Tag Archives: renewal

New life! – Ephesians 4:17-32

New life! – Ephesians 4:17-32
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 5, 2017

There are times in everyone’s life that they wish they had a do over. You know a new start in life. There are those who wait for others to make their life better and there are those who decide to make their lives better and they do. However, as much as one tries to make things better in reality you are the same person except with window dressing.

There is a way to make your life new both inside and out and it is guaranteed to do so. Twelve men were going about their daily lives when they were approached by a man who said he could change their lives forever if they were willing to follow him. While they all said they would only eleven were willing to completely give their lives to him and in doing so they found a new life. Paul now makes the same argument to the church at Ephesus; let’s discover what he teaches us about this new life.

READ: Ephesians 4:17-32

At one time Paul was one of the most up and coming young men in his nation’s ruling class both spiritually and intellectually known as the Sanhedrin. Paul would write his experience by writing the church at Galatia, “I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” Galatians 1:14 NIV) But then God set him apart and called him by his grace. Paul writes the Ephesians that they were to…

I. Remember their new lives! (Vv. 17-20)

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way.

1. This new life for Paul was not some esoteric concept. There are those today who think that by simply being good they are totally good inside and out. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is why Paul wrote, “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.” Paul was not being racist in his remarks rather he was referencing how all of us are “gentiles” or futile in our thinking until we come to Christ by faith! Paul understood that everyone is “darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” We are all sinners by nature and by choice! Just as non-Jews, Gentiles, did not understand God and lived in spiritually sin-dark lives, all of us are until we also come to Christ! In fact we are separated from the life of God because of our spiritual ignorance and the ungodly world’s hardening of our hearts! We are to remember our new lives! Lest we forget good people do not know God and good people do not inherit all that God has for them; goodness does not get one into heaven! Even acts of “goodness” come from a sinful heart that exists in a sin-fallen world. We may think we are good enough for God to love us but in fact we have “lost all sensitivity” we might have toward God and have “given (ourselves) over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more!” When we fail to realize the ungodliness of even the “good” things of the world we fail to understand why God humbled himself and came as Jesus to die on a cross for us. We must truly understand what Paul teaches, namely that “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12 NIV) He reminds his readers therefore “You, however, did not come to know Christ that way.” We are to remember our new lives!

EXAMPLE: Even though my father has been dead for almost 50 years, there are times I can still hear him and sometimes when I walk into a room if there are certain smells it is as if he was right there. Of course I know he isn’t but our minds help us to remember these kinds of things in this way. Today at the end of worship we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper. It does not impart any special dispensation, extra forgiveness, or grace. In it we discover anew the sacrifice of Jesus for us so that we might live for him. In observing the Lord’s Supper it helps us to remember our new lives!

Living a new life in Jesus begins with our trusting him by faith and then we are to daily decide to live for him. In doing so we are to…

II. Put off the old life and put on the new life! (Vv. 21-25)

Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

1. Paul continued by reminding his readers that “Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.” Their hearts were no longer darkened, their lives were now made new in Jesus! They had heard, they had been taught, and now they fully realized the truth that is in Jesus! Only those who intimately know Christ can understand what Paul is writing here. We come to faith in Jesus and are spiritually changed. We were taught this and understand this but now “with regard to your former way of life” we are “to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires”. Anything or anyone that keeps us from living the lives we are to in Jesus we are to get rid of in our lives! Paul was not being uncaring here; he knew that this could be awfully hard for new believers to do. But he was trying to encourage them in any way he could as individuals and as a church to live for Jesus! Jude would write, “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23 NIV) Therefore we are “to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” It is a conscious decision on our part! To put it into terms we can understand: If we live for Jesus we become more like Jesus! If we try to stay comfortable in the ungodly world we will never attain to what God truly desires for our lives in Jesus so Paul writes, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Again Paul is speaking to the church, to believers. If we want a church, a life, a second chance that truly works we have to make the decision to put off the old life and put on the new life!

EXAMPLE: This past Wednesday is known as “Ash Wednesday” by millions of believers all over the world. However, many fail in their spiritual thinking concerning what this means and if it is worthwhile for them to do. Living for Jesus is more than doing an act of contrition one day a year. An ashen cross pasted on one’s forehead can remind us of Jesus’ humility and how we are to live, but it is meaningless unless one has given their life to Christ in the first place. Then we are to put off the old life and put on the new life!

