Brokenness Is Key To Revival
By Sammy Tippit
The following is adapted from a message given at the Heart-Cry for Revival Conference in April 2013 at The Cove, Asheville, North Carolina U.S.A. Used by permission.
"…A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise" (Psa. 51:17).
In the revivals described in the Scriptures, and in every revival I have read about in history, God brought His people to brokenness, a place He does not despise. Brokenness is key to revival. When His people are broken, they are ready to get on the highway of holiness that leads to revival. This highway includes humbling oneself before the Lord, seeking His face and turning from evil ways.
About nine years ago the Lord brought me into brokenness at this conference. My wife and I had been in Cambodia ministering and I came home and I was exhausted. I had never been so tired in all of my life, and for a couple of days I could not do anything except lie on my couch. I then went with my best friend Billy to Haiti to preach. I came back and began to have physical problems. I was then at a Life Action board meeting and received news that Billy had been killed in an accident. I was crushed. I preached at his funeral, and at his funeral collapsed and had to be taken to the hospital. I asked God to refresh and renew me, and started to regain strength. While preaching at a crusade in Louisiana I received word that a man from Pakistan who was translating my materials had been kidnapped and murdered.
I came here to the conference and was so tired. When people asked how I was doing, I told them about all of the bad things I was going through. And then in the early morning prayer meeting, the Lord spoke to my heart and told me, "You are saying it is all these things, but it is not all these things. I said in My Word that ‘…they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.’ Now either My Word is true or it is not true. Either My Word is true or what you are saying is true."
I realized the root of my problem was not what was happening all around me, but what was happening on the inside of me. I broke, and I wept, and I confessed in that prayer meeting what God had said in my heart. I confessed that I had sinned against God and had not been waiting upon Him and seeking Him. And that began a process of renewal. Now it did not end there, as two years later I was diagnosed with cancer. But when that happened, I knew what was going on.
After I had surgery, God met with me! Not for one moment, not for one week, not for one month, but for three months day in and day out the presence of God flooded my soul. I was confined to my home and devoted that time to God. He brought me into healing, forgiveness and revival. But it all started with brokenness.
My observation, which I believe is in agreement with the Bible, is that there are three things that produce brokenness, three things the Holy Spirit brings into our lives to get us on the road toward revival. First of all, we must see God’s greatness. We must see how mighty and majestic He is.
At the burning bush, the Lord said to Moses, "Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground" (Ex. 3:5). This is the highway of holiness.
Moses had grown up as the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter. One day when he saw an Egyptian mistreating one of his Hebrew brethren, Moses took matters into his own hands and struck the Egyptian. When he realized he had been found out, he fled to the Midianite desert and hid himself, an absolute failure. The mighty Moses was now a poor shepherd in the middle of nowhere. God was not able to use the young, powerful Moses because when you are a somebody, God cannot use you. But God placed him in the Midianite desert to become a nobody, because when you are a nobody, God can use you. Moses had had everything in the courts of the Pharaoh – power, prestige, wealth – but now for forty years, day in and day out, he was just an old straggly shepherd. God had given him a vehicle of brokenness to deliver him to a highway called holiness. "Take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."
Then the Lord said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (v. 6). In other words, He was saying, "You know the stories. You know what I did with Abraham, and what I did with him I can do with you. And what I did with Isaac, I can do with you. And what I did with Jacob, I can do with you. I am God Almighty, the Creator God, the God who can take a nobody like Abraham and make a nation out of him greater than the stars in the heaven. That is who it is that is speaking to you, Moses."
So Moses saw God in His power, and in doing so, saw himself in his inability. God told him He wanted to deliver His people through Moses, and Moses said he could not do it. But God wanted to bring him to a glorious place where the Red Sea would part. God met Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and told Moses He would bring him to that place through humility, through seeking God’s face and through repentance.
