Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

06/03/2018 P.M.

 

Practicing Dry Bone Revival

Ezekiel 37.1–14

 

Tonight...We end our Series on living the good life that Jesus came to make possible with... Patience... Perseverance... determination.

 

We end with a lesson on... Revival... Renewal... reformation... Restoration.

 

Truth is… We all are in need of REVIVAL… Because we are never as good as we ought to be.

 

In fact... Most of the Bible is about REVIVAL.

• From the Fall to the Flood...

• From the Call of Abraham to the Exodus...

• From King David to the Return of the Remnant.

• From Pentecost to the close of the Book of Revelation.

We find God constantly calling His people back to a more intimate relationship.

 

• The Old Testament Prophets...

• John the Baptist...

• TheEpistles of Paul...

• James... Jude... First & Second Peter...

• The Letters of John... The Book of Hebrews and Revelation... All written to call God’s people back to a previous Status... To a previous Commitment...And Purpose.

 

The words... Revive... Revival... Renewal... Reformation... Restoration...Speak to us of a time when...

we were once better off than we are now...

• That we were once closer to being God’s person individually and corporately than we are now.

 

Perhaps the most interesting call for Revival is found in the Book of Ezekiel... Israel was in Babylonian captivity because of her sins.  Israel... The church of the Old Testament...Had forsaken their calling as...

• God’s chosen generation...

• His Royal Priesthood...

• His Holy Nation.

• They were no longer God’s peculiar people.

• They were no longer proclaiming Him to be God...

• No longer demonstrating His... Love... Mercy... Grace... and Power... To those who lived about them.

 

Israel had become a mere skeleton of its former self.

She was in need of revival And restoration... Both spiritually and nationally.

 

Access a Worship Bulletin and let’s read our text together... Ezekiel chapter 37... I begin with the verse numbered one... The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me to and fro among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me,“Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet--a vast army. Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

 

The lesson is simple... Churches... Individuals... Families... Nations... Become like Israel.

• Churches get carried into captivity...

• Exiled by their own sins...

• Captivated by Satan.

• We come to a spiritual standstill.... Become lukewarm.

We can get to the point that we only exist as a shadow... As a skeleton of our former selves.

 

Do you think this could happen to the Bella Vista Church of Christ?... Or to us individually?  Is it possible that we have lost... Or could lose our focus... Our purpose and commitment?

 

Here’s the lesson in a nutshell…

Our revival must be a progressive and ongoing part of our walk with God...

So…Let’s trip back to Ezekiel... And the Valley of Dry Bones.

see what we can learn about restoration and revival...

 

Revival starts with a sense of God’s hand upon us.

Verse one... And the hand of the Lord was upon me.

 

All of us have seen blind people explore and express their love to others by running their fingers over the face of another individual.

 

When was the last time you felt the fingers of God on our face... The face of this church.

 

We must know that unless the hand of God is upon us...

• Leading us...

• Improving us...

• Forgiving us...

• Healing us...

• Giving us purpose...

Then we’re in trouble and there can never be any serious Renewal and Revival...

 

You see... It is not within man... Who walks... To direct his own steps... There is a way that appears right to man... But the end is the way of destruction.

We need help... We need God’s help... His revival.

 

We must be willing to learn from our valley experiences.

Church...God not only teaches and leads us by His Word... But by His providence. Listen to Ezekiel... The Lord set me in a valley.  God takes Ezekiel to the valley... Then leads Ezekiel back and forth...Back and forth... Round about... Among these bones.

 

God is saying to Ezekiel... Are you listening? Do you get the message? Are you learning anything from this valley experience?

 

Here it is church... Often the most meaningful... The most ambitious revivals... Restoration... renewals... In life... Come from valley experiences.

• Peter speaks of God placing us in the valley of refining fire... Where we’re purified like gold.

• The Hebrews’ writer tells us that often revival comes as God disciplines us as sons.

• James tells us to count it a joy when God leads us into valley experiences for our learning.

 

Are we currently in a valley experience prompted by the divine providence of God?

 

Is God leading us back and forth... Round and about... Keeping us in this valley experience for a reason?... Let’s not miss the message of the valley!!

 

We often pray for God to remove us from our valley experiences... But frequently... God leaves us there... Leading us back and forth... back and forth... Round about until we get the message... Until we understand the lesson. 

 

The key is simple... Are we learning anything from our valley experiences?

 

Look at verse three... God asked Ezekiel... Can these bones live?

