Date: July 19, 2009
Bible Text: Psalm 138:3-8 | Roger Voegtlin
Series: Transcribed Sermons
Bible Text: Psalm 138:3-8 | Preacher: Roger Voegtlin | Series: Transcribed Sermons
Please turn in your Bibles to Psalm 138. We’ll be reading verses 3-8. I’d like to answer the question, "Who will see revival in their lives?" This should be a question that we are all interested in. Psalm 138, beginning with verse 3. "In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O LORD, when they hear the words of thy mouth. Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD: for great is the glory of the LORD. Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands."
David had been fainting, and God heard his prayer and revived him. Again, listen to the words of verse 3: "In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul." Then in verse 7, "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands." In recent times the word "revival" has come to mean something much different than its Bible definition. When talking about revival, many people are referring to evangelistic meetings or soulwinning campaigns; but this is not scriptural nor historically correct. Biblical revival describes the sovereign act of God in which He restores His own backsliding people to repentance, faith, and obedience. It is an act of God. The question is often asked, "If God wants revival and it’s within His ability to send it, why doesn’t He?" The answer is simple: because we must be prepared for it. We must have our lives prepared, or He will never send it.
First, revival comes to those who confess their spiritual failure. "In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul… Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me…" The need for revival presupposes failure. If you don’t have failure, you don’t need revival. It is only those who admit failure and fainting whom God truly will revive. In the spiritual life, when a man faints, he is weak and needs reviving.
Have you ever seen anyone faint? I have never completely fainted, but the closest I came to it was when we climbed Mount Rainier. They estimate that when you are climbing the last day, the main day, you burn 27,000 calories. Now you dieters know how much that is. I prepared my lunch wrong, and all my food spoiled and I couldn’t eat it. I had 2,000 calories to eat on that day. Food and water are fuel. It’s as simple as that. And when you are burning 27,000 calories and you only have 2,000 calories of fuel, you faint. I’ll never forget coming off that mountain, talking to myself, putting one foot slowly in front of the other until I got to the bottom, when I just lay down flat at the trailhead. All my gear was laid out, and people were walking by thinking, "What’s wrong with this guy?" I was fainting! I was out of fuel!
When you get to that point, you can’t eat either. You need to, but you can’t. You can’t drink. You drink but as soon as it goes in, it comes right back out again. And so you have to sip just a little bit. Somebody brought me a Coke, and I sipped a little real Coke, and sipped a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Finally I got enough strength to go in and eat a great, big steak. As I ate that steak, I felt like Popeye eating his spinach. You just feel the strength. It’s a physical revival.
In the New Testament we see examples of ways that people faint spiritually. The first way is through prayerlessness. In Luke 18:1 Jesus says, "…men ought always to pray, and not to faint." What about your prayer life? It saddens me to see the weakest people in the church, particularly young people in the college, singing some of these wonderful songs while they’re smirking at each other and whispering to each other and laughing. So many people feel that what we preach and what we believe is just talk. We better believe it! I ask you again, what about your prayer life? Are you fainting in your prayer life? I believe that prayerlessness is the number one sin of our churches today. The devil knows that if we’re sinning in our prayer life, he can get to us in all other areas. If we are weak in our prayer lives, we are weak in our soulwinning. If we are weak in our prayer lives, we are weak in our ministry for God, we are weak in our families, and we will be failures.
The first time I ever hiked, I knew nothing. I went down the Grand Canyon with about 80 pounds in my backpack. I had so much junk in there. I had snake bite kits and knives. I didn’t know what I was doing. If I remember right, it was 127° in the shade. We were going to camp down at the bottom. We figured it would be nice and cool, but it never did cool off. At three in the morning, I was lying on top of a table feeling the radiation of the heat off the bottom of the floor of the canyon through the table. I said, "This is it. I’m not staying down here. No one is getting any sleep." So we packed our tents and all our junk. I remember taking a peanut butter sandwich and literally stuffing about half of it down my throat and a sip of water to get a little bit of energy. I didn’t know about this idea of fuel, and I forced my way up to the top. When I got to the top, my muscles were going all different ways. My fingers were bending back and I didn’t know what to do. I thought getting in the tub would make me feel good. I sat in the tub, and my muscles were going through contortions. Finally, I had enough sense to drink a little and eat some food. When I filled up with that food, I could feel the strength returning. I’m sure some of you have experienced something like that. I could just feel the energy. I was being revived.
