Sermons

 

Spring Spirit: Refreshing Pt 2

Pastor Terry Inman

04-28-13

 

This morning I want to read again some prophetic hope given to God’s chosen people.  Israel was living in conditions far below God’s intentions and promises. Generations of faithlessness had taken its toll. God allowed foreign armies to conquer them and take them captive.

Hosea was one of the prophets God used to expose the infidelity of God’s covenant people and call them back to love and loyalty. God is loving and incredibly patient but he does allow the consequences of our disloyally to catch up with us.  Sometimes the wounds of winter of can be used to get our attention, refocus our priorities and prepare us for a Spring Spirit!   

“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Hos. 6:1-2 (NIV)

This has hints of resurrection with the reference of two days of revival and a third day of restoration. Numbers are often inserted in passages like this simply to stress the immediacy and urgency of the prophetic word.

Here Hosea is saying if you genuinely return, God will quickly respond. It is his nature.  Return to me,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty. Zech. 1:3 (NIV) The truth is; God never leaves we do. When we return he is there. 

So what does it mean to return? Hosea keeps it simple.    

"Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hos. 6:3 (NIV)

Let us acknowledge the Lord is more than just recognizing him. Any body can say there is a God. 97% of Americans say they believe in God.

Acknowledging God, is really knowing God, fully appreciating him, obeying him and living for him. That’s why the prophet repeats himself and adds, let us press on to acknowledge him. “Press on” is like the word Relentless!

God always responds to our relentless pursuit of him. I love those who love me, and those who seek mefind me.” Prov. 8:17 (NIV) One of the positive promises in the Old Testament has to do with “pressing on” to acknowledge God. It was also given to Israel when they were living in exile.

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jer. 29:11-13 (NIV)

Half-heartedness toward God doesn’t work. Sometimes it takes some pain to get us back on track with God’s awesome plans! Hosea says when we return to Him, God returns to us like a refreshing spring rain.

As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hos. 6:3   

The spring rain was a gentle shower that helped promote an abundant crop. A light spring rain refreshes everything. The air is cleaner. The flowers are more fragrant and new growth sprouts up everywhere.

Last Sunday we talked about times of refreshing. I shared some of our fifteen-year history and how God has manifested his presence and his purposes here at Harbor Light. I mentioned this passage that helped me get some perspective on what the Holy Spirit was doing with us.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Acts 3.19 (NIV)

History can give us some tools for assessment and anticipation of what God is doing and wants to do. One of the first supernatural encounters after the “downpour” of the Holy Spirit on the “Day of Pentecost” happened in front of the most elaborate religious Temple of the time.

Just to give you the picture, this Temple gate, (Acts 3) refers to as “beautiful”, was ninety foot high and overlaid with Corinthian bronze. Josephus the historian of ancient Jewish antiquities, says this temple gate, “far exceeded in value those plated with silver and set in gold” 

Luke recoded the Acts of the Apostles. It’s a history of the early Christian movement. In (ch. 3) He says, Peter and John were on their way to daily prayers at the temple when they encountered a man disabled from birth.

Like our off-ramps and shopping centers this was a high traffic spot for a man dependent on charity to make a meager living.  Any good Jew on his way to daily prayers would be reminded of his obligation to show mercy to the disadvantaged.

This man who was carried there daily to solicit support would not have been welcome in the Temple courts because according to strict adherence to the religious law persons with physical defects were banned from participation in Temple sacrifices.

So outside the religious system perched under an elaborate gate, a lavish symbol of restricted access, a suffering poor man reaches for handouts.

Two penniless followers of Jesus, recently empowered by the Holy Spirit, look strait at him. They actually tell him “look at us” and he did, anticipating some coins. Then Peter says, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Acts 3:6 (NIV)

We may have silver and gold, but do we have the miracle power of God! Luke a physician is a detailed writer. He gives us an idea of how this supernatural healing occurred.

