Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August 10- Faith Leads To Repentance

August 10, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Ezra 10:1-44; 1 Corinthians 6:1-20;
Psalm 31:9-18; Proverbs 21:3

Ezra 10:1-44

This is going to sound strange. One thing my kids did not do when they were small was throw temper tantrums in public. How I managed to avoid this behavior is a mystery to me.  I always feel compassion for young mothers who are trying to cope in a store with this small children who are losing it.  Today Ezra throws himself on the floor, but it is not because he is having a temper tantrum.  It is because he has tremendous sorrow over the Israelites breaking their covenant with God, which was given in the Book of the Laws of Moses.

Ezra's bitter weeping is joined by a large group of Israelite men, women, and children who are moved through faith.  Finally, a man named Shecaniah speaks up and confesses that they have been unfaithful to God by marrying the pagan women of the land.  He proposes that they divorce the women and send both the women and the children back to their own people. He suggests that this will take courage and he wants Ezra to strategize on how to set things right.  Does this situation seem harsh to you?

Remember that Israel had been taken captive for the last seventy years because they adopted the pagan religions of the surrounding people groups in the Promised Land.  Their rebellion caused their captivity. By returning to the land and then marrying pagan women, who will undoubtedly raise their children in their pagan religions, the Jews are once again at risk of falling into idolatry.  Their captivity will have taught them nothing about the importance of following God alone.  The Jews are to be a set apart people group who will bring the Messiah into the world to save the world from sin and restore a right relationship with God. It is important that the Israelites complete their mission.  Ezra's faith and the revival that occurs because of his knowledge and teaching of God's Word results in the people being willing to make some hard choices in order to make things right with God.

After prayer and fasting, it is decided that a proclamation will be sent out for all people to come to Jerusalem. Within three days, they are assembled with fear and trembling.  Not only is it raining, they are going to have to deal with a very hard situation. The sign of true revival is when confronted with their sin, the crowd raises their voice in confession and repentance.

Ezra lists the names of the guilty priests and Levites.  He book ends with a declaration that even though these men had sinned, they had the courage to repent and restore their right relationship with God.  He lists the spiritual leaders who lead through repentance.

Do you study the Word of God enough to recognize sin in your life, the definition of sin according to how God defines sin? Has your faith in God led to the recognition of sin in your life?  Has it also led to confession and repentance?

1 Corinthians 6:1-20

We learn some important facts about the future role of Christians in God's kingdom in today's reading.  This gives us a glimpse as to why our holy behavior is important to God.  To be sanctified and set apart in our life on earth is a foretaste of our future position.  According to the Apostle Paul, Christians will judge and help rule the world in the millennial reign of Christ on earth. This means that we will have administrative roles to play. We saw today that the Israelites had to administer justice in correcting the situation with the pagan wives and children.  This is a picture of what will occur during Christ's millennial kingdom on earth. 

Paul also indicates that Christians will judge angels. You probably realize that some angels are obedient to God and others are fallen angels.  Paul explains that Christians should practice resolving their own disputes among themselves to prepare for their future roles in eternity.

It is important for Paul to teach these immature Christians about acceptable behavior before God.  Faith leads to confession of sin and repentance.  If there is no repentance, there is no faith.  Here is a list of behaviors that if done habitually without any remorse indicate a lack of true faith in God:
  • Indulging in sexual sin
  • Idol worship
  • Adultery
  • Male prostitution
  • Homosexuality
  • Stealing
  • Greed
  • Drunkenness
  • Abusers of others (physical, sexual, and emotional)
  • Swindlers
Paul emphasizes to the Corinthians that they are no longer to be slaves to these behaviors.  We are to repent and be set free.  Sexual immorality is to have no part in our lives because Christ cares about our bodies (Vs. 13). God will raise these bodies from the dead, one day.  Paul argues that these precious bodies that belong to Christ should not be joined with a prostitute.  If they do, they become one with her. Instead, you are to be one with Christ.  Paul says, "Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body."    1 Cor. 6:18

Paul concludes with this truth... your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  You do not belong to yourself, you have been bought with a price.  God bought you with the blood of His only Son.  You must honor God with your body.

We see why our behavior matters.

Do you think of yourself as a temple in which God has chosen to dwell?  What do you need to repent of, considering that your body is where God is choosing to dwell?  Do you realize that you have been bought by God?  Of what sin do you need to repent:?

Psalm 31:9-18

I can hear Christ reciting this psalm in his suffering.

Proverbs 21:3

This proverb applies to our lesson today,  "The Lord is more pleased when we do what is just and right than when we give him sacrifices."

What did you notice today as you read?  Please share.


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

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