So we need to get into the Bible and pray; and in the same way, we can feel spiritual revival as God deals with our lives. Like cool water on a hot day, we are revived through God. We need the kind of prayer life that Daniel had, shaking the Babylonian empire from end to end. We need the kind of prayer that Nehemiah offered, praying and the rulers running after him, giving him money, materials, and men to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. God gives us that kind of prayer. I want to stress: God gives it. When we pray in our own selves, the devil snickers. We have no strength. The Holy Spirit gives us prayer; the Holy Spirit even prays for us.
Turn with me to Romans 8:11, one of the most significant passages in the Bible, I believe, when it comes to prayer. When the Holy Spirit gives us prayers and even prays for us, then we have extraordinary results. "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." Verses 26-28, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." Let those verses sink in. That is what is wrong with Christianity today. We smile at each other and think of everything else as we are singing. We read our Bible, and it’s just something we do because we are supposed to do it; but we either believe it, or we don’t. If we believe it, we know we have God Almighty living in us, and He will help us in our prayers, and at times, actually take over and pray for us.
So many are fainting today because they are parroting doctrine but don’t believe it. "And we know that all things work together for good…" We parrot that. "Oh, yes, all things work together for good." But only if we allow the Holy Spirit to rule in our lives! Then we can say, "...we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose." Don’t try to turn God’s wheels of progress yourself; you can’t do it. But with the Holy Spirit’s inspired prayer, we can have a hurricane-type of prayer life. We can see answers, we can see power, we can see the type of prayer that makes things move when it seems impossible. Find God’s will through the Bible and through the Holy Spirit, and His power will flow through you in flood tides and miracles.
But fainting in the spiritual life also is evidence of fearfulness. Turn to Hebrews chapter 12. Remember how the writer of Hebrews challenges this sin of fearfulness. God hates it. Hebrews 12:3-4, "For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." Oh, how many Christians are fainting instead of fighting against sin! The average Christian man today faints rather than be the head of the home. He’ll faint rather than raise his kids. We want to spiritualize it; we want to talk about the Holy Spirit. We want to think that we have the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives, but we don’t if we can’t raise our kids up for God. We’re afraid we will lose our families, or we’re afraid we will lose our friends. We’re afraid they will think we’re weird at work. We’re afraid of holiness.
I believe about half of Christians today are afraid of holiness, allowing sin to reign in their mortal bodies. Jeremiah 48:10 reads, "…cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood." You say, "It’s talking about blood." Yes, they died for their faith, and we can’t even suffer shame. We can’t even be the head of our homes. We can’t even raise our little children for God. God hates those who are afraid to do right. There’s nothing sadder than a man or a woman who is afraid to trust God in their life—afraid to trust God in finances, or afraid to witness to that one whom God has impressed on their heart. You fail, and your Christian life is destroyed because of fearfulness.
Fainting not only suggests prayerlessness and fearfulness, but also a barrenness. In Galatians 6:9, the Apostle Paul says, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." If we faint in this area, we are going to lose the joy of the harvest. If we faint, we are going to be barren. If you want to be honest, ask yourself, "Is my life barren?" Is your life barren of souls? Ask yourself, "When was the last time a soul was really saved through my ministry?" What about your family? Is your family spiritual? Is your life in financial shambles? God revived me from a life of prayerlessness and faithlessness and barrenness. Now there’s no doubt a wife can hinder a husband. I’m so thankful for a wife who’s a help and not a hindrance. Now you guys who are married to a hindrance, don’t think my heart does not go out to you. It’s so hard. But I’ll say that we should have a stronger life, a better life. God wants to bless. God wants to give us souls saved. God wants to give us children raised up for Him. God wants to give us this success—if we’re not fainting.
