Jeremiah’s Prodigal

Title: Jeremiah's Prodigal

Bible Book: Jeremiah 4 : 01

Author: Johnny L. Sanders

Subject: Repentance



As far back as I can remember I have loved Bible stories. And as strange as it may seem, I remember those Bible stories when I cannot remember a lot of things that happened to me when I was a child. My brother James and I were doing some yard work together when he mentioned a pitchfork. He said something about how painful it is to stick a pitchfork in your foot. I said, “Yeah, I know. I stuck one in my foot one time.” James corrected me, “You didn’t stick that pitchfork in your foot, you stuck it in my foot!” How could anyone forget anything like that? For years I had commented on that unfortunate accident and I can only suppose that my family made so much of it that I only recalled the fact that it is very painful to stick a pitchfork in your foot. Of course, I would wonder if Alzheimer’s might be kicking in, but I do remember James. At least, I think it was James. The blonde, curly hair was the same. So were the eyes. What I don’t understand is that he seems to remember things that happened before he was born. My son Mark must have taken after him, because there is no way he should be able to remember the things he does.

Here is one of my very distinct memories. During the Second World War, my parents both found jobs in Mobile. My father was drafted toward the end of the war, one of the oldest, and latest, to be drafted. Our farm had been rented out, so Mother, James, and I could not move directly back into our home. I lived with my Aunt Effie and went to school at Pitsboro, MS one year. I had been set back a grade when we moved to Alabama because of a different grading system, but when I moved back to Mississippi, I made the second and third grades in one year. The next year I was back home and enrolled in the fourth grade at Sledge. My sixth grade teacher, Miss Jackson, announced one day that the Sledge Baptist Church was having revival services and any student who wanted to go to the morning service could do so. Most of my class walked the few blocks to the church for the service. When we returned, Miss Jackson asked, “Now who can tell me what the preacher talked about?” Suddenly, she was calling on me, something that I could not recall happening under similar circumstances since I moved back to Sledge. I had received attention when I misbehaved, but never had I received a word of encouragement from a teacher in over two years. However, at the time, the thing that surprised me was that mine was the only hand up in the classroom. I could not believe it. Miss Jackson asked me to tell her what the preacher had said and I told the story of the Good Samaritan, which I assumed everyone knew from home and church. I had heard it many times.

A number of years later, my senior class went on our senior trip to New Orleans and the coastal area of Mississippi. We checked into our hotel and then went on a little walking tour, the girls looking at whatever it is that 18 year old girls look at and the boys watching the girls looking at whatever it was that claimed their interest. Suddenly, we were in front of a theater and I looked up and saw the title on the Marque. Immediately I was wishing I could see the movie. I had just paused when I overhear some young servicemen who had paused and were looking up at the title of the film. I could hardly believe their attempt at pronouncing the name. “How do you say that?”, one asked. Another said, “The Projugal Son?” Another corrected, “The Prodical Son.” I knew, of course, that the move was The Prodigal Son. Again, it was a story I had heard and read many, many times.

It would be several years later before I would heard a professor asking whether the story of The Prodigal Son focused on the young prodigal or his pharisaic older brother. I am going to assume that you know the story of the younger son who begged his father for his inheritance and then went into a far country and there wasted his inheritance on sinful living. Now, here is another lesson I learned from that story from a great storyteller. Dr. Roy Angel once told about the time his pastor uncle asked him to preach for him. Roy had been a young college student at the time and he decided to preach on The Prodigal Son. When he came to the words, “He came to himself,” he began emphasizing the importance of coming to your self and sought to make an application of those words to his audience. After the service, Roy got into the buggy with his uncle and after several silent moments, he asked his uncle, “How did I do?” His uncle said, “Roy, you were doing all right until you came to the words, “He came to himself. Then you stopped and started preaching about the various benefits of coming to yourself. The fact is, the man received no solution to his problems when he came to himself. He received forgiveness and restoration, not when he came unto himself, but when he went to his father.” Dr. Angel never forgot the lesson.

By the way, the words, “he came to himself”, the way Roy Angel applied it in his youth speaks of a psychological answer. “He went to his father” denotes a theological answer. As I remember, psychology had not reached the Green River Community, seven miles west of Sledge, MS when I left home. Theology, however, was everywhere. In that day before e-mail, cell phones, and satellite television, about all we had were Christians and prospects.

