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Revive us again

The familiar old hymn proclaims, “Revive us again; fill each heart with Thy love, may each heart be rekindled with fire from above.”

This has been the cry through the centuries.

I can remember as a child sitting in revival services. Revival in the tradition that I grew up in generally lasted at least a week. Revival meant that you committed to attending a service every night that week outside of your regularly scheduled service. The point of the revival was to experience an extra special move of God.

Think for a moment about how you would describe revival. What has it looked like in your own life and that of the church?

The better question may be, what does revival look like according to scripture? Does it look the same in our lives today as it did during Biblical times?

The book of Nehemiah tells the story of God’s people going through the process of rebuilding the crumbled walls that surrounded Jerusalem. A careful reading of the book reveals that when the work on the wall was completed God was not done working on the people.

So, what can we learn about revival from Nehemiah?

Nehemiah shows us that the Word of God is the central element of experiencing revival. The people all gather together and elect Ezra to read the Book of the Law of Moses. The people gather in front of the Water Gate, a place where everyday life takes place and hear the Word of God.

Upon hearing the Book of the Law the people immediately recognize they have failed to live up to God’s standard. They have not been obedient to His laws, decrees and statutes. Their hearing leads to doing what the Book of the Law instructs.

When we make the Word of God central to revival, we discover that includes hearing, learning and applying the Word to our lives. It was no accident Ezra was the man chosen to stand before the people and read the Book of the Law.

Ezra 7:10 NIV says, “For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” Ezra was leading the people to a place he had already been. He had experienced a revival in his own life because he had read and responded to the Book of the Law.

Revival is something that is experienced individually and in community. It must happen individually for it to occur in the community.

The book of Nehemiah doesn’t mention anything else taking place when the people gathered together. There was no special lighting. There is not any mention of emotional responses to great music. The people hear the Word of God and respond to the word of God. It really is that simple.

If we wish for God to revive us again we too must become like Ezra. We must commit to learning, observing and teaching the Word of God. We must allow God’s Word to convict us, be willing to confess our failings and allow His Holy Spirit to change us.

If we want to experience a revival in our community, country and world we must first be willing to experience it individually.

Shawn Tipton is the chaplain of Fayette Regional Health System. He wrote this article as a member of the Fayette County Ministerial Association.