Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Mercy Drops of Revival

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Leslie Basham: Pastor Bill Elliff is committed to praying for revival, for a lifetime.

Bill Elliff: Until I die or until the Lord comes, I’m going to get up every morning believing that this could be the day that the Lord would bring revival.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, April 13.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: One of the themes you hear us talk about regularly on Revive Our Hearts is . . . revival! We’re believing God not just for revival, “lower case r” in our individual lives, but asking God in His way, in His time, to send a great Revival, "capital R” that will spread throughout  this entire nation and into other parts of the world.

I’ve been asking God for that kind of revival among His people since I was a young girl. A few years after I graduated from college, I began serving with Life Action Ministries, an organization that is committed to spreading a passion for revival among God’s people. Revive Our Hearts is a daughter ministry of Life Action.

As we shared yesterday, Revive Our Hearts and Life Action have joined together in a new initiative called OneCry. OneCry is a nationwide call for spiritual awakening. It’s an opportunity for various ministries, Christian leaders, churches, pastors, individuals, small group leaders, anybody who has a heart for revival, to join together in seeking God earnestly for revival in our day.

One of the leaders in the OneCry movement is Pastor Bill Elliff. That name may be familiar to you as he and his wife, Holly, have been frequent guests on Revive Our Hearts. Today they’re going to give us a picture of what revival might look like, practically.

Several months ago, their church, The Summit Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, experienced what Bill calls “mercy drops”—a taste of the kind of revival that he’s praying will sweep through our nation. Bill and Holly are going to share the story of some of the incredible things that God did in their church and tell you how you can be involved in praying for a widespread move of God in our day.

Bill: At The Summit on April third of 2011, we were having a normal service, but I sensed God moving in an extraordinary way. I was preaching on the quenching of the Holy Spirit. It says there in 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (that would be a great passage for our listeners to study), “Don’t despise prophetic utterances.” Now, you can have different ideas about what a prophetic utterance is, but what it is, it’s God’s truth, in a nutshell.

So what this means is, when God speaks to you, don’t despise it, don’t minimize it or marginalize it. You say, “Well, how could I do that?” An illustration would be of a church member sitting and the pastor preaching a passionate message on prayer and calls people to prayer. Then the church member walks out, says, “Wonderful message, boy I really needed that!” Then he walks away and doesn’t pray.

What he’s done, the God of the universe was trying to move through him. His Spirit wanted to be unleashed through him in prayer. He laid it on the heart of one of His servants to tell him that, but he despised what God said and just paid no attention to it. Well, that’s serious business.

That day as I was sharing that truth, I could just sense a heaviness in our service. I had more to my message, but the Lord just said, “Bill stop. You’ve said enough,” after about thirty minutes.

I told the people, “I can’t finish this message; I think I’m done.” A man stood up in the congregation and said, “Bill, we’ve got to obey God right now.” And he screamed it out and made this passionate plea for us to follow the Lord and do whatever He said.

Well, for four weeks I had been putting a microphone down on the floor. Nobody knew that except me and the sound guy, but I was just sensing that the Lord was moving. So I told the people at that point, “For the next few minutes I want you to do whatever the Lord says.” They started streaming to the altar, and I said, “The microphone is open, and I’ll be down here if there’s something you need to share or say.”

By the time I got to the microphone, there was a lady there. She shared some need. It was a beautiful thing, and I thought, “Well that’s wonderful, maybe we’re through.” And about the time she finished there was another woman and she shared, and then I turned around and there was a line.

That prayer time lasted for three or three-and-a-half hours. It was just glorious. In the middle of that a C-130 pilot came down to the microphone and he said,

You know, I’ve needed to be baptized for years. I’ve been sitting back there and every time someone was baptized God said to me, "You need to be baptized." And every time I despised what He said and I quenched the Spirit. 

And I’m wondering how I’ve affected the life of this church because of my disobedience. I want to be baptized right now.

And he took off his shoes and his socks, and we had a portable baptistry set up, and he ran to the baptistry and just got in, and so we baptized him.

