One Year Bible Reading Plan and Devotional
Today’s Bible Reading: January 25
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Clicking on the Scripture links above will open a new window where you can read the scripture from the Holman Christian Standard Bible at Biblegateway.com or choose the Bible version you prefer to read. Check back each day to get the Scripture to read in the One Year Bible Reading Plan.
Revival: It Starts Right Here
Revival starts with “If my people“
2 Chronicles 7:14 begins with “If my people.” This verse is probably one of the most quoted verses in the Bible when we think about revival. “If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked way, then will I hear them from heaven, forgive their sins and heal their land.” It’s like a formula for revival. It’s an if-then conditional statement.
In a conditional statement, the “then” part of the statement can’t happen if the “if” part doesn’t happen. For this conditional statement, the “if” part is up to us and the “then” part is up to God. The part we like in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is the “then” part. The part of the formula that God does. His part is to hear us from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land. And if ever America needed healing – it’s now.
But the first part of the verse is the “if” part of the conditional statement. That’s our part. The “if” statement begins with “If my people.” Let’s take these three words and go deeper into them.
Revival occurs If…
In the animated Disney film, “Cinderella,” the invitation for the ball is delivered and Cinderella interrupts voice lessons and takes it to her stepmother who reads it. The stepsisters dance around all excited. Cinderella says, “I can go too. It says ‘every eligible maiden’ is invited.” The cunning, unkind stepmother agrees, much to the surprise and dismay to the sisters. She says, “So it does. You can go if you get all your work done. And if you can find something suitable to wear.” Cinderella kindly says, “Yes, stepmother” and gets to work. As she leaves the room the stepsisters look at their mother in total dismay and say, “Do you realize what you said?!” Stepmother says, “Yes. I said IF.” After a moment of that little word sinking into their brains they catch on to the stepmother’s plan and say, “Ohhhh…IF.” [watch the clip here]
You see, Stepmother never had any intention of Cinderella going to the ball. Her “IF” was intended to keep Cinderella away from the ball. If Cinderella wanted to go, then she had to get her work done – a long list of chores designed to be sure that she wouldn’t be able to get it done in time to go. But the IF in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is intended to bring us back to God when we turn away from Him. This “IF” is for us – not against us.
Revival occurs If my…
The next word is “my.” If my. We have to know who is talking in this verse if we are to understand “my.” God is speaking to King Solomon in this verse following the dedication of the temple that he built for God. God fills the temple with His holy presence and tells Solomon that when God shuts up the heavens so there is no rain, or commands the locust to devour the land, or sends pestilence among the people that the people should humble themselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from their wicked ways.
Pestilence is a deadly disaster, usually a disease, that affects an entire community. It is contagious, virulent, and devastating. For example, the Black Plague in Europe that killed over thirty percent of the population during the late Middle Ages was a pestilence. In the Bible, pestilence is usually a sign of God’s judgment on a nation or people group.
Pestilence in the Bible
- Deuteronomy 32:24. “they shall be wasted with hunger, and devoured by plague and poisonous pestilence; I will send the teeth of beasts against them, with the venom of things that crawl in the dust.”
- 1 Chronicles 21:12. “either three years of famine, or three months of devastation by your foes while the sword of your enemies overtakes you, or else three days of the sword of the Lord, pestilence on the land, with the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.’ Now decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.”
- Ezekiel 7:14–15. “They have blown the trumpet and made everything ready, but none goes to battle, for my wrath is upon all their multitude. The sword is without; pestilence and famine are within. He who is in the field dies by the sword, and him who is in the city famine and pestilence devour.”
COVID-19 is a pestilence. So, if we follow Biblical example, COVID-19 could, in fact, be a judgement from God because we have turned away from Him and chose to live however we want without any regards to God’s laws and commands.
Revival occurs If my people…
The next word is “people.” “If my people.” Or we could say, “If God’s people.” Who are these “people?” This verse isn’t written for those who are lost and without Christ. Just behind this phrase, the verse says, “who are called by my name.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 is not about evangelizing the lost. It’s about God’s people called by His name – the Christians – returning to him when they have wandered away from him, choosing to live the way they want instead of living to honor and glorify Him by living His way. It is a call to Christians to humble themselves and pray. It a call to Christians to seek the face of God and turn from their wicked ways. When we do so, with a genuineness of heart, then God will hear our prayers from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land.
