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A Song of Confession to God Sermon Blog Day 2

Stanza 2:  We are Subordinate under You Lord (9:5-6)

And the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said: “Stand up and bless the Lord your God Forever and ever! “Blessed be Your glorious name, Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! You alone are the Lord; You have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it,The seas and all that is in them, And You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You."

             Confession to God requires an acknowledgement of our absolute submission to Him.  It is in submission that we gain His power.  When we acknowledge God’s power, and our yieldedness and subordination to it, we are getting in position to experience His forgiveness, cleansing, and spiritual energy.  When we are absolutely and completely under the control and power of God, beautiful and powerful things can happen.

            When J. Wilbur Chapman was in London, he had an opportunity to meet General Booth, who at that time was past eighty years of age. Dr. Chapman listened reverently as the old general spoke of the trials and the conflicts and victories.

           The American evangelist then asked the general if he would disclose his secret for success. “He hesitated a second,” Dr. Chapman said, “and I saw the tears come into his eyes and steal down his cheeks, and then he said, “I will tell you the secret. God has had all there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I, men with greater opportunities; but from the day I got the poor of London on my heart, and a vision of what Jesus Christ could do with the poor of London, I made up my mind that God would have all of William Booth there was. And if there is anything of power in the Salvation Army today, it is because God has all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life.””

 Dr. Chapman said he went away from that meeting with General Booth knowing “that the greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.”

 Stanza 3:  We are Sorry to You Lord  (9:7-35)

            In this long passage of Scripture, the history of God’s people in Israel is laid out by the worshipers in Jerusalem. Because of its sheer length, it will not work to fit into this blog. These are the historical story and divisions of this recounting:

            9:7-8 -  Abraham’s calling and moving from Ur.

            9:9-21 - Bondage in Egypt, deliverance, and forty years in the desert.

            9:22-31 - The days of the judges that repeatedly showed a pattern of sin,  judgement, and grace among God’s people.

            9:32-35 - An acknowledgement of the sin of the forefathers with a declaration  and remembering of God’s faithfulness and grace in spite of it.

             Confession is not making an excuse for sins but confessing to the one who we offended.  Sin hurts a lot of people, but first and foremost it offends a holy God. As the Israelites confessed the sins of their forefathers, they were not trying to seek forgiveness as much as declaring God’s patience, grace, faithfulness, and power. Though we certainly cannot seek forgiveness for the sins of those who went before us, we can acknowledge that, in spite of their sin, God has still allowed us to stand in this day.

            All Christians are standing today, not because we are so good and our ancestors in the church were so good. We are here because a gracious, merciful, powerful, patient, omnipotent God has enabled us to be here. And, though many before us took wrong steps in the church, God still allows us to stand. We cannot change the sins of our past – or our spiritual ancestors – but we can affect what is now and in the future because of our great God.

How to Sing a Song of Confession to God Sermon Blog Day 1

          In his book Great Themes of the Bible, Louis Albert Banks told of the time D.L. Moody visited a prison called “The Tombs” to preach to the inmates. After he had finished speaking, Moody talked with several men in their cells. He asked each prisoner this question, “What brought you here?” Again and again he received replies like this: “I don’t deserve to be here.” “I was framed.” “I was falsely accused.” “I was given an unfair trial.” Not one inmate would admit he was guilty.

          Finally, Moody found a man with his face buried in his hands, weeping. “And what’s wrong, my friend?” he inquired. The prisoner responded, “My sins are more than I can bear.” Relieved to find at least one man who would recognize his guilt and his need of forgiveness, the evangelist exclaimed, “Thank God for that!” Moody then had the joy of pointing him to a saving knowledge of Christ—a knowledge that released him from his shackles of sin.

          When a man will acknowledge his sin and come before God with sorrow, it is there that real forgiveness, salvation, and repentance begin. Truly redeemed people are quick to confess sin. This is a characteristic of a fully yielded and Spirit-filled person. God’s redeemed people will evidence their redemption with outward confession and worship.

          Immediately following the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem by Nehemiah, the people of God celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles as an obedient act of worship. In a short period after that celebration, a giant corporate assembly of God’s people met to express worship and confession to God. Out of this assembly can be found a potential pattern for singing a song of confession. What stanzas of confession might a true worshiper sing?

Stanza 1:  We are Serious about You Lord (9:1-4)

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God. Then Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the stairs of the Levites and cried out with a loud voice to the Lord their God.

            The seriousness of the intent to confess and repent can be seen in the personal preparation and planning that went into this corporate gathering.  The prepared themselves individually before ever stepping foot in the public assembly.  This is a characteristic of a people who are serious about God.

            “Chance favors the prepared mind" was the statement Louis Pasteur, the 19 century scientist, used to describe his remarkable ability to invent and innovate across a complex set of problems.  This is also the philosophy of authors Bill Welter, and Jean Egmon in their book titled The Prepared Mind of a Leader: Eight Skills Leaders Use to Innovate, Make Decisions and Solve Problems.

          Welter and Egmon are convinced – as was Louis Pasteur – that a prepared and ready mind is much more likely to be effective in leadership and progress.  Their point is that, when a mind is prepared, it reduces the number of unexpected contingencies or surprises that threaten progress.

            No doubt about it.  No matter what the setting may be, being prepared is critical to success.  And...the level to which you are serious about success will reflect in your preparation.

            Let’s take this idea from the level of worldwide corporations to the everyday worship of God’s people. The level to which you are serious about meeting with God in corporate worship will be directly parallel to your private worship and personal preparation.  If you walk into corporate worship not having picked up your Bible that week – or only seeing it once or twice – you are not serious about powerful corporate worship.

Can Revival Happen Here? Sermon Blog Day 3 Nehemiah

Through Design of Definite Teaching: 8:7-12

“Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.’ For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.

Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, ‘Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.’ And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.”

Who are all these people standing around Ezra up on the platform? These people were busy ensuring that God’s people gained a secure knowledge of His Word and His Will. They were interpreting the Word into appropriate languages (helped the people to understand the Law) and taught the meaning and application of the biblical text as well (“gave the sense”). This revival in Jerusalem during the Nehemiah’s time involved intentional and focused teaching of God’s Word.

Revival in the Scriptures ALWAYS involves intentionality in teaching the Scriptures. This type of revival took place also in 2Kings 23:1-3 with young King Josiah.

“Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of the Lord with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.”

How intentional are you to be certain that you are a part of and involved in accurate teaching of God’s Word – daily and weekly?

 In Days of Decided Trust:  8:13-18

“Now on the second day the heads of the fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the Law.  And they found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.’ Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim. So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness. Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.”

           Upon hearing the Word, one of the great avenues of response was the reestablishment of the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths.  This had been a commanded feast by God yet had been neglected. We know that the heart of the people changed because they sought to obey God’s Word. This is how we know that a heart has changed. It is by his or her desire to act on the Word of God.

When revival happens, people seriously obey God’s Word.