Reform. It is often a word associated with politics like immigration reform, police reform and economic reform. However, there is also a spiritual side to the term. When God moves upon an individual, a city or even a church, He calls people to reform. And what happens if people respond to God? Revival!
Through Jeremiah, God spoke to the people of Israel saying, “I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, ‘Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and amend your deeds…” (Jeremiah 35:15) God was calling the nation to moral and spiritual reform, which reflects repentance, meaning a change of mind and life, that turns toward God and His Word by faith.
If Israel would have humbled themselves and responded positively, revival would have come, but instead, they stubbornly refused and their nation fell.
On the other hand, the Apostle Peter preached to the Jews in Jerusalem two months after Jesus’ death and resurrection. He declared to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:37) And how did they respond? Thousands of Jews in Israel turned to Jesus by faith, changed their ways, then revival came. It swept across Israel, the Roman Empire and to the ends of the earth.
We want revival, but not the reform. We want the spiritual experience without the change. Why? Because that is the hard part. For over 40 years, Jeremiah preached reform with no revival. And prior to Peter’s message, John the Baptist and Jesus labored at reform for three and half years. John’s preaching got him executed through decapitation and Jesus’ preaching got him crucified. And even in the midst of the revival under Peter and the Apostles, believers were brutally killed for their message. But despite that, among the multitudes who did respond, the flames of revival continued burning brightly.
Why is revival so rare? In part, because calling and responding to moral and spiritual reform is resisted. Preachers rarely call for it because it is naturally offensive to their congregations, and people do not heed the message because they want to continue in their ways. They come to realize it is not about giving up drinking, smoking and cussing. It is about a complete reordering of one’s life under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. It means a new set of beliefs, habits and life direction.
And this reordering starts with the individual, but the kind of reform that brings real and lasting revival also affects institutions. There comes a change in the family, in how daily life is handled in the home. There also comes change in the operation of a business, change in the programming of a church, and change in the policies of a government.
God is calling you to amend your ways. He is inviting you to turn in a new direction. He is leading you into doing the hard thing. Why? He wants to save you from His judgement and the consequences of ungodly decisions for yourself and future generations. He also wants to pour out His Spirit within you, bring you into His family and give you an eternal inheritance in a blessed and glorious heavenly kingdom.
A prayer for you. “Lord God, we acknowledge we have resisted your call to reform. We want the experience without the pain of changing our ways. Come Lord, this day, we yield ourselves to you and accept your call to reform. Change us, O God, by your wise and loving hand. Then change our families, businesses, churches and cities. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Clint Decker is President of Great Awakenings. Please share your comment with Clint at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow his blog at clintdecker.blogspot.com.
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