Yesterday, I did something I don’t do very often. I threw away my notes on the study that we have been doing at the Vineyard here in Pine Haven, and I just shared what the Lord had been laying on my heart. Since I don’t have any notes to convert into a blog post, and since it all came from my heart and the inspiration that the Lord gives during these types of occasions, I will have to share it with you from memory. I hope that I am able to get across to you what it was, and is, that I feel that the Lord was speaking to us, and hopefully to you as well.
My text for the message was Psalm 85. In this Psalm, there is a prayer from someone who realized that their nation, their community and their family needed revival. There was a realization that things were not the way they are supposed to be. That God’s grace and mercy had been removed from the land. It was this person’s prayer that things would change and that once again they would have the blessings of God. It is my realization, and now the realization of the people who attend my church, the we also have lost the grace and mercy of God in our nation, communities and our families. I believe that this is the reason we do not see people being saved very often, healing happen, and very few signs and wonders. I believe that this is the reason that our families are so torn apart, why alcoholism and drug abuse is killing people left and right, and why violence and strife is on the rise. So I am asking you to take a journey with me. Let’s look at this psalm and see if it really does apply to us today as believers in Jesus and if so, what is it that needs to happen so once again America can be the beautiful and that God will once again shed His grace on us.
A prayer for revival – Psalm 85
For the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah.
1 Lord, you poured out blessings on your land!
You restored the fortunes of Israel.
2 You forgave the guilt of your people—
yes, you covered all their sins. Interlude
3 You held back your fury.
You kept back your blazing anger.
4 Now restore us again, O God of our salvation.
Put aside your anger against us once more.
5 Will you be angry with us always?
Will you prolong your wrath to all generations?
6 Won’t you revive us again,
so your people can rejoice in you?
7 Show us your unfailing love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
8 I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying,
for he speaks peace to his faithful people.
But let them not return to their foolish ways.
9 Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
so our land will be filled with his glory.
10 Unfailing love and truth have met together.
Righteousness and peace have kissed!
11 Truth springs up from the earth,
and righteousness smiles down from heaven.
12 Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings.
Our land will yield its bountiful harvest.
13 Righteousness goes as a herald before him,
preparing the way for his steps.
The first question to ask, and to meditate on is whether God has poured out His blessings on you and this nation in the past.
Notice that the psalm starts off affirming that God has blessed His people in the past. The psalmist is remembering and meditating on the fact that God has done good things in the past. He is thinking about how it was and how it should be. So I asked my congregation to think about how God has blessed our nation, our families, and our communities in the past. We took a few minutes to do just what it says that the psalmist did. We took an interlude, a “selah” and meditated on that fact.
Has God blessed us in the past? Have we seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living? The answer is an undeniable yes! I could go into the many ways God has blessed us in the past but this is supposed to be a blog post and not a book. God truly has, in the past, shed His grace upon us. But is that what is happening today?
The second question to ask is whether God is pouring out His blessings on us today.
The psalmist goes on to realize in verses 3-5 that those blessings have been removed. He equates the removal of those blessings with the God being angry. Now we are not talking about God reaching down from heaven and smiting sinners. It is not talking about a capricious and vengeful God but it is talking about a Father that has let His children go and “knock themselves out” by going their own ways.
I am a parent. I understand this concept. There has been more than one occasion when my children went directions that were not good for them and were contrary to what I would see them do. I did not stop loving them, but I did let them go and knock their heads on a brick wall until they regained their senses. I removed any help and support for them while they were doing it. I kept waiting for them to return and emotionally, my arms were always extended outward to receive them. This is the same thing that the psalmist has recognized. God had removed his blessings upon His people until they stopped chasing after things that were contrary to His will.
So we must honestly ask ourselves the same question, and ask whether or not God is still pouring out His grace on us. Now I don’t mean grace in the sense of keeping our salvation or right standing with God, but I mean grace as it relates to giving us undeserved favor in our lives. What are we truly seeing?
50 years ago, the Supreme Court of the U.S. declared it was unconstitutional to have prayer in school. 50 years ago, what was the worst behavioral problem that public schools faced? What is it today?
50 years ago what was the worst dependency problem that we faced? What is it today?
50 years ago, what did the family look like? What does it look like today?
But let’s make this real and personal. How many of you have people in your immediate family that have been ravaged by divorce? How many have dependency problems? How many have suffered violence either domestically or in other ways? How many of you have people close to you that have porn addictions, sexual orientation issues, ect.? So let me ask you one of the hardest questions that we have to face. Has God removed His blessings, grace, and support from us? Honestly and truthfully, is this the way it should be? Is this the blessings of God today?
