How to Experience Personal Revival
Habakkuk1:2; 3:2, 17-19
Introduction: It was a fog-shrouded morning, July 4, 1952, when a young women named Florence Chadwick wadded into the water off Catalina Island. She intended to swim the channel from the island to the California coast. Long distance swimming was nothing new to her for she had been the first women to swim the English in both directions.
On that day the water was unusually chilly for it to be July. The fog was so thick that she could barely see the boats in her party. Several times sharks had to be driven away with rifle fire. She swam more than fifteen hours before demanding to be taken out of the water. Her trainer tried, in vain, to encourage her to continue on. He told her that they could be far from shore. However, all Florence Chadwick could see was the fog. So, she quit. The tragedy is that she was less than one half mile from her goal.
Later she said, “I’m not trying to make excuses for myself, but if I could have seen the land, I think I would have made it.”
It wasn’t cold, or fear of the sharks or the distance or even exhaustion that caused this experienced swimmer to quit. IT WAS THE FOG! She could not see her goal.
Could I be speaking to someone in whom a heavy fog has settled over your spirit? It impedes your progress and limits your vision. This dense fog has succeeded in...interrupting your prayer life, interfering with your witnessing (relationships with others), impeding your spiritual growth. Spiritually, you feel like you are on hold.
You want to give up. There seems to be a heavy fog that has settled over you and it is tempting you to quit...just give up.
You have too much pride to give up so you just continue to go through the motions. Going on seems to be such a heavy chore.
Then don’t despair...I HAVE GOOD NEWS! IT IS POSSIBLE TO EXPERIENCE PERSONAL REVIVAL and see the fog lift from your life.
When one speaks of the possibility of revival, there are a variety of responses:
1) Cynical smile. “Oh, sure, really!” They don’t thing it is possible.
2) Puzzled look- “What’s that?” They don’t understand what personal renewal is all about.
3) Deep Hunger- “That’s what I need.” Others hunger for the “much more” of God.
Is PersonalRevival possible? YES!
When one reads the final chapter and last words of the prophet Habakkuk, everything seems wonderful. However, when you read the opening verses of chapter one you are immediately struck with the reality...THIS PERSON NEEDS A FRESH EXPERIENCE WITH THE LORD!
He really did. The prophet reached a point where he was at a major crossroads. I call him the man of many questions. He was confused, perplexed and discouraged. However, that made him a good candidate to EXPERIENCE PERSONAL REVIVAL. Only desperate people seek the God who revives.
Out of the experience of this prophet, a genuine man of God, I want to speak on the subject of “How to Experience Personal Revival”.
ANY PERSON CAN EXPERIENCE PERSONAL REVIVAL WHEN THEY ARE DESERATE ENOUGH TO SEEK IT!
Read to 3:1-2: “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.”
What prompted this prayer? What caused him to turn his face toward God? What caused him to seek revival?
Since revival is an encounter with the holiness of God, our flesh avoids it. The personal message of revival is, “FLESH…YOU MUST DIE!” Therefore, before any person will seek God, they must become desperate. The LIGHT of revival will shine where the DARKNESS (fog) settles and creates desperation.
This was true in the life of the prophet. Chapter 1 reveals that very clearly. Observe the prophets frustration, perplexing and dismay.
(1) 1:2. First, he was perplexed over the issue of unanswered prayer.
Anyone here ever experience that frustration? You pray and it seems that God is oblivious. Heaven is made of brass. You have sent an urgent message to Heaven only to feel like God put you on hold (with no background music).
I have GOOD NEWS! You are a good candidate for personal revival! Are you desperate to find out why God is not answering your prayers?
(2) 1:3-4. Then, there was the problem of unpunished sin.
The man of God looked around and saw what seemed to him as sin abounding while God took a nap. That caused frustration. This abounding sin happened on a national level.
On a personal level, have you ever felt as though you were held captive by sin? You cried out to God, but He wasn’t anywhere around? It is one thing for sin to run rampant on the national level, but quite another when sins rule is winning in my personal life.
The Apostle Paul knew this frustration and expressed his feelings in Romans 7.
(3) 1:12-13. Finally, there was the plight of an unpredictable God.
Simply, the prophet was confused over the actions of God. He expressed his confusion which was this, “God I thought I knew You, but it seems that I don’t really know you after all.” He was astonished that God didn’t act like he thought He should act.
God is like that. Just when you think you have him figured out, He will do something that will blow your mind. The problem is, of course, that for the most of us OUR GOD IS TOO SMALL! We attempt to capture Him and keep Him in a little box but He keeps breaking out.
