Scripture: Psalm 85 (today's sermon is taken from v.6)
Sermon preached at Gospel Light Christian Church, Singapore
on 09 January 2000
Psalm 85:6 Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?
Introduction: We have enjoyed a year of God's blessings. While we rejoice in them, we must be careful not to allow them to make us complacent. Nowadays, the word "revival" is often understood to refer to a season of extraordinary religious activity (eg. the John Sung Revival in the 1930's). However, today we will take the meaning of the word "revival" in its more general sense, namely, a livening, strengthening and elevating of existing life. The first three verses of this psalm speak of God's goodness in saving His people from their captivity. They tell us that God has 'forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin" (v.2) and "taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger" (v.3). Yet in verse 4, they fall into sin and cause God's anger towards them again (v.5,6). Though God is good to us, we keep on falling into sin and receiving God's chastisement. The Psalmist (possibly David) recognizes Israel's sin and God's resultant anger and prays that God would "turn" them and "revive" them (vs.5-7). Probably most of the Psalmist's contemporaries did not recognize God's anger, nor their need for revival. We live in the Last Days, which is characterized by the Laodicean Church (REV 3:14-22) which claims "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing," and is rebuked by God: "and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. . . I counsel thee. . . to anoint thine eyes with eyeslave, that thou mayest see" (REV 3:17,18). It is difficult for a Christian who is "rich" in intelligence, talents, goods or pleasure to realize His spiritual poverty. The abundance of these things "cover-up" the emptiness that is in his life.
Wilt thou not revive us again?: The Psalmist, looks back at God's goodness in the past (vs. 1-3), and then confidently pleads for a revival. Because God is unchanging, we can predict what He will do by what He has done in the past. The first lesson to learn from this verse, is that revival is the result of prayer. We cannot expect a revival unless we pray for one. Most of us have never been revived because we have never prayed for it.
The literal translation of this phrase is "Wilt thou not return and revive us?" The second lesson that we learn from this verse, is that we need repeated revivals. We are born-again (ie, regenerated) once when we receive Jesus Christ as our Saviour, but we need many revivals thereafter. The phenomenon of repeated revivals is commonly seen in nature (eg. plants, humans).
The third (and most important) lesson we learn from this verse, is that God is the One ("thou") who revives us. All life (spritual or physical) is from God. While men may provide the right environment for life, ultimately, the source of life and revival of it comes from God alone. As Christians we should faithfully attend the means of grace (eg. Sunday worship, bible-studies, prayer-meetings, church ministries, personal devotions, personal evangelism) but faithfulness in all these will not automatically result in a revival. We receive a revival only if God grants one.
When should we pray for a revival? Firstly, when we sense dullness and lethargy in our spiritual life (eg. in our prayers, bible-study, service). In physical life, we are weakest when we are just born and just about to die. However, in spiritual life we are weakest in our "middle-age." Therefore, this is the time when we need to be revived more than at other times. Secondly, when we are recipients of God's anger. Thirdly, when our ministries are stagnant and unproductive.
Who else should we pray for? The first person you should pray for is your pastor. Then the leaders of the church. Then the members and the backsliders.
That thy people may rejoice in thee: A revival will change our lives in many ways. For example, we will be more humble, more aware of our sinfulness, more prayerful, more in love with God's Word, and more caring. However, the ultimate "fruit" of true revival is that we will rejoice in God. The ultimate aim of all Christians is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Though we will rejoice in the other "fruits" of revival (eg. increased understanding of God's Word, increased peace in our hearts, increased results in our ministries), they cannot compare with the joy of the Lord. An unrevived Christian finds his Christianity to be boring and burdensome. He is like a man with a headache - he does not want to lose his head but yet is miserable with it.
Conclusion: It is God that revives us. Let us pray for a revival now. Wilt God not revive us, if we ask?
More Sermon Outlines And Notes
Our Matchless Savior Mark 4:35:41
Ready For Heaven But Needed On Earth - Philippians 2:23-26
The Privilege Of Prayer - Psalms 55:16-17
Those Noble Bereans - Acts 17:1-14
Wicked _ Psalm 10:4
Don't Even Think Of Parking Here - Proverbs 5:1-13