Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival
“Break up your fallow
ground, for it is time to
seek the LORD, till He
comes and rains righteousness
(Hosea 10:12, NKJV).
The revival we will be talking about in this study is for God’s
people....those who by faith in Jesus Christ have received salvation
and belong to Him. (People who do not belong to God cannot be
“revived”; they first must be regenerated!) Since the days of Adam
and Eve, God’s people have often chosen to resist His will and
rebel. Because of His great love, God keeps calling them back to
intimate fellowship with Him. God’s grace....the desire and power
He gives us to return to Him....always accompanies His call to revival.
Day 1: Faith-Builder Story
1.Why did you decide to do this study? As you begin to seek God in
a fresh way, what are some of your hopes? Your fears?
Read the following story of one self-made man’s
answer the questions that follow.
I was a man who truly had everything I ever wanted....a beautiful
family, lovely home, several successful business ventures, and respect in
my community and church. Like the foolish rich man in the parable
Jesus told, my “barns were full and overflowing” and I felt pretty good.
I certainly didn’t see any need for “revival” in my life.
But God knew my true condition, and He loved me enough to do
something about it. I attended an extended series of special revival services
held at my church. Through the Bible teaching, God began to show
me how blind and spiritually bankrupt I was. I was being confronted
with truth from God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit was convicting me. I
found this very uncomfortable. In fact, when I had to go on a business
trip for three days in the middle of the crusade, I was relieved; I thought
I was going to get away from the Lord! But wouldn’t you know, the
Spirit of God went right along with me. Those were three miserable
days of conviction.
The next Sunday morning the speaker shared the Bible story of
Naaman, the commander-in-chief of the Syrian army. He was a
wealthy leader who had it all together....except that he had leprosy.
Naaman wanted to be healed, but he didn’t want to do it God’s way.
So he approached it the way I would have: he loaded up six hundred
shekels of gold and ten talents of silver, and went down to buy his way
out of his problem. Right in the middle of this story, God’s Spirit said
to me, “You’re just like Naaman! You’ve got spiritual leprosy, and you
need to be healed. You can be restored, but you’re going to have to do it
I realized that I was proud, rebellious, ungrateful, and unyielded. I
fell on my knees and cried out to God as best I knew how, asking what
He wanted me to do. In my heart I heard Him say, “I want two things:
submission and obedience.” Those were strange words to me, but I put
myself at His mercy, confessed my sin, and repented.
God slowly showed me that I was trying to hang on to all the
“things” I was accumulating instead of trusting Him to provide for us.
He began to deal with me about my business and financial affairs, which
resulted in a freeing, radical change of values for my family.
2. Identify some of the outer and inner factors that brought about
spiritual change in this man’s life.
3. Have you ever experienced the kind of encounter with God that he
described? What was the message you needed to hear?
We are hardly the first human beings to discover our need for personal
revival. Listen to the ancient cry of the psalmist’s heart:
Will you not revive us again, 4. According to these verses, who needs revival?
that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land. (Psalm 85:6–9)
5.What are some of the results of revival among God’s people?
Day 2: Truth Encounter
To begin our study let’s look at the Old Testament, where we clearly
see God’s desire to restore His wayward people. Consider, for example,
the prophet Hosea.
God sent Hosea to prophesy to the nation of Israel. Though they were
God’s chosen people, the nation was in a sad state of spiritual and
moral decline. For years they had enjoyed God’s blessings....material
bounty, military strength, peaceful relations with neighboring
nations....yet they still turned away from Him. They stopped viewing
God as the source of their blessings and chose instead to credit themselves.
They put off worshiping God. They ceased loving Him. They
replaced Him with idols, worldly pursuits, and earthly wealth.
It was to these confused fellow countrymen that Hosea delivered
repeated rebukes and appeals. If they did not return to the Lord, he
warned, judgment would surely come. Here is the essence of Hosea’s
Sow for yourselves righteousness;
6.What was Hosea’s charge against the Israelites?
Reap in mercy;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the LORD,
Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.
You have plowed wickedness;
You have reaped iniquity.
You have eaten the fruit of lies,
Because you trusted in your own way,
In the multitude of your mighty men. (Hosea 10:12–13, NKJV)
7.What do you think it means to “break up your fallow ground”?
The condition of the Western church is remarkably similar to that of
the nation of Israel. In many ways we too have forsaken God and
attempted to replace Him with other gods (idols). If Hosea were
preaching now, he would scarcely need to alter his words! He might
tell God’s people today:
8.With the above message in mind, has there ever been a time in your
life as a Christian when you walked more closely with God than
you are walking right now? If yes, what are some consequences you
have experienced as a result of this loss of intimacy with God?
