Text: Lamentations 3:40-42
Lamentations is not a very familiar book to most of us. You’ll find it right after Jeremiah. Lamentations is a book of five poems…really they’re funeral poems. The word “lamentation” carries with it the idea of a funeral dirge or a funeral hymn, and this book contains five funeral hymns. Actually it is the fact of God’s people being carried away into captivity and they are lamenting the fact that God has carried His people away into Babylonian captivity because of their sin.
I want us to read just three verses… Lamentations 3:40-42…
Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the
LORD. We lift up our heart and hands toward God in heaven;
we have transgressed and rebelled, You have not pardoned.
Now you can tell a great deal about a person by discovering what it is he laments over. There are several things in our lives that give us an index and a clue to our character and one of the most significant clues is what it is that upsets us. Find out what it is that causes a person to get upset, to weep over something, to mourn over something and you get a real insight into that person’s character. Whatever it is that you lament over…whatever it is that means so much to you that it causes you to grieve is a revelation of your character.
I think one of the greatest revelations of the character of Jonah is what he wept over. God had called him to go to this great and mighty city, Nineveh, where the people were condemned under the wrath of God and yet you’ll never see Jonah shedding one tear over a multitude of people who are lost! And when God saved them, he gets upset over the fact that God saved them…
Do you know when we see Jonah weeping? As he sits under a tree and he sees a gourd dry up and die, he begins to weep and lament over a dried up gourd. And that sort of gives an indication to Jonah’s character. Here was a man who had no lament over a city away from God but would weep easily over a dead gourd.
One of the great revelations to the character of Judas was discovering what it was that he lamented over. Remember on a certain occasion when Jesus was visiting in the house of a friend a woman came, a woman whose life had been lived in complete and total sin, and she came with an alabaster box filled with precious ointment, costly perfume, and she broke that alabaster box and spilled that fragrant perfume on the feet of Jesus in adoration and worship. And the Bible tells us that Judas complained about the waste…that the perfume should have been sold and given to the poor.
Now, there was Judas lamenting over some spilled perfume and yet he had no concern over a woman’s heart that was blackened with sin and whose heart had been made right because she had come to worship and adore the Lord Jesus! No concern over the sinner! No concern over the lost estate of that person. His only concern was over the spilled perfume. This sort of tells you something about Judas.
If you were to call your husband today and tell him that you’d been in an automobile accident and the first thing he asked about was the condition of the car rather than the condition of his wife, that might tell you something about his character.
See, what a person laments over is a real indication of their character. Jesus sitting on the hill and looking over Jerusalem and weeping over the state of Jerusalem…Paul weeping over the state of the Hebrew people and saying, “I could wish myself accursed from God…” Jeremiah in his prophecy said, “I wish that my head were a fountain of tears so I could weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.”
Some years ago when I was in seminary I attended a Texas Evangelism Conference and heard Dr. Carl Bates preach and he made a statement that has stayed with me these years. He said, “The thing that’s wrong with us is that the same things that break God’s heart are not breaking ours.”
I tell you what revival is in a real measure…the beginning of revival is when the things that break God’s heart begin to break our heart. When the things that God mourns over and weeps over and the things that God is concerned about become the concerns of each one of us.
Now, in this book of Lamentations, the people of Israel are under-standably lamenting over their Babylonian captivity. They are desperately sorry that they have been carried away into this captivity. But here’s the thing that Jeremiah is trying to get through to the people. What they fail to understand is this…that the punishment for sin is not as bad as the sin itself. They think that the worse thing that has ever happened to them is the fact that they have been carried away into captivity, but the worse thing that has happened to them is they had sinned against God!
In other words, they are more concerned about the results and the punishment of their sin than they are about the sin itself. What really concerns them is not the fact that they had departed from God and had sinned against God…what really concerned them was that the result of that sin was that they had been deprived of their freedom and thrust out of their land.
