Summary: Christ has made us near, and that work is the most power factor in our lives today.
(This sermon was preached with a pair of sunglasses sitting on the top of my head, reasons to be seen later in the sermon.)
Every Church longs to see revival. I am not talking about a series of revival services. Those can bring about spiritual awakening, but seldom do.
I’m talking about the people being on fire for God. I’m talking about the members being so full of God, they can’t help but spread the good news of Christ everywhere they go.
I read about a Church over in the South East that got a new pastor. He considered how he could get the people to move towards spiritual revival. After praying and seeking God on it, he decided to start a contest. He asked each of the people to paint a picture that represented a Church in revival.
Many interesting paintings came in the next couple of months. After much deliberation, the pastor chose one of the paintings that he considered to be the winner. It was a picture of the Church building, but it was on fire. It was like the burning bush in Exodus, on fire but not being consumed. It was a beautiful piece of work.
The Church had a special service in which the pastor explained the significance of the painting. By the time he finished the sermon, the people were almost shouting with excitement. The pastor said, “I believe we should permanently mount the picture in the Church to remind us of the fire God grants us through His Holy Spirit. Where should we hang the painting?”
One of the longtime members spoke up without even thinking about it. “I think the best spot for the painting is by the fire extinguisher.”
Many times, when God starts moving in a Church, we place the movement too close to the fire extinguisher.
Let me ask some questions that will guide our thoughts today. How close to God are you today? Are you closer than you were yesterday? Are you closer or further to God than when you were first saved?
Before you answer that question, be careful. Remember, this pastor is one who loves trick questions. Yes, this is one of them.
In Ephesians 2:11-13, the Apostle Paul talks about our position to God, first before we were saved, and then after we are saved. Let’s pray and then look at these verses together.
Eph 2:11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— Eph 2:12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
The Apostle Paul summarizes what he has stated in the first part of the chapter to bring back this thought back to our minds. We were once separated from Christ.
One of the thing that kept us Gentiles from salvation was not being a Jew. We were uncircumcised in a world in which God had commanded His people to be circumcised. We were not separated as a people for God but were separated from God’s people. This was an important distinction pointed out by John.
Joh 1:11-13 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
We did not carry the promises of God. When God said, “If my people who are called by my name….”, He was not talking to us. So the “If…Then…” promises of the Old Testament were outside our reach. This was the case for us throughout Jesus’ life.
We have an interesting story in Mark. Mar 7:24-30 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. 25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." 28 But she answered him, "Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." 29 And he said to her, "For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter." 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.