June 29, 2009

"Will You not Yourself revive us again?" (part 2)

Last week we began revisiting a sermon from early May, based on the text:

"Will You not Yourself revive us again?"
(Psalm 85.6).

The psalmist was desperate. God’s people were no longer what they should have been. Indeed, they were no longer what they once were. And it seemed that God had withdrawn His help from them; that He was chastening them for their spiritual drowsiness and sin. And so the psalmist cried out to God for revival – that God would make His glory dwell, once more, in the land. That God would wake His people up. That God would bring them to fresh repentance … and restore the joy of their salvation. And I submit to you, again, that we need to be praying this kind of prayer in our day.

It is not enough simply to get busier. Nor is it enough for us to have our doctrine and church order straight. We need GOD. And we need Him, in the person of the Holy Spirit, to come in power and restore our joy, our diligence in spiritual things, our zeal for the scriptures, and our love for Jesus. We need Him to “revive us again” – nationally, congregationally, and individually.

That is what the psalmist asked. And we began, last week, making the first two of four observations about his prayer:

1. The psalmist prayed for revival. Not just greater effort by God’s people. Not just a season of emotional uplift. But a great awakening and restoration to what they once were … and should still have been.

2. The psalmist prayed in faith.Will You not revive us”, he asked. ‘Won’t You revive us?’ Almost as if to say, ‘How could You not answer this prayer?’.

Now, this week, notice a third item (#4 will come next week):

3. The psalmist prayed while looking back. “Will You not Yourself revive us again.” The psalmist was not asking God to do something he had never done before. No, no! Rather, he was saying to God: ‘Do it again!’ He remembered (vv.1-3) how God had restored His people’s joy in the exodus from Egypt; how God had revived their spirits and their zeal in those ancient days. And he said to himself (and to his God): ‘If it happened then, then surely God can do it again!’

How important history is! Without it, we forget where we have come from. We forget the mighty deeds God has done in the past. Without a good knowledge of history, we fool ourselves into thinking that our day is actually quite a successful one. But when we read of the mighty works of God, and the mighty faith of His people in days gone by … we have cause, sometimes, to reevaluate. Maybe there have been better days, after all. Maybe we have lost some things through the years. Maybe we ought to be praying and repenting and longing for something better after all! And, once we have realized that there have been better days in Christian history … not only do we see the need for revival prayers, but we gain hope that God can and does answer them! For, if He did it then, He could do it now! If He did it in the Exodus from Egypt; if He did it in North America during the Great Awakening … He could visit [fill in the name of your town here] today!

Do you read church history? Specifically, do you read the stories of revival? More’s the pity if your understanding of God’s work has a two thousand year gap in it! But it’s not too late to set things right. If you really want to pray for revival … you will be helped tremendously if you read the stories of revival. Start with Brian Edwards’s Revival … and see if you aren’t moved to pray: “Will You not Yourself revive us again”!

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