Written by Pastor Greg Manalli
The anatomy of the church in light of the coming revival looks at the stages Christians go through on the way to maturity in Christ and the places of testing and trials that lead some to become discouraged, or worse, fall back into old ways or merely go through the motions of their faith. Since our Father is in the testings, then all these things will work for our good if we love God and are called according to His purposes; namely that we should be conformed to Christ.
Briefly we move through the initial stage of hearing the gospel, becoming convicted, repenting and being converted by re-birth as we learn of Jesus’ great gift of salvation. This is followed by seasons of learning the truths and ways of Christian faith, finding our gifts and expressing them, advancing the Kingdom by our witness and reaching the lost.
Also during these early times in the Lord, we come to enjoy the fellowship of the saints. We work together to accomplish different goals and rejoice together when they are achieved.
Then, a more advanced or serious period enters our lives. Being like Christ is becoming a vision that once was merely a statement in scripture. In pursuit of this vision, we encounter trials showing our real condition. We also have failures of unanswered prayers. There are purposes beyond our immediate understanding. In addition, we experience disappointments in relationships. New temptations to old sins arise, giving life to what we thought we had overcome.
Discouragement seizes this opportune time. Disillusionment with the “whole thing” grows stronger. We see our brothers and sisters going through similar things. We enter into formality in worship; our attendance and giving is low. Religion has taken over and the relationship with our Lord, while still there, isn’t as passionate as it once was. Some of us leave the church. This is a spiritual “Death Valley”.
Simultaneously, leaders realize their ministries and churches are not what they once were. Enormous efforts at organizing and planning commence, all with the goal of restoring the church to her previous state and to bring in a harvest of lost. The ratio of efforts to results would make a Wall Street banker jump off a building. At this time leaders expend more energy and resources for minimal returns. This is quite the opposite of how God’s works! And perhaps leaders must go through this for them also to repent.
This critical stage is the setting for revival. Revival is birthed in us by God. He instills in some a longing to pray and ask for our Lord to send Holy Spirit to us. We need Him so. Currents of life begin to serge into our souls. We return slowly to our first love, to repentance of our now recognized sins and a re-commitment to Jesus. It is like being born again, yet again.
Before the great outpouring that will come, there is this new season of travail and a cry to God our Father to first of all change us and prepare our hearts for the Lord to come again in the power and holiness of the Spirit. This does not happen overnight, but when the Lord does pour out His Spirit, it will be sudden, spontaneous, supernatural and sovereign. No man will take credit, no ministries can claim it, and no efforts on our part will achieve it.
This is what He requires of us before He comes. First, we must prepare our hearts as holy highways for Him, Isa. 40:3 and 35:8, Psa. 84:5. This is done in the desert of our souls. When we are in a dry and unfruitful place we best recognize our need. As some have said, this holy highway is paved with stones of repentance and tears that make fresh springs in the desert.
Second, a spirit of prayer and intercession comes upon us. This, too, is from the Lord. We take up the burden of the Lord for a renewed people of God walking in holiness and giving glory to Him. Our intercession reaches the throne of grace on behalf of the lost and those who sit in darkness. Deep cries for the prodigals stretch heavenward. The burden for them to be restored is relentless. Our overwhelming motive….glory to our Lord. For of Him and through Him are all things, and to Him be the glory forever, Rom. 11:36.
If you want to know if you are in the present will of the Lord, find out what God is doing today and give yourself to it.
Pastor Manalli has a tireless vision to see revival come to America.
Pastor Greg Manalli
Fellowship of Life Church
150 Sandbank Road, P.O. Box 239
Cheshire, CT 06410