When Henry Ward Beecher greeted inquirers at a revival meeting, he didn't ask the usual questions about their souls. Instead, he greeted them at first with questions about their recent patterns of exercise, eating and sleep. He called it "clinical theology" -- it helped distinguish between conviction and indigestion.
As a church prepares for revival, it's important to have a time of self-examination.
In the text, Israel is a nation in need of revival. Both politically and religiously, the nation was weak. It was in this context of corruption and decline that Samuel emerged as God's man for the hour. Samuel stressed the demands the people faced if they were to experience spiritual renewal. Those same requirements for revival challenge us today.I. Revival Requires Sincere Repentance
(1 Samuel 7:2-4
In the face of the tragic consequences of their own sin, the people recognized their need to be restored to God.
Yet repentance is more than simply feeling sorry for our sins. As one writer said, "Repentance without amendment is likely continually pumping without mending the leak in the pipe." Sincere repentance involves turning from sin and turning toward God.II. Revival Requires Sacrificial Commitment
We don't like to hear much about sacrifice these days. Perhaps that's why we know so little about revival. Sacrifice prepares our hearts to hear God and our lives to receive His touch.
(1) They had to give up the false gods.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said that, rather than freeing ourselves from idolatry, we've merely transferred our idols. We no longer worship wood and stone; today our gods have electrodes and silicon chips, steel and glass, paper and ink.
(2) They submitted their lives to God's authority.
The world tells you to push your way to the top and get ahead. In contrast, the way of Christ is a way of submission. By submitting Himself to a cross, Christ allowed God to exalt Him. Only as we give ourselves to Him can God lift up our lives.
The sacrifice of 1 Samuel 7:9
was one in which the entire sacrifice belonged to God; none went to the priests. That is the submission that brings revival: a surrender to God of every part of our lives.III. Revival Requires Significant Action
Though the people were afraid, they were willing to trust God and act on the basis of that trust. God calls on us to move out in faith and claim the victory He has already promised.
There are challenges facing you today -- perhaps financial, or family, or career, or perhaps your relationship with Christ. The choice is yours: do you really want revival, and are you willing to pay the price? (JMD)