God has been doing some incredible things the last few weeks at the Church at Ellerslie.
He seems to be stirring and preparing us for revival. The church has been gathering each Tuesday night for the last few weeks to pray for several hours and seek Jesus. There has been a desire for the church to raise up in prayer and confession/evangelism.
Everyone was encouraged to read a couple books, one being Oswald J. Smith’s tremendous book Revival We Need (written in 1925). As I was reading the first chapter, several nuggets stood out that I wanted you to read.
Oswald J. Smith’s conclusion is that the great need of the Church today is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He shares about several revivals from history past and declares: “this is what we need today more than anything else.”
Smith was writing this book in 1925, yet how much more do we need a movement of God in our country, Church, and lives today?!?!
He continues …
Listen! How many of our churches are more than half empty Sunday after Sunday? What a multitude there are who never enter God’s house? How many mid-week prayer meetings are alive and prosperous? Where is the hunger for spiritual things? Oh, the shame of it!
And Missions—the lands beyond the seas, heathen darkness—what are we doing? Does the fact that multitudes are perishing ever cause us an anxious thought? Have we grown selfish?
What about the tremendous wealth that God has given us? Take the United States as an example, the richest nation in the world today, and the major portion of her wealth in the hands of professing Christians. And yet the United States spent more on gum in one year than she spent on Missions. How many Christians are giving God even the tenth of what He gives them?
Then take our colleges and seminaries, both at home and on the mission field where higher criticism is taught. We are told that Jesus never performed any miracles, never rose from the dead, and was not born of a virgin, did not die as our Substitute, and is not coming again. Oh, what blasphemy!
How many professing Christians are living the Christ-life before men? Oh, how like the world we are becoming! How little opposition do we find! Where are the persecutions that were heaped on the Early Church? How easy it is now to be a Christian!
And what of the Ministry? Does the minister grip, convert, and save by his message? How many souls are won through the preaching of the Word? Oh, my friends, we are loaded down with countless Church activities, while the real work of the Church, that of evangelizing the world and winning the lost, is almost entirely neglected.
Where is the conviction of sin we used to know? Is it a thing of the past? …
Ah, yes, men have forgotten God. Sin flourishes on every side. And the pulpit fails to grip. And I know of nothing less than the Outpouring of His Spirit that can meet the situation. Such a Revival has transformed scores and hundreds of communities, it can transform ours.
How do we have the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?
Now, how may we secure such an Outpouring of the Spirit? You answer, by prayer. True, but there is something before prayer. We will have to deal first of all with the question of sin; for unless our lives are right in the sight of God, unless sin has been put away, we may pray until doomsday, and the Revival will never come. “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you so that He will not hear.” ( Isa. 59: 2)
Probably our best guide just here is the prophecy of Joel. Let us look at it. It is a call to repentance. God is anxious to bless His people, but sin has withheld the blessing. And so in His love and compassion He brings a fearful judgment upon them. We have it described in chapters 1 and 2. It has almost reached the gates of the city. But see–how great is His love! Notice verses 12-14 of chapter 2, where He says, “Turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil. Who knoweth if He will turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him?”
Now my friend, I don’t know what your sin is. You know and God knows. But I want you to think about it, for you may as well stop praying and rise from your knees until you have dealt with it, and put it away. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Let God search your heart and reveal the hindrance. Sin must be confessed and put away.
It may be you will have to forsake some cherished idol. It may be you will have to make restitution. Perhaps you are withholding from God, robbing Him of His own. But this is your affair, not mine. It lies between you and God.
Now notice verses 15-17. The prophet has called for a prayer meeting. Sin has been confessed and forsaken. Now they may pray. And they are to entreat God for His own name’s sake, lest the nations say, “Where is their God ?” They are dead in earnest now and their prayer is going to prevail. Listen! “Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation; assemble the elders, gather the children. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, “Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, “Where is their God ?”
Ah! my brethren, are you praying? Do you plead with God for this city? Are you beseeching Him night and day for an Outpouring of His Spirit? For now is the hour to pray. …
And of course it must be believing prayer, prayer that expects. If God stirs up hearts to pray for a Revival it is a sure sign that He wants to send one and He is always true to His Word. “There shall be showers of blessing.” His promises never fail. Have we faith? Do we expect an Awakening?
Now notice the speedy answer in verse 18. “Then!” After they had forsaken sin and cried unto God in prayer. “Then will the Lord be jealous for His land, and pity His people.” The answer is not long in coming once the conditions have been met. We have it fully described in verses 28-29: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; and also upon the servants and upon the hand-maids in these days will I pour out my Spirit.”
Oh, my brethren, the trouble is not with God. It lies right here with ourselves. He is willing, more than willing. But we are not ready. And He is waiting for us. Are we going to keep Him waiting long?