Positioned for Revival
By Iverna Tompkins
Transcribed by Jane Vaughn
Today, we hear many people prophesying that revival, worldwide revival, is soon to become a reality. That word is being proclaimed in many cities today as churches everywhere are praying for God to pour out His Spirit in their midst. But what brings revival? How can we be positioned for such a powerful visitation from God? What are the ingredients of Revival? Prayerful preparation is obvious, but when we are looking for a supernatural move of God, a revival, we need to present to Him soil, prepared and ready to receive what He has for us.
Recently, I have heard knowledgeable speakers declare to specific churches that all of those necessary ingredients are “here,” present in that place. The reasonable advice given is that they should keep on praying and keep on seeking God. I do not doubt the prophetic word, nor do I question what the speaker means. But, if we look to the church for revival, we will be discouraged when it is delayed (delayed according to our private concept of time). So, let us understand a very important factor: all of the ingredients for revival are “here” in me, in you, in individual believers! It is we, as individuals, who need to be prepared and positioned for the next move of God.
What is revival? Is the next move of God in revival going to be a repeat of what we experienced, heard about, or saw in Brownsville Florida in recent years? That church had been praying and praying for years, “Oh, God, open the heavens and send Your rain,” getting their soil prepared. Suddenly the Spirit of God was poured out in one of the greatest moves of God that we have heard about in our particular lifetime. In Florida, it was a powerful move of God where thousands of young people ran to the altars crying out, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” That was a wonderful time! Christians and sinners alike were shaken by the power of God becoming aware of His supernatural qualities. One result of that revival was dramatically changed lives as people began to believe God for more.
Historically, we can see a common problem, if you will, with revival. It is this: God’s intent for revival becomes ignored or obscured by the people, when God changes the accustomed mode, or method, or ways of revival – or, when He ceases doing what we have learned to look for in or during revival – or when revival doesn’t look like it ever looked before or sounds like it ever sounded before. When we lose focus of God’s purpose for revival, when we fail to maintain His intention, the current revival will swell in intensity, but then recede to the point of cessation.
Let us agree that God’s intention is for revival to swell to a high point where people encounter Him in eternally life-changing ways. But I do not believe it is now, nor ever has been, God’s intent for that “swell” to recede at all. I think His purpose would be for His supernatural intervention in our lives to continuously increase, moving us into higher levels with Himself. God’s intent in revival would be for greater intimacy with Him introduced and maintained, not lost somehow.
Let’s look at Acts 10, the whole chapter, to discover some not-so-obvious prophetic keys that precede “revival.” This scripture relates the familiar story of Peter and Cornelius, but I challenge you to re-read it in its entirety to refresh your memory about the details. In this scripture, we are able to see “revival” at its best. This man, Cornelius, a Gentile, had no right to anything “religious” as it related to piety toward the true God of the Jews. There were no preachers in that day speaking to anyone about Jesus but to the Jews. Even Jesus declared that He had been sent solely to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt.15:24; cf. Mt.10:5,6). Because Cornelius was a Gentile, he was not allowed to worship in the Temple or Jewish Synagogues, so we should note that he could have only overheard things, wonderful things, about this God of Israel. He believed what he heard and was hungry for more of God. That kind of faith is generally a rare commodity in America today!
We could also recall the Gentile woman who came to Jesus, knowing the Gentiles were considered “dogs” in the minds of the Jewish people, but she desperately wanted what Jesus had. She persisted with Him saying, “Even the dogs can get the crumbs that fall to the ground.” Jesus declared her to have great faith, saying, “I have not seen such faith in all of Israel!” (Matt. 15:21-28) Deep hunger for God. Rare today.
Too often the prevailing attitude here in America is arrogance and self-centeredness. “We are Americans. We bow to no one!” There is little humility, a quality God looks for in people He wants to bless. Plus, there is little awareness of the greatness of God, or how puny we really are in the overall picture of creation. We want God to do everything for us and to do it how, where, and when we try to dictate to Him. If He doesn’t fit into our timeframe, we go somewhere else. We choose churches like we choose theaters – “What’s on this week? Who’s playing? Oh, I’ve seen that one.” Those heart-attitudes prevent us from receiving what God has for us.
Something important that we have lost is our fear of the Lord, but it will return to the church. Already there is a hungry remnant in the church, pastors. Not everyone is truly hungry for God, but His remnant is. The remnant is comprised of a particular group of people who are seeking God, who want God, who need God, who know it and are not afraid to say so.
Whenever God sends revival, it will be to remind us of some things we have forgotten or lost or missed altogether. God’s purpose in the outpouring is to saturate us completely with His Spirit and then thrust us out of the church building and into whatever our “world” is – our realm of influence – our home, workplace, and marketplace. Therefore, we must learn to be as “spiritual” on the outside of the building – every day, all day – as we are when we’re inside the building. If we fail to do this, we’ll never experience revival, for how can we call ourselves witnesses to the power of God if we’re unwilling or unable to live like we have received something wonderful from Him? What God needs is for us to be His light in the darkness (Mt.5:14; Phil.2:15).
God wants to reveal His truth to us. He wants to give us a fresh revelation of Himself that is truly power-filled and glorious. That’s why we are seeing the restoration of the 5-fold ministries of Ephesians 4 as we’ve never seen them rise before. We are seeing the authentic rise of His apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. And, we are also seeing a heart and desire for the salvation of souls returning to the church. That is something God plants deep within our own spirits that cannot be ignored. God gives the revelation and anointing as He directs. It is not something we can earn, or ever deserve.
