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Jack Graham - Uprising

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    Jack Graham - Uprising
TOPICS: Ablaze

God bless you today as we open God's Word to the book of Acts, chapter 1. We're beginning a series called ABLAZE from passages in the book of Acts. We're asking God to set us on fire; that the fire would fall. We're praying for revival. Now what is revival? The word revive simply means to live again. A great preacher of yesteryear said "Revival is a new beginning of obedience to God". Simply put, "Revival is a new beginning of obedience to God". To live in the power of His Spirit! And when God's people get together and cry out to Him and pray; wait on Him and trust in Him, a spiritual uprising takes place.

When we see the early Christians meet from here in the first chapter of Acts they are down on their knees, waiting on the promise of the Father. Just as Jesus had instructed them, doing exactly what Jesus told them to do. And this was necessary because they were still a bit confused as to what they were supposed to be doing. And in fact they're asking Jesus questions about the coming of the kingdom: when will You establish your kingdom? They're still thinking overthrow the Romans, establish your Messianic reign on the earth and we'll reign with you. They're still thinking a bloodbath and kill the Romans and let's take over. But Jesus has another kingdom, a kingdom that is not of this world. And he was speaking to them of this kingdom, this kingdom that is in us and this kingdom that is yet to come.

Think about Peter for example. Simon Peter was still bruised from the big fall that he took when he denied the Lord three times before the cross. He wondered if his life would ever be the same after that. And he's now recovering and he's about to be revived, filled, infused by the Spirit of God with God's church. The other Apostles, they certainly weren't quite prepared. Certainly no one could have been prepared for what was about to take place. Jesus had told them to go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel and to make disciples, and yet how would they do this? How would this small band of believers, these apostles, they were already down one because Judas and his betrayal. They had gathered about a hundred or so other people, 120 all together in the upper room and they are waiting. And they are together, asking for God that hour to send His power to set the church ablaze.

And that's what happened as we're about the see, as God's church was ignited in the mission of Christ. And that is what I am praying for Prestonwood and God's church abroad and across the world these days. That He would set us on fire, ablaze for the glory of God. We know that our world is deeply in trouble. We're reminded of that daily. Our own nation, things are going from bad to worse. It doesn't seem that things are getting better at all. In fact it appears that the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled in our own day when he said there would be a time when they will call evil good and good evil. We're in days such as these right now. Evil is called good and good is called evil. Sin is running rampant. Christians are under attack.

So what are we supposed to do? Withdraw? Isolate ourselves? Are we supposed to, you know, just go buy our ascension robes and wait for the Second Coming? No, we're not called to isolate but to infiltrate, to penetrate the darkness with the light of Christ. To be ignited on the mission of Christ. The church! And if there is ever a time that we are in need of revival, it is now! If there's ever a time for the fire to fall, it is today! And I'm praying as your pastor, I'm praying as a man who's been doing this a while now. I'm praying oh, God, one more time let me see it. Let the fire fall! Let your church fulfill its mission and its calling and its commitment. The church, you know, it's the only organization that Jesus started. Jesus didn't start a bunch of other organizations.

Jesus said Matthew 16:18, "I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it". And His church is to be confident and courageous and bold! Not boring and lackluster, but full of God's Spirit and full of faith, trusting God and believing Him even in the worst of times for the best of things! Now I know that some people are down on the church, unhappy with the church. I mean, you know, this church and all churches. There's some people that just don't like the church. The church is bad, the church is out of touch, the church is irrelevant, the church hurt me. I went to church one time and somebody hurt my feelings and I went to church and nobody called me and nobody spoke to me and boo-hoo! I'm saying get over yourself for the church of Jesus Christ is not about you. The church is about Him! It is about His glory and His mission.

And I'm not saying that this church or any other church is perfect; we know they are not. And like the old preacher line: If you find a perfect church, don't join it because you'll mess it up for sure. And the church is not perfect because it is made up of people like you and me. But we have been redeemed. We have been changed by the power of Christ and He is changing us, making us more like Himself daily. And it is God's purpose and plan for the church that the church would ignite and spread the fire and go and grow. You know, it's been said we will either go and grow or we will dry and die. We will either evangelize or we will fossilize. And I'm not talking about this church just getting bigger and fatter. I'm talking about getting stronger and better at what God has called us to do.

