Revived and Alive
So, OFFICIALLY I have been your pastor for 7 years. I was installed, and had my first Sunday as your pastor on January 11, 2015. As I was thinking through this week and what to share I was reminded of my first sermon I preached here as your pastor. Does anyone here remember what it was?
That is ok. I was not expecting anyone to. Which is good, because I decided that this morning I would refresh us all on what the Lord told us that morning.
1 The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. 2 He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. 3 Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?” “O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.” 4 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! 6 I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’ ” 7 So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. 8 Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’ ” 10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army. 11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12 Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’ ”
Have you ever felt lifeless?
Sure, like barely alive, exhausted, worn out, etc… ?
But, also a Spiritual lifelessness. Your soul is exhausted. You feel as though God isn’t listening and you feel as though you might as well be dead?
Maybe the pandemic has you worn out!
I know, personally, I am tired of mandates, masks, vaccine or no vaccine arguments, families being torn over procedures and protocols - and even churches are being ripped apart. People are arguing with pastors over the church leadership’s response to the pandemic. In some cases, people refuse to return to in person gathering because of health concerns, but more often than not, it is because of a difference of opinion on how leadership handled the pandemic. Statistically, attendance is down 30% on average in churches in the United States due to the pandemic. Our church has fared slightly better… we seem to be down about 20%. But, our Discipleship (midweek studies, and Sunday school is way down…)
And, to top it all off, people who once were highly involved in the ministries of the church seem to have, “served their time” and are taking their seats on the spectator's rows - assuming there is such a thing in churches.
But, it’s not just the simple things of the pandemic that have me worn out… I am worn out by the lack of housing in our community and the rising cost of living. It feels as though every couple of months someone reaches out to me wanting to know if I am aware of any homes available for rent. It pains me that every time that happens I have to say, “No, I don’t.” The grocery store shelves are bare, and what is there costs exponentially more than it did about a year ago.
Yes, I would say we definitely need a great reawakening and revival in our communities and our churches!
It is the breath of God that moves us from lifelessness to life! It is the breath of God that can revive!
Ezekiel is in a similar situation.
The people have been deported by the Babylons and exiled to a land not their own. They are being forced to accept new ideas and customs that aren’t simply not theirs - they are often completely contrary to their customs and religion - they are drastically different.
And, they have to be wondering if God cares about them. After all, they are supposed to be God’s people, but here they are in a new land, with new customs - they might as well be dead!
So, Ezekiel is brought to a valley
Not just dead bones, but dead bones that have been there a while
They are dried up, there’s no mucus juices or body juices on them
The question for Ezekiel and the question of us is “Can these bones live?”
Can something be brought back from death?
Can God revive us? Can God wake the church up?
If so, how??!!
The answer - GOD’S BREATH
God’s breath has always given life!
In Genesis 2 it is God’s breath that takes a lump of clay and makes it a living being
In Genesis 1 the world was created because of God’s spoken word (in order to form words you must use a breath!)
But, when God’s breath is taken away life also goes with it.
The reason death entered the world because of sin is because humans cut themselves off from the source of life (God’s breath) and so death is inevitable where God’s breath is not present
Think of your experience with human life.
The first breath an infant takes is always in
While the last breath a dying person takes is always out
Breath is always on loan from God!
Where there is God’s breath there is life but where God’s breath is absent life is absent as well.
Ruach = breath = spirit
Pneuma = breath = spirit
God declares in this passage that he can WOOF back what is dried, dead and decayed into a revived, and restored resource for his kingdom
So God tells Ezekiel to prophesy and allow God’s breath to reenter what was decayed.
And Ezekiel begins to do this and the bones and sinews and body parts begin to come back together.
BUT, v. 8 tells me something very sad “THERE WAS NO BREATH IN THEM”
8 Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.
This is where some of us are.
We look alive, but we are dead!
We look like we have it all together, but GOD’s breath is not found in us
We look alive, but God really isn’t in us!
Maybe we’re tired. Maybe we’re worn out. But, we are going through the motions of being alive, but we are dead!
Do you know what that is? It’s a ZOMBIE! Something that acts and looks alive, but is really dead!
Jesus speaks to the Zombie Church in Sardis in Revelation 3...
1 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead.
