Introduction: Last month my grandson and I went to New York for a few days. We visited the 9/11 Memorial, which is at the end of Fulton Street. Fulton Street not a long street. It runs crosswise across lower Manhattan. We walked the entire thing looking for some monument, memorial, or plaque that would show tell how that street changed America long before 9/11. I didn’t find a monument there, but I do know the story.
In the middle of the 1800s a Christian tailor named Jeremiah Lanphier moved to Manhattan and established a clothing business. Soon a local organization engaged him In evangelistic work. He became a sidewalk evangelist in the Wall Street district. America was in bad shape at the time. The politics of the nation were divided – a civil war was coming—and Wall Street was in freefall.
Lanphier advertised a prayer meeting to be held on Wednesday, September 23, 1857, at a room on Fulton Street. When the day came, six people showed up. The next week, twenty came. The next week forty. And after that the floodgates broke. Soon churches all across New York overflowed. Fire departments and police stations opened their facilities for prayer, and local businesses set aside rooms for their employees to pray. The headline in the New York Press was: “Revival Sweeps the Country.”
The movement swept over the eastern seaboard and pushed westward into the nation. One historian said, “A canopy of holy and awesome revival influence—in reality the presence of the Holy Spirit—seemed to hang like an invisible cloud over many parts of the United States.” For two years, approximately 50,000 people a week came to Christ. Within a year of the start of the Fulton Street Meetings, over a million converts joined America’s churches.
I’m eager for the Lord to do that again, aren’t you? Our nation needs it.
Scripture: The Bible’s handbook about revival is 2 Chronicles, and in this blog I want to look at the revival under King Asa in 2 Chronicles 14. Asa’s life is very instructive. The writer devotes three chapters to King Asa—. There were three stages in his life.
Chapter 14: Asa as a young man
Chapter 15: Asa at midlife
Chapter 16: Asa in old age
The Great Lesson of Chapter 14 – I don’t have time for a three-part study, so let’s focus on the first stage of Asa’s life, which is found in 2 Chronicles 14, when he was a young man. For ten years, Asa had peace in his realm, and he worked on promoting revival and shoring up his defenses. Then came a sudden military invasion, and Asa was ready to deal with the crisis through prayer and faith. In reading this chapter, the great lesson seems to be: Whenever a crisis comes into your life, you have to deal with it from a position of spiritual strength. That means the rhythms of revival must be woven into your daily life starting now.
What Are The Rhythms of Revival?
First, you have to start living for the Lord as soon as you can (verse 2). Asa was a young man, probably 18 or 19 years ago, when he became King. Verse 2 says, “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.”
My message to young people is: You don’t have to mess up your life before you figure things out. It isn’t necessary to make wrong choices and ruin your life. The Bible says, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Many of the great revivals in history have started on college and university campuses. There is something about a young person who is zealous and totally committed to Jesus Christ that can do more for the Kingdom than we can imagine.
Second, you can’t be afraid of the prevailing culture (verse 3). Asa confronted evils that went back for generations, to the days of his great grandfather Solomon. The passage goes on to say, “He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles.” I’m sure he had a lot of opposition. Imagine the outcry! But to stand up for biblical values in today’s culture isn’t for the faint of heart. We can’t change our society by conforming to it. We’re in the business of pleasing God, not a fallen society.
Third, you have to learn how to seek the Lord (verse 4). Verse 4 says, “He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey His laws and commands.” What does it mean to seek something? Have you ever lost your billfold or purse or keys or diamond ring or something like that? You forget everything else and you become preoccupied with finding it.
To seek the Lord means we are preoccupied with finding Him and developing the personal habits that will let us draw closer to Him—habits like daily prayer and Bible study and those basic habits that make up the Christian walk.
Fourth, you have to discard self-destructive patterns (verse 5). Verse 5 says: He moved the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah. The people of Jerusalem heard a lot of things crashing to the ground and being chopped to pieces—idols and idolatrous images and shrines. Some of them were very valuable in financial or artistic terms, but Asa cleared them out of the land. For you to live in a state of personal, perpetual revival, you have to clear some things out of your life. The Bible calls this process confession and repentance.
There are a thousand things that can hinder the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and we have to acknowledge them and confess them and take steps to discard these patterns the way we’d haul old, musty, flea-infested mattresses to the dump.
Fifth, you have to shore up all your defenses (verses 7-9). In verse 7, Asa said, “Let us build up these towns, and put walls around them, with towers, gates and bars.” In verses 7-9, Asa fortified his strategic locations, built up his army, and prepared for the any attack that may come from an enemy.
The best way I know to do this is by Scripture memory and biblical mediation—which is a constant theme of mine. When you internalize Scripture, it becomes your own personal spiritual and emotional armory.
Sixth and finally, you have to turn bad problems into big prayers (verses 9-15). Verse 11 says, “Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, ‘Lord, there is on one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you….” One of the greatest secrets of personal revival is the ability to turn problems into prayer. God answered Asa’s prayer, and his forces routed the enemy and became rich with the plunder. The crisis became a blessing.
Conclusion: Now, if we incorporate the rhythms of personal revival into our lives, is it possible—is it really possible—that another revival will sweep over America? Well, there are indications that are encouraging. It could start with our military. I believe we should pray for the men and women in our forces, and we should pray for revival.
At Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri in the past six months alone, Army Chaplain Jose Rondon has seen hundreds and hundreds of soldiers make professions of faith. It’s hard to explain. A revival has been taking place on that Army base.
Retired Major General Doug Carver said, “The current spiritual awakening at Fort Leonard Wood is indicative of a great move of God taking place within the Armed Services today.”
He went on to day, “Historically, God has often used the military as a catalyst for revival. Many attribute the spread of Christianity in the first century to Roman soldiers deployed throughout the Roman Empire. The Lord is answering our prayers for revival within our military communities. I’ve prayed for over 40 years for our troops and their families to experience the reality of Jesus Christ in a new and fresh way.”
You and I are soldiers in the Lord’s army, and the Bible says God is the business of reviving and restoring our souls. How we need it! So remember:
Whenever a crisis comes into your life, you have to deal with it from a position of spiritual strength. That means the rhythms of revival must be woven into your daily life starting now.