I preached my first sermon in jail. I wasn’t in jail as such, you know, I was visiting there! Our church had a ministry there to the jail. I was brought up in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, and every Saturday night and Sunday afternoon we went to visit the jail and would witness there to the inmates…and I preached my first sermon there.
Well, I preached that sermon in the federal side of the jail…where they held men who were bound over there for trial in federal court because they had committed a federal offense and after I had preached that message we began to talk to some of the prisoners and one man that I witnessed to was in jail for car theft and he had transported stolen cars across the state line so he was bound over for trial in federal court…and here I was a sixteen-year-old teen-ager trying to witness to a forty-year-old hardened criminal and I didn’t really know what to say to him and the only thing I could think was this, “Are you sorry for what you did?” He said, “I tell you what, sonny, I’m sorry I got caught.” And I have to say this much about the man, he was honest! He wasn’t sorry for what he did, he was sorry he got caught!
And you know as a pastor, as I talked and counseled with a great many married couples whose homes were shaken and just about on the rocks I have found that a great many of them weren’t sorry for they had done, but they were sorry for the results of what they had done.
Now, there are times when we are lamenting over the fact that certain things in our churches aren’t what they ought to be…we’ll lament over the fact that our attendance is down…we’ll lament over the fact that our baptismal ratio is not what it ought to be, but what we ought to be lamenting over is the things that have caused those things to happen.
And Israel was not lamenting so much for their sin, but for the punishment for their sin. And when we come to talk about revival and this is a conference on revival we want to talk about where revival starts. And I think revival starts when we start weeping over the right things…when we start lamenting over the right things. And I’ll tell you what we ought to be lamenting over this morning is that we have sinned against God!
I want to take these three verses and just make two or three suggestions to you as we come to think about what it is that brings revival and how revival starts and what is my part in revival…what is the first step that I’m to take if I’m to see revival.
The first thing I want to suggest is if I’m really sincere about wanting to see God break into my life and the life of my church and the life of my city in revival,
I must be willing to examine my own life.
There must be a close examination of my own heart. You’ll notice this is what the prophet is speaking of in verse 40… “Let us examine (search) and probe (try) our ways, and let us return (turn) to the LORD…”
I want you to notice something very interesting. He said “Let us…”
Verse 41… “We (let us) lift up our heart…
Verse 42… “We have transgressed…” Do you see what I’m getting at?
The prophet is including himself in this. He isn’t standing off aloof from the people and saying, “Now, you people need to search your heart and you people need to get right and you people have sinned…” He includes himself in this… “Let us search our hearts and let us return to the LORD…for we have transgressed and rebelled against God…”
I can always tell you when a person is getting down to business with the Lord. There are two kinds of testimony…two kinds of praying. One kind is where we sort of share a corporate guilt. You know, someone stands up and says, “I want you to pray for my church, it really needs revival.” And when I hear someone talk like that I know we’re not really down to business yet. When somebody stands up and says, “Our nation really needs revival…our city really needs revival…” I know we’re really not down to brass tacks.
I’ll tell you what happens…when that person gets up and says, “I need revival…I need to get right with God…it’s me, oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer…” I say, “Alright, we’re getting close now.”
We have this easy, comfortable, corporate guilt, you know, where we say, “Our denomination isn’t what it ought to be…” Well, friend, the reason it isn’t is because you and I aren’t what we ought to be. We have a way of saying, “Well, that church down there…the church I belong to isn’t what it ought to be…” Listen, you are that church! And the prophet said, “Let us search our hearts…let us try our ways…not the neighbor’s ways…not somebody else’s ways.