Jeremiah’s Prodigal mirrors the prodigal in America. The prodigal is a prodigal because of his REBELLION against God. Rebellious Judah was declared to be more treacherous than her unfaithful sister, Israel. God demanded REPENTANCE and sought a RECONCILIATION.


A. Remorse Begins With Knowledge One Has Sinned Against God.

1) Jeremiah’ heart was filled with remorse because of the sins of his people. Sadly, he was the only one whose heard was crushed over the sins of the people and what God proposed to do about it. Listen to his words and hear the remorse:

“My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in agony! Oh, the pain in my heart! My heart pounds; I cannot be silent. For you, my soul, have heard the sound of the ram’s horn—the shout of battle (4:19).
“For My people are fools; they do not know Me. They are foolish children, without understanding. They are skilled in doing what is evil, but they do not know how to do what is good” (4:22).

The Bible offers hope to those who come before God with this attitude: “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Ps. 34:18. KJV).

2) Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, weeps over the sins of his people. “For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is gaining profit unjustly. From prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have treated My people’s brokenness superficially, claiming: Peace, peace, when there is no peace” (Jer 6:13-14, HCSB).

The Lord asks, “Were they ashamed when they acted so abhorrently?” He answers His question, “They weren’t at all ashamed. They can no longer feel humiliation. Therefore, they will fall among the fallen. When I punish them, they will collapse, says the Lord” (Jer 6:15, HCSB).

What was the response of the people? Did they show the same remorse Jeremiah had shown? Read the next verse: “ I appointed watchmen over you [and said:] Listen for the sound of the ram’s horn. But they protested: We won’t listen!” (Jer 6:17). There is no hope for those who experience no remorse for their sins.

3) No matter what God said or what He did, only Jeremiah showed any remorse. “My joy has flown away; grief has settled on me. My heart is sick. Listen—the cry of my dear people from a far away land: Is the Lord no longer in Zion, her King not in her midst?” (Jer. 8:18). Listen to the heart cry of the man, who even after 2500 years is still called the weeping prophet:

“Harvest has passed, summer has ended, but we have not been saved. I am broken by the brokenness of my dear people. I mourn; horror has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? So why has the healing of my dear people not come about?” (Jer. 8:20-22, emphasis added).

“If my head were water, my eyes a fountain of tears, I would weep day and night over the slain of my dear people” (Jer 9:1).

B. The New Testament Term in Conviction.

1) America has sinned. We can find the proof anywhere, but I will just point out one statistic which was published by Broadman Press, Jan. 23, 2006: New York City has maintained its hold on an infamous title -- abortion capital of America. The New York Daily News reported Jan. 15 the following, recently released statistics from the city's Department of Health to illustrate why the Big Apple deserves the designation:

-- There were 74 abortions for every 100 births in the city in 2004.

-- Of every 100 pregnancies in the city, 40 resulted in intentional abortions, far surpassing the national average of 24 in 2002, as estimated by the Alan Guttmacher Institute. (In New York City in 2004, there were 124,100 live births, 91,700 induced abortions and 11,700 spontaneous abortions.)

The Bible is clear, “All have sinned (past tense) and come short (present tense) of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). When the preacher reads that verse, he is not trying to say that Christians are better than other people. What is saying is that all have sinned, and we are all sinners. Some are lost in sin, while others are redeemed sinners, who will go on struggling with their old sin nature until the Lord calls them home and perfects them.

2) We have drifted a long way from the Christian America our forefathers envisioned. I will not take the time to try to prove my case here, but so many people in early America committed themselves to God and studied His Word. Prayer and the Bible have been removed from the public school classroom for what the ACLU and other groups tell us are noble reasons, but the Founders expressed their conviction that the future of our country is bound to our faith in God and our obedience to His Word. I am not making that up, and when someone teaches that the founders were primarily secularists or deists, they may not be aware of how much rewriting has taken place in their history text books. I thank God someone preserved the writings of the Founders and we do have their statements. I believe they would weep like Jeremiah if they could see how millions of people have rejected God and feel no remorse for their sins.