God was asking Ezekiel... Do you believe in me?... Do you believe that I can put life back into these dry bones?

 

Brethren... There can be no genuine revival until we believe in the supernatural ability of God to work in our lives... Until we believe that with Him all things are possible.

 

Valley experiences are sometimes so deep that the solution is often out of our control.

There is nothing we can do...

• It may be cancer...

• Heart attack...

• Death of a loved one...

• Loss of a job or business...

• Bankruptcy...

• A tornado...

• Fire...

• War...

• A loss of our freedom

Whatever the loss... We are forced to express our faith in God... Or become humanist and believe in self.

 

You see... Sometimes people and churches lose their purpose... Their focus... Their faith… and commitment... So-much-so that... They turn to a belief in themselves rather than in the power of God.

Yes...It’s possible...

• To build a new building...

• Hire a better preacher...

• Select successful business men as Elders...

• Live in a community where the economy is booming...

• A place where the world’s largest retailer is located...

• To have some relatively affluent members among us... So... Money is no problem.

Man!!... This church can make it on its own!!... Wrong... Wrong... Wrong!

 

A church without God is dry bone religion and accomplishes nothing... It only becomes a religious social club.

A life without God is only dry bones living.

 

The Hebrew writer is heard saying... It is out of our weakness that we are made strong.

 

If you think any man of a group of men can lead us into revival without God’s help...You are wrong in your thinking.

Revival... Restoration... Renewal... New life... Comes to this church... To each of us individually... Not from within us... But as a result of our faith in God... He is the power of revival.

 

Revival is dependent upon our preaching the word.

Note verse four... Ezekiel... Preach...Prophecy to these bones.

Prophecy here is not foretelling... But forth-telling.

Renewal for Israel was to be found in the word of God...

• Not in human wisdom...

• Not in the... Doctrines... Traditions... Teachings... of Men...

• Not in the ways of the world.

And so it is with us... Healing for this church... Our families... Yes in our nation... Is NOT found in toleration of every doctrine... But in our return to sound Biblical principles.

 

We must... learn it... Live it... And proclaim it to others.

 

The power of God for.. revival...Renewal... Is found in this book.

Jesus said... Sanctify them through Thy truth... Thy word is truth... You shall know the truth... and the truth will set you free.

 

Then finally tonight... We must have the Spirit of God in us.

Notice the end of verse ten... There was no breath in them... The Hebrew word is Rowahk.

In this text it is translated...breath... Wind.... Spirit… Depending on the translation.

• The breath of God is what energizes us children of God.

• We must know tonight that Nothing happens unless God lives in us.

• We are not children of God... Nor the church of God without His indwelling Spirit.

 

This is exactly what Paul says in Romans 8.5-9... Listen to what he writes... For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law--indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God... LISTEN NOW!!... But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

 

People can exclaim...

• Great looking bones....

• Great looking church....

• What a fine looking family...

• Extra ordinary skeleton...

But if there is no breath in us... No Spirit of God... We’re dead.

 

Church...We can cross every T... Doctrinally... Dot every I... Theologically... But if the Spirit of God is not in us...

• We are just bones...

• Dry bones...

• Unanimated bones...

• Dead bones...

Bones in need of REVIVAL... AMEN??

 

OK...What enables the... The spirit... The breath... of God TO live in us?

I believe John 14.23 gives us the answer…

If a man loves Me...

If a church loves Me...

If a family or a nation loves Me... They will Keep My words...My commandments... And My Father will love him and we... God... Jesus... The Spirit... Will come and make Our abode... Our home with him.

 

Tie Jesus’ words here with Peter’s words from Acts 2.38... and we have an answer as to when the Holy Spirit comes to live in us... Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven... And... AND you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

Talk about... renewal... Restoration... Revival...Dead people living again...

• It happens when we are… Born Again… Born from Above… Born of Water and Spirit…

• When we are clothed with Christ in New Testament Baptism…

• When we submit to being Spirit Led ...

• When we conform to the image of Jesus...

When we obey his commandments.

And that obedience begins with... Faith in God... Confession of Jesus... And Baptism for remission of sins and the gift of the Spirit.

 

In our text... God gave new life to Israel...

• She exited Babylonian captivity...

• The remnant returned...

• They restored the Temple...

• Rebuilt the Walls...

• Their worship services were filled with fellowship and praise...

Once again God was living among them...

 

Tonight…He promises to come live in us through the Spirit He gives us.

 

Come experience God’s Dry Bone Revival

As we stand and sing this invitation song together.