Praying for Revival
We are living in dark days. I think if there’s anything Christians know and agree about, it is that we are living in dark days. Just everywhere you look, you see it, you look at global politics, and you see regression and pain and conflict and moving in the wrong direction. You look at American national politics for American Christians, and you see politics are moving in the wrong way. You get some victories every now and then. But the broad scope of history over the last couple of decades seems like a slide in the wrong direction. And then you look at churches, oh, my goodness, you look at churches, and you see churches in decline. Everybody I know is trying to figure out how to do ministry in an environment that is harder to do ministry than it was even just a decade ago. Even our relationships you look at our relationships, it seems like everybody hates everybody. You see all this anger and fury in every single place you look, social media, the news, even churches; it just seems like it is a really dark period. And when you look at all that darkness, and you see it, one of the most common things I hear from Christians is how discouraged they are. You hear these doom and gloom pronouncements that it’s worse and it’s getting worse, or it’s not gonna get better, and people are just discouraged.
Encouragement from Scripture
But I want to say to you that I am not discouraged, and I don’t think you should be either. One of the reasons why has to do with Acts 3:19-20 and in that text of Scripture, this is what the Apostle Peter says, he says, “Repent, therefore, and turn back that your sins may be blotted out. That times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.” This verse is full of rich hope for Christians living in a dark time. Let’s remember that the church was in a weaker position in Acts 3 than it is in 2023. In Acts 3, the church was just beginning. It was fledgling; there was no institutions, there was no facilities, there were no budgets. I mean, the church, all they had was the Holy Spirit and a few preachers. One of those preachers, the apostle Peter, stands up in the midst of what, if you’re just gauging influence in numbers, what would have been the darkest period in the history of the church. And he says, hey, let’s repent, let’s turn back, that our sins would be blotted out. And that times of refreshing would come from the presence of the Lord. Times of refreshing is Peter’s language here for what we would call revival. He says it’s going to come from the presence of the Lord. The Lord is seated in heaven and the refreshing revival and renewal that comes from him. It’s not dependent on the earthly state of things. In fact, in the Bible, before God does a great work, there’s always something horrible happening. God’s greatness and his glory and his revival always comes when things are so dark and so black you couldn’t imagine it would get any worse. And so revival refreshing comes from his presence. And Peter says, all you have to do is repent; all you have to do is turn back. And the Lord is going to send a time of refreshing from his presence.
Pray for Times of Refreshing
Listen, I don’t know what the future holds. I’m not optimistic, hopeful, or encouraged because I know the exact details of the future, but I know what the options are. Jesus is either going to return. Jesus, from his own presence, is going to send revival and renewal and refreshing, or Jesus is going to renew us in the midst of a difficult period. But whatever happens at the end of the day, we are going to be with Jesus. So right now, what we need to do is pray for times of refreshing. We need to pray for revival. We need to pray for repentance. That is what I’m going to do. James 4 says you don’t have because you don’t ask. And so my commitment is if revival doesn’t come to my church, to my heart, to my city, to my country, if revival doesn’t come, it won’t be because I didn’t ask. So I’m asking the Lord. Also, as a pastor, I am beginning this coming Sunday a sermon series through the book of Acts; we’re calling the series revival. And what we’re going to do every week this year, when we preach through the book of Acts, is we are going to identify what God is doing and what God does when he does an amazing work. Acts is the inspired handbook on revival in the Bible. It is God’s awakening of people for the very first time to the greatness and the glory of Jesus. And there are principles we can learn in that book about the powerful things he does when he’s doing it. We’re going to spend the year at First Baptist, paying attention to what God does when he does a great thing. We’re going to spend the year praying that God would do it again, and I hope you will pray as well.