3) Our response should be REMORSE. That is the ministry of the Holy Spirit, John 16. We must recognize the difference between a guilty conscience and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. In the first place, God has so created us that there is a need within each of us only he can adequately and sufficiently fill. However, people do not always fill that vacuum with the Holy Spirit. Some may fill it with false religion and others fill it with secularism or humanism. Whether one grows up in a Christian environment or a non-Christians culture, there are rules, laws, and mores’ that influence one’s life. We know what the conscience is, but we must not conclude that the conscience is an infallible guide. There are two reasons for that. First, one’s conscience may have been shaped by religious or secular rules, customs, or even folklore that are inconsistent with the Word of God. In the second place, one can violate his or her conscience over a period of time until, like rocks in a tumbler, the edges are worn off and we are no longer bothered by things that formerly guided our behavior.

The conscience is not infallible, the Holy Spirit is. He inspired the inerrant Scripture and He illuminates our minds and hearts so that we can understand it and apply it. Jesus, in His own words spells out the ministry of the Holy Spirit:

“... I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you. When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in Me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged” (John 16:7-11).

In America today, we need to pray for that the Holy Spirit will continue to convict our people of their sin against God


A. God Called on Judah to Repent.

1) God convicted them of sin and demands that they repent.

“I thought: How I long to make you [My] sons and give you a desirable land, the most beautiful inheritance of all the nations. I thought: You will call Me, my Father, and never turn away from Me” (Jer. 3:19).

“However, as a woman may betray her lover, so you have betrayed Me, house of Israel” (3:20a).

“[This is] the Lord’s declaration. A sound is heard on the barren heights, the children of Israel weeping and begging for mercy, for they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the Lord their God” (3:20b-21).

The repentance of which the Lord speaks had not happened at this time. In fact, they refuse to repent. The remorse and repentance will only come after He deals with their sin through the Babylonian Captivity.

2) People do not repent on their own. God convicts us in order to persuade us to repent and return to Him. So it was then, and so it is today: “My dear people, dress yourselves in sackcloth and roll in the dust. Mourn [as you would for] an only son, a bitter lament, for suddenly the destroyer will come on us” (Jer 6:26).

3) God demands repentance and a life that proves it is genuine. Repentance is not an emotion, not a feeling. I mentioned to a few church members once that I had tried to lead an individual to the Lord but saw no response. A lady said, “He just didn’t feel anything.” Repentance is not a feeling. Salvation is not accomplished by generating certain feelings. Repentance is a change of mind that is shown in a change in behavior. This experience will generate feelings, but feelings cannot generate regeneration. When one repents his life is changed and that change is expressed in a practical way:

“This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: Correct your ways and your deeds, and I will allow you to live in this place. Do not trust deceitful words, chanting: This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord. Instead, if you really change your ways and your actions, if you act justly toward one another, if you no longer oppress the alien, the fatherless, and the widow and no longer shed innocent blood in this place or follow other gods, bringing harm on yourselves, I will allow you to live in this place, the land I gave to your ancestors forever and ever. [But] look, you keep trusting in deceitful words that cannot help” (Jer 7:3-8).

B. Judah Refused to Repent.

1) She kept trusting in deceitful words, 7:8. They had said, we will not obey. They said, we will not return. They denied that they needed to repent. They hid behind their religion, trusting in the temple almost like a good luck charm. They continued to participate in the various elements of worship, sacrifices, tithes, offerings, and songs, but they refused to obey the Lord or keep His word.

2) They followed the rebellion of their ancestors. They knew their history of rebellion, judgment, repentance, and deliverance, yet they refused to repent.

“Since the day your ancestors came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have sent all My servants the prophets to you time and time again. However, they wouldn’t listen to Me or pay attention but became obstinate; they did more evil than their ancestors” (Jer 7:25-26).

C. America Today Needs to Repent.

1) There is a war against God going on in America right now. We are keenly aware of the fact that there is a war going on right now against terrorism. There is a war in Iraq against the insurgents. I am praying for a very courageous, well trained officer right now: Major Andy Shoffner, whom I have never seen interviewed by the liberal media. I am praying for all our troops. The Lord gave us a victory in Desert Storm that proved just how far behind the media and liberal politicians were. The victory in Afghanistan was amazing, as was the victory in war in Iraq. We are still at war against the insurgents, but the war was over in a few days.

