Awaken Part 1 – National Awakening
RockChurch Sermon Transcript: July 5th, 2015
Good Morning! Welcome to RockChurch – We are so grateful you are here worshiping with us today. And I personally am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to share with you this morning on the subject Awaken. Everybody say “Wake Up!” Like Chuck said, we as a nation are in desperate need of another Great Spiritual Awakening (Historians differ a bit on this, but in our history we have had 3-5 Awakenings in our country, and in 2015, we can wholeheartedly agree that we need another one.) Amen? Chuck also mentioned we need awakening as individuals as well. As a matter of fact, the truth is that a Great National Awakening must be preceded by many smaller individual awakenings.
So, throughout the next four weeks we will be looking at this topic Awaken, from several different perspectives. And with this being the Fourth of July weekend, where we celebrate the birth of our beloved country, It makes sense to start the series off talking about National Awakening.
But before I do that. Let’s pray and invite the only one who can wake us up, to breathe on this message.
Now, the term awakening means an act or moment of becoming suddenly aware of something. An act or moment of becoming suddenly aware of something. When somebody doesn’t have a clue about something they are doing wrong we sometimes say, that person better wake up and smell the coffee.
Or, we’ll say – if that person doesn’t change course, if they don’t stop doing what they are doing, then they are in for a rude awakening. That moment of becoming suddenly aware of something is not going to be a pleasant experience. Amen?
Anybody ever have a rude awakening before? I remember as a 17 year old young man being loaded onto one of many cattle trucks that took me and several hundred other young guys to Basic Training. When the cattle trucks pulled into our training area there were Drill Sergeants everywhere, and the minute the vehicles stopped and the doors opened those Drill Sergeants lost their minds. They were barking orders so fast there was no way we could comply, which led them to lose their minds even more. They had us doing push ups until we couldn’t do them anymore. Then when we couldn’t do them anymore, they would have us roll over onto our backs and start doing flutter kicks, until we couldn’t do anymore. I was amazed at the ability these Drill Sergeants had to inflict torture upon us. I mean, these guys were experts at bringing pain. And as a young 17 year old, I quickly woke up – I had an awakening – I become suddenly aware that maybe this whole “joining the Army” thing wasn’t as cool as I thought it would be. It was a rude awakening.
So, if awakening means the act or moment of becoming suddenly aware of something. Then a National Spiritual Awakening – by definition would mean “The act or moment when a nation as a whole becomes suddenly aware that they as a people have offended God and based on that awareness they turn from their offenses and turn to God, asking for his forgiveness, mercy, and favor” Our first Scripture this morning describes what this looks like. In 1st Thessalonians 1:9 the Apostle Paul is describing the awakening of the Thessalonians. He says “for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,…”
The Thessalonians as a people became suddenly aware, through Paul preaching the Word of God to them, that their gross idolatry offended God, and then they turned from the idols to serve the living and true God.
Now, bring this to current day. America in 2015. It is easy to see that America is and has been in decline for some time now. If you look at the statistics on things like crime, education, abortion, divorce, people behind bars, drug and alcohol use, etc… it’s clear to see we are a nation in decline. We are actually in a period now of moral free fall that I think may be unparalleled in our history. This moral free fall is leading many to say it’s over for us as a great nation. One thing is clear and it’s this. We can, with some confidence forecast that if (and that’s a big if) if we continue on the path we are on now there can only be two possible results. The first result – we will continue to decline and become less and less of a first rate nation. That’s bad, but the second result is worse, and that’s that we can fall suddenly.
But this message is not one of doom and gloom. There are actually a lot of positive things going on, maybe just under the surface in our country. There are some signs of awakening happening. We are seeing that church’s that have refused to compromise on the Word of God are continuing to thrive. There has been a great amount of pressure on churches to compromise on the inerrancy of Scripture. It has become a line in the sand. Some have, in order to be more culturally relevant, fallen away from the Word. But it’s encouraging to see that many have stood and continue to stand their ground, and they continue to be salt, light, and a voice in the world. These churches have the potential to be the catalyst for another Great Awakening.
So this message is one of hope and optimism. Cautious optimism, because although things may look bleak, There is reason to believe that if the Church in America will focus on God and his Word and pleasing him, and not use all our energy standing in self-righteous judgment against those who are outside the church. If we focus on letting God change us – we can see a turn around and an awakening, the likes of which we have never seen before.
