Summary: The church must have the power of the Holy Spirit, the breath of God, in order to live.
February 12, 2012
Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Title: By My Spirit
I have heard about it since I have been a Christian. I keep expecting to see it full blown. I don’t know what it is going to look like but when it happens I will know it. I’m talking about revival in the church. I have attended revival meetings. I have experienced times of revival. I have preached about revival. I’ve read the history books of the Great Awakening of the 1700’s, and the Welsh revival led by Evan Roberts in the early 1900’s. I know all about the Azusa Street revival beginning in 1906. Revival continued throughout the 1900’s with the healing revivals of the 50’s and 60’s and the charismatic renewal of the 70’s and 80’s on into the revivals in Seattle, Toronto, and Pensacola of the 90’s.
Let me read some records of some to the revival events mentioned.
1739 Monday 1 January - London (George Whitefield, John Wesley) 1739 saw astonishing expansion of revival in England. On 1st January the Wesleys and Whitefield (now returned from America) and four others from their former Holy Club at Oxford in their students days, along with 60 others, met in London for prayer and a love feast. The Spirit of God moved powerfully on them all. Many fell down, overwhelmed. The meeting went all night and they realized they had been empowered in a fresh visitation from God.
1801 August - Cane Ridge, Kentucky (Barton Stone) Impressed by the revivals in 1800, Barton Stone, a Presbyterian minister, organized similar meetings in 1801 in his area at Cane Ridge northeast of Lexington. A huge crowd of around 12,500 attended in over 125 wagons including people from Ohio and Tennessee. At that time Lexington, the largest town in Kentucky, had less than 1,800 citizens. Now Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist preachers and circuit riders formed preaching teams, speaking simultaneously in different parts of the campgrounds, all aiming for conversions of sinners. James Finley, later a Methodist circuit rider, described it:’ The noise was like the roar of Niagara. The vast sea of human being seemed to be agitated as if by a storm. I counted seven ministers, all preaching at one time, some on stumps, others in wagons and one standing on a tree, which had, in falling, lodged against another. ... 'I stepped up on a log where I could have a better view of the surging sea of humanity. The scene that then presented itself to my mind was indescribable. At one time I saw at least five hundred swept down in a moment as if a battery of a thousand guns had been opened upon them, and then immediately followed shrieks and shouts that rent the very heavens' (Pratney 1994:104). The Rev. Moses Hoge wrote: 'The careless fall down, cry out, tremble, and not infrequently are affected with convulsive twitchings ...
1906 Easter Saturday 14 April - Azusa Street, Los Angeles (William Seymour) 'At Azusa, services were long, and on the whole they were spontaneous. In its early days music was a cappella, although one or two instruments were included at times. There were songs, testimonies given by visitors or read from those who wrote in, prayer, altar calls for salvation or sanctification or for baptism in the Holy Spirit. And there was preaching. Sermons were generally not prepared in advance but were typically spontaneous. W. J. Seymour was clearly in charge, but much freedom was given to visiting preachers. There was also prayer for the sick. Many shouted. Others were "slain in the Spirit" or "fell under the power." There were periods of extended silence and of singing in tongues. No offerings were collected, but there was a receptacle near the door for gifts. ... 'Thus the significance of Azusa was centrifugal as those who were touched by it took their experiences elsewhere and touched the lives of others. Coupled with the theological threads of personal salvation, holiness, divine healing, baptism in the Spirit with power for ministry, and an anticipation of the imminent return of Jesus Christ, ample motivation was provided to assure the revival a long term impact' (Burgess & McGee 1988:3136).
I’ve heard stories of the revivals in the Assemblies of God churches in my hometown and here in Palmyra. Every one of you may have a story of your own to tell. As for me, I’m still waiting on something that is even bigger and more explosive than anything that has ever happened before.
Yeah, but pastor, those days are gone. We’ll never see revival like that again.
Read Ezekiel 37:1-14.
I believe this is God’s word…
I believe it is for me…
I accept it as mine…
I appropriate it to my life today…
I. THE QUESTION IS RAISED… The first thing I want you to notice is that God has taken Ezekiel out “by the Spirit” to the valley. I want you to understand something about Ezekiel. He had the Holy Ghost. I looked in the NIV and found that about 127 times Ezekiel said, “the word of the Sovereign Lord came to me…” 49 times it says, “the word of the LORD came to me…” The Holy Spirit is mentioned continuously throughout the book. At least 7 times we see that the Spirit of God physically picked Ezekiel up and stood him on his feet.. Wouldn’t you agree with me that Ezekiel was a man of the Spirit? Here is the point I’m trying to make. God took a man of the spirit and set him down right in the middle of a valley of dry bones. 1The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. Here is the significance. Ezekiel, the man who God speaks to and moves him by the Spirit is the only Israelites who were in captivity at this time who would even know that the bones were dry. Ezekiel 22:30, “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. Last week when I shared with you about fanning the flame of revival in your own life I talked to you about the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. How did that happen? Complacency isn’t something that happens overnight. The fire burns brightly for a while and then slowly wanes until there is nothing left but a spark. That is what happened to Israel and that is why the bones are scattered across the whole valley. These bones aren’t just dry – they are very dry. That have been dry for so long that there isn’t any resemblance to what they were when they lived. The word translated “dry” from the Hebrew comes from the same word that means, “to be ashamed, confused, or disappointed”. I wondered about that. Is that where many of our Pentecostals are today? Are you ashamed to be people of the Spirit who worship with exuberance, who stand on God’s word like it is the truth, who expect Jesus to baptize us with the Holy Spirit, who desire to operate in the gifts of the Spirit? Are you confused about the meaning of it all? Or are we disappointed because the Pentecostal faith hasn’t worked out the way you expected? The God we worship is the same Father, who never changes like the shifting shadows. This is the same Jesus who is the same yesterday today and forever. It is the same Holy Spirit who has come to be our advocate, our counselor, and our power source for life in the world today. Now look at the question that the Lord asks Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?” For those of you who are fanning your flames to receive more from God, perhaps that question strikes a chord in your heart. Will we, can we ever see Holy Ghost revival again in the church? Ezekiel answers that question by putting back on God. I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”