- Return to your former lifestyle of righteousness, to a time when
you were close to God and obeyed His Word.
- Accept God’s mercy and forgive those who have wronged you.
- Allow God to “plow up” the hardened ground of your hearts,
especially in those areas where you have long neglected His will.
- Grieve over your sins.
- Ponder the consequences of sin that you are experiencing.
- Accept responsibility by admitting you have brought these consequences
- Make seeking God your highest pursuit.
Day 3: Truth Encounter
GOD’S LOVE DRAWS US
Why does God want to revive our hearts and restore us to a closer
relationship with Him? One major reason is that He loves us!
We need to beware of misunderstanding the heart and ways of God
when we study His dealings with His people, especially in the Old
Testament. Due to the numerous accounts of God’s judgment recorded
there, we might get the impression that God was eager to punish or
that He is harsh, demanding, and impatient. But really the opposite is true.
Times of judgment usually came after years of pleading with His
people to come back to Him.
Look again at the book of Hosea. God said:
Then, after taking His people through a time of discipline and correction,
God urged them once again:
When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on
and I bent down to them and fed them. (Hosea 11:1–4)
Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God,
9.When did God start loving His people?
for you have stumbled because of your iniquity
Take with you words
and return to the LORD;
say to him,
“Take away all iniquity;
accept what is good,
and we will pay with bulls
the vows of our lips.
Assyria shall not save us;
we will not ride on horses;
and we will say no more, ‘Our God’
to the work of our hands.
In you the orphan finds mercy.”
4I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them. (Hosea 14:1–4)
After they “cleaned up their act.”
10.Do you think God ever stopped loving them?
After He vented His anger on them.
When they were young, at the beginning of their existence.
Yes, at least for a while.
Explain your answer:
No. God always loved them, even when they needed discipline.
The passages from Hosea 11 and 14 provide
“before,” “during,” and
“after” snapshots of how and why God revives and renews His people.
The constant in all three stages is His love. God loved them when they
were newborns (“child” in Hosea 11:1 literally means infant); He loved
them after they returned to Him from a season of rebellion; and He
loved them throughout the whole process of correcting them.
It was His love for them, in fact, that caused them to want to return to
Him. It wasn’t that they suddenly “felt” love for Him again, nor that
they somehow remembered how wonderful it was to live with an
awareness of God’s love. It was that God caused them to desire that
love relationship again. He enabled His people to see not only how
wrong they had been and why His discipline was necessary, but also
that He would welcome their return because He had never ceased
Perhaps your own heart is hungering for intimacy with God....an intimacy
that you haven’t enjoyed for a long time or perhaps have never known. That very desire is God-initiated. He wants you back! Why?
Because He loves you and knows that you cannot experience all He
has for you in your present condition.
11.Write a prayer thanking God for His faithful love and for His
desire to restore His people when they have wandered away from
Day 4: Truth Encounter
RETURNING TO OUR FIRST LOVE
The need for believers to return wholeheartedly to God....to be
revived....is also addressed in the New Testament. The book of
Revelation records the apostle John’s vision. In this vision, Jesus speaks
to seven churches. The church at Ephesus had once been a vibrant
group of believers, deeply in love with Jesus. They had maintained
their doctrinal purity and their separation from evil practices. They
had worked hard and persevered, and they had a zeal for service. Yet
something was wrong. After commending their strengths, Jesus
addressed a matter of grave concern to Him:
Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first
love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and
do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove
your lampstand from its place....unless you repent. (Revelation
12.What had the church at Ephesus done that so displeased the Lord?
Put into your own words what it means to leave “your first love.”
13.What three verbs do you note in Jesus’ command? What light does
this shed on the process of revival?
Over the years, the Christians at Ephesus had somehow lost sight of
the Savior. Their love for Him had lost its fervor. They had transferred
their affection elsewhere, and this deviation threatened to cost
God wants us to love Him first and foremost. When we find ourselves
trusting in people instead of the Lord, this indicates that our heart’s
focus has shifted from Him (Jeremiah 17:5). Love for people....friends,
family members, or even ourselves....can compete with our love for
Him (Matthew 10:37). Other substitutes for a God-centered love relationship
may include money, pleasure, friends, work, ritual in worship,
the teachings of respected leaders, or Bible knowledge without a relationship
Revival does not begin when a struggling, wayward person decides to
return to the Lord but rather when the loving heavenly Father, wanting
His people to enjoy the safety and security of His love, calls him
or her back to Himself. God is the initiator; the call to revival is a plea
of love from the heart of God.
