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Greg Laurie - The Refreshing Power of Revival

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    Greg Laurie - The Refreshing Power of Revival
TOPICS: Revival

Hey, grab your Bible and turn to Jonah chapter 2. Let me start with a question. Have you ever been sound asleep, and around 3 o'clock your phone rings, and a person actually asks you this question (this is a phone, by the way) they ask you the question, "Did I wake you"? And for some unknown reason, our natural response is, "No, I was already awake". No, you weren't. Why is it that we deny it when we're sleeping? Sometimes I'll watch television with my wife and she'll pick something that I don't find all that interesting, like some British baking show. And I'll fall asleep and she'll say, "You were sleeping". I'll say, "No, I wasn't," but I was because I was actually snoring. Have you ever fallen asleep and woken yourself up with your own snoring?

What is the deal with us denying that we're actually asleep? I don't know, but I know this one thing: you can be spiritually asleep. You can be spiritually asleep as a follower of Christ. And a nation can be asleep as well. We don't need to be woke. We need to be awake. Romans chapter 13 says, "It's all the more urgent; you know how late it is. Time is running out, so wake up, because our salvation is nearer than when we first believed". And that's what I want to talk about in this message that I'm calling "The Refreshing Power Of Revival". Now, we hear that word "revival" thrown around a lot. You might wonder, what is revival exactly? I think we overly mystify this word and don't necessarily understand its actual meaning. Revival is just another word for refreshment or restoration or simply returning something to its original condition.

The psalmist says in Psalm 85:6, "Will you not revive us again that your people may rejoice in you"? And then Psalm 80, verse 19 says, "Restore us, O Lord, let your face shine upon us that we may be saved". Revival is refreshment. Revival is being restored to original condition. You see a beat-up, old car maybe laying around in a junkyard. Someone buys it, they do bodywork on it. They repaint it. They drop a new engine in it, put new tires and wheels on it. And you see it rolling down the road, you can't believe it's the same car. That is called a restoration. You see a plant that's beginning to wither. You put some water on it and get it out in the sunshine, and it comes back to life again. Or maybe you see someone that's just out working in the sun, and you're exhausted. And you come and have a nice meal and drink some cool water, and you're refreshed. That is what I'm talking about, being refreshed or restored again.

A revival is when God's people come back to life again because they've been refreshed, they've been refilled, and they've been restored to their original condition. The church needs a revival. We need to be restored to original condition. You might ask, "What is original condition"? It's the church of the 1st century. It's the church of the Book of Acts. It's the church that turned their world upside down. We need to be more like that. The church needs a revival but our nation, our nation needs a spiritual awakening. Revival is for believers. Awakening is for nonbelievers. Revival for a believer is getting back to that first bloom of a love relationship with Jesus Christ. You know, sometimes when we've been walking with the Lord for a while, that passion begins to fade, that zeal begins to erode, and we don't have that excitement in walking with the Lord as we had before. What we wanna have is longevity, but we don't wanna sacrifice our passion as we walk with Christ.

I've been married 47 1/2 years now, and there's a secret to a long and happy marriage. For Cathe and I, it goes back to our honeymoon. We decided to ride on pack mules in the Grand Canyon, and neither one of us had done this before. So we get on our little pack mules, and it's a very narrow little path with a sharp decline; you don't wanna fall off this little path. And Cathe was ahead of me on her pack mule, and as she was riding along, her pack mule stumbled a little bit, and she leaned down and whispered into the ear of the mule, "That's once". I thought that was kinda weird, actually. We went a little bit further, her mule stumbled again. She leans forward and says into the ear of the mule, "That's twice". "That's twice"? What is this all about? And then finally, the mule stumbled again and she pulled a pistol out of her purse, I didn't know she was packing a pistol, and she held it up to the head of the mule and fired, and the mule dropped to the ground. So I was shocked, I was outraged, I couldn't believe she just shot this poor mule in the head, and I said, "Cathe, why did you do that? That was wrong". She looked at me and said, "That's once".

Okay, this is a joke, this never happened. I just wanted to throw it in there. Don't be traumatized by my story. But listen, we want to maintain that love relationship with Jesus Christ, and sometimes we walk away from it, and revival is getting back to it again. I was speaking once with Chuck Smith, who is regarded as the father of the last great spiritual awakening that was known as "the Jesus Movement," and I asked him, "Chuck, do you think we'll ever see another Jesus movement"? His answer was, "I don't know, Greg. I don't know if we're desperate enough". How desperate are we for God to send a spiritual awakening? I think if we're desperate, we'll start praying about it.

