Our Need For REBUILDING – RESTORING

Scripture Passage:  Nehemiah 9:1-37; 10:28-39

I want to first take a quick glance at the setting in Nehemiah 9:

  • The Jewish people had been in captivity in Babylon.  Their Temple (place of worship) and the entire city of Jerusalem was destroyed.
  • Now, after 70 years, they’ve returned and rebuilt their city.

Although, when I say “returned” to Israel, most of them were first-time arrivals.  They were a newer generation, born in captivity.  They found the Law of Moses while working on the Temple.  And when the Prophet Ezra read it aloud to them, they vowed to return to God’s Law.  They were determined to get back to God’s ways.

Chapter 9 continues on this theme.

Then Ezra leads out with the beautiful PRAYER (vs. 6-37) and in that prayer, you can clearly see the nation making attempts to RECONNECT with God.

This is the longest recorded PRAYER in the Bible. 

It was a prayer of CONFESSION & REPENTANCE, recounting what God had done for them personally, as a nation, and man’s failure to honor Him.  This prompted me to read and re-read this prayer, making notes in my workbook while checking down the examples in the prayer with my own prayers.

How selfish we can be at times in our prayers.

There was this realization by the people just how far they had drifted from God and an honest CONFESSION of their sin. 

This is the first step for RESTORATION, for REVIVAL–a realization that we have drifted away from God and a desire to return to a Godly life in an ungodly culture.

This CONFESSION makes RENEWAL possible!

TRUE CHANGE OR RENEWAL –

This can only begin to happen when three things happen.

We need the 3 A’s to take place:

  1. Admit our wrongs,
  2. Acknowledge God’s ways, and…
  3. Act on it!

THE FIRST STEP…

CONFESSION is to admit that there’s a need for change!

James Montgomery Boice, a Christian theologian, Bible teacher, author, a speaker says, “There can be no genuine forward moral progress for either a nation or an individual without an acknowledgment of, sorrow for, and a true turning from sin.”  

It’s important that we all examine ourselves in reading God’s Word.

In Nehemiah 8, we can see where it began with the people – when they heard the Word they mourn and wept.

In Chapter 9 of Nehemiah, we see this again in corporate prayer.  If we’re not convinced that we need a CHANGE, we won’t.

This realization leads to REPENTANCE.

And by the way, it doesn’t help if we confess ‘just to confess’, or because ‘this is what everybody does’, or because ‘we have to do it’.

We should CONFESS because we are being prompted of the Holy Spirit when He brings to our mind the Word of God.

We want to CONFESS because we are moved by God’s Word or convicted by the Holy Spirit.

This is what happened to the prodigal son in Luke 15:17-18 (confession).

QUESTION:  Why does God want us to confess?  Surely not to inform Him of something He already knows about us.

First of all, God wants us to admit our sins so that we can take the steps toward CHANGE. 

Only when we agree with God of our faults, our trespasses, and our need to change can we find the commitment to do so.

Secondly, CONFESSION makes us real.

REAL, if we are honest with God, honest with SELF and honest towards people.

It’s being AUTHENTIC, being VULNERABLE and BEING REAL!

This is the way to happiness.  We’re not weighed down, burdened with GUILT or SHAME.  We experience God’s FORGIVENESS and the JOY of forgiveness.

REAL FELLOWSHIP with God can’t happen when unconfessed SIN is in our lives.

WHAT IS SIN?

I’ve had the question directed at me over the years to what I think “SIN” is.  And my response is always redirected to,  “What do you think “SIN” is?

In a nutshell, according to the classical definition, “hippo”, SIN is “a word, deed, or desire in opposition to God’s Word.”

The second thing that’s necessary for RESTORATION to take place is to acknowledge God’s way–or take God’s Word seriously.

It’s this deep conviction of His Word that’s the only blessed way!  This conviction is closely related to the first thing–CONFESSION.

GOD’S WORD LEADS TO CONFESSION!

The reading of the Law in Nehemiah and the subsequent DAILY reading of the Scriptures led to the people’s confession and repentance.  It wasn’t the preaching of Ezra, the Levites that brought about restoration.  It was God’s Word!

The realization that yes, we’ve sinned against God, comes through the reading of the Word of God and by the leading and conviction of the Holy Spirit. 

We will never acknowledge SIN to be SIN or grieve, weep over it unless we understand it’s an offense against God, and the only way to see that is to know God’s Word.

So what are we looking at in all of this?

If we want CHANGE to happen we’ve got to have an alternative:

  • What do we really want to change into?
  • What kind of a change are we looking at?

It can’t be your way against my way or his way against the world’s way.  It must be God’s WAY we’re looking at.  It must be God’s Word we’re fixed on.  That’s the standard.  God’s Word is the MIRROR of our soul. our character, and our conduct.

In the prayer of CONFESSION, the Levites directed the people’s thoughts–notice I didn’t say ‘manipulated’ their thoughts–to the goodness and grace of God.

