Five Keys to Revival Part 3: Be Connected

If we simply open our eyes we can see that our community, our country and our world is in desperate need of true revival. This message is designed to have a significant impact on our lives and the lives of others if we truly heed this word that our Lord is speaking to us. This week, we recap the previous two keys (death to self, absurd obedience to the Word of God) and look at the third key: just as sinews connect the parts of our physical body, we must be connected to each other.

 

Passage(s): 
Ezekiel 37

Comments

10:06
Announcements:
-Youth on retreat
-Family Retreat in January
-Elder forum
-Several in church family with medical issues
 
Prayer: You’ve called us to be a family. We know you’re God and you’re great. We sometimes don’t know how we should pray, but you tell us the Holy Spirit will intercede for us. We pray for Ned, Bill Brooks, Betty Vest, another church member. As the family tries to deal with those, we pray that your care and ministry would be upon them. May your healing hand come upon them. We pray for peace, comfort and encouragement. We ask that you bring to mind the things we’re remiss about. We ask your ministry to extend in every area. We lack wisdom in so many ways. We ask your blessing, your guidance, anointing, that your name would be honored and glorified in Jesus Name.
 
10:38
Francis Chan video - “That’s why God created the church…sharing everything. Caring for one another. Do you want to be a part of this fellowship God intended for his church or do you want to continue living in isolation?”
 
10:39
 
We’ve been looking at the keys to revival and the power of the spoken word. We’ve been grafted into the family. we’re children of the promise. IN Ezek 37, this prophecy allies to us. We’re the instrument God’s using to bring the dead back to life. You are my people, and as my people, you’re experiencing death. Even in that place, God can revive us and bring us life.
I believe the last great revival will happen before the end times, and we’re called to be part of that revival.
I’m not a spiritual expert on this, so don’t say, Pastor Michael said the end times are here. But as  I look at the signs of the times and the Word of God, I believe we’re entering the last days and God reviving his church. There’s still a lot of people in this world who don’t know Christ.
Last year I preached on evangelism. We’re living in a day with technology and travel so that this is the first generation truly able to reach the world for Christ. Even to the remotest parts of the earth. I believe we’re in the last great revival.
We must first be revived ourselves. We must be revived as churches, countries, in the world. As I look at the faces in this room, including in the mirror, we’re facing oppression. We can feel we’re like these dry bones. But I believe God wants us to speak.
 
The first key to revival: death to self. Jesus says we’re called to follow him. And we take up our cross and die to self, our desires and ambitions, to follow Christ.
 
Second key: we have to get to the point of absurd obedience to the Word of God. It’s easy for us to think that just sitting in church fulfills this obligation. We’re the church. Members of a functioning body. Every aspect of our life is to be interconnected. It’s not just about hearing a message and saying, “That’s pretty good.” We’re to be conformed to his image and rise up and walk in obedience to His Word.
We have to say, “I’ll walk in the things you say. Theo only way I’ll experience revival is in obedience to your word.
 
Third key: we must be connected.
 
Ezek 37:7-10 -  7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.
 8 And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them.
 9 Then he said to me, ‘‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.’’
 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
 
So we see that when God was telling Ezek to prophecy for this revival to happen, he was to speak and there was to be sinew—connectivity that would come on these dry bones.
 
This word sinew is interesting. It’s an umbrella for 3 different aspects of connectivity in the human body: tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. In the human body, there are over 900 sinews. A tendon is a tough band of fibrous connective tissue capable of withstanding enormous tension.
 
God’s provided for us. He says, “I’ve purposed for you to be connected. In a strong and mighty way. There must be a strong connection to stand against the tensions of the world, of temptation, of the struggles and circumstances of our lives.”
 
Peter says the enemy prowls like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. In conversation with someone, I shared that as we lived in Africa, we were fascinated with wildlife—lions, zebras. Zebras stand out like sore thumb since they’re black and white.
But I learned that when zebras are in a group together, a lion cannot identify a single zebra. There’s strength in numbers. And when the lion roars, the zebras scatter. And the wounded are left behind. And the lion comes and devours those who are weak and wounded because they’re isolated.
It’s extremely important that we stand together so we’re not devoured by the enemy.
 
A ligament connects bones to bones. Latin for “bind”. Cartilage is a stiff and flexible connective tissue that forms cushions and connects bones to bones. Including the joints in the rib cage, nose, ankle, bronchial tube. Not as hard as bone. Stiffer and less flexible than muscle. Even holds organs together.
 