Getting rid of old habits can be hard unless we propagate new ones that are beneficial to our new way of life. It is more than repeating the mantra of “Everyday in every way I am getting better and better.” It is a conscious decision on our part to live this new life. Paul related that…

III. We are not to sin in our new life! (Vv. 26-32)

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

1. Paul gets real here in his letter to the Ephesians in sharing with them exactly how they were to live for Jesus. He bluntly writes, “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Anger is one of the most destructive forces in a person’s life. It is easy to respond in anger, just look at all the protests, riots, and anger being expressed by those who think they deserve something or are being deprived in some way. When we respond in anger we give ungodly thoughts and actions a foothold in our lives. We allow satanic influences to gain territory. We thwart such ungodliness when we respond in God’s love right away. Paul continued that “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” A crook, whether it is the government or the individual is one who steals from others what they did not earn with their own hands. Instead we are to share as believers with those within the church who are in need. We are to show that the love of God lives in us even to the things we participate including what we say; “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” In fact we are not to “grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” We can “grieve” God who dwells within each believer when we do not walk in Christ. We walk in Jesus when we “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” And when we are “kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”, we are living as Jesus did. This is what we are called to and how we are to live; we are not to sin in our new life!

EXAMPLE: God knew we could never be perfect and never sin. This is why he gave us himself in Jesus and empowered us through his presence of the Holy Spirit. However, like a good parent that reminds their kids when they are leaving the house to be as good as they can be until they get home, God reminds us to live good lives in him until he returns again. We are not to sin in our new life!

Conclusion:

We are to remember our new lives! Put off the old life and put on the new life! We are not to sin in our new life!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The principles of a powerful prayer meeting, Part 2

The principles of a powerful prayer meeting, Part 2
By Pastor Lee Hemen’
October 23, 2011 AM

Last time, we asked why Elijah, Moses, Joshua, Jesus and Paul were so filled with confidence when praying about the impossible that they often announced that it would take place even before they prayed! How could they be so sure that God would answer their prayers? I believe it was because they had paid the price of being alone with God. They had come to know the very heart and intent of God. They began to see life from his perspective instead of their own. Fervent focused prayer surged through their spiritual souls and it beat with the intense intimacy they shared with the Father. They sought the Lord until they knew what he was doing and joined him in doing it! Therefore, they saw the power of God displayed in response to their prayers. This is the very essence of what Jesus meant by abiding in him, without which we will not know what God’s will is or what to ask him.

We find that the early church experienced the very same thing in their prayers as well, so much, so that they were confident in their prayers and their outcome. Much of today’s church is based on so much programming, manufactured hype, and commercialism that it often does not depend on the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Let’s take a look at what the rest of the principles are that the early church experienced that helped them to have empowered prayer.

READ: Acts 12:1-12

We are so instinctively “me-centered” in our thinking and praying that it will take spiritual discipline in addition, discernment to force it from our prayers. Until we do, we will not receive what we ask because, as James 4:3 teaches, we will ask wrongly in order to get something from God! However, God-focused prayer calls us to a different kind of lifestyle. When the early church took on this kind of prayer focus, they experienced the power of God. What we find is that the church experienced a…

I. Deep koinonia!

1. Christian fellowship is the opening of a Christian’s heart to one another!
1) There are three episodes from the life of the Early Church that teach us the power the church experienced because of prayer. In Acts 2:42-43 we find that the church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers.” Because of their sensitivity to the working of God in their midst a godly “fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles.” Then in Acts 4:31-33 we find that “those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on all of them.” Finally, in Acts 5:12-16 we discover that “Many signs and wonders were being done among the people through the hands of the apostles” and that “believers were added to the Lord in increasing numbers.” In fact, those that were sick “and those who were tormented by unclean spirits… were all healed.” What made the difference? It is something that many churches in our day and age lack: koinonia! It was a deep abiding fellowship with one another. Look again and you find that “they devoted themselves” to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers. They were of “one heart and soul” and decided to have “everything in common” with each other. Wow! Christians desire people in their lives who truly care, yet almost everything the modern church does, thwarts this. Mega cannot promote intimacy and you cannot program true fellowship. Koinonia comes from a spiritual connection that is based in our relationship with the Lord. John would write, “Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.” (1 John 2:10 NIV) Peter would say, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” (1 Peter 1:22 NIV) The early church’s prayers were powerful because they enjoyed a deep koinonia.

