Summary: What can we do as Christians to usher in a spirit of revival in today’s church.
Preparing for Revival
Joel 2:12 – 18
How many of you are fans of David Letterman? I am not one to watch his show, but there is one aspect that I used to tune in for. I loved his top ten lists. Recently, I came across a top ten list that wasn’t written by David Letterman, but I think it is appropriate for our lesson today. It is entitled “Top 10 Ways You Know You’re In A Bad Church.”
10. The church bus has gun racks.
9. The church staff consists of Senior Pastor, Associate Pastor and Socio-pastor.
8. The Bible they use is the "Dr. Seuss Version."
7. There’s an ATM machine in the lobby.
6. The choir wears leather robes.
5. Worship services are BYOB
4. There’s no cover charge, but communion is a two-drink minimum.
3. Karaoke Worship Time
2. Ushers ask, "Sleeping or non-sleeping?"
1. The only song the organist knows is "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida."
I hope that Leatherwood is nowhere close to this list, but I have a feeling that if we had a church bus, there would be a gun rack in it. Seriously though, we may not have gotten as bad as this list would indicate, but I believe there is room for improvement. God has great plans for the church. He has plans to bring about excitement about the things of God. He has plans to draw near to us to allow us to experience his presence. He has plans to bring about revival.
Last week, we began our series on revival by taking a look at some of the great revivals of the past to see what we could learn from them. We talked about Pentecost, the Great Awakenings, Wales, and Howard Payne. All of these revivals resulted in tremendous times of worship, thousands getting saved, and the power of God being displayed. Now, it is time to take what we talked about last week and apply it to our church in Porter Township.
In the book of Joel, there are a few passages pertaining to revival, but we will look at one in particular. Now, Joel writes this passage during a time of famine. Everyone is in disarray because they do not have food to eat, and so, they have turned away from their God. People are living in sin, and Joel is writing this passage to give them instructions from the Lord. Let’s pick up the story in Joel 2:12 – 18.
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing – grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God. Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the temple porch and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is there God?’” Then the Lord will be jealous for his land and take pity on his people.
As we look at this passage, you may be wondering what it has to do with revival. Revival can be simply defined like this: Revival is when God shows up and shows off. In this passage, God gives the people of Israel this promise. He says in verse 18, “Then, the Lord will be jealous for his land and take pity on his people.” Mostly, we think of jealousy as a bad thing, but it is not bad when the Lord is jealous for us. It means that God will have an intense desire and earnest enthusiasm to be with us. In other words, God will really want to be right here with us and will want to bless us. Isn’t that what revival is about?
Now that we have discovered God’s promise that he will be jealous for us and heal our land, we have to take a look at one little word in that promise. It is the word “then”. The promise starts with this tiny little word which means that we have to do something before this promise will go into effect. What do we have to do? That’s what we are going to take a look at this morning. We are going to take a look at what we have to do to receive the blessing of revival.