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Sunday, April 2, 2017, 4:36 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Zeal for Your House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 61:1-4 (NASB).

Freedom for Prisoners (v. 1)

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;

Although this is a prophecy about Jesus Christ, we, as his body, also have the Spirit of God upon us, and we have been anointed of God (2 Co. 1:21-22), and chosen of God to be “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). We are to bring the Good News to people, too. We are to share with people how they can be turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so that they can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (purified) by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Acts 26:16-18).

Jesus Christ, God incarnate (in the flesh), died on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15). When he died, our sins died with him and were buried with him. When God the Father resurrected him from the dead, Jesus rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf. Yet, not everyone is saved from their sins. We must individually trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, be turned from our sin, and turn to God to walk in his light (truth, righteousness).

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, and without hope. We are enslaved to sin and bound to spend eternity in the fires of hell. There is nothing we can do, though, in our flesh, to be acceptable to God. We cannot earn or deserve his grace or our own salvation. We will always come up short of attaining his divine approval (Ro. 3:23). So, this is why Jesus gave his life for us on a cross so that, through faith in him, we might be set free of the punishment of sin (eternal damnation), be delivered out of bondage to sin and the control Satan had over our lives, and be given new (eternal) lives in Christ Jesus to be lived to his righteousness. He died, not just to forgive us our sins, but that we might no longer be slaves to sin, but rather be slaves to his righteousness (Ro. 6).

Grace and Justice (v. 2a)

To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God;

God’s grace to us, though, is not free license to continue living in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23). “Our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6-7). Sin should no longer be our master.

Jesus said that, if we want to come after him, we must deny self and take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity (die in our sins). But, if we lose our lives for Christ (die with him to sin), we will gain eternal life (with God). Paul reiterated the same words when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). As well, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in the darkness (in sin), we don’t live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6).

Comfort for the Contrite (vv. 2b-3)

To comfort all who mourn,
To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

When we are enslaved to sin, without hope, we are controlled by Satan and by our flesh. We are free from the control of righteousness. We hurt and we hurt others. We destroy relationships and we injure those who have done us no harm. We are on a path of self-destruction, too. We make a practice of sinning with our lives, i.e. we lie, cheat, steal, gossip, hate, commit adultery or fornication, slander, rage, curse, are immoral, and/or we are unforgiving of others who sin just like us, etc. So, this is why Jesus gave his life for us, so that we might be delivered out of slavery (addiction) to sin, not just to free us from sin’s punishment or to promise us heaven when we die.

Faith in Jesus Christ is not something we generate in our own flesh. The faith needed to believe in Jesus and to be saved from our sins is a gift from God to us. It is God’s divine persuasion to us of his perfect will for our lives. When persuaded, we yield control of our lives over to Christ, we trust him to deliver us out of slavery to sin, and we submit to his will and purposes for our lives. We, in other words, repent of (turn from) our sins in all humility and sorrow of heart, and we turn to God to walk in his holiness and in his righteousness, to be who he wants us to be, and to go where he wants us to go. We choose to no longer live under the control of sin, but we choose, by the convincing of the Holy Spirit, to walk in the ways of the Lord.

Then, the Lord comforts us with his love, his grace, his mercy and his forgiveness. Where once we carried around this weight of sin on our shoulders, now he has removed that, and we have the peace of Christ in its place, and the joy of the Holy Spirit, and the encouragement of the Father. Where we once denied Jesus by our lifestyles, now our lives are to his praise and glory. Once we felt in despair and without hope. Now we have the healing power of God in our lives, and we are filled to overflowing with inexpressible joy. Once we floundered around having no purpose and direction, but now we are filled with purpose, value and direction. Once we had just a religion. Now we have a relationship with Almighty God.

Repairers and Rebuilders (v. 4)

Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins,
They will raise up the former devastations;
And they will repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, it does not mean that we are instantly perfect, or that we never sin again. Scripture is very clear, though, that if we willfully keep on sinning (make it our practice), there is no more sacrifice for sins; we don’t have the promise of eternal life; we don’t know God; and we don’t love God, although we may say that we do. There has to be a spiritual transformation which takes place in our hearts, of the Spirit of God. We must be born again of the Spirit. If there is no change of heart and mind, and we just keep trucking the way we did before, we don’t really know God. It is just that plain and simple.

On the other hand, scripture is also clear in showing us that it is possible for true believers in Jesus Christ to fall back into sin, and to come back under a yoke of slavery. It is possible for Christians to become lazy and complacent about their relationships with Jesus and to neglect time with him in prayer, in his word, and in following him in obedience. It is also likely that some will forget that they have been cleansed from their sins, and that they will begin following the ways of the world once again (See: Rev. 2-3, for example). So, although they don’t need to be “born again” again, they may need to be revived, renewed and restored to a proper relationship with their Lord.

So, if you have never repented of your sins, and if you have never had that change of heart and mind away from a life of sin to a life of living to God and to his righteousness, then I pray you will turn your life over to Jesus today. As well, if you did believe in Jesus to be your Savior, but at some point in your life since then, you have fallen back into sin or if you have become complacent and lazy about your spiritual walk of faith, I pray you will return to your Lord and that you will allow him to restore you to himself. I pray you will forsake all which you know is displeasing to God, and that you will choose to follow him in obedience from this day forward – all in the power, strength and working of His Holy Spirit now living within you, for the glory of God. Amen!

Zeal for Your House
An Original Work / August 1, 2016

Based off Jn. 2:17; Ps. 69:9

Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
Lord, I love my times with You.
I love to worship You and sing Your praises.
Time in Your Word brings me closer to You,
List’ning to You speaking to me,
Gently guiding me in truth.

Lord, You are my life’s example,
Showing me how I should live.
I love to walk with You where’er You lead me.
No greater joy have I when serving You.
Loving, giving, resting in Your strength,
I’m yielding to Your will.

Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
See the church turned upside down:
Marketing ventures taking place of worship,
Men of the gospel turning into clowns.
Gospel message made appealing,
So the world will feel at home.

Lord, we need a great revival.
Turn their hearts, Lord, back to You.
Open the blind eyes, turn them all from darkness,
Lord, to the light. May they return to You,
Turn from their sin, forsake idols,
Be restored to God again.