The Three R’s of Revival
We’ve just come through Revival services recently…
We have “Revivals” several times a year…
Other churches have “Revivals”…
We hear a lot about needing a revival…
Sometimes churches call their meetings a “revival effort”…
If we look at the world around us, or even at the country we live in, all of us would agree that we need true revival. Not another “Revival” set of services but true, life-changing revival.
In some circles, you hear talk of wanting the “old days” back. Or that they want to see things like they saw “back in the day.” Often, people want to see a repeat of high-emotion… yadayadayadayada
That can come without revival and revival certainly can come without that.
The word “revival” is defined as:
• Restoration to life
• Restoration to use
• An awakening
But the definition that really caught my attention was this one:
• A new production of an old play
Too often, when we are seeking “revival,” we tend to seek “a new production of an old play.” Or in other words, we are looking to see what we’ve seen before. I’ve heard people talk of wanting to see people run and scream and do all these sorts of things; and talk about how seeing those things was seeing revival.
Revival is not seeing or doing physical things. It isn’t running or shouting or hollering or any certain action. Revival is not simply outward – it’s something that happens on the inside. Where God works and revives us – brings us back to life; brings us back to use; awakens us spiritually.
If an ambulance gets a call that someone is dying and needs help, they’ll rush to the scene. When they get there, if the person is on the brink of dying or has just died, often they will try to revive the person. They will try to restore the person to life. The person was alive, now they’re not, and their goal is to bring them back to life.
I’ve taken the CPR course twice in my lifetime… once when I was a boy scout and once just a couple years ago. It’s interesting to see how the course changed from when I took it as a 12-year old to when I took it 10 years later. When I took it the first time, the procedure was to give three breaths, then do 5 chest compressions. This cycle was repeated and repeated. When I took CPR again a few years ago, the procedure had changed drastically. With new and better knowledge of how the body works, they discovered that the blood is quite good at holding on to the oxygen that is in it, while the heart struggles to keep pumping that blood once a person has “died.” This means that doing the chest compressions is far more important than giving the breaths. When I took it a couple years ago, the method was to give 3 breaths followed by 30 chest compressions. Ten years earlier, it was 3 to 5, now it was 3 breaths to 30 chest compressions.
After speaking with the trainer, I learned that the method of giving CPR has changed several times over the last 10 years.
Likewise, some people have tried to change the method of “revival” in the church. But tonight, the method (if you want to call it that) is still the same as it ever was. It’s not in having special services; it’s not in working up an emotion; it’s not in crazy outward signs; the method is the same as it was for the church at Ephesus that Jesus spoke to in the book of Revelation.
Before we can ever talk about revival in the church, this church or the universal church, every Christian must ask themselves, “Am I personally revived? Am I living as a committed, on-fire follower of Jesus Christ?”
Ask yourself that question right now. If your answer is that you are not a committed, on-fire follower of Jesus Christ, then you exist as part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Listen to what Jesus said to the church of Ephesus in Revelation chapter 2:
2 I know what you do, how you work hard and never give up. I know you do not put up with the false teachings of evil people. You have tested those who say they are apostles but really are not, and you found they are liars. 3 You have patience and have suffered troubles for my name and have not given up.
All good stuff, so far… then he goes on…
4 "But I have this against you: You have left the love you had in the beginning. 5 So remember where you were before you fell. Change your hearts and do what you did at first. If you do not change, I will come to you and will take away your lampstand from its place.
Most of you would probably be familiar with the three R’s of education, two of which are not R’s at all: reading, writing, and arithmetic. Why they’re called the “Three R’s” is beyond me. It’s talking about education, and then they can’t even get the spelling right?!? Oh well.
Here in Revelation, Jesus gives us the three R’s of Revival, and they are all R’s: Remember, Repent, and Repeat.
Remember where you were before you fell.
Repent (or change your hearts).
Repeat, or do what you did at first, when you first fell in love with me.
CPR has changed drastically over the last 20 years. Its methods have changed as more has been learned.
But the way to see spiritual revival hasn’t changed since Jesus told John to write this message to the church at Ephesus two thousand years ago. The method is still the same. Remember, Repent, then Repeat.
Listen to this statement:
We shouldn’t need revival.
I’m not talking about sets of services. I’m talking about true spiritual revival. We shouldn’t need it. If we were doing what we know we should be doing, we wouldn’t need to fix things. We wouldn’t need to remember where we have fallen from, repent and turn our hearts back to God, and repeat how we used to serve God.
You want to see church revival? You want to see national revival? Start with yourself. If we stop worrying about how much other people need to Remember, Repent, and Repeat, and would focus on ourselves, real revival would come.
We as a church need to be revived before God. We as a country need to be revived before God. But it doesn’t start with special services; it doesn’t start with special prayer gatherings; it doesn’t start with preaching; it doesn’t start with anything other than remembering, repenting, and repeating.
Not “remember” as in remember how it was in the old days and what we did and how we acted and “Boy, wouldn’t it be great to see people do that again…”
“Remember” as in remember how your walk with God was when you first came to know Him. Remember how you loved Him; remember how you wanted to please Him in everything you did; remember how you sought His approval for everything in your life; remember how you relied on His strength to make it through every day; remember how you couldn’t believe you had ever tried to live without Him.
