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Revive Us Again

Part 1: Our Hope

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(8/22) For the next few weeks, we are going to look a very familiar verse in the Old Testament. I think it fitting to consider it after looking at Romans 1 and the wrath of God on a nation that rejects God; especially after that nation has said, you are our God. Romans 1:18-22, says, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,"

Letís remind ourselves again, of two Old Testament passages that reveal Godís wrath against a nation that turns away from Him.

Deuteronomy 8:10-20

Jeremiah 18:1-17

Letís read 2 Chronicles 7:14, out loud together, "if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

Many of us remember, "the good ole days." When it seemed that the whole country had a reverence for God. That reverence was in our schools, on our TV and movies, in our courts, and more. Christmas and Easter were about Jesus. The Bible was the basis of our oaths. Respect and Manners. No one would even think about burning a flag and the unborn were protected by the Hippocratic Oath. Gay was a word meaning happy. It was understood that America was a Christian nation.

We remember when Sundayís were a day of rest, and church was what we did. Sunday School attendance was higher than church. People wore their, Sunday Best, or their Sunday go to meeting clothes. Women wore dresses, hats, and gloves. The men wore white shirts and ties. We had Sunday School picnics and two week VBSís and two - week Revival meetings every year. We read the KJV Bible and the pastor prayed in King James English. Some of you have no idea what I am talking about and some are thinking, "I remember and I long for those days."

Sadly, that ship has sailed. Just a very short generation ago, Americaís finest pastors like D. James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell, and even David Jeremiah preached their best and did all they could to turn America back to our Christian heritage. People like David Barton have made it their life and ministry to remind America that our founding Fatherís based our nation, our constitution, and laws upon the Bible. Nearly every great scientist up to the middle of the 20th century were Godly men and used science to understand Godís creation. Many of the worldís great artist were influenced or had a firm belief in God. The Presidents that we consider the greatest were Christ Followers. The preamble to nearly every stateís constitution, in these here United States, affirms a faith in Jesus Christ and the Bible. You can check that out.

But we have turned away from God. The fear of God and reverence for God has dissipated and even has trickled down into our churches. Someone has said that the more things change the more they remain the same.

Turn to Jeremiah 2:19. "Your own wickedness will correct you, And your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing That you have forsaken the Lord your God, And the fear of Me is not in you," Says the Lord God of hosts."

8:12, "Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed, nor did they know how to blush. Therefore, they shall fall among those who fall; In the time of their punishment. They shall be cast down," says the Lord. There is no fear of God and we donít know how to blush. When is the last time you blushed out of embarrassment?

America needs a Revival and a Spiritual Awakening. Listen carefully. Our hope is not now nor ever going to be in the White House. Turn to Psalm 146:3-5, Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. 4 His spirit departs; he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish. 5 Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God,"

And, while I am a strong believer in a strong military, our military will not save us. Psalm 20:7-9, Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God. 8 They have bowed down and fallen; But we have risen and stand upright. 9 Save, Lord! May the King answer us when we call." We could say, "Some trust in tanks, artillery, our fleet, our missiles, our fighters and bombers, and the best trained ground troops in the world." But, they canít save us if God removes His hand from us. Remember, God used a shout and the sound of trumpets in Joshua 6. God used Gideon and 300 men in Judges 7. God used a Shepherd and a sling shot in 1 Samuel 17. God used only an angel to destroy an Assyrian Army in 2 Kings 19. And God used a choir and not the Army in 2 Chron. 20. Babylonís fortified walls and army could not protect it from the Medes and Persians in Daniel 5. God used the pagans, Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus, to accomplish His will and punish His children.

Turn to and look at Joel 2:12-19. This is our only hope for our future as a nation. This is the only thing that will avert Godís wrath and restore His grace that our patriotic songs express in their lyrics.

If we do not have a revival we will go the way of Egypt, Israel, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome and even Great Britain. And it has to start somewhere. Like the flame from a single match that can set thousands of acres of woods on fire, so can the flame of faith from a tiny congregation. Someone has to say like Joshua 24:15, "Ö if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

What A Revival is Not. So, letís just define what we mean by a revival. First, consider what a revival is not.

A. This is not a planned evangelistic service or crusade designed to bring the lost to Christ. Churches, Cities, and sometimes Counties will pray and plan a and provide a speaker with the intent of seeing the lost come to faith in Christ. That is not a revival.

B. This is not a series of evangelistic sermons

C. This is not an experience that leaves you feeling great like many of us felt at Promise Keepers and other such events. All of these are good but are not true revival.

What a Revival is. The famous British preacher from last century, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones defined Revival as, "a period of unusual blessing and activity in the life of the Christian Church. Revival means awakening, stimulating the life, bringing it to the surface again. It happens primarily in the Church of God, and amongst believing people, and it is only secondarily something that affects those outside." Revival must begin with the church, and then America can have the follow up, A Great Spiritual Awakening such as we have in the book of Acts as people hear the Gospel and are moved to repent, pray, and receive and follow Jesus and God moves in incredible ways changing families, communities, and affecting the world. The last great Revival and Awakening in America was back in 1906. We have not had one since then.

Donít you want that? Donít you want to see God do that again? I do. And God longs for that to happen. He has laid out the prescription for revival but we are the ones that must act on it. Throughout the Bible God gives the invitation to come to Him, return to Him, draw near to Him and more.

