Revival or Tribulation ~ or Both?
By Rodney W. Francis
We are living in days that are very challenging. The potential to accomplish so much has never been better. Opportunities to serve God in a variety of ways present themselves to us on all sides. Surely we are going to see a greater “breaking forth” of God in our nations?
This is the expectation of many Christians today as they cry out to God for a mighty visitation of the Holy Spirit to take place as never before.
I believe God does want us to experience such a visitation of Himself.
But we must be committed to using what God has already given us.
There are so many ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit that need to be manifesting through us in increasing ways! Oh, if only God could get a hold of His people! God is a supernatural God and God’s people are a people that are naturally supernatural and supernaturally natural. It is the outworking of it that is the problem!
WE MUST HAVE DIVINE ABILITY
“Self-effort must go down the drain, if with Jesus Christ we would reign” is a saying which aptly speaks of the vanity of serving God in our own natural limitations rather than laying hold of the gifts and enablings of the Holy Spirit to do His will. “The flesh profits nothing,” Jesus said and it is time we believed Him! He also told us that “It is the Spirit that gives life” (“makes alive and active”) (John 6:63 ), and it is time we availed ourselves of this Divine enabling and power (Acts 1:8 ). Then we shall see mountains moved in the name of the Lord! God is causing this to happen as people move into new areas of experience, obedience and operation of the Holy Spirit as faith is exercised in what He has said. Praise the Lord!
GOD SORTS US OUT
What we don’t all recognize is that in order for God to do all He wants to ~ with, in and through us ~ He must first deal with those areas of our life that cause us to rob Him of the glory. This is one reason why there is at present a “sorting out” process going on. The Holy Spirit is bringing conviction to our life, which is all according to His Word. Such Scriptures as:
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the Gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17 , NKJV), must be recognized as being applicable to us.
No longer can Christians look upon Christianity as “a blessing club” and simply give mental assent to the Word of God. The pressure is being applied to the Church today and many believers are going through fiery trials. Those “who come forth as gold” (1 Peter 1 ) are entering into new realms of victory and service, with God being glorified.
The Church is also learning patience in order to receive the promise of God, as Hebrews 10:36 tells us: “For you have need of endurance (“patience”),so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.”
I remember the story of a lady who responded to a prayer-line call when a visiting preacher was in town. This lady came for prayer that God would give her patience. The preacher began to pray that God would give her much tribulation, making no mention of patience. The lady got upset and stopped the preacher praying, saying: “I asked you to pray that God would give me patience and all you have done is to ask God to give me trials and tribulations!” The preacher very graciously referred the lady to God’s Word, telling her that God would not do for her contrary to His Word. And His Word declares: “Tribulation works patience” (Romans 5:1-5 and 12:12).
Patience does not come in answer to prayer so much, but it comes as a result of upsets, trials, difficult people, etc. Likewise we are often disappointed when we ask God for revival and seemingly only get trials and tribulations.
WE ARE CALLED TO MUCH TRIBULATION
The Apostle Paul knew tribulations in abundance. In Acts 14:22 he exhorted the disciples to “continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God.” Paul learned to glory in his tribulations (Romans 5:3 ) and became “exceedingly joyful in all his tribulations” (2 Corinthians 7:4 ).
How about us?
Unfortunately, too often we have put this side of Christianity into some future period, but believe you me the pressure is on God’s people today to be overcomers. “Through much tribulation” we overcome (tribulation means “pressure, affliction, distress, to squeeze”).
Is this your life?
Or, are you running away from it with the vague idea that pain and suffering tribulation are not God’s will? God uses these means to purify and refine us and to make us better people for His praise and glory.
You say, “What has all this got to do with a visitation of God?” Everything! We cannot have one without the other. The early Church knew the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a wonderful measure, yet She also knew great persecution against the believers ~ mostly from the religious fraternity! Another thing we must recognize in our praying for a revival/visitation of God is that when we have it we also have judgment in our midst. Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit and God’s judgment fell on them. They both died in church (Acts 5 )! There was no “playing around” with the things of God; no taking things lightly.
Those who became Christians knew it meant a total commitment to the cause of Jesus Christ. The fear of God was very evident. Partaking of God’s glory means carrying a few “thorns in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12 ). Otherwise God could not trust us with His power and glory ~ we would destroy ourselves!
THE WAY UP IS DOWN
The question is: “Shall tribulation separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35 ). Shall it alter our desire for God to have HIS WAY in US? Or, do our trials and testings give us a greater determination to glorify the Lord? Jesus, “Who for the joy that was set before Him ENDURED THE CROSS” (Hebrews 12:2 ). We also, because of the knowledge of the full reward and inheritance of the righteous, and the eternal joy in the place Jesus is preparing for us, should be more willing to “suffer reproach for the name of Christ” (1 Peter 4:12-19 ). The more we are able to “deny” and “crucify” self for the Word of God’s sake, the more impact will our Christian witness have upon others. And is this not what Christianity is all about? . . . “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27 ). His transforming life being seen in us!?? Yes, the way up is down ~ humbling ourselves before Almighty God.
KNOW WHAT YOU ARE PRAYING FOR
Let us then be aware of what we are asking God for when we pray for a revival/visitation from Him. He will answer that prayer, providing we are willing to have our love for Him tested through “much tribulation.” Do not think it strange that these two should go together; but rather rejoice that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:27 ) and that God has a claim on your life. As we keep our eyes on Jesus ~ through thick and thin ~ His glory shall be revealed. Amen! God Bless You!