Several years ago we were having a prayer meeting on Wednesday night in our church and as usual we would ask people to stand and share prayer requests and we had about three hundred or three hundred and fifty present that night and for about ten minutes people stood up and said, “Would you please pray for so and so…they’re going through a very trying time…” “Would you please pray for so and so…this has happened…would you please pray for this…”
And suddenly it dawned upon me that for ten minutes I had been listening to people stand up and ask for prayer for other people and not a single person had stood and said, “Would you pray for me…I need it.” And so I asked the people to sit down and I said, “Listen, I’m disturbed about something. For ten minutes we’ve been having prayer requests and everybody has been asking prayer for somebody else and I have noticed not a single person has asked prayer for himself. Can it be that not a person here tonight needs prayer? Can it be that not a single person in this service stands in need? I want to ask you a question…How many of you right now sitting here in this congregation…how many of you right now are going through a very difficult and trying time? How many of you right now are going through a very severe time of testing and trial?”
And you know I suppose 85 to 95% of the people raised their hands and then I said, “Alright, I want to ask you another question…how many of you who raised their hands are going through right now what you consider to be the worst time of your life…in all your life you’ve never had as hard a time as you’re having right now…you’re going through a trial of testing, a difficulty, a heartache that right now is the worst you’ve ever had in your life?” You know, 80 to 85% of the people raised their hands testifying that they were going through the worst time in their life and I stood there amazed that not a single one had asked prayer for themselves.
And when we did that suddenly stood up and said, “I want you to pray for me…” and he began to tell about the trial in his life and this person stood up and said, “I want you to pray for me…” and this person stood up and said, “I want you to pray for our family…we’re going through a very trying time…” and suddenly you could almost feel the inrush of the Holy Spirit as He came and began to minister.
Now, I am a steadfast believer in praying for others…that is a very vital part of the ministry of any believer, but I want to tell you something…we’re not really getting down to business until we are willing to face our own needs and confess our own inadequacy and bring before God our own desperation…that’s when God meets us! As long as we’re desperate for somebody else not much is going to happen. It’s when I get desperate for myself that God begins to move in. And the prophet said, “Let us lift up our hearts…let us acknowledge our transgressions…”
So, the first thing that is essential is I must be willing to examine my heart. Now, I want us to look at some of these words, particularly in verse 40. He said, “Let us search (examine) and try (probe) our ways.” Now, the Hebrew word translated “search” or “examine” is very interesting. It literally means, “let us dig and uncover” and it carries with it the idea of “uncovering something that is hidden.”
In other words, Jeremiah is saying that the condition of my heart is hidden to me. It’s covered up. It’s unknown to me. And if I am to discover the real condition of my heart I must be willing to examine…to make a close investigation and to dig down deep into my heart… In other words, folks, a shallow, superficial, surface examination of our lives will never do. The implication is that the true condition of my heart is covered up and hidden. And I’m reminded of what Jeremiah said in chapter 17, “The heart is deceitful above all else and desperately wicked, who can know it?”
Listen, there are a lot of things in life that will deceive you, but the number one deceiver is your own heart. The Bible says that your heart is deceitful and by the way, the Hebrew word translated “deceitful” there is the word “Jacob.” The heart is a “Jacob.” You remember Jacob don’t you? Jacob was a trickster. Jacob was a deceiver. Jacob was a man who would substitute one for the other in order to gain advantage and what God is saying is this…the heart is a Jacob…it wants to gain its own selfish advantage and it will lie and deceive and play tricks in order to gain its ends
Now, by that what I’m trying to say is that my heart really never tells me the truth. My heart’s always telling me I’m okay. I’ll ask my heart, I’ll say, “Heart, how’re we doing?” And my hearts says, “Doing good! Looking good! You’re alright! As a matter of fact you’re better than anybody else I know of…” and I say, “You know, heart, I felt that all along.”
We hear a lot of advice that’s not real Christian…you know…follow your heart…but listen, folks, the heart is deceitful above all else and nobody can know it…but it goes on to say, “I the Lord have searched the heart…I the Lord have dug underneath the heart…I’ve uncovered the heart…”
I simply cannot allow my heart to tell me I’m A-OK…I’m alright. The prophet said, “If I am to weep over what really needs to be wept over, I must be willing to dig deep into my heart and uncover what is hidden there. Am I willing to let the Holy Spirit turn the search light of His word in my heart? Am I willing to search my heart?
