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A Psalm of the Sons of Korah

Sermon Series:

Honest to Goodness

Main Passage:
Psalm 85


All right, well, good morning, Peace Church. Pastor Darrell said many of you may remember Ethan Ezekiel, and I thought many is not the right number. There's too many people in this room. So it's nice to meet you. My name is Ethan, and like Pastor Darrell said, my family and I were here at Peace Church

from 2013 to 2019. We feel like we became grownups here. This feels like coming home to family, but it's also like coming to that family reunion where you see your nephew or your cousin that you think should be this high and now they're like this tall. And you're like joyful but also a little bit like sad at the same time. And that's where my heart is this morning. I'm joyful to see what God's doing here at Peace Church.

In 2021, my family and I, along with another family from Peace Church, Kyle and Ashley Rodriguez planted Union Church. Kyle was a pastoral intern here on staff, and now we pastor Union Church together. We pray for you often. We're praying for you this morning as a church. If you think of it, you can pray for us

because in about 10 minutes, our church is gonna be meeting, and the school where we meet doesn't have power. So right now, Union Church is having church in somebody's yard, and you can pray. You can pray for that.

I'm sad to be away from them today, but grateful to be with you. This summer, my family and I spent about a week on Lake Michigan, and one day as we were driving along the coast of Lake Michigan through this tiny town, I saw a building that had been renovated, and I'm sure like many of you, I have a little bit of Joanna Gaines inside of me, so I thought, this is cool, and I pointed it out to my mom, who appreciates the same things, and she looked at it and she said, it is cool, but it's also kind of sad.

And the reason that she said it was sad, because it was an old church building that had been turned into a brewery. And yeah, to add insult to injury, the name of the brewery was Beer Church. And so it's a place that was once a spot for people

to come and worship Jesus, and now it's a spot where people gather to enjoy Jesus' good gifts. And I'm not trying to make you upset about a brewery being in a church because the building, a church is not a building, a church is its people. But it is kind of a clear picture of what's been happening in the Western Church over the last decade or so, more. Over the last 25 years, 40 million people have left the church in America. The Pew Research Center projects that by 2070, which is not as far off as it feels like it should

be, that less than half of Americans will call themselves Christians at all. And you don't even need me to tell you those statistics, do you? Because you know the people who are leaving the church. They are your childhood friends, and they're your family members, and they're your college roommates and they're your co-workers. You know the people who are leaving the church. The church is emptying.

The church in America is in spiritual decline. And on top of that, we look out at the culture around us and we just see the fragmentation of our culture. We see social and economic inequality. We see the biblical sexual ethic being abandoned over and over and over again. And in so many ways we see our culture falling apart. And it's easy to look at the shrinking of the church and the

fragmentation of our culture and to feel embattled and anxious as a Christian. And so the question I want to consider today is how do you talk to God when you are surrounded by spiritual decay? This summer, Peace Church has been moving through the Psalms. You've been asking, how do the Psalms teach us to be authentic in our faith, to have honest to goodness faith in Jesus? And so the question is, how do you live out authentic faith in the midst of a culture that rejects God. When the world around you seems spiritually

empty, hey, when the church seems spiritually empty, when your life seems spiritually empty, how do you live out authentic faith? Psalm 85 is for this moment. The Psalm is for the people of God to pray when there is spiritual emptiness in the world and in the church and in our own hearts. And I'd love for you to grab a Bible and turn there, get your eyes on that text. I don't know what page number it's on in the Pew Bible, but if you just split it down the middle, you'll find the psalms and then you'll want to turn to Psalm 85.

And as you turn there, I just want to tell you kind of what direction we're going in. We're going to see that the right response to spiritual decline is to ask the Lord for revival. I think this is what the psalm teaches us.

God has brought revival in the past, so we can ask for it now and watch for it now with confidence that revival is in our future. And if you're a note taker, that's the outline and we've put numbers on it just to make your brain happy.

God has brought revival in the past so we can ask for it now with confidence and watch for it now with confidence that revival is in our future, four parts. So let's look at the book. You ready to look at the book together, Peace Church?

