I love the term revival, but I am aware that the word can be loaded, with negative images of a departure from the focus of Jesus and his work of redemption to an overemphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual revivals must be centered on the work the Holy Spirit was charged to do, leading people to faith in Jesus as the means of their salvation. With that being said, it is time for Chicago to have a good old fashioned revival. A reconnection with the Holy Spirit of Pentecost, so that He can produce what the Holy Spirit was sent to do, create faith and change lives.
James Packer in his book, “Your Father Loves you” lays out a biblical three-step approach to revival. Imagine what our urban centers could become if the Spirit of Pentecost could descend on them fresh in this manner.
The Explanation of Revival
Packer defines a revival as “the visitation of God which brings to life Christians who have been sleeping and restores a deep sense of God’s near presence and holiness. Thence springs a vivid sense of sin and a profound exercise of heart in repentance, praise, and love, with an evangelistic outflow.”
It is hard to argue with this description. What Christian and nonbeliever alike would not benefit from gaining a deeper sense of God’s presence in their daily live? Daily prayer and the study of God’s Word are two foundational ways to remain connected to the presence of God. In our broken world, God’s holiness drives a wedge between God and us because of our sin. God’s holiness shines brightly on our sins and reveals what perfection truly is, God. Revival would cause those who are sleeping comfortably in their sin and unaware of their brokenness to awaken to the grace available through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection for the restoration of their souls. Repentance then allows believers to share the forgiveness of sins won for those seeking relief through faith in Jesus Christ.
Packer points out that while each revival movement has its distinctive features, the pattern is the same every time.
- God Comes First.
On New Year’s Eve 1739, John Wesley, George Whitefield, and some of their friends held a “love feast” which became a watch night of prayer to see the New Year in. At about 3 a.m., Wesley wrote, “the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground.” Revival always begins with a restorative presence, and a divine connection with the Ancient of Days, God.
Spiritual renewal in Chicago begins with prayer. I am praying that God’s presence falls fresh on this great city. God can use believers to create a spiritual movement among us that will transform Chicago. Every day we hear stories of lives torn apart by gang-related violence, drug addiction, failing education systems, financial hardships, and community services cuts and this ongoing, consistent pain breaks my heart. There are so many hurting people. So many broken families and hopelessness in the human spirit. They are people hurt by life’s circumstances. Families that are dealing with broken dreams, broken relationships, and broken systems. We don’t need more taxes and government programs we need more of God’s presence among us, flowing through us, transforming us, making us reflect more the presence of our creator. Join with me in praying that God would come first and replace the hole in people’s hearts and lives in Chicagoland. Pray for people to desire God’s presence in their lives.
2. That Jesus message of salvation is loved as never before.
When I was serving in a congregation in Milwaukee, the one thing that shocked me most was why new members joined our church. People joined because they said, “your church preaches about salvation with a freshness that, I love like never before.” We need to teach about Jesus, with such power that people sense God’s nearness. Our preaching should create an overwhelming awareness of our sins and our sinful nature, and counter sin by preaching with equal boldness, the cleansing power of the blood of Christ. We are always pointing the masses to the comfort and healing power of the cross of Jesus. People in Chicago need a real Jesus, with real power, which deals with the everyday disappointments and struggles of life. Chicagoans need a king who powerfully sits on the throne. A king who conquered Satan, sin, and death. The church proclaims that Jesus is greater than all the forces of darkness around us. Let’s lift up that Jesus to the City and to the world.
3. The Spirit’s works multiplication.
Finally, when the Spirit moves, godliness and multiplication happen. Through the Spirit’s movement, Christians mature in their faith, and those disconnected masses discover the Savior. Even though Paul was at Thessalonica for less than three weeks, God worked quickly, and Paul left a virile church behind him. The Christian movement is witnessing explosive growth at Pentecost. This increase was not due to some programs or reproducible material but due to a work of the Holy Spirit. If Chicago is to truly have a Pentecost movement it will be the work of God through ordinary believers doing extraordinary work. It is my prayer we can see that in my lifetime. Wouldn’t it be great to see the Windy City on fire with Holy Spirit revival? Join me in praying for a God-sized movement in the Windy City.
So, what is next?
Find the best and brightest people who have a passion for Chicago and form a task force to pray, dream, seek and execute God’s will for new and revitalize ministry in the Windy City. If you want to know what to specifically pray for pray for that next movement of God.