Revival Begins in Me

Psalm 80 is a psalm that bubbles up from the anguish in the hearts of the people of Israel.  The psalm recalls how God brought Israel as “a vine out of Egypt” (verse 8), which God cultivated and grew into a wonderful vineyard that stretched from the mountains to the seas (verses 9-11).  But now the walls have been broken (verse 12), and “boars” have come in and ravaged the vineyard (the nation of Israel) (verse 13).  In response, the psalmist pleads for God’s help: “Turn again, O God of hosts; look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine” (verse 14). 

The heart of this psalm is a plea that is expressed three times (verses 3, 7, and 19—the final verse of the psalm): “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.”

About this plea, Charles Spurgeon points out, “It is not so much said, ‘turn our captivity’ but turn ‘us.’  All will come right if we are right.  The best turn is not that of circumstances but of character.  When the Lord turns his people he will soon turn their condition.”

Psalm 80 is a fitting psalm for the beginning of Lent, for this psalm challenges each of us to turn our heart to God.

Somebody once asked British Evangelist Rodney Smith (1860-1947) how to have a revival.  In return, Smith asked the man, “Do you have a place where you can pray?”  When the man answered that he did have such a place, Smith said to him, “Tell you what you do: You go to that place and take a piece of chalk along.  Kneel down there and, with the chalk, draw a complete circle all around you.  Pray for God to send a revival to everything inside of that circle.  Stay there until God answers, and you will have revival.”

“Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.”

According to legend, the angel Gabriel once called all the angels together.  Each one was asked to visit earth and bring back to heaven the gift he or she thought would be most pleasing to God—the gift that would make God most happy.  One angel saw a martyr dying for his faith and brought back a drop of the martyr’s blood.  Another brought back a small coin that an old destitute widow had given to the poor.  Another returned with a Bible that had been used by an eminent preacher.  Still another brought back dust from the shoes of a missionary who labored in a remote wasteland for many years.  Others brought back similar items.  One angel, however, saw a man sitting by a fountain in a town square.  The man was looking at a child playing nearby.  The man was a hardened sinner, but, looking a the little child playing, he remembered his own boyhood innocence.  As he looked into the fountain, he saw the reflection of his hardened face, and realized what he had done with his life.  Now, recalling his many sins, he was sorry for them.  Tears of repentance welled up in his eyes and began to trickle down his cheeks.  At that point the angel took one of these tears and brought it back to heaven.  According to the legend, it was this gift that God chose before all the others as the one most dear to God—the gift that made God most happy.

“Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.”


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