Help me feel at home. When we read the Bible at Union Church, the person who reads ends by saying, this is the word of the Lord. And then we all reply by saying, thanks be to God. We say that because we believe it's God's word. We want to train our hearts and our minds to be thankful for that. Okay, so I'm going to read and say that and then you'll respond. Thanks be to God. Psalm 85. Lord, you were favorable to your land, you restored the fortunes of Jacob you forgave the iniquity of your people you covered all their sin you withdrew all your wrath you turn from your hot anger restore us again oh God of our salvation put away your indignation towards us will you be angry with us forever will you prolong your anger to all generations will you not revive us again

Will you prolong your anger to all generations? Will you not revive us again that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. Let me hear what the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints, but let them not turn back to folly. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him that glory may dwell in our land

Steadfast love and faithfulness meet righteousness and peace Kiss each other Faithfulness springs up from the ground and righteousness looks down from the sky Yes, the Lord will give what is good and our land will yield its increase increase, righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps away.

This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. Would you pray with me one more time? God our Father, we are here for you. We need you. A good sermon without you is not worth having.

A nice worship service without your presence is not worth having. So we pray that you'd meet us. I pray, Lord, that you'd help me to decrease so that you might increase. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. So we look at the psalm and we say the first thing that the psalm teaches us is that when

we are surrounded by spiritual decline, we have to come to God, remembering that He has brought revival in the past. This is what the psalmist does. So look down at the psalm with me. Look at verses 1 to 3. Lord, you were favorable to your land.

You restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people. You covered all their sin. You withdrew all your wrath. You turned from your hot anger. Do you hear all the past tense verbs there? We don't know exactly the circumstances that led to the writing of this psalm, but one thing we do know is the history of God's people throughout the Old Testament. We know that over and over and over again, God's people needed rescue, because they had turned away from God and

they were bearing the bitter fruit of their sin. And what's clear, every time God's people ask for rescue, is that they look back on God's promises and God's faithfulness to act mightily. They look back on the promises God made to Abraham to be his God and to make of him a people and situate them in the land. They look back on God delivering His people

out of Egypt, out of slavery, leading them through the wilderness to the promised land. They look back on the might of what God has done. And when the sons of Korah, this group of Jewish worship leaders in the temple

who wrote this song, when they wrote this song, they had many mighty acts of God to look back on. And friends, do you know that every single one of those mighty acts in the past was only a shadow?

It was only a foretaste of the great act of restoration that was to come. Every promise of God, every mighty act of deliverance and restoration will found its fulfillment in the coming of Jesus Christ. The Psalm says that God restored the fortunes of Jacob.

And in the fullness of time, Jesus Christ came and died for us while we were still weak and dead in our trespasses with nothing to offer him, we were bankrupt. And he restored our fortunes. The psalm says that God forgave the iniquity of His people. He covered their sin in Jesus Christ.

Since He took the punishment for our sin on the cross, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses. Psalm 85 speaks of a God who withdrew His wrath and turned from his anger. And this is an anger that's justly given because we, every one of us, have sinned against the God of the universe and our sin demands the wrath from a just God. But since Jesus Christ

shed His blood for His people, we are washed. We are covered. We are saved from the wrath of God. And so, friends, Psalm 85 is for you. Have you ever had that moment of realizing that the life you have been living, that you thought would be so fulfilling and so cool, has led you to disappointment and emptiness? That the path you've been walking down that you thought would lead to your joy has really become flimsy and joyless.

The ways that you thought you were killing it for Jesus, you now recognize are tainted by your sin, and they're ugly. In those moments, when we see our sin, it is so easy for us to flip the gospel upside down and

Believe that we are accepted by God because we live for God and Then we despair Because we haven't lived for him. And so how could God accept us? But the gospel is not I live for Jesus therefore he accepts me."

The Gospel is Jesus paid for my sin and accepts me, and therefore, I will live for Him. And that's where Psalm 85 takes us. It begins with recovering the good news that God in His mercy

has acted to be merciful to His people to cover our sin. And the strength of our pleading to God for revival. Hear me, when you call out to God for help, the strength of your plea is not the strength of your faith.

