Friday, January 27, 2017
But in spite of this there is still hope for Israel. Ezra 10:2b(NLT)
Then the whole assembly raised their voices and answered, “Yes, you are right; we must do as you say!” Ezra 10:12(NLT)
In the past four days we’ve covered a great deal of ground about the reality of this nation’s – our nation’s disobedience and need of repentance.
Today is all about finishing the job.
Notice that when Ezra spoke to the people about repenting, taking ownership of their sinful behavior, they didn’t just whisper an Amen? They didn't say: We'll form a committee to study this. They didn't even play the democracy card and offer to vote on it. What they said was: This we MUST DO!
In 1923 Belfast, Ireland had a revival under the preaching of W.P. Nicholson. His messages always called for the need of restitution whenever something had to be put right with another person. After one series of meetings, a local shipyard had to build another tool room because workers began returning stolen company tools in such volume, they didn't have room for them.
In order for repentance to be genuine, Godly and effective for true revival, it must include putting that right which can be made so. I caution you that this is a pathway to two things:
One: The world will think you've gone mad!
Someone has well said: The world does not think it strange when people wreck their bodies, destroy their homes, and ruin their lives by running from one sin to another! But let a drunkard become sober, or an immoral person pure, and the family thinks he has lost his mind!"
Two: The Lord will know you mean business!
Frankly, in the scheme of things, I'd rather the world think I'm completely bonkers and have the approval of heaven! Wouldn't you?
What Shall We Do?
Knowledge is responsibility. There are several things you have heard in these four days which make naiveté and claiming ignorance impossible. You know that you are responsible for your actions before God. You know that repentance begins in the heart, and must be followed through with your life or it means nothing. You also know that there is no person in the room with you, or the world, without sin.
Where, you say, is the hope in all this? It is simply in the promise of the Lord that if we will humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways, He will heal us – our land, our families, our children. It is the promise that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The hope is trust in Christ Jesus.
Beloved, the question is not what to do, but how, and when we should do what we know is right. The story is told of a famous rabbi who was walking with some of his disciples. One of them asked: Rabbi, when should a man repent? The rabbi calmly replied, You should be sure you repent on the last day of your life.
But, protested several of the disciples, we can never be sure which day will be the last day of our life."
The rabbi smiled and said: So, when should you repent?
Beloved, hear once again the words of Ezra:
...yet NOW is there hope...