Summary: A look at how we can know that the Spirit is in our midst.
When the Spirit Comes
A guy named Pete once got a job as a switchman with the railroad, and he had many weeks of training. Finally the last day came, and the supervisor took him into the switch booth to test his readiness. The following conversation took place:
Supervisor: “Imagine you were sitting here alone and you learned there was a train coming from the North on that track, and another coming from the South on the same track. What would you do?”
Pete: “I’d throw this switch right here and put one train on the other track.”
Supervisor: “And what if that switch didn’t work?”
Pete: “I’d go down to the track and throw that big switch lever there, putting one train on the other track.”
Supervisor: “And what if that switch lever didn’t work?”
Pete: “Then I’d come back here and call the dispatcher to stop both trains.”
Supervisor: “And what if the phone didn’t work?”
Pete: “Then I’d go to that gas station across the street and use their phone.”
Supervisor: “And what if their phone didn’t work?”
Pete: “Then I’d go get Uncle Joe.”
Supervisor: “Uncle Joe??? What would he do?”
Pete: “Nothing, but he ain’t never seen a train wreck.”
There is something about our humanity that revels in seeing things we don’t get to see everyday. We love to be able to experience big events, whether good or bad, up close and personal. For example, a few weeks before we moved out here, we had a State Police car come through town at 1:00AM with lights on and siren blaring. I immediately got out of bed and ran to the window to see if I could determine what was happening. As I opened the window to look out at what now turned into a half-dozen police cars, I noticed that more and more lights were turning on in houses. Soon, most of the residents on our quiet street were gathered in groups on different porches trying to determine what was going on. They were intrigued because police chases barely happen in small towns.
In the church the same is true. People expect church to be boring and normal. People expect church to be irrelevant and out of touch. People expect church to be slow and solemn. But, when something different and grand such as revival happens in the church, the people will flock to see what is going on. They will have their curiosity piqued by the amazing facts and events that will occur. Just like a train wreck or police chase in a small town, a revival in the church will attract a crowd.
So far, we have talked about the history of revival as well as what we need to do to get ready for revival. We must return to God with all our hearts and remove any barriers we have put up between God and us. We must go to God with truly repentant hears and wipe the slate clean. Then, we must decide as a church whether we truly want revival. In order to know if we want it, we have to know what we are getting into. Today, we are going to explore what happens when the Spirit of God comes upon the church in revival by taking a look at a prayer Paul offers for the church at Ephesus in Ephesians 3:14-21. It is a prayer that they will receive revival.
14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Paul is a man who knows something about revival and renewal. After all, he experienced it firsthand during his conversion on the road to Damascus. Now, he is passing on this prayer of blessing to the church at Ephesus so that they will have revival. Let’s take a look at what characteristics he prays for to be shown in their church, but first, let’s ask the Lord to bless our time.
Characteristic #1: Power from God