Secondly, I want you to see that God is waiting to send revival until we have a practical faith in our lives. The Psalmist said, "…Thou wilt revive me." James reminds us that faith without works is dead. I remember that hitting me hard as a young man. Yes, we are saved through faith and faith alone, but "faith without works is dead." There’s no such thing as faith without works. It’s dead; it’s not real. A working faith is one that believes in the ability of God to do anything needed in our life to accomplish His will. Anything. This is personal revival. "…Thou shalt revive me." That is not pride. That is believing.
We see a divine working in people whose lives were given over to Him in the Bible. When Abraham reached the place in his life where he was willing to give everything to God, God said to him, "…because thou hast done this thing,…in blessing I will bless thee…" I’m talking about a practical faith in our personal life. "…in blessing I will bless thee…" Later we read about Jacob after he was broken by the heavenly wrestler. He cried out, "I’ll not let you go unless you bless me." That’s not pride. That’s seeing our need. Pride says, "I can do it." A spiritual person says, "I can do all things through Christ, because Christ is the One Who strengthens me." Remember the inspired prayer of Jabez, "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed…" And that ought to be our prayer, "Oh, God, that you would bless me. And not only bless me, but bless me indeed."
So often, God is the real issue. We pray for general revival. We pray for churchwide revival, and I’m not saying that’s wrong. Or, we may pray for nationwide revival, and I’m not saying that’s wrong. But it starts with me. We will never have churchwide revival, we’ll never have nationwide revival until we have personal revival. We have to revive our prayer life. We have to revitalize our Bible time and make it real. We have to revive our marriage. Do you really trust God in the rearing of your children? Do you really trust God in the handling of your money? We have to stop being hypocritical and stop being spooky and get back to the Bible. Without a practical faith in a real God you can’t expect anything from Him. Nothing.
God needs to perfect our lives. Look back again at our text. Psalm 138:8 reads, "The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands." That’s what Jesus was teaching in Matthew 5:48 when He said, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." You say, "That’s just spiritually speaking." No, He says, "Be…perfect," and He doesn’t stop at that. He says, "…even as your Father in heaven is perfect." Paul points out that the objective of his preaching was that he might present "…every man perfect in Christ Jesus." (Colossians 1:28) That is our problem. We are comparing ourselves to other people. In a nation such as ours that is filled with sin, it is easy to compare ourselves with other people and look pretty good. We can compare ourselves to almost anybody in the public eye and look pretty good. All we have to do is not be a whoremonger. All we have to do is not be filthy. But we’re not to compare ourselves to people around us; we are to compare ourselves to God. We think, "I’m doing pretty good. My family is doing pretty good. We can coast along." No, God will not send revival until we strive to be like Him.
Look at II Timothy 3:16-17, a well-known passage. I’m afraid that many of us feel that to memorize the Bible is to have the Bible, and that is not true. I would much rather have you not memorize the Bible than not apply it to your own life. We have all our kids memorizing the Bible, but that doesn’t give them the Bible. Sometimes, we just say a bunch of words. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
People will come to our church and say we’re too strong and go too far. I could never go as far as God does. We could never be stronger than the Bible. God wants you to be perfect. You say, "We can’t do that." You are absolutely right, we can’t. But He can. He’s all powerful. That’s what revival is all about. He created us. Do you think He created us perfect? Yes or no? God doesn’t create anything that is not perfect. He created us perfect, and He recreated us in salvation, didn’t He? Now when he recreated us in salvation, that was perfection also. For most of us, it didn’t last very long, did it? Because we are sinners saved by grace. But He can take the backsliding Christian and revitalize him and recreate him, just as He saved him. Just as He created him in the first place, He can take the backslider and with forgiveness of sin and reading the Bible—I’m not saying sinless—He can recreate you perfect. If you work at it, you can really be what God wants you to be. Do you have the faith to believe God for this? Then don’t just pray for churchwide revival. Don’t just pray for nationwide revival. Pray for revival in your own heart.
I’ve seen that when God revives somebody, it does not stop there. Their family gets revived, and then their extended family. Don’t let anybody tell you, Grandpa, that you don’t have any responsibility for your family. They will follow you to a great extent. I’ve seen grandpas backslide, and right along with them goes their family. But the opposite happens also. Somebody will come and say, "Preacher, I need what he has. I need it! I need revival."
