I can remember a dramatic season in the life of our church; a season that came about through God’s response to relentless prayer; nearly 8 years of it!
We had prayed earnestly for our church;
“God send revival”
“God, pour out Your Spirit”
We called out with passion, and when God moved, the results were striking and swift! We were not prepared for what was about to take place.
We began to notice an increase in our church; both in attendance and in the awareness of the Spirit of God in our midst. Armin Gesswein, a noted student of revival, said that; “When God’s people recognize their need for the Holy Spirit, lost people recognize their need for a Savior” this is so true!
As the Spirit of God moved in response to our many prayers, we began to see all kinds of “things” happening.
We saw homes come under intense stress, even to the breaking point, we saw relationships struggle. Our “foundations” were being shaken. We watched in wonder as sinners came to our church, and found Jesus.
We watched in amazement as the struggle to break bondage to sin increased.
On one particular Sunday morning, as I came out to preach, an amazing event unfolded. We were holding the Sunday morning service in the auditorium of the former East 4th Street School in Emporium; now the Christian Center.
As I opened my Bible to start preaching, a young mother walked in through the double doors leading from the auditorium to the alleyway; she was holding a brown bag.
Walking right in and standing in front of about 80 people, she looked at me and said; “Pastor Rock, can I say something?” I was taken somewhat aback by this odd request; but I told her to go ahead.
She pulled out a fifth of Amaretto liquor from the brown bag and began to sob. After she regained her composure, she said this; “I keep going to this bottle instead of going to God and I need help.”
WOW! Not knowing what could be done, I called on everyone to come forward and gather around this young lady and pray for her! It was a turning point in her life and in the life of our church.
The next Sunday morning, before the worship service began, I noticed an older gentleman suddenly come out of his seat and make a hasty trip to the stage and he quickly laid down a pack of cigarettes. He would tell me later that he felt God tell him to give these up and to do it right now!
As I prayed about what was going on, I decided to buy one of those bright shiny metal trash cans and I placed in on the stage. That next Sunday I said to the folks that I think God is trying to help us get rid of some things that may be hindering our walk with Him; let’s fill the can!
The following Sunday, I went to move the can prior to the service and it felt heavier. I opened the lid to find a half gallon of rum in there, the next week a fifth of Vodka found its way to the can, another pack of cigarettes, and much, much more!
On Sunday we found the half gallon of rum in the can; following the service, a young lady approached me on the stage and with tears in her eyes, she handed me a bag of marijuana and said; “Pastor Rock, God doesn’t want me to smoke pot no more.”
So that Sunday, I had a half gallon of rum in the can and a bag of pot in my pocket! Amazing stuff right there!
Over the course of the next 3 or 4 months, we filled the can several times! Did we really know what we were asking for when we prayed for “revival?” What were we thinking? What did we expect?
I remember going through a drought in Pennsylvania during the late 1990’s, we prayed for rain; but when it came, we did not realize, that with it, would come mud-slides, and falling trees. We needed the rain, but we were not prepared for the side effects that would come.
Neither did we expect the Spirit of God to come and begin to draw the “mud” out of our lives.
Perhaps we did not expect to have sin pulled out by the roots! Maybe we thought we were “alright”, and that God would just come and leave our landscape as it was.
Just like the powerful rains that created new landscapes for many homeowners, so it is with the Spirit of God when He comes, everything changes, old ways are cast down, and new ways are set in place. Sinful habits, both visible and invisible, come to light when the Spirit of God is among us.
So what will we do? Shall we keep praying, “God send revival?” I should think so! I say, change the landscape, make ALL things new!
“Pour out Your Spirit Lord” and don’t stop till we are completely changed, inside and out! Draw the “mud” out of our lives, and uproot sin!
Lord, Reign on us, make us Holy, as You are Holy! Don’t stop until we are refined, purified, and made fit for the Kingdom of Heaven!
Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. Daniel 12:10