Cornelius did not deserve God’s call or mercy. He had no right to ask for anything. He only vicariously heard the Gospel, as the job of centurion officially placed him in a position of functioning among Jewish believers where he heard them speak of this Christ. What Cornelius was hearing (or over-hearing) was completely strange to what he already knew. Yet God broke through to this man’s inner being with His truth. The “word” Cornelius heard, actually being delivered to other people (the Jews), seeped through to him and he claimed it for himself. That demonstrated that “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34).
God needed someone to be the first to understand that the Gentiles were supposed to hear of the same Savior as the Jews; that the Gentiles were going to be filled with the same Holy Spirit; that the Gentiles were to have the same right, or opportunity, to come into God’s Kingdom because of Jesus Christ; that the Gentiles were to be able to “live and move and have their being” in Christ (Acts 17:28). God needed someone to illustrate all of this. Cornelius was that someone. Are you a candidate for such a demonstration of His plan and power today?
In your workplace, regardless of how godless your job atmosphere may be, or seem to be, God needs you to be there. He does want you to be that light in the darkness. He wants to reveal Himself through your life, not necessarily your mouth. He wants your life to be a demonstration that God is not a respecter of persons and that what others see in you that is appealing is because of God’s abiding Spirit, and is also available to them.
Thus, an important factor in our passage is the man, Cornelius – a candidate to be the revelation of God personified. This candidate does not have a right in the natural to be the candidate. He has no proper qualifications or credentials, but he has done some things that make him the candidate. He performed according to his knowledge.
The first thing we can observe, then, is: Performance.
In Acts 10:2, it says Cornelius was “a devout man who feared the God of Israel” (NLT). He wasn’t going to church with the Jews, but Cornelius was doing everything he knew to do. Performance is acting upon the level of your knowledge, or being accountable to God. It is doing what you know to do before you seek from Him what you don’t yet know. It’s doing what you already know before seeking something more from Him. Accountability. Scripture repeats this concept: “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them” (John 13:17; James 1:25).
In the Contemporary English Version of the Bible, it clearly states what it was Cornelius was doing. Acts 10:1-2: “In Caesarea, there was a man named Cornelius, who was the captain of a group of soldiers called ‘The Italian Unit.’ Cornelius was a very religious man. He worshipped God, and so did everyone else who lived in his house” (bold added). That is a powerful statement that could bring strong conviction on many of us. We raise our children and may watch them walk away from everything we have stood for and taught them. They exercise their free will, go into the world, and embrace some things we (and they) know are not a part of God’s plan. What we must do is to adopt a faith-filled position of confident strength in God and pray them back into God’s hands. “I’m praying for you. I know you’re coming back! I call you back from wherever and whatever!” That’s doing what we know to do.
Cornelius did not know a lot, but he believed there was only one true and living God. He had heard the testimony of the believers and knew there was more to learn. He was doing what he knew and listening for more. In the mean time, he influenced his whole household for God.
Acts 10, verse 2 continues to relate that Cornelius “gave generously to charity.” We tend to think that “charity” refers only to the “poor.” But the truth is, God wants us not to hold so tightly to what He has provided. We seem to think of “giving” as only to those who are worse off than we are. When we do that, we miss a huge blessing from the Lord. He wants us to give as He directs so that He can bless us abundantly. Giving is an open door to blessing, and withholding out of fear, greed, stinginess, or even ignorance closes the door on God’s blessings. (Mal. 3)
Cornelius lived as a believer in his day, demonstrating how we are to live today. He knew some things, and he did what he knew. He shared his wealth, and he shared his influence. Cornelius was a witness. Everyone who came into his house heard as much as he knew about God. We make excuses for not witnessing because we think we don’t know enough, or we can’t quote enough from the Bible. I would ask what do you know? Is Jesus real to you? Do you know you are a sinner but are forgiven by God because of the price Jesus paid for all your sin at the cross? Do you know He died for you? If so, my friend, that’s all you need to share! Share the goodness of God, liberally given to you and for you.
Verse 2 tells one more important thing about Cornelius that we should note. Not only was he devout in his lifestyle toward God, and truly a God-fearing man, giving alms to the poor, and otherwise to the work of God, but the scripture further says he prayed always to God. He prayed regularly. Now, we can only imagine what Cornelius prayed. “God, You’re wonderful! And I know there’s more of You than I have or know. If it be possible, I’d like to see that ‘more.’ I’d like to possess more. So, here I am to worship; here I am to bow down. Here I am…” Truly, beloved, that’s the only prayer we have: “Here I am God …”
Then it says Cornelius heard from God – through an angel (v.3). The message was, “Send for the head of the church, the one who was doing the most preaching to the Jewish people. He never preaches to anyone else, but send for him anyway.” We tend to argue with God when He gives such a directive. We want to “logic” God’s ways and rationalize why we cannot do what He tells us, or how He directs, because it may not appear reasonable in our minds. We miss it so many times! Our main problem is that which exists between our ears! “Oh, Lord. I can’t do that. I would love to but that important person would never come to me. I’m nobody special, but I do want to hear from You, Lord. Give me something else that I can believe.”
Not so with Cornelius. He wanted more from God, so he positioned himself for it by performing what he already knew. And, he had great passion for God and His ways.
Go to Part 2