Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Preparing the Church

Leslie Basham: Did you ever sit through a church service and feel that something was missing? Sure, maybe the music was uplifting and the preaching was challenging, but did you walk away with the sense that you had hit the spiritual snooze button? It's Wednesday, January 12, and you're listening to Revive Our Hearts with author and speaker Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

In the heat of the summer, if your grass turns yellow and flowers droop and die, what do you do? Well, common sense tells you to get out the sprinkler and water the lawn, right? With the water comes life. In the same way there are certain signs that tell us that the Church is in need of a good soaking by the Living Water and that's what Nancy Leigh DeMoss will talk about today on Revive Our Hearts.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Some years ago I was blessed to be part of a team of individuals who were ministering in a local church where God was moving in a spirit of revival. He was visiting His people with a sense of His presence and it was a wonderful thing to see God setting people free from issues that in some cases had kept them in bondage for years.

And, by the way, when God moves in revival in a local church, it affects the whole church family -- I'm talking children, teenagers, adults, church leadership, those on the periphery. Many were being responsive to the Lord during this time.

In the midst of this season, the pastor and the leadership of the church called for a late-night prayer meeting to pray for revival in a broader sense throughout the church and the community. During that prayer meeting one of the leaders of that meeting asked the people to make a list of the sins of the Church, not just that church but us as the Church of Christ,- the sins that need to be confessed, the sins that we need to repent of, the sins that sometimes find themselves in our churches.

And I remember, he stood up there making a list that was being reproduced up on a screen so that the people could then see the list as they contributed these items and then went to a time of confession and repentance over our corporate sin as the people of God.

It was a long list. There was on that list almost every conceivable sin that you can think about, and these were identified as sins in our churches. Later, the pastor of that church in reflecting on that evening said that what was astounding to him was that every single sin on that list, plus a few others that had not made it onto the list (that were not ones that could even be discreetly said in public), that all of those sins were sins that had been uncovered and exposed and dealt with during the previous two or three weeks as God had been meeting with that church in revival.

Now lest you think that church would be a huge exception, I've come to believe it's more the rule about most of our churches rather than the exception. On that list would have been such sins as we find in our churches today: divorce, adultery, promiscuity of every sort, incest. And then, not only the obvious sins of the flesh, but also those sins of the spirit: unforgiveness, bitterness, cheating, sins that people aren't often as aware of.

One writer on revival said that revival is needed not because of the state of the world but because of the state of the church. You know, the church is waiting today for the world to repent, but the world is standing back waiting for the church to get right with God.

One of the problems is that we tend to believe our own press reports. And if we're going to experience revival in our day, then we need to get honest about the needs that we have for revival within our own ranks.

We're speaking this week about the matter of genuine revival and some of the characteristics of revival. And I want us to look today at the candidates for revival. Who needs revival? The fact is we need revival. Now who is we? We is "us," the people of God. The psalmist prayed in Psalm 85,

"O Lord, will you not revive us again,
That Your people may rejoice in You?" (Psalm 85:6).

Peter says in First Peter chapter four, "The time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God." (1 Peter 4:17) We cannot expect the world to take its sin seriously and to be drawn to the Savior if within our own ranks we are not dealing with sin God's way and allowing Him to send revival to our midst.

When do we need revival? In my quiet time one morning I began to think about that question, "When do we need revival?" and I'm focusing today on a corporate sense. Tomorrow we'll look at when we need revival in a more personal sense.

But today, as we look at our churches, what are some of the telltale signs that we need revival? And I began to make a list. I'm going to read some of those points to you, and let me say that not all of these points apply to all churches.

Thankfully, there are some churches today where there is a fresh sense of the Spirit of God and churches that are operating based on a biblical basis and biblical standards.

But, as I have traveled for the past more than twenty years and been in churches ministering with women all across the country, I have found that anything that goes on in the world goes on in the church.

And twenty years ago some of those things might have been by way of exception in the church; today those issues are as common, if not more common, in the church than they are out in the world.

Some of the things that pastor discovered had been uncovered in his church that they had to deal with as a church, these are things we're finding all the time. And I have to say that my heart is very heavy as I go from church to church ministering to Christian women, professing Christian women in our evangelical churches and find, for example, in recent months what seems like an epidemic of women leaving their husbands and divorcing their husbands.

Now every one of those women has a story. And my heart goes out to the women in many of those stories, under the circumstances they're facing, some of which are incredibly difficult and painful.