Do you remember that?
Now, are those things still true about you? Do you still seek His approval for everything in your life? From the more important things all the way to the things that you don’t think matter to God? Do you still feel like you can’t make it through life without His strength? Or are you reliant on your own abilities or strength to make it? Do you still believe you couldn’t live without Him? Or are you living with more of a 50/50 dependency on Him?
Have you forgotten about Him in your daily life?
Do you give him first place in your life every day, everything you do?
Is He the first One you go to with problems?
Is He the first One you go to with joys?
Is He first place in your life?
He was… and now you need to remember where you used to be.
And when we remember, we see how far we’ve fallen.
Suddenly everyone else’s problems don’t seem like such a big deal. Suddenly your relationship with God seems like the big deal that it is.
Teachers have to tell their students many many times: “You worry about you, and let her worry about her!” I had to tell a student on the bus that this past Friday. Kids are so eager to tell on other kids. And we tend to think that we outgrow that. But do we?
How eager are you to point out other people’s faults? And not to the person… we never go to someone about something; we always go to other people. Out of “concern” for them…
I guess this would be a better question: how eager are you to point out other people’s strengths? God wants us building each other up, not tearing each other down. You worry about you and let everybody else worry about themselves.
Don’t remember where so-and-so used to be; remember where YOU used to be in your relationship with God. Are you still there? Are you still where you were when you first came to know Him? Are you still that in love with God? If not, quit worrying about others and start remembering where you are.
In other words, turn away from your sin. Change your hearts. And the only way to do that is to come to God for forgiveness. You can change the direction of your heart, but you can’t change how clean it is. Only God can do that. And He will – if you repent.
When you’re making something out of wood, oftentimes the wood will have flaws in it. Maybe you didn’t notice it before you got going, but there it is. Wood workers often “gloss” over the flaws – this gives a false or deceptively good appearance to the wood. It dresses up the part that was flawed.
“Gloss” is defined as a superficial luster or shine. A fake. A fraud. That looks good.
Don’t gloss over your sins. Don’t cover them over with a fake shine. Don’t try to make them look better than they really are. If it’s sin, it’s sin. Quit trying to make excuses for it; quit trying to put the blame for it on someone else; quit hiding behind some inadequacy. Call sin, “sin!”
And then repent. Turn away from your sin. Don’t continue in it; don’t try to take the gloss off for a better look; throw it away! Get rid of it! If you know there is sin in your life, don’t play around with it – repent of it! Seek God’s forgiveness and His help to move on.
When we repent, we confess our sins. The word confess means, literally, “to say the same.” In other words, when we confess our sins, we say the same thing about them that God says about them. We don’t gloss them over; we don’t talk ourselves into believing they’re not really as bad as they are; we don’t play around with them… we say how bad they really are! They’re sins against God!
And they need forgiveness.
Aren’t you thankful for forgiveness? I’m glad that God has promised to forgive us when we come to Him with an open heart and a sincere spirit. We don’t have to worry when we repent of our sins; we can come not in fear, but in anticipation because God will forgive us; He will give us new life, another chance.
We need to Remember. We need to Repent.
And we need to Repeat.
Jesus said, “Do what you did at first.”
“Do what you did when you first fell in love with me.”
Those things you remembered just a few minutes ago… DO those things!
Get back to where you are in love with God.
Get back to where everything in your life relies on His approval.
Get back to where you rely on God for strength to make it through every day.
Get back to where your relationship with God is the most important part of your life.
In a marriage, there is a tendency to “cool off” on the romance once the first few years are past. While dating, the romance is going and going and growing and growing, but now that you’re married, you don’t have to try so hard to get her to like you. You don’t have to work quite as much to impress her. You already got her, so you can relax.
BAD ADVICE IN A MARRIAGE….. but even WORSE ADVICE IN your relationship with God!!
Sometimes it’s easy to take a relationship for granted. To just get used to having the benefit of the relationship. And there is this tendency in our relationship with God, too.
You’ve come to God, He’s given you forgiveness and life and hope. And you couldn’t believe how awesome life was. You couldn’t believe how good God was. How He was blessing you every day as you spent time with Him. You were growing in your relationship. You were trusting in Him for strength and wisdom.
But then, you began to take Him for granted. You became used to the fact that He would help you through life. And your relationship cooled off because you stopped working at it.
You need to REPEAT the things you used to do. You need to heat up your relationship with God. You need to spend the time with Him that you used to spend. You need to make the main thing – the main thing.
Repeat the things you used to do. How you used to pray. How you used to seek God. How you used to spend time with Him. How you used to seek His leading in your everyday life. How you used to serve God.
Repeat those things!
Church, if we want to see revival… real revival, it won’t be through scheduling or promoting or paying. It will only come through our individual, on our own, seeking God’s face. We each need to remember, repent, and repeat.
And when revival comes individually, revival will come corporately.
When we are revived in our own hearts and lives, our church as a whole will be revived. Our nation will be revived. Even our world will be revived.
But it starts not with a world or a nation or a church. It starts with each of us humbling ourselves before God and making sure our focus is on our personal relationship with Him.