Monday, October 2, 2017

Guest Blogger - Pastor Mark Dooley: Sermon - "Revive Us Again, Psalm 85"

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Psalm 85:6-7 "Will you not revive us again so that your people may rejoice in you? 7 Show us your faithful love, Lord,
and give us your salvation."


Today's post will feature a guest blogger and dear pastor friend of mine: Pastor Mark Dooley. Pastor Mark and I have had a wonderful friendship in both life and ministry since 2001. Recently Pastor Mark came and preached a series of revival messages at the church where I pastor. He pastors Leonardtown Baptist Church in Leonardtown, MD. I offer these sermons to the wider readership of this blog and pray that all who read them will be blessed and revived in their faith as I was in getting to hear them.

Sermon: Revive Us Again - Psalm 85, preached at New Hope Baptist Church, Watertown, New York
by Pastor Mark Dooley

These instructions that Wiersbe refers to are seen, I believe, in these verses.  There are three things the psalmist refers to here.  The first is obedience.  “I will hear what God the Lord will say,” verse 8 says.  Wiersbe says the picture here is of a worship leader or prophet stepping forward and saying something like, ‘It’s time now to be silent before God and listen for His message.’  This is the first step in the path to revival for us as well.  

We need to slow down long enough to be still and listen to what God’s saying to us.What about you?  Do you hear what God is saying to you?  Are you spending time in His word?  Do you have a daily quiet time?  Are you part of a group where you study the Word of God and have accountability with others?  If not, how do you expect to “hear what God the Lord will say”?  

Far too many people seem to think if they sit through a church service as the preacher rambles on while their mind is focused on the events coming up that week, or the relationship they’re trying to pursue, or the financial obligations they have and how they’re going to meet them, that they’ve heard from God.  But really, all they’ve done is sit in a worship service oblivious to what God is doing and saying. 

Listen, can you tell me what Pastor Mahlon preached on last week?  Do you know what the most recent sermon series was about?  What is your Sunday School class studying right now (if you’re even in a class)?  Do you see where I’m going here?  How many us can really say we’re hearing from the Lord?  If we want revival, though, this is where it begins. 

But beyond just hearing, reading, and even studying the Word of God, are we doing the word of God?  James said, “prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude (yourselves)” (James 1:22).  Folks, we can study the word all day, every day, but if we don’t put it into practice it does no good.  Obedience is key to revival.  The path to revival begins with obeying the Word of God.Next, we see consecration.  “Let them not turn back to folly,” the psalmist says in v. 8b. Really, this is describing the concept of repentance.  To repent means to turn away from.  

I’ve seen many people in my life who supposedly turn away from a sin, but then when the opportunity to engage in that sin comes up again, they go right back to it.  That’s not biblical repentance.  We talked earlier about the time of the judges.  That time period in Israel’s history clearly demonstrated their propensity to “turn back to folly.”  According to the book of Judges, God sent seven different nations to discipline them.  They repented, but their repentance was only for a season, for they’d always lapse back into their foolish ways.  

Revival, however, comes when we are consecrated to the Lord.  We not only repent, but we remain.  We turn away from our sin, and we turn to the ways of God.  We not only begin walking in those ways, but we continue walking in them.  Will you commit today to walking in God’s ways?  If you truly want to be revived, consecration is an indispensable element.

Finally, we see reverence.  “His salvation is near to those who fear Him,” verse 9 says.  Nearly every translation uses the term “fear” here, although the NET Bible translates it, “Certainly his loyal followers will soon experience his deliverance.”  The biblical terminology of fearing God is often misunderstood.  It is often downplayed as respect, but it’s more than that.  Even my use of the term reverence can be misunderstood.

Perhaps this long quote from an article in Christianity Today can shed some light.  The author says, “Unfortunately, many of us presume that the world is the ultimate threat and that God's function is to offset it.  How different this is from the biblical position that God is far scarier than the world …. When we assume that the world is the ultimate threat, we give it unwarranted power, for in truth, the world's threats are temporary.  When we expect God to balance the stress of the world, we reduce him to the world's equal …. As I walk with the Lord, I discover that God poses an ominous threat to my ego, but not to me.  

He rescues me from my delusions,so he may reveal the truth that sets me free.  He casts me down, only to lift me up again.  He sits in judgment of my sin, but forgives me nevertheless.  Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but love from the Lord is its completion.”When we come to truly understand who God is, and who we are in relation to God, I believe there will be true reverence.  We’ll be like Isaiah who, in the presence of God, said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5).  

Folks, God isn’t the big guy up in the sky, or a grand-father figure who coddles us and gives us goodies.  He’s the Almighty sovereign of the universe.  If we’re going to truly experience revival, we need to understand who He truly is and put Him in proper perspective in our life.  Obedience, consecration, and reverence.  This is the path to revival.Finally, today, let’s consider the power of revival (vv. 9b-13).  