And if we are strong and healthy, healthy bodies reproduce themselves. And so we are called to be healthy in our commitment. And the purpose of the church is clear. It is first upward in glorifying Jesus Christ, that's the first purpose of the church is to exalt Christ. Then the church is to edify it's people. Edify believers, edify the church which means to build us up in our most holy faith, to strengthen us in our walk with Christ so that we can effectively share our faith. And so the church is first vertical, it is upward, and then it is inward, but then it always turns outward and that means we evangelize people who need to know Jesus, people who are far from God, people who are without the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who came and lived and died on a cross and rose again that we might be saved from our sin and have eternal life. That's our message.

So the purpose of the church is to exalt Christ, to edify the congregation, and then to evangelize the community. It is upward, it is inward and it is always outward! And so in order for us to accomplish this we know that we need something above and beyond ourselves. And something is missing in the church today, in many churches today. And it's my view that the failure of the church today to fulfill the mission of Christ is the neglect of the promise that we're about to see today and the absence of spiritual power. We have programs, we have technology, we have marketing strategies, we have methodology, we have so much to get the job done, yet when I look at the New Testament church those early believers, they did so much with so little. And yet it seems so often we do so little with so much.

What's the difference? God's power which comes when the Holy Spirit births and baptizes His people. It comes when the fire falls. Jesus said, "I will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire". It's the promise that is given to us in the Acts. The Acts of the Apostles it's called in your Bible, but really the Acts of Jesus Christ through His Spirit, through His church. Verse one says: "In the first book, O Theophilus", the man writing is Dr. Luke, he writes this book. And why did he write it? He said, "I wrote the first book", the Gospel of Luke, "to tell you about all that Jesus began to do and to teach".

You know what that means? Jesus is not finished doing and teaching. He came out of the grave, He is a live, and then: "until the day", verse 2, "when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen". What commands? Well specifically to go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel and to make disciples, to receive God's Spirit. And He blessed those apostles. And then: "He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs (infallible proofs), appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God". And then look at verse 8. He said: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth".

The promise of the Spirit. Heaven's throne gift. Now let me remind you that God is three persons in one. One person expressed in Father, Son and Holy Spirit; eternally co-existent. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, each one just as much God as the other, fully God. And so when we speak of the Holy Spirit we're not speaking of an impersonal force, an "it" factor, but we are speaking of God with us and Jesus in us! The work of the Holy Spirit, the witness of the Holy Spirit is to testify of Jesus and if you are really defining the fire, the revival that we're praying, it's all about Jesus. It is Jesus! And when revival comes, you cannot stop it! It is an unquenchable fire!

One of the biggest problems that we have among Christians today is lukewarmness. And Jesus spoke to a church in the last book of the Bible, the Revelation, about their lukewarmness. And you know what He said? He said, "You're not hot, you're not cold, you're lukewarm and you're making me sick. I will spew you out of My mouth". Vivid imaginary! The church that makes God sick is a church full of Christians who are cultural and nominal and lukewarm and lackadaisical and warming pews. Campbell Morgan, the Bible teacher, said: "Lukewarmness is the worse form of blasphemy". You know why lukewarmness is the worse form of blasphemy? Because lukewarmness says, "God, you don't matter enough to me, Jesus, for me to care. Yes or no, up or down, right or wrong, hot or cold! I'm just riding the center".

You ever heard of a mugwump? That's somebody straddling a fence. You got your "mug" on one side and your "wump" on the other. Jesus said, "Away with that! Either be for Me or against me". Remember what Elijah said before the fire fell in that epic adventure in the Bible? He said, "Why do you hesitate? Why do you limp along between two opinions? If God be God, serve Him! If Baal is god, if the idols of this world, if this is god, serve them. But make up your mind. Be in or out! All the way or nothing"!

So God's people, the Church, gathered together, they waited, they prayed, and the Spirit baptized them with revival power! And we're going to see how that happened in a subsequent message from Acts chapter 2. But until then let me just simply say that I'm not talking about emotionalism, I'm not talking about extremism. You don't have to be fanatic or frenzied to be Spirit-filled Christians, to be Spirit-filled believers, a Church, because God didn't give us His Spirit in order that we would necessarily feel something, but in order that we would fulfill something, and that is His Great Commission. Verse 8 says that "you will be my witnesses after the Holy Spirit is come upon you. You will witnesses unto Me".

