Saturday, May 16, 2009
2 Chronicles 30:13 Days of Revival
I received some very solemn and upsetting news this week.
BAPTIST CHURCHES OF NSW & ACT DIRECTIONS 2012 RESEARCH PROJECT
“Awaken O Sleeper”: Disturbing a Denomination at the Crossroads Working Paper No. 1
Changes in religious affiliation are captured statistically by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) every five years through census research (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1996, 2001, 2006). ABS research is based on households identifying themselves as belonging to a particular religious affiliation. Changes over the last 10 years only are presented in this paper following changes to the ABS data collection instruments since 1991. Over the last decade, Baptist Churches across NSW and the ACT experienced zero aggregate growth Although the Baptist churches in NSW and ACT failed to grow numerically, they did manage to avoid the negative growth experienced by all other Christian denominations during the same period. Relative to Baptist Churches in other Australian states and territories, the growth of Baptist churches in NSW and ACT was less than the average growth observed across Australia (7 percent) over that same period. In addition to Baptist churches in NSW and ACT failing to grow, their age profile also increased steadily, summarised in Figure 4. Over the last 10 years, Baptist Churches experienced negative growth across all age ranges under 45 years. This rate of decline was three to five times faster than the Australian average in the 15-24 year old and 35 to 44 year old ranges. According to estimates provided by field staff from Ministry Support and Development, approximately 100 out of 340 (almost one third) Baptist churches in NSW and ACT are under “serious stress” affecting their very viability (Clendinning, 2008). There is a serious threat of closure as a result of small congregational size relative to property responsibilities and/or poor church health.
Some churches have also experienced significant difficulty recruiting pastoral staff as a result of low numbers of trained pastors entering vocational ministry. Although Morling College has graduated an average of 13 BUNSW accredited students each year over the last 11 years (Clifford, 2009), only four Morling College students became vocational Baptist church pastors in 2007 (Clendinning, 2008), dropping to three in 2008 (Clendinning, 2009).
Last Wednesday David and I attended a meeting with the Leadership of an evangelistic parachurch organisation at the University. In a short discussion with the lady in charge of this area she said to me “We have to build a base here first. It may take years before we have a solid enough group here at the Callaghan campus to reach out to the campus in town.” Ahh but the Lord can act suddenly if He wills. And I related several events where in time past the Christian work had suddenly grown through conversions. At the Wollongong campus, the Christian Fellowship grew from 5 to 120 in a few weeks, as bible study groups were established on the campus. Many of those who came to know the Lord have since gone into full time ministry.
A Youth group grew from 7 converted people to 80 in 6 weeks of prayer. In fact it may be said, as J I Packer staed, that the Lord can do more in a short season of revival (in adding to the numbers of people in churches) than He does in the long periods of hard steady slogging work that has to be done in the normal course of church life.
J.A.Broadus, the Southern Baptist Church Father once wrote
There are seasons in the spiritual sphere-sowing seasons and reaping seasons, just as there are in farming. "Say not ye," said Jesus, "There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest?"-that is to say, it was four months from that time till the harvest. They sowed their wheat in December; they began to reap it in April. "Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest."
In the spiritual sphere it was a harvest time then, and they were bidden to go forth and reap the harvest that waved white and perishing. We can see, as we look back, that the ends of all the ages had now come to that time; that the long course of providential preparation, dimly outlined in the Old Testament, had led to the state of Things that then prevailed; that the fullness of the times had come, when God sent forth his Son to teach men and to atone for men, and to rise again and come forth as their Saviour, and that his servants should go forth in his name. And the like has been true in many other seasons of Christianity; there have been great reaping times, when men have harvested the fruits which come from the seed scattered by others long before.
