“And the descendants of the captivity kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves; all of them were ritually clean. And they slaughtered the Passover lambs for all the descendants of the captivity, for their brethren the priests, and for themselves. Then the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the Lord God of Israel. And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for the Lord made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”
Ezra 6:19-22 NKJV
When the believer backslides, it is as if one has been given over to captivity. instead of being enslaved by a foreign power, we are enslaved to reoccurrence of sin, built up into a stronghold, that takes us away from everything we hold dear.
As I read in Ezra chapter 6 this morning, I came to place here the children of Israel had returned to Jerusalem and sought to rebuild the house of God. They re-established the temple worship, and sought to honor the word of the Lord. This is a wonder type and shadow of the life of the modern day believer, having fallen away and gone after carnality, hitting bottom and then returning to the Lord.
In the Christian walk, there are seasons of closeness and distance, as ones intimacy with God oscillates over time. I can attest to my own seasons, marked by heavy devotion or lukewarm obligation. I have been blessed not to have become captive to sin in my less devoted seasons. I believe that the Lord protected me.
There have been days when I looked back at the time when I first believed. I was enraptured with Jesus and He was all I desired. During some of the darker times of my walk, I have had those Ephesians letter moments.
““To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
Revelation 2:1-4 NKJV
On the surface there was no let up in the intensity of all that I did for the sake of the cross, but there was no love behind it. I performed from a sense of obligation. Years before, I had prayed that the Lord would give me His heart, and His burden for the lost upon me. Though I prayed earnestly for these things, I left little opportunity for them to develop in my life.
Flat on my back, a cancerous tumor crushing through my third vertebrae, the Lord had brought His refinement to me. He was honoring my prayer according to His plan and by His will. Out of all the pain and travail, my heart was made raw, and I sought the Lord. I had become comfortable with the status quo, and God had liberated me, setting my heart afire.
Brothers and sisters, we are in a time when many things are happening in our world, and sin is openly on display and applauded. It is easy to become complacent, dropping down guards and falling into sin. Many believers find themselves captive, having forgotten that they are free. The are held in fetters made of string, easily broken by the power of the Holy Spirit, but unchallenged by world saturated minds, feeling weak and uninspired and doubting the power of God.
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
Galatians 5:16-18 NKJV
If you have come to know Jesus, you have the power to turn from sin and resist the temptations of the evil one. It is matter of being willing to let go of the worldly things and seek after God.
Most believers who have called upon the name of the Lord, have a tendency to settle on just being saved. The call on the life of those who have been saved is true discipleship. We are called to follow Christ, to have His heart, to have a overwhelming desire to fulfill the mission He has saved us to do.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
I John 2:15-17 NKJV
Let us cling to Jesus, and go forth proclaiming the Gospel as twilight comes and darkness envelopes the world. There is little time left. I fear there will come a time when those who have chosen the world will go down with it, and there will be no recourse. Return to the Lord today.
God and serve your King!
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