Over the last few weeks Jason has brought a wonderful series of messages on Sunday evenings entitled Downpour.
1. It’s a series that has brought to our attention the need for a fresh move of God in our lives.
2. We all need renewal, awakening and refreshing.
3. Revival is a rekindling of our first love – Jesus.
4. All of us need our lives recalibrated and brought back into focus.
So often we talk about revival and spiritual renewal and automatically think it is something our friends need, our spouse needs, our children need or that our church and nation needs. Revival, spiritual awakening, is something we all need.
We could easily adapt the words of an old song…
1. It’s me, it’s me, it’s me O’ Lord standing in the need of prayer. It’s me, it’s me, it’s me O’ Lord standing in the need of prayer. Not my brother, not my sister but it’s me O’ Lord standing in the need of prayer.
2. It’s me, it’s me, it’s me O’ Lord standing in the need of revival. It’s me, it’s me, it’s me O’ Lord standing in the need of revival. Not my brother, not my sister but it’s me O’ Lord standing in the need of revival.
That is the heart-cry that leads to revival. Lord, we have a need and You and You alone have what we need. Lord, we have a need and You and You alone are what we need.
I think on a very basic level revival is a cry for more of God.
No matter where we are spiritually – how strong we think our faith is – how much service or ministry we feel we participate in – how great our spiritual walk may appear to us or others the truth is God wants us to go deeper in our relationship with him. He wants to take our faith, walk, ministry and commitment to a higher level.
Today I want us to take a brief look into the life of an OT King who modeled what a life walking after God looked like. We are going to look at the life of Josiah who led the nation back to God. That’s what revival is, a return to God.
Josiah from the time he became king at the age of 8 feared God and served God. The bible says that he did what was right in the sight of the Lord and walked in all the way of his father David (ultimate standard of all earthly kings) and did not turn aside to the right or to the left.
1. For 18 years he did what pleased God – he set into place spiritual reforms, social reforms, and political reforms.
2. He even began repairing the temple of God because it had fallen into disrepair during the reigns of his father Amon and Grandfather Manasseh – people no longer worshipped the Lord as they once had.
3. Because of the poor spiritual heritage he received from these men and the poor spiritual condition of the nation it is even more amazing that he lived such an exemplary life.
4. When others looked at Josiah they would say – nothing like his daddy – good thing he’s not a chip off the old block. He’s a good king, righteous king, and just king and a Godly king. Old Josiah is the pillar of the community – the salt of the earth – great example – wish my children would be like him. Look at what he’s achieved in his 18 years of leadership.
Josiah was not a man to become complacent and satisfied in his relationship and service to God. He was not one for half measures. He had a heart for the Lord but that did not stop the Lord from calling Josiah into a deeper walk, faith and relationship with Him.
God was about to disturb Josiah’s world.
In order for renewal to come and stagnant faith to once again become vibrant God has to disturb us and shake us.
1. We are prone to complacency. We are prone to slip into a spiritual rut.
2. Preaching professor used to say that a rut was nothing more than a grave with the ends knocked out.
3. God has a way of waking us up and reminding us that there is always more of Him to be had and known. More blessings to be given. More of Him to be discovered and enjoyed.
As we think about revival our prayer should be like that of Sir Francis Drake – a prayer for disturbance.
1. Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore.
2. Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build a new Earth, we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim.
3. Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.”
Sir Francis Drake, explorer and naval pioneer during the Elizabethan era Submitted by Dave Ward, Durham, North Carolina
God has many ways of disturbing us.
One of the ways God gets to our heart is through the truth of His word. God’s word is powerful and brings revival to our lives. Psalm 119.107 – Revive me O’ Lord according to Thy Word. That’s why it is so important to keep ourselves in the Word of God and under the Word of God. It is His Word applied to our lives by His Spirit that stirs our hearts and brings about real change and renewal.
As Josiah – was working to bring about reform and turn attention to the worship of God – by having the temple repaired and cleaned the priests made an amazing discovery – they found a book – the Word of God. The law – first 5 books of the OT – Pentateuch. He had the book read to him. As it was read his heart felt heavy – guilty. It revealed God’s plan, purpose and God’s expectations for the nation and all who lived in it and he realized they were far from it.
It pierced his heart. Hebrews 4.12 – For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Revival begins in our heart. It is about what takes place on the inside. Until we realize the roadblocks to revival are internal we will struggle to find out what keeps stealing the joy and power of God from our lives.
Max Lucado shares this story….
