Summary: A sermon from Lamentations on a recipe for revival in the nation, preached for Independence Day 2014
Revival -- If? If all the sleeping folk will wake up, If all the lukewarm folk will fire up, If all the dishonest folk will confess up, If all the disgruntled folk will cheer up, If all the estranged folk will make up, If all the gossipers will shut up, If all true soldiers will stand up, If all the church members will pray up... Then we can have a revival! -- R.G. Lee
In 1801 on the frontier in America there was a desperate need for revival. Since the American Revolution, Christianity had been on the decline. Spiritual indifference seemed to be spreading. Rampant alcoholism and greedy land-grabbing were matched by the increasing popularity of both universalism (all will be saved) and deism (God is uninvolved in the world). Thomas Jefferson, a famous deist, was just elected President. But churches and preachers did not merely wring their hands; they clasped them in prayer—at prayer meetings, at worship, and at conventions. In 1798 a Christian organization asked that a day be set aside for fasting, humiliation, and prayer to redeem the frontier from “Egyptian darkness.”
God’s answer came in 1801 when 25,000 people went out to hear preaching at Cane Ridge, KY where preachers stood on stumps and proclaimed the righteousness of God. People became so overwhelmed with their conviction of sin that they fell to ground and thousands were brought to the Lord. Barton W. Stone was instrumental in this and we remember him today along with the Campbell’s as a leading force of NT Christianity in the USA.
This nation is in need of revival today. Been some good news about Supreme Court case with Hobby Lobby... Consider this, a new poll finds that the number of Americans who consider the Bible as the teachings and stories of men rather than the Word of God has increased dramatically since 2011. Approximately 1/3 of the entire population of the US has a sexually transmitted disease. There are 20 million new cases of STD each year, the highest in the industrialized world. Nearly all the world’s pornography (89%) is produced in the US. While 70% of all men age 18-24 visit at least one adult web site per month, the average high school boy now spends 2 hours every week viewing porn on the internet. America has the highest prison population in the world. We also have over 1.4 million active gang members according to the FBI. The number of heroine overdoses in the US has risen 84% since 2010. America has the highest rate of illegal drug use on the planet. The number of Americans with no religious affiliation has grown 25% over the last 5 years. 1 in 3 children today lives without their biological father. Speaking of the family, marriage is in decline, and devalued, in America. For decades, researchers have warned of the societal price we all pay with the decline of marriage, rise in divorce, single parenting, and out of wedlock births- the victims of the breakdown in the family are children. Speaking specifically of marriage, here in Indiana, U.S. District Judge Richard Young just a few weeks ago overturned Indiana’s law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Marriage licenses are being given to same sex couples in Indiana right now. Because of this, religious liberty and free speech is greatly in question for small businesses, faith based organizations (like this church), health care professionals, counselors, those working in public schools. Is our nation in need of revival?
Scripture is from Lamentations. This was written by the prophet Jeremiah right after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 587 BC. Jeremiah was one of the few faithful prophets that continually called the people of Judah to repentance. The people did not listen so the anger of the Lord was unleashed and the Lord used as his instrument the Babylonians who burned and destroyed Jerusalem and enslaved the Jews. Even though this is poetry, it is describing a holocaust. If we want to feel better this is not the book to read.
Jeremiah says in vs. 18- 20 Read. Those were days of degradation, desolation and depression.
But in the midst of all this darkness Jeremiah gives a glimmer of sunshine. Read. vs. 21-24. This is where the idea for the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” came from. Read. vs. 25-29.
Read. vs. 30-38. Jeremiah continues to try to find hope in the midst of this catastrophe. He finds his sanity in his faith in the Lord. Reminds me of “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. ” Ecclesiastes 7:14
Vs. 39 reminds me of a talk I heard this past week from a lady who has a terrible physical disease. She has prayed for healing many times but the Lord has not answered that way for her. She went to a woman’s conference and the speaker said, “Everyone who believes that they deserve to be healed from the Lord please stand up.” She and her friend were the only ones at that conference who did not stand up. Asked later why they did not stand, she said, “What I deserve is hell and not healing. It is only because of God’s mercy and grace that I am saved it is not because I deserve it. I not entitled to anything from the Lord.”