In our women’s Bible study last night, we wrestled with the words of Psalm 85: You showed favor to your land, O Lord; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger.
Restore us again, O God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us. Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.
I will listen to what God the Lord will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints – but let them not return to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.
Yellow Creek Baptist Church will host a series of revival services November 16-19. An evangelist has been hired, and music is being prepared. But as we read this psalm last night, we came to the conclusion that we can have meetings until the cows come home (sorry, I’m a Southerner transplanted in the Midwest!), but God is the one who brings revival to a church, not the people who meet there.
I think we would all like a three-step plan for revival. If I do A, B, and C, then God is going to bring new believers to our church, and we will increase in number. Yet, that is not what the psalmist tells us in this passage.
The writer very clearly tells God’s people that the way God will grant His favor and bring a revival and a renewed spirit to the people is for them to confess their sin, seek His forgiveness, and then to leave that sin behind (vs. 8 – “let them not return to folly”).
We discussed the need for this repentance to be specific, individual, and corporate. We each must acknowledge that we sin every day, and that our sin is horrible in God’s eyes. We must acknowledge this personally, and we must seek forgiveness as a church for the things that we do that displease God.
Only after we have humbled ourselves in this way before the Lord will He grant us His blessings – revival, restoration, salvation, peace, harvest, direction.