NOTICE how many times“YOU” appeared throughout the PRAYER.

Despite their failures, they were to recognize God’s KINDNESS in their betrayal, that God remains FAITHFUL and continues to shower His blessing on them.

NEHEMIAH 9:17

“YOU” didn’t desert them in the desert; “YOU” gave your good Spirit to instruct them; “YOU” didn’t withhold your manna from their mouths, and “YOU” gave them water for their thirst; “YOU” made their sons a numerous as the stars in the sky.

NEHEMIAH 9:31

NEHEMIAH 9:33

THE PEOPLE’S PRAYER…

In the PRAYER, the people were led to see through their history a God who is great, good and gracious despite man’s SIN AND FAILURES.  This is the basis why we CONFESS our sin.  We have a forgiving God, a merciful and gracious God.  This is why the father waits for the prodigal son to return.  Not to judge or condemn him, but to embrace and forgive him (Luke 15:11-32).

Our PARDON today is not based on our MERIT or our WORTHINESS, but upon His goodness and grace. 

We shouldn’t base our appeal on our past accomplishments (how much I HAVE DONE for God), but simply upon His grace and mercy (Nehemiah9:17-b) –

[17-b]  But You are a God ready to PARDON, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great steadfast love; and You did not forsake them” (AMP).

The THIRD STEP in a CHANGED LIFE is to ACT ON IT!

When we know that we know, where we are and where we want to go, we need to take the necessary steps to bring about the CHANGE.

NEHEMIAH 9:38 –

The LEVITES led by Ezra ended the people’s prayer saying, 

THE COMMITMENT –

The ASSEMBLY, the gathered people are going to make a COVENANT (an agreement, COMMITMENT) before God that they are willing to do the following:

Nehemiah 10:30 – “We shall not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons,”

10:31 – “We shall forego raising crops the seventh year [letting the land lie fallow] and the compulsory payment of every debt” [Exod. 23:10, 11; Deut. 15:1, 2].

10:32, 35, 36, 37 – “And we will bring a tithe of our crops to the Levites”

10:39-c  “We will not forsake or neglect the house of our God.”

The people were determined to make right what was wrong and so should we today.

OUR NEED FOR REBUILDING – RESTORING BEGINS NOW!

EXAMINING ourselves in light of the world that surrounds us is a great place to start if you are looking for REVIVAL.

David – Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

[23]  “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

[24]  “See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Allow the Holy Spirit to take away the hindrances and obstacles we’ve placed in God’s way.  Be honest with yourself.

  • Tell Him what you did wrong.
  • Is there someone or something you love more than Him?
  • Is God’s Word a concern to you?  Can you really worship Him, or has something taking the place of God in your spirit?
  • Tell Him the attitudes you have that aren’t good – pride, arrogance, jealousy, lust, unwillingness to forgive, laziness…

Allow Jesus to minister His CLEANSING & HEALING to your spirit.

  • If we CONFESS OUR SINS, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness.      (1 John 1:9)

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CREDITS –

Christian views on SIN – Wikipedia.

Photos & Images:  Google Image Search – Settings advance, using referencing bible verses.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP);  New International Version (NIV), or where noted in the text.

 

THREE THINGS Zechariah says God Hates!

Finding the TRUTH
Finding the TRUTH

 

I’ve been collaborating with the Holy Spirit, finding key evidence in defining the REAL TRUTH for the world we live in today.  Not only did God show me “a truth”, but He showed me “THREE TRUTHS” in His Word while searching in the Old Testament.

Now I did find over 43 things God hates in the Old Testament and New Testament (6 found in Proverbs 6:16].  But I decided to zero in on the three mentioned in Zechariah and the TRUTHS that become undeniable to us and the people around us in our lives.

Zechariah 8:16, 17 AMPLIFIED BIBLE

[16] “These are the things that you shall do:  speak every man the TRUTH with his neighbor; render the TRUTH and pronounce the judgment or verdict that makes for peace in [the courts at] your gates.

[17] And let none of you think or imagine or devise evil or injury in your hearts against his neighbor, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, says the Lord.”

THREE UNDENIABLE TRUTHS:

THE UNDENIABLE TRUTH ABOUT MAN

1.  Man is a Sinner by Nature:

“Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man, and death as the result of sin, so death spread to all man,  [no one being able to stop it or to escape its power]  because all men sinned”  (Romans 5:12 AMP translation).

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me”  (Psalms 51:5 NIV translation).

Lost Sheep
Lost Sheep

“All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all”  (Isaiah 53:6 KJV).

THE UNDENIABLE TRUTH ABOUT SIN–

1.  Sin Is Appealing to ALL Men!

Ephesians 2:1-3 Amplified Bible:

[1]  “AND YOU,  [He made alive], when you were dead  (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins  [2] In which at one time you walked  [habitually].  You were following the course and fashion of this word  [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air.  [You were obedient to and under the control of]  the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving who go against the purposes of God].  [3] Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh  [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings].  We were then by nature children of [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind.”