Remember the church of Goldilocks and the 3 bears? Laodicea was neither too hot nor too cold, but was lukewarm and putrid to Godís taste. It was self-focused and self-centered, yet our Lord said these words, "20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.í (Rev. 3:20). He wanted to have a close relationship with those people and He wants to have a deep and close relationship with all of us, but He canít unless we invite Him in for fellowship.

Why Do We Need A Revival? Look at your attachment of that same name. I got this 17 years ago and have had it in my files. 50 reasons why we need a Revival. You might not agree with all that this says, but you will agree with most of them. This is re-printed with permission.

The key to Americaís future lies with us. Letís return to 2 Chronicles 7:14. God wants it, but do we? Are we willing to do whatever God says?

Letís make sure we understand this in its context. The first 4 chapters are primarily hard to read without going to sleep. They describe the temple and how Solomon built the temple. It was an enormous and elaborate and an awe inspiring place of worship that Solomon built.

Chapter 5 tells about the initial worship service and how the glory of God filled the temple and so much so that the priests could not continue to minister in there that day.

Chapter 6 is begins with a message from Solomon to the people, and then he knelt down (v. 13) and with hands lifted to heaven, he began to pray. His prayer was in reference to the Covenant God made with Moses. You can read of it in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28-30. That was a conditional covenant. God promises blessing and He promised curses or chastening depending on the peopleís obedience or disobedience. Solomon says, (paraphrasing) "We are people, and as such are prone to sin and be disobedient. So, when we do that and you do what you said you would do, yet if your people repent and turn back to you, will you forgive and restore them?"

Then after a week of dedication, celebration, and sacrifices to God, God speaks to Solomon for a second time (First time was to ask him what he wanted out of life. He asked for wisdom to govern the people). (Look at Chapter 7:12-16 again) In essence God was simply saying I will do as I promised, back in Lev. 26:40-45 & Deut. 30, that I would do.

2 Chronicles 7:14 is a conditional promise. It begins with the little word, "If." For God to forgive and restore, there are things the people of God must do, not should do, but must do." Itís like, if you want dessert, you have to finish your supper." My mother once said, "No sweets until you eat the green beans I have put on your plate." I did not. I would not. Several hours later before going to bed, I wanted my routine milk and cookies, (a regiment I still abide by) so she pulled out my plate of beans. Cold beans from the frig. First the beans than the cookies. If you want the cookies, you have to finish the beans." So I ate the beans Ė cold string beans.

Do you want revival? You have to eat the beans! No! you have to do what God says in this verse. Revival must begin with the Godís people before a Spiritual Awakening can occur to those who are not Godís people.

So, just for clarification, who are Godís people? Well, in the Old Testament they are primarily Israel, those born from the Prince (Jacob) who wrestled with God, from the seed of Abraham. Those whom He redeemed from bondage in Egypt and gave His laws and commandments to. He did this not just to save them but to be the means He would use to communicate His truth to the rest of the world.

But, since Pentecost, Godís people are those who by faith have received His grace in His Son Jesus Christ. For example, 1 Peter 2:9-10 says this: "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy." We are Christ-Followers, Christians or Little Christs. We are Children of God (Heb. 2:10-18; John 1:11-12).

Then who are not Godís people. Those who have not responded by faith to the grace of God in Jesus. These are also those who are religious but not right with God (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 7:21ff. 1 John 5:10-13). They have never responded by faith to receive the grace of God in Jesus. They can believe in God, go to church and still not be Godís people (James 2:19). Matthew 13, John 8, and 1 John 3 makes a clear distinction between Children of God and children of the evil one.

Do you remember the story of the Prodigal Father? That boy was his son and He patiently waited for Him to come home and when he did he received him not as a servant, or a criminal, but as his son. This is your Father in heaven. He doesnít want us to stray, but if we do, he waits for us to return. This is our hope. This is your hope. This is Americaís Hope. This is the hope God gave in the Mosaic Covenant. This is the Hope He gives to Solomon here in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

If My People who are called by my name. These are those who say Father, I want to come home.

Will Humble themselves Ė Letís keep it real, I was wrong, I lost my mind, God is right, I need His forgiveness.

And Pray, This is where we confess and repent and seek His grace

And Seek my face Ė This is wanting Godís blessing, Seeking Godís favor, I want to live in His manifest presence.

And turn from their wicked ways. This is the intentional effort to live righteously, obeying Godís word.

Then, if this is what you want and are willing to do, then God says,

I will Hear from heaven Ė He will hear with the intent to respond favorably.

Will Forgive their sins Ė He will release them from their debt.

And heal their land. Ė The fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, will stop. The crops will grow. Your enemies will back off. Godís grace will once again fall like a blanket over us.

Donít you want that? God wants that? Thatís why He wrote the seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation. He wanted them to repent and return to Him. This is why Luke 15 is in your Bible. The prodigal son is you and me. This is our hope. Like that boy, we must:

Come to yourself- This is not where I am supposed to be. (My visit to the jail for Chaplain Bob). An inmate said, I have wasted my life. I want to know how to have a meaningful life. I was able to tell him about Jesus, and He prayed with me. Thatís where it starts. It doesnít start with your spouse or your parents, or your children, it starts with you.

I will arise and return to my Father. My father treats his servants better than I am being treated now. He sought only mercy, but His Father showered him with grace.

Thatís why Psalm 32 and 1 John 1:9 are in your Bible. Thatís why Joel 2, Hosea 6, and 2 Chronicles 7:14 and others are in the Bible.

God wants us to have a Revival. But you have to make a move. You have to want it. You have to be willing to return to God.

Letís pray about it.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman