11/14/S – The Joy of Restoration and Revival

1 Kings 4:1-34; Acts 7:1-10; Psalms 126:1-3; Proverbs 27:17

Psalms: “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Our mouths were filled with laughter then, and our tongues with shouts of joy. Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord had done great things for us; we were joyful.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭126:1-3‬ ‭CSB)

This psalm is a song of ascents. It recounts the time, after the Babylonian Exile, when the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland and begin rebuilding Jerusalem. For generations, Israel grew more and more idolatrous and grew farther and farther from the Lord God – until finally they were removed from their land to spend 70 years in exile. After that 70 year time period, God moved in the heart of a pagan king and the Jews were allowed to return to begin again. These first three verses describe the unbelievable joy that was experienced at that time. So unbelievable were the turn of events, that even the surrounding pagan nations could not explain what was happening, and had no choice but attribute it to God. When I read this psalm, I think of the church. Like the nation of Israel, many who claim to be believers in Christ have allowed “idols” to usurp Christ’s preeminence. While we may not worship named gods like Baal or Ashtoreth or Molech, believers in America have given their worship to the American economy, the American dream, the Federal government, political parties, etc. Many times we are more concerned with upsetting those things than grieving the heart of God. I wonder if the tide is beginning to turn. I wonder if the things we have placed our hopes and trust in have failed us enough, that we will stop making them our primary focus. I wonder if believers are beginning to realize that the only sure hope for peace, contentment, abundance, and joy is found through surrender to the God of All and His Son Jesus Christ. Oh, when the church in large part comes to their senses and repents of their wayward ways and turns back to the preeminence of Christ… when the church in large part is revived and restored… what joy will fill our hearts… and all those who watch will have no other rational choice but to say, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

Proverbs: “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27:17‬ ‭CSB)

The word for sharpen means to be intellectually alert. In order to remain alert and not get dragged into the cesspool of worldliness and carnality, we need friends that will challenge us and call us out when we are stepping into something we shouldn’t. When I say friends, I don’t mean social media friends that you can easily unfriend or stop following if they say things you don’t like. I mean a true friend that loves you and cares for your wellbeing – that is willing to say tough things to you when you need to hear them. Friends that are willing to speak the truth, but speak it in love. Friends that don’t just say what you want to hear, but say what you need to hear. If we just surround ourselves with people that think the same way we think and never challenge us, we will grow intellectually and spiritually dull and will get sucked into the black hole of darkness. For the church to experience revival, we need to get out of our echo chambers and allow ourselves to be convicted by the Holy Spirit through the word of God and the voice of true God-fearing friends.

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