A Time Of Refreshing
By Robert Murray McCheyne
"I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring: and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses" (Isa. 44:3-4).
If ever we are to see souls flying like a cloud, and like doves, to Jesus Christ – if ever we are to see multitudes of you fleeing to that city of refuge – if ever we are to see parents rejoicing over their children as newborn – husbands rejoicing over their wives, and wives over their husbands –God must pour out the Spirit. He is the author and finisher of a work of grace: "I will pour...."
It is God who enlarges His people. You remember, in Zechariah 4 how the olive trees supplied the golden candlesticks with oil – they emptied the golden oil out of themselves. If there is little oil, the lamps burn dim; if much oil, the lamps begin to blaze.
Ah! if ever we are to see you who are children of God greatly enlarged, your hearts filled with joy, your lips filled with praises – if ever we are to see you growing like willows beside the watercourses, filled with all the fullness of God – God must pour down His Spirit – He must fulfill His word; for He is the Alpha and Omega, the Author and Finisher of a work of grace: "I will pour...."
Signs of Spiritual Thirst
All believers should be thirsty; alas! few are. Signs of spiritual thirst are:
1. Much thirst after the Word. When two travellers are going through the wilderness, you may know which of them is thirsty, by his always looking out for wells. How gladly Israel came to Elim, where were 12 wells of water, and 70 palm trees!
So it is with thirsty believers; they love the Word, read and preached – they thirst for it more and more. Is it so with you, dear believing brethren? In Scotland, long ago, it used to be so. Often, after the blessing was pronounced, the people would not go away till they heard more.
Ah, children of God, it is a fearful sign to see little thirst in you! I do not wonder much when the world stays away from our meetings for the Word and prayer; but, ah! when you do, I am dumb – my soul will weep in secret places for your pride. I say, God grant that we may not have a famine of the Word ere long.
2. Much prayer. When a little child is thirsty for its mother’s breast, it will not keep silence; no more will a child of God who is thirsty. Thirst will lead you to the secret well, where you may draw unseen the living water. It will lead you to united prayer. If the town were in want of water, and thirst was staring every man in the face, would you not meet one with another, and consult, and help to dig new wells?
Now, the town is in want of grace – souls are perishing for lack of it, and you yourselves are languishing. Oh, meet to pray! "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father, which is in heaven" (Matt. 18:19).
3. Desire to grow in grace. Some persons are contented when they come to Christ. They sink back as it were, into an easy chair – they ask no more – they wish no more. This must not be. If you are thirsty believers, you will seek salvation as much after conversion as before it.
"Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14).
To thirsty souls. Dear children, I look for the first drops of grace among you, in answer to your prayers, to fill your panting mouths. Oh, yes, He will pour. "A vineyard of red wine, I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day" (Isa. 27:2-3). "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation" (Isa. 12:3).
Floods and Their Effects
Learn, Christians, to pray for floods. It is God’s word – He puts it into your mouth. Oh, do not ask for drops when God offers floods! "...Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it" (Psa. 81:10). Here are effects when God pours out floods:
1. Saved souls will be like grass. They shall spring up as grass. So in Psalm 72: "They of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth" (v. 16). Many will be awakened – many saved. At present, Christ’s people are like a single lily amongst many thorns; but in a time of grace they shall be like grass. Count the blades of grass that spring in the clear shine after rain; so many shall Christ’s people be.
Count the drops of dew that come from the womb of the morning, shine like diamonds in the morning sun; so shall Christ’s people be in a day of His power. Count the stars that sparkle in night’s black mantle; so shall Abraham’s seed be. Count the dust of the earth; so shall Israel be in the day of an outpoured Spirit.
Oh, pray for an outpoured Spirit, ye men of prayer, that there may be many raised up in our day to call Him blessed!
2. Believers shall grow like willows. There is nothing more distressing in our day than the want of growth among the children of God. They do not seem to press forward – they do not seem to be running a race. When I compare this year with last year, alas! Where is the difference? There is the same weakness, the same coldness, nay, I fear, greater languor in divine things.
How different when the Spirit is poured out! They shall be like willows. You have seen the willow, how it grows – ceases not day or night – ever growing – ever shooting out new branches. Cut it down – it springs again.
Ah, so would you be, dear Christians, if there were a flood time of the Spirit – a day of Pentecost. Then there would be less care about your business and your workshop – more of prayer and of sweet praises. There would be more changes in your heart – victory over the world, the devil, and the flesh. You would come out, and be separate.
In affliction, you would grow in sweet submission – humility – meekness.
3. Self-dedication. "One shall say, I am the Lord’s." Oh, there is no greater joy than for a believing soul to give himself all to God. This has always been the way in times of refreshing. It was so at Pentecost. First they gave their own selves unto the Lord. It was so with Boston, and Doddridge, and Edwards, and all the holy men of old.
"I have this day been before God," says Edwards, "and I have given myself – all that I am and have – to God; so that I am in no respect my own. I can challenge no right in myself – in this understanding, this will, these affections. Neither have I right to this body, or any of its members – no right to this tongue, these hands, these feet, these eyes, these ears. I have given myself clean away."
Oh, would that you knew the joy of giving yourself away! You cannot keep yourself. Oh, this day try and give all to Him! Lie in His hand. Little children, oh that you would become like him who said: "I am God’s boy altogether, Mother!" Write on your hand: "I am the Lord’s."
– St. Peter’s, July 1, 1838. Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843), was a beloved Scottish Presbyterian preacher known for his godly character and effective ministry.