It breaks my heart that our nation no longer knows who the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is. We live in a generation that has not seen a mighty outpouring of His Spirit on a national level. I believe the closest thing that we have had to it in recent times was the Jesus Movement. Even though it was only a minor awakening, a minor move of the Spirit of God, those of us who tasted revival during that time need to tell our children, the next generation, that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that what He did for them, He did for me, and what He did for me, He will do for you. We need to say that our God is a mighty God.
God’s Power for Revival
Why do I have a burden for revival? Early in my ministry a pastor of a little Baptist church in Monroe, Louisiana asked me to preach a youth revival because his heart was broken for the young people. I met with the young people before the meeting, and told the pastor that it would not work because the young people did not care, they were not interested in revival nor in reaching people for Christ. I saw the twinkle in his eye and the smile on his face, and he said, "I have been praying and seeking God, and He is going to work." So I went on his faith.
The first two nights the same twenty-five people came, and I preached my heart out and gave an invitation, but absolutely nothing happened. But before we closed the second night, a man who was youth leader in that church came up to the pastor and shared that he had been such a poor example to the youth. The two of them knelt down and prayed, and then the man shared with the congregation about his terrible example, and said, "I have just knelt down and repented and asked God to forgive me and cleanse me, and I need to ask this church to forgive me and for the young people to forgive me."
Something happened in that moment. The Holy Spirit fell, and all of the people went to their knees and began praying. The singing group from the local campus came to the altar and got on their faces and repented. The next night, the church was packed. God again moved among us. The following night there was not enough room for the people. On Sunday, I had to park blocks away from the church because there were so many people. God worked in a mighty way, and the pastor said we had to extend this another week. We moved to the university campus, and in a week we outgrew that building, and then another building.
The pastor said to me, "God is up to something wonderful with the young people, much more than we imagined that He wanted to do in this city. We need to talk to the former governor who now owns a television station and ask him for time on television to tell everyone what God is doing in our city." I told the pastor that I did not think the governor would let us do that, and he said, "I have been praying." So we went and the governor not only gave us two prime 15-minute spots to tell what God was doing, he also called the mayor about donating the civic center to us. The final day of the meetings, thousands of young people filled the civic center. There was racial reconciliation and conversions, including drug addicts that were saved.
Something was stirring in me and I could not sleep or eat. Arthur Blessitt was carrying a cross across the northern part of the United States, and God spoke to me about pushing a wheelbarrow loaded with Bibles through the South, and meeting him in Washington, D.C. Seven of us made the journey and we saw the glory of God. By the way, this was February 1970, the same time when the Holy Spirit fell at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, though we had no idea that God was working in both places.
Along the way we went to major college campuses. We walked into Athens, Georgia, where the University of Georgia is, on the day when students at Kent State in Ohio protesting the Vietnam War were shot by National Guardsmen, and riots had broken out all across America on university campuses. When we walked onto the campus of the University of Georgia, students had taken over the administration building and were threatening to burn it down. We walked right into the middle of a riot and started passing out our Bibles. Campus Crusade met and prayed with us and made posters stating that "Real Peace Is Jesus."
The next day we were passing out Bibles and tracts at the demonstrations, and I got on the platform where the radicals were speaking about needing a revolution and needing to burn down the place. I started passing out tracts and sharing Jesus on the platform, and this guy who was threatening to burn everything down finished his speech, turned around, and thinking I was the next speaker, he handed me the microphone. I said, "O God, what do I do now?" I looked around, and I said, "We need a revolution!" The crowd erupted in agreement. I went on, "But we will never have a revolution in this country until our hearts are changed." The crowd grew quiet, and I continued, "And there is only one person who can change the human heart, and His name is Jesus Christ." I thought stones and eggs were going to start flying. But everybody listened, and I preached Jesus and challenged the students to commit their lives to Him. And the next speaker said, "What would Jesus do if He were here?" And the debate became about what Jesus would do. And God sent peace to the campus.