The next word is the word “probe” or “try”. This is also an interesting word. It means “to explore…to get to know thoroughly…to become thoroughly acquainted with…” It was used in exploring a city or a country.
Someone asked me yesterday as they were driving me over to the other church if I knew much about New Orleans, if I knew my way around New Orleans, and I said, “No, I’ve been here before, but I spent most of my time in the airport waiting for planes as I made a transfer, but I don’t know much about New Orleans and I’m not even certain I know how to get back to my hotel, by the way. I drove over here following the pastor’s wife but I don’t know…I haven’t thoroughly examined this city and I’m not thoroughly acquainted with it and I may very well get lost.”
Now, what the prophet is saying is this… “I need to be thoroughly acquainted with all my ways…I need to know what I really am…I need to know everything about me…” In other words, there must be a close examination of my own life. Now, unless we’re willing to do this, there will be no pardon from God.
I wonder if it caught your attention what I read in verse 42. I think the first time I saw it it sort of amazed me. He said, “We have transgressed and rebelled…You have not pardoned.” Now, the significant thing about that statement “You have not pardoned” is this…throughout the book of Lamentations the folks have been lamenting. They’ve been weeping. They’ve been sorry. They’ve been carrying on it seems with great conviction of sin and yet the prophet said, “You have not pardoned.”
I’m afraid that one of the tendencies we have today is to think that pardon is automatic. I read just the other day where a man was explaining away literally what he was doing…it was an evil in his life…and he made this statement: “God knows I’m going to do it so He forgives me.” And you know, at first that sounded alright…it sounded scriptural and theological…God does know we’re going to do it and God does forgive us, but the more I read that I knew there was something wrong. It just didn’t ring right. There was something wrong with it but I couldn’t figure out what it was.
This is something God knows I’m going to do and He forgives me and suddenly one night it struck me… There’s no repentance in that statement! There’s no remorse in that statement! There’s no conviction in that statement! There is really in that statement nothing more than an excuse. I mean, “God knows I’m going to do it, and He just forgives me.”
In other words, God’s business is forgiveness. That’s God’s trade! And God knows I’m just a human being…I can’t help myself…this is something God knows I’m going to do and so He forgives me. Now, folks the only thing wrong with that is it’s wrong!
There is no such thing in the Bible as automatic forgiveness! And when I come to God with this attitude, “Well, now Lord, here I am, I’ve done it again, but now You knew I was going to do it all along so I just thank You that You’re going to forgive me.” There is no pardon…there is no pardon…
See, this is what was wrong with the people of Israel. They could not understand why God had not pardoned them! They could not understand why God had not liberated them from their captivity. Hadn’t they prayed? Hadn’t they asked God to liberate them? Sure they had! But, you want to know why God had not yet liberated them? Because God had not yet seen that they felt that their sin was worse than the punishment for their sin.
They were still simply weeping over what had happened to them. They still had no concern over the fact they had sinned. And I want to tell you something…there’ll be no pardon as long as you and I lament over the results of our sin rather than the sin itself.
A few weeks ago I read an article in a magazine about a major denomination that had suddenly turned evangelistic. This denomination is not known for its evangelism but suddenly they had turned evangelistic and everybody was saying, “Isn’t this great? Isn’t this wonderful? Hooray for this denomination! They have seen the light and they have turned evangelistic! They’re going to try to win people to Jesus!”
But, as I read that article, I saw something very interesting. Do you know what it was that motivated them to evangelism? They had done some research and they had found that in the past few years their church member-ship had dropped. Their membership rolls were getting lighter and lighter. People weren’t joining their church and their attendance was down and their offerings were down and when they realized that their membership was dropping they decided to turn to evangelism and I could not help but think to myself for years and years and years and years people have been lost and going to hell but they had no concern about it until they realized their attendance was dropping.
