What is the one thing that both the church and society need today?

The answer can be summed up in one word-revival. Not only will a revival bring us and society back to God, it will also allow us to remember what God has done for his people in the past, what he is doing for them now, and what he will do for them in the future.

The message of Psalm 107 conveys what God has done for his children and how lovingly he has dealt with them. God withholds punishment (which is deserved) and gives mercy and grace, which are not deserved. The psalm gives thanks for God’s enduring, steadfast love. He is willing to forgive his people even when they are unfaithful.

The psalm begins with a call to praise, followed by a warning to confess our sins. The psalm is concerned with the entire community giving thanks, but individual members of the community also give thanks. Specifically, they gave thanks to God for saving them from slavery in Egypt and guiding them to the Promised Land. The wanderers in verses 4 to 9 also represent those lost in a desert of loneliness, routine futility and affluence that never satisfies. They, like the Israelites, search without hope and without help, unable to find their way home until they return to God.  It nudges us to move from our comfortable lives to imagine the hearts and lives of refugees, wayfarers, pilgrims and others who are coming to the cross from all over the world. They were in bondage and are now free. Since we were also bound by sin, we will naturally have compassion with these pilgrims.

Like the people of Israel, we wander in spiritual darkness and are rebellious, fearful and wicked. We are easily distracted by the world, and this is understandable. The world is so attractive to us that it overwhelms us to the point where we neglect our relationship with God. In the end we are humbled by the consequences of our disobedience. We turn back to God who forgives us, but then we become complacent and find ourselves back in darkness. This is a never-ending cycle. In spite of this, God’s love is steadfast. He never turns us away when we return to him.

Today, we and the church need to return to God. We need revival. Many churches, including my own, have seen a decline in membership and attendance. Society needs to pray to God that he will restore the church so that it can evangelize the people. Society needs to pray that God will pour out his Holy Spirit with a message of repentance and godliness. Society needs restoration and freedom from bondage. God was faithful to his people in the past, he is faithful to his people today, and he will be faithful to his people in the future. His faithfulness opens a gateway to repentance and revival.

There is a spiritual thirst in the world today. Both the world and the church need revival. They need to heed the words of the old song, “That Old Time Religion”:

 Give me that old time religion

 give me that old time religion

 Give me that old time religion

 It’s good enough for me

 Makes me love everybody

 Makes me love everybody

 Makes me love everybody

 It’s good enough for me

 It has saved our fathers

 It has saved our fathers

 It has saved our fathers

 And it’s good enough for me

 It was good for the prophet Daniel

 It was good for the prophet Daniel

 It was good for the prophet Daniel

 And it’s good enough for me

 Give me that old time religion

 give me that old time religion

 Give me that old time religion

 It’s good enough for me

 It was good for Hebrew children

 it was good for Hebrew children

 It was good for Hebrew children

 And it’s good enough for me

Revival can only begin when we claim God’s mercy. It will restore a proper vision of who God is, his goodness, his moral perfection and his mercy. If we trust that he is merciful, we will experience his mercy.

Adversity often forces us to admit our need for God. For example, the Israelites were wanderers in the desert with no home. They suffered from spiritual and physical hunger as well as physical and spiritual thirst. In their time of need, they returned to God. They had no illusions of grandeur or superiority. In contrast, sometimes the church lives under the illusions of power, money, traditions and rituals. God often uses adversity to bring us back to him. He wants us to rely on him instead of relying on ourselves. He wants the longing in our souls to drive us to him. He wants to satisfy our spiritual hunger and thirst. He wants to give us hope for the present and the future. He wants to give us vision and direction. When we approach our situations with gratitude, it takes our focus off of our problems and puts it onto God.

Adversity often leaves scars, and all of us have them. We have received these scars in one of two ways: because of what has been done to us by others and because of what we have done to ourselves. These scars are nothing to be ashamed of if we are Christians. They are an invitation to share Christ’s healing power with the world, just like the psalmist showed the scars of the Israelites. If we are not ashamed of our scars, people will recognize Jesus, especially when we tell our stories of emotional, physical, spiritual and relational healing. If we are true children of God, we will say so publicly and not be ashamed of it. We will gladly tell everyone about God’s unfailing love, how he changed our lives and how he can change their lives.

Bibliography

  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New King James Version (Brentwood, TN; Worthy Publishing; 2013, pp. 777-778)
  2. ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.
  3. Williams, D. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 14: Psalms 73-150 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1989, pp. 276-277)
  4. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
  5. Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010; pp. 810-812)
  6. Sharon Janes, “The Power of Your Story.” Retrieved from www.girlfriendsingod.com
  7. Rick Boxx, “A Walk of Gratitude.” Retrieved from Christianity.com@crosswalkmail.com
  8. Scott Schauf, “Commentary on Psalm 107:1-3,23-32.” Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2490
  9. Lisa Nichols Hickman, “ON Scripture: Immigration: Journey to a New Life.” Retrieved from www.day1.org
  10. Houston, David: “Old Time Religion.” Retrieved from http://www.metrolyrics.com/old-time-religion-lyrics-david-houston.html
  11. Craig Condon, “Memories, Faith and Forgiveness.” Retrieved from the author’s personal library

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