I then shared with my congregation how I was given the opportunity to pre-screen a movie called “Father of Lights“. I shared with them how I had seen with my own two eyes, a documentary about what our heavenly Father is doing in the world and how there are places that He is pouring out His grace in mighty and supernatural ways. How a Hindu Maharishi was converted to Christ and how a Muslim man was healed. It is not that God has changed, it is that we have walked away from His blessings.
You and I need another great awakening.
The psalmist goes on to ask God for revival in verses 6-7. He asks if this anger, this removal of God’s blessing is going to last forever. He comes to understand that God’s people need to once again be revived in their spiritual walk. It all comes down to one simple truth. They need God.
Christians have been in this situation before. There have been many great awakenings in our history. I shared with my congregation that there have been at least 3 if not 4 great awakenings in our recent past. The most famous one was during the time that Jonathan Edwards preached is now famous sermon “Sinners in the hands of an angry God”. What most people do not realize is that Jonathan Edwards was not a flamboyant fiery preacher. He got up behind a very large pulpit, and read that sermon word for word. However, God showed up and people reported having visions of being dangled over the very pits of hell. What they realized is that they needed God.
In every instance of great awakenings we have seen in our country we have seen 2 ingredients. We have seen people coming to realize that things are not the way they should be and that the blessings of God had been removed and we see people coming to a realization that the only answer was that they needed God. In Edwards time they realized they needed God to save them. Later in John and Charles Wesley’s time they realized that they needed God to enable them to live out their Christian life. Later during the time of the Holiness movement, they realized that they needed God to deal with their desire for sin. And the most recent great awakening if you want to call it that, Christians realized that they needed God to empower them for service. The common denominator in all of these awakenings was the realization that they needed God.
So I ask you to honestly evaluate the position that we are all in. Do we need God again?
Will you truly listen to what the Lord says to you in order to be awakened?
The psalmist goes on to say that He is listening carefully to what the Lord is saying. No longer is he satisfied in what the Lord is saying in the past, but he is listening for today. Christians today, including myself have tons of head knowledge. We know our doctrines, our statements of faith, and we have amassed a great amount of teaching and every subject under the sun but we are very hard of hearing. Job had the same problem. Take a look at Job 42:1-6
1 Then Job replied to the Lord:
2 “I know that you can do anything,
and no one can stop you.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
things far too wonderful for me.
4 You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!
I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.’
5 I had only heard about you before,
but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
6 I take back everything I said,
and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”
God spoke to Job about his need to be awoken. He asks Job a question that I think is appropriate for today.
- God asked who it was that was talking about His wisdom and the way He does things in ignorance. It is obvious by the context of the passage that this was not talking about being wise, but talking about the wisdom of God in how He does things. It was questioning His ways. Job’s confession was that He was talking about things that He really knew nothing about. He was talking about the fact that God could do anything, yet at the same time was in all honesty ignorant. We are also in that position. We talk about, have seminars, hold meetings about the wondrous things of God and in all honesty, we are just as ignorant as Job. We must get real with ourselves and with others, that we know nothing. These things are above us and we desperately need God in our lives once again. It is foolishness to talk about things that we do not see.
- God told Job to listen for Him to speak. Here is the answer to the question of whether or not America will see another great awakening. It depends on whether or not we will stop and listen for Him to speak. When Job heard the voice of the Lord he was awoken. Before that, he had only heard about God, but after hearing His voice, he saw God. The definition of a great awakening is when people go from hearing about God to seeing Him with their own eyes. It is not enough for you to amass knowledge, you must see Him for yourself.
Will you join me in putting down the pretenses and start seeking God for your own personal great awakening?
I told my congregation that I am on a journey. I see the evidence. I see that our families, our communities, and our nation has walked away from the unfailing love and mercy of God. I see the results of this decision. I cannot make a choice for anyone else but myself. I have decided to stop and listen and see what the Lord would say to me. I ask you, will you join me on this journey. Will you stop being content with just hearing about the wondrous things of God and resolve to walk back into his unfailing love and mercy so that you can see with your own eyes these things? Will you turn with me and change direction (repent) until you have been awoken light Christians many times in the past?
If you do, then you will be able to say with the psalmist that once again a bountiful harvest will be produced in our land.