Every time we have a testimony meeting, my office gets full of people saying, "I need it!" That’s revival. That’s personal revival that extends to the family, and then starts reaching out. If we have enough of that happen, that is churchwide revival; and that is where I’m trying to get our church. I know it can’t be done without God’s power. But some of you who have had revival in your life thought, "This is it! Now I’ve got it made." But you don’t. It is an every day thing, isn’t it? Don’t give up. You’ll not be sinless, but you can on a regular basis keep yourself in perfection if you keep coming to God. You say, "That means I can do whatever I want and keep on asking forgiveness." No, you’re a fool if you say that.
Lastly, revival comes to those who have the foresight to prepare for the battles that will surely come in their lives. Verse 7 again says, "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me…" Anyone who knows the Bible realizes that if we walk on this earth, we will face tribulation and opposition. Jesus promised such times of testing right through the end of our lives. That is why we work so hard, for instance, for the brand-new Christian. The devil is after us, and he is going to try and get us in our weakest state. If you are a new Christian, I beg of you, be baptized right away. Because if you don’t, you are rejecting the command of God. Then, join the church. In the book of Acts, they were saved, they were baptized, and they were added to the church in one day. That’s why we baptize every Sunday. You can be saved this morning, baptized, added to the church. Get it all taken care of. And then after that, attend regularly, open your Bible and pray, and ask God to teach you through it. Pray for your family, and be a witness. Get your family and your life in line with the Bible because if you don’t, the devil will get you.
What do you think is the percentage of babes in Christ who "make it"? It is very low because the devil gets them. I’m not saying they are not saved. I am saying that the devil gets them and destroys them before they have any strength at all—just as if you took a baby and threw him outside in cold weather, or into the forest with the wild animals. They need help. But people get saved and they think, "I’m saved now. Praise God, I’m on my way to heaven. I don’t have to listen." You’d better listen. You’d better come to church and listen in church, and do what the preacher says, do what the Bible says, do what God says. Do what’s right! For the devil will chew you up and spit you out.
For us older Christians, we should strive to live in a state of revival, knowing that the devil is after us. Jesus said in John 16:33, "…In the world ye shall have tribulation…" Not, you might have. "…In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Again, Psalm 138:7, "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me…" Not maybe, but will! As children of God, at times we are revived out of trouble. At times we are revived in trouble. At times we are revived through trouble. We don’t like that, but it takes trouble to get us to our knees.
When God’s three young men were put in the fiery furnace, Nebuchadnezzar, their persecutor, had to say in Daniel 3:25, "Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." God never promises to end our problems. Don’t ever be afraid when problems come your way. Don’t be ashamed if problems come your way. I have problems all the time; but I’m the leader of the church, and I don’t think leaders should load their problems on the congregation as a normal thing. Everybody has problems. The devil wants to get all of us. Only be ashamed if you don’t have the spiritual strength to be victorious.
Victory in the middle of tribulation is what genuine Christianity is all about. And yet, I’m afraid most Christians fight it. They run from it. They sleep through church. They yawn through church, and they never have the strength, they never have the ability, to face it. The Christian right with God is always attacked by Satan. Did you know that? I believe with all my heart through the teaching of the Bible and through experience and watching people, God will bless you financially. God wants to bless us emotionally. God wants to bless us in our ministry. God wants to bless our families. But listen, you’ll always be attacked by Satan. You say, "That’s a contradiction."
I can say God has blessed me. God has blessed me in my family. God has blessed me financially. God has blessed my ministry. I’m in awe more than anybody in this church. In my house I have a window where I study through which I can see the college dorms, a piece of this auditorium, and even a piece of Chester’s bus barn. Sometimes I look out and I’m in awe because I know more than anybody, God did it. God took over, and God did it. I’m even more in awe at how God blessed my family, and I’m almost ashamed the way God has blessed me financially. God blesses, but listen to me—the devil attacks me. I don’t know how he will attack you. At times he’ll attack through your family. He has with me. He will at times attack through finances. At times he will attack through your ministry. He attacks, and he attacks, and he attacks. Only when you trust Him will you be able to have victory in Jesus. You must trust Him.