You see, that’s what revival is all about. The prefix in the word revival is “re,” which means, “back” or “again.” So, the word revival, then means, “restore to life or consciousness,” or “regain life, consciousness, or strength,” or “give new strength or energy to.” Revival isn’t for the lost, that’s what evangelism is for. Revival is about restoring spiritual life or consciousness to the Christian. But let me be clear here. Restoring spiritual life doesn’t mean one can “lose” their salvation. Jesus made it clear that nothing can “pluck us out” of His Father’s hand (John 10:29). Paul also told us that nothing can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38-39).
Restoring spiritual life is about taking a dull, weak, worn out faith and having the Spirit of God breathe a newness into it to give us a renewed zeal and passion for God. To give us renewed strength and energy to our prayer life. To give us a renewed awe and reverence for God. And when our spiritual life is restored and renewed, the outcome is a renewed passion for worship and a desire to live with passion for Him.
When we have experienced true revival, several things occur:
- We can’t wait to spend time in Bible study and prayer.
- Our churches will not have to beg people to serve.
- We will be excited to share our faith with the lost.
- Our hearts will become burdened for the state of our nation and our world.
- We’ll gladly give a tithe – with a joyful heart.
- Instead of living with fear over our heads, we’ll live by faith.
- We’ll long for a close, intimate relationship with our Father.
- Our hearts will be broken for the things that breaks God’s heart.
Revival is about God chasing after us to call us back to Him
You see, our heavenly Father chases after us, calling us back to Him whenever we wander away. But in our pride and stubbornness, God sometimes has to get our attention. Sometimes, we become so complacent that He has to wake us up. And when God has had enough of our stubbornness and complacency, He sends judgement. Isn’t it sad that it takes judgement to make us turn back to God? And if COVID-19 is God’s judgement designed to bring us back to Him, then how bad do things have to get before we – God’s people – humble ourselves and pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways?
Examples of Revival
God gives us the lives of two people in the Bible to illustrate exactly how God loves us and constantly seeks us out and brings us back to Him. This story metaphorically compares Israel’s abandonment of God to a woman being unfaithful to her husband. You’ll find it the Old Testament book, Hosea. In this book. God tells Hosea that he is to go out and find a wife who is a prostitute. So, Hosea marries Gomer. He knows that her lifestyle of being a prostitute will mean that she will be unfaithful to him. And she does, in fact, leave him and go back to her old way of life. But Hosea finds her and brings her home and restores her as his wife once again.
While this is a very brief summary of the books, the point of the book of Hosea is that is repetitive cycles of judgement and restoration, we find that God makes it clear that He will bring judgment on sin, but He will also always bring His people back to Himself. Hosea 2:16, 19, says: ” And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ …And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.
We are like Gomer
Just as Hosea loved Gomer, a woman more interested in herself than anyone else, so God loves His people who are also more interested in themselves. Gomer gives no respect to her husband anymore than God’s people cared to have God’s direction in their lives. They chose idolatry and injustice over God’s commands that were meant for their protection and care.
Today, we are no different. We choose to live like the world, walk like the world, and smell like world. We stray from the love and protection of our heavenly father and exchange the status of “the bride of Christ” to be the “whore with the world.” We reject living God’s way so we can live the way we want to. And when we don’t like God’s commands, we simply toss them out or change it so that our sin becomes okay. The nation of Israel lived as if they were not God’s people, and we do the same. We are just as wayward as Israel was to God – and as Gomer was to Hosea.
Revival starts right here
As a result of their stubbornness and pride that refused to repent, God did judge Israel. But in that judgement God was calling them back to Himself. He was calling them to revival. The judgement of Israel was meant to cause the people to seek the God with humbled hearts of repentance. Today, God is calling America to repent and come back to Him. Casting Crowns released a song entitled, “Start Right Here” that pegs us right where we are:
We want our coffee in the lobby
And watch our worship on a screen
We got a Rockstar preacher
Who won’t wake us from our dreams
We want out blessings in our pocket
We keep our missions overseas
But for the hurting in our cities
Would we even cross the street?
But we wanna see the heart set free and the tyrants kneel
The walls fall down and our land be healed
But church if we want to see a change in the world out there
It’s got to start right here
It’s got to start right now
Lord, I’m starting right here
Lord, I’m starting right now.
You see, revival starts right here with me (and you). And it starts right now when we humble ourselves and pray, and seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways. Will you humble yourself right now before God and allow revival to start right now in your heart?
#ReadYourBible #Exodus #Matthew #Revival
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