In short, Habakkuk was DESPERATE, and that motivated him to seek a fresh experience with God. Jack Taylor says, “You can experience revival when your desperation factor exceeds your fear factor.”
Anyone here who is close to the point of giving up? In fact some of you might be closer than you might feel comfortable admitting. Anyone present who is sick and tired of being sick and tired? Anyone fed up with going through religious motions? Anyone here running low on spiritual octane?
I HAVE GOOD NEWS! You, like the prophet Habakkuk are a good candidate for personal revival!
Any person can experience personal revival when they are desperate enough to seek the God who delights in renewing the faith and fire of His children.
Complacent people don’t experience revival! Why? Because they are comfortable in their misery.
ANY PERSON CAN EXPERIENCE PERSONAL REVIVAL WHEN THEY ARE WILLING TO EXTEND THE HAND OF FAITH TO RECEIVE IT.
3:17-19 states: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”
Do you get the point of what the prophet is saying? He is saying, “Even though I don’t feel, see, taste, hear God....I BELIEVE HE WILL DO WHAT HE SAYS!”
Revival is a work of grace. We must never forget that. And, there is only one way to receive grace and that is through faith. The pattern began at salvation and never changes through out the Christian life. It is a constant.
Question: How does a person experience personal revival?
Answer: Through GRACE
Question: How does a person receive grace?
Answer: Through FAITH
Anytime you are in bondage, all you need is a promise to set you free. (Example: Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt.)
Here is the PROCESS... (1) God’s PROMISE, (2) my FAITH, (3) God’s ACTION.
2 Chronicles 7:14 is a promise. It includes a clear condition that begins with the word “if.” It concludes with a confirmed promise that begins with the word “then.” IF we fulfill God’s conditions: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways.” THEN He will complete His promise: “then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Although Habakkuk was confused and perplexed, he was a person who had the capacity to express faith. Habakkuk 2:4 is perhaps the geographical center of the Bible. It is quoted two times in the New Testament. The prophet declared, “See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous will live by his faith.”
Yet the question is most often asked in our day of skepticism, “IS REVIVAL REALLY POSSIBLE IN OUR DAY?” That question represents the battlefield where the real issue of revival is waged. It is a spiritual battle. God has promised that personal revival is possible for you...now, today. Satan rebuttals “But, you don’t deserve it. You can’t access God. There is nothing better that what you are experiencing. Settle for that!”
The QUESTION of revival is this, “Who will you believe?” Habakkuk decided to believe God. Warren Wiersbe says of the statement found in 3:17-19, “These verses represent one of the greatest confessions of faith ever uttered in the Bible. It is the Old Testaments version of Philippians 4:11-13.”
The FAITH that receives revival is that which believes God when there is no evidence... when THE FOG has settled in causing you to want to quit.
Again, IS REVIVAL REALLY POSSIBLE...IN OUR DAY?
Yes. Revival is possible. There was such a day in our time. It was in 1970 in a little Methodist college called Ashbury located 15 miles south of Lexington, KY. It was a cold, bleak day on that winter day. The barren trees were representative of the lives of those students as they made their way to the compulsory chapel service. They arrived expecting to hear a sermon from the dean but he didn’t feel lead to preach on that day. Instead, he gave a testimony and extended to the students the opportunity to do the same. A senior stood up and declared how that the night before he came back to God after a long period of being away. His testimony was brief but very anointed by God. A holy hush fell over the place. In his book, One Divine Moment, Robert Coleman describes this mighty move of God that began on that day. Students began to stand up and confess their backslidden state, weeping they asked for prayers. For 185 hours (7 days and 17 hours) the service continued in which there was not a time when the chapel was unoccupied.
GOD SHOWED UP IN MIGHTY POWER! A spirit of Revival flooded the campus and broke out in the surrounding city. People came for hundreds of miles to get in on what God was up to. During those days of heavenly visitations, lives were changed, homes were restored, ministries salvaged. A fresh wind of God’s spirit was blowing and those who felt its breeze were refreshed. The school, city, denomination and more was affected by this revival in our day.
Approximately 157 invitations came in from all over the nation for students to come and share about the move of God. Two came to Southwestern Seminary in April of 1970 and lead in a chapel service which brought revival tot hat campus that had an affect on me. So, yes...REVIVAL IS POSSIBLE IN OUR DAY!
Do you remember Florence Chadwick? Remember her failure to swim the channel? Two months after her failure, she walked off the same beach into the same channel and swam the distance. In fact, she set a new speed record. What made the difference? The sharks were still a danger. The distance had not changed. She wasn’t in any better condition. There was one difference. THE FOG WAS GONE!
Would you like for the fog to disappear from your spiritual life? Experience the God who revives and the fog will disappear.