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God’s Road to Revival

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God’s Road to Revival

2 Chronicles 7:12-14

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Jan 20, 2013

*Our revival with Marion Collier starts just one week from today, and we are praying for true, spiritual revival. But remember what “revival” means.

*The Old Testament word “renew” pictures someone completely surrounded by an enemy, with no way to escape. Then, in the moment of greatest despair, God intervenes and rescues them completely. (1)

*In the New Testament, the best word picture for “revival” is a Christian who has fallen asleep in his devotion to the Lord. Then he wakes up out of that deep sleep.

-God wants us to wake up!

-So in Romans 13:11 Paul tells Christians, “It is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”

*Another great New Testament word for revival is “renewal.”

-This word is talking about “a renovation that makes a complete change for the better.” As we see in Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

*That’s revival, but who needs revival? -- Most of us would say: “I do.”

*Dennis Selfridge asks, “When do we need revival?”

-When the things of God do not stir you.

-When the glories of heaven do not interest you.

-When the horrors of hell do not concern you.

-When the peril of the lost does not move you.

-When the Word of God does not attract you.

-When the idea of prayer does not draw you.

-When the House of God does not delight you.

-When you do not see every part of your life as a platform to perform the will of God.” (2)

*Who needs revival? -- We do.

*In Psalm 85:6, the writer cried out to God and asked: “Will You not revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You?”

*The LORD God answered that question in Isaiah 57:15: “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.’”

*You see, God wants to give us revival, and today’s Scripture shows us how to get there.

*The background here is the dedication of Solomon’s Temple. In chapter 5, they brought the Ark of the Covenant to its place, and began to praise the Lord. Then the temple was filled with a cloud, so the priests could not continue, because the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.

*The dedication lasted 7 days with prayers, praise and a sacrifice that included 120,000 sheep. Then after the people were sent home, God appeared and spoke to Solomon. Let’s read about it starting in vs. 12:

12. And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, “I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice.

13. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;

14. If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

1. How can we get to revival? -- God’s Word shows us in vs. 14, and the first thing to do is humble your heart.

*Humble your heart before God. The Lord says: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves.” Notice Christians, He is talking to us. “If MY people,” He says. In Old Testament days, the Lord was talking about people who trusted in the promise of a coming Savior.

*On this side of the cross, God is talking about people who have believed the good news about Jesus Christ, people who have trusted in the Savior who came to die on the cross for our sins and rise again from the dead. God is talking about people who have opened their hearts to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.

*Christians, we are His people. And God wants us to humble ourselves. The word picture is bending the knee, bowing down low before the greatness of our God.

[1] Why do we need to humble ourselves? -- One reason why is because we are tempted to be self-sufficient.

*You see, the more we’re blessed, the more we’re tempted to think we did it all on our own. That’s why the Lord reduced Gideon’s army from 32,000 men all the way down to 300. Church, they were up against an enemy army of 135,000! And in Judges 7:2, the Lord told Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’”

*The more we’re blessed, the more we are tempted to think we did it on our own. But the truth is that there is nothing we can do without God’s help!

-Every step we make.

-Every breath we take.

-Every moment we live is a precious gift from God.

[2] We ought to humble ourselves before God, because we are tempted to be self-sufficient, and because we are tempted to be self-righteous.

*It is so easy for us to think that we are better than other people! We are tempted to be like the Pharisee in the parable Jesus told in Luke 18:10-14. Listen to this Bible story from the New Living Translation. Jesus said:

10. “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a dishonest tax collector.

11. The proud Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there! For I never cheat, I don't sin, I don't commit adultery,

12. I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

13. But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’

14. I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For the proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored.”

*God wants us to humble our own hearts.

-We need to remember that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17)

-And in 1 Cor 4:7, Paul asked the Christians in Corinth: “What do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you glory as if you had not received it?”

*How can we get to revival? -- We must humble our hearts.

2. And we must put a priority on prayer.

*In vs. 14, God says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray.”

*The Lord tells us to pray here in vs. 14, and vs. 12 helps us see why, because there “the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, ‘I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for a house of sacrifice.’”

*The Lord told Solomon: “I have heard your prayer.” And as long as we are not praying selfish, evil prayers, God hears our prayers too!

-The more we realize that, the more we will pray.

-And the more we will see His Hand at work in our lives.

*Your prayers can make an everlasting difference in countless lives, including your own life. Brian Roennfeldt was a pastor in Australia when he gave this testimony about the power of prayer.

*“My wife, Angie, went to a rough high school. There were few Christians there apart from one teacher, Mr. David Bunton, who taught manual arts. Years after Mr. Bunton left his position, dozens of his former students became believers. Many have entered the ministry and become pastors and missionaries.

*I tracked down Mr. Bunton. He is now 70 years old and retired. He was stunned and choked with emotion when I told him of the many conversions since he had taught at that high school.

*I wondered how his influence had brought such a harvest. He told me that many times he had prayed softly over his classes as he sat back in his desk and watched them work. But apart from this, he’d done nothing to influence these students toward Christ. The only common point of spiritual connection the students shared was that they were prayed over by their teacher. (3)

*Prayer has far more impact than we realize. And think about it this way: God wouldn’t ask us to pray, if He didn’t plan on hearing us. Revival has always come with prayer. And it has never come without it. So, pray.

*How can we get to revival? -- We must put a priority on prayer.

3. And we must sincerely seek the Savior.

*Again in vs. 14, God says: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face.”

*In Matthew 18:20, Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” And by His Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ is here right now.

*In Matthew 7:7, Jesus promised that if we seek, we will find, and we surely will. But what does it mean to seek the face of God?

[1] First, it’s about leaving.