Do you get what I’m saying? You see, they weren’t lamenting over the fact that people were lost and going to hell, they were lamenting over the fact people weren’t joining their denomination. No wonder God doesn’t hear us. No wonder God doesn’t send revival. No wonder God isn’t liberating us from our captivity. No wonder we’re still bound and imprisoned this morning because we are still weeping over the punishment of our sin rather than the sin itself.
So, the first thing is this: I must be willing to give close examination to my life. Search and try my ways.
The second suggestion I’d like to make is this…
I must be willing to admit my failure…my sin…
If you’ll notice in verse 42 the prophet said, “We have transgressed and rebelled…” Now those two words are very interesting. The word “trans-gression” means “to step out of bounds, to go beyond.” You know, the Bible says that you and I are to walk “in Christ.” We are to walk “in the Spirit.” We are to walk “in His will.” We are to walk “in the ways of the Lord.”
God has a path that every Christian is supposed to walk in. Sin, transgression, trespassing is when we step across the boundary line. When we deliberately and willfully and knowingly violate the word of God and we step out of bounds…when we go beyond where God says we ought to go…when we trespass into enemy territory. In other words, we are to be walking a straight line…walking in Christ and letting Christ and His ways be our boundary line, never stepping out of bounds, never doing anything that would be contrary to His will. But, transgression is when we step out of bounds.
Now, the word “rebellion” means “obstinate stubbornness.” You put these two things together. Transgression is stepping out of bounds. Rebellion is refusing to come back in bounds. And this is the point at which God begins to inflict His judgment upon us. I’m convinced that God’s forgiveness and pardon come easily if that’s the right word to use when I simply step out of bounds and immediately recognize it and admit and come back in bounds. But, captivity results when having stepped out of bounds I obstinately deny it and stubbornly refuse to change.
There may have been something happen in your life and you may have fallen out with some church member…maybe they said something that didn’t particularly please you…maybe they did something that offended you and you reacted in an un-Christ-like way and anger welled up in your heart and you stepped out of bounds.
Well, we all do that. Now rebellion is this…it’s when I stay out of bounds and I obstinately deny, “I’m not mad…oh no…I’m not mad…” and I stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that I did get angry with that person, that I did have bad thoughts toward her and I stubbornly refuse to come back and make it right. That’s when captivity results.
If you’ll study a record of God’s people you’ll never find God delivering His people to judgment simply because they committed an act of sin. Only when they stubbornly refuse to come back and acknowledge they had gone away…that’s when God begins to inflict punishment upon them.
It’s not just those occasional acts of sin that God judges us for. It’s the habit of life. And that’s the reason, very significantly the prophet uses the word “ways” when he said, “Let us search and try our ways.” You’ll notice he doesn’t say, “Let us search and try our acts.” But, “let us search and try our ways.
Now, you could translate this like this… “Let us search and try our way of living…our lifestyle.” In other words, He takes our life as a whole… You see, any of us are capable of doing good once in awhile. I mean, any member of the church is capable of doing an occasional act of righteousness. But, that’s not what God is concerned about. What God is concerned about is your life as a whole…the drift of your life, you see…the direction of your life.
And you may have animosity and anger in your heart against somebody and still sing in the choir and still preach the sermons and still teach a Sunday School class and still give your offering on Sunday morning and when they look at that singing in the choir or that teaching the class or that giving of the offering as part of a compensation of the anger in our hearts, but what God is concerned about is not the isolated acts of righteousness we do on Sunday. He’s concerned about the drift and the direction of our life.
And I must be willing, and oh how hard this is, I must be willing to acknowledge, “Yes, Lord, I did step out of bounds, and I’m still out of bounds and I’m willing to come back in bounds and admit I was wrong.” See, it’s one thing to transgress, but oh folks, it’s worse to rebel in that transgression…to be obstinate and stubborn in that transgression.
So, secondly I must be willing to acknowledge and admit my failure…and you know, that’s not easy for “old Adam” to do. I guarantee you this, most of us would be willing to confess our sin if we could do it and save face.
