own spiritual inadequacy and brokenness throw themselves before the mercy of God, who shall revive them and restore them to a right relationship with Him. See Psalm 103:9-17 for more encouragement in this area. In order to experience revival, you must realize that any influence that makes us sinners ultimately run from God instead of toward God is NOT OF GOD! He longs to be near His people. No matter how far away they may be…period.
Our leaning upon the Lord must also look for His powerful healing (18). How can God’s power heal? He offers healing guidance. God can take our “forward heart” (v. 17) and direct us in His will and blessing! He offers healing comfort. Our independence from God does not just lead to another path; it leads to physical and spiritual heartache, sickness, and ultimately death. Only the power of God can brings us back from those painful realities! 2Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” There nothing too broken that God cannot fix, there is no sin too bad that God cannot forgive, there is no wound too deep that God cannot heal, there is no past too defiled that God cannot purify! Heaven-sent revival is a “God-MUST-show-up” proposition…period!
Revival is dependent upon God’s peace.
Thomas Jefferson defined peace as “that brief, glorious moment when everyone stands around reloading.” Now we don’t even have that with fully-automatic weapons not just of war but of media, etc. This revival of ONE leads to peaceful “oneness” with the Lord!
God alone offers this peaceful opportunity (19). The Lord bestows blessings that inspire human lips to offer adoration and praise—the fruit of the lips. Men praise him for genuine and perfect peace to those who are far off—Gentile converts and those who are near—Jewish converts. Isaiah 26:3 promises, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
We must also not forget the peaceful contrast (20-21). By contrast, there is no peace to the wicked who are described as a troubled (restless) sea. As one commentator words it, “Wicked here is the word for “ungodly” (Ps 1) or “morally out of joint.” The unconverted can never find true peace, but are finally spewed up as foul flotsam on the beach of time.” To have revival, you have to remember where you would be in this life and the next without peace of God! We have to choose between restlessness and revival; opting out of both is not an option!
In my reading, I stumbled upon what is labeled the “The Monarch Mystery.” The ability to find home evokes legends of Rover or Fido who, when owners have moved from one coast to the other, have made a 3,000-mile trek to find their owners in a location to which they’ve never been before. At least the dogs make it back home. But not the monarch butterfly. These insects somehow know how to migrate thousands of miles every autumn, from the Eastern United States to a handful of sites in Mexico. There, they rest over the winter for the return trip home. But here’s the amazing part: No individual butterfly ever goes to Mexico and back, yet thousands converge on the same few sites year after year. These insects know where to go. But none of them has ever been there before. Let’s explain. Monarchs are not guided by memory, since no single butterfly ever makes the round trip. Three or four generations separate those that spend one winter in Mexico from those that go there the next. A monarch butterfly born in August in New York state, for instance, will fly all the way to Mexico, spend the winter there, and leave in March. Then it will fly north, laying eggs on milkweed along the Gulf Coast in Texas and Florida before dying. The butterflies born of those eggs will continue northward, breeding and laying more eggs along the way. By August another monarch, four generations or so removed from the monarch that left New York for Mexico the previous summer, will emerge from its chrysalis and do the same thing. It will head south, aiming for a place it’s never been, an acre or two of forest on the steep slopes of a particular mountain range. Each butterfly in this migration plays a unique and yet dependent role in the continual resurgence of their species.
While we are not to be self-absorbed, we are to be struck by the significance of each single person completely yielded to the reviving work of a powerful and sovereign God of heaven!
Will you join little me in holding a lift-your-soul-to-the-sky kind of “revival of one” with INDIVIDUAL DIRECTION and INDIVIDUAL DEPENDENCE that God can bless and use for His glory?
Here is the video of this study.