Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fading Hope or Sweeping Revival

The church is at a fork in the road. We have been standing at that fork for a few years now. We must decide which road we want to be traveling. The title of the message this morning is, Fading Hope or Sweeping Revival. The fact is our nation has already chosen its path. Now the church, or should I say churches are making their choices. Even within churches every individual Christian is making a choice.

Are we going to be a fading hope or a sweeping revival?

We must choose wisely and with the benefit and guidance of the Holy Spirit in prayer.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people.” Proverbs 14:34 (NASB)

Every nation, tribe and people throughout history has been influenced by its people. Great and small, wise or foolish – People impact their nation.

Great nations are built by great men and women…

Great men & women are the people we remember…

Who are those people for you?

A few years ago now, Focus on the Family, put out a list of their top 100 influential people of all time. I admit there were people on the list that I would not have chosen because, frankly, their influence upon History was, to say the least, NEGATIVE! However, their impact was HUGE. A single person can change history.

Great churches are also built by great people. The “Body of Christ” should be the world’s largest collection of extraordinarily great people. Do you know any of them? Do you see yourself as one of them?  

Who are they?

What makes them great?

God expects us to be a people of great faith. He is still transforming us into great people. God is still looking for unwavering faith to activate within His people. He wants us to become people of WORLD CHANGING FAITH.  Grab your Bible. Read about the exploits of the children of God! Repent, Believe, and Press-on!

“I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.” Ezekiel 22:30 (NLT)

As I said before, the church is standing at a fork in the road. Do you and I have the faith we need to rebuild the wall of righteousness – Will we turn back toward God?

Pentecostal churches are becoming less and less Pentecostal and churches that adhere to Biblical standards are few and far between today…I’m not suggesting we turn back the hands of time and live without the modern comforts we are invested in. I’m shouting…FIND GOD AS THE SOURCE OF your RIGHTEOUSNESS!

“Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth.” Ezekiel 33:12 (KJV)

What is that Scripture saying?

Are we scratching our heads yet? Isaiah 64:6 will clear up the confusion for us.

“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” Isaiah 64:6 (NLT)

Our Righteousness Filthy Rags…

The only person who saves us is Jesus. The only power that transforms us belongs to God. Most of the saints that moved in the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit as I was growing up in the church have, by now, had a change of address and are living in Heaven. If we do not step up to the calling we have received from God, and step out in ever-increasing trust and reliance upon God; we (the church) will become a fading hope. 
Fading Hope or Sweeping Revival: Do we have the desire to make the choice?

We are at a fork in the road today. The church seems to have lost its influence. We seem to be hanging on by a thread. Are we going to live or die?

Christ made two statements in the New Testament that I have been really puzzled by this week…

Matthew 16:18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”

Luke 18:8 “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

If the gates of Hell cannot stop the church, why are so many struggling to hold on to faith?

Turn with me to Isaiah 38:1-3. Keep that question in mind because we will answer it. If the gates of Hell cannot stop the church, why are so many struggling to hold on to faith?

Isaiah 38:1-3 (NASB)
In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, and said, “Remember now, O Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Isaiah 38:1-3 (NASB)

All the promises of God are conditional upon our participation.

Repent and live.

The church may be on its death bed. But, if we awaken faith, cry out to God, and get our house in order, God will hear and answer us. Ok, I realize to some this may sound like doom and gloom theology – I’m sorry if you don’t like to hear it! But, I am called to preach the messages I believe God has given me. This one is burning within my soul… Repent and live!

Let’s continue reading.

Isaiah 38:4-6 (NASB)
Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, saying, “Go and say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city.”’ Isaiah 38:4-6 (NASB)

There are still two possible outcomes – Fading Hope or Sweeping Revival.

 We need to look at Isaiah chapter 39 to see how this ended for Hezekiah and hopefully we won’t take the wrong fork. Unfortunately, we seem to make the same mistakes again and again.

Isaiah 39:1-2 (NIV)
At that time Marduk-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of his illness and recovery. Hezekiah received the envoys gladly and showed them what was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine olive oil—his entire armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.

Whenever God is at work, everyone wants to come around and see for themselves the extent of His blessings upon our lives. Resist the urge to be a showoff. I read somewhere, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Verses 3-4 (NIV)
Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked, “What did those men say, and where did they come from?” “From a distant land,” Hezekiah replied. “They came to me from Babylon.” The prophet asked, “What did they see in your palace?” “They saw everything in my palace,” Hezekiah said. “There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them.”

Some of the things God accomplishes in our lives is really not for public display. The Holy Spirit will direct us if we LISTEN to His leading. God uses our testimonies and He desires our gifts to be used for His glory, but everything follows His schedule and His purpose.

Verses 5-6 (NIV)
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord Almighty: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord.

Have we lost what we once were given because we did not hold the blessing of God as sacred and holy? Is the next generation of Christians being led into captivity now because we have abandoned our willingness to be moved by the Spirit of God?

Can we hear the Holy Spirit calling us to repentance and renewed faith or is the noise of comfort and prosperity too loudly ringing in our ears? When everything is said and done, there will be nothing left but God, and He will be glorified. Do we want to be a fading hope, or will we become a sweeping revival?

Verses 7-8
And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”  “The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime.” Isaiah 39:1-8 (NIV)

Hezekiah made the mistake of showing off the blessings God gave him. He made the mistake of accepting “gifts” he should not have. In the end he said, “It’s all good because the captivity and loss won’t happen in my lifetime.”

Oh, BTW that’s a paraphrase.

Has the church done the same thing? I believe God wants His people to depend upon His power. We are paying the price NOW and the generation following us will continue to pay the price for lack of dependence upon God.

Repentance and faith will make all the difference.

Consider these passages of Scripture in closing. Allow the Spirit of God to speak to your heart. This is not a High Pressure Sales Pitch – It’s a loving call to action.
John 1:12 (KJV)
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” John 1:12 (KJV)

Titus 3:7 (NLT)
“Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” Titus 3:7 (NLT)

We can celebrate eternal life but we cannot soak up the blessings of God – just to leave the next generation – High and dry!

Sometimes we do not realize what we have because we fail to activate the power by faith. The gifts God has given us never lose their value or their power. We just need to remember they are given to be used. We must all understand and apply –

2 Corinthians 4:6-8
“For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;” 2 Corinthians 4:6-8 (NASB)

Fading Hope or Sweeping Revival:

It’s up to each one of us to make the choice.

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