THE CALL TO HOPE


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1 of 6 SERMON SERIES: THE CALL SERMON: THE CALL TO HOPE 9-6-20 Big Idea: God is calling His people to renew their hope and rise up out of death and spiritual dryness to become a great army. OPENER: Ezekiel 37:1-14 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!’ ” (explain scripture) Israel at the time of this vision is in a place of spiritual decline. The kingdom is divided and the people have lost their passion and fire for God. Ezekiel the prophet is carried away by the Spirit of God to a Valley of dry bones. God asks Ezekiel, Can these bones live?

2 of 6 The valley of dry bones is what God saw in His people’s hearts. Their passion for God and for the things of God was gone. Their hope was lost!They had become so discouraged, so down, so defeated that they were saying….’’Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!'' The church today appears to be like the vision Ezekiel saw of the valley of dry bones. We see churches in decline, closures, fewer in attendance, not enough volunteers…… There is a spiritual dryness and a lack of commitment and passion among God’s people - A lack of hope, a sense of being abandoned and deserted by God.  Note: Barna Group reported a couple of weeks back: That in the next year to year and a half - 1 in 5 churches will close across America. That is 20% of all churches across this nation will close their doors. THE ENEMY IS LYING TO GOD’S PEOPLE. HIS LIES ARE DESTRUCTIVE AND DEADLY! ILLUSTRATION: LIES ARE LIKE DEADBOLT LOCKS > If you hold on to the lie it becomes a strong hold in your mind. > Then it locks itself in your mind. >Then it becomes a strong hold in your belief system. >And then you begin to act upon that belief in the lie. > And before you know it it will bring death to you. BUT THROUGH THE VISION OF EZEKIEL GOD IS SAYING THERE IS A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING COMING. THERE IS HOPE FOR MY PEOPLE. THERE IS A FUTURE! GOD IS CALLING HIS PEOPLE TO RENEW THEIR HOPE AND TO RISE UP OUT OF DEATH AND SPIRITUAL DRYNESS TO BECOME A GREAT ARMY. THERE IS HOPE FOR THE CHURCH. THESE DRY BONES WILL LIVE AGAIN. Sometimes there is no reason to hope. Everything seems to be going wrong.  You seem to be losing.  > That business you worked so hard for and invested in is gone. > That marriage that once brought you such happiness and peace seems to be dead. > That relationship you would like to have with your child is cut off and seems to be over.

3 of 6 > The many long hours that you put into your job and the years of faithful service seem to be erased. > That crisis you are facing seems utterly impossible to overcome. It looks like everything you have believed for is not going to happen. > Your life is falling apart and it seems as if death is all around you. How can good come from what has happened? If something is dead it is ……buried, lifeless, cut off, done for, erased, expired, extinct, gone, no more, non existing, perished, wasted THREE THINGS THAT WE CAN DO TO REVIVE OUR HOPE: 1.  TRUST GOD TO TURN THINGS AROUND Romans 4:16-18 ………For Abraham is the father of all who believe. 17 That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. 18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. (explain scripture) He believed that God could bring the dead back to life - Even though Sarah’s womb was dead and they were old. A)TO BELIEVE IS TO SEE This experience that Ezekiel tells of begins with “The Lord took hold of me!” The only way that Ezekiel could believe that God’s people could live again was because God took hold of Him. FOR YOU TO BELIEVE THAT LIFE CAN COME FROM DEATH THE LORD WILL HAVE TO TAKE HOLD OF YOU! He must touch you and open your eyes to the spiritual world. Your physical sight will only discourage you. God wants to impart spiritual sight to you. ILLUSTRATION: Me stepping into this building and seeing it as a church! ONLY GOD CAN OPEN YOUR EYES TO SEE BEYOND WHAT IS IN FRONT OF YOU. ONLY GOD CAN OPEN YOU EYES TO SEE BEYOND THE PHYSICAL INTO THE SUPERNATURAL! ILLUSTRATION: 2 Kings. 6:16-17. Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