EXAMPLE: John Franklin concluded from his study in Acts that “God worked in their lives in proportion to the degree of their koinonia, the quality of love between believers. Their favor with God flowed from his pleasure in their depth of fellowship.” (“And the Place Was Shaken,” by John Franklin, page 40.) Years ago, when speaker of the house Sam Rayburn heard he had terminal cancer, he shocked everyone when he announced he was going back to his small town in Bonham, Texas. People said to him, “They have got the finest facilities in Washington, D. C. Why go back to that little town?” Rayburn’s response resonates with something inside us all. He said, “Because in Bonham, Texas, they know if you’re sick, and they care when you die.” (Submitted by J. R. Love, Ruston, Louisiana, PreachingToday.com.) He was speaking of the kind of koinonia a small town displays. God empowers the prayers of those who enjoy spiritual koinonia one with another!

We will pray more impassionedly when we trust those with whom we are praying. Trust is built when our lives brush up against one another; when we share our faith and we walk the tough times together. This is why small groups are a key spiritual element to our church’s life. We simply don’t have time to build close relationships in Worship. Koinonia fuels fervent effective prayer that is real, binds wounds, and shares with one another so that friendship and care increases. Without it, our praying together will be surface only and the power of God constrained. However, we discover that it wasn’t just the close koinonia that empowered the early church’s prayer it also came from…

II. Clean hearts!

1. Purity in the heart produces power in one’s life!
1) We find this principle from the very first stories in Genesis where Adam and Eve hide from God to the final chapter of Revelation where God’s holy saints surround the heavenly throne! God has always required a right heart from those to whom he will reveal himself. All who miss this point miss God. Go back and look at when Cain and Abel brought their offerings to God. God respected Abel and his offerings, but he rejected Cain and his offerings. Why? The Bible makes it plain that God’s approval or refusal was squarely based on the person making the offering. God’s response is always directly linked to the condition of the heart of the one worshipping. At the dedication of the new temple, this is why he tells the Israelites, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.” (2 Chronicles 7:14-15 NIV) God answers a person or a people in proportion to how they are walking with him. He never differentiates between the thing requested and the one making the request. Another way to say that is this: God doesn’t just answer prayer; he answers you! David understood this spiritual concept and why he would sing, “Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalms 51:9-10 NIV) This is also, why Paul warned his friend Timothy, “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22 NIV) Clean hearts lead to empowered prayer!

EXAMPLE: A classic example of this occurred in a prayer meeting in the Hebrides Islands off the coast of Scotland. Christians there had been imploring God for some time to send revival and spiritual awakening. Finally, during a Friday night prayer meeting, a 16-year-old youth prayed, “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior.” (Psalms 24:3-5 NIV) He then began to ask God if his heart was pure. Others in the room began to inspect their walk with God, to confess their sins, and to renew a right relationship with God. At that moment, God began to transform lives on those islands. In fact, as they were praying God woke up most of the town at midnight, and they gathered at the village square asking how to be saved. Once the hearts of those Christians were cleansed, God worked mightily through them. God empowers the prayers of those with clean hearts!

I have often been amazed at churches with two similar worship services where one well be Spirit-filled, vibrant, and hearts responsive; while the other service, with the same message and music, will be cold, flat, and unresponsive. The difference simply depends on the spiritual condition of the hearts of those in attendance. The psalmist was absolutely right when he deduced, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.” (Psalms 66:18-19 NIV) A believer either helps or hinders the movement of God’s Spirit in respect to their spiritual cleanliness. In fact, we discover that this extends to the unity of believers as well. In order to have empowered prayer a church needs to be in…

III. One accord!

1. The church consists of two types of folks: the saints and the aints!
1) Five times in the first five chapters of Acts, the KJV Bible relates that the disciples were in “one accord.” Each time the Greek word used is “homothumadon,” which is a compound word meaning, “same passion, combined heat, or shared glow.” The early church shared the same burning passionate heart. This spiritual unity reflected in their praying together, meeting together, fellowshipping together, beseeching God together, and doing miracles together! How important was unity? Jesus prayed, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23 NIV) We reflect and bring God glory through our loving, selfless, servant attitude toward one another! This harmony is directly connected to God’s patent presence and power in the pages of Scripture. Paul would admonish his readers that Christians were to “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3 NIV) Those who deliberately tried to sow discord in the church were declared as “blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm–shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted–twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.” (Jude 1:12-13 NIV) God said they were like a “scoundrel and villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth!” (Proverbs 6:12 NIV) Wow! For a person or church to experience empowered prayer, they have to be in one accord!

