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Summary: Revival is the Sovereign hand of God responding to the expressed need and prayer of God’s people.

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PREACHER: Ralph Juthman

TEXT: Psalm 85:4-6; various

THEME: Revival comes at the sovereign, gracious decision of God to send a fresh movement of His Spirit among his people

TITLE: When Revival Comes

INTRODUCTION

“The single greatest need in our land today is heaven-sent revival!

In his annual ‘State of the Church in America’, study sociologist and Christian pollster George Barna has produced the following results;

A. Increasingly, Americans ( Canadians) are more interested in faith and spirituality than in Christianity.

“Faith remains a hot topic in America these days,” George Barna commented, expanding on the theme. “Politicians, athletes, cultural philosophers, teachers, entertainers, musicians – nearly everyone has something to say about faith, religion, spirituality, morality, and belief these days. But as the fundamental values and assumptions of our nation continue to shift, so do our ideas about faith and spirituality. Many of our basic assumptions are no longer firm or predictable.

“One of those assumptions relates to how we develop our faith. These days,” he continued, “the faith arena is a marketplace from which we get ideas, beliefs, relationships, habits, rituals and traditions that make immediate sense to us, and with which we are comfortable. The notion of associating with a particular faith – whether it is Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or some other strain – still has appeal because that connection provides a discernible identity and facilitates the possibility of belonging to something meaningful. But the actual components of what we choose to belong to are driven by our momentary needs and perceptions.

“Our studies consistently demonstrate – as explained in unChristian, the book by my colleague, David Kinnaman – that being a Christian or associating with the Christian faith is not as attractive to Americans as it used to be. That is largely due to two realities. First, the mass media have unfavorably caricatured the Christian faith, devout Christians and Christian churches. Second, it is relatively rare to find someone who is an exemplar of the Christian faith,” the researcher explained. “Consequently, millions of Americans have less trouble embracing Christ than they have embracing Christianity, but many people assume it is a package deal: that is, you cannot be a Christian without adopting the institutional framework and limitations of the Christian world. Young adults, in particular, find that unappealing.

“Ultimately, in a culture where people are busy, distracted, confused and trying to keep it all together, there is less loyalty to a faith brand than to self. The purpose of faith, for most Americans, is not so much to discover truth or to relate to a loving, praiseworthy deity as it is to become happy, successful, comfortable and secure. For a growing percentage of citizens, their sense of spirituality, more than Christianity, facilitates those outcomes.”

B. Faith in the American context is now individual and customized. Americans are comfortable with an altered spiritual experience as long as they can participate in the shaping of that faith experience.


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