October 19, 2015

Great Themes of the Bible
Psalm 85:6

George Orwell tells a story of a wasp that flew down and began sucking the jam off his plate. Orwell picked up his knife and cut the wasp in half, but the wasp didn’t notice as it continued with its meal. Unfortunately everything the wasp sucked up came out in a tiny stream from where it was severed in two. It was only when the wasp tried to fly away did it grasp the severity of what just happened.

This story reminds me of how much the church is like this wasp. We’ve been sucking the sweetness offered by the world failing to recognize we’ve been divided into several parts, and now as we try to move forward we realize that how much Satan has incapacitated us.

When we talk about revival it’s important to understand what the word means in connection with the church. The word for revival in the Hebrew and Greek speaks of a quickening, a recovery, or a coming back to life.

As I have studied the great revivals of the past, one thing that always seems to be prevalent is the condition of God’s people. It’s always been at a very low point, almost to the point of no return. There’s no life, and obedience to God and His word is at an all time low.

And so the time is ripe for a revival today. A revival to bring God’s people back into a vital and dynamic life with Him; where God’s people are once again serious about obeying God and His word.

When revival was sweeping throughout India, one described it saying, “We are having a great re-bible.”

Isn’t that what a revival is all about? We definitely need to be re-bibled.

At this particular time, therefore, it’s safe to say the church needs to pray much the same way the Psalmist prayed.

“Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Psalm 85:6 NKJV)

At the time when the Psalmist wrote this the nation of Israel and the Jewish people were floundering in their spiritual walk. They had just returned to Jerusalem from their Babylonian exile with high hopes and a new vision for a new life.

But the reality was far different than their expectations. Vision gave way to disappointment of living in a bombed out city with some really bad neighbors. The land was in bad shape and the Temple’s restoration was put on hold.

And so the condition of the land was deplorable, and the condition of the people’s hearts wasn’t much better. And so the Psalmist could do the only thing that could be done, the one thing that we need to do today, and that is to pray for a revival.

When I look at the condition of the world and this time we live in, it reminds me of the time described by the prophet Jeremiah, a time which saw the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and the deportation and captivity of the Jewish people to the Babylonians.

O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do it for Your name’s sake; for our backslidings are many, we have sinned against You. O the Hope of Israel, his Savior in time of trouble, why should You be like a stranger in the land, and like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night?” (Jeremiah 14:7-8 NKJV)

God is truly like a stranger in our land, but not only the land, but also in our churches and in the lives of believers.

America is rejecting more and more what is biblical. It’s proclaiming that which is evil as being good, that this which is good as being evil.

America says that it’s okay to abort a fetus, to legally kill someone who wants to die, and that sexual immorality in all its forms is okay as long as it’s between two consenting adults.

But the Bible says these views are false. And when we hold to these biblical truths and take a stand against worldly standards, we’re branded as evil and intolerant. Further, pointing to the Bible and what it says, which is in direct opposition to these worldly practices is considered hate speech.

Like the Psalmist we therefore need to cry out to God, “Will You not revive us again?”

But in this scenario let’s not forget the church

Like the church in Ephesus that Jesus rebuked, the church today has lost much of its first love relationship with God. Yes the church is seen as doing some great things, but the believer’s love quotient for all things of God is growing colder as sin continues to increase unabated and unrepented for. In some ways, the church has lost its sweetness and is growing harder.

Jesus is seen now as a dim reflection rather than a clear vision. The living water of the Holy Spirit that once flowed unrestricted has been drying up. Love and compassion for one another has begun to fade.

Further, there’s a dumbing down that’s happening as the church caters to what the world wants it to be. Churches have actually done surveys as to what people want to hear when they come to services. Some churches now sound more like seminars on how to live life than how to live righteously, and is turning itself into a house for man rather than a house for God.

What this has given rise to is a lessening of solid biblically balanced teaching. Some of the great themes and doctrines of the bible are glossed over or completely ignored for the more acceptable teachings that are designed to tickle people’s ears rather than convict their hearts.

These topics include holiness, righteousness, judgment, hell, Satan, repentance, and the blood of Christ plus many more. It’s been determined by these surveys that people are no longer moved by such topics and instead want to hear more positive messages.

Now there’s nothing wrong with dealing with the contemporary issues of our day. It makes church and sermons relevant. The fault lies in not grounding these teachings with biblical doctrine.

