Text: Ezra 10:1-4
Thematic Sentence: Turning the tide of spiritual decline takes people of spiritual caliber.
- The church has many indicators of spiritual decline.
- Unless people committed to spiritual principles rise up, the decline will continue.
- The spiritual welfare of the church depends on the involvement of people of spiritual caliber.
I. Turning the tide of spiritual decline takes people connected by prayer. (Ezra 9:5, 10:1)
A. Prayer That is Fervent
A church in decline really needs men and women who seriously engage God in prayer.
*** It is no accident that some of the great awakenings in history have begun in prayer. A prayer meeting under a haystack in a rainstorm in 1806 led to the first large-scale American missionary efforts. In 1830 some 30,000 people were converted in Rochester, New York, under the ministry of Charles Finney; later Finney said the reason was the faithful praying of one man who never attended the meetings but gave himself to prayer. In 1872 the American evangelist Dwight L. Moody began a campaign in London, England, which was used of God to touch countless lives. Later Moody discovered that a humble bedridden girl had been praying. The list could go on and on.
Are you praying for revival, both in your own life and in the lives of others? Are you confessing sin to Him and seeking His blessing on your life?
B. Prayer That is Burdened
It is prayer that really carries the spiritual needs of God’s people, that is the prayer sure to connect.
*** "Tom, you're the sort of Christian I like." The speaker was a young man of no religious profession. His companion was a church member in good and regular standing. "You're the sort of a Christian I like. You never seem to bother yourself about a fellow's soul." The words were lightly spoken, but they pierced like an arrow. If we had listened at Tom's chamber door that night, we would have heard something like this: "O God, forgive me that I seemed indifferent to the welfare of my friends! Help me to trouble myself more and more about them. Give me a passion for souls!"
II. Turning the tide of spiritual decline takes people carried by passion. (Ezra 9:3, 10:1)
*** Christ said of John the Baptist that he was "a burning and a shining light." His ministry of a holy fire throughout the hills of Judea. He started a spiritual flame that has warmed the world because he had compassion for the lost. One of the most beautiful pictures in all the art galleries of revelation is the weeping Christ standing on the brow of Olivet, looking over lost Jerusalem. His great compassionate heart, as it yearned for lost men, brought tears to his eyes. the deepest mysteries of revelation are sounded and the highest tableland of gospel grace is reached when Paul said: "I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren." He spent three years in Ephesus weeping over the lost men, warning them "night and day with tears."
--- Lee R. Scarborough
A. focused Passion
Passion needs to be directed to be effective. A mental projection.
B. felt Passion
Passion needs to engage the emotions as well as the mind.
III. Turning the tide of spiritual decline takes people concerned about purity. (Ezra 9:13-15)
In the forests of northern Europe, and Asia a little animal called the ermine lives. He is mostly known among us by his snow-white fur, a thing than which there is nothing more beautiful on the fur markets of the world. In some countries the state robes of judges are lined with it, the white being emblematic of purity and honor. The ermine has a peculiar pride in his white fur coat. At all hazards he protects it against anything that would spoil it.
It is said that the fur hunters take cruel advantage of the ermine's care to keep his coat clean. They do not set a snare to catch
him at some unwary moment, but instead find his home, a cleft in the rock or the hollow of a decaying tree, and daub the entrance and interior with filth. Then their dogs start the chase. Frightened, the ermine flees toward his home, his only place of refuge. He finds it daubed with uncleanness, and he will not spoil his
pure white coat. Rather than go into the unclean place,
he faces the yelping dogs and preserves the purity of his fur at the price of his life. It is better that he be stained by blood than spoiled by uncleanness. The ermine is right purity is dearer than life. Walking With God.
A. Purity For The People Of God
To see sin in the lives of those claiming the name of God strkes a concern for their welfare of God’s people.
B. Purity In The Presence Of God
A holy God demands holy people. To refuse holiness is to refuse the presence of God.
IV. Turning the tide of spiritual decline takes people committed to God’s pronouncements. (Ezra 7:10, Neh. 8:23)
A. Knowing God’s Word
Any time revival has broke out it has begun with a concern for God’s Word.
B. Practicing God’s Word
To proclaim God’s Word without any care for its daily observance is to create doubt in the goodness of God’s Word.
C. Sharing God’s Word
A concern for spiritual life shows itself in teaching others spiritual truths, that those truths might become realities in the lifes of the student.
*** In Nottingham, England, is the Wesleyan Chapel where William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, was converted. A memorial tablet marks the spot where this notable friend of the friendless received his baptism of spiritual power. Salvation Army leaders from around the world journey to that chapel as a shrine. One day an aged colored man in the uniform of the Army was found by the minister of the chapel standing with uplifted eyes before the tablet. "Can a man say his prayers here?" the old soldier asked. "Of course," was the reply. "Of course, a man can say his prayers here." And the old Army officer went down on his knees, and lifting his hands before the tablet, prayed, "0 God; do it again. Do it again!"
- The church is dying.
- The concern is waning
- The need is critical
- The time is now