THE RIVER OF REVIVAL

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 9 views
Notes
Transcript

Introduction

You are probably familiar with Joni Erickson Tada who had a terrible diving accident that left her a quadriplegic. In spite of her physical limitations she became an accomplished author and artist. Over 35 years ago she married her husband, Ken. For her wedding she had planned to come down the center aisle in her motorized wheel chair. Just before her grand entrance she noticed two distressing problems. First, she had rolled over her beautiful gown and made a big grease spot and tear in it. Then, the flowers in her lap had slipped and had lodged between her leg and the chair. She was filled with disappointment, and then suddenly the doors to the auditorium opened, and she saw her husband to be.
Here was the man who was committing his love and his life to her. Joni later said, “Once I saw Ken's face, all I could think of was him. Everything else—the people in the church, the flowers that were sitting a little askew on my lap, the fact that my dress didn't fall right because I was sitting in a wheelchair, the grease marks, the rip in my gown all of it paled in comparison.”
-When Christ is seen as the ultimate priority, all the things we think are so important pale in comparison—they are put in their proper perspective.
~But when Christ is not the focus of our gaze, everything leaves us dissatisfied
-And so today you need to CONSIDER YOUR WAYS—what are the symptoms of your life showing you.
-First, if you have no assurance of heaven or salvation, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved—He died for you so that you may live…
-Christian, if your priorities are all completely out of whack, come to the altar and get it straightened out—fix your gaze upon Jesus
-If you are looking for a church home that prioritizes Jesus, you have found it…
Ezekiel 47:1–12 ESV
1 Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. 2 Then he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and behold, the water was trickling out on the south side. 3 Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep. 4 Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. 5 Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. 6 And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. 7 As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. 8 And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. 9 And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 10 Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. 12 And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”

I) The source of revival power

-To give you some background:
~Ezekiel was taken in one of the early groups of the Babylonian captivity. While in captivity, God gave Ezekiel prophecies and visions related to the soon-coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. These visions indicated that the glory of God had left Jerusalem due to the sin and hardness of heart of the people, so God was giving Jerusalem up to its enemies.
~But God would give Ezekiel later visions that indicated what God would do in the future—there would be remnant that would be saved through whom God would show His glory again.
-In the visions, an angel gives Ezekiel a tour of some spiritually significant events portrayed to Ezekiel through symbols.
~While some scholars believe these are visions of a future millennial kingdom, what these actually represent are the spiritual realities that become ours in the New Covenant through Jesus.
-Our passage today is part of this vision of showing Ezekiel what is spiritually going to happen after Messiah comes.
-Ezekiel in the vision sees the temple of Jerusalem, and he notices that a little bit of water is trickling out from the threshold of the temple. The doors to the temple face eastward, so this small stream of water comes out of the south side of the temple but heads toward the east, out of the temple complex and eventually out of the city of Jerusalem.
~The farther along the water leaves the temple, the bigger the stream of water becomes. From a little trickle, it turns into maybe a nice rolling stream, but eventually as it leaves the city, it turns into a river that works its way southeast, heading straight for the Dead Sea.
-That the river begins at the temple is very significant. The temple represented the presence of God among His people. This is where people would seek God, sacrifice to God, pray to God, and worship God. Therefore, God Himself is the source of the river.
-It represented that there would come a time in the future when the power of God would come forth and do mighty works in the world.
-But why this is significance for us is what it spiritually means for our day.
~When Jesus was on this earth, He told the people that if they were to destroy the temple He would raise it again on the third day. But the temple that He was referring to was Himself—He was referring to the temple of His body. Why? Because God’s full presence was in Jesus—Jesus was the God-man, fully divine and fully human. He was the new temple.
~But after His death and resurrection, He ascended to heaven and sent His Holy Spirit to reside in the hearts and lives of all who believe in Him. According to the apostle Paul, that means that God’s presence with His people is found in the hearts of believers. We are now the temple.
-Let’s put this all together. That river whose source was God in the temple that Ezekiel saw, is now the power of the Holy Spirit that lives and works inside of us, if we would but submit ourselves to Him. And what might start out as a small trickle of power has the potentiality of becoming a mighty, raging river, if we allow ourselves to be such a conduit.
-The power to change the world resides in us, and God is waiting for us to give ourselves fully to Him so that we harness that power and are used by Him as a tool of revival.
-You see, Jesus’ plan was that the Holy Spirit in us would overflow out of us to affect others—the Holy Spirit wasn’t given for us to hold up inside of us so that we feel spiritual or live comfortably. We are vessels of the Holy Spirit so that we could become world-changers.
~That’s why the water in the vision is a river—it keeps flowing out giving fresh water constantly. It isn’t a lake that just sits there.
-The Holy Spirit in us isn’t to be bottled up. The Holy Spirit wants to be let loose through us. That’s why Jesus said:
"If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.
38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'"
39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive (Jn. 7:37-39 ESV)
-So, we have that power within us, and we can literally change the world—but the question is how submitted are we going to be to that power? So, I next want us to see:

II) The invitation to revival power

-The angel does something interesting with Ezekiel. He measures downstream for about 1/3 of a mile and has Ezekiel get in, and its about ankle deep. He measures downstream another 1/3 of a mile and Ezekiel gets in and it is knee-deep. Downstream another 1/3 of a mile it’s waist-deep. Another 1/3 of a mile down it’s over his head and hard to cross.
-In a sense, you could say that the angel was inviting Ezekiel to take part in what the power of the river was doing, and he had a choice about how committed to it he was going to be.
-And this same invitation goes out to us—we are invited to partake of the power of the river of the Holy Spirit and be conduits of that power—but what happens depends on how submitted we are to the Spirit and how committed we are to giving ourselves over to Him.
-You see, there are some people who stand on the bank of the river. These are people who like the idea of Christianity and maybe like its morals, but they actually don’t want to commit themselves in any way to Jesus Christ. Sure, they may identify as Christians, but they have never fully trusted in Jesus’ death and resurrection for eternal life. They may be hoping some of the water sprays up on them in the wind, but there is no commitment whatsoever.
-Then there are the people who go in ankle deep. They have given their lives to Jesus, but they see Him as fire-insurance—a “get out of hell free” card. They want to go to heaven, but they don’t care if any heaven comes down to earth through them. These folks may come to church, but they don’t serve through the church.
-Then there are the people who go in knee-deep. These people are committed to serving in the church, but the Spirit has no real impact in their daily life. They don’t have impact outside the church because they have never had allowed the Spirit to do anything through them that is not related to the church.
-There are the people who go in waist-deep. These people have a desire to serve God, but the pull of the world is getting at them as well. They have good intentions, and they make themselves available to God as best they can, but they are also half-worldly, meaning a lot of what they attempt is done in the flesh. While the folks up to the ankles and knees really don’t care about God’s work other than how it makes them feel or if it makes their own lives comfortable, these folks desire to see God work, but they’re double-minded and unstable.
-But then there are the folks who go all in—the river covers their head and then some. These folks understand what it means to be filled with the Spirit and to walk in the Spirit. They have given over control of their lives to the leading of the spirit and have submitted themselves to His authority. Even when the Spirit leads them to do something that makes no sense to them, they do it anyway because they know He has something great in store for them.
-There are different commitments to the power of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life. What you are able to accomplish for the kingdom on earth depends how deep in you are. But revival only comes when you are in over your head in the power of the Holy Spirit.
-How deep in the river are you? What is God able to do through you? How much control does the Holy Spirit have of your life?
-You see, according to this vision, when you are in as deep in the power of the Holy Spirit as you can be, revival occurs, and that leads me to talk about:

III) The results of revival power

-What Ezekiel records is that farther down the river, the river begins to give life in places where life did not previously exist.
-The river flowed from the temple all the way to the Dead Sea. There is a reason why the Dead Sea is called the Dead Sea. It’s because no life can be sustained in that body of water. Scientists say that while most salt-water bodies of water has about a 5% mineral content, the Dead Sea has about a 25% mineral content which makes life impossible.
-So there is no life in the Dead Sea and there’s not much life around the Dead Sea. But where this river flows, new life is given to it.
-In the vision, the river causes the Dead Sea to become fresh water, and fish and other aquatic life spring up in its once dead waters. And along the river and the sea new trees that give fresh fruit begin to grow.
-This picture is very similar to one given in Revelation,
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
(Rev. 22:1-2 ESV)
-You see, where the Holy Spirit is at work in and through God’s people, life is given—for the Christian, it is a renewal of life, but for the non-Christian, it means a new life in Jesus Christ.
-When God’s people are committed to submitting to the power of the Holy Spirit, they themselves are spiritually renewed, and the power of God flows through them such that unbeliever’s hearts are changed—and when unbeliever’s hearts are changed, then communities are changed.
-Can you imagine another revival like that in Wales, Great Britain, where Christians are renewed in their focus, and unbelievers come to Christ, and people leave their vices and sins and commit themselves to living for the Lord.
-I think our problem is we don’t think it can actually happen. We love to hear the stories, but we think our world is too far gone.
~Let me tell you something, in the days of Jonathan Edwards things were spiritually just as bad as they are today, and when God’s people submitted to the power of the Holy Spirit, God brought the First Great Awakening.
~And in the days of Charles Finney, things were spiritually just as bad as they are today, and when God’s people submitted to the power of the Holy Spirit, God brought the Second Great Awakening.
~And in the days of Jeremiah Lanphier in the 1850s things were spiritually just as bad as they are today, and when God’s people submitted to the power of the Holy Spirit, God brought the Great Prayer Revival.
~And in the days of Evan Roberts in Wales things were spiritually just as bad as they are today, and when God’s people submitted to the power of the Holy Spirit, God brought the First Great Awakening.

Conclusion

-But it all depends on if we are a people who will give themselves over to the power of the Holy Spirit—let’s stop playing around with our Christianity and living for self and submit to the Holy Spirit and see what power He will send through us.
-But first you have to step into the river—if you have played the part of Christian without ever being a Christian, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved today.
-If you are a Christian, then come to the altar today and pray like revival depends upon you, and submit yourself to His power and authority and see what He can do through you.
-Come and pray that God uses our revival meetings in a few weeks to change us so that we then change the world.
-If you are looking for a church home that is Bible-centered and Spirit led, come join our family today and let God use you to minister in His name through us here.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more