Yes, people can find joy, but also sorrow. People can find peace, but there’s also suffering and heartache. By not teaching the whole or the balance of God’s word, when difficult times come people will abandon not only the church but their faith as well.

And so the church is living in a dangerous time in which nothing less than a visit by the Holy Spirit in revival will do. Therefore it’s time to continually pray and ask God to revive us once again.

It’s time to ask the Lord to rain down upon us the Holy Spirit, the former and later rain to fill to the brim the church allowing it to become once again a force for God and for good.

But there’s also the condition of the Christian to consider

There exist within the church those who desire to help those in need. They don’t ask what the church can do for them; rather they ask what they could do for God’s kingdom.

But at the same time there are those who come to church only to receive.

In our consumer mentality people no longer come to church and ask, “What can I do to help,” but rather “What can you do for me.” People come to church not to worship God and serve, but rather to critique and ask, “Will this church meet my needs?”

What most people don’t realize or seem to forget is that it isn’t the responsibility of the church to meet their needs, as much as it is to point them to Jesus Christ who will meet their need in accordance to His will.

There’s also a mindset amongst Christians that they know what’s best for their lives, completely ignoring the sovereignty of God. They come to church with their arms and hearts folded deciding for themselves whether they agree or disagree with what’s being said without ever consulting the Bible

It’s a design your own approach to spirituality. It’s Christianity’s design on a dime, especially if they examine their tithing records.

In the Old Testament Book of Judges, a similar scenario was played out as the people did what was right in their own eyes, and because of this philosophy the people were given over to their enemies until they cried out to God and repented.

And while the Bible is the number one best seller of all time, and while most Christians in the Western world own at least one Bible, there’s a famine in our land, not a famine for food, but a famine for God’s word.

The prophet Amos said,

“‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord God, ‘That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord’” (Amos 8:11 NKJV)

Not only is there a famine for God’s word, but it seems most Christians are going on a biblical diet, that is, they’re eating less and less of God’s word and are getting theologically skinny.

And then there’s our overall prayer life. If we truly want the power of God in our lives and in the church we must become a people of prayer.

Martin Luther who started the Protestant Reformation, which was a revival in its own right, set aside three hours a day for prayer. John Welsh who ushered in a great revival in Scotland praying, “Give me Scotland or I will died,” prayed for about seven hours a day.

In 1858 a great revival swept across America. It began on Fulton Street, New York, with 6 men praying for revival. In 6 months 10,000 gathered daily for prayer, and in two years over one million people were saved and added to the church.

Will we earnestly pray for our families, our church, our community, our nation, and for the world? We will cry out, “Will You not revive us again, so that your people may rejoice?”

Leonard Ravenhill who wrote, “Why Revival Tarries,” said,

“Do you ask, ‘Well now, where do we go from here?” The answer is, “Where sinful individuals or sinful nations can only go – back to a merciful God.

“Hear me! Every church without a prayer meeting condemns us; every Bible daily unopened condemns us; every promise of God unused condemns us; every lost neighbor condemns us; every lost heathen condemns us; every dry eye among us condemns us; every wasted minute of our time condemns us; every unclaimed opportunity for God condemns us.

“Next year is not ours, tomorrow may be too late. Unless we repent now, unless we return and fire the prayer alters now, unless we fast and weep now, woe unto us at the judgment.”

What we need is a revival. We need a renewal of our spiritual life.

Charles Finney said revival is the people of God renewing their obedience to God.

Revival is the reawakening of God’s love in the hearts of God’s people. But to have a revival we must admit that we have a need and are willing to change.

The prophet Isaiah said,

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7 NKJV)

God wants to send revival, and He will send it upon those who genuinely seek it, so we all need to pray and to prepare for its arrival. And our prayer should be as the old spiritual says, “Lord send a revival, and let it begin with me.”

Revival comes when the people of God return to God what belongs to Him, and that is the whole of ourselves, that is, everything; heart, soul, mind, and strength. And when we return to His truth, then He’ll revive us once again.

One old time preacher said,

“What is needed is an old time, old fashioned, Holy Ghost anointed, sin killing, devil stomping, sinner praying, saint praising, fire kindling, power packing, life changing, reconciling, soul saving, God breathing, heaven sent revival.”

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