4 of 6 17 And

Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. B)TO SEE IS TO SEEK Acts 2:17-18 In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike— and they will prophesy. God wants to pour out visions and dreams in these last days. I believe we are going to see more and more of these things in our lives to increase our faith and our hope. SEEK GOD FOR SPIRITUAL SIGHT. SEEK GOD FOR A TOUCH OF HIS SPIRIT AND SPIRITUAL VISION. HE WANTS TO GIVE IT TO YOU. 2. DEVELOP SPIRITUALLY HEALTHY SPEECH  Vs. 4 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message Ezekiel said…. So I began to speak the message as the Lord commanded. It is only when Ezekiel spoke that things began to happen. Prophecy - not only means to foretell the future, but to speak God’s will, and to speak God’s Words WE MUST SPEAK THE LIFE GIVING WORDS OF GOD! A) GOD SAYS BEFORE HE DOES      As you study the Bible, you will notice God never does anything until He says it. That’s the way He works. God has done nothing in the earth without first speaking it. ILLUSTRATION: LAZARUS’ RESURRECTION John 11:4 When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” vs. 11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” LAZARUS WASN’T ASLEEP, HE WAS DEAD AND JESUS KNEW HE WAS DEAD

5 of 6 BUT JESUS WAS CALLING THE THING THAT WAS NOT AS THOUGH IT WAS. B) GOD SPEAKS AND THINGS OBEY Jesus Spoke to Things and They Obeyed      He talked to trees. He talked to the wind. He talked to the sea. He talked to dead people. And they all obeyed Him. Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Our words can do so much damage.  Relationships often end because of things that have been said or not said.  People lose their jobs, their reputation, start arguments or even wars by their words. On the other hand, our words have tremendous power for good.  They can bring healing, encouragement and edification.  They can build or destroy.  WE MUST SPEAK LIFE TO DEATH JUST AS EZEKIEL DID. The first time Ezekiel spoke the bones began to rattle and shake. This is when Ezekiel could have high tailed it and ran. Sometimes things will start shaking when you start praying and speaking the Word of God. Things will start rattling and clanging together and it will seem like your whole world will be shook. Often things will get worse instead of better. But you can’t stop or become afraid. You have to continue to speak. LOOK AT THE WORDS OF GOD’S PEOPLE….. vs. 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.’ 1 If your speech is full of complaining about your circumstances instead of speaking life over them then you are speaking death. If your life is full of talk of self-pity and how everything and everyone is against you. No one understands. You keep being pushed down. You are speaking death over your life. 3. BE FILLED WITH A SECOND WIND vs. 9-10. …..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.

6 of 6 ILLUSTRATION: We say, “I got a a second breath”. Or I got a second wind.” When I walk…. Or that 3pm tired feeling that a shot of caffeine does it for you. THERE IS A FRESH NEW OUTPOURING OF GOD’S PRESENCE THAT HAS BEEN IN RESERVE FOR THIS GENERATION - FOR THIS TIME AND THIS HOUR. THERE IS A SECOND WIND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT TO BE POURED OUT TO GIVE US STRENGTH AND POWER FOR THIS LAST LAP! It is a triple shot grande cappuccino that will give you a second wind! Haggai 2:9 9 The future glory of this Temple will be greater than its past glory, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. And in this place I will bring peace. I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!” (Explain scripture) The only life there is - is in God’s Spirit. We need the breath of God to breathe on us! To fill us once again. Hope at last!  Dry bones can live!  God is about to act.  IT’S ONLY BY THE SPIRIT’S POWER THAT WE CAN RISE. IT’S ONLY BY THE SPIRIT’S POWER THAT WE CAN BE AN ARMY TO GO FORTH TO DO GOD’S WILL. CLOSING: HOPE IS an expectation and excitement of good things about to happen. This vision of restoration gives me such hope for the church and our nation.  God never abandons his people, and his plans are always to restore and save us.   God can revive things that have been dry and even dead.  When the word of God and the Spirit of God come together there is resurrection life. What is impossible becomes possible with the power of God.