You know for years I was puzzled over the way God treated Saul and David. Both men, kings, sinned. David sinned. David committed murder and adultery and God forgave him. And he remained king over Israel. Isn’t that interesting?
Saul sinned. What did Saul do? Well, one day God told Saul to go and to fight the Amalekites and to kill all of the people…to not spare a single one. So, when Saul returned from that engagement Samuel the prophet met him and he said, “Saul, have you performed the word of the Lord…have you done everything God told you to do?” And Saul, “Yes, I have performed the word of the Lord…I’ve done everything God told me to do.” And then Samuel asked that very interesting question. He said, “Well then, what meaneth the bleating of the sheep? I mean, if you’ve obeyed God…if you’ve killed all the people and if you’ve killed all the animals and all the cattle and all the flocks of sheep, then why is it that I hear these sheep bleating?”
And Saul said, “Well, we saved the best because we were going to sacrifice them to the Lord.” Now, in other words what Saul is saying is this… “I only obeyed part…” And then Samuel said, “The Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” And you know, for a long time I could not under-stand why it was…I mean, what Saul did didn’t seem nearly as bad as what David did…and yet, God allowed David to remain king, but God rejected Saul as king.
I think I found the answer one day in 1 Samuel 15:30. Samuel confronts Saul with his sin and Saul is willing to admit his sin, but listen to what he said, “I have sinned, but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel…”
Now, here’s what Saul was saying. Saul was saying, “Samuel, I want you to walk with me before the people so everybody can see that I’m still in good standing with you…” In other words, “Samuel, I’m willing to admit that I was wrong if I don’t have to lose face. And if I don’t have to humble my-self and if I don’t have to be humiliated. And if I don’t have to be disgraced.”
See, David was willing to wear sackcloth and ashes and to recognize and to admit and to lose his honor and to be humiliated before his friends, but Saul was willing to confess his sin if in so doing he could save face. That’s why God rejected him.
I want to tell you, folks, you cannot seek the Lord’s face and save your own. We could have revival this morning if every one of us was willing to lose face…if we weren’t worrying about retaining our honor…if we weren’t worrying about what people will think, you see. I have transgressed and I have rebelled. We must be willing to admit and acknowledge our sin.
The third and last suggestion…and it just follows naturally. After we examine our ways and after we acknowledge our sin then
We must be willing to return to the Lord.
In verse 40 he says, “Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return (turn again) to the LORD.” Verse 41, “Let us lift up our heart and hands toward God in heaven.”
Now, when he says “let us turn again to the LORD” the word that he uses carries with it the idea of “arriving at a goal…of making the complete journey…of reaching the end of your journey.” You say, what in the world are you saying? Well, a lot of people fall under conviction, get upset about their sin, are genuinely sorry for it, and they start out for the Lord, but they never arrive at the goal. They stop short along the way.
Now, let me explain what I mean…just one illustration…
In the average Baptist church we have what we call an invitation at the end of the service. And in the average Baptist church we have what we call rededication. And here’s what happens to the average Baptist who falls under average conviction in the average Baptist church…
Miserable? Yes! Convicted? Yes! Aroused? Yes! Needing to get right with God? Oh, Yes! “I can’t stand this misery! I can’t stand this feeling of being cut off from God.” So, the preacher stands and gives an invitation and says, “Alright now, if you have backslidden, you come and rededicate your life.” So, we move out in the aisle and we walk down the aisle and we come and shake the preacher’s hand and say, “I want to rededicate my life.” And the average Baptist preacher during the average Baptist invitation pats you on the back, shakes your hand and says, “Well, God bless you, thank you very much for coming…” and you turn and go back to your seat and you feel so much better. You feel so much better.
I mean that guilt has been taken away. Your conscience has been salved. But folks, you haven’t done anything. All you did was meet the preacher. You never met the Lord. And in a few days…two weeks at the most…you’ll be right back where you were. You say, “How do you know?” I’ve done it! I’ve done it! And so have many of you!