I rolled out of bed early…real early. I’d been on vacation for a couple of weeks, and I was rested. My energy level was high, so I dressed to go to the church office. My wife, Denalyn, tried to convince me not to go. ”It’s the middle of the night,” she mumbled. ”What if a burglar tries to break in?” There had been an attempted break-in at the office a few weeks previously. [Ignoring my wife’s concern, I drove to the church,] entered the office complex, disarmed the alarm, and then re-armed it.
A few seconds later the sirens screamed. Somebody is trying to break in! I raced down the hall, turned off the alarm, ran back to my office, and dialed 911. After I hung up, it occurred to me that the thieves could get in before the police arrived. I dashed back down the hall and re-armed the system.
”They won’t get me,” I mumbled defiantly as I punched in the code. As I turned, the sirens blared again. I disarmed the alarm and reset it. I walked to a window to look for the police. The alarm sounded a third time. Once again I disarmed it and reset it.
Walking back to my office, the alarm sounded again. I disarmed it. Wait a minute; this alarm system must be fouled up. I called the alarm company. ”Our alarm system keeps going off,” I told the fellow who answered. ”We’ve either got some determined thieves or a malfunction.”
”There could be one other option,” he said. ”Did you know that your building is equipped with a motion detector?” Then the police arrived. ”I think the problem is on the inside, not the outside,” I told them, embarrassed that I was the culprit setting of the alarm. Am I the only one to blame an inside problem on an outside source?
Alarms sound in your world as well. Heaven knows you don’t silence life’s alarm by pretending they aren’t screaming. But heaven also knows it’s wise to look in the mirror before you peek out the window. Max Lucado, ”Back Door,” Christian Reader (May/June 2002), p. 72; excerpted from When God Whispers Your Name (W Publishing Group, 1994).
Revival is about what takes place inside of us. We can look on the outside of us and blame our family, church, friends, boss, finances, or stress for our poor spiritual condition, spiritual dryness, guilt or emptiness – The truth is what keeps us from revival is what takes place in Here (HEART).
As you look inside there are some attitudes necessary for revival to come. These attitudes have been present and characterized every major revival in Scripture and History.
We must have a humble heart
One of God’s great competitors and one our biggest hindrances to revival is pride. Someone once said that pride is hard to define but easy to recognize but it is always easier to recognize in someone else – never our problem.
Pride expresses itself in independence from God and a reliance on our own lives.
1. We know best. I can handle it
2. I’m not that bad just look at ________.
3. I don’t need revival. I’m doing just fine
Pride tells God, ”Hands off.” It does not allow us to be pliable in the hands of God. (One responsibility of the clay is to keep ourselves in the hands of the Potter). Josiah’s heart of was tender before God. God could work with Josiah, shape Josiah and lead Josiah.
Not many people want to be led. S. I. McMillen, in his book None of These Diseases, tells a story of a young woman who wanted to go to college, but her heart sank when she read the question on the application blank that asked, ”Are you a leader?” Being both honest and conscientious, she wrote, ”No,” and returned the application, expecting the worst. To her surprise, she received this letter from the college: ”Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower.” J. R. Love, Ruston, Louisiana
Pride will keep us from following God.
1. Humble heart is one that allows God to direct and lead and is willing to follow.
2. It recognizes that God knows best.
3. If you want the blessings of God, if you want revival then you cannot be the captain on this team.
4. Old T-shirt – If God is your co-pilot – switch seats.
We need a broken/repentant heart
Jason talked about the importance of repentance two weeks ago in a wonderful sermon. Renewal will not, will not come apart from brokenness over our sin. (Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted. Those who mourn over sin. Not the just the world’s. Not that in the lives of their family but the sin that lives in their own hearts).
Josiah had the scribe read the Word of God and when He heard the Word of God he tore his clothes as a sign of mourning and repentance. Though God would still bring judgment against the nation of Judah because of Josiah’s humble response and brokenness over the sin of the nation and his own God promised that he would live out his days in peace.
God’s ear is specially tuned to the cry of a heart broken over its sinfulness and doesn’t seek to hide it and refuses to ignore it but confesses it. Too many of us are like Pastor John Ortberg in this story.
Years ago, early on in our marriage, my wife and I sold our Volkswagen Beetle to buy our first really nice piece of furniture. It was a sofa. It was a pink sofa, but for that kind of money, it was called a mauve sofa. The man at the sofa store told us all about how to take care of it, and we took it home.
We had very small children in those days, and does anybody want to guess what was the Number One Rule in our house from that day on? ”Don’t sit on the mauve sofa! Don’t play near the mauve sofa! Don’t eat around the mauve sofa! Don’t touch the mauve sofa! Don’t breathe on the mauve sofa! Don’t think about the mauve sofa!
