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An Invitation to Revival

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  TEXT:  Hosea 6:1-3

TOPIC:  An Invitation to Revival

Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point, Alabama

March 29, 2009

(Outline and portions of this sermon taken from Dr. James MacDonald’s book, Downpour.)

            Over the next few weeks our church members are going to be busy inviting family and friends to our Revival for Survival beginning April 19.  In fact, we have designed some very nice Revival cards for you to use when you invite others to our revival.  They are very attractive and contain all the information anyone would need to join us at our revival.  They even have the pictures of our two revival leaders, our preaching evangelist Howard Allen and our music evangelist Michelle Ford.  I’m telling everyone Michelle is the one with the long blonde hair.

            So I want you to use these to give out to everyone you meet over the next few weeks and invite them to our revival.  But did you know that God also has an invitation for you to revival?  Simply put, God invites you to come back to Him.  No matter how far away you are right now or how long you’ve been gone, God invites you to come back.

            Hosea 6 opens the door and invites each of us to return to the Lord.  That’s God’s invitation to revival to each of us. 

Come, and let us return to the Lord;

For He has torn, but He will heal us;

He has stricken, but He will bind us up.

2     After two days He will revive us;

On the third day He will raise us up,

That we may live in His sight.

3     Let us know,

Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.

His going forth is established as the morning;

He will come to us like the rain,

Like the latter and former rain to the earth.

Hosea 6:1-3, NKJV

            Three times in these three short verses, God extends the tender invitation through the Prophet Hosea for us to return.  In verse one, the invitation is “Come, and let us return to the Lord.”  In verse 3 the invitation is Let us know, and let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.

 

            Let us turn our lives off our current course of things and focus all that we are and have where the answers are—with the Lord.  Our problems began when we turned away from the Lord, so let us turn back to the Lord; let us return and know the Lord again.

            That’s our invitation to revival.  And notice how tender it is.  You don’t have to live the life you’re living.  You don’t have to experience the heartache and sorrow you’re feeling.  You don’t have to live with the guilt you carry.  You can return to the Lord.  You can leave where you are now and return.

            Notice one more thing about this invitation to return.  It says, let us.  It’s in the plural.  The invitation is to us; to all of us.  You’re not alone.  Just about everyone needs to return to the Lord.

            The Hebrew word for return is used more than 1000 times in the Old Testament.  It is used more frequently than any other term describing what God desires for us.  It is a picture of repentance.  Hosea uses the word some 23 times.

 Hosea 5:4, from the ESV says, “Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. For the spirit of whoredom is within them, and they know not the Lord.”

            God said of ancient Israel that their deeds or actions prevented them from returning to the Lord.  The word deeds refer to behavior, how they live life, apart from knowing God.  The same is true of us today.

Hosea 7:10, ESV, The pride of Israel testifies to his face; yet they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek him, for all this.

            Now Hosea says it is their pride that prevents their returning to the Lord.  We think, “Others may need to return to the Lord, but not me.”  We say, “I don’t need to be revived, that’s for other people are living in real sin.”

Hosea 11:5, ESV, They shall not return to the land of Egypt, but Assyria shall be their king,

because they have refused to return to me.

            God reminds us that there are consequences to our refusal to return to the Lord.  We continue to live in bondage.

            And in the last chapter of Hosea is still pleading and God is still promising.

Hosea 14:4,7, ESV, I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them…..7 They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;

 

            Do you hear the hopefulness in Hosea 14:7, They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow?

 

            There is no safer or better place to be than close enough to the Lord God to dwell in His shadow. Hosea 6:2 says we can live within His sight. 

So how do we get there?  How do we respond to God’s invitation to revival?  Getting there involves returning or turning to the Lord.   

   I.  TURNING TO THE LORD INVOLVES RECOGNIZING

            The invitation to revival begins with the recognition that some things have to change.  The things that have to change are the things about which you can say, “This is wrong or harmful to me and to those I love.  I don’t desire this anymore.  I recognize it for what it is; I’m returning to the Lord.” 

                        You must be willing to pray the prayer of the Psalmist who said, Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;  24And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

                        Not only does turning to the Lord involve recognizing our need to change, but it also includes repentance.

  II. TURNING TO THE LORD INCLUDES REPENTING

 

            Turning or returning is repentance.  When you recognize the things that got you where you are and you realize they will never bring true satisfaction or peace to your life, then repent.  Turn around.  When you know you’re going the wrong way in life; turn around.

            This past week Penny and I met for dinner.  We dined in Trussville, but didn’t want to take both our cars so we left my car at a local parking lot.  On the way home Penny suddenly said, “Are we going to get your car?”  I immediately made a u-turn and headed back to get my car.  We were going the wrong way and didn’t recognize it.

            I told her, “I was just enjoying the ride and the company of course.  And we were making such good time.”  But we were about to make a serious mistake, until we turned around.

            In order to accept God’s invitation to revival we must repent.  We must turn around.  Doing so means we have to get real with God.  We must be willing to admit we are wrong.  There are things in my life that are not honoring to the Lord.  I need to stop and get rid of all the wrong things, the displeasing the things, the things God calls sin that is in my life.

I John 1:9 is a great Scripture written to Christians who need to repent.  Listen to what 1 John 1:8-9 says about our need to repent.  8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

            Accepting God’s invitation to revival involves recognizing our need to change, and it includes our need to repent, but last of all, turning to the Lord includes intentionally re-turning.

III. TURNING TO THE LORD INTENTIONALLY IS RE-TURNING

            If you want to experience a downpour of God’s mercy, you have to come back to the place where the water flowed before.  This is not just an emotional response and a change of your mind; it is also an exertion of your will to get moving again in the right direction. 

            In other words, you must be very intentional in your intent.  “I’m leaving this sin behind.  I don’t want this anymore.  I’m not hanging around the temptation any longer.  I am returning to the Lord.  I want what God has for me.”

            Now please hear what I am saying here.  Intentionally returning to the Lord is not a self-effort.  So many people think in order to be right with God they have to do something.  You hear them say things like this, “After I straighten a few things out, then I’ll return to the Lord.  I need to turn over a new leaf.  I need to clean up my act.”

            I’ve got a news flash for you.  You can’t straighten things out.  And how do you turn over a new leaf, whatever that means? 

            I love what Dr. Tony Evans, the great black pastor from Dallas says about cleaning up your act.  He says, “You don’t clean up before you take a bath.”  God is the bath. 

            When you return to the Lord, coming just as you are, the Lord cleans you up.  God cleans His fish after He catches them.

            So before we begin to invite others to our revival, let’s accept the God’s invitation to revival.  Before revival can begin in others, it must first begin in us.

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