There is a conviction that draws you and there is a guilt that constrains you and you start out to meet the Lord and along the way you meet the preacher.
Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with coming down the aisle, rededicating your life, shaking the preacher’s hand…as long you don’t stop there…you need to go ahead and get on you knees and meet God and get it settled…and let God deal with you and you deal with God and make some changes in your life and those things that made you feel that way, alter those things…those things you’ve committed…those things you’ve been failing to do that got you into that situation…let’s change them, let’s make something different!
Along the way we need something else…and we call that something else the Lord! What happens is that we create God in our own image. I often wondered how it is that we can have so many decisions in a meeting and yet never have revival. And I think what happens is that we turn toward the Lord and we start out for Him but we never meet Him. Along the way we meet something else…perhaps we meet a blessing…perhaps we meet a feeling…perhaps we meet some kind of emotional thrill. And we say, “This is it! This is enough!” And we stop short of ever meeting the Lord.
Now, this meeting is to be sincere. Notice he says in verse 41, “We lift up our heart and hands toward God in heaven…” Now, that’s an unusual phrase. Let us lift up our heart with our hands (KJV). See, the Hebrew posture of prayer was to lift up your hands. And when a Hebrew prayed he usually stood and prayed. There are three postures in the Bible for prayer…One is lying prostrate on the face on the ground. One is kneeling. And the other is standing.
The usual most common way of praying among the Hebrews was to stand with your hands lifted outstretched to heaven. Now, that symbolized several things. But, one thing it symbolized was that the hands were shown to be empty which was a sign of holiness.
This is why Paul said when writing to Timothy, “I would that all men pray everywhere lifting up holy hands to the Lord.” Now, a lot of people think the emphasis there is on lifting up hands. Oh no! The emphasis is on the word “holy.” “…lifting up holy hands…” Just like Paul says to greet the brethren with a holy kiss. Some people think the emphasis there is on “kiss”. No. The emphasis is on “holy.” You see.
We lift up our hands. What is that a sign of? That’s a sign that our hands are empty. That’s a sign of holiness when we lift up our hands. That’s a form of worship. That’s a ceremonial form of praise. But, here’s what was happening. The people were going through the form, but their hearts weren’t in it. And so Jeremiah says, “When you lift up your hands I want you to lift up your heart, too.” It’s what Isaiah said when he said that God said, “My people serve Me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me.”
It’s one thing to sing with your mouth, but it’s another to sing with your heart. Have you noticed that Paul says in Ephesians 5 and in Colossians 3 that we are make melody in our hearts to the Lord? It’s not enough to lift up holy hands, we have to lift up holy hearts.
I want to ask you a question this morning. Is your heart in it? Is your whole heart in it? Are you just going through the forms…going through the movements…just going through the rituals? You’re to be absolutely sincere. In other words, what I do is to be a total representation of what I feel in my heart. Let us return unto the Lord…not stop short until we’ve met God.
I’m convinced that when you and I really get desperate enough to seek the Lord we’ll get somewhere and seek the Lord and we’ll stay there until we know we’ve met God. You say, “Well, how will I know when I’ve met Him?” You’ll know! You’ll know! There’ll be a change! And you’ll find that now the form has become more than just a form…now your heart is in it.
Our problem is that the things that break God’s heart aren’t breaking ours. What is it that you’re weeping over this morning? What is it that you and I are lamenting over this morning? I want to tell you something…we’ll be a long way down the road to revival when suddenly we discover that our sin is greater than the punishment for our sin…and that my captivity is not nearly as terrible as my sin against God.
When I come to the place where I hate the things that drove Him from my heart and I loathe those things that nailed Jesus to that cross and I gladly acknowledge my own iniquity and I come to Him in honest and full and clear and heartfelt confession and repentance…that’s when real revival starts…in your own heart and in the life of your church and will go on out into the life of the city.
Will you pray with me…
© Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2005