God Is More Than Able
What am I saying? The God who visited Asbury College, and Monroe, Louisiana, and the University of Georgia in 1970 is the God of 2013. The God of the Jesus Movement is the God of the young people of today. The God who did it yesterday can do it today. And He can do it next year. We need to see Him as the great and mighty God. We need to see that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is not just able, He is MORE than able. In one divine moment, He can change everything! We need to see Him in His greatness. We need to see that it is not our plans, not our programs, not our little strategies, but only God! If our nation is going to be turned around, it must be by God. "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts" (Zech. 4:6). We need to see Him in His power.
Secondly, we need to see God in His holiness. After Nathan confronted David over his grievous sin involving Bathsheba and Uriah, David cried out to the Lord for mercy and declared, "Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You may be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgment" (Psa. 51:4; see the whole psalm). David saw God in His holiness and realized that the root of his sin was against God.
David went on to plead, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that You have broken rejoice" (vv. 7-8). God had broken David. His brokenness was not just over the consequences of his sin, but over the realization that he had sinned against the holy God, the God who is absolutely pure and absolutely righteous. The reason we do not have brokenness in our churches, in our homes and in our hearts is because we do not see that our sin is against God Himself. We compare our sins with the sins of others and think that our sins are not that bad. But if you see God in His holiness, you will be broken before Him.
Isaiah saw the Lord, and the angels cried out, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts…" (Isa. 6:3). And he was broken before the Lord. He had a similar response as David and needed the Lord’s mercy: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips…for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!" (v. 5). The reason there is not a depth of confession today is because the source of our confession is not in having seen the holiness and absolute purity of God. When we see God, we will be broken.
In every season of revival that the Lord sends into our lives, He always reveals Himself in His holiness. An example of this occurred when I was a pastor in Germany. One day I came home from my office, and my wife was weeping. In her quiet time that day she had been praying for our son (who was ill) and reading about the holiness of God, and God’s Spirit convicted her of her sin. She told me there had been bitterness in her heart toward me over some things I had said and done early in our marriage that hurt her, and instead of talking to me about them earlier, she had withdrawn, and now needed to ask my forgiveness.
When she shared this with me, it was as though a veil over my eyes was removed, and I saw God in His holiness. I was so broken and realized I had hurt my wife. But I realized even more that the root of hurting my wife was my pride, my sin against God. I fell before the Lord and cried. The conviction was so deep and heavy in my life that I felt I could no longer pastor. I went to the deacons and told them that I had to resign as their pastor because I had sinned against God, hurt my wife, missed the holiness of God and had failed Him so terribly. The deacons arranged for my wife and me to get away together to spend time meeting with God. The first night I wept the whole night. We talked and prayed, and talked and prayed. There was such deep brokenness, humility, seeking God’s face, and a deep repentance in our lives. Not long after that, we were able to participate in revival in Romania, but we would never have experienced that revival had we not been broken over our sin and allowed God to heal our marriage.
Not only do we need to see God in His greatness and in His holiness, we also need to see Him in His love. Something happens when we see the heart of God. The world is on the heart of God, and when God begins to work in our hearts, He shows us the lost and dying world around us, and our hearts will become so broken that no barrier can keep us from taking the Good News to others. The compelling and immeasurable love of God Himself will motivate us to say and do whatever it takes, even losing our lives for the sake of Christ and His kingdom, His power and His glory among the lost. There is no other motivation any greater than the motivation of love. It is the love of God that drives people to go out and share Jesus with other people.
Sometimes some of us who have a heart for revival and a heart for holiness, do not have a heart for what is on God’s heart, and our hearts need to be broken. If that is the case with you, cry out, "O God, baptize me in Your love. Give me Your heart. I want to be a man (woman) after Your own heart."
Father, we come to You. We need to behold You in all of Your glory. Give us a glimpse of Your greatness, Your holiness, and Your love. Let us see ourselves in the light of who You are. Search our hearts, try us, and see if there is anything in our hearts that is not like You. Bend us and break us, O God, and send revival into our hearts.