Praise God, because we are all weak. The strength of your plea is the faithfulness and mighty deeds of the God of the universe who will be faithful to His people. He has brought revival in the past, and that is our foundation for asking for revival now. And that's what the psalmist does in verses 4 through 6. Look at the book again with me.

Restore us again, O God of our salvation. Put away your indignation towards us. Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? Will you not revive us again that your people may rejoice in you? Now, when we read those verses, we have to understand what the psalmist is asking for from the Lord.

This is where we see the word revive in verse 6. It says, will you not revive us again? The message is littered with the word revival, and that word is kind of a buzzword in the American church today, which means that many of us could use that word and mean different things when we say it. So we have to guard from misunderstanding one another. Some people talk about revival and what they mean is an extraordinary outpouring

of the signs and wonders of the Holy Spirit. Other people talk about revival and what they mean is an intense season of gathering together, of worship and teaching and preaching. We're going to have a revival this week. Other people talk about revival, but when you listen to them, it becomes clear what they really are looking for is to go back to a time when secular culture was more comfortable for Christians to exist in. But none of those are the kind of revival is looking for and asking for.

Look at verse 6 again. One more time. Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? So what is the psalmist asking for? He's not asking for an outpouring of miracles. He's not asking for an intense worship service.

He's not asking to return to Christendom, he's asking for more of God. He wants his people to recover the gospel and that's what revival really is. At its core, revival is a season in the life of God's people when the whole community of believers experience a renewal in their joy in the gospel and and in God. And just like the psalm writer, we need to look out at the ways our culture is falling apart, and to look out at the ways the church falls short,

and to look in our own hearts and see our own emptiness, and then pray for more of God. The prayer is not, Lord, give us an experience. It's Lord, stir us up with new affection for you. The prayer is not, take us back to how it used to be. It's Jesus, give us a fresh awareness of your presence. One pastor encouraged his congregation in a way that marked me.

I'm going to read what he said to his church. He said, there is a way to fail as a church by succeeding at what doesn't matter. There's a way to fail as a church by succeeding at what does not matter. Where the place is full of people, but it's empty of God's presence. And we're content with shallow religion instead of being hungry for more and more and more of our beautiful God. So the prayer is and has been, Lord, we want you here. And that is what we are asking for

when we ask for revival. God, open our eyes once again to your beauty and power and majesty to see our sin and our great need for forgiveness and for us to rest anew in the cross and in the empty tomb of Jesus Christ for us. And revival, friends, is knowing that getting God

is better than our circumstances changing. So we pray to him, God, if our suffering continues, if our country goes to hell in a handbasket, but we have your presence, it is worth it, because your dwelling place is lovely, and a day with you in your courts

is better than a thousand anywhere else. And so we ask boldly for revival now. And then the psalmist frees us because it tells us that we are not the ones to make revival happen. Verse 6 is the core of the psalm. We've read it once but read it again. You will, will you not revive us again? Will you not revive us again? We ask for revival and we trust God for the outcome. The pressure is not on us to make it happen. But the psalmist also doesn't release us to be thoughtless and passive as followers of Jesus.

You know, the psalm is calling us to ask God for revival, to trust Him for the outcome, and then to wait, and to wait with a posture of eager anticipation. And I see this in verses 8 and 9. Look at those verses with me. Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,

for He will speak peace to His people, to His saints, but let them not turn back to folly. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land." So these two verses show us that as the psalmist waits for revival, he is going to wait with an intense anticipation of seeing God work. He is listening to God's Word. He says, let me hear what the Lord God will speak. He is eager to guard against the sin and the apathy that got him here in the first place. He says, let the

saints not turn back to folly. And he's calling himself and he's calling others to the fear of the Lord when he says, surely salvation is near to those who fear him. And so let me ask you this, church. Think about your life with God. Think about the posture of your heart toward following Jesus. Are you saying by your actions and by your Let me hear. I am ready to hear from the Lord.

