June 22, 2009

"Will You not Yourself revive us again?"

Several weeks back I preached, from Psalm 85.6, on Revival. Not on a protracted series of evangelistic meetings … but on Revival, we might say, with a capital ‘R’.; on the idea that God’s people often become so spiritually drowsy that they need God Himself to come in extraordinary, startling ways … to re-break their hearts over their sins, to give them renewed joy in the gospel, to fill them afresh with the Holy Spirit, and to give them a renewed sense of purpose and holy desire. Not a phenomenon whereby one leaves the Sunday morning service with an emotional surge … but whereby one is completely floored, once again, with the goodness of God in the gospel, almost as though you have been reborn, all over again! It was that significant of a work of the Spirit that I was after in that sermon.

That was almost two months ago. And I still sense the need for that sort of extraordinary work of God … in myself, in our congregation, and in our city. I think, honestly, that this is where we stand right now – a bit too drowsy to be much good to one another, or to our neighborhood; a bit too distracted with things other than the glory and beauty of Jesus. So, for the next two weeks, by way of reminder (and maybe by way of introduction to those who read these lines online), I’d like review the four points of that sermon on Psalm 85.6.

The text, from Psalm 85.6, simply reads: "Will You not Yourself revive us again?"

And here are the first two items that we noticed:

1. The psalmist prayed for revival. That is to say that, the psalmist was not asking God to do something, primarily, among the lost people around him. Rather, he was praying for people who were already alive to God … but who had become spiritually drowsy. This was a prayer for revival, not simply ‘vival.’ That is, the psalmist was praying (and we should be too) that the Lord would renew the joy that he had when he first believed; that God would make His people what they once were in holiness and love; that God would make His glory to dwell in the land once again. The psalmist wasn’t asking for anything new or cutting edge. Just the God might ­renew what had become old and stale. And I ask you: Has your spiritual life become old and stale – your love for the Bible; your love for the fellowship; your love for the old, old story of Jesus and His love; your love of prayer? Do you love Jesus, His word, and His bride the way you did when you first believed? Or are you in need of revival?

2. The psalmist prayed with faith. Notice how the psalmist phrased his request: “Will you not Yourself revive us again?” That is stronger than simply saying: ‘Will you revive us again?’ It is the difference between a wife saying: ‘Will you buy me some flowers?’ and saying ‘Will you not buy me some flowers? Won’t you at least get me a dozen roses? Is that asking too much?’ Do you see? When you begin a question with “will you not” – or (as we would say it): ‘won’t you’ – you are implying that you will be keenly disappointed if the answer is ‘no’. ‘Won’t you please go to church with me?’ ‘Won’t you just quit drinking?’ It almost has the force of: ‘I don’t see any good reason why you wouldn’t come to church … quit drinking … buy me flowers … “revive us again.” Do you see what the psalmist, then, is saying to God? ‘I don’t see any good reason why you wouldn’t answer my prayer. Your character and Your promises would almost seem to demand that you would revive Your people!’ The psalmist is praying with great confidence … with faith. He is practically insisting that God should answer, although he does so in humble way. And we need to pray this way about revival: ‘God, I can’t think of any good reason you wouldn’t revive us! No, we don’t deserve it. But Your faithfulness to Your promises trumps our sin. And Your zeal for Your Son’s glory would almost seem to demand it. So “will You not Yourself revive us again?”’

Would you be willing to pray that way?

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