If you want to know what is a Spirit-filled believer looks like, look at Jesus. Because Jesus in His humanity, in His holy humanity said that He was living in the power, in the baptism of God's Spirit. So I'm not talking about hyper-cataclysmic experiences, I'm talking more about what the Bible is saying here. When the word power is used, it's the word dunamis in the language of the New Testament. We get our word dynamite from dunamis. And sometimes when the Spirit comes it is explosive! And it will shake you to the core of your soul! And there are times when you're walking with the Lord or you're worshiping the Lord that His presence is powerful; His power is real! You just believe, you feel it deeply! And that's a good thing. I wouldn't give you much for a man or a woman's faith who never felt it!

And God give us an emotional, compassionate, devotional love for you, but we don't ride experiences. A better description of this power, this dunamis this work of God's Spirit in us is dynamo (same kind of word), or dynamic. It speaks more of an inner strength, a solid ongoing, continuous source of divine energy. The kind of energy that prompted the Apostle Paul to say to us, Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". The Comforter has come to minister to us when we are suffering. The Holy Spirit enables us to overcome the enemy, to overcome temptation. The Comforter, the Holy Spirit is given to us that we might exercise spiritual gifts and abilities in serving Him. The Holy Spirit is given to us to unite us as a church and melt us and bring us together in the work that He has called us to do. The Holy Spirit is given to glorify Jesus Christ through His people. The Holy Spirit is given that we would be His witnesses, enabling us to obey Him daily.

So what happens when revival... Remember what I said about revival earlier? Revival is a new beginning of obedience to God! It's not really how loud you shout or how high you jump, but how straight do you walk and well do you live when you come down! This is the work of the Holy Spirit! This is why we acquire the fire, that we would be fiery, flaming witnesses for Christ, that we would be like those men on the road to Emmaus who walked with the Risen Christ, and after being with Him and realizing they were with Jesus they later said, Luke 24:32, "Didn't our hearts burn within us when we walked with Him in the way on the road, and He opened the Scriptures to us".

That's what I'm praying that will happen as we open the Scriptures, as the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to His word in these days; that our hearts would burn within us. We're seeing sparks here and there, but oh, for the fire! Fire fall! The word witness here, when we are filled with God's Spirit, meaning we will be witnesses is the word for martyr. But a witness doesn't necessarily mean, a martyr in this sense doesn't necessarily mean that you die for your faith. It does mean that you will live for your faith, that you will live for Jesus and be willing to die for Jesus. It means that we will die to ourselves! Our selfish ambitions. Sometimes, (Ha, this mission of Christ that we're talking about?) we want to use Jesus for our mission. Jesus is not interested in being used for my mission. He wants to use me for His mission.

And so the mission is clear: "Be My witnesses." and where do we start? He said in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world, or to the ends of the world, to the ends of time, to the end of everything. March off the map with this Gospel. Why? Our God is a global God and Jesus died for the world, and everyone matters to Him. So notice the order: sometimes we say let's go witnessing. And that's okay. But, better than saying, "Let's go witness", let's really say, "Let's witness as we go". Because we are called to go and as we are going, starting with our own Jerusalem. These believers were at Jerusalem so Jesus said start right where you are in your own town, in your own backyard, in your own neighborhood, in your own office, at your own school. Start right where you are and live the Word and speak the Word of God.

A witness is not only something you do or say, but someone you are a witness for Christ. You're either a good one or a poor one. When the Apostles were told to shut up and never speak the name of Jesus again, they said Acts 4:20, "We can not help but speak of those things that we've seen and heard". You can't help it. It is in us; He is in us. You might as well tell the sun to stop shining as to tell a Spirit-filled Christian to stop talking about Jesus. So here's what I'm going to ask you to do and I close: I want you to begin by asking God as I've been doing these months previous to revive your own soul, to pray the prayer of the old song, "Lord, send a great revival and let it begin in me". Burning in my heart. And if you are lukewarm and riding the fence and just kind of hanging out, discover the mission of Christ for yourself. Let there be a new beginning of obedience to God; repenting of sin, asking Him to cleanse us from sin, restoring our souls; to pray the prayer of the psalmist that revival would come, revive us again in the midst of the years. That sinners would be converted to You.

Would you just draw a circle around your own life and your own place of prayer and say "Lord, in me, in me send the fire that I might obey You and do Your will everyday with the internal combustion". You know fire consumes us. The fire then spreads to other people. And that's the second thing I want to ask you to do: I want you to get in on the revival that's happening here. When your fire gets with the fire of others, the light grows, the fire spreads, the flames penetrate the darkness. And I'm praying that God will turn us into a bonfire! And that you would get in and all in on the mission of Christ and His church and that God would fill us with His Spirit that we would fulfill His calling on our lives.
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