Summary: This sermon describes what occurs when God’s people are revived.
From time to time we need a fresh touch from God. We need a revival of our hearts. Our hearts can drift away from God. Our hearts can grow cold. Our hearts can become cluttered with worldly things. In Nehemiah 8 we see a picture of a people who experienced revival. The Israelites had been down and out for years. Under Nehemaiah’s leadership they had fought to rebuild their city and return to being the people of God. In the midst of that experience they had a fresh encoutner with God. As we examine this text I will follow a simple outline. First, I want to show you the signs of revival. Next, I want to show you the source of revival.
I. First, look at the signs of revival.
A. There will be a thirst for the word of God. "Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law." (vs. 3) Ezra read and the people listened. As you look into the mirror of God’s truth you must ask yourself, Am I hungry for the word of God? I am reminded of the words of the Psalmist.
“As the deer pants for the water brooks,So pants my soul for you” Ps. 42:1-2
B. There will be engaging worship. Notice verse 6. "And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!’’ while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground." The people were engaged in worship. They said "Amen", lifted their hands, and bowed their heads in humility. Their worship was engaging. This is what happens when people attend a sporting event. The spectators cheer, applaud, and get involved.
C. There will be fullness of joy. Notice verse 10. "Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." When we have experienced an encounter with God we will experience a fullness of joy. It will flow like an artesian well.
D. They will be a concern for others. Notice verse 10. The people were instructed to "send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared." Compassion for other people is a natural outflow of a revived heart.
Let me issue a word of caution. We must be careful that we do not confuse the signs of revival with the source of revival. If we confuse the signs with the source we will put undue pressure on ourselves. We might confuse Bible reading, worship, joy, and compassion as the source of the revival. When we do this we take credit from God and give it to ourselves. Human work will not produce the work of God. Man cannot produce revival. Only God can do this! The signs are the measuring stick by which we measure the condition of our heart.
II. Now, look at the source of revival. It is found in verse 11. "Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved." This verse is divided into three phrases. Each of those three phrases is a secret to revival.
A. The first phrase is relax. The Bible instructs us to "be still." When we are still we relax, trust, and wait on God’s answer. We get on God’s agenda.
Illustration: While serving a church in rural Mississippi I used to go tubing. In tubing you place an inner tube in the slow moving waters of a river and gingerly drift along. You do not get in a hurry. You do not rush. You allow the tube to carry you while you relax. Your agenda changes.
B. The second phrase is refocus. The Bible instructs us to honor "the day" of the Lord. In dedicating a day to God we are allowing ourselves to refocus on God and His priorities. The day is not the big issue in this verse. The big issue is allowing time to refocus on God and His ways.
C. The third phrase is release. The Bible instructs us to "do not be grieved." The Israelite people needed to release the mistakes and sins of their past. When revival occurs we release the sins of our past. True revival cannot occur without releasing the past.
My prayer is that you and I would release the past and experience God’s revival for our lives.