Keeping the Center of Revival
One Sunday morning not long ago, I asked each member of our church to answer two questions anonymously on a sheet of paper: What is the most important thing that God has done for you during this move of the Spirit? And, what would you want me to tell the people reading Keep Coming, Holy Spirit.
All of the people, from adults to little children, said that the most important thing they have received is the experience of Jesus’ love. The most important thing they want me to tell you is that you need to keep soaking in His presence.
The Number One Revival Quencher
No one wakes up one morning and says to himself, “Gee whiz, today I think I’m going to quench the Holy Spirit.” More than likely we are seduced away from the core value of the outpouring, which is the presence of Jesus. We must keep inviting the Holy Spirit to come anywhere and anytime, responding to His “intrusions” into our lives so that we continue to soak in His presence.
The most common false belief is the notion that revival is supposed to be temporary.
But why is keeping the sense of God’s presence so difficult? Part of the problem is centered in false core beliefs about the nature of revival and about the character of God. By far the most common of those false beliefs is the notion that revival is supposed to be temporary. In fact, more people are seduced away from the center of revival by this assumption than any other single factor. But think about it. If revival is only meant to be temporary, why then does God send it in every generation? I believe that He is looking for the generation that will treasure the outpouring of His presence and follow wherever He leads.
The belief that revival is only temporary defeats a person before he begins. Then when any circumstances seem to verify the loss of God’s presence, he adopts a “See, I knew it” attitude, a bitter root expectation that he will be abandoned. People who suffer from a fear of abandonment expect God’s presence to withdraw and not return. They expect never-ending seasons of spiritual and emotional dryness.
Is it conceivable that God would call a worldwide season of blessing to a screeching halt, rob thousands of Christians of intimacy with Him, and send millions to hell just because you and I are in a dry spell? I don’t think so. Nevertheless, when dry spells happen, many people simply let go of the expectation that the Holy Spirit will keep coming. And this lack of expectation quenches His presence in their hearts.
God does refine us in wilderness experiences, but His chief purpose is to draw us closer to Him.
If we believe that revival is temporary, then we are likely to interpret a dry spell as the natural conclusion of God’s blessing. Satan will lie to us, telling us that God is going to withdraw anyway so we must make the best of it, salvage what we can and brace ourselves for the worst. If we buy this, we will not expect another wave of His presence and will dry out completely.
Sometimes Satan will spiritualize this deception by suggesting that we must now go back into the desert so that God can “deal” with us. As with most deceptions, there is a small grain of truth in this. God does refine us in wilderness experiences, but His chief purpose is to draw us closer to Him. It does not follow that He wants us to lose the intimacy we have by seeking it in a desert of isolation and despair.
Even in Israel’s wilderness lessons, God wanted His people to be dependent on Him rather than on circumstances. He never wanted them to suffer without Him or to lose a sense of His closeness. The belief that revival is temporary defeats a person before he begins. I understand this because I spent over eighteen years waiting for the River of His presence to come to my desert. In hindsight, I believe that He wanted me to endure those years by experiencing His love rather than the way I did. But He has used the powerful return of the sense of His presence anyway during this outpouring in my life. It is a priceless treasure to me because I spent years muddling through ministry, trying to figure out where God was. I want to hold onto Him, even if other dry spells come, because I do not want the sense of His love to ever leave me again.
Keeping Close To The Center Of Revival
When the presence of God comes as He does in revival, you can spiritually “taste” Him. “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good” becomes real when you realize that Jesus broke bread with the discouraged disciples after they had walked with Him on the Emmaus road. The first sign of His presence was that their hearts became “strangely warmed” while He talked with them. Later as they asked Him to stay and eat with them, He broke the bread, and as they tasted what He blessed, their eyes were opened to see Him. Jesus is the manna that comes out of heaven, not of our own doing, but graciously falling while we are asleep. If we continue feasting on Him and never allow ourselves to grow tired of Him, He will keep coming until we cross Jordan to live with Him forever.
I quickly became addicted to His love.
This is the central place of revival: It is called renewal. I believe that we need to partake of this spiritual food daily. We need His presence or like the Prodigal Son, we will starve unless we return to our Father’s table.
When God opened the door to this Feast for me, I quickly became addicted to His love. I found myself wanting to lie under the weight of His presence by the hour. Doing for Him is not what He created me for; loving Him is. Feeling His love for me kindled my desire for Him. Some days when I feel distant from His love, I feel dry. Before, I did not notice this. Now I do and I refuse to tolerate it anymore. I know now that He created me with a daily need to be nourished by His love. He promised that even though a mother might forget her child, He would not forget me.
Experiencing The Renewal Feast
In the beginning it is important to run to the table and let God know that you want to experience His love like this. You are living in a day when God is opening the door to this banquet to anyone who wants Him. Allow others who have been feeding on Him to pray for you by simply asking the Holy Spirit to come.
Many Christians like me seek “revival” but do not realize how badly we need this ongoing “renewal.” How often I have heard people echo the aphorism, “We don’t need renewal, we need revival!” Why do we need renewal? Quite simply because we grow tired of living in a realm where we cannot physically see God. Jesus likened it to being attached to Him as branches are connected to a vine. We need the life-flow that comes from His presence if we are to remain hopeful and produce fruit.
It was as though God had uncapped a well of cool spring water that began to trickle out of my spirit and into my arid soul, my mind and my emotions.
After only a few days of absorbing the wonder of His presence, I was totally spoiled for trying to serve God any more in my own strength; I needed the strength that God supplies. I have learned that without Him, without the sense of His loving presence, I cannot do anything. Within weeks of receiving prayer continually, I noticed a change in my life. It was as though God had uncapped a well of cool spring water that began to trickle out of my spirit and into my arid soul, my mind and my emotions. He was restoring my soul, causing water to spring up from a dry place: my own heart.
As I continued to let the River flow up in me, I realized God was creating a garden where we could fellowship together. My focus became Jesus and nothing but Him. I did not care if I ever spoke to another congregation or wrote another book. I knew only that I wanted more of His presence. Prayer became a pleasure, not a duty. Gone was the effort of previous years in which I felt that I needed to pray harder, as though praying was work. Now I was touching eternity, and it was changing my life.
I have found that there are no toxic levels of the Holy Spirit. I had often prayed, “Come, Holy Spirit,” but now I realized that He had come, and I never wanted Him to go. I found myself saying, “Keep coming, Holy Spirit.” Every time I say it, my heart feels strangely warmed. I think I’ve found the secret of everlasting revival, a never- ending River of His love.