Revive Me! (5)
We must prepare for revival.
You are my portion, O LORD;
I have said that I would keep Your words.
I entreated Your favor with my whole heart;
Be merciful to me according to Your word.
I thought about my ways,
And turned my feet to Your testimonies.
I made haste, and did not delay
To keep Your commandments. Psalm 119.57-60
God’s work and ours
Revival is the work of God. Only God, by His Word and Spirit, can lift us to that higher level of life where, seeing Jesus and delighting in Him continually, we increase in righteousness, flourish in peace, and eagerly fulfill our calling as bringers of joy to our world.
Revival brings a heightened sense of the Kingdom of God, and of the Presence of King Jesus. When revival catches up a community of believers, it can lead to renewal in their church, so that worship, disciple-making, and mission take on new joy, purpose, and power in the light of Scripture. And renewed churches become a power for awakening in their community, as the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom reaches lost people by the words and deeds of revived believers.
This is God’s work, and He has done it very often throughout the course of Scripture and Church history. He teaches us to expect that He will do it again, that He is ready – indeed, always ready – to restore the fortunes of His people and send them as lights of blessing to the world. He is able to revive His people, renew His churches, and awaken the world; and when such a glorious visitation comes to pass in our day, it will only be because God has done it.
But it pleases God to accomplish His work, at least in part, by enlisting His people, and using them as earthen vessels of grace to bless the world (cf. 2 Cor. 4.6, 7). As the writer of Psalm 119 shows us repeatedly, we have work to do, as God’s chosen vessels, so that through our work He can do His work of bringing revival, renewal, and awakening to the world.
Our text provides a broad outline of what God calls His people to do in setting the stage for revival.
Positioning for revival
In the first place, God calls His people to maintain a general readiness for revival, a hope and expectation that we may increase and abound in Him, according to His Word, and in the power of His grace. Unless we are first positioned for revival, we will not be likely to seek it, nor should we expect God to accomplish it.
We see this indicated in Psalm 119.57, 58. The psalmist declares that the Lord is his portion in life, what he desires, depends on, and delights in above all else. The Hebrew word, חֵ֫לֶק, chelek, can mean portion, tract, territory, or possession. Our portion is where we live, what we possess, what produces our living, what satisfies and secures us, and what we identify as our native soil. God intends to be our portion in life, so that everything that defines us is bound up in, derives from, depends on, and finds its fullest meaning, purpose, significance, and joy in Him.
Anything other than God to which we look for meaning, sustenance, joy, or satisfaction is an idol, and keeps us from having God alone as our portion. We will not be revived until we learn that only God can meet our needs, provide for our concerns, delight and satisfy our souls, and fulfill our every hope. This is an outlook on life that we must cultivate continuously, so that longing for God, confidence in Him, and worship and obedience come increasingly to characterize us in all things.
This comes as we work at keeping God’s Word, as we see in the second part of verse 57. The more we read, study, meditate on, and incorporate God’s Word into our lives, the more He will be the portion we seek. And the more we will realize just how greatly He favors us, and how much we need His favor – His grace – to attend to us at every moment (v. 58). This, in turn, will make us a people characterized by thanksgiving, praise, hope, and prayer, as we rejoice in God’s favor, increase in His Word, and cling to Him as our portion in life.
When this becomes our pattern of life, in every aspect of our lives, we’ll be positioned to seek the Lord for revival. This entails three distinct works on our part.
Working for revival
First, we must pray. Let our prayers include, besides crying out specifically for revival, submitting to the searching of God’s Word and Spirit, that we might learn our need for revival (Ps. 139.23, 24). As we pray through the psalms, listening for God to further elaborate and clarify His Word, we discover the true nature of our ways, and of the ways of God’s people and of the world (Ps. 119.59). We will not seek a different way – a revived way – until we first discover how our current ways have departed from the path God marks out in His Word.
Then we must enter into penance for our sin. That is, we must recognize and confess any sins the Lord shows us in ourselves, our churches, and our world; and we must repent of those sins and turn our feet back to the paths of the Lord. Penance is a discipline by which we put legs on confession and repentance. The monks of the Celtic Revival had a saying: “Contraries are by contraries cured.” Should something contrary to God’s Law be found in our soul or life, only that which is contrary to the sin – and thus in line with God’s Word – will cure it. So we must identify those behaviors that will enable us to overcome evil with good (Rom. 12.21), and put those into practice, thus demonstrating to God the sincerity of our repentance and the earnestness of our desire for revival.
Finally, revival comes as we proclaim the need for, promise of, and hope entailed in revival. We need to proclaim revival to ourselves, until we actually believe it can happen. Then we will proclaim the promises of revival to our fellow believers, calling them to get in position and take up the work God has appointed for us if revival is to happen. And we will proclaim the promise of revival – new life in Jesus Christ – to our unbelieving neighbors, calling them to repent and believe the Good News of forgiveness, life, and hope in Jesus.
When we take up our work – the work God has appointed for us in seeking revival – then we will find God at work in and through us to do the work that only He can do in bringing revival, renewal, and awakening to our world. So let’s follow the example of our psalmist, and embrace the work God calls us to, that revival may come in our lifetimes, and endure for generations to come.
1. What do we mean by “getting into position” for revival? Why can there be no revival without this?
2. What’s the difference between confession of sin and repentance? Why do we need both? How does the practice of penance help us “put legs” on repentance?
3. What can keep you from taking up the work God has appointed for you in seeking revival? How can you overcome those obstacles?
Next Steps – Transformation: Begin praying Psalm 119.59, 60, in addition to those parts of Psalm 119 you have already been praying.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- T.M. Moore
- March 13, 2020
God uses our work to bring about revival. Do we know what our work is?
Revive Me! (5)