Now, I’d like to use the remainder of my time to share what I believe are our next steps, for us as RockChurch, to help be a part of the ushering in of a 6th Great Awakening. You see, these are exciting times to be part of the Body of Christ. This is no time for us to hang our heads. It’s a time to fight spiritually. 2nd Corinthians 10:4 states that “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” It’s a time to fight, but our battle posture is on our knees. Amen?
Now, let’s get to the meat of this message. Turn if you would to the book of Daniel. The book of Daniel, chapter 9. What we are about to read together is known as the interrupted prayer. Daniel is praying so fervently, so earnestly, so sincerely, he’s so broken for his country and so sorry for their offense against God, that his prayer touches heaven, and God sends the Arch Angel Gabriel. He shows up and actually interrupts his prayer. Let’s look at this, because I believe it is a model. Daniel, in this capacity is a type, a foreshadow of the Church – of us. So in his prayer we can find principles that if we apply to our lives, they can be a catalyst, for both individual awakening as well as fuel for a national awakening. How cool that we can partner with God to see heaven change earth. Amen? Let’s read.
In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:
“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.
7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.
“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.
15 “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.
17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill— 21 while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice.
Powerful stuff. Now, I encourage you to go back over this passage during your devotional time with God. Take out a pen and paper and begin to right down the things God speaks to you through it and how you can apply it to your life.
But in the time we have, I would like to lift out three main principles revealed here that if the Body of Christ as a whole will apply – we would begin to see the winds of revival blow.
Principle 1 – The Awakening will start with the Church. It always has, it always will. Daniel is a type of the church. Notice it’s not King Darius that is praying. It’s not non-believers from foreign nations that are praying. It’s not people who are outside of the covenant of God. Daniel is the catalyst and any awakening that will start in America will start from within the Church of Jesus Christ. This is because when we accepted what Christ did for us on the Cross, one of the things we were given was access to the throne of God. Everybody say access! Hebrews 4:16 says “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Awakening starts with us because we are privileged with access.
Principle 2 – Humility, fasting, and prayer are powerful weapons that God has given us. Notice Daniel has zero self-righteousness as he cries out to God for his nation. Even though he was one of the most righteous people who ever lived, he never exalted himself above others. Notice his wording. “As I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people…” He included himself as one of the offenders, not as somebody self-righteously pointing his fingers at the offenders. That has to be our posture. Amen. And it says he did so with fasting and prayer. Fasting and prayer are a powerful combination. Men and women of God have utilized it throughout history with powerful results, and our Lord Jesus constantly modeled this for us in his earthly ministry. Just a side note, if you are going to fast from food, make sure you use wisdom. Do some studying on it, consult your physician to be safe, and if you have a health condition definitely consult with your doctor. Those who cannot fast from food can always enter into the spirit of the fast without putting themselves in danger. For example, you can fast from social media for a time, or from junk food. Things like that where you deny yourself something you may want so you can more exclusively focus on God. That’s the essence of fasting.
And the last principle – Principle 3 – Base your prayer for awakening solely on God’s goodness, God’s mercy, and God’s grace. Hear Daniel’s words again “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay,” If we ask him to act based on something we’ve done or something we have to offer we will be lacking, but if we ask him based on his amazing character – then we are asking El Shadday – The God of more than enough. And he has more than enough Love, Grace, and Mercy to turn things around. Amen?
There you have it – 3 Awakening principles
1. All Awakenings start with Jesus’ Church
2. Humility, Fasting, and Prayer are powerful weapons God has given us to help facilitate awakening
3. Prayers for awakening should be based solely on God’s goodness, God’s mercy, God’s grace
Now as I close, I want to read to you a message about awakening from the President of the United States of America.
It’s actually a proclamation, a directive written to you and me. And as you may have guessed, it’s not from our current president or any modern president for that matter. But this proclamation is from our 16th, president, Abraham Lincoln. And although it was penned 152 years ago it is just as relevant on this 4th of July weekend of 2015, as it was then.
March 30th, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.
And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
God, we agree with the words penned here by Abraham Lincoln. Let us go from this place today humbled under your mighty hand. Let us seek your face like never before. Let us pray, fast, and turn from our own sins. We pray for our nation. We pray for America. That you would send an awakening, from the least to the greatest and that you would again alter our course and that we would be a nation that causes a smile to come to your face. It’s in the mighty Name of Your Son Jesus that we pray. Amen!