Charles Spurgeon once said, "The only way to awake a sleeping church is with a loud shout." It's so easy within Christendom to become desensitized to what's going on around us.
I recall an old book written years ago, the story of a man called, "Rip Van Winkle." In the story the main character goes up onto a hillside and goes to sleep and sleeps for one hundred years! When he wakes up he begins to climb down the mountain and notices what used to be a picture of King George has been replaced with a picture of George Washington. So many people remember that story because it's amazing that the man would sleep for such a long time. The real power of the story wasn't that he slept for a hundred years but that he slept through a revolution. He fell asleep at a time when he should have been engaged and aware of what was going on around him. I believe that this morning God wants to awaken us, revive us, cause us to come alive once again.
Now listen, the first thing we need to do is take heed of the Word of God in Hebrews 6
This is a challenging word that God is speaking to the church, those once enlightened, those who understood at one time what God was saying. The enemy oftentimes will use the word to bring condemnation and discouragement. In many of your lives, the enemy may have used this passage to say that because you've experienced God and now may have come to a place of darkness, that there is no hope of coming back to God. That there is no hope for the presence of God in your lives.
I once faced such a place where I cried out to God and said "There's no place to run back to....If you don't save me, your my only hope! I began to read the word and read and the word and suddenly all of the pieces started coming together. All of a sudden God began to illuminate my heart and I became aware that the enemy was trying to keep me from the word of God.
Listen, I want you know that If we continually walk in sin there is a place you can come to where your heart is so hardened that it can no longer be reached by the preaching of man. (see Ezekiel 33:32). Your heart becomes dull of hearing and you exchange passion for Christ for religious rituals and your conscience no longer speaks to you.
There is a difference between falling and falling away. The scriptures say a righteous man falls seven times, but he gets back up. He doesn't make friends with that with the sin that caused him to stumble.
There is going to be struggles, even failures in your walk with God. When I first came to know Christ I was delivered from some things but other things I continued to struggle with. I remember getting down on my knees about one such struggle and crying out, "God save me....please!...change me from the inside!!" As I look back upon my life God could have changed me immediately and some things did change right away. Other things did not change when I wanted them to and I remember asking the Lord, "Why?" He replied, "Andy, you would have never learned to use the shield of Faith and the sword of the Spirit. You would have never learned to take thoughts captive."
Falling away is when we make friends with compromise and hold hands with it. You harden your heart against the counsel of God and you begin to excuse that which is in you and make place for it.
I knew a man who believed God could use him to help others but did not believe that God could forgive him for what he had done. He felt that he had brought shame upon God's name.
I'm here to tell you that God is not threatened by the shame we bring on His name. He has provided a place called, "the sacrifice" and when the Lamb of God was slain before the foundation of the world, he made a place for us.
I shared with that man that he could either be a Peter who weeps bitterly over his transgressions....and yet when he sees Jesus he dives into the water and comes to Him because he knows his only hope is that redemption. Then one day Jesus raises him up at Pentecost to speak the word of God and brings salvation to thousands.
Or he could be a Judas who returns back that which he has done and openly confesses, "I've shed innocent blood!"...But in despair is unwilling to look at the cross and receive forgiveness.
God says, "That which is impossible with man is possible with God."
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