Awakening: Hindrances to Revival

Sermon by David Strain on October 11

Revelation 2:1-29

Well if you would take your Bibles in hand and turn with me to Revelation chapter 2, or you can find the chapter printed in the bulletin. Last week we began our new teaching theme thinking about revival, and we started last time thinking about what true revival is and is not. And we defined revival as the gift of the ascended Christ, through the Holy Spirit, blessing the ordinary means of grace with extraordinary effectiveness and power so that the Church is renewed and many people are converted. That is revival. It’s not something we can generate or manipulate or program or work up. It is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit, the wind of God who blows where He wills.

But of course having said that, we need to recognize that in revival, as with many of the blessings of God, there are two elements that must always be held together. So far, we have emphasized the sovereign prerogatives of the ascended Christ to pour out the Holy Spirit upon the Church as He wills. Revival is the gift of God, not the work of man. And yet alongside that truth, we also affirm that God ordinarily uses means, and we are called as Christians to the diligent use of those means for our growth and our progress in the Christian life. We are called to root out sin and to remove every hindrance to progress in our walk with the Lord. And in the great matter of revival, that same principle obtains. We must take care to identify every hindrance and obstacle, every besetting sin and spiritually disadvantageous habit festering in our congregational life, and so whatever we can to root it out. And so our task this morning is to think about some of the hindrances to revival. Why might the Lord refrain from visiting us with a fresh effusion of the Holy Spirit here at First Church? What in us needs to be exposed to the light and turned from and repented of? What hindrances are there to the blessing of spiritual renewal as we seek it from the hands of our Savior?

To help us answer that, we’re going to turn actually to both Revelation 2 and 3 and to the seven letters to the churches in these two chapters. We’ll only read chapter 2, but I’ll be thinking about both of them, so if you have access to a copy of the Scriptures please turn there with me. Before we read, let’s bow our heads together again as we pray. Let us all pray.

O Lord, open our hearts, open our eyes, our understanding. Show us ourselves in the mirror of Holy Scripture. And then as we see our sin and our need, as we see the hindrances to blessing that continue to fester within us, give us the grace truly to turn from them, to repent of them, and then apply to us Christ and all His benefits that we may be rich by His grace, robed with His righteousness, given salve for our eyes that we may see with the eyes of faith at last. For we ask it in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revelation chapter 2 at verse 1. This is the Word of God:

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

‘And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’

‘And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.

I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

‘And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.

‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Amen, and we praise God for His holy, inerrant Word.

We sometimes think, as we take spiritual inventory, that there is little hope of revival or of spiritual growth or of many conversions today because unlike the Church in previous centuries, we think, we have declined too far, we’ve fallen too deeply into compromise with worldliness, we’ve drunk too deeply of the spirit of the age. There is nothing to be done, we conclude, but to hunker down, try to stay faithful best we can, and manage the decline. And certainly if we are to judge our future prospects by our present failures we might well be plunged into despair. But actually, neither the Scriptural teaching nor historical example will allow any serious Christian to draw that conclusion.

Let me just give you one example from history, from the history of revival. Listen to the way that James Robe, who was the pastor of the Presbyterian congregation in Kilsyth in Scotland, described the state of his community in the 1730s. See if this sounds at all familiar to you:

“The state of religion declined and grew every year worse with us. Our societies for prayer came gradually to nothing. The younger sort attained indeed to knowledge, took up a profession of faith, and numbers of them were yearly added to the communicants, but I can observe little of the power of godliness in their lives that was satisfying to me. As to the elder sort, those of them who were graceless and Christless went on in their former sins and carelessness without any appearance of a change for the better. Those who were professors of faith in Christ seemed sensibly to degenerate into negligence and indifference about spiritual things and some of them into drunkenness and other vices.”

Robe then records a wave of disease that swept through the community. Possibly it was influenza and it killed the few bright Christians that there were in the congregation and took them away. The few bright spots were removed from the congregation in Kilsyth. And that was then followed by a terrible storm that devastated the community, destroyed homes and businesses, and plunged the whole area into economic difficulty. Robe says:

“The poor, who were numerous and many, especially about the town of Kilsyth, were at the point of starving. Yet as I frequently observed to them, I could not see anyone turning to the Lord who smote them or crying to Him because of their sins while they howled on their beds for bread. Instead of this, theft and other immoralities broke forth and increased to a terrible height. And when the economy finally did begin to turn around and prosperity came back, still things did not change. The return of plenty,” Robe said, “had no better influence upon us, but we were going on forwardly in the way of our own heart.”