Sinew does a multifaceted type of connection. There are different types of connection that need to happen in a body. There are certain things we’re NOT to compromise on. But at the same time we’re to cushion, comfort one another. To keep from the friction. We’re designed to be different, but not to cause friction, but to be connected, standing firm in the Word of God.
 
God’s desire is for us to be a multifaceted, strongly connected body. Connecting organs, heart, muscles. That connectivity is vital for the life of the body.
 
So in essence, if you’re not connected… we’ve done a lot of things n the world of science. IF a member of the body stays disconnected for a length of time, it’ll die. If you stay disconnected, you will die.
 
I’m not saying you lose your salvation, but there’ll be a spiritual growing cold. You’l be lured into more and more temptations. And because we/re designed to be connected, you’ll find SOMETHING to be connected to. A sinful habit. Something. The enemy, a pretender, will provide false light , something for you to be connected to. So you’ll experience death. Not the life God has for you.
 
In Acts 2:41-42 (MESSAGE) -  41* That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up.
 42* ¶ They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.
 
This happened on the day 3000 people heard Peter’s sermon and responded. They “committed themselves” - there’s something required of us. We have to make the choice to be connected. Committed to be connected. Life together. Common meal. Prayers. Everyone around was in awe of the connectivity.
 43 Everyone around was in awe--all those wonders and signs done through the apostles!
 44* And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common.
 45* They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.
 46* They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful,
 47 as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.
 
There’s a common sharing that took place. Two different types of connectivity: vertical between person and God. And horizontal: man to man. Because this was taking place, God was adding, signs and wonders were being done.
This connectivity, horizontal and vertical, were both vital. In order to grow and stand strong in the Lord and mature and be victorious and be revived, you have to have that connectivity with God. And if you don’t have it with God, you won’t have it with one brother to another.
Word of God say we can’t stand on our own. When we try NOT to have that connectivity to one another, that will hinder our connectivity to God.
 
God created the church for us to encourage one another. To spur one another on. To rebuke in love. To understand that none of us is perfect. We all have things we struggle in. So God’s designed us to walk w/ one another to experience this fellowship.
 
When we’re disconnected from one another, that creates a disconnect from the vision and purpose for our lives. You’re part of a body. If you disconnect from the body, you can’t fulfill your purpose. That’s foundational.
 
Practical things you can do—not earth-shaking. We have to purpose to be vulnerable. I know I’ve been vulnerable before and have been hurt, but God still tells us in his word that we are. So our brother can encourage and help us.
We have to prioritize time for fellowship. I know that this world desires to suck every ounce of time you have. There are a lot of good things we’re involved in. But they’re just good things. There are good things and there are God’s things. We’re called to prioritize the God things. And the thing God’s called us to prioritize fellowship w/ each other.
We need to ask ourselves, “How can I prioritize connecting with each other?”
In our church family, we have several connection points. Small groups (small group leaders raise your hand). We have Sunday and Wednesday night Bible studies, men’s and women’s. In Men’s we are reading “God’s battle plan for prayer.” There’s Wednesday night prayer group. We know that prayer is vital to the growth of the church.
There’s discipleship training 100. There’s marriage as a ministry discipleship class starting. And we have marriage mentors, willing to mentor you. If you’re a marriage mentor, raise your hand.
We also have several other outreach ministry groups. It’s important that we find a place to be connected. In order for us to experience life, we must be connected to one another.
 
In order for revival to take place, we need another form of connection. Later in the Ezek passage, God says he’d bring the two major tribes together from the South and the North. These two groups were opposed to one another. And God says I’ll unite my people together as one.
We see that God desires unity to take place. As members of the body of Christ, we’re called to go forth as ministers of reconciliation.
 
VIDEO: snapshots of people, “When I look into the face of my enemy, I see my brother.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b74LS7FHSg8).
 
When we look at that video, our natural response is to categorize people we see. They’re far too far from Christ. Impossible for them to be saved. So we don’t invest time in them. But the reality is that all of us were dead in our sin. All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.
Pushing further, even if there’s someone who has an identity crisis where they go to the point of where they change not only their sexual orientation and go through surgery that changes them permanently. Even then, God still loves them. The Bible says that God is asking all men to come to a saving knowledge of Christ.
All of us fall short of God’s glory.
 
Ezek 37:16-  16 ‘‘Son of man, take a stick and write on it, ‘For Judah, and the people of Israel associated with him’;then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him.’
 17 And join them one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand.
 18 And when your people say to you, ‘Will you not tell us what you mean by these?’
 19 say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am about to take the stick of Joseph (that is in the hand of Ephraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with him. And I will join with it the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, that they may be one in my hand.
 