These final verses reveal what we can expect when true revival does occur.  Let me sum this up using three words.  First is glory.  In verse 9b, the psalmist speaks of glory dwelling in our land.  I think immediately of the account in 1 Samuel 4.  The ark of the covenant had been captured by the Philistines.  Israel had carried it into battle treating it somewhat like a good luck charm.  But that day 30,000 men of Israel fell and the ark was taken by away.  The news of the defeat was reported to Eli, the priest.  When he learned that the ark had been captured, he fell backwards off his seat, broke his neck, and died.  About that time, his daughter-in-law, the wife of his son, Phineas, who also died in the battle, gave birth.  She delivered a boy and named him Ichabod, a name which means “the glory is gone,” for as she said in 1 Samuel 4:22, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken.”Folks, in many ways the glory has gone from our own land.  Just as the Philistines stole the ark, so the culture has largely stolen the witness of the church.  Our witness is largely weak and ineffective.  Indeed, the glory is gone.  But when true revival comes, glory will dwell in the land.  People will know that God is real.  The witness of the church will resound with the glory of the gospel.  That’s the power of revival – it displays the glory of God.Another word that we see here that describes the power of revival is truth.  In verse 10, the psalmist says, “loving kindness and truth have met together.”  Verse 11 says that “truth springs from the earth.”  

That our culture has abandoned the concept of truth is abundantly clear.  Truth has become a relative notion.  For many, truth is whatever works for them.  For many in our postmodern the perspective is that truth lies in our experience, so if my experience differs from yours, then my truth is different than your truth.  Furthermore, they say, what does it matter anyway as long as we get along and love each other?  But that kind of love is a mile wide and an inch deep and it will never stand the test of time.

Josh McDowell tells about a question he asked Amber, a 16-year-old girl in a Christian youth group.  He asked, “Is it wrong to engage in premarital sex?”  Amber said, “Well, I believe it’s wrong for me.”  McDowell pressed asking further, “But do you believe that the Bible teaches that premarital sex is wrong for everyone?”  He said that Amber’s eyes shifted back and forth as she weighed her answer.  Then she said, “Well, I know it’s wrong for me, and I’ve chosen not to have sex until I’m married.  But I don’t think I can judge other people on what they do.”4
McDowell’s conclusion was that Amber had been conditioned to believe that truth is not true for them unless they choose to believe it.  

That’s why over 80% of our kids today claim that “all truth is relative to the individual and his/her circumstances.”  In fact, in two national surveys conducted by Barna Research, people were asked if they believe that there are moral absolutes that are unchanging or that moral truth is relative to the circumstances.  By a 3-to-1 margin, adults said truth is always relative to the person and their situation.  Among teenagers, 83% said moral truth depends on the circumstances.  Only 6% said moral truth is absolute.This is why we need revival, because we’ve largely lost the concept of truth.  Friends, Jesus said “I am the way the TRUTH, and the life” (John 14:6).  His High Priestly prayer that’s recorded in John 17 records Him saying, “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth.”  I can guarantee you that the world today will seek to relativize every situation.  

But I can further guarantee you that what God’s Word says is absolute truth.  When it conflicts with the culture, you should stand with the Word of God every time because therein is truth.  And the power of revival is that it gives us a restoration of truth.Finally, today, notice with me the word righteousness.  The psalmist says that “Righteousness will go before Him” (verse 13).  The word righteousness has multiple meanings in Scripture.  Obviously, there is the righteousness of Christ that is given to us when we believe. 

The Apostle Paul described this well in 2 Corinthians 5:21 when he said, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  I don’t think this is what the psalmist is referring to here though.The Scripture also uses the term righteousness to describe “right living.”  This is conduct in relation to others, and it’s a word that’s contrasted with wickedness.  We see this contrast often in the book of Proverbs.  For example, Proverbs 11:8 says, “The righteous is delivered from trouble, But the wicked takes his place.”The power of revival is that it produces right living.  We speak to people in ways that are right and honor God.  We are just and above board in all our dealings.  We are helpful and willing to go out of our way for others.  We love others with sacrificial love, putting their needs ahead of our own.  This is what it means to live righteously.  This is what it means to be revived. This is the power of revival.“Wilt Thou not Thyself revive us again?” the psalmist asked.  It’s a pertinent question.  It reminds me of another question asked by Ron Bishop.  Bishop was the president of SCORE International.  SCORE stands for Sharing Christ our Redeemer Enterprises.  Hailing from Tennessee, Bishop, who passed away 3 years ago, was the basketball coach for Tennessee Temple University, and he used athletics as a tool to spread the gospel.  He touched the lives of athletes and coaches such as Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and John Calipari.  Bishop once asked this question in his prayer letter: “Has anyone seen any signs of revival lately?”  

It’s a fair question.  Have you seen any signs of revival?  Are you even looking for revival?  Too often, I think we’re looking for survival, but not revival.  Revival is the sovereign work of God.  Bishop said that few have experienced revival, but that’s the very thing we should be looking for.  I agree.  “Wilt Thou not Thyself revive us again,” Lord?  Will you look to Him today to be revived?

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