When I got through, another lady was coming to the microphone and she said, “Me too!” There were four more that day. Those kinds of spontaneous baptisms happened sixty-five times in the next five weeks.

The next night we had a prayer meeting. We had begun meeting in January, the first Monday of the month, for prayer for revival. So the next one was scheduled that next night. I invited the people to join us. We didn’t know what God had planned.

We came the next night, and instead of there being seventy people, there were two hundred plus people. We met for, I think, three-and-a-half hours of confession, sharing, and prayer movement and all kinds of things that night.

One lady came down weeping and she said, “My husband killed himself in front of me. We’d been married for thirty days, and I’m so angry at God. I’m a believer, and I know I shouldn’t be angry. Please pray for me.”

Well, about forty people just came around her and began to cry out to the Lord. When they got through, one of her friends said, “Can I say something?” She came to the microphone and said, “She didn’t tell you, but she doesn’t have a car. Could we help her out?”

So I reached and got an offering basket and put it on the podium. People began to stream down and put money in it. That went on for a while. Then a man came in late and heard the story. He ran down to the altar and said, “Yesterday my father gave me the keys to a 2003 Ford Expedition and said he needs to give it away. Would this work?” And he hands her the keys to a new car.

Then we gave her, I think, $2800 dollars in the offering plate for gas money. Well those kinds of things happened over and over again.

Holly Elliff: We had a young man who was a college student . . .

Leslie: This is Bill’s wife, Holly Elliff.

Holly: . . . who stood up and said, “I have a tremendous burden on my heart for homeless people, for men who are in distress,” and he was weeping. “I just want to see God move in areas of our city that are needy.”

The Lord brought another couple forward. The woman put her wedding ring in the offering plate. She did it for the purpose of helping provide funds for this college-age man who so longed to begin a ministry in this area of our city.

Bill: People began to come to give toward that need. Then a man came down and said, "Could I help buy back that ring for her?”

I said, “Well sure.”

He put money in the plate, and then another man came and brought a check in the plate for the full amount of what he thought the ring was worth.

So we brought her back down and we had a wedding ceremony and placed the ring back on her finger and said, “We just want to remind you that you’re married to Christ and you can never out-give Him.”

A little while later, the girl whose husband had committed suicide came down, and she gave her ring toward the offering. And someone came and said, “I want to buy her ring back.” So we had another wedding ceremony and reminded her she was married to Christ, and He would always provide for her needs.

It was just extraordinary. It wasn’t produced; it wasn’t pushed. I said, “We’re going to meet tomorrow night, and if the Lord tells us to, we’ll meet another night.” And that’s what we did. We met another night and another night, for five weeks . . . night by night we would continue with no advertisement, no push. But it was the Lord manifesting Himself.

Holly: Our whole church calendar just went out the window. Our elders and staff met every day and prayed for a couple hours every morning saying, “God, what do you want us to do tonight?” It really was just day by day, seeking what God wanted to do. We didn’t know. This had never happened to us before. It was really just waiting on what God was going to tell us to do for that next moment or that next day. It just didn’t end for five weeks or so.

I’ve heard someone say that when revival comes, it sweeps everything out of the way. That’s kind of what happened. The other things did not seem as important. Yes, I still had to feed my family, but if we had to stop at McDonald’s on the way and grab a burger, that was fine. Nobody cared.

We did do that quite a bit in those days, or grabbed a pizza. Those weren’t the things that mattered as much. It was just a very sweet, calm, wonderful time, but there was an anticipation every night of what God was going to do in people’s lives. It wasn’t jumping pews or rolling on the floor, nothing like that, but precious things that were eternal.

It was somebody coming to Christ, or a husband coming for baptism when his wife had been praying for years for that, or somebody putting their wedding ring in the offering plate because they wanted to see this mission point be able to happen.

It was just over and over and over, things that men did not orchestrate, but God’s Spirit did. I would say that some of the things that we’re seeing now, as a result of that, would be an increased awareness of what really does matter. Those days were so precious. Prayer became much more important to me, a renewed understanding of the way that God really does answer prayer, that it is powerful.