So do you see the picture? In the church, prayer meetings fizzled out for a lack of interest. To be sure, there were young communicants professings faith, but mostly as a matter of mere routine, showing little real interest in the things of God. Unbelievers in the community were utterly unconcerned about their state. Those adults who did profess to be Christians were negligent of their duties, worldly and compromised in their behavior. Disease and natural disaster weakened the Church and did not awaken the people to their sense of a need of a Savior. And then the return of prosperity did not help either. Their pastor, James Robe, for his part, preached faithfully and there were a few who benefited from his ministry, but progress was slow and difficult. The gloom was pervasive. Conditions not at all unlike those that face us today. Don’t you agree? Disease and natural disaster, economic turmoil, and general spiritual decline.

But then in 1740, Robe began to preach a series of sermons on John chapter 3 on the necessity and nature of the new birth. And gradually a change began to take place. New seriousness crept across the congregation; prayer meetings began to spring up. Soon people were stirred into spiritual anxiety about their condition and a general revival broke out amongst them. In the middle of the darkest night, God sent forth His light and His truth to guide them. Let’s remember and take heart that “though with man it is impossible, but God all things are possible.” God can do it again as He’s done it before. And our present difficulties and setbacks and weaknesses are no gauge of what God may yet do amongst us, and history demonstrates that.

And one of the great marks of a dawn of a new spiritual awakening is a resolve, a fresh resolve to deal with sin and with every hindrance to growth in our own lives and in our life together as a congregation. Well in the two chapters, Revelation 2 and 3, the Lord speaks to seven representative congregations representing the whole Church across the ages. And He confronts the specific hindrances to spiritual growth that He finds in each of them. Notice that each letter follows essentially the same format. There’s an introductory formula highlighting some aspect of the glory of Christ drawn from the description of John’s vision in chapter 1. Then in most of the letters there is a word of commendation from Christ to the church. And then, in all but two of the letters, there’s an indictment, a word of rebuke, exposing sin or compromise and calling the church to repentance. And then finally, each letter concludes with a promise of blessing to the one who overcomes and perseveres to the end.

And we simply don’t have time, you’ll be relieved to know, to work through all of those details, but I do want us to focus on the hindrance, the specific area of rebuke, that the Lord addresses to each congregation in turn. There are actually six of them. There’s backsliding in Ephesus, there is the paralysis of fear in Smyrna, there is the poison of error in Pergamum and Thyatira, there is the blindness of presumption in Sardis, there’s too much regard for weakness and powerlessness in Philadelphia, and there is affluence and self-reliance in Laodicea. Backsliding, fear, error, presumption, weakness, and affluence and self-reliance. Those are the hindrances to growth and vitality that Jesus highlights and I think continue to be hindrances for us even today.

The First Hindrance to Revival is Backsliding

So let’s look at chapter 2 first, verses 3 through 5, and the problem of the church in Ephesus. The Lord Jesus tells them, notice, “I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake and you have not grown weary, but I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember, therefore, from where you have fallen, repent, and do the works you did at first.” So the issue here is backsliding, isn’t it? It’s not that the Ephesians Christians were no longer coming to church. It’s not that they had all embraced false teaching. It’s not that they were morally compromised. They’ve been bearing up, enduring patiently. They’re not going to quit any time soon. They have not grown weary, Jesus says. And yet, their love for Christ and for one another and for the lost has grown cold. The fire of zeal for the glory of Christ and the salvation of sinners has been reduced to smoldering embers giving little light and even less heat.

It’s interesting to me that this is the place where Jesus begins. It isn’t immorality or the dangers of affluence or theological error with which He begins. But He starts with the loss of the fervor of our love. There is a great temptation, I think, to evaluate how we are doing in our Christian lives by our activity, by our busyness. “I’m at church whenever the doors are open. I serve on a committee. I go on mission trips. I teach a Sunday school class. I read my Bible. I say my prayers. So I’m good, right?” Oh, but you can do all of those things and lose your soul. You can do all of those things and lose your soul. You can be busy in outward duties and engage in them nevertheless with a cold, flat, loveless heart. Jesus is putting His finger, He’s shining the spotlight of His Word on the deep motives of our souls. Not first on our behavior but on our love. Have you lost your first love? Has your zeal grown cold? Have you become weary in well doing? Can you say with Cowper, “Where is the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul refreshing view of Jesus and His Word? What peaceful hours I once enjoyed, how sweet their memories still, but they have left an aching void the world can never fill.”

