July 6, 2009

"Will You not Yourself revive us again?" (part 3)

For a third and final week we consider the text:
"Will You not Yourself revive us again?" (Psalm 85.6).

And again we say that the psalmist was desperate. God’s people had lost the joy of their salvation. Indeed, they seemed to have lost their first love. They no longer served the LORD with gladness. They had, in many ways, fallen asleep. And it is not out of the realm of possibility that some who read these lines will find themselves on exactly the same spiritual siesta. You know you aren’t what you once were … and that we, as a church, are not what we could be. And thus Psalm 85.6 should be valuable to you. It’s a simple cry that God would restore the joy, awaken the desires, and renew the zeal that we had when we first believed … and have sometimes had since.

So far, we’ve made three observations regarding the psalmist’s prayer:

1. The psalmist prayed for revival. His prayer was not that God would make the neighborhoods and the nations alive to Himself (necessary as that is) … but that God would awaken, or revive, those people who were already alive to God. “Revive us” was the prayer. ‘Revive Your own people. Restore us to what we once were … and should be.’ That was the psalmist’s prayer.

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?’.

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 remembering the mighty acts of God in days gone by … and praying: ‘Lord, do it again!’

Finally, let us note carefully that …

4. The psalmist simply prayed! Does that sound over-simple … especially since each of the previous three points began with the phrase ‘the psalmist prayed …’? Maybe it is obvious. But it bears repeating again and again: The psalmist simply prayed! He did not make fresh resolves, or promises, or speeches to the rest of the people urging them to make new resolves and promises! He did not, realizing that he and his people weren’t what they once were, immediately dive into a whirlwind of activity. He didn’t, in other words, think that the solution to spiritual slumber lay in something that he himself could accomplish.

No! This would have to be God’s work. That is why the psalmist prayed: “Will You not Yourself revive us again?”. He and his countryman didn’t need more religion, or activity, or services. They needed God! And so do we! We need an outpouring of the Spirit that would refresh us as the spring rain.

What does a farmer do when he needs rain? Does he think that plowing, and planting, and so on will bring the rain? Of course not! Surely he keeps doing these necessary things, so that when the rain comes, he will be ready. But he does not convince himself that, if he would just plow a little harder, or plant even more seeds, that this would bring the May showers. Not for a moment. So what does the farmer do during a drought? Well, if he’s smart, he keeps doing the few things he knows to do … and, most of all, he prays!

And so it must be with you and I. We need the Spirit in the worst way. But we won’t get Him simply by redoubling our efforts. No! We must pray harder, not do more. If and when the Spirit comes, He will do more with our plain and simple services and hymns and witnessing efforts than a million zealous men could do without Him. So keep reading. Keep worshiping. Keep witnessing. But above all … PRAY for the outpouring of the Spirit!

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11.13).

1 comment:

Jeremiah Mattingly said...

Thanks, Kurt. That was very encouraging as I have been lacking in my prayer life lately.

The analogy of the farmer was very helpful too in understanding our activities as being important, but not the cause of the revival. We desperately need God to awaken us.

Hope all is well in Cincy, with your family, and with the church.

I hope to be able to get down there and get together with you someday!