EXAMPLE: David McCasland wrote in Our Daily Bread about “a demonstration of sheep-herding using a Border Collie, the dog trainer explained that because sheep are highly vulnerable to wild animals, their main defense against predators is to stay together in a tightly knit group. ‘A sheep alone is a dead sheep,’ the trainer said. ‘The dog always keeps the sheep together as it moves them.’” He continued by stating, “The biblical image of God as our shepherd is a powerful reminder of how much we need each other in the community of faith. When writing about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, the psalmist said, ‘[God] made His own people go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock; and He led them on safely, so that they did not fear’ (Psalm 78:52-53). As part of God’s flock, we who have trusted Christ are under His guiding, protecting hand while being surrounded by the shielding presence of others. We are part of a larger body of believers in which there is safety and accountability. While we don’t give up our personal responsibility for thought and action as members of the flock, we are to embrace the concept of ‘we’ rather than ‘me’ in our daily lives. With Christ as our Shepherd and fellow believers around us, we find safety in the flock.” We are in one accord!

Conclusion:
We find that the early church experienced empowered prayer because of their deep koinonia, clean hearts, and their being in one accord. What kind of prayer do you experience?
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Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2011 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Today’s Thoughts, Hosea 10:12-13

by Pastor Lee Hemen
April 1, 2008

Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes and showers righteousness on you. But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors… (Hosea 10:12-13)

Often times we hear of evangelists using these verses to get people to return to the Lord. It is a great passage to remind people of exactly what they need to do in order to be renewed in Him. In our day and age where revivals are “old fashioned,” we find spiritual malaise, biblical ignorance, and self-centered worship. Hosea faced similar problems within the rank and file of the Israelite nation.

Ephraim, the Northern Kingdom (also called “Jacob” here), was described by God as “a trained heifer that loves to thresh.” They had sold their souls to sinful laziness. Threshing was the lightest task a beast could perform on a farm, so God relates that if Ephraim loved spiritual laziness so much, “I will put a yoke on her fair neck.” It was the yoke of sin. Judah, the Southern Kingdom, would man the plow Jacob would pull. It was a plow that would be used to “break up the (fallow) ground” of slothful sin Israel was enjoying, just like much of Christianity does today.

Israel had grown content in its sin, secure in its shallow spirituality, and wanted its shepherds (pastors) to give them fine sounding sermons instead of all this stuff about sin, war, and laziness. God warned those caught in the easy sinful life, “Sow for yourselves righteousness.” Go back to living as God intended, not as you desire. “Reap fruit of unfailing love,” which for the believer is the fruits found in the lives of those who live for the Lord which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control!” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Do you dear child of God display these “fruits” in your life? These are not fruit that you are to try and obtain to, rather these are fruits that are grown on the vine of those who abide in Jesus. They are to be evident in any Christian’s life! Just as Israel was to walk with God, follow his lead, and be blessed because of their relationship, the Christian is to allow the Gardener of our lives to produce in us these fruits. Paul warned that “the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.” (Galatians 5:17) Does your “spirituality” find too much comfort and familiarity in living on rocky soil? You know what I mean. Is it easier for you to be around the ungodly world than with the saints of God? Does your lifestyle reflect a self-centeredness that gives God and His church only second best and your leftovers? Do you find it difficult to tithe,  join a church, witness, or live as you should? Then you need to take the “nipple” out of your mouth! Here’s what I mean:

Today’s church has become fatted veal waiting at the milk station for others to bottle-feed them, unaware that they are being sated for the slaughter. They suckle at the false rubber nipple of prepackaged spirituality and call it “good enough.” It is time for today’s church to “break up your unplowed ground” of sinful soil. To tear out the weeds of destruction within our churches and lives. To sift the rocks out and fertilize the unproductive ground of modern day mediocrity!

Ephraim felt good about itself, like a stupid trained heifer, a family pet, that daily did the same old thing. They equated their fine buildings and wealth with spiritual growth, when in fact they would ultimately be destroyed. Instead of producing Godly spiritual fruit, they had planted wickedness, reaped evil, and had eaten the fruit of deception. How could God say such hurtful and angry things to those He loved? He responds, “Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors.” And that describes much of today’s Christianity.

A wise pastor once told me, “If what you can accomplish as a church or as a Christian can be done by you in your own strength, your own plans, or your own dependence, then it is unlikely God had anything to do with it at all. God desires to do things that only He can do through you, not that you could do on your own with enough resources.” Like today’s church that depends on the latest gimmick, marketing promotion, or tactic Israel had fallen prey to its own evil deception. The glory of God had left them because of their spiritual blindness and they were depending on their own merits and schemes for success.