There is another war going on today, and that is a war against God. Not just a war against the idea of God, or against gods. This war is directed against Jesus Christ. This war has seen Prayer removed from public schools, the Bible removed from the classrooms, and the Ten Commandments removed from public buildings. The most notable example was the removal of the display of the Ten Commandments from the Supreme Court building in Alabama and the removal of Chief Justice Roy Moore from his office. The enemy stepped up their attack between Thanksgiving and Christmas (2005). John Gibson tells us this is not our imagination in his book, America’s War Against Christmas, which he found to be nothing more than a war against Christianity. America needs to repent.

2) Millions of people scoff at Christianity and the Bible. When Francis Shaeffer declared back in the fifties that Scripture will be the next great battlefield in Christinaity, his warning was brushed aside, even by Christian colleges and seminaries, as well as local pastors. He was right. I have spent my entire ministry fighting the Battle for the Bible, and I thank God for the changes I have seen. At the same time, this war will never be won until Jesus returns. Satan, the world, and the flesh continually seek to turn lost people against the Word and to tempt believers to shift to the left.

3) Popular preachers seek to proclaim a gospel without sin, repentance, or judgment. The most popular preachers do not preach on sin or repentance because he just wants everyone to feel good. Amazingly, the most popular preachers have found a way to “market” themselves (their church, their meetings, books, and television appearances), both in the church and in the secular world. These men (and maybe a woman or two) avoid issues that offend the world, including the blood of Jesus Christ.

4) Many others are faithfully proclaiming the Word of God. It was my privilege to listen to Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch as he talked with members of the LifeWay Christian Resources Board of Trustees in February, 2005, about his challenge to Southern Baptists to win one million souls to the Lord in 2006.

5) The Holman Christian Standard Bible is doing very well for a new translation. As a matter of fact, there will be a HCSB Study Bible out in 2007. We established a new Bible Society, similar to the American Bible Society to help meet the needs of God’s people who are reaching out to others.
There is a new large print paper back New Testament which is exactly what prison chaplains need for prisoners whose glasses were confiscated and replaced by new plastic glasses that often do not meet the initial prescription vary closely. They need the larger print. During the time I have been on the board of trustees, LifeWay has bought or started about twenty-five new LifeWay Christian Stores. The Vice President over LifeWay Christian Stores is Mark Scott, a business man who loves the Lord and know the Christian book store business. Employees are trained to witness to lost people, and seek help for those with special problems.

America has produced revival? No! God has produced a lot of dedicated saints in America. There were the great preachers of the past, from Jonathan Edwards to R. G. Lee; missionaries, from the Judsons and Luther Rice to Lottie Moon; evangelists, from Billy Sunday to Billy Graham. I could mention many dedicated preachers today. I could mention a lot of people who sit in the pew and listen to people like the ones I have just mentioned, people who may well obey the Word of God much more effectively than we preach it. Thank God, all of America is not a prodigal child! Masses, however, reject our Lord.


A. God Commanded Them to Repented and Return to Him, 4:1ff.

1) He declares, “Return, you faithless children. I will heal your unfaithfulness” (Jer. 3:22). He continues “Here we are, coming to You, for You are the Lord our God” (3:23). “Let us lie down in our shame; let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the Lord our God, both we and our fathers, from the time of our youth even to this day. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God” (Jer 3:19-25).

God declares that He is long-suffering and permits the wandering prodigal to return to Him. At the same time, no person who sins “against the Lord our God” remains the same. Like the prodigal son, the wanderer gets deeper and deeper into sin. The devil knows just how to wave the right carrot in front of him to lead him deeper and deeper into sin.

1) God blesses the prodigal who REPENTS AND RETURNS to Him. This applies specifically to the believer who is wandering around in the wilderness the Bible calls the world or the flesh, rather than planting and harvesting in the Land of Promise (walking in the spirit).

“Therefore, this is what the Lord says: If you return, I will restore you; you will stand in My presence. And if you speak noble [words], rather than worthless ones, you will be My spokesman. It is they who must return to you; you must not return to them. Then I will make you a fortified wall of bronze to this people. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you. [This is] the Lord’s declaration. I will deliver you from the power of evil people and redeem you from the control of the ruthless” (Jer 15:19-21, emphasis added).