Or are you saying with your attitudes and actions, meh, this life isn't great, but it's all I've got, and while I'm here, I might as well plug some religion into it. Are we eager for God?

Are we eager to meet with him to hear from him or are we backsliding into our folly even as we come to church? So what do the rhythms of your life and the postures of your heart say is The risen Jesus ornamental to your life Or is he essential? Is he one branch of your busy tree?

Or is he the roots and the wood and the bark and the branches and the leaves? When we are not eager for the Lord our Christianity will droop back into folly There's a pastor named Ray Ortland who is the pastor I want to be when I grow up. And he said, when we live with that kind of flabby Christianity, this is what he said, we take our teaspoon and we dip it into the vast ocean of the living Christ.

And we hold that teaspoon in our hand and say, this is Jesus. And then we pour that teaspoon into our lives. And we say, that is Christianity. And that whole mentality is wickedness because we were made to marinate our lives in the vast ocean that is the risen Jesus.

And that means that when we ask Him to bring us back to Him, that means we structure our whole lives with a posture of waiting to see Him work. We make watching for Him the joyful default mode of our hearts. And the great news is that when we ask God for revival, when we trust Him for the outcomes, and when we wait with a posture of watchfulness, we can have a confidence that the rest of the world cannot understand. This is what sets God's people apart from the rest of the world.

Can I tell you one thing that I think is ruining the witness of God's church in America. We are so preoccupied with whose agenda is advancing, and which tribe is sitting in the seats of power in our culture, and it is as if we've forgotten that Jesus told us how the story's going to end. God wins. Amen? The New Testament is clear.

Believers in Christ, stand firm in the truth, seek the good of the world around you. And you know what else? Expect suffering in the short term. Expect to be marginalized in the short term. Expect to pick up your cross and die with Jesus in the short term.

But do you know what comes with that expectation, that promise from the New Testament? When you pick up your cross and carry it following Christ to Calvary, that means resurrection is on the horizon for you. But I have sat in rooms and I have scrolled through feeds where Christians correctly diagnose the sin of the world. But they do it with such alarmism and fear, with such worry about the where the tides of the culture will go. And so we look at the world around us and we begin to look at it like it's an enemy

to be crushed and conquered instead of a mission field to be reached. It perverts the posture of our hearts as Christians. And do you know what happens when we operate with that kind of anxiety toward the world? It means that we cannot make gospel-shaped Christian judgments. It impairs our ability to make wise considerations. And when we are impaired in that way,

we are prone to align ourselves with bad actors who promise to win the culture for us, even if they flaunt their own brand of folly and godlessness. Godlessness and all the while Jesus is calling his people to get low Isaiah

5715 I won't be able to quote it exactly but it says something like thus says the one who is high and holy I dwell in the high and holy places and With the humble and lowly, you know where God doesn't dwell in the mushy middle and in the mushy middle. And too many of us exist in the mushy middle. And we cannot get to the high and holy places this side of eternity. You know where we can get? We can get low.

We can get humble. We can embrace weakness. We can be courageous as they kill us. That kind of confidence is what sets God's people apart from a world that has rejected God. I said at the beginning, it is easy for Christians to feel embattled and anxious when we look out at the world around us. It is.

But that feeling of anxiety and embattlement cannot be the posture of our hearts when we ask God for revival. Come back to this psalm one more time. This is the basis for everything I've just said in the last couple of minutes, verses 10 through 13. Steadfast love and faithfulness meet.

Righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground. Righteousness looks down from the sky. Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before Him

and make His footsteps away. Do you hear how the tone of the psalm changes from asking and pleading to assurance? God will do these things. How does the psalmist have that kind of assurance? How do we have that kind of assurance that God will answer our prayer and we ask Him for revival?