*When we go on this spiritual journey to seek the Lord, there are some things we are going to leave behind. Old ways, priorities and habits need to be left behind.

-Seeking God’s face is about leaving some things behind.

[2] But it is also about love.

*We seek the Lord because we love Him. And we ought to love Jesus!

-We ought to love Him, because He loves us beyond measure!

-Jesus proved that when He died on the cross for us.

-Seeking God’s face is about loving God.

[3] But it’s also about closeness.

*When God says, “Seek My face.” -- He is reminding us that He wants to have a close relationship with us. We all have a comfort zone around us. You are comfortable with me up here, five feet away, or even two feet away.

*But if I get too close, you will get uncomfortable real fast. You see, we are only comfortable getting close to someone’s face, when we know them very well. So, this command to seek God’s face is an invitation to know the Lord in a close-up, personal kind of way.

-Seeking God’s face is about closeness.

[4] But it is also about cleanness.

*I don’t want to get close to someone’s face without being clean and fresh!

-That’s why I carry breath mints.

-Seeking God’s face is about our cleanness.

[5] But it’s also about our desire.

*The word picture for “seek” in this verse is to search for something with great desire: Seeking, asking, begging for something.

-In Jeremiah 29:13 God said: “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with ALL your heart.”

-And in Matt 6:33 Jesus said: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

*How much passion do you have for God?

-How strong is your desire to seek God?

*When our son, Eric, was about 4, we went to the old Sears on Louisville to get a Christmas present for Mary. And in that mob around the cash register, I lost him. It was only for a few minutes, but I lost him!

*Nobody had to ask me, “Are you going to look for your little boy?” Of course I was! And why was I going to search for him? -- Because he was precious to me.

*We need that kind of passion for God: Passion enough to seek Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. And we ought to have passion to seek God’s face, because He wants to be much, much closer to us.

*How can we get to revival? -- We must seek the Savior.

4. And we must return to righteousness.

*God says: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways. . .”

[1] Everybody needs to make a first turn, as the Lord says in vs. 14 “turn from your wicked ways.”

*He is talking about repentance. Peter Marshall was one of the great preachers of the last century, and he once explained repentance with these words: “Now, if you were walking down the street, and someone came up behind you and tapped you on the shoulder. What would you do? Naturally, you would turn around. Well, that is exactly what happens in the spiritual world.

*A man walks through life -- with the eternal call ringing in his ears, but with no response stirring in his heart. And then suddenly, without any warning, the (Holy) Spirit taps him on the shoulder. What happens? He turns around. The word ‘repentance’ means ‘turning around.’ He repents and believes and is saved.” (4)

*Everybody needs to make that first turn. If you haven’t already done it, you need to turn away from sin and selfishness, and turn to Jesus Christ.

-He loves you!

-He died on the cross for you.

-And He rose again from the dead.

-If you open your heart and put your trust in Jesus, He will forgive all of your sins and give you eternal life.

[2] Everyone needs to make that first turn. But we also need to make fresh turns, turning away from whatever is wrong in our lives.

*Turn away from jealousy, gossip, greed, dishonesty, sex-sin, self-righteousness, laziness, lack of love and lack of concern for other people.

*Facing up to our sins like this and turning away from them can be a painful thing. Paul called it “Godly sorrow” in 2 Corinthians 7:10. Seeing our sinfulness is no fun, but we must, so we can turn away from our sins. And when we think about Jesus, when we think about all He has done for us, it helps us to turn away from our sins.

*God says:

14. If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

*How far will God go to forgive and help and heal?

-All the way to the cross.

-That’s how far Jesus went for you and me.

*In March of 1997, Scott Mathews was a Youth Minister in Carthage, MO. Scott wanted to help his young people understand the love of God. And the theme for the youth group that month was, “The Cross.” So they built a 500 pound, 8-foot by 14-foot redwood cross. It took 10 students to move it. Why was it so big? Scott wanted to illustrate how heavy the Lord’s cross was.

*One night at church, when the cross was on the platform, Scott told the students that each of them deserved to experience the cross. But because of His love, God sent His Son to die on the cross for us. Scott needed another way to help the youth understand the cost of the cross, and he thought of Minette.

*That Godly, young mother was one of the sponsors. That night, she was on the back row watching her children. Scott asked her to come up. And on the way, she started to give her newborn baby, Hudson to a friend.

*Scott interrupted, “No, Minette. -- We want Hudson.” They took the little baby and placed him on the center of the cross, not long enough to scare him or hurt him, of course, but long enough to make the point.

*Scott later said: “Every young person there that night understood the love of God. It weighed 9 lbs, 6 oz.” (5)

*And one time 2,000 years ago God’s love really did weigh 9 lbs, 6 oz.

-But Jesus grew up, and died on the cross for us.

*Now the love of God is big enough to take away all of the guilt of all of our sins, if we will turn to the Lord and trust in Him.

*So trust in the Lord.

-Trust God enough to humble your heart before Him, and pray.

-Trust God enough to seek His face, and turn from your wicked ways.

*And if you have never turned to Jesus, do it now as we go to God in prayer.

-Open your heart to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

-He will forgive all of your sins and give you His eternal life.

(1) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon “Revival: What Is It Really?” by Robbie Boyd - 2 Chronicles 7:14

(2) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon “What am to do with my life?” by Dennis Selfridge - 1 Timothy 1:1-20

(3), Brian Roennfeldt, Perth, West Australia - Source: SermonCentral sermon “Standing In the Gap” by Russell Brownworth - 1 Timothy 2:1

(4) “Mr. Jones, Meet the Master” by Peter Marshall - p. 30-31

(5) SermonCentral illustration - Source: Scott Mathews, Adventure Christian Church, Rocklin, CA

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