Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Revive us again

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 85:1-13

TO CHEW ON: "Will you not revive us again,
That Your people may rejoice in You?" Psalm 85:6


This is a happy psalm. The Son of Korah writer begins by listing ways God has shown favour to the Israelites. He has: 1] brought them back from exile; 2] forgiven and covered their sins; 3] turned away from showing His anger in the way their sin deserved.

But all is not perfect. We detect concern in his next request: "Will You not revive us again / That Your people may rejoice in You?'

Perhaps he senses superficiality in their worship. Perhaps he knows individuals who have divided loyalties. Perhaps he witnesses hypocrisy, where people are dressed all righteous and sanctimonious when they come to the temple but change into their everyday me-first duds as soon as they leave. Perhaps he knows they aren't really 'rejoicing' in God at all but in everything else, and it is just a matter of time before they'll be casting the same old sinful fruit because they are still living from a sinful root.

A brief look at some of the revivals in the Bible show such uprooting:

  • Asa banned perverted persons and removed idols from the land - 1 Kings 15:12.
  • Jehu and Jehoiada broke down the Baal altar and temple - 2 Kings 10:27; 2 Kings 11:18.
  • Josiah took all the religious paraphernalia associated with idol worship out of the temple and burned it - 2 Kings 23:4. Then he insisted people serve God - 2 Chronicles 34:33.
  • Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah removed the wooden images and high place altars from the land - 2 Chronicles 19:13; 2 Chronicles 31:1.
  • Nehemiah stopped commerce on the Sabbath - Nehemiah 13:19.
  • The people of Ephesus collected their occult books and burned them - Acts 19:19.

These drastic actions attacked deep loyalties and removed what was usually an idol of one kind or another. In our quest for revival, maybe we need to do some of the same life-altering uprooting:
  • Confess and get rid of known sin.
  • Sort out areas where we have mixed faith in God with beliefs from other religions (syncretism).
  • Identify and remove idols—anything that claims our affection above God.
  • Change our lifestyles to show our sensitivity to what does and doesn't  please God.

PRAYER: Dear God, I so glibly pray for revival, but do I really want the deep spirit work that the answer entails? May the prayer for revival be the honest cry of my heart. Amen.

MORE: Modern idols

In her book Embracing Your Second Calling, Dale Hanson Bourke lists some modern idols—ones I know I've been guilty of bowing to (she attributes Tim Keller's book Counterfeit Gods for the original list):

  • "Approval idolatry: 'Life only has meaning / I only have worth if I am loved and respected by …'
  • Control idolatry: 'Life only has meaning / I only have worth if I am able to get mastery over my life in the area of …'
  • Helping idolatry: 'Life only has meaning / I only have worth if people are dependent on me.'
  • Work idolatry: 'Life only has meaning / I only have worth if I am highly productive and get a lot done.'
  • Achievement idolatry: 'Life only has meaning / I only have worth if I am being recognized for my accomplishments / excelling in my career.'"  
Embracing Your Second Calling, pp. 90, 91.

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The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.
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