What does Jesus say to the Pharisees who look as thought hey have it all together, but are really dead?
27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.
We look alive, but God really isn’t in us!
So, Ezekiel prophesies that God’s breath would come into the dried Zombie Bones.
As soon as God’s breath entered they became alive and they became a useful army for God’s kingdom! They have a purpose to fulfill God's mission.
There is hope!
These dried dusty and decayed bones can live.
Churches on the verge of closing can reopen!
Churches on the verge of a split can be reunited.
Denominations can find peace and healing.
Life can come back!
But, how? What now?
The answer is in us pleading for the Spirit of God again!
As long as people are willing to allow God's breath to enter into them and be a part of them continually, then God can revive us.
God can give us breath, God can give us life, and God can use us as individuals and as a church to be on HIS mission.
The hope is in the ruach, breath, spirit of God that enters into a person making that person useful for God’s purposes!
There is hope so long as we allow God’s Spirit to woof us back to life.
There are 3 camps we can be in this morning....
1. The camp that has allowed God to breathe into them.
This is the camp that at some point they allowed God's breath, wind, Spirit into them to be useful for God's purpose. This is beyond a salvation experience where we allowed God to come to us to forgive us of our sins. This is an experience where God came to us in order to fully make us useful for HIS purpose.
But, it is a continuous filling of God's breath. If we cut ourselves off from God's breath we cut ourselves off from the source of life and death is the inevitable result.
2. This camp is the camp of bones that look alive
These are those who are here this morning because that’s what you always do. They are the ones who come for no reason but just to be here. They do not desire any influencing from God and they do not desire any real transformation.
These are the ones who might do all the churchy stuff, but who no longer know why they do it. They teach Sunday school, fix meals, etc... but have no greater purpose for doing it. They might be the ones who do it because they have always done it and now everyone looks up to them to do it; so they can't stop.
Also, in this camp are the “use to” people. They use to be involved. They use to help out. They still come, they still attend. And, they even point to the “use to” days. The days when the church use to have 120 people. The days when God use to bless the church in various ways. It’s all about what “use to be” and not about what CAN BE!
Ultimately, these are the ones who on the outside look as though they have it all together, but … they do not have the breath of God.
3. This is the camp that just doesn't care or doesn't know.
This is the camp of those who are dead. Those who do not know that there is a better way to live their life outside of drugs, alcohol, lying, cheating, etc... or they don't care. These are the people in the valley that we as a church are trying to reach.
Some of them might be here this morning. But, most likely, if you’re here, you are either in camp 2 or 3...
But, here is the reality about these camps… I said there are 3 that someone can be in. But really, our options are only 2… Alive or dead.
There is either the camp of the living or the camp of the dead. Outside appearances do not matter!
Camps 2 & 3 are both death camps. They are both camps where God's Spirit is now allowed to come or has not come and therefore there is NO LIFE. Camp 3 doesn't care or know any better, but camp 2 is the camp that is only going through the motions of what it means to be alive; and yet because God's breath is not in those of this camp they are dead.
So, are you alive or are you dead?
What camp are you in?
Here’s the Good News. If you are dead, if you need a revival, if you appear alive, but really aren’t GOD DOESN’T WANT YOU TO STAY THAT WAY!
It’s the same for the church. If the church needs revival GOD CAN BREATH AGAIN INTO HER AND MAKE HER LIVE!
If you want revival and a refresher GOD CAN SEND HIS BREATH, HIS WIND, HIS SPIRIT and revive YOU and revive US!
There is a hope for a future! But, we must allow God to breath! So long as the people of this church and so long as this entire church allows God's breath to enter into it sending the church and it's people on God's mission, THEN AND ONLY THEN will there be revival and then and only then will there be a future.
So, are you in the camp that wants and seeks God's revival, or are you in a camp that doesn't care or is only concerned with how you appear to others?
Are you in the camp that leads to life and refreshed purpose or are you in a camp that leads to death, decay, and dust?
If you want something different for yourself, your church, and your world YOU MUST pitch your tent in the revival camp!
Let’s be people of revival. Let’s be people who allow the Spirit of God to breath into us and move us from zombies and death, into a unified revived people who are useful for HIS SERVICE!
Let us allow God to revive us again and bring what is dead or dying back to life!