If that’s you, hear your Savior’s call to turn back. This needs to be our resolve. Cowper goes on, “Return, O holy dove, return, sweet messenger of rest. I hate the sins that made Thee mourn and drove Thee from my breast. The dearest idol I have known, whatever that idol may be, help me to tear it from Thy throne and worship only Thee.” So the first hindrance to revival and spiritual renewal is backsliding. And it may be this morning that Jesus is calling to you to arrest your downward trajectory and repent and return to Him. Today is the day, here at the Lord’s Table and under His Word.

The Second Hindrance to Revival is Fear  

And then the second hindrance in verses 8 through 11 of chapter 2, this time in the church at Smyrna. Verses 8 and 9 tell us the believers in this city were enduring real tribulation and slander for their faith in Jesus. Jesus tells them in verse 10, “Therefore, do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison that you may be tested and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death.” Things are hard and they’re going to get harder, Jesus says, but do not let fear take hold of your heart. The paralyzing power of fear is the danger confronting the believers in Smyrna. Fear of what it would mean to stand up for Christ and stand out from the crowd. That’s a classic weapon, isn’t it, of the evil one to keep us mute and passive and disengaged and to paralyze us in our witness as we seek to be obedient. Fear is typically the single most common reason given by Christians for not sharing their faith. We don’t want to be rejected or mocked. We don’t want to lose friends.

But listen, if you want to hide away and privatize your faith and keep it to yourself and live with as little friction as possible between your commitment to Jesus and the values of the world, then you will not likely pray for revival because revival makes Christians bold. It makes us bold. The filling of the Spirit propels Christians out in witness. Remember when the Church was persecuted in Acts chapter 4 and the believers gathered to pray, and they were all filled, the place where they were gathered was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. What did they do? They began to speak the Word with boldness, even in the midst of great persecution.

The Third Hindrance to Revival is False Teaching  

Then the third hindrance to revival in chapter 2, 12 through 29, the churches in Pergamum and Thyatira. According to verse 13, the believers at Pergamum were holding fast to the true faith, living in the midst of a hot bed of paganism. Pergamum, Jesus says, is where Satan dwells. That is to say it was a particular center of pagan worship. It was the seat of the imperial cult, the worship of the emperor, Augustus, for that entire providence. And the church has stood its ground and generally remained faithful. And similarly, if you look over at verse 19, you’ll see also that in Thyatira the believers have been persevering. They’re commended for their love and their faith and their service and their patient endurance and that their latter works exceeded their former. So they’re making progress. They’ve not stalled in their obedience to Christ. And there’s much here in both churches to celebrate; many evidences of the grace of God at work among them.

And yet in both cases, they’ve begun to tolerate – it’s not that they themselves have rejected the faith – they’ve tolerated those who do. They’ve begun to tolerate false teaching and in particular a strand of false teaching that countenanced sexual immorality. In Pergamum, the false teachers were called Nicoliatans. We don’t know anything about them except what we learn in these letters. And Jesus compares them to Balaam, who led Balak to put a stumbling block before the people of Israel and led them into sexual sin in Numbers chapter 25. In Thyatira, it seems to be a similar set of issues. This time the congregation is being led to it by a woman whom Jesus compares to Jezebel, teaching similar ideas.

In both places it seems it is likely that the false teaching that had begun to infect the churches was an attempt to accommodate some level of participation in the imperial cult, in the worship of the emperor, and then various forms of the pagan civic religion that was just common currency – you had to participate if you wanted to get on in society all around them. In particular, it was a teaching that tried to find a way to justify following Jesus and embracing the prevailing sexual attitudes and behaviors of the society.

And let me just say this in this regard – it is amazing to me how often theological change, a change in a person’s deepest convictions, corresponds to their embrace of patterns of sin, especially sexual sin. Whenever I see an abrupt change in a person’s convictions, I am immediately on the lookout for a moral as well as an intellectual cause. The college student raised in the church comes to talk about his growing spiritual doubts, but the seasoned pastor knows that very often the key issue that will cut to the heart of the young man’s crisis isn’t primarily intellectual at all; it is moral. And so after listening to a string of doubts and arguments and points of dissent from the faith once for all delivered to the saints, the pastor asks quietly, “What’s her name, and how long have you been sleeping with her?”

There’s a link, you see, between moral compromise and theological defections from the truth. Because when you’ve embraced a pattern of sin, your conscience is constantly accused by your faithful convictions and so eventually something’s got to give. And when you’ve wedded your heart to wickedness, it’s your convictions that give way to accommodate your rebellion. Jesus is warning us here not to accommodate our convictions, especially to the sexual mores of a world that rejects the Gospel. And today, that is maybe the great issue confronting the Church in our country. They are fundamentally incompatible systems of thought. Backsliding. The paralysis of fear. Accommodating the truth to the sin of the world.