I was reading a devotional about Psalm 85 this week and this couple of sentences was too good to leave out. It says, God has proven that He will not let such a prayer go unanswered. How did he prove it? By showing in the fullness of time exactly how righteousness and peace would kiss each other He sent Jesus Christ his only son to satisfy the righteous requirements of the law and in so doing Provide true and lasting peace for any who humbles himself enough to receive it. Jesus has wiped away any reason for God to withhold His renewing grace from you. Oh, weary heart. Oh, person who does

not feel like they have enough strength to lift up their eyes to the heavens. Jesus has wiped away any reason for God to withhold His renewing grace from you. And friends, the cross and the resurrection are a foretaste for us. They are a stamp that says this promise is sealed and I will make it happen. They are the foretaste of our sure and steady hope as believers that no matter how dark, how deadly our days become, we can be confident that revival is in our future. And why can we be confident? Because the God who died on the cross for our sins, the God who rose again from the

grave for our resurrection, stands in Revelation 21 and He says, Behold, I am making all things new. There will be a day when I dwell with my people and they dwell with me as my people and I as their God, we will be in perfect relationship. I am making all things new. He will revive.

He will restore. He will make all things new. And we need not fear. We can only hope with confidence. That is the great hope of the Christian church. That we can remember the good news of the gospel, ask boldly for God to revive the world

around us, wait with watchfulness, and then have confidence that it will happen either today or in the next life. It will happen. We will be with Him forever. Everything in this life will be but light and momentary in comparison to that eternal weight of glory. And so as we kind of land the plane, the most urgent application that I could give you is to call you to prayer, brothers and sisters. Tim Keller is a pastor who's studied revival.

He says that the united, persistent, kingdom-centered, extraordinary prayer is what the Holy Spirit uses to kindle every revival. It's true. We see it throughout the Scriptures. You look at the book of Acts and all the amazing things that happen throughout the book of Acts and before every single one, the church is gathering in prayer. We see it throughout history

united persistent unseen hidden movements of prayer as The precursors to great awakenings and revivals in the throughout the history of the church and so brothers and sisters Will you take the example of Psalm 85 to heart Psalm 85 is is a prayer it's written for us to pray. We pray it. Pray for revival like we see the psalmist pray. Pray remembering the gospel. Pray and ask for revival now. Pray and ask Him to shape your heart with a posture of watchfulness. Pray with a non-anxious

confidence that revival is coming. And pray on your own. Pray for it as you sit around your tables. Pray for it when you gather with your small groups. Be united and persistent in prayer for God to renew the world by bringing revival to His church. Pray for your church. Listen, amazing things have happened at Peace Church since I've been left. Maybe that was the key. But don't fall into the trap of believing that this is it, that you've reached the goal. This is nothing in comparison to the life transformation that can happen in the gospel by the power of the Spirit in your midst,

county and beyond if God wants to do it. So pray for more. And one way that we can pray together people of God is through singing together. When I was on staff at Peace Church, we had another season of praying for revival, and during that time I wrote a song that the church sang fairly often, and I'm sure none of you remember it. But when Pastor Ryan gave me this text, he said, you will sing this song at the end. So I'd like to teach it to you, not so that we can experience a song together, but so that we can have our voices united in prayer. And the chorus goes like

Revive us Lord, breathe your life into these dry bones Revive us Lord, breaking through only you can Only You can revive us. Let's try singing that together. Revive us, Lord. Breathe Your life into these dry bones.

Revive us, Lord. Breaking through, only You can revive us, Lord. Let's stand united in prayer together. night mom to say

the For you do what there's none that looks for You come down like very stones roll Fear has heard, no eye has seen, no heart perceived, a brother God like you. So we sing and ask more. Please drive home, revive us Lord. Make me prove only You can revive us.

For you, O Lord, are the Father, You are the clay, You are the potter. So turning not Your face away, Arouse the works that You have made. We sing, revive us Lord, bring your light into these dry bones. We ask for the sake of His renown. Father, set your spirit down, Make yourself a glorious day, For the sake of your renown

Father send your spirit down Make yourself a glorious name And awake, awakens Oh, wake, wake us Revive us, Lord Lead your life into these dry boards

Revive us Lord, breaking through only You can Revive us Lord, revive us Lord Amen.

Transcribed with Cockatoo

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