This principle is true In individual churches, that there are seasons of sowing and reaping. It has to be so. We sometimes say we do not believe in the revival idea; we think there ought to he revival in the church all the time. If you mean that we ought always to he seeking for spiritual fruits, always aiming at spiritual advancement, it is true. But if you mean that you expect that piety will go on with even current in the church, that there will be just as much sowing and reaping at any one time as at any other, then you will certainly be disappointed. That is not the law of human nature. That is not possible in the world. Periodicity pervades the universe. Periodicity controls the life of all individuals, shows itself in the operations of our minds. Periodicity necessarily appears in the spiritual sphere also. People have Their ups and downs. They ought to strive against falling low. They ought not to be content with growing cold. They ought to seek to maintain good health of body all the while, but it will not be always equally good; and good health of mind and soul all the time, but it 'will not be always equally good. They ought to be seeking to reap a harvest of spiritual good among those around the mall the while; but they will have seasons which are rather of sowing, and other seasons which will be rather of reaping.
Oh! do you want to see a great season of harvest among your own congregation? And do you not know, brethren, as well as the preacher can tell you, what is necessary in order that you may see it? what are the conditions but deepened spiritual life in your own individual souls, stronger spiritual examples set forth in your lives, more earnest spirituality in your homes, a truer standard in your business and social relations to mankind, more of heartfelt prayer of God's blessing, and more untiring and patient and persevering effort, in season and out of season, to bring others to seek their salvation?
SOME LAWS OF SPIRITUAL WORK John A. Broadus
Hezekiah's dad Ahaz was bad news! He desecrated and closed the temple. He encouraged false worship. Judea was on the downward spin for many many years. Now Hezekiah was 25 years old and there began the longest revival recorded in the Bible. He gathered people together, he reconsecrated the temple and in 16 days reversed all the bad things that his dad had spent so many years doing. He celebrated Passover. In 16 short days he reversed all the policies of his dad and brought about a real revival in the land of Judea.
Walter kaiser rightly notes that the book of Chronicles records several vital revivals. Each of the revivals highlights a different theme which may be found in 2 Chronicles 7:14.
"If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land."
As I prepared this message I noticed how last year about this time we had sat down and read about the revival under Asa, we saw that the issue was seeking God's face.
Theme of Chronicles is revival, 5 revivals detailed.
The theme of 2 Chronicles Is Found in 2 Chron 7:14 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.
King Rehoboam discovered in chs. 11 and 12 "humble yourself"
King Asa discovers "Seek my face" chapters 14-16
King Jehoshaphat discovered in chapters 17-20 "Pray"
King Hezekiah discovers in chapters 29-32 "Turn from your wicked ways"
and King Josiah discovers in Chapters 34, 35 "Humble yourselves"
“Revival is the sovereign work of God where He restores His own backslidden people to repentance, faith and obedience.”
What Hezekiah did you and I can do. 13 And many people came together in Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month, a very great assembly.14 They set to work and removed the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for burning incense they took away and threw into the Kidron Valley. 15 And they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. And the priests and the Levites were ashamed, so that they consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings into the house of the LORD. 16 They took their accustomed posts according to the Law of Moses the man of God. The priests threw the blood that they received from the hand of the Levites. 17 For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves. Therefore the Levites had to slaughter the Passover lamb for everyone who was not clean, to consecrate it to the LORD. 18 For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, "May the good LORD pardon everyone 19 who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary's rules of cleanness." 20 And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
1. Remove the Substitutes For God From your Life. 14 They set to work and removed the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for burning incense they took away and threw into the Kidron Valley.
2 Chron 28:24 Then Ahaz gathered up the utensils of God’s temple, cut them into pieces, shut the doors of the Lord’s temple, and made himself altars on every street corner in Jerusalem. 25 He made high places in every city of Judah to offer incense to other gods, and he provoked the God of his ancestors.