On every other chair in the house, you may freely sit, but on this sofa-the mauve sofa-you may not sit, for on the day you sit thereon, you will surely die!”
And then one day came the ”Fall.” There appeared on the mauve sofa a stain…a red stain…a red jelly stain. My wife called the man at the sofa factory, and he told her how bad that was. So she assembled our three children to look at the stain on the sofa:
1. Laura, who then was about 4, and Mallory, who was about 2½, and Johnny, who was maybe 6 months. She said, ”Children, do you see that? That’s a stain. That’s a red stain. That’s a red jelly stain. And the man at the sofa store says it’s not coming out, not for all eternity.
2. Do you know how long eternity is, children? Eternity is how long we’re all going to sit here until one of you tells me which one of you put the red jelly stain on the mauve sofa.”
3. For a long time they all just sat there until finally Mallory cracked. I knew she would. She said, ”Laura did it.” Laura said, ”No I didn’t.”
Then it was dead silence for the longest time. And I knew that none of them would confess putting the stain on the sofa, because they had never seen their mom that mad in their lives. I knew none of them would confess putting the stain on the sofa, because they knew if they did, they would spend all of eternity in the ”Time Out Chair.” I knew that none of them would confess putting the stain on the sofa, because in fact, I was the one who put the stain on the sofa, and I wasn’t sayin’ nuthin’! Not a word!
Ortberg turns from that to say, ”Here’s the truth about us. We’ve all stained the sofa.”
”Why Serious Preachers Use Humor,” The Art and Craft of Biblical Preaching (Zondervan, 2005
We have all made a mess and train wreck of our faith at times. We have stained the sofa but the good news is that what we seek to uncover with God He will cover and cleanse. The stain is not the issue, the heart that harbors the stain and seeks to hide it from God and refuses to confess it and deal with is the heart that will not know the joy and downpour of God’s blessing in their lives.
Josiah began to tear down all the altars and destroy artifacts dedicated to the false gods of their day. Part of a repentant and broken heart is tearing down those altars we have built to ourselves and the sin that captures our heart and seeks to rebuild and repair the Lord’s altar.
1. Josiah begins reforms. Worship. Passover.
2. Elijah. Before he battled the prophets of Baal had to rebuild the altar.
We need a humble heart and a broken/repentant heart. We also need a….
We need a hungry heart
2 Kings 23.2-3 – The king went up to the house of the LORD and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great; and he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD. 3 The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant.
He walked after the Lord. He determined to obey Him but it said he determined to obey him with all his heart and soul (Great Commandment). Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.
We will experience the downpour of God’s Spirit and overflow of His blessing when we desire Him more than anything else. (Hunger and thirst for righteousness for you will be filled. When we long for the right things, things that satisfy and bring joy, God gives us those things. When our desires are right God delights in giving us those desires).
Howard Spring – the Kingdom of God is not going to advance by our churches becoming filled with men, but by men becoming filled with God.
If our churches don’t pray, and if people don’t have an appetite for God, what does it matter how many are attending the services? How would that impress God? Can you imagine the angels saying, ”Oh, your pews! We can’t believe how beautiful they are! Up here in heaven, we’ve been talking about them for years. Your sanctuary lighting; it’s so clever. The way you have the steps coming up to the pulpit it’s wonderful . . . . ” I don’t think so. If we don’t want to experience God’s closeness here on earth, why would we want to go to heaven anyway? He is the center of everything there. If we don’t enjoy being in his presence here and now, then heaven would not be heaven for us. Why would he send anyone there who doesn’t long for him passionately here on earth? Jiim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire (Zondervan, 1997) pp. 58-59
What we need is not more wealth, better health, more toys …. We need more of God.
Renewal, the downpour of God’s blessing, comes when we seek the very face of God. If we are to truly experience revival we cannot merely seek what God can do for us, in us or through us. We must seek God. God wants and deserves to be our ultimate desire.
Revival comes when we lose ourselves in the wonder and majesty of God. John Piper said:
The essence of true authentic worship (revival) is the collective experience of heartfelt satisfaction in the Glory of God or the trembling that we do not have it. Nothing makes God more supreme and more central than when people are utterly persuaded that nothing, not money, prestige, power, leisure, family, jobs, health, sports, toys, friends, nothing is going to bring satisfaction to their guilty, sinful aching hearts besides God.
God promised that if we seek after Him we will find Him. If we thirst for Him we will be satisfied.
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