The Fourth Hindrance to Revival is Spiritual Presumption

Fourthly, the church in Sardis, chapter 3, 1 through 6. This time the issue is spiritual presumption. Unlike the letters to the other churches, you’ll notice Jesus has no word of encouragement at all for these believers. Verses 1 and 2, “I know your works.” That’s usually followed by, “You’re doing great!” Some sort of, “I know your works and you’re making progress! I know your works and you’re enduring great suffering faithfully!” But not here. “I know your works. You have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” That’s pretty direct, isn’t it? We don’t know the details of the problems at Sardis or how they began, but their effects are sobering. Despite having a reputation among the churches for vibrancy and life, they are dead. It’s a chilling possibility for a church, just as it must be for any individual Christian.

And the warning is clear enough, isn’t it? We mustn’t assess the welfare of our souls or the health of our church for that matter based on the nice things other people say about us. When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ one day, our reputations will evaporate like mist before the summer sun. What will matter then is life, real, authentic, Holy Spirit wrought, vibrant, spiritual life.

Jesus actually points out two marks of their spiritual death in our passage, doesn’t He? The first of them in verse 2. Their works were “incomplete.” That doesn’t mean that they just hadn’t quite gotten around to finishing the project. That’s not the point. It means, rather, that their outward acts of charity or devotion or piety were not mixed with that one essential ingredient to make our works pleasing in the sight of God. They were not mixed with faith. They had a form of godliness and they denied its power. Just as faith without works is dead, James reminds us, so too works without faith are dead. Busyness is no substitute for knowing Christ. Do you know Christ? That’s the issue. Good works are incomplete when they go unmixed with faith in Christ and love to Christ.

And the other mark of their spiritual death you’ll see in verse 3. Jesus calls them, notice this, “to remember what they had received and heard, keep it and repent.” So clearly the Word of God has lost its place, its primacy amongst them, and the neglect of the Bible, merely assuming the truth of the Gospel, taking the Word for granted, impatience with thorough, Biblical instruction, a basic indifference to the truth – those are the marks of spiritual death, not life. And so they’re called and we are called to wake up, to strengthen what remains, and recover the centrality of the Word of Christ in our lives together. Backsliding, the paralysis of fear, teaching that accommodates sin and worldliness, and then the danger of presumption, of thinking you’re one thing based on your reputation when in fact you do not know the reality of spiritual life at all.

The Fifth Hindrance to Revival is Too Much Regard for Weakness

Fifthly, there’s too much regard for apparent weakness and powerlessness in Philadelphia. Chapter 3 verse 8, Jesus says, “Behold, I have set before you an open door which no one is able to shut. I know you have but little power, and yet you’ve kept My word and have not denied My name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say they are Jews and are not but lie, behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept My word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial.”

So the Philadelphian Christians have been faithful; they’ve endured a great deal of opposition from the local Jewish community. But for all their faithfulness, they remain small and weak and powerless. They have no cultural capital to spend. They have no political clout. How easy it would be for them to back off; you know, play it safe, keep their heads down, conclude that the door for ministry in their town has been shut. “After all, what can we do? We don’t have the money, we don’t have the influence, we don’t have the programs of the other church. We’re not like Ephesus,” they might say. But that attitude, that attitude is deadly.

Notice the Lord Jesus reminds them He is King. You see that? He tells them He has opened the door and He will give the weak little church at Philadelphia great success in Gospel work. Where does it come from? Is the success of the Gospel the result of the strength of those who preach it? Is the success of the mission of the church the effect, the cause of which is the sophistication or cleverness or programs that church generates? No, Jesus says, “I will give the Gospel success. I will do it. And your weakness or your strength has very little bearing on the success of the Gospel.” Revival is the gift of the exalted Christ. Maybe you’ve forgotten. Jesus is on the throne. Brothers and sisters, we are on the winning team. We are on the winning team. No matter how things may appear here, out there, Jesus Christ has triumphed and He will fulfill His holy will.

The Sixth Hindrance to Revival is Self-Reliance

Then finally, chapter 3:14-22, the church in Laodicea. The problem here is not so much simply that they are wealthy, but they have come to rely on their wealth. They’ve come to trust in their power and strength. It’s the opposite problem in many ways from the church in Philadelphia. Jesus indicts the Laodiceans for being neither hot nor cold. Do you see that? He’s not saying there, by the way, “Hot is good; hot means zeal. Cold is bad; that means you’re spiritually dead. But lukewarm is worse than both.” That’s not really the point so much as He’s saying, “Look, a warm drink, a hot drink is warming and comforting. A cold drink is refreshing and invigorating. But lukewarm, that’s tepid and unpalatable and distasteful and fit only to be spat out.” Like a mug of hot coffee, you know, left on your desk and forgotten, and then you reach for it and take a sip and you want to spit it out immediately. There’s nothing worse than the shock of a tepid cup of coffee. That’s what Jesus says “you Christians in Laodicea feel like to Me! Your mediocrity is disgusting!” Jesus says.

