July 15, 2012 Series: Pursuing God
Scripture: Psalm 85
You ever get a craving you can't shake? An old fashion hankering? The ones where you have to do something about it? The other night, Natalie and I are enjoying a nice night at home, we both are craving something sweet. And we had nothing. The sugariest treat we had splenda pakcets. We're craving cookies and cream milkshakes. So, I get in the truck, go to the store, get the bluebell, some milk, some extra Oreo's and it's go time.
When we crave, truly, we do something about it. Action is taken.
Psalm 85 shows us what to do when we are craving a fresh encounter with God. God is not stale. God isn't static. I doubt anyone in the book of Acts would have thought of God as mundane. He's powerful, exciting.
But that doesn't always capture our experience with God. We get complacent. Expect the same old, same old from God. And if we're honest, sometimes -- that's all we want. It's safe, easy. Doesn't require anything new from us. No more sacrifice, no more commitments.
God has more for us. Pursuing God, isn't about pursuing stuff from God -- but God himself. A vibrant relationship with God.
You ever met someone that obviously had a vibrant relationship with God. Read about someone? That can be ours. I want a high-octane relationship with God. A steel-toed devotion and desire for God. Don't you?
That's what the remainder of the summer is about, Pursuing God in the Psalms. Psalm 85 is our guide. Psalm 85 is tour-guide for pursuing God.
My prayer is that you'll pray this. I'm praying that this will spark a prayer in your heart that won't go out.
Spurgeon, when he preached this Psalm, told his church -- I'm going to steal his words and give them to you.
"BRETHREN, if you will pray this prayer, it will be better than my preaching from it; and my only motive in preaching from it is that you may pray it. Oh, that at once, before I have uttered more than a few sentences, we might begin to pray by crying, yea, groaning, deep down in our souls, 'Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?'"
We all need Psalm 85 today. Whether you don't know God, you're a newish Christian, or you've been once for decades -- Psalm 85 is for us. We haven't experienced all there is to God.
Psalm 85 is -- a prayer for revival.
Now, revival is not some kooky, hocus-pocus, faith-frenzy. Revival cannot be scheduled. Put a sign out, "Revival this week, 6pm, except Thursday."
The word "revive" or "restore" means a freshness, a reinvigorating -- "cause to flourish."
Revival is a fresh work of God on his people,where gospel ministry goes into hyper-drive. Light-speed. People are saved, Christians are maturing. The Holy Spirit is at work. Jonathan Edwards, describing the Great Awakening in New England noted that ministry that normally occurred in the course of a year, was happening in one to two days.
Revival is when the 1 million watt cable of God's grace falls on our hearts. A jolt of heaven. That's living. Acts 2ish.
It's both corporate, whole church, and personal -- for individual people.
Look at v. 6 -- "Will you not revive us..."
Look at v.8 -- "Let me hear..."
All of us need this -- What do we do?
1) Review God's Grace In Your Life // vv. 1-3
God has done a gazillon things for us. And from time to time, they need to be reviewed.
We need to head down memory lane and take it all in. Christians aren't people who live in the past, but we look at it. Christianity is a faith that forgets our past, but remembers God's past work.
Notice, all of this is past tense -- were, restored, forgave, covered, withdrew, turned -- He's recalling things that God has done for him.
Secondly, notice this is all Godward. The subject in every phrase -- God! He starts with Lord, YHWH, and then personal, "You...You...You.." Go Godward. Forget your past, but remember God's work in your past.
Who God is, is more relevant to our lives than who we are.
Look at v. 1
He's remembering a time of God's blessing, of past kindness. A time when the land of Israel, when the nation was in the pits -- God breathed life into them.
What exactly did God do?
He forgave sins. Forgiveness means, God carries them away, throws them out of the picture, and now everything is right. God and his people are ok -- no beef. All by the cross of Jesus Christ.
Because of Jesus dying for our sins, we are forgiven -- and that's the only reason. Because Jesus died in my place, God's wrath -- v.3 -- is withdrawn from me and poured out on Jesus.
And we -- get this -- by faith in Jesus, we don't get a clean slate -- we get a righteous slate. Our negative account isn't balanced to zero, and now we better straighten up. It's brought to infinite and eternal righteousness found in Christ. And We are declared, "Not guilty." That's the gospel.
Can you believe that you are forgiven? I mean -- really forgiven. All of it. We should smile more. I know I should! It's so hard to believe. We are forgiven!!
Reviewing God's grace in your life is like taking out an old photo album or old family movies. It's so humbling. Dorky, goofy looking, immaturity, lots of denim -- and you see the good times -- the fond memories -- warms the heart.
We need to pick up the history of God's grace in our life, flip through it, and have our hearts warmed by the Spirit. Rehearse God's particular grace in your life, your conversion and other evidences of God at work in your life.
That's what the Psalmist is doing.
We feel stuck. Backsliding. We've given into that one sin again. Here's what we do:
2) Confess our Distress and our Hope (vv.4-9)
Here is what he's praying, "God, I'm not where I want to be -- take me there." That's a prayer. You ever pray that?
That's honest. God will work with that.
