Summary: We need revival daily even thought we may say to ourselves, “I’ve confessed, tried and failed so many times. Revival doesn’t last.”
When I led the weekly worship service at a local nursing home a couple of weeks ago, I talked about memories and how they can be both good and bad, depending on the memories. I talked about how Joshua told representatives of the twelve tribes of Israel to take 12 stones from the Jordan River and make a monument after the Israelites entered the Promised Land. This monument was intended to help the Israelites remember God’s faithfulness to them during the forty years that they wandered in the wilderness.
The writer of Psalm 85 also talks about memories. Memories give us hope. For example, people who are grieving the loss of a loved one are often comforted by their memories of their loved ones. Memories let us recall with gratitude what God has done in the past, and they give us the hope that God will do good things for us again in the future. That makes our present sorrows and sufferings bearable.
Psalm 85 is a community lament. God was not pleased that his people were unfaithful, and he showed his displeasure. The people repented and asked God to forgive them. The six verbs-been favourable, brought back, have forgiven, covered, taken away, turned down-highlight God’s redemptive work in Israel’s history. God’s gracious dealings with Israel in the past justify the hope that He will once again show grace and forgiveness. The psalm closes with the confidence that God will forgive his people.
The psalmist also urges us to make sure that our repentance is genuine. He urges us not to make the same mistakes that caused God’s displeasure. The word mercy literally means “lovingkindness” or “steadfast love.” It is a powerful word used elsewhere in the Old Testament to describe God’s unconditional love and His covenant commitment. God’s promise of salvation is available to everyone who believes in him in faith, but that provision is not automatic. It only comes if we repent and turn to God in faith.
God’s judgment is the result of his righteousness and our sins. There will never be any reconciliation without repentance and forgiveness. Reconciliation was made possible by Christ’s death on the cross. Since he bore our sins and our punishment on his shoulders, we can come home to God. His wrath has been lifted, but it will return every time we sin. Every time we repent, God will forgive us, but that does not give us a license to sin.
Spiritual revival involves getting right with God and returning to a place in our lives where we can delight in God and celebrate his goodness, love and mercy. It will rescue us from the penalty of sin and the urge to practice our sins. (Pause)
Jesus is like water. Both can go where we can’t go. Throw something against a wall, and it will hit the wall and drop. Throw water on a wall, and the water will spread. Jesus is the same. He is a spirit who is not limited by an earthly body. He enters our souls and quenches our spiritual thirst just like water quenches our physical thirst.