First Peter and John did not ignore this destitute man. They engaged him. It’s easy just to look the other way especially when it appears that people are chronically dependent and perhaps even irresponsible. 

Jesus compared the Good Samaritan with a Priest and the Levite. They kept their distance from a bloody victim on the other side of the road. They were on their way to the Temple to perform their religious duties.

If our faith is just another religious performance it will be powerless!  

Peter and John had not forgotten the purpose for the power. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NIV) They were penniless but not powerless! 

Next Dr. Luke says they told him “In the name of Jesus Christ WALK”! They also assisted his faith by reaching out a hand and helping him up.

That was not a hand out it was a hand up! It was an activation of faith!

This man was carried to the Temple gate everyday. Instead of curing people sometimes we just carry people. Powerless faith may be merciful but it often creates dependencies.

The lame man lying by the healing pool of Bethesda for 40 years complained that no one would put him in the water. Jesus told him to take some responsibility for his healing and roll up his mat and walk.

Peter and John who probably saw that miracle and many others like it were now filled with same Holy Spirit that empowered Jesus. So they told this guy to get up and they stretched out their hands to get him going.

Luke says, instantly the man’s feet and ankles were strengthened. The way this reads in the ancient text, gives the impression that something progressive was happening with each step of faith. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. Acts 3:8

This reminds me of the last few words of the OT. For you who revere my name, the sun of righteousnesswill rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.”  Mal. 4:2 (NIV)

Following them into the Temple courts was an even greater healing. He was now no longer an outsider. Now wonder he was making a lot of noise.

The crowds were astonished and packed into Solomon’s colonnade.

This was the place where Jesus had done some very controversial things to stir up the religious opposition. It was also very likely the massive porch where the Holy Spirit was poured out just a few days earlier.

Peter took this opportunity to preach his second sermon in this patio made for public prayer. He told them this miracle was all accomplished in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ who they had crucified.

He concludes with compassion. He calls them brothers.

“Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance… Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. Acts 3:17-20 (NIV)    

Last week I mentioned, “Refreshing” was an ancient therapeutic term. It was to expose something to fresh air for healing. This disabled man was refreshed. God was also trying to refresh broken religious system. It was all happening outside the ostentatious temple gate. Sometimes church can make leaping men lame instead of making lame men leap!

The Temple leaders didn’t get it. It was “outside” of their experience. They reacted to this manifestation of God’s compassion and power just like they did to Jesus. They arrested the disciples. Then they released them on probation with the warning not to do any miracles in Jesus name.

I love the reaction of the committed community Christ followers. They called a prayer meeting. They prayed passionately and prophetically.

“Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.’

Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.

Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 3.24-30 (NIV)

This is a great example of what it means to “press on to acknowledge the Lord” They didn’t back off. This is not just resistance its Holy defiance!  

Luke says, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31 (NIV)    

As the result of this incident over 5000 more were added to the church. Now that’s what I call church growth! I don’t know what it’s going to take to get this community’s attention. Maybe some holy defiance!

I’m no rock star preacher. We have a great worship team, we have awesome ministry Sunday after Sunday by our prayer teams. We have many small groups and ministries offering healing and spiritual growth.

What God is doing through Harbor Light and Fremont Christian School to reach the tri-city area is respectable in fact it’s phenomenal. But I feel some divine discontent right now.

It’s too easy to coast on our history or even our present success and miss the moment when God wants to blow it all wide open with a fresh out-pouring of his Spirit.

I need a refreshing. How about you? I can’t make it rain. I don’t even do a good rain dance. But I know I need a SPRING SPIRIT.

I mentioned last week that the key to a refreshing or a reviving is humility, hunger and holiness. I will talk more about that next week but let me close with this promise based on the character of God.

For this is what the high and lofty One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.  Is. 57:15 (NIV)

Let’s humble our hearts press on to acknowledge God and ask Him for a fresh SPRING OF HIS SPIRIT!