"Lord, Do It Again!" (Sermon by Vance Havner)
THE prophet Isaiah was a faithful preacher in a nation going to pieces and headed for ruin.
God had been forgotten.
False prophets were crying, "Peace," when there was no peace.
The nation was trying to stave off disaster by making earthly alliances here and there,
but Isaiah stood his ground and declared that all their schemes would crack up in defeat
unless they turned to God.
They called him a pessimist and a calamity howler, but when the enemy gathered at the gates of Jerusalem,
King Hezekiah turned to the prophet of God, and when God was recognized,
one hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrian corpses were piled up by the angel of the Lord
in one quick stroke of vengeance.
So it turned out that Isaiah was more than a prophet.
He was not a politician running for something; he was a statesman who stood for something.
He proved that one man and God make a majority.
He was a living illustration of those immortal words of William Jennings Bryan in his "Cross of Gold" speech:
"The humblest citizen of the land, when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger
than all the hosts of error."
We need a prophet of his calibre and character and conviction in America today.
We need to be reminded that our hope is not our allies but the Almighty.
We need to learn that all our tanks and guns and planes may go down in defeat
unless God comes down to help us.
We need to repent of taking the name of God in vain in our popular songs, of singing "God Bless America"
when Americans are not ready to bless God, of trying to bolster morale with wine, women and song
instead of learning to wait on the Lord and renew our strength.
And when we do that, Hitler and Hirohito will be swept away like toothpicks before Niagara Falls,
for although "careless seems the Great Avenger," yet "behind the dim unknown, standeth God
within the shadows, keeping watch above His own."
In the sixty-fourth chapter of his book, Isaiah is looking around at the condition of the country.
Then he looks back and remembers the days of old.
He thinks of how God used to thunder at Sinai.
He calls to mind the days of Moses and Joshua and Gideon and David, when Israel walked in power
and the terror of the Lord went before them.
Then he looks up and cries, "O that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down!"
In other words, "O God, split the skies and come down again in mighty power
as you used to do. Lord, do it again!"
We are living in a situation like that which Isaiah faced, except that it is a thousand times worse,
for it is world-wide, and we need first to look around as he did and size it up as it really is.
We are hearing a lot of lovely oratory about the post-war world.
Personally, I am unable to work up one bit of enthusiasm over this flood of eloquence,
because not only are the speakers a thousand miles apart as to the world they are talking about,
but they leave out the only ray of hope in the whole situation a return to God.
I need not dwell here on the fact that if we lose this war we are done for.
But it is just as true that if we win it and leave God out, we are still done for.
Take the case of Europe alone.
Those millions of people have been butchered and beaten until the survivors are beside themselves.
They have no money, no property, no homes, and they have been reduced to desperation until,
if we won the war tomorrow, only God knows what demoniacal, demented anarchy
would make the end of the other World War look like a picnic.
There is no mortal man or group of men with one-millionth the wisdom it will take to unscramble
this bloodcurdling mess.
All eyes are on America, but we don't have what it takes.
The only possible hope is the intervention of God.
Therefore, like Isaiah, while we look around, we need to look back at what God has done,
and then we need to look up and pray,
"O that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down! Lord, do it again!"
For God has come down in the past and He will do it again.
He came down in the Person of His Son to save us from our sins.
He is coming again one of these days in the return of His Son to set up His kingdom.
But between those two advents God has come down again and again in blessing upon His people.
He came down at Pentecost.
He has come down in gracious revivals.
He made bare His mighty arm in Savonarola and Luther and Wesley and Whitefield and Finney,
in the Great Awakening in early America, the Great Revival of 1800, the Welsh Revival not many years ago.
He can do it again.
His resources are not limited.
Look at verse 4: "For since the beginning of the world, men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear,
neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him."
Paul quoted that in 1 Corinthians 2:9, and he had in mind not only heaven
but the riches of God's grace for us here and now.
It is impossible to imagine, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, what God can do to us
and through us and for us when He can find a man who really cares enough to be His instrument.
That is indicated in verse 5: "Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness,
those that remember thee in thy ways." God will meet any man more than halfway
if that man is in dead earnest and means business with heaven.
"The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong
on behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Back in the 1600's God roused a serious-minded lad, so grieved over the sins of his time
that he could not rest at ease in Zion but wandered in a leather suit all over England,
calling men back to simple faith in God.
He was George Fox, and he said,
"The Lord had said unto me, If but one man or woman were raised up by His power to stand
in the same spirit that the apostles and prophets were in, that man or woman would
shake all the country for miles around."
Two centuries later, a huge, rugged young Christian heard Henry Varley say,
"The world has yet to see what God will do with, and for, and in, and by,
the man who is fully consecrated to him,"
and then and there Dwight L. Moody resolved to be that man.