So what’s happened to them to get them to this place? Verse 17, “You say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’” So they’re doing pretty well for themselves and they’ve come to rely on it. They can throw money at the problem. “We have people for that.” They’re not worried about anything. They don’t need anything. But their reliance on their affluence and their wealth means, of course, they’ve ceased clinging to Christ. They’ve replaced spiritual wealth for the rags of material prosperity and it has left them destitute in the sight of God. And so Christ calls them, notice this, to buy from Him gold refined by His own hand, the riches of His grace, without money and without price; to obtain white robes to cover their shame and their spiritual nakedness – the robes of His own righteousness. And salve, medicine for their eyes so that they’re able to see at last the truth as it is in Jesus with the eyes of real and healthy faith. One of the great hindrances to revival is misplaced faith. It is trust in power and wealth and position and material plenty. And here, the Lord Jesus is inviting us to search our hearts and to root out any and all inclinations to trust in money and power and status, and instead, today, right now, here, to flee back to Christ.

A Portrait of Jesus Christ

Now we’re about to close here but did you notice that each letter begins with a portrait of Jesus Christ? Did you see that? In chapter 2:1, He is the Lord who holds the seven stars in His hands and walks amongst the lampstands. That means He’s present in the midst of the Church. In chapter 2 verse 8, He is the first and the last who died and rose, triumphing over the grave. Chapter 2 verse 12, He has the sharp, two-edged sword of His holy Word to wield with power in our midst. Chapter 2 verse 18, He is the Son of God with eyes like flames of fire. He sees you. And feet like burnished bronze; nothing can move Him from His purpose. He sees all and is not moved. Chapter 3 verse 1, He has the seven spirits of God endowed with the Holy Spirit in all His fullness to bestow upon the Church as He wills. Chapter 3:7, the holy One, the true One who has the keys of David, who opens and no one can shut; who shuts and no one can open. The King who reigns in His providence for the salvation of His people and none can thwart His saving design. In chapter 3:14, He is the Amen, the faithful and true witness, and the beginning of God’s creation. His Word is utterly sure. He is altogether reliable and everything comes from Him.

Jesus Christ is a Sufficient Redeemer  

Now when you put all of that together and you read it in light of the rebukes of the many hindrances to revival and vitality in the churches, what is the message? How can we rekindle our first love? What is the spark that will reignite it? How shall we overcome the paralysis of fear in our service of the Lord Jesus? How shall we maintain the faith once for all delivered to the saints when the world is pressuring us constantly to moral and theological compromise? If we are dead, from whose hands shall we receive life? If we are poor and blind and naked because we have come to trust in the wrong things in our affluence, where shall we find true riches, white robes, and healing for our blindness? We must run, these chapters are saying, to Christ. We must fill our gaze with Christ. He is an all sufficient Redeemer. First Church, everything you need is in Jesus Christ! Look nowhere else but to Him! He is the Lord who keeps and defends and heals and revives. He doesn’t leave us as we are in the bondage of our sin. He does not abandon His people to the predations of the devil and the temptations of the world. Flee to Christ!

That’s the message, isn’t it? There’s pardon for your sin in Jesus; come and get clean. There’s strength for your every weakness; cast your burdens on Him! There’s courage in the face of paralyzing fear; rest on Him and speak for His sake. There’s life from the dead in Him; believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Isn’t that the message preached to us in the cup and the bread? Isn’t it, “Christ is a sufficient Redeemer?” He is everything that your heart needs. Come back to Him. Stop looking everywhere else for solutions and look to Christ. He is full of mercy, full of mercy, for all who trust in Him.

Let’s pray together.

Lord Jesus, thank You that You are full of mercy. As we have heard Your challenging words and come to the Table, we pause now to repent and to cry that the mercy in which You abound and overflow might yet reach to us. O Lord Jesus, in Your wrath, remember mercy. Revive Your Church. Revive Your work in the midst of the years. Meet us in Your grace. Bring the dead to life. Strengthen the weak. Encourage the fearful. Shatter our idols of self-reliance. And help us to cling only to You that all glory might be Yours, now and always. For Your sake we pray, amen.

© 2019 First Presbyterian Church.

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