Great Awakening

10. May 2024 Acts 0

Text: Acts 19:13-20

Theme: Revival can come in unusual and unpredictable ways.

Key verses: “A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation…But one time when they tried it…the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.” The story of what happened spread quickly all through Ephesus, to Jews and Greeks alike. A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honored. Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices. A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars. So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect” (v. 13-20).

What I believe God said to me: Look at the progression here, Dwayne. Look closely and see what you haven’t seen: They tried, they were attacked, they fled. Story spread, fear descended, and Jesus’ was honored. Believers confessed, books destroyed, and money was burned. The public saw, my message spread, and the effect was powerfully felt. I want you to see the phases of awakening that occurred here. There were four phases in this case along with an important pre-phase. Let’s start with the first phase. A group of Jews was trying to use Jesus’ name to cast out demons in people. Casting out evil spirits was a common and financially profitable thing back then. But they tried it one too many times, and it backfired. The evil spirit set them straight and caused them physical and reputable damage. News of something this shocking and unusual was bound to spread far and wide. This could be called the upheaval stage. People’s comforts and routines were suddenly disheveled. Their beliefs and attitudes were challenged, even threatened. This was something they could not ignore or deny. Often I will allow difficult and shocking experiences in people’s lives and in their surroundings to force them out of their comfort zones, apathy, and unfounded beliefs. I challenge their false assumptions through unsettling circumstances. The second phase that supernaturally follows upheaval is conviction. The first phase is outward–something that happens to them. This phase is inward–something that takes place deep inside them. It is always and only the work of my Spirit bringing conviction to their hearts and about their sin. The third phase is the repentance phase. This one is both inward and outward; it’s personal and it’s public. You see, Dwayne, talk is cheap. Anyone can have remorse for what they did. But true repentance includes turning away from your sinful practices. Burning their incantation books was the epitome of deep and serious change. The last phase is the lasting phase. This is the proving phase and the power phase. This is one that squelches the skeptics and nixes the naysayers. The lasting effect on people’s lives and communities is undeniable by anyone who will be honest about the results. The pre-phase, the context for such a powerful move of mine, is what you have probably guessed already. It’s the two+ years of faithful preaching and teaching and ministering that Paul did in Ephesus. Those were challenging years of toil, determination and ridicule. Yet, it was Paul’s continued ministry that tilled the soil and prepared the way for this “Great Awakening” to occur.

What I said to God: Meditating on this famous revival that broke out has captivated me of late. I’m struck by how the tipping point that sparked wide-spread revival wasn’t preaching or teaching or even miracles. It was a demonic outburst that almost cost some young men their lives. Lord, You used what was evil and harmful to bring about tremendous good. Isn’t that just like You, God? I can’t help but think of the evil happening in our country and world today. Perhaps You will use it somehow to awaken our hearts to Your truth and love. I pray You will. The theme I wrote for this passage is “Revival can come in unusual and unpredictable ways.” It certainly has in the past and still can in the future. Even so, Lord Jesus, come.