The eyes of the Lord were running to and fro in the 1600's and found George Fox;
in the 1800's they found Moody.
Who will they discover in the 1900's?
God is on the lookout for men and women who mean business with Him, who remember Him in all His ways,
and He always meets such people in blessing and power.
Long ago He found Savonarola so burdened over the sins of his day that he wrote:
"Seeing the whole world overset,
All virtue and goodness disappeared;
Nowhere a shining light;
No man taking shame for his sins."
Maybe he overstated it, but, anyway, he was not wearing rose-colored glasses
and painting the clouds with sunshine.
And because he remembered God in His ways, God clothed him with power.
He found Jonathan Edwards, who said, "If it were revealed to me that in any stage of history
there could be but one man who were in all to fulfil the will of God,
I would strive with all my might to be that man";
and God gave him a message that made his listeners hang on to the pillars of the church
before the terror of the Lord.
God looked around in Wales some years ago and found a serious-minded lad so burdened for revival
that he lived in prayer that God might rend the heavens and come down and God did come down
in one of the mightiest revivals of history.
Evan Roberts meant business and God met him.
God is on the lookout today for somebody who is concerned and in dead earnest about
the state of his own heart and the need of the church and the world.
He has blessed such people in the past with gracious revival.
He can do it again.
It was after the funeral of General Booth of the Salvation Army, after the great congregation
had left the church, that the sexton found one lone Methodist preacher on his knees at the altar.
Moved with what God had wrought through the mighty life and work of William Booth,
this solitary preacher was praying from the depth of his soul, "Lord, do it again! Lord, do it again!"
Yes, God can rend the heavens and come again in a mighty movement of His Spirit,
and that is exactly what it will take to meet the need of this miserable hour in our hearts, our homes,
our churches, our nation, our world.
I mean more than a pleasant little Religious Retreat or a harmless Spiritual Emphasis Week.
I mean more than a mere denominational drive or a much-advertised Preaching Mission.
The times are too desperate for all that.
We can do all these things and hold on to our sins, and right there is our trouble.
Look at verses 5 and 6: "We have sinned ....
We are all as an unclean thing and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags."
Our iniquities have separated us and our God.
Our self-righteousness, like rags, does not cover us, but, like filthy rags, defiles us.
We therefore need nothing less than a mourners-bench revival in the church of God
that will bring His people down on their knees confessing and forsaking their sins,
for we cannot expect God to take away sin by forgiving it if we do not put it away by forsaking it;
we need a revival that will empty theaters and fill churches and shut the mouths of critics
and show this unbelieving world that what God has done He can do again.
Why should it be thought a strange thing to say that America's greatest need right now is a revival?
This country was born and bred in revivals.
Calvin Coolidge said, "America was born in a revival of religion.
Back of that revival were John Wesley, George Whitefield and Francis Asbury."
Our forefathers came over here out of a revival and the fires of faith in America
have been kept burning all along by revivals, the Great Awakening, the Revival of 1800,
the wave of revival started by the Fulton Street prayer meetings,
the mighty movements of God through Moody and Torrey and Chapman and Sunday.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt is reported to have said,
"No greater thing could come to our land today than a revival of the spirit of religion
.... I doubt if there is any problem, social, political or economic, that would not melt away
before the fire of such a spiritual awakening."
There are those who would have us believe that the day of mass evangelism is past
and who would deny God's own Word, in which He says,
"And he gave some evangelists," as though He had discontinued that in this enlightened (?) age.
They boast of being up-to-date, when really they are behind the times, for I can show you plenty of evidences
that people still want to hear the old story of redeeming grace and never-dying love.
There are a lot of poor fellows trying to be erudite and keep up with modern "trends"
and stay abreast of the latest theories of some spiritually defunct theological seminary
who need to get right with God and preach the Word until heaven opens and the Lord comes down
in showers of blessing.
As a preacher and as a Christian and as an American, I am contributing more to national defense
by calling on men to return to God than in any other possible way.
For when men get hold of God and God gets hold of men, He can do more for them in five minutes
than they can do for themselves in a million years.
When God's people get right and sinners are saved, it means better people, better homes, better churches,
better communities, better everything.
It will turn men from booze to the Bible, women from bridge clubs to prayer meetings.
It will enable husbands and wives to live together and find at family altars what divorce courts can never give.
It will keep children at home and head off juvenile delinquency.
It is the best antidote against suicide, crime, race trouble, business trouble every kind of trouble.
Christians are the salt of the earth and a revival would restore our saltiness,
and the more people who are salted, the fewer there are who will spoil,
and conditions would be better for their presence.
And it would affect this war, for the God who, as Patrick Henry said, "presides over the destinies of nations"
and who has interfered in battle ever since He drowned the hosts of Pharaoh
and set the stars in their courses against Sisera would come down in power to deliver,
if only we could learn that greater than horses and chariots is the help of the Lord our God.