There is a lot to absorb in reading the three verses (especially in the Amplified Version).  So here’s a suggestion I found that really brings home to each one of us; what Paul was trying to convey to the church in Ephesus:

I simply take a pen and run a light line through the word “YOU”;  “And you…”, “You were…”, etc.  And, I write my name above the word “YOU”.  So then, it would now read…“AND MEL, He made alive, when Mel was dead…and so on.  I think you get the idea.  It makes the thoughts more personal.

2.  SIN Alienates Man from God.

Isaiah 59:2  (New Living Translation):

“It’s your SINS that have put you off from God,  Because of your SINS, HE HAS TURNED AWAY and will not listen anymore.”

3.  SIN Produces Spiritual Death.

MAN is body, soul, and spirit.  We all will die one day, and when death occurs, the body (the outside, physical tent we live in), will decay and turn to dust. But the soul and spirit…that’s a different story.  ETERNAL DEATH or ETERNAL LIFE.

Romans 6:23  (AMP):

“For the wages which SIN pays is death, BUT the [bountiful] FREE GIFT of God is eternal life through  (in union with)  Jesus Christ our Lord.”

“God’s Big Buts”–

Pastor Kyle Hopkins [Website:  www.nvagchurch.com] gave a message one Sunday morning titled:  “GOD’S Big ‘Buts’; and there is definitely a “BIG BUT” in the above verse in Romans.

The words “BUT GOD…” when reading the Scriptures these two words signal a change, a contrast, or a clarification is coming next.  What follows this significant transition is intended to challenge our faith and change our life.

THE UNDENIABLE TRUTH ABOUT GOD–

1.  GOD Will Eternally Condemn the Unrepentant Sinner.

Luke 13:3 (New American Standard Bible):

“I tell you, no, but unless you REPENT, you will all likewise perish.”

Saying your sorry, versus “repentance”–the differences.

Luke 13:5:

“…unless you repent (change your mind for the better and heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally”  (AMP).

THE PROMISE:

“You won’t be saved UNLESS…” is a strong statement by Jesus, the Savior of the world.  Saying “I’m sorry” is certainly a beginning when we slip and fall, but that isn’t what God wants to hear from us.

I remember my mother telling me when I was a child in rebellion:  “Just saying your ‘sorry’ about what you already knew was wrong doesn’t catch it UNLESS…you change direction!  It’s hard for me to FORGIVE if you are going to keep on doing it over and over again.”  Boy, was I repentant after those words.  I wanted my mother’s approval in everything I did.  Shouldn’t we have the same mindset as adults?

“Bring forth FRUIT that is consistent with repentance  [let your lives prove your change in heart”  (Matthew 3:8).

When we TRULY REPENT, the FRUIT of Repentance will be evident to others.

Evident FRUIT:

HUMILITY –  Claiming to others of your relationship with Jesus without the need to personally come to a moment of REPENTANCE, creates a feeling of PRIDE, rather than the HUMILITY characterized with our relationship with Christ.

Is your RELATIONSHIP with God characterized by HUMILITY, or are you lacking the FRUIT of REPENTANCE?

URGENCY –  When we come to a point of REPENTANCE, we must realize that our sins are not excusable.  There isn’t such a thing as a “little sin”; a “little white lie.”   If you’re thinking right now, “Everyone tells lies, everyday”; that in itself is a LIE that the great LIAR, the devil is given you!

True Repentance Leads to a Changed Life.

ADMITTANCE –  It is simple admitting that you messed up; tried to run things on your own and you FAILED!

GOD DESIRES THAT ALL SHOULD BE SAVED!

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV):

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but EVERYONE to come to repentance.”

The Message Bible says it this way:

“God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness.  He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the END because he doesn’t want anyone lost.  He is giving everyone space and time to change.”

Over my Christian life, I’ve prayed for SALVATION for friends and family, thinking:  “God, time is short.  When are they going to realize…?”  My expectation, my desires, become determined by my own ideas of tardiness on God’s part; not remembering GOD ISN’T LATE WITH HIS PROMISES!

A Simple Step to REPENTANCE
A Simple Step to REPENTANCE

GOD COMPLETELY FORGIVES THE REPENTANT SINNER!

“If we  [freely]  admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness]  and  [continuously]  cleanse us from all unrighteousness  [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]”  (1 John 1:9 AMP).

I love that old children’s Sunday Class song that was taught to me when I was young.  We ALL know the words I thing, but have we forgotten the GRACE that can flow through it to our lives as adults today?

JESUS love me!   this I know,  For the Bible tells me so…

Yes, Zechariah says to us, the three things that God hates;  BUT we need to know Jesus loves us!  For the Bible tells us so!