You can’t have victory without a battle. I’ve always enjoyed a good fight, that is, if I win it. I don’t believe there is a man who would not say that. You have a legitimate fight, and you win it. That is fun, but most people run. They never have the victory. They are defeated. The devil is throwing things at their backs as they are running down the road instead of their standing in victory. The Christian right with God is always attacked by Satan; but with faith in God, he can always come out the victor. If you are being defeated, you need revival.
There will always be opposition from the world if we are right with God. Why did Cain kill Abel? Because Abel was right with God, and Cain was not. It’s been the same ever since. The world killed Jesus. Since that first century, the world has slaughtered Christians. Why? Because the Christians were trying to overcome the kingdom and take over Rome? No, because they were doing right! They slaughtered them by the millions. They set them up on poles and lit fires under them—burned them at the stake. They threw them to lions. Why? Because they were nasty people? No! Don’t think things will be any different today. I’m not being contradictory here.
As I look at this country, I think it is gone. Our forefathers, the Puritans, were persecuted. They went over to the Netherlands and they were persecuted. So they came to the United States, and they formed a Christian society. Not a Muslim society, not a Buddhist society, not an Indian society. Like it or not, it was a Christian society, and God blessed our country. That’s why we have the great country we have. But it’s over. Sad to say, we lost it on our watch. Mark my words, the persecution has just started because the devil’s children have always persecuted God’s children. The special protection that we have had in this country for over 200 years is gone.
In Matthew 5:11-12, the Savior taught in His sermon on the mount, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." He is saying that they persecuted Abel. They persecuted Moses. They persecuted Jeremiah. They persecuted every single one of God’s men. We revere Jonathan Edwards and these church fathers, even though we don’t agree with some. As in Luther’s case, some had to run for their lives. They were all persecuted, and the majority of them were killed.
In 1974 when I sat in jail because I was standing against Hillary Rodham’s "child advocacy law" (it wasn’t a law yet, that’s why we won the case) that said a parent didn’t have the right to send his kids to Sunday School and didn’t have a right to mention God unless the children approved of it, I was shocked. I never thought you would go to jail for standing up for these things. But I have to say, that night in jail a little past midnight, after the people had sung and gone home, I sat down and started reading the Bible. I just happened to read this, and I jumped for joy. "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice..." Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Rejoice! I have to say, I rejoiced for the privilege of being persecuted for the cause of Christ.
We can be victors. We were victors in that, weren’t we? Everybody was against us. But God said, "Now let me show you," and He built the biggest church around here. The judge who attacked us said he was going to "bleed us to death." I don’t see it. Do you understand what I’m trying to say? When you get persecuted, when you get hit, whether it is in your personal life or your financial life, whatever it is, don’t sit and feel sorry for yourself. God will give you the victory. Just so you are right. Be right, and you can praise God. "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
That’s what David wrote in our text, "...thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me." There was a day in the life of David when he waxed faint, and one of the giant’s sons would have killed him. But Abishai came and smote the Philistine and saved David. My message to you is, "Are you waxing faint tonight? Are you weak? Is the battle getting too strong? Does it seem too hot or too grueling?" Many a time we bring it on ourselves. But whether we bring it on ourselves or not, pray to the heavenly Soldier, the heavenly Abishai, the Holy Spirit. Pray to the Holy Spirit to come and defeat your enemy. You can’t defeat him alone, but He will defeat him. The truly revived Christian can say with confidence, "I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loved me."
What kind of Christian will see revival in his life? First, the one who is willing to confess his spiritual failure in his life. You have to presuppose weakness—weakness in your prayer life, weakness in your family life—whatever it might be. Secondly, the one who is ready to practice practical faith. What is practical? Prayer, Bible reading, attending church, soulwinning, giving, raising your family. "…faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Christians who have the faith to read the Bible and believe it will see revival. Lastly, the kind of Christian who will see revival is the one who will not run from tribulation. They face it and are revived in it, and by it, without running from it.