Introduction- Letís stand and read together 2 Chronicles 7:14.
"Öif 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."
In the 1990ís Henry Blackaby and Claude King, authors of Experiencing God, wrote another book called Fresh Encounter in which they gave 7 phases that have to occur in order to have a Revival that leads to a Spiritual Awakening.
- God is on Mission to redeem a lost world. He calls a people into relationship with Himself and accomplishes His work through them.
- Godís people tend to depart from Him, turning to substitutes for His presence, His purposes, and His ways.
- God disciplines His people because he loves them.
- Godís people cry out to Him for help.
- God calls His people to return to Him and repent.
- God revives His repentant people by restoring them to a right relationship with Himself.
- God exalts His Son Jesus among the people and draws the lost to saving faith in Him.
Letís quickly look at the first 5. The last 2 we will look at the next 2 weeks.
1. God is on Mission to redeem a lost world. He calls a people into
relationship with Himself and accomplishes His work through them.
Do you remember what God said to Abraham when He called him to leave Ur and go to a new land? Gen. 12:1-3, says, Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make
your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." God called Abraham to be a blessing to the world.
How about Israel? Exodus 19:4ff. "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 ĎYou yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall
be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.í These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel." Notice, not a kingdom with priests, but a kingdom of priests; that is, every Israelite was a person who brought God to man and
man to God. That is why this book was entirely given through the Jews. That is why Jesus was a Jew. God saved Israel, and set her aside to accomplish His work.
The Church. Peter would use those very same words to describe the Churchís purpose. 1 Peter 2:9-10 says, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10
Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." This is the objective purpose for which God rescued you. This is Peterís version and understanding of the Great Commission.
Now God has just a few things He wants from you.
- To love Him with all your heart
- To obey His commands
- And to love people as you want to be loved.
Deut. 30:15; "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply,
and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it."
2. Godís people tend to depart from Him, turning to substitutes for His presence, His purposes, and His ways.
Why? What happens? Times of peace and prosperity causes us to think less of God and more of ourselves. Itís sad but true. And we donít have to stop attending church for this happen. Often it is a casual and gradual drifting away, like a raft in the ocean on a calm day, or a boat that is untethered in a
river. And we become guilty of the very thing that God accused Israel of in Ezekiel 14:1-3. Listen. "Now some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. 2 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 3 "Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble
into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them?" At least 3 things happen.
A. Our Hearts Drift from God. Like the church at Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7), we forsake our first love, not our church, but our first love, that priority of our life. Col. 1:18 reminds us that Jesus Christ is to have the pre-eminence in every part of our life. "He is the head of the body, the church, who is the
beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
But we drift away. Sports have the preeminence. Our retirement has the preeminence. Our Computers, TVís, smart-phones have the preeminence. Our hobbies have the preeminence. Our possessions have the preeminence. Our pleasure has the pre-eminence. Our style of doing church has the preeminence.
Ephesus was a hard working church and commended for that. But doing church was more important than the Lord of the Church. They only used the right version of the Bible, listened to the right preachers, had the right programs, and sang the right music with the right instruments, while they wore the right
clothes but ignored the Lord of the Church. When that happens, we no longer can honestly say that we love the Lord with all our hearts, all of our minds, all of our souls, or with all of our strength. We may say or even sing, "I love the Lord." But our hearts and our actions tell a different story.
B. Our Wills Disobey God. Here are some questions.
- Do you love others as Christ loved you?
- Do you look for opportunities to talk about Jesus to the un-churched or the un-saved?
- Do you look for every opportunity to promote unity in the body?
- Do you gather to pray with other believers for the glory of God and the promotion of the Gospel?
- Do you set one day apart to worship God and rest your souls with your family?
- Do you forgive as Christ has forgiven you?
- Do you submit to your boss, your spouse, your pastor, your government, and your God?
- Do you demonstrate, with your life, your love for your spouse?
Didnít Jesus say, "If you love me keep my commandments?" (John 14:15)
C. Our Lives are drawn to Substitutes for God. These are the cisterns that cannot hold water as Jeremiah 2:13 says. Will you cry out and pray to the TV preachers when you are sick or in trouble? Will the Orioles or Ravens or Dale Jr. save you when you are facing difficulty? Will your home, car, or
retirement income comfort you when you are on your death bed? Will Fox News, give you peace and take away your anxiety? Will your political party secure your eternal destiny? Yet all these things and more have become our substitutes, the idols we have set up in our hearts.