The lost person is invited to come to the Lord for salvation, and the backslidden believer is commanded to return to Him. All who go to the Lord will be blessed. Sadly, many people today seem to think they can praise their way into the blessing. They confuse praise with the blessing. Some had rather be a reed shaking in the wind that a “wall of bronze” that will not shake in the wind (John the Baptist is Jesus’ example). I am convinced that those who prefer praise to preaching, sharing their feelings rather than studying the Word of God, are more likely to think of themselves as the bronze wall rather than reeds shaking before the winds of moral relativism and gospel of tolerance. Some who say they want the preacher to keep it simple may just want him to keep it shallow. I believe it was Church’s Chicken that used to use the slogan, “We do chicken right.” Some church member said, “We do church right!” Sadly, some church members prefer to do church “lite” rather than doing church “right”. There are prodigals who go to church all the time. They do not live a life consistent with the Word of God. One man told me about a man who gave his testimony in a church when I was visiting a number of years ago. The man I knew told me that the man who gave his testimony would be doing well if he got off the church steps before he started using vile language. If they will spend time with the Lord in prayer and Bible study, the Holy Spirit will convict them and enable them to repent and return to the Lord.

2) Jeremiah pleaded with Judah to repent and return to the Lord. “Then Jeremiah said to all the officials and the people, ‘The Lord sent me to prophesy all the words that you have heard against this temple and city. So now, correct your ways and deeds and obey the voice of the Lord your God so that He might relent concerning the disaster that He warned about” (Jer 26:12-13). Judah refused. Openly, defiantly, boldly, religiously, Judah refused. Their response mirrors a lot of the arguments I hear today against God, the Ten Commandments, nativity scenes, and anything else that will remind people of Jesus. I have not checked it out but I understand some liberal groups were unhappy when they saw marines with heads bowed in prayer this past Christmas. They don’t believe one should pray while wearing a uniform paid for by tax payers! A navy chaplain went on a hunger strike after his commanding officer ordered him not to pray in Jesus’ name. He said, “I am a Christian chaplain. That is the way I pray.” A liberal talk show host told him that it was all right for him to pray in Jesus’ name when he lead a service out of uniform, but not when he are wearing the navy uniform. Wouldn’t you like to see that commander explain that order to George Washington. I am talking about the George Washington of real history, not the watered down, re-written history many read today.

B. Sinners Who Repent and Return to Him Will Rejoice.

1) Lost People who repent are redeemed and reconciled to God. Jesus died for you; His blood will cover your sin. If you feel remorse for your sin, it is because the Holy Spirit is dealing with you right now. Listen to Him, repent, and be reconciled to God today. One of my wife’s friends told her that she was under such conviction as a teenager that she persuaded her father to take her home after Sunday School for several weeks because she was trying to avoid dealing with the convicting power of the Holy Spirit during the service, especially during the invitation. Finally, before it was too late, she came before the Lord with a broken and contrite spirit, repented of her sin, and was born again.

I received a phone call years ago and rushed to the hospital to see a lady who had made the third attempt on her life. Now, in case, you are wondering if she really wanted to kill herself, since she had failed three times, let me assure you she made a serious attempt. She said to me, “People say you don’t know what you are doing when you try to kill yourself. I knew. I didn’t care.” Her son found her before the gas killed her once, and before the pills killed her the second time. He found her and got help after she shot herself through the chest on the third attempt. What saved her may well have been that she was using a .22 pistol rather than a .357 magnum! This lady told me she had been to a few services when I preached. She said, when you gave the invitation I had to hold on to the back of the pew in front of me to keep from going forward. It was some years later, but this lady did come to the Lord.

I met Mr. Carl Hart at a deer camp. He and I spent a lot of time talking that week. He had a brother who was a denominational worker in Arkansas, but Mr. Carl, who was seventy years old then, was not a Christian. His brother was a preacher, but he was the one who took care of their mother! I witnessed to Mr. Carl for several years. I made a movie film of his high priced beagles at the beagle club he had helped found. Once, he told me he had gone to a local church and the pastor had preached about turning over a new leaf. He said, “I didn’t go back. I need to do a lot more than turn over a new leaf!”