Finally, if you will read verse 7, you will see the reason why we do not have a revival:
"There is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee."
Mind you, it says, "There is none that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee."
Paul exhorted Timothy, "Stir up the gift of God which is within thee."
Here is something God is not going to do for us.
He expects us to take ourselves in hand and rouse ourselves,
and if ever it was "high time to awake out of sleep" it is now.
If you had told me a few years ago that world conditions could come to such a state as we are in today
and yet Christians be satisfied to live in such a stupor, I would not have believed it.
There is certainly one old hymn that needs to be dusted off and put back into circulation nowadays:
"Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove,
With all Thy quickening powers,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
In these cold hearts of ours.
In vain we tune our formal songs;
In vain we strive to rise;
Hosannas languish on our tongues
And our devotion dies."
We have heard a lot of the evils of modernism, and certainly we need to stand our ground
against "another Gospel.
We sometimes shell the woods on the subject of worldliness, and surely there are Demases aplenty
who love this present world.
But we need to limber up some of our artillery against the sleepiness, the drowsiness,
the apathy and lethargy of saints who have been chloroformed by the atmosphere of the age and who,
because iniquity abounds, have let their love wax cold.
The hardest crowd on earth to reach is found in thousands of church members who know the truth
in their heads or who are busy with religious activities all week,
but who have never in their lives stirred up themselves to take hold of God.
Christians stir themselves to anything but to taking hold of God.
Certainly it is not easy.
The spirit of the times is against it.
Our natural dispositions are against it.
The neighbors are against it.
Many of our churches are against it.
And certainly the devil is against it,
for "Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees."
But there will never be a revival until God's people are willing to stir up themselves to take hold of God.
Dr. Torrey said:
"I can give a prescription that will bring a revival to any church or community or any city on earth.
First, let a few Christians (they need not be many) get thoroughly right with God themselves.
This is the prime essential.
If this is not done, the rest I am sorry to say will come to nothing!
Second, let them bind themselves together to pray for a revival until God opens the heavens and comes down.
Third, let them put themselves at the disposal of God to use them as He sees fit in winning others to Christ.
That is all.
This is sure to bring a revival to any church or community. I have given this prescription around the world.
It has been taken by many churches and many communities and in no instance has it ever failed.
And it cannot fail."
How can I stir up myself to take hold of God?
Get alone with your Bible and take stock of your life, check up, make an inventory,
have an honest overhauling in the sight of God.
Maybe you will need to take Mr. Finney's suggestion.
Get a sheet of paper and write down your sins as God reveals them to you and never mind
how much paper it takes!
Make a clean sweep of everything that pride, that temper, that secret habit, that grumbling,
that wicked thing you said about somebody, the way you rob God, your unthankfulness,
your neglect of the Bible and all the means of grace.
Confess and forsake it all and if you don't feel like praying, pray till you do feel like it.
Then claim His gracious promise that if we confess He will forgive, and trust Him by simple faith
for the fulness of His Spirit.
If you mean business with God He will meet you and bless you as this very chapter declares:
"Thou meetest .... those that remember thee in thy ways."
Mind you, Dr. Torrey said a revival could start with a very few people
if they would get thoroughly right with God themselves.
I beg of you, do not read this and then lay it down and forget what manner of person you are.
Get alone and stir up yourself to take hold of God.
If it takes all night, let it take all night, but get back to Bethel and renew the covenant
and make a fresh settlement with heaven.
Then join yourself with others like-minded to pray for revival until God opens the heavens and comes down.
Then go out in full surrender to witness to small and great as God directs you.
Truly, it is time for God to work, for we have made void His law.
It is time for God to rend the heavens and come down in old-time showers of blessing.
He has done it before and He will do it again, when His people get down to business
and stir up themselves to take hold of Him.
O dear God -- do it again! (Express with strong, real passion)
("The following was not in Havner's sermon, and I changed nothing in the sermon.
I did format it to make it easier to read and to preach" Dr. White )
"Lord, Do It Again" -- Lyrics by Booth Brothers
Oh, Lord of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
Friend of Moses and the great I Am
The One who shut the door for Noah
On the ark so the water wouldn't come in
The One who delivered from Egypt's bondage
And led His children to the promised land
Oh, Lord, Oh, Lord
Oh Lord, do it again.
As the fire fell down
When old Elijah was calling
In the wilderness when the bread from heaven came falling
I've even heard about what You did for Jonah
When he didn't go where he should have been
Oh, Lord, Oh, Lord
Oh, Lord, do it again
Oh Lord, You are the same great Jehovah
Protecting, shielding, guiding light
The one who made the donkey preach
To the preacher man when he didn't preach right
The One who commanded the sun to stand still...
Oh, Lord, Oh, Lord
Oh, Lord, do it again.