We spend more time in Facebook, than we do to face God in His book.
We substitute emotions and entertainment for worship.
We walk by sight and not by faith.
We hang onto our life instead of losing it to find it.
We cling to pride and shun humility
We pray for health, wealth, and prosperity, instead of laborers, lost souls, the glory of God.
Or, we shun God, His church, His book, and His ways all together. And we havenít even talked about our nation, just Godís people.
3. God disciplines His people because He loves them. Why does God discipline.
His people? Because He loves them! He loved Israel and He loves His church. He loves you. His discipline is meant to be corrective, and conforming. It is intended to get us back on track and to make us more like His Son Jesus. You must remember Lev. 26; Deut. 28-30; 2 Chron. 6 Ė 7; Amos 4 and others. The
droughts, the sicknesses, the disasters, the attacks of our enemies are all Godís discipline to help us wake up and return to Him. Do you understand this? Really?
4. Godís people cry out to Him for help. This is the intention of the discipline and
the first half of 2 Chronicles 7:14. Godís people humble themselves, they pray, they seek Godís face, His favor, His forgiveness, and His faithful presence in their lives again.
5. God calls His people to return to Him and repent. The word repent does not
appear in 2 Chron. 7:14, but the concept does. "ÖTurn from their wicked waysÖ" The word we use for this turning is REPENT. The Greek word is Metonoia, which has the literal meaning of, changing the mind with a view to changing the actions. Like you realize that you are going the wrong way on a one-way
street. You can be really sorry, but nothing will change until you put on the brakes and turn that car around. So, it is with God.
Now listen, before we ask the nation to turn back to God, we must ask Godís people to turn back to God. This idea of repentance includes both a turning from and a turning to. Paul stated what his marching orders were from Jesus in Acts 26:17-18, "I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from
the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.í
Paul commended the Thessalonians, "Ö you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come." (1:9-10)
This repentance is what our Lord Jesus preached and John the Baptist Preached and Peter preached and Paul preached, that needs to happen for a person to become a child of God. You may disagree, but I have every reason to doubt the reality of oneís salvation apart from repentance. Praying a prayer without
repentance, is empty. There must be a turning from sin and darkness and a turning to God.
For a revival to occur that will lead to a spiritual awakening in our country there must first be a turning of Godís own people away from the idols we have set up in our hearts and a return to the living God. And our God is serious about this. To those who set up idols in their hearts God says this in
Ezekiel 18:30-32, "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways," says the Lord God. "Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For
why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies," says the Lord God. "Therefore turn and live!"
Turn over the Book of The Revelation 2-3:
To the Church at Ephesus. Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its placeóunless you repent. You will cease as a Church and
as a light to the world.
The 2nd Church at Smyrna has no warning.
The Church at Pergamum, "But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the
doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate] 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth."
The Church at Thyatira, I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22
Indeed, I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
The Church at Sardis, "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent.
Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you."
The Church at Philadelphia has no warning.
The Church at Laodicea, (The Lukewarm, and self-sufficient church). "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent."
5 of these 7 churches in Asia Minor or Turkey were given two options. The same two options we have as the church in America; Continue as you are and have your light removed and discipline enacted severely on you, OR, repent, and return to what is right with God.
If the church, Godís people does not repent, it will affect our children and grandchildren for generations and our witness in our own country will be of little value. If we arenít different than the world in the things we pursue and why we pursue them, nobody will want what we are supposed to have and are
Return and Love God with all your hearts. Give Him the Preeminence in every area of your life.
Return to doing His will instead of your own and obeying all His commands.
Return to justice, mercy, and humility, by loving others as you want them to love you, as Jesus does love you, and as you want Him to respond to you.
This is all called Holiness. Setting ourselves apart from the World and to God. Listen to Paul in 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1, "14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with
Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you[a] are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." 17 Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the
Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." 18 "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty." 7 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
Peter also said, "Ö gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be
holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."
When the Church gets serious about Holiness, instead of conformity to the world out of supposed expressions of grace, freedom and love, we will have the impact on our country and the world that we once had and our country will experience both a true Revival and a Spiritual Awakening. But we must be
intentional and turn from our idols and turn to God and His ways.
Before we take communion, letís look again at what Peter said.
Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in
all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."
17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each oneís work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your
fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God
If any of these messages have encouraged you, or if you have any questions please let me know. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you. And I promise, I will never ask you for money, nor place you on any mailing list.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman