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Faithlife Corporation

Isaiah: Prince of Prophets—“The Roadmap for Revival”

Notes & Transcripts

I want to preach this evening on The Roadmap for Revival. Personally, I like the term spiritual awakening better, but both terms speak of an out-pouring of the Holy Spirit upon the lives of God’s people.

Revival—or more precisely, the Revival Meeting—is a modern phenomenon in the annals of Church history. The idea of setting a few weeks aside and expecting God to change everything in our church and lives is something that no one even considered until about 150 years ago. Revivalism grew out of the Second Great Awakening, and its chief proponent was Charles G. Finney who is referred to by church historians as The Father of Modern Revivalism. The use of ‘cottage prayer meetings’, revival advertisements, choirs, tear-wrenching testimonies, pulpit-pounding sermons and ‘invitations’ where ‘people came forward’ to make ‘a decision for Christ’ were all developed by Finney.

What I find so interesting, is as the years have gone by, we’re giving God less and less time to ‘move’ in the life of the church. Finney would hold what were called ‘Protracted Meetings’—revival services that went every evening for two weeks. By the late 1940s and early 50s, the protracted meetings were giving way to ‘one week crusades’. This is the era of Billy Graham and the tent-meetings. By the late 1980s, even the week-long crusade was too long, and many churches began advertising ‘five-day-revivals’ and even ‘three-day-revivals’—a Friday night through a Sunday morning. Now we have ‘one-day-revivals’. Given the spirit of the age, my guess is that we will soon experience ‘iPhone-crusades’—revival via 140-character ‘tweet’.

As far as I can tell, the New Testament never records a revival meeting. The church in those days was consistently walking in the power of God, enjoying the manifest presence of God, and did not need revival. Think about it: How do you when spiritual awakening has come? When you don’t need it!

In the Old Testament, revivals were common, but they were different than what we call a revival now. Awakenings always came on the heels of a revival of prayer, a renewed commitment to the Word of God, and repentance of sin. When revival came, it was not just a time of spiritual euphoria, but a time of social, political and spiritual change.

Most of us agree that we need revival. We need revival in our personal lives. We need revival in our church life. We stand in need of a national revival.

What we need to understand is that we will not have revival just because we set aside a few days or even a few weeks for it. God does not pour out his Spirit at our command. We need to understand the truth that genuine revival is a time when God moves sovereignly among a spiritually prepared people. These verses tell us how that can be a reality in our lives.

These verses tell us about a time of genuine revival. Isaiah is writing about the coming of the Messiah. These verses were partially fulfilled through the ministry of John the Baptist, (Matt. 3:3). They will see their ultimate fulfillment when Jesus comes in His second advent, to rule as the King of Kings, and sets things right in the world. That will be a time of revival such as the world has never known!

While these verses are primarily about the future, they also present what we can call A Roadmap For Revival. They point out the preparations the church must make if we want to see the Lord move among us in a time of power, glory and spiritual renewal.

I. REVIVAL IS A CLEARING PROCESS

    • “A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3, NIV84)
            1. in every generation, there is a need for revival and spiritual awakening
                1. in every generation, the voice of God is calling His people unto repentance and obedience
                2. it’s a process that begins with you, not someone else
            2. the first thing we need to understand is that we must clear some stuff our of our lives
                1. each of us is different and the type of clearing we need will also be different
                  • ILLUS. When loggers go into an area to harvest timber, they will harvest in one of two way. They may go in an area and simply do a thinning. They take out a select number of trees that provides a greater availability of growth for other trees. Sometimes however, loggers will clear cut an entire area. Everything is taken out and then saplings are planted.
                2. the point?
                    1. some believers may just need a ‘thinning out’ of sinful behaviors before revival can take place
                    2. some believers may need a whole-sale clear-cutting!
                3. where you are is between you and God, but I am confident that there is not a single one of us that couldn’t at least use some trimming in our lives
                    1. how do you accomplish this clearing process?

A. REMOVE THE RUBBLE OF SIN

    • ILLUS. One of the blessings God established for the Hebrews when they came into the land was to set aside Cities of Refuge to which manslayers could appeal for asylum if they accidently killed someone. It kept them safe from the vengeance of the victim’s family. Once a year the inhabitants of the Cities of Refuge were to go out and repair and level the highways that led into their city. The rubble had to be removed.
            1. we need to deal with the sin in our lives
                1. if we want revival to come, for the Lord to dwell in our lives, we must confess and repent of the sin
            2. often the biggest problem we have with the rubble is owning up to the fact that it's there in the first place
              • ILLUS. Two brothers had been particularly rambunctious one afternoon and in the process had broken a lamp in the living room. Neither, of course, was about to admit guilt in the event. As their mother put them into bed she gave them one last opportunity to confess; "When I say my prayers tonight I'm going to ask God to let me know which one of your broke the lamp. Wouldn't you like to tell me before I ask God?" One of the boys quickly replied, "No let's wait and see what God says!"
            3. we are often in that very position
                1. we know that there is rubble in our lives but we figure we can let it stay, not confess it until we have to
                2. the problem with that is that until we remove the rubble sin, we can never...

B. REBUILD THE ROADWAY OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

            1. if you have unconfessed sin in your life, not only can you not have revival; you can not have true fellowship with Christ
            2. when you do open yourself up through this clearing process however, the roadway of righteousness, a renewed relationship is built and fellowship restored
                1. open your mind and your heart right now
                2. remove the rubble of sin and rebuild the roadway of righteousness between you and God
                  • ILLUS. Gypsy Smith was a British evangelist who conducted evangelistic campaigns in the United States and Great Britain for over 70 years. He was once asked how to start a revival. He answered: “Go home, lock yourself in your room, kneel down in the middle of your floor. Draw a chalk mark all around yourself and ask God to start the revival inside that chalk mark. When He has answered your prayer, the revival will be on.”