God’s saying, “This is what *I* will do.”
 
John 5:22ff  - 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,
 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
 
God’s given all judgment to whom? The son. Do YOU have power to judge? NO.
 
WHOEVER hears and believes HAS eternal life. No matter what state you’re in. No matter how much you’ve sinned and struggled with identity, you can have e’life and have no judgement.
 
2Co 5:14-20  14* For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;
 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
 16 ¶ From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.
 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
 18* All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us [as believers, you and me] the ministry of reconciliation;
 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of [what is our message?] reconciliation.
 
Did I say the message of JUDGMENT?
 
 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
 
We have been given the message of reconciliation. NOT a message of Judgment. IN order for revival to happen, we must understand that we’re called to bring unity and not division. We must be willing, just as Christ did, to step out of our comfort zone, our way of thinking. Out of what we believe is the way we’re supposed to dress, act, sound.
Just as Christ gave up all godliness and took on the form of a man, we’re to understand what it is to be in another’s shoes, in their struggles.
 
A few weeks ago, someone told me, “I cannot stand when an adult abuses a child. Such a person deserves to be taken out and hung.” I’ve heard horrific things adults have done to children.
I shared with him that I worked in a psych hospital with troubled teens. And I’ve done counseling. And many adults who abuse children were actually abused when they were young. They abuse because that’s what they themselves were subject to.
We have to find a way to love, forgive, and help them to be reconciled. That’s what we’re called to do.
 
I believe marriage is the proving ground for the ministry of reconciliation. You have to be able to hear and understand their struggles. Extend a measure of grace to them. Just as Jesus did when we didn’t love him, He loved us. We must seek in that relationship how to stand, how to be reconciled, to the person we said, “I do” to.
If we cannot understand how to reconcile with our spouse, how can we have reconciliation with the world?
Marriage wasn’t designed to make you happy, it was designed to make you holy, more like Christ. You have to get in the trenches and figure out how to stand and walk in ministry of reconciliation one to another. If you judge your spouse, I guarantee you’l judge those in the world.
Bro’s and sis’s, I pray… This last point we’ll save for another time.
 
11:22
We’re going to have communion. As we do this, hear that God Himself will take the two sticks and make them one. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. It’s the weapon God’s given us for God to walk with us in His purpose. “I will take the two and make them one. I will reconcile them.”
As we take communion, let’s pray that God will stir our hearts and make us ministers of reconciliation.
 
"Memorial" Video - Ike Ndolo - YouTube
 
We practice open communion, so if Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you’r welcome to partake with us. If you don’t yet know Jesus, we would love to introduce you.
 
As you take the bread and cup, remember what Jesus came to do: set us free from sin and death. The power of sin is division. It separated man from God. This is the power of sin. It created eternal separation of man from God. and we continue to see the many aspects of sin and how it separates us from one another, creating division in our homes, our community, amongst the body of Christ. It creates division within ourselves, where we do things we don’t want to do. Our spirit is willing but our flesh is weak. Sometimes our emotion desires one thing and our spirit something else.
X came to reconcile. He’s able to reconcile no matter how great the division. Do you believe it?
 
On the night Jesus was betrayed… he took the bread… he took the cup… 
My blood doesn’t just cover sins, it washes away sins and gives eternal life. Remember, my blood brings you from death to life. My life for yours.
 
11:32
Please stand. If anyone here wants to surrender their life to Christ, come now. We won’t pressure you. If the Holy Spirit is convicting you, respond.
 
As I pray, please come forward. Please agree with me in prayer. Let’s trust the Lord and have faith to walk in obedience to whatever God’s stirring in our hearts.
 
Prayer: Lord, I believe. Help me with my unbelief. My mind is so shallow. I fall so short. We thank you that your grace and love extends beyond our comprehension. No matter what the struggle or circumstance, I know you bring light, unity, peace, healing. Whatever the situation, we know that you, Father, will be at work in the situation.
Meet each person where they are. Give them a sense of peace. Let them hear your voice saying, “I’m with you. I’m at work in your life. I give you peace in the name of Jesus.”
Father, we love you. Show us the folly of our ways. We go ways that produce death. Release us from our pride. Show us your ways and the truth of your Word so we can stand and walk in obedience. We love you and praise you in Jesus name.
 
11:36
Will reading the words of Christ. Let this not be a ritual but something that inspires us every week.
 
Matthew 28:18-20 -  18 And Jesus came and said to them, ‘‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
 19* Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’’