14. Have you transferred your love for God to some other place? What
are some things that may be competing with your love for Him?
Day 5: Making It Personal
Revival is the sovereign work of God. He chooses when and to whom
He sends it. It is also true, however, that there are things we can do to
prepare for revival in our lives. Being prepared for what God has
determined to do is a pattern we see throughout Scripture. For example,
on the eve of their passage into the Promised Land, Joshua
charged the children of Israel, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow
the LORD will do wonders among you” (Joshua 3:5). In the same way,
we can prepare our hearts for spiritual renewal.
The following questions are designed to reveal specific areas of which
to be aware as you prepare for personal (as well as corporate) revival.
They are not meant to be guilt-producers, just a helpful tool. Answer
each question as honestly as possible....not as it once was in your life
or as others think of you, but based on what God reveals to be the
current condition of your heart.
Read the Bible passages if time allows. Agree with God about each
need He reveals. Confess each sin that He exposes. Praise Him for His
awesome love and power to forgive. Don’t be in a hurry; give God
time to speak and give yourself time to respond.
Preparing My Heart for Revival
1. Genuine Salvation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
a. Was there a time in my life when I genuinely repented of (was
aware of and turned away from) my sin?
2. God’s Word (Psalm 119:97, 140)
b. Was there a time in my life when I placed all my trust in Jesus
Christ alone to save me?
c. Was there ever a time in my life when I completely surrendered
to Jesus Christ as the Master and Lord of my life?
a. Do I love to read and meditate on the Word of God?
3. Humility (Isaiah 57:15)
b. Are my personal devotions consistent and meaningful?
c. Do I apply God’s Word to my everyday life?
a. Am I quick to recognize and agree with God in confession when
I have sinned?
4. Obedience (1 Samuel 15:22; Hebrews 13:17)
b. Am I quick to admit to others when I am wrong?
c. Do I rejoice when others are praised and recognized and my
accomplishments go unnoticed by people?
a. Do I consistently obey what I know God wants me to do?
5. Pure Heart (1 John 1:9)
b. Do I consistently obey the human authorities God has placed
over my life?
a. Do I confess my sin by name?
6. Clear Conscience (Acts 24:16)
b. Do I keep “short sin accounts” with God (confess and forsake as
c. Am I willing to give up all sin for God?
a. Do I consistently seek forgiveness from those I wrong or offend?
7. Priorities (Matthew 6:33)
b. Is my conscience clear with every person? (Can I honestly say,
“There is no one I have ever wronged or offended in any way
and not gone back to that person and sought his forgiveness and
made it right”?)
a. Does my schedule reveal that God is first in my life?
8.Values (Colossians 3:12)
b. Does my checkbook reveal that God is first in my life?
a. Do I love what God loves and hate what God hates?
9. Sacrifice (Philippians 3:7–8)
b. Do I value highly the things that please God (for example:
giving, witnessing to lost souls, studying His Word, praying)?
c. Are my affections and goals fixed on eternal values?
a. Am I willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to see God move
in my life and church (time, convenience, comfort, reputation,
pleasure, and so on)?
10. Spirit Control (Galatians 5:22-25; Ephesians 5:18–21)
b. Is my life characterized by genuine sacrifice for the cause of
a. Am I allowing Jesus to be Lord of every area of my life?
11. “First Love” (Philippians 1:21, 23)
b. Am I allowing the Holy Spirit to “fill” (control) my life each
c. Is there consistent evidence of the “fruit of the Spirit” being produced
in my life?
a. Am I as much in love with Jesus as I have ever been?
12. Motives (Matthew 10:28; Acts 5:29)
b. Am I devoted to Jesus, filled with His joy and peace, and making
Him the continual object of my affection?
a. Am I more concerned with what God thinks about my life than
with what others think?
13. Moral Purity (Ephesians 5:3-4)
b. Would I pray, read my Bible, give, and serve as much if nobody
but God ever noticed?
c. Am I more concerned about pleasing God than I am about
being accepted and appreciated by others?
a. Do I keep my mind free from books, magazines, or entertainment
that could stimulate fantasizing or thoughts that are not
14. Forgiveness (Colossians 3:12–13)
b. Are my conversation and behavior pure and above reproach?
a. Do I seek to resolve conflicts in relationships as soon as possible?
15. Evangelism (Luke 24:47–48; Romans 9:3)
b. Am I quick to forgive those who wrong or hurt me?
a. Do I have a burden for lost souls?