Maybe you aren't a Christian, you aren't alive, you are still dead -- today could be the day. If you will confess your sins to Jesus, ask him to forgive, believe that He died on the cross for your sins and rose again from the dead -- you believe and you will be saved. He'll make you alive.
Notice v. 4 "again" and v. 6 "again" -- to be revived again, implies he was revived once before.
Remember a moment of elation, joy, excitement, awe, and wonder over the glory of God, over the gospel? You felt alive. All cylinders are going. You thought, "This is how it's suppose to be!"
Moment of conversion. Powerful newness, a profound sense of heaven, eternity, caught a glimpse of what the universe is all about. Think about other moments of supernatural Christian living -- devouring the word, prayers are like rockets, marriage is amazing, churchlife has never been better.
And then, the bottom fell out. And now you are in maintenance mode. Don't stay there. It's like only playing defense. A basketball team that never goes for dunks, threes, alley-oops, a layup -- is lame. We are on offense too.
Christianity feels boring when we pray in maintenance mode. Don't pray in maintenance mode. Pray in storm-the-gates-of-hell mode. Pray in wartime mode. Pray in revival mode. Pray, "God rend the heavens and come down and wreck shop in my life, my church, my city -- for your glory and our joy!"
Confess our distress and HOPE -- O God of our salvation -- revive me! You are my only hope! You are all I have! If you try to live like Jesus without Jesus, you will feel miserable.
One of the quickest ways to feel dead -- is to live like a dead person. Ignore Jesus.
Our tough-it-out-ness is a killer. Our pride is the greatest hurdle to our joy.
Acts 3:19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
We have to live under the expectation that God will revive his people. He will make this skeleton dance. He's done it before, vv.4 & 6, He can do it again.
Maybe you can relate to this, but it seems we don't pray these kinds of prayers because we don't want to be disappointed. We've already determined -- he won't do that for me -- kill that.
I love v.6
Another translation reads, "Surely you will revive us again?" I love that. Surely God.
See why the Psalmist longs for this? Not to get a merit badge of Christian duty. Check off the list. The whole reason for this? JOY. All for joy. Heaven is serious about joy. We should be too. "That your people may rejoice -- in you!" This is rooted in God.
Revival is joy in God, being glad in God, exalting God, being satisfied in God.
Here's how you know you are in revival -- you are excited about God, not just a church service. You are thrilled by God himself, not the trimmings Christianity. It's easy to get pumped about a program, a service, lights and fog, studying the Bible -- but billowing joy of over Christ Alone -- that's revival.
And only God can grant that. We must ask him for it.
We can't manufacture it. But the psalmist guides us here in a few things we can do.
"Not turn back to folly." Repent of sins we know of, remove what may be clogging our joy.
I can't eat a steak with mouthful of pebbles. Spit them out and pick up the knife and fork.
1) Remove any clogs.
2) Get it in the path of God's power. Get in the jetstream of grace.
Like little children, we need to sit under a Divine show and tell.
v. 7 - "Show us your steadfast love."
Sound like Moses, "Show me your glory."The great wellspring of joy is the steadfast love of God. And the love of God, is not just an emotional enjoyment aimed at us -- it's always including the action of God's love.
When the Bible speaks of the love of God it's telling about a flesh-torn love. A love that brought on a plucked beard, a wounded back. God's love is a crucifixion love -- a blood stained love.
"Show us the cross." That's the prayer. Make me more cross-centered. Put the gospel before me. Fix my eyes on the nails until I'm alive. Let me hear a galilean cry, "It is finished" until my revival begins. Let me see it.
Show me see my sin being forgiven.
Show me my guilt being taken away.
Show me Jesus.
When you don't feel the love of God, you look at Calvary. When you are doubting -- see it. When you feel condemend -- see it. When we are tempted -- see him there! He will show us. And we need to hear what he'll tell us.
v. 8 - "Hear what God will speak."
What does God speak to his people? Peace. Shalom. All is well. Forgiven. Freed. New. Accepted.
I'm convinced the more forgiven we feel, the more God's grace will be real. [repeat]
Revival sparks with the words of God. Hear it, daily. Often. We can't hear it enough. You draw near to God in the word, James promises, He will draw near to you. We keep going to the word, ready and wanting to hear from God -- he'll meet us there. The word of God reverberates with the power of God. It's alive. Keep stacking the fire wood, wait for him to ignite it.
Just the other morning I'm reading, and my plan took my to Romans 8. I don't know how many times I've read and said Romans 8:1 -- and that morning it was fresh. Something sparked. God meet me there. It's as though the Spirit brought me before the father and I heard, "Today, my son, you are not condemned. Not now. Not ever." Prayed back, "Revive me God."
If we want revival, pray it up. That's the third thing.
Pray for yourself. Revive me.
Pray for others. Revive us.
Pray for your church.
Pray for your deacons.
Pray for your elders.
Pray for souls to come to Jesus.
Pray for revival all around.
3) Lastly, Believe That God Will Do it
vv.10-11 -- God is going to bring it all together, happy occasion.
v. 12 - Yes! God will do it. Metaphor of a land and fruit growing.
Fruit will abound. The Psalmist has already believed -- revival is on it's way. God will do it. Fruit will abound. God will do it, just up to him when he will.
Our task -- Crave it. Pursue God. Cry out, "Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?"