But as I step back and hold up this standard to my own heart -- of the Word of God -- which says to the woman, as it does to the man, "Do not leave your mate."

So, what if my mate's an unbeliever? 1 Corinthians 7 [:13-15] says if he's an unbeliever, if he leaves, you can't keep him there but you are not to leave him. You are not to divorce him and certainly, if you do, you are not to be remarried.

And yet we find in the church among many of our leading women today"¦and, by the way, what we're saying about women, of course, could be said about men as well. But my mission is to plead with us as women to obey God and to say, "These are issues that are taking place in the church at an epidemic proportion, and it has become so common that it's not something that even astounds us anymore. I mean, we've forgotten how to blush over a sin."

So I began to make a list of how to know when we need revival, and let me just read some of the things that were on my heart that particular morning.

You know we need revival in our churches when church dinners are better attended than prayer meetings.

We know we need revival when we put people into leadership positions in our churches who do not meet scriptural qualifications.

And when preaching lacks conviction, confrontation and divine fire and anointing.

We need revival when God's people are more concerned about their jobs and their careers than about the Kingdom of Christ and the salvation of the lost.

We need revival when church services are predictable and business as usual.

And when believers can be at odds with each other and not feel compelled to pursue reconciliation. How do we let these things go on and on for years? People in the same church who can't stand each other?

We need revival when Christian husbands and wives are not praying together.

We need revival in our churches when our children, our youth, are growing up to adopt worldly values, secular philosophies and ungodly lifestyles -- when they don't have a heart and hunger for the things of God.

We need revival when sin in the church is pushed under the carpet and when known sin is not dealt with through the biblical process of discipline and restoration. Why is this not being dealt with?

Now, I'm not suggesting that no one is doing anything, that's not true. But the biblical process of discipline and restoration apparently is not being followed, maybe because it's happening so much that we just sense this is a tidal wave; we're overcome by it. Nonetheless, the Scripture gives us the direction for how to deal with these matters.

We need revival in the church when we aren't seeing evidence of the supernatural power of God.

And when people have to be entertained to be drawn to church. By the way, whatever it takes to get them there is whatever it takes to keep them there - remember that.

We need revival when we start fitting in and adapting to the world rather than calling the world to adapt to God's standards.

And when people have to be begged to give and serve in the church.

When we aren't seeing lost people being drawn to Jesus on a regular basis and when the lost world around us doesn't know or care that we exist.

We need revival in the church when we're making no difference in the secular world around us.

And when the fire has gone out in our hearts, our marriages and the church.

Some years ago a pastor of a large church in Romania stood before his people and issued a solemn challenge. In that nation, at the time, and at the time Romania was under the dictatorship, the tyranny of one of the most repressive communist regimes in history. And the Christians, the believers of all the denominations in that country, were known as repenters. That's what they were called, repenters.

And this pastor stood in his pulpit one Sunday and he said, "It's time for the Repenters to repent." And then he got specific. And he pointed out two particular issues that God had put on his heart. And you know what?

The people in that church did repent. God began in that church a revival that spread to churches throughout the nation of Romania, and I believe that what God did in that nation in those days prepared the way for the toppling of the Ceausescu regime that came not too many years later. "It's time for the repenters to repent."

Leslie Basham: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss reminding us that we need to be willing to repent of our own sins before we start pointing out everybody else's problems. God often chooses to revive the church after the individuals in the church show true repentance.

Nancy, that's why repentance and forgiveness are major themes in your new workbook, Seeking Him. But what else will people experience when they go through this study.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You know, Leslie, for people going through this study, they're not going to learn a whole lot of new truths -- things they haven't heard before. But I think the advantage of a study like this is that it takes truths that you have heard before, things that you're familiar with but maybe that you haven't thought about in a while, and it gives us the chance to seriously consider truths that we already know.

And then, even more importantly, [it gives us a chance] to actually do something about the truths that we know. So one of the real important parts of the Seeking Him workbook are the practical application sections, the sections we call, "Making It Personal."

This isn't a book where you just get your head filled with new knowledge. It's a book where you try and get the knowledge you already have from your head into your heart and into your life. And when that happens you're going to experience true revival.

Leslie Basham: To get a copy of Seeking Him give us a call at 1-800-569-5959. That's 1-800-569-5959. Or visit, ReviveOurHearts.com.

Do you really need revival? Find out tomorrow. Nancy will talk about it on Revive Our Hearts.

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

hank you, Robin, for preparing today's Revive Our Hearts for the Internet.

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