16. Prayer (1 Timothy 2:1)
b. Do I consistently witness for Christ?
a. Am I faithful in praying for the needs of others?
Use these questions and activities each week for group discussion of
the material each member has completed during the week.
b. Do I pray specifically, fervently, and faithfully for revival in my
life, my church, and our nation?
Remember that all responses need to be respected and held in confidence.
The point of meeting together is to learn from one another and
to encourage each other to seek God more fully.
Opening It Up
1.Why have you chosen to participate in this study on seeking God
and personal revival?
Talking It Over
2. Before beginning this study guide, what did you think “revival”
was? How has your view of revival changed thus far?
3. If you read the passages in Going Deeper in the Word, what parts
encouraged you? What, if any, questions did they raise?
4.What did you learn from the Faith-Builder story of the self-made
man? What things do you tend to hold on to for security, even
though they could be easily taken away?
5.The prophet Hosea was sent to the nation of
Israel. They had
turned away from God and replaced Him with other things. What
are some ways that Christians today replace God with other things?
6. Read Hosea 10:12–13 aloud. Review the seven-point summary of
Hosea’s message on page 6. If you’re willing, explain to the group
how one point of the sermon applies to you personally.
7.Tell the group about someone you know or have heard about who
has unselfishly loved another person, even though that person was
not worthy of it. How does this real-life example help you understand
God’s love for His wayward children?
8.What does the idea that God initiates revival in His people tell you
about God? What does it tell you about yourself?
9.“Preparing My Heart for Revival” (Day 5) was a spiritual diagnostic
tool provided to help assess your own need for personal revival. If
you feel comfortable, share a specific way that God used this exercise
to bring conviction or to reveal an area of need in your life.
Praying for Revival
There are countless joys and rewards of walking closely with and seeking
God. Below are eight specific benefits or results of personal revival.
Have one person or several people read these aloud.
1. Revival restores first love. In times of revival, the love we once had
for God is rekindled.
Which result(s) of revival do you particularly need and desire to see in
your own life?
2. Revival rebuilds a desire for God’s Word, prayer, praise, and obedience.
As we experience greater intimacy with God, those spiritual disciplines
and activities that we once dreaded become a delight.
3. Revival resolves conflicts. God’s grace enables us to humble ourselves,
admit our sinful attitudes, forgive those who have hurt us,
and seek the forgiveness of those we have offended.
Reconciliation....with God and others....is a mark of true
4. Revival repairs broken marriages. Do you know any “hopeless” family
situations, such as couples on the brink of divorce or perhaps
deeply embittered toward one another yet staying together for
the sake of appearance? When real revival comes, no situation is
5. Revival removes bitterness, fear, and worry. “We have seen more take
place in her life in four days than we have in four years of counseling.”
This is how a father and mother described the drastic
change in their formerly rebellious and immoral teenage daughter.
As often happens in revival, this young woman came under
deep conviction over feelings of bitterness that she held toward someone. The reasons for her rebellious behavior became obvious
as she began honestly to admit her hurts and accept
responsibility for her wrong responses and actions. Anger and
bitterness soon lost their grip, and she was set free.
6. Revival refreshes the spirit. Do you live with nearly constant pressure
and anxiety? Have you discovered that the things you tend
to turn to for relief neither satisfy you nor remove the stress?
According to Acts 3:20, “times of refreshing” come from “the
presence of the Lord.” What an apt description of revival! God
invites us to come to His presence. There....and only there....will
we find genuine rest.
7. Revival renews the mind. A revived life is marked by God-centered thinking.
We begin to view things from His perspective rather
than from our own limited and natural vantage point.
8. Revival reforms the life. Someone has described revival as a “complete
takeover” in which God is returned to His rightful place as
Lord of our lives. Old habits are put away, and new ones are
established. Resentment and despair are buried and replaced with
contentment and hope. Forgiveness flows freely.
Break into groups of no more than four or five individuals and take
time to pray for each other in one or more of these areas:
- PRAY that Jesus Christ will become the first love in each heart.
- PRAY that you will have an increased desire to read and obey
God’s Word and to worship Him.
- PRAY that any outstanding conflicts would be resolved.
- PRAY that any family conflicts represented in your group will be
- PRAY that you would be set free from any bitterness, anger, and
worry, and that each life would be characterized by love, forgiveness,
and God-centered trust.
- PRAY that each one will cultivate a habit of turning to God first
when faced with any kind of trial.
- PRAY that God will renew your minds.
- PRAY that each member of your group would experience true
revival as you “Seek Him” together in the days ahead.