If you're taking notes, here's point number one. Revival is like the spark that starts the engine. Revival is like the spark that starts the engine. Evangelist Billy Sunday once said, quote, "They told me a revival is only temporary; so is a bath, but it does you some good," end quote.

Number two, our nation, the United States of America, was born in revival, and we need another revival. Against all odds, America came to be. A group of colonists decided they did not want to be ruled over by England anymore. They decided that they wanted to have the freedom to worship as they chose. They decided they did not want to be under the power of the king. And so, they decided to break away. They tried to do so peacefully. England would have none of that. And so, the conflict began. And our nation was actually founded by two men named George. You might say, "I know one. What do you mean two"? Two Georges has really played a key role in the establishment of the United States of America.

First, there was our spiritual founding father. His name was George Whitfield. He was a British evangelist who came to our shores and preached the gospel, and thousands of colonists came to Christ. It was the first great spiritual awakening in what would become to be known as the United States of America. Between 1740 and 1742, before we were even a nation, some 25.000 to 50.000 people came to Christ. This is out of a population of only 300.000 people. And it was in this soil of revival that lives were changed. And now as followers of Jesus, people had a morality, they had moral absolutes to live by, they were living by what the Scripture said. And so, our nation was born out of the flame of revival. It was our second President John Adams who made this statement, and I quote, "The United States Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any others," end quote.

See, it was assumed by our Founding Fathers that our nation had this soil that we built our nation out of, these absolutes that we hold on to. I mean, look at the great buildings in Washington, DC. You have the Ten Commandments there in the US Supreme Court building. I mean, this is something that was the very foundation of our country. That brings us to the next George, a George you've probably heard of: George Washington. General Washington led the continental forces to victory against all odds and was quick to give the glory to God and acknowledge it was providence that brought it to be. In fact, Washington directed that a special flag would be made that would be flown over our Navy ships. And the message of the flag, as you can see, was "Appeal to heaven". It's a tree with branches going upwards and the idea was, we need to call on God. We need God's intervention for this all to work. And God did hear our prayers, and we had spiritual awakenings after Whitfield, three in total, the last of which was the Jesus movement. And we need another one right now.

People often ask me, "Do you think we'll see another Jesus movement, a revival, before the Lord comes back"? Here's my answer: I believe we will. Let me explain why. In Revelation chapter 3, Jesus speaks to the last days church of Philadelphia. How do I know they're the last days church? Because he makes a promise to them that if they'll keep his Word, he'll keep them from the hour of trial coming on the face of the earth, which is the great tribulation period. So, this is a church of the end times. He says a lot of things to them. Let me point out two. Number one, he basically says, "I've opened a door for you" because he says, "This is from the one who opens the door, and no man can shut it". In the Bible an open doors speaks of opportunity. The Apostle Paul says, "A door was open to us of the Lord to bring the gospel".

Listen to this. We are the first generation that actually has the ability to fulfill the Great Commission in our lifetime. What is the Great Commission? It's a charge of Jesus, Matthew 28, to go unto all the world and preach the gospel, to make disciples of all nations. With technology like we have right now, we could literally reach everyone on the face of the earth. It's an open door. And Jesus also says you have a little strength, which is an interesting phrase there in the original language. It's the idea of a sick person coming back to life.

You know, when you've been sick and you're laying down, and you feel like you're a little bit better, so you get up on your feet and your head's a little light. So, you're better. So, Jesus is not criticizing them, he's commending them. He's saying, "You have a little strength". So this, to me, is a hopeful promise that the church is gonna make a comeback in the last days. We're gonna be revived in the last days. We're gonna get back to those things that God has called us to do, which includes proclaiming the gospel. So, I'm praying for another Jesus revolution. I'm praying for a spiritual awakening, and may it begin in your life and in mine.

So, I want to look for a few moments with you at the greatest revival in human history, and it took place in the city of Nineveh. And, of course, the man that God used to bring this revival about was named Jonah. Now, let me ask you a question. When you hear the name Jonah, what do you think of next? Jonah and what? The whale, of course. We always think of the whale. It's a funny thing when you read the Book of Jonah, there's only a few verses about this whale. By the way, the Bible never says "whale". The Bible says he was swallowed by a great fish. The root word could be translated sea monster. It could have been a whale. It could have been some creature that has come to exist and no longer is out there. It could have been a one-off, custom-designed creature God made just for Jonah, I don't know.