A few years later, I felt particularly impressed to stop by to see Mr. Carl while I was driving into town from a hospital call in Monroe (LA). I tried to convince myself that it would be a waste of time, but at the last minute I turned onto his street, and pulled into his driveway. I learned that he had had a heart attack. He talked about the heart attack and what Dr. Tugwell said for some time. I finally asked, “Mr. Carl, if when you go back to see Dr. Tugwell, he says that he has a special medicine that he can give you and you would never have a heart problem again, would you take it?” He said, “Yes, of course I would take it!” I said, “That is exactly what Jesus is offering you right now. You have a spiritual heart problem and He wants to heal it. One application of what He offers and you will never have that kind of heart problem again.” I shared God’s provision for salvation with him, but he sat there as he had in the past. I was disappointed once again, but asked if I might have prayer with him. He assured me it was all right. When I said Amen, I looked up and saw tears running down Mr. Carl’s cheeks. He said, “God must have sent you by here today.” He had come under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, he had repented. But he was not finished. As soon as he was able to get out he came to church and made a public profession of faith. I baptized him and had the privilege of watching this man worship, grow, and enjoy the fellowship of his church. He loved his church. He loved being in services.

2) When Christians drift, God demands that they repent and return to Him. You cannot repent until the Holy Spirit convicts you, so you cannot simply return on your own. His is a ministry of reconciliation. You can no more return on your own than ancient Israel could deliver herself from Egypt, or from the wilderness to the Promised Land. Both the deliverance from bondage, and the deliverance from the wilderness demanded a mighty act of a Mighty God. Your salvation required a mighty act of God, and if you have drifted, you only return to fellowship with Him when you repent.

“Getting back in church” may sound like one is repenting and returning to the Lord, but in reality, returning to Sunday School and the morning worship service may well be just the compromise some need to keep from repenting. If you repent, the Lord will restore you to fellowship with Him, and when He does that, He will restore you to fellowship with other believers. When that happens you will “get back in church.” Those who Repent and Return are Restored. They are Reconciled to God.


A. God Greatly Desired a Relationship with Israel

God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should be saved. The entire history of His dealings with Israel reveals His redemptive love for the Chosen People. They never deserved the covenant relationship with Him, but he was faithful and longsuffering. He continually restored them when they repented, but judged them when they refused. We have already seen enough references in this one message to make the point. Those who have a right relationship with God are invited to rejoice in Him, and with Him.

B. God Wants to See Us Rejoice in Our Walk with Him Today.

1). There are things that will keep us from rejoicing. What keeps us from rejoicing? Rebellion, refusing to repent and return to Him. One may refuse because of open sins, or because of hidden sins. Both sins of omission and sins of commission will keep us from rejoicing in Him. Here is something else that will keep you from rejoicing in the Lord: Religion!

Howard Dean decided to Use Christianity when he moved his campaign into the south. Asked about his favorite book in the New Testament, he said, “Job.” This man might have been the president of the United States if he had not totally blown it with a radical, angry statement during the campaign. Sadly, millions of Americans hate President George W. Bush, and many who profess to be Christians are included in their ranks.

David, Psalm 51, confessed sin (missing the mark), transgression (crossing the line with your eyes wide open), and iniquity (warped and twisted by sin and transgression). He asked forgiveness, and then he asked God to restore the joy of His salvation. When sins are forgiven and the relationship is restored, you will rejoice.

2) God wants us to rejoice. To some, that means an emotional response, such as praising Him in song or some other visible expression if joy. To others, it might simply be a matter of being still in the presence of God and listening to the still, quiet voice of the Lord. Those who are blessed will find the way God wants them to praise him, but we can never force the blessing by praise activities or events. David wrote, “I will rejoice in Your salvation” (Ps. 9:14). Again, he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous ones; praise from the upright is beautiful” (Ps. 33:1).

In my commentary on Philippians, UNDEFEATED: Finding Peace in a World Full of Trouble, I stress that this is the Epistle of Joy. In fact, I had wanted to use that for a title, but the publisher assured me that “joy” is a feminine word and men would not buy it. Regardless of that, Paul wrote, “What does it matter? Just that in every way, whether out of false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed. And in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice” (Phil 1:18