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April 1, 2020

Pray: Relent of Anger and Revive Us Again

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

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. Selah
You withdrew all your wrath;
    you turned from your hot anger.

Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
   and put away your indignation toward 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?
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
    and grant us your salvation.
             - Psalm 85:1-7 (ESV)

Does your understanding of God allow for Him to be angry at you or other Christians from time to time? Just because God is incredibly gracious, and the blood of Jesus covers the sins of Christians does not mean He does not get angry sometimes. Take a look at Jesus’ life when he got mad at the businessmen in the temple and overturned their tables (Matthew 21:12, 13), condemned whole cities (Luke 10:10-16), and threatened judgment on Christian communities in entire cities (Revelation chapters 2 and 3). Both before the cross and after the cross, Jesus demonstrated his anger in certain circumstances. Revulsion at sin is part of God’s character, which is seen in the life of Jesus, but also by God in the Psalms as well.

 

Psalm 85 is a well regarded passage on the subject of revival, as verse 6 demonstrates: “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?”


When Christian Union speaks of revival, it means widespread, ongoing outpourings of the Holy Spirit, bringing joy, holiness and devotion to Christians, large numbers of conversions among non-Christians to Christianity, and usually positive social change as well. It’s worth noticing in this Psalm what precedes revival, and therefore what needs to be addressed before a revival. Verse 2 speaks of the “iniquity” and “sin” of the people; verse 3 speaks of God’s “wrath” and his “hot anger;” verse 4 speaks of God’s “indignation,” and verse 5 speaks of God’s “anger” twice!

What prevents revival is the iniquity of God’s people which has Him in a state of anger against them. Unless God’s anger is addressed, it’s not reasonable to expect for Him to visit a community or a nation with the approval of His presence. Sometimes God is merciful and will do extraordinary things even when there’s little repentance, but most of the time He holds back, wanting His people to address the matters that have Him stand afar off.



In times of calamity, as in the current worldwide pandemic of the coronavirus, the Christian’s response is to humble oneself and to examine oneself to see if there’s anything displeasing to God (1 Corinthians 11:30-32). No church at any given time is ever perfect, but there are times when a collection of Christians have wandered sufficiently afield to draw God’s anger. Of the seven churches in the book of Revelation, five are told to repent by Jesus while two (Smyrna and Philadelphia) are commended without any command to repent. Where does the church of America stand? 

In my view, the American church is in the category of the five churches Jesus rebuked, that is, in need of repentance. The major sins of the United States in my view are:

  1. Self-indulgence - we entertain ourselves endlessly and fail to seek God through prayer, repentance and Bible reading day and night;
  2. Greed - we are the richest country in the history of the world and the vast majority of Christians don’t give at least ten percent of their income away;
  3. Lust and sexual immorality - we have rejected God’s vision of sexuality which is sinful in and of itself but has also led to the holocaust of abortion;
  4. No fear of God - we live our lives as if there’s no consequence to our actions good or bad, and are full of pride of human achievement;
  5. Taking of offense, including unforgiveness - many are in bondage because they’ve taken offense and have not extended forgiveness to others;
  6. Violation of the first commandment. We increasingly are letting into our culture—even Christian culture—the worship of other gods which includes all sorts of spiritualist and Eastern religious practices such as yoga.


The good news is that as we repent for ourselves individually, and for America as a nation, God hears and God responds. I encourage you to review the list of sins above and to repent of all that apply, and to also repent on behalf of our nation (Nehemiah 1:6). As we return to the Lord with our whole hearts, we can expect a divine visitation! We can expect, blessing, hope, joy and life as our heavenly Father has intended for us. May God grant us mercy as we walk in faithfulness and obedience to Him.

Yours in Christ,

Matt Bennett
Founder and CEO, Christian Union

 
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