Summary: This series of messages was part of the preparation for our SAW (Spiritual Awakening Weekend). May it be used by others.
The Nature of an Awakening
Aiming at an Awakening - #5 of 12
* There is an old fable of a farmer who finds a viper (a deadly snake) freezing in the snow. Taking pity on the snake, he picks it up and places it in his coat. The snake, revived by warmth, bites the farmer who (by the way) is his rescuer. The farmer dies realizing it was his own fault – because a snake is a snake and will always have the nature of a snake. Another fable tells of a scorpion who asks a frog to carry him across the river. The frog is afraid of being stung BUT the scorpion says, “If I sting you then we both would die.” The compassionate frog is convinced so he agrees and begins carrying the scorpion across the river. You guessed it; midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. Just before they sank, the frog asked the scorpion ‘why’ and the response is, “You knew what I was when you agreed.”
* In Wikipedia this application is made; “This is used to illustrate that the behavior of some creatures, or of some people, is repressible, no matter what.”
* As we are ‘aiming toward an awakening’, it will serve us well to understand the nature of an awakening. What is it? What does it look like? Or “What is the nature of an awakening?”
* The dictionary rightly says this kind of nature as: “the inborn or innate qualities of or the character of.” So how can we Biblical identify what a Spiritual Awakening looks & feels like? No one alive has witnessed a landscape changing-culture altering awakening. Ravenhill & Havner both lamented that, “if the average church knew what it was- would say no to it!”
* Let’s take a look at the Biblical nature of an Awakening & see the “what & why.” (TEXT)
* The Psalmist 85 is very plain and asked God for “REVIVAL.” A revival is indeed a spiritual awakening. Today we think in terms of meetings. Two things which need to be said: A call to God for a Holy Spirit Awakening or Revival is different than an evangelistic meeting. For the evangelistic meeting, believers are out sharing their vibrant faith with the lost world and the meeting becomes an ingathering of those who have received Christ or those who have been cultivated to the point of coming inside a building where God does the final call to salvation and many are saved. This can be a glorious time.
* But this cannot, or better said, will not happen if God’s people who are called by His name have lost their passion and their vibrant faith. The Spiritual awakening (Revival) is for those who indeed do KNOW Christ, have (in the past) walked by faith in the Spirit, & whose hearts have grown cold. There are many reasons why hearts grow cold, but we must confess that most of the time it is because of unconfessed & unrepented of sin. An awakening is a event, very personal, in the life of a believer where the Holy Spirit wakes up that person to their own sin (not the sin of someone else) & that person comes clean before God by confession & repentance. A church awakening happens when this action is repeated by all members.
* Think about the setup for the Psalmist’s prayer in chapter 85. The Children of Israel had sinned against God. God warned them repeatedly, but they refused to heed His warning & stubbornly continued going away (against) God. So God sent Nebuchadnezzar against them and he destroyed Jerusalem, the Temple, & took both them & the sacred things to Babylon. The Captivity was approximately 70 and the people were allowed to return home – and now back at home, the Psalmist says, “Please return to us & revive us.” He sounds desperate.
* So I ask, “What is indeed the nature of the return, revival, or awakening he (& we) desire? (NOTE: We will take this in reverse order so that our end today will be the beginning.)
1. It Results in God’s Glory – It is a sad truth but we talk little about “God’s Glory”, yet the Chief end of man is the GLORY OF GOD. As a follower of Christ, our life should reflect Christ’s character and Christ’s character was to bring Glory to God. We just came through the Christmas season where we heard the angel sing, “Glory to God in the Highest.” God is all about His Glory and He is all about His followers ‘honoring Him with their lives.’ After offering his request, it seems, the Psalmist articulates the glory of God in verses 10-13