Altars everywhere.. every corner! There are so many altars that pull us away from the God we are supposed to worship. The visible gods, those that pull you away from reading God’s Word and praying. A slow moving away from God. We substitute something for God. The things we turn to rather than turning to God. Sometimes we use food as a substitute for anxiety. Your passions priorities and activities. Your career! Chucked the idol in the Kedron valley. Everyone of us has taken some idols to the Kidron valley .. dusted our hands off and said.. I’m done with that idol. And we go back and get it! The dearest idol I have known whate’er that idol be, help me to wrench it from my heart and worship only Thee.
2 chronicles 7:14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.
“. . .turn from their wicked ways. . .” The ways of some “Christians” is a stench in God’s nostrils. Their soap operas, their R--rated movies, their unholy conduct displeases God! Their foolish talking and jesting grieves the Holy Spirit. As does their unforgiveness, their bitterness, their evil speaking. Do you know that such things are evil? Proverbs 28:13 warns, “He who covers his sin will not prosper. But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
“Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
If we look at the church today, not just our fellowship here but the Church in general, we are at a time when we need revival. Christians seem to have lost their passion for God, they have lost their passion to walk according to God’s commandments. Many church services are just social gatherings or entertainment.
There must be a turning from everything that is not of God.
B. B. McKinney penned these words in 1927 in the 3rd stanza of his hymn: “Lord, Send a Revival”: “Send a revival among Thine own, Help us to turn from our sins away, Let us get nearer the Father’s throne, Revive us again, we pray.”
2. Set your Heart On Seeking God "May the good LORD pardon everyone 19 who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers, Jer 29:13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Hos 10:12 break up your untilled ground. It is time to seek the Lord until He comes and sends righteousness on you like the rain.
Dig deep. Till real deep! Don’t just scratch the surface. Dig up the roots of bitterness and anger and hurt that are so deep. Forgiveness! If there is to be true revival bring out the tiller and dig up the hardened ground. Bitterness prideful rebellion. That stops God’s word penetrating our lives. We can wear a superficial mask and we can be happy just scratching the soil rather than digging up the deep things.
AT Pierson there has never been a spiritual awakening in a country or a locality that did not begin with united prayer.
How many people realize there was a moral slump after the American revolution.. drunkenness was epidemic. Of a population of 5 million, 15, 000 drunks buried each year, 3000,000 confirmed alcoholics.
The Churches were empty.
The Methodists were going out the back door. This was their worst season. Congregationalists, who were stronger, in 16years he had not taken in one young person into fellowship.
The Anglican Bishop took up new employment.
The Church was too far gone ever to be redeemed.
Voltaire had said at that time "Christianity will be forgotten in 30 years time."
KS Lattourette it seemed as if Christianity were about to be ushered out of the affairs of men. The churches had their backs to the wall.
But God changed that situation. He drew His people to prayer.
John Erskine, Scots preacher pleasing for the people of Scotland to unite together for prayer. Jonathon Edwards wrote his treatise titled, An Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer, for the Revival of Religion and Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth
“. . . will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways. . .” (2 Chronicles 7:14b)
A. “. . .humble themselves. . .” Revival does not come to the proud.
Micah 6:8 clearly states, "He has shown you, O man what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?"
It is written of King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26:16 that he ". . .was lifted up to his destruction."
James 4:6b tells us ". . .God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."
Verse 10 goes on to say, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up."
1 Peter 5:5b-7 says, "Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
We read in Philippians 2:8 of our Lord Jesus who, ". . . humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross."
We must ask ourselves this pointed question: "Am I haughty or humble?"
B. “. . .pray. . .”
1. Selflessly James 4:3 “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
2. Earnestly James 5:16b-18 “The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”
3. Definitely Charles G. Finney, “I have prayed all night, not because God was reluctant to hear me, but because I had to get my heart ready for what God had to say.” As the old timers talk about “pray through”.
George Mueller said, “I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk about, when I lie down and when I rise up. And the answers are always coming.”
