From Pastor Johnny

Can Revival Happen Here? Sermon Blog Day 1

Jeremiah Lanphier had hoped for more. But six people were six people. And did not scripture say, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of you’? So, on this day, September 23, 1857, at lunchtime, he did not moan about the small number who turned out in response to his advertisement.

“The United States was in spiritual, political, and economic decline. Agitation over slavery was breeding political unrest, and civil war seemed near. Just this year, financial panic had hit. Banks failed, railroads went bankrupt, factories closed, unemployment increased.

“In lower Manhattan, a Dutch Reformed church had been steadily losing members, largely because of population changes owing to immigration; they hired the layman Jeremy to reverse the trend with an active visitation program. Despite his visits, church members were listless. So, he rented the hall on Fulton street and advertised prayer meetings. He himself enjoyed close fellowship with the Lord and thought others might, too. Conditions in the United States got worse; maybe that was a good thing. Sometimes trouble makes people turn to God. The third week of Jeremiah’s program, his prayer meeting had forty participants and they asked for daily meetings.

On October 10, the stock market crashed. Suddenly people were flocking to the prayer meetings. Within six months 10,000 people were gathering daily for prayer in New York City alone.

“Other cities experienced a renewed interest in prayer, too. In Chicago, the Metropolitan Theater was filled every day with 2,000 praying people. In Louisville, several thousand came to the Masonic Temple for prayer each morning. There were 2,000 assembled for daily prayer in Cleveland, and St. Louis churches were filled for months at a time. In many places tents were set up for prayer. The newly formed YMCA also played an important role in holding prayer meetings and spreading the revival throughout the country.

“In February, 1858, Gordon Bennett of the New York Herald gave extensive coverage to the prayer revival. Not to be outdone, the New York Tribune devoted an entire issue in April, 1858 to news of the revival. News of the revival traveled west by telegraph. This was the first revival which the media played an important role in spreading.

“This revival that began in a prayer meeting in New York City became a great movement of God. What was the result of this prayer meeting revival? More about that later.” (Jeremy Lanphier Led Prayer Revival, Dan Graves, Christianity.com, June 2007)

But, for now, I have a question. Can revival like this happen again today? Can revival like this happen today in your church, community, and city? Real revival can happen in the midst of God’s people. Be sure to follow this blog the rest of this week for insight into some circumstances that will be present in this kind of revival.

Work That Endures Sermon Blog Day 3 Nehemiah 7

Establish the Future with God’s Plan: 7:3

“I said to them, ‘The gates of Jerusalem are not to be opened until the sun is hot. While the gatekeepers are still on duty, have them shut the doors and bar them. Also appoint residents of Jerusalem as guards, some at their posts and some near their own houses.’”

          Nehemiah laid out these details for the gate operations as he prepared things after the rebuild. First, Nehemiah instructed that the gates should not be opened until the sun was high in the sky each day. Second, during the day, when the sun was up, the gates were to be shut and barred when not in use. Finally, guards were to be appointed from the people living inside the city to cover specific watches and to guard around their homes.    

          These details were to address the functioning of the gates and security of the city beyond the rebuild. Nehemiah knew that he could not just think of what was happening in the present, but he must think of the future as well. This is a part of effectively seeing a work to endure.          

           British sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein was once visited in his studio by the eminent author and fellow Briton, George Bernard Shaw. The visitor noticed a huge block of stone standing in one corner and asked what it was for.

 “I don’t know yet. I’m still making plans.”

Shaw was astounded. “You mean you plan your work. Why, I change my mind several times a day!”

“That’s all very well with a four-ounce manuscript,” replied the sculptor, “but not with a four-ton block.”

          We must pour ourselves into the service, job, family, calling, and work God has given us in such a way that the work endures.  God’s glory, expecting enemies, follow through in leadership, and establishing a future plan are a few steps God has shown us through Nehemiah for a work that endures

Work That Endures Sermon Blog Day 2 Nehemiah 6

Expect the Fighting from God’s Enemy:         6:17-19

“Also, in those days the nobles of Judah were sending many letters to Tobiah, and replies from Tobiah kept coming to them. For many in Judah were under oath to him, since he was son-in-law to Shekaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah. Moreover, they kept reporting to me his good deeds and then telling him what I said. And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.

           Not only was there opposition here, but Nehemiah had damaging opposition from within his own people. It is a difficult challenge to fight the enemy on the outside.  It is demoralizing to face an enemy from within. Though I notice that Nehemiah did not waste his time tracking down and confronting the enemies on the inside.  He kept moving forward. 

            In the November 25, 1996 edition of Newsweek, a research article indicated that the spotted owls' greatest threat may be not logging, but one of its relatives. For the past fifteen years, the barred owl had migrated westward rapidly. Barred owls, which used to live exclusively east of the Mississippi, compete for the same food as spotted owls but are more aggressive and adaptable.

            Facing opposition from within the people who are supposed to be on the team is a demoralizing discovery. And yet, as Nehemiah pressed forward by God’s power and God’s truth, so must we.

 Emphasize the Follow through with God’s Leaders:          7:1-2

“After the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers, the musicians and the Levites were appointed. I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do.”

            Nehemiah appointed three positions for the good of the city, as he prepared to transition back to the Persian capital and the King’s court. Two of these three positions were related to worship. In his appointments Nehemiah reflected his understanding that, if worship was not right, then the city would not be right.

            The second thing Nehemiah did was to put two men in place who would lead Jerusalem once he was gone. These two men were people he knew closely and were mature spiritually. These men were first qualified in spiritual maturity, and they were men Nehemiah knew and trusted. The governor of Jerusalem was simply making plans to follow through after he was gone.

            Jesus himself spent his three years of earthly ministry preparing men to follow through when he was gone and ascended to the Father. While Jesus’ situation was unique, the one truth we can draw from his plan of succession was the intentional way that he made plans for the work to succeed without Him.

            When we are involved in a work for God’s glory, it should be our desire that the work can go on seamlessly without us if God moves us. If I am overseeing a ministry, but that ministry falters or fails without me, then there is a fundamental defect in its operations. God’s people should pour their lives into work so that the work will be effective long after they are gone.

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