Start with worship. When Ezra and the exiles return to Jerusalem after seventy years, they come home to: devastation. Standing on the barren plateau where the Temple of the LORD once stood, nothing is left. Across a landscape of broken stone, broken walls, not even the foundation is left. With the sun beating down on their heads, how do they make a start? They start with: worship.
“Then arose Jeshua the son of Jozadak, with his fellow priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel with his kinsmen, and they built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses, the man of God. They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the people of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, burnt offerings morning and evening. Ezra 3:2,3.
Why? The first step is worship. Rebuilding the House of the LORD from nothing, and with hostile peoples all around them, they start with worship. Building the altar for burnt offerings exactly where it is supposed to be in the finished temple, they worship. Routines of morning and evening sacrifices are the start, then daily offerings, then offerings for the new moon and the appointed feasts of the LORD, and then freewill offerings that the people brought to the LORD. Creating for the people of God a rhythm of daily worship and feast days based on the Law of Moses, inviting personal offerings and worship, the leaders of this small remnant of Israel start this project where every true work of God should begin: they started with worship.
All over the world people celebrated the revival that started at Asbury University here in Kentucky and continued for days and weeks. Tens of thousands poured into this small college town to witness and participate in this 24/7 worship. Other worship services sprang up in other locales, and folks are excited about more revival, a move of the Holy Spirit on the Church of God. And worship is the key; for spiritual revival, it all starts with worship.
New Testament revival is not about construction, but about souls. Soon after the Church of Jesus Christ was born at Pentecost in Acts, the second Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. Although we use buildings as shelters, we know that the Church is people, rescued souls. As the exiles gathered scattered stones to build the altar of God and reinstate worship, we gather the broken souls of people and bring them to the Lord, so they, with us, can be remade by faith.
Revival is intoxicating, the taste of new wine, and starts with worship. Our longing for real renewal in our communities and around the world begins with passion for worship. Starting, as the exiles did, with worship, we bring the offerings of our souls. The Holy Spirit ignites souls who come together for worship, and even a small start can turn into a burning beacon as we add, layer by layer, the praise of a grateful people for salvation, the music of adoration, the prayers of our hearts, solemn calls to faith, and holy day celebrations.
So if you are longing for revival, start with worship. Begin in your heart, in your home, in your church, in your Bible study, in prayer group with colleagues at work, wherever believers gather. And do not be discouraged, because the wave of consistent worship with prayer is never ignored by the Holy Spirit. The exiles faced political and military opposition to their building, but eventually the second Temple was built. Yet even when a single altar standing alone was all they had, they worshipped. So worship King Jesus, keep it going. And you will see how God will do more than all we can think, or hope, or imagine, because we started with: worship.