C. “. . .seek My face. . .”
The Amplified Bible brings this verse home, “Seek, crave and require of necessity My face. . .” O that we would crave the face of God most earnestly! God give us an unquenchable longing, a fervent craving, and an ever increasing hunger for You! If there is one thing the church has lost it is a hunger for God.
As Hosea the prophet tells us “. . .it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.”
The prophet Isaiah proclaims, “Seek the Lord while He may be found call upon Him while He is near.” (Isaiah 55:6)
The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that “. . .he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
According to Avery Willis, the situation of 2 Chronicles 6 and 7 involves a “Solemn Assembly” which is a call to nation wide seeking of the Lord’s face and favor.
Willis cites several passages in which this was the case. For example, Asa in 2 Chronicles 15:2; Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20; Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 29-31; Josiah in 2 Chronicles 34 and Joel in Joel 1:14; 2:1,12-17.
D. Turn from their wicked ways
3. Do not let anything hinder you from experiencing revival.
16-19 The Levites handed the blood over.. but it was supposed to be the heads of the families, the fathers. Because no one was ready, the Levites took the responsibility . it was different from what the rules stated. 18-20 even though not according to the sanctuary's rules of cleanness."
Was God more concerned with the heart or the rituals? Psa 51: 16 You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.
What happened? 25 The whole assembly of Judah, and the priests and the Levites, and the whole assembly that came out of Israel, and the sojourners who came out of the land of Israel, and the sojourners who lived in Judah, rejoiced.26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 27 Then the priests and the Levites arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard, and their prayer came to his holy habitation in heaven.
RA Torrey. Revival is a time when God visits His people and imparts new life to them Revival is getting hold of hearts of believers and then they get hold of those who don’t know Christ. Revival? Draw a circle around yourself and pray that God would change everything inside that circle. Gypsy Smith.
Rick Warren rightly says ; The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:21 (NLT), “If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.”
More than anything I know you want to be used by God. It isn’t the best preachers who get used by God. It isn’t the best leaders.. God uses those leaders who regularly get right with him.
Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you” (Joshua 3:5 NLT). If you want God to do something great in your future, you’ve got to start by settling the accounts of the past.
It doesn’t mean you have to be perfect – because no one is. But it does mean you need to be quick to confess and receive forgiveness when needed. Augustine said, “The confession of bad works is the beginning of good works.” God wants to do something incredible through you. But he’s going to start by dealing with your past. You’ve got to confess your sin to him.
Review every area of your life. Get away with a Bible, a piece of paper, and a pen, and ask God to let you know what’s coming between you and him. Don’t rush it. Take your time and write it all down. Nobody will see this. It’s between you and God.
Repent of every sin. Take responsibility for every sin you’ve written down. Don’t rationalize them. Don’t minimize them. Tell God what you did was a sin and you won’t do it anymore. Real repentance isn’t apologizing for your sin. It’s admitting it, turning away from it, and accepting God’s grace for it.
Make restitution. As you make your list, notice the sins that have impacted other people. Maybe you’ve hurt someone or mistreated him. If the person is still alive, make it right – as soon as possible. Don’t just apologize either. If you’ve stolen from the person, give back what you’ve taken. If you’ve cheated somebody, repay him.
Receive God’s forgiveness. Now you’re ready to receive God’s forgiveness. The Bible says you can go boldly to the throne of God and receive grace and mercy. God won’t reject you or scold you. He’ll give you his grace. That’s a promise from his Word.
Repeat these steps regularly. Confession is like a bath. If you don’t take one regularly, you’ll start to stink. Make confession a regular habit in your life
We need revival. To see it we must "humble ourselves, and pray and seek the Lord's face and turn from our wicked ways"
Will you do that? Will you follow Hezekiah's example and turn from anything that is turning you from the Lord?
Will you "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us?"
Will you put aside those sins that so trip you up?
Review every area of your life.
Repent of every sin.
Receive God’s forgiveness
Draw a circle around yourself and pray that God would change everything inside that circle.