But some would say, "Well, a man could never be swallowed by a whale and live to tell the story". Oh, really? Well, tell that to Michael Packard of Cape Cod. This happened this year. At 8 o'clock in the morning, Michael Packard, who's a veteran lobster diver, entered the water, and an article written about it puts it this way, quote, "In something truly biblical, Packard was swallowed whole by a humpback whale. Packard recalled, 'All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove and the next thing I knew it was completely black. I was in there for about 40 seconds,'" end quote. Incredible; and then he got out of the whale. I don't know if the whale regurgitated him, but he rejected Michael. And so, he was in there about 40 seconds, but the man we're talking about, Jonah, well, he was in the belly of the beast for three days and three nights. How did he end up there? Well, it all started when he was running from God.

You see, God came to Jonah and he said, "I want you to go to the city of Nineveh, and I want you to preach the message that I give you to them". And Jonah flat-out refused, why? Nineveh was a wicked city. Nineveh was known for their atrocities and their intense cruelty that they would demonstrate toward their enemies. And Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, they were the avowed enemies of Israel. Therefore, Jonah wanted nothing to do with them. Jonah was called to go and preach, and he flat-out refused. Has God called you to start an evangelistic conversation and you said, "Lord, I don't want to do that, I'm not going to do it"? So, the Bible says, Jonah found a ship, and he paid the fare, and he went down to Tarshish. Any step away from God is a step down, and you will pay the fare when you run away from God.

Remember this: sin will take you further than you want to go. It'll keep you longer than you want to stay. And it will cost you more than you want to spend. But also know this: God will always have the last word. The Lord could have just said, "Okay, that's it, Jonah. I'm done with you. I'm gonna get somebody else". But the Lord loved Jonah, he had a plan for him, and he was gonna give him a second chance, just like God loves you and has a plan for you. So, the Lord sent a storm. And by a storm, I mean a storm in his case, but we have storms in life as well. A storm can be a metaphor for a hardship, a difficulty. In fact, there are three kinds of storms we face as Christians. There are perfecting storms. There are protecting storms. And there are correcting storms. First, there are perfecting storms. That's a storm that God allows you to go through so you will grow up spiritually.

Job talked about the difficulty he was facing, how he would come through it and be like gold. That was a correcting storm. Joseph, of course, was thrown into prison. He had done nothing wrong, but God used him to help many other people. So, that was a perfecting storm. Then there are protecting storms. Remember when Jesus and the disciples were with the people in Galilee, and Jesus performed his most popular miracle to date, the feeding of the 5.000. People were very excited. In fact, we read that they wanted to make Jesus king and the disciples would be ruling with them. And Jesus said to his disciples, "Get in the boat, we're going to the other side".

And as they were crossing the sea of Galilee, a great storm came. That was a protecting storm. Jesus was protecting them from something that would have been very destructive in their life. But finally, there are correcting storms. These are storms we effectively bring upon ourselves. But here's the good news. Even if it's your fault, God will not abandon you in your storm because by sending this storm, it's a reminder that you're loved by God and you're being chastened by God. Hebrews 12:6 says, "The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone that accepts his Son". So, this chastening happened in the life of Jonah because he was loved by God. And the Ninevites that God wanted to reach through Jonah were also loved by God. So, inside of the belly of this sea monster, maybe a whale, a great fish of some kind, Jonah had a personal revival.

Bringing me to point number three, revival begins with you. So, if you're in deep waters right now, if you're in a storm right now, take it as a sign that God loves you and he's not done with you. God sent a big storm and then a big fish, and he gave Jonah a big spanking. And there in the belly of the fish, Jonah called out to the Lord. He said in Jonah 2:9, "I'll offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I'll fulfill all of my vows, for salvation comes from the Lord alone". What an amazing place to pray. Think of all the places people prayed in the Bible. We know that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego prayed in a fiery furnace. We know Daniel prayed in a den of lions. We know Peter prayed on top of the waters and under the water. And Jonah prayed from the belly of this beast, and he called out to God. But what I'm interested in is what Jonah prayed when he was in the belly of that beast.

