The Seasons Of God
 By National Revival Network of Mission America

    [Editor’s Note: The following excerpt is the first section of AN URGENT APPEAL to Christian Leaders in America for Consensus and Collaboration on the Biblical Nature and Hope of Corporate Revival, a document prepared by National Revival Network of Mission America. The document urges Christian leaders primarily, but includes all Christians, to be of general agreement in recognizing our national need for repentance and divine intervention, and in seeking the face of God through prayer and fasting for revival in the Church and spiritual awakening in our nation, and in finding ways to work together to meet these challenges.

    We expect to print more of the six sections of the document in succeeding issues of Herald of His Coming. The entire document is available for those who write to Herald of His Coming and request it. See page two of this issue for further information.]

Judgment and Hope

    "As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you" (Zechariah 9:11-12 ).

    One year passes into another, one century into another, one millennium into another. Great leaders, great movements, great nations come and go. Only a few things remain. Only a few things stand the test of time.

    God’s truth remains, as His Word will not pass away. When God speaks, it is sealed in Heaven: sure, dependable, alive.

    There are clear patterns in Scripture regarding how God speaks. Sometimes He speaks messages of warning. Sometimes He speaks messages of hope. With His Word come seasons . . . epochs of His special activities, across the centuries, in fulfillment of His Word.

    For those who do not heed the warnings, there come seasons of judgment. For those who do heed and repent, the Holy Spirit gives seasons of new beginnings—resurrections, as it were.

    Yes, God does judge—both individuals and whole civilizations. Sometimes His judgment is remedial. His discipline is meant to bring a people to their senses, to lead them to turn and to return to Him.

    At such crossroads moments, God ultimately confronts His people with their sin. They have grieved Him deeply by embracing the idols of their age. Offended by their betrayal, He turns away. He must uphold the honor of His holy name among the nations. He withdraws the showers of His blessing (Ezekiel 34:26). The rains of His righteousness are withheld (Hosea 10:12). His people find themselves in "waterless pits" (as He terms them in Zechariah 9:11). Yet, the God of everlasting love, the "God of hope" (Romans 15:13) is not far from His covenant people. He continues to call them to pray, to repent, to turn from their idolatry and unbelief, and to once again place their wholehearted trust in Him alone. Then He summons them to hope. To seasons of renewal, restoration, revitalization, reformation . . . revival.

Waterless Pits

    What does God see as He looks at the American church?

    Many claim that the church in the U.S. may be the most organized, populous, financially prosperous, visible, and culturally pervasive of any Christian movement in the history of the world. Reports of renewal abound: liturgical, theological, ecumenical, charismatic, lay, youth, missionary. Volunteerism and faith-based ministries remain strong. Stadiums overflow with zealous disciples. There is much for which we can praise God.

    But what else does God see in the church? Despite the glitz and glamour, does He also find waterless pits? Is there a sense that in spite of all our measurable activity, the church generally is paralyzed? Are we outwardly prosperous while being inwardly weak and stagnant?

    Do the great doctrines of the Bible fail to grip our congregations and move the hearts and minds of our people? Does religious flesh and fleshly religion dominate, marked by self-sufficiency and self-promotion? Have we so domesticated Christ and privatized the Gospel that we have become impotent in our impact on the social and spiritual crises of our nation? Is this why there has been negligible overall church growth nationwide during the past decade? Many church leaders would sadly confess it is so.

    Research tells us that there is little difference between the lifestyle of Christians inside the church and our society as a whole. The disintegration in our culture is also found in our churches: Racism. Hypocrisy. Hero worship. Materialism. Busyness. Lack of social conscience. Road rage. Disintegration of the family. Pornography. Abortion. Status quo mediocrity. Self-indulgence in our abundance. Self-satisfied with our kingdom accomplishments. The sad part in all of this is that the living Christ Himself is marginalized; He is not glorified as the Supreme Lord of the church.

    What does God see as He looks across America?

    Surely God sees spiritual erosion, moral bankruptcy, and the loss of fixed, transcendent values and absolutes. Mother Theresa concluded that America’s "poverty of the spirit" was the greatest poverty she found anywhere. Traditional American religious impulses may be up, but morality and ethical cohesion are down, unchecked by a flourishing neo-paganism that has become the serious pursuit of multitudes of our citizens.

    In addition, God sees our 50 million urban poor, where a gap between rich and poor grows wider every year. He knows that half our marriages end in divorce. He grieves that we have lost our sense of the sanctity of life, that we have become increasingly a culture of death. He beholds the incarceration of millions of our citizens. He sees our self-consuming consumerism. All of it: "waterless pits."

    Christians today, like Israel before them, find themselves wandering in a desert of their own making because they have too often chosen what was expedient and disobeyed God. Many have become "nominal Christians," possessing a form of godliness but forfeiting the power of God.

    In this condition, we must pause and face a sober and humbling truth: The hope of revival is not offered to the Church Militant but rather to the Church Repentant. There is a danger here. If the church is blind to its true spiritual condition, then revival will simply be viewed as a divine additive, given basically to increase the effectiveness of our ministries instead of restoring the glory of God in His church.

    But once we recognize how far we have fallen (Revelation 2:4-5) and again realize our covenant relationship and responsibilities to God, then we will humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, turning from our wicked ways. It is then we learn the ancient yet ever relevant lesson that the road to revival is paved with contrite and broken hearts. With such a people our God is pleased to dwell (Isaiah 57:15). Repentance is the pathway to revival.

Is There Hope?

    In the extended hands of a forgiving God comes the offer of hope (Hosea 14:1-4). Our waterless pits can become pools of living water as the refreshing rains of His Spirit return to pour upon us again (Hosea 6:1-3).

    Our God is a God of promises. His promises focus on new beginnings, seasons of renewal, especially for those in waterless pits. The Holy Spirit desires to take us together where we have never gone before, just as He has done with His people so many times in the past.

    He is able, for He remains forever the God of revival. Should we not speak of it and prepare for it with full resolve, and without any reserve? Can we not trust Him in this? Since to the whole church the Holy Spirit proclaims, "Christ is in you, the hope of all the glorious things to come" (Colossians 1:27), how can we trust Him for less?

    As you look at the landscape, what do you sense? Are we at a threshold? Is it too late? Or is there a season of hope before us? Is it a time to get ready for an extraordinary awakening to Christ—to get ready for biblical revival? Do you sense an urgency?

    Nationally respected Christian leaders have expressed hope for a comprehensive work of God’s renewing grace among American Christians in this crucial hour. It is an extraordinary hope, a claim that, despite our sin and paralysis, God desires to do something radically new with His people. It is an expectation of an amazing work within Christ’s church in our nation that actively engages us in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform our cities and culture, to evangelize our friends, to touch unreached peoples worldwide. Revival!

    An Urgent Appeal is presented by the National Revival Network of Mission America in the conviction that multiplied Christian leaders across America increasingly desire to pursue consensus and collaboration for corporate revival, and to help their people to do the same.