Summary: Desiring God enough to walk along Revival's long and arduous road.
I have to tell ya, I hunger and I thirst for God. I desire his movement in my life; and I desire God’s restoration, and his reformation for our community, the valley, and nation. Let me ask you: Do you desire that too?
For many years now, God’s being stirring the hearts of countless Christians to seek the Lord for spiritual renewal. Since coming here, the area pastors and I have sensed a prevailing pull from God’s heart to ours saying, “I want to come and shatter the darkness in this valley, and bring a great light to lift the hearts and burden of those in bondage and captivity.” Do you want to that too? I pray you do.
Like many others I know, I pray often to God that he moves in the hearts of all those in our community, and for a local and national breakthrough of God’s working in us. Daniel prayed for his community too -- that God would break them free out from their captivity.
As we heard last week, Daniel’s prayers were affective. He trusted God would protect him all the days of his life. And with such a heart for his people, Daniel, Chapter Nine records Daniel’s turning to God and pleading with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes, so that the Lord God would deliver his chosen people out from captivity in Babylon, and back to the Promised Land.
Daniel’s life and ministry of presence was so powerful that he affected the heart of mind of his King — Darius of Persia. Darius, more than any world leader today, decreed that all needed to give their hearts and minds to the God of Heaven. He said, as recorded in Daniel 6:25-27: “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth.”
My friends, what you just heard was the softening of a pagan nation to release the captives God desired to set free, and the beginning of revival. But none of that would have been possible had not Daniel, and those who followed him, prayed for God’s stirring in the hearts and minds of others.
Leonard Ravenhall wrote about this kind of stirring in his book “While Revival Tarries.” He said: “No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying.
Poverty-stricken as the Church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of prayer. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players, but few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors. Failing here, we fail everywhere.”
My friends, Christianity has been failing America as America has turned from God and his Son Jesus Christ. We are in desperate times, and we must become a desperate people of faith. Many are praying from revival, and our nation needs a renewal of heart, mind and soul, and to turn back to God. That turning needs to be led by us.
This morning, we’re going to begin a three part sermon series called “the Road to Revival.” We’re going to follow along with “The Story” in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther, and learn how Judah sought God with the fullness of their beings; watched for God’s stirring; prayed, fasted and sought God for protection; and began a journey along the road of revival.
And in our learning, we too must see God for a new stirring of our hearts, so that we too can walk the road to revival. For, like Daniel and Jesus, we too must become a people of prayer so that God can move in our lives, and usher in a time when the captives that God desires to set free, are led into his promised land. Please open you bibles to Ezra Chapter One.
GOD STIRRED HEARTS -- TWICE
READ EZRA 1:1-5
We don’t see it plainly in the NIV, but in the most literal translation — the New American Standard Bible — the word “moved” we see in vv 1 & 5 is better translated as “stirred.” This word “stir” means to awaken, or to open the eyes of our heart to God’s willful redemption. This stirring, this awakening, this opening of the eyes, was — and still is — the first step in the heart of renewal for the children of God. Friends, it has to start with us, and from us, it will pour into the community at large.