II. REVIVAL IS A LIFTING PROCESS

    • “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” (Isaiah 40:4, NIV84)
            1. this part of the verse speaks to us about the places in our lives that are lacking
                1. we all have low spots in our walk with the Lord
                2. we all have places that we have allowed to become hollowed out and shallow
                    1. those places must be filled in before revival can come in your life
            2. these valleys can go by many names
                1. for some their valleys are spiritual: prayer life, Bible reading, church attendance, unforgiveness, guilt, anger, self-righteousness, etc.
                2. for some their valleys are physical: financial problems; marital issues, physical problems, the hardships of life, relationship and activities that have pulled you away from God, etc.
            3. I am asking you to look into your life today
                1. identify those low places that need to be filled in and get busy seeing that they are made right

A. HE WANTS US TO REFOCUS OUR ATTITUDE

            1. when Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens m e” (Phil 4:13), he meant it
                1. but that confidence is based on a relationship with Christ
                2. if God is on our side, why do we fight like such wimps?
                  • ILLUS. That's the problem that King Saul's soldiers had with the Philistines. Their attitudes controlled their actions. They all were afraid of Goliath, and no one would go out and fight. David came along and showed what happens when God lifts us up. The soldiers thought Goliath was too big to kill...David thought he was too big to miss!

III. REVIVAL IS A LEVELING PROCESS

    • “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” (Isaiah 40:4, NIV84)
    • ILLUS Throughout history, mountains and hills have always been barriers to man's progress. They have hindered his efforts to explore his world and go where he wants to go.
            1. this part of the verse speaks to us about the barriers, or roadblocks in our lives, that have the potential to hinder revival from coming our way
                1. there are many potential barriers to revival in our lives
                2. let me name a few: Jealousy, lust, pride, unfaithfulness, hindering relationships, worry, hypocrisy, disobedience to the will of God, busyness, fear, guilt, unforgiveness, etc.
                  • ILLUS. F.B. Meyer was a Baptist pastor and evangelist in England. In one of his devotional books he tells the story of a revival that broke out in a small English community. He writes of a revival meeting that was dragging along without signs of success until one evening an elder arose and said, “Pastor, I don’t believe there is going to be a revival as long as Brother Jones and I don’t speak to each other.” He went to Jones and said: “Brother Jones, we have not spoken for five years, let’s bury the hatchet. Here’s my hand.” A sob broke from the audience. Soon another elder arose and said: “Pastor, I’ve been saying mean things about you behind your back and nice things to your face. I want you to forgive me.” Many arose and confessed their wrongs and God began to visit them. A revival swept over the community for three years.
            2. when we level the barriers that exist between ourselves and fellow believers, God can do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can ask or think
                1. everyone here has mountains in their life
                2. we all have attitudes, actions and passions that need to be brought down so that God can move in like He desires to

IV. REVIVAL IS A STRAIGHTENING OUT PROCESS

    • "Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” (Isaiah 40:4, NIV84)
            1. in the King James, the third phrase reads: and the crooked shall be made straight
                1. most modern translations translate it has I read: the rough ground shall become level
                2. though the later gives a better sense of the Hebrew, I like the poetry of the KJV
            2. the word “crooked” comes from a word that means “deceitful, sly, or slippery”
                1. it speaks of a road that is deceptive in nature
                    1. it promises one thing and delivers another
                    2. it appears to be a level, easy way, but when traveled, it proves to hazardous and it always leads to a fall
            3. if we want revival in our lives, we are going to have to identify those areas where we have taken the wrong road and get back on track with Him
                1. some have gotten themselves into relationships that have led them away from God
                    1. that road is crooked and needs to be straightened out
                2. some have allowed work; recreation or some other pursuit to lead them away from the Lord
                    1. that is a dangerous road and it needs to be abandoned for the straight road of serving the Lord
                3. some have wandered down a path of self-righteousness, and have come to believe that they know what’s right for everyone around them
                    1. that is a dangerous road and it needs to be abandoned for the straight path of humility
                4. some are walking the crooked path of pride
                    1. they refuse to bow to the Lordship of Jesus in their lives
                    2. they hear His Word and turn a deaf ear to His call
                    3. that is a dangerous path, and it needs to be abandoned for the path of humble service to the Lord

Con. If real revival came, what would it look like? It would not be a few days of meeting and then forgotten forever. If real revival came, would everyone embrace it? No, because if real revival came, many would leave the church because they like things the way they are. Revival messes things up for those who are unwilling to change.

If real revival came what would it look like? I think it would look a lot like verse 5. “And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:5, NIV84).

In his book, The Secret of Christian Joy, Vance Havner writes: “The greatest need of America is an old-fashioned, heaven-born, God-sent revival. Throughout the history of the church, when clouds have hung lowest, when sin has seemed blackest and faith has been weakest, there have always been a faithful few who have not sold out to the devil nor bowed the knee to Baal, who have feared the Lord and thought upon his Name and have not forsaken the assembling of themselves together. These have besought the Lord to revive his work in the midst of the years, and in the midst of the fears and tears, and in wrath to remember mercy. God has always answered such supplication, filling each heart with his love, rekindling each soul with fire from above.”

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