Bill: I’ve never heard our people pray like this, and to this day we’ve continued our meeting every Monday night. Our people are just interceding on a whole new level because they understand what can happen now. They’ve been awakened. That’s spiritual awakening—that’s what’s happened to them.

Holly: So now when my kids come to me and say, “Mom, can we pray about this?” they really believe God’s going to do something about it. It’s not just rote prayers; it’s not just something we do because we’ve always done it. We really have seen the Lord do some things in response to prayer—things that have built our faith.

I have much more faith now, when I pray, that the Lord is going to hear and answer that prayer, so I pray a little differently than I did before those days. The sense of community—the longing to be together—transparency when our church folks are together . . .

Even now in our church services, it’s not unusual at all for someone to step to the microphone at the end of the service and say, “I’m really struggling this week. Here’s my need. I need some folks to pray for me.” Immediately there will be fifty people that get up and surround them and just pray for them. That has become much more normal.

Bill: We have begun to see, and did during those five weeks, some mercy drops of revival in several other churches in the city. In our city we have about one-hundred-and-fifty pastors that at one time or another have joined together in different initiatives. They watched that and said, “If God is able to do that, maybe He can do something in my church. Maybe He can do something in the whole city.”

So it’s raised the faith of the church corporately in the city in a beautiful way.

Holly: Out of those desires that showed up in those days, now there is a ministry beginning where we will have opportunity to minister full-time to folks who are down and out, or kids who don’t have dads, or women who are struggling with shepherding their families. It’s going to give us opportunity to minister in that area, that we’ve never had.

Bill: So, we are just crying out with one cry, “God do that all over the nation, and do it more, and do it longer and let the world know who You are." Jonathan Edwards said, “Our job is to give the world a right opinion about God.” We want the world to know who God really is; that there’s a God who lives in Little Rock.

Our listeners ought to be praying, “Lord, show the world that there’s a God; there’s a God who lives in my city; there’s a God who lives in my home; there’s a God who lives in my church, and He’s not like the gods of this world.”

He’s so far superior, so beautiful, so valuable, so worth giving your life to. And the end result of that is genuine revival.

Leslie: Bill and Holly Elliff have been giving us a taste of what revival could look like. Their church has experienced a significant spiritual awakening over the last year, an experience Bill refers to as “mercy drops,” but he’s pleading for a shower of blessing, for revival to sweep our nation.

Now, some people are thinking, “Bill, what exactly do you mean by the term revival?”

Bill: Well, the simplest form is “God.” It’s God being restored to His rightful place, God awakening His church. I love Richard Owen Roberts’ definition, “Revival is the extraordinary work of the Spirit of God that produces extraordinary results.” So God is doing His normal work all the time. We live and breathe because of his grace.

But in times of revival, there is an extraordinary movement of God, there is a rapid movement of God, and that’s what we’re praying for. And frankly, that’s our only hope. If revival doesn’t come to our nation, I believe we’re going to phase out as the mission-sending station of the world.

Another interesting fact is that every great mission movement in the modern missionary era has come after times of revival. William Carey, Count von Zinzendorf and the Moravian missionaries came out of the Moravian Pentecost, they called it. It was a time of revival. We could document that very easily.

Until I die or the Lord comes, I’m going to get up every morning believing this could be the day the Lord brings revival.

Leslie: If you share Bill Elliff’s passion to see spiritual awakening in our day, he says the best place to start is with personal revival.

Bill: Gypsy Smith said the way you get ready is, you draw a circle, then you stand in the circle and say, “Lord, start revival in here.” Every person can experience personal revival by going to the Lord with a humble and repentant heart and saying, “God show me everything in my life that is not what you desire it to be,” and dealing with that. I love the pattern that Christ gives us in the Beatitudes where He says, “Blessed is the man who is poor in spirit.” This leads to humility, a real mourning, which is  brokenness, a genuine repentance about sin and a meekness, which is a willingness to be governed by God.

