March 6, 2015
By Skip Heitzig
Nehemiah 9 is the longest prayer in the Bible; it's a prayer of penitence. It recounts the entire history of the Jewish nation, their faithlessness, and God's faithfulness.
It is like a few other chapters in the Bible. Acts 7 sounds very similar to this, as Stephen stood before the Jewish elders and told the history of Israel. It's like Psalm 105, where the psalmist recounted the history of the Jews in a poetic fashion. And it's like Psalm 136, where a series of factoids of Jewish history are given, and each time the response is: "For His mercy endures forever." The Jews did this a lot because they loved to recount all the things God had done for them throughout their history.
The longest section of Nehemiah 9 reviews Israel's history with God, and it's frequently mentioned how much Israel vacillated and how steady and faithful God was. There's the constant reminder: "We've been faithless, but You've been faithful." Whenever Israel saw that, they repented and came back to God, but because they had wandering hearts, they went astray again. But God didn't reject them forever; He kept drawing them back by His faithfulness.
Here's my point: reviewing your own history is insightful, healthy, and refreshing. It's very therapeutic to stop and ponder all the ways the Lord has led you up to this day. If you keep a journal, you know what I'm talking about. When you look back a year, or two, or five, or ten, and you see what is written, you say, "I remember that day vividly now." It's a written testimony of your voyage as a believer. Keeping a journal is a healthy, wonderful thing to do. And so is having a friend who's known you a long time, so you can talk about how good God has been and recall some of those past events from your history.
In the physical world, there are laws. One of them is the law of entropy, which says that over time, things will wear out, decay, and become chaotic. There is a similar principle spiritually. When you first came to Christ, your heart was on fire. You couldn't wait to read your Bible and come to church to worship. But as time passed, you may have cooled. Yes, you love the Lord, but you don't want to be too fanatic. You find yourself experiencing entropy. If the fire is not tended, there's decay, and you don't have the same passion that you used to have for the Lord.
So your spiritual life must be continually tended. It's important to stop, look, and take inventory. And it's important to not just be moved emotionally, but to go beyond that to repentance and revival—to a life change.
There is a difference between remorse and repentance. Remorse is feeling really bad about what you've done (or the fact that you got caught). Repentance is a determination by God's help to turn from it and change.
Keep this in mind: "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself" (2 Timothy 2:13). Try taking inventory to remember what our faithful God has done for you.
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