Again, Jonah 2:9, "I'll offer sacrifices to you, Lord, with songs of praise, and I'll fulfill all of my vows". So, he's saying, "Lord, I know what you've called me to do. I know I wasn't doing it. I know I was going the opposite direction. And I'll do what you have called me to do". Again, Jonah had a revival in the belly of the fish. And then God gave him a second chance. Jonah 2:10 says, "The Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. And the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time saying, 'Go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to them the message that I give to you.'" So, here was Jonah, now repentant and regurgitated, believing and barfed, righteous and ralphed. He was bleached and beached. He was victorious and vomited. And, one more, he was regurgitated and revived.

Imagine if you were laying around at the beach in Nineveh, and you saw this sight. In comes this massive beast cruising through the water that comes right to the shore. It opens up his mouth, makes a retching sound, and out rolls Jonah, ta-da. His skin was probably bleached from the gastric juices in the whale's belly. And here's his message: in 40 days, Nineveh is going to be overthrown. Look at Jonah chapter 3, he preaches this message that God gave him and he says, "Forty more days, and Nineveh is going to be overthrown".

Now, you might think that's a pretty hopeless message, but actually, it's more hopeful than you may realize. They had 40 days to repent. They had 40 days to get right with God. The fact of the matter is, God sent no warning to Sodom and Gomorrah. Judgment fell on them. But in the case of Nineveh, though they were wicked, the Lord gave them a second chance. I wonder what we would do in America if we were given a 40-day warning? Would we turn to God? Because in this story, it starts with the king who turns to God, and then all of the people do it as well. Would that happen in our nation as well? You know, God has given two secret weapons to the church today. They are not boycotting and protesting. They're not even registering and voting. The two secret weapons God has given to the church are prayer and preaching.

So, Jonah has prayed in the belly of the beast. Now, he's preached to the city of Nineveh, walking through their streets. What happens next? You need to go now to Jonah chapter 3, verse 5, and we read this amazing story. "The people of Nineveh believed God's message, from the greatest to the least, and they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow. When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes and dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes. And everyone prayed earnestly to God. And when God saw what they had done, how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened".

This is a stunning turnaround. An entire city filled with thousands of people turned to God en masse, and a revival takes place and the judgment of God is turned away. It just shows us that no one is beyond the reach of God. I want you, for a moment, to think of someone you know that you can't even imagine being a Christian. It's hard for you to even picture them holding a Bible and saying something like, "Praise the Lord". But listen to this: no one is beyond the reach of God. Maybe it's your father or your mother, maybe it's your son or your daughter, maybe it's someone you know that gives you a hard time at work, maybe it's an angry, contentious neighbor, maybe it's a public figure, you're thinking, they could never come to believe in Jesus. Oh, they could and you need to start praying for them that God will reach them.

Again, this was a revival. God told these people 40 days, judgment was coming, and they repented. God tells us in 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people which are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land". Listen, if you want to see a revival, just do revival-like things. When we're doing the things we should always be doing every day, getting up and reading the Bible, having a prayer life, being involved in our church, sharing our faith, when we do these things, it fuels the fire of revival and keeps that fire burning. But when we neglect those things, we begin to fade.

Maybe God has spoken to your heart, and you have seen your need for Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came from heaven to this earth. He was born in a manger. He died on a cross. He rose again from the dead. Why? Because he loves you, and he wants a relationship with you. Listen, I'm not talking about religion. I don't want to be a religious person, I don't think you wanna be one either. I'm talking about relationship with God. Jesus, who died and rose again, stands at the door of your life and he knocks. And he says if you'll hear his voice and open the door, he will come in. Question, have you asked Jesus Christ to come and live inside of you?

You might say, "Well, I think so, I'm not sure". Hey, if someone moved into your house in the middle of the night, do you think you would be aware of it? I'm sure you would. And in the same way, if Christ has come to live inside of you, you will know. And if you don't know, maybe he has not come in yet. He's just a prayer away. All you need to do is say, "Jesus, I want this relationship with you. I want you to forgive me of my sin. I want to go to heaven when I die". Would you like to do that? Would you like Christ to come into your life? If so, why don't you just pray this simple prayer with me. You could pray it out loud, or you can pray it in the quietness of your heart. But this is a prayer where you're asking Jesus Christ to be your Savior and Lord. Pray this with me now.

Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, but I know that you're the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. Now come into my life. I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer. In Jesus's name, amen.

Did you just pray that prayer with me? If so, I want you to know in the authority of Scripture that Christ himself has come to live inside of you. And let me be the first to say to you, congratulations and welcome to the family of God.
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