I see myself and my sin. I see my poverty and it brings me to the end of myself. Then I say, “Lord, rule me.” And that’s revival. Revival is God being restored to His rightful place in my heart.

It has to happen one person at a time, doesn’t it? That’s how revival comes. It’s not just a national initiative somewhere. It’s you and me saying, “Lord, I want you as Lord of my life.” So I think the greatest thing I can do is walk in the fullness of the Spirit every day, and the Bible’s clear how that can happen.

And then, I can pray. I can genuinely intercede. Then, I can help mobilize others for revival by becoming a student of revival, and by telling the story about what God has done in the Bible, historically, what He’s done in church history, what He's done in our own nation’s history.

I need to understand that and be able to raise the faith of others by telling those biblical truths so that they can pray in faith, and we can hope for and look for and anticipate revival.

I think one of the things that’s happened in my own life is just, through being touched in a movement of God on a college campus in 1970 and getting the taste of revival in my mouth, I have been a student of revival all my life and have been looking for that.

You pray differently and you preach differently, you think differently and you strategize differently when that’s your end goal. So, I think that’s the thing we’re going after, particularly with our leaders . . . to develop a learning community over the next several years where we will learn from each other.

It’s not one guy kind of giving them something. It’s all of us coming together, studying the ways of God in revival. It’s just to raise the water table of the leaders, because leaders in revival, if they’re prepared, can really help.

Leslie: That’s Pastor Bill Elliff, who is involved in a new initiative called OneCry for Spiritual Awakening. This movement is all about prayer, and I hope you’ll sign up and commit to praying for revival. I also hope you’ll consider leading a OneCry prayer group yourself.

Nancy, you’ve been calling out to God for revival for years, so it has to be exciting to see believers everywhere coming together in prayer.

Nancy: And that’s why I’m excited about the OneCry Movement. It’s a unique opportunity to join thousands of other believers all across this country and all around the world in praying that God will awaken His people once again.

The launch of OneCry was announced several weeks ago as a way that you can connect with other believers in earnestly praying for God to revive our nation. Byron Paulus is the Executive Director of Life Action Ministries. Life Action is the parent ministry of Revive Our Hearts, and it was in Byron’s heart that God first placed the vision for the OneCry Movement. So we’ve asked him to share more about his heart in regard to the OneCry initiative.

Byron Paulus: Did you ever look around and feel like there just isn’t any hope for our nation? Look at the health of the church or look at the broken relationships. Look at the debt and financial instability. I know that despite all these challenges, there is hope. And you can be a part of it. There’s no better way you can make a difference than by crying out to God for spiritual awakening.

That’s why we’re asking you to be a part of OneCry. It’s a movement of believers who are urgently crying out to God and staying connected with others who are doing the same.

To begin, you’ll read and affirm a document called a Declaration of Spiritual Emergency. You’ll get some information on how you can turn from every known sin in your life. We’ll help you to effectively pray for revival. And you’ll unite with others by either starting your own OneCry prayer group or by joining an existing prayer group, including one led by the Revive Our Hearts team. Thousands have already joined the OneCry movement. Will you?

Nancy: That’s Byron Paulus, the Executive Director of Life Action Ministries. And I’m so excited to be sharing about this new OneCry initiative with Revive Our Hearts listeners. I hope that you will join us in calling out to God for spiritual awakening in our day.

So let me encourage you to go to ReviveOurHearts.com and look for the link to OneCry. You’ll be able to read the Declaration of Spiritual Emergency that Byron was talking about, and you can sign up to join the Revive Our Hearts OneCry group.

I believe this is such an important and desperately needed opportunity to join your voice with the voices of many, many others who are crying out to God during a time of such great spiritual need in our nation and in our world.

Again, that web address to learn more about OneCry and how you can become involved, is ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: The Old Testament tells us the story of Miriam, a girl who watched her baby brother float down the river in a little basket. Her story says a lot to women in 2012. Find out why next week, when Nancy begins a teaching series on Miriam. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

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