God’s answer, while being tough to take and hard to swallow for those loving the good life of sin, was the only way they could recover. Today’s church needs to break up its sin-hardened ground, sow seeds of righteous behavior, reap the fruit of God’s unfailing love, and seek the Lord. It was not easy for Israel to do nor is it easy for us, but it has to be done. We must stop depending on ourselves, gimmicks, promotions, and the latest Christian self-help book, and begin anew to depend on God and Him alone. Come back to Him through our devotion of prayer, personal submission, open confession, reading His Word and applying it to our life, and walking instep with His will instead of depending on others to spoon feed us our spirituality.

Today, dear child of Jesus, be renewed and restored by returning to the Lord!

NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety. This devotional will follow Morning by Morning by C H Spurgeon. You may use it however you desire.

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Today’s Thoughts, 2 Samuel 21:9-10

by Pastor Lee Hemen
March 31, 2008

He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed and exposed them on a hill before the LORD. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning. Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds of the air touch them by day or the wild animals by night. (2 Samuel 21:9-10)

What has occurred here? We discover that Israel, way back under Joshua’s leadership, had just destroyed Jericho and Ai and was about to attack the Amorite federation of the Canaanite hill country. The people of Gibeon, who were in the direct line of Joshua’s conquest, pretended to be faraway aliens and so escaped annihilation. Moreover, they tricked Joshua into making a covenant with them whereby they would forever serve Israel in menial tasks but could never be harmed. Though the covenant was made deceitfully, its binding nature was recognized by both the Israelites and the Gibeonites.

Saul, in an action not recorded in the biblical account, had slain some Gibeonites during his tenure, David now found out from the Lord that Israel was suffering because of Saul’s sinful duplicity.

Blood-guiltiness when resting upon the land could only be expiated by the blood of the criminal; but in delivering up the members of Saul’s house for whom they asked, David spared Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan and grandson of Saul, for the sake of the bond of friendship which he had formed with Jonathan.

While David did not always do the right thing, and often did the expedient thing that best benefited David, here we see him early on trying to make good with those Israel had made a covenant with. Sadly, the outcome was not great for one of the mother’s, Rizpah a concubine of Saul, whose sons were killed on account of Saul’s sin. Rizpah does something quite remarkable. She takes all the necessary items needed for proper mourning, lays them out and begins a vigil over them that lasts from the fall harvest to the winter rains. Probably a time of several months! This is how great her pain was. She had lost her sons because of sin!

Think about that for a moment. How many of us would be willing to sit diligently and calmly watch over the bodies of our dead loved ones? Few of us in our day and age would. We live in a society whereby we talk little of death, hurt, or personal suffering. And, if we do, we think we should immediately get over it and move on or at least take some sort of pill that will make it all go away. Not too long ago it was common for families to do exactly what Rizpah did. Wives, mothers, fathers, husbands, brothers or sisters, sons or daughters, and even close friends would sit with the bodies of those they respected and loved in life. It displayed their concern and compassion for the family and it gave a quiet dignity and respect for those who had died.

Now, let me ask you something dear child of the Lord: When was the last time you grieved over your sins in this fashion? Surprised that I would ask such a question? Why? Our sin should be seen as a deadly thing, for the wages of sin is death! Those who do not know Christ will die in their sins, and those who do yet continue to sin, will slowly die in their walk with the Lord. Dead men walking!

Perhaps we need more people with the attitude of Rizpah who are willing to mourn over their sinful condition and watch over their dead bodies of guilt and shame until they find comfort in God again. James reminds us that sinners should “Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:9-10)

Rizpah had lost all that mattered to her in life, her sons. When we sin we should see it with just the same kind of loss and mourn until we find relief in the Lord. David hears of Rizpah’s witness and is moved to go and find the bones of Saul and Jonathan and bury them in the family’s tomb with Saul’s father. In this perhaps Rizpah found release, however, we are not told if she did but I suspect it was true.

On this day, if your sin is bringing about your spiritual demise, come before the Lord and cast your cares on Him because He cares for you. Confess your sins and He is faithful and just to forgive you your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. And, you will made new. Whole and alive in Him again: “For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalms 30:5)

Remember Rizpah and mourn over your sins as she mourned over her sons and why they had to die because of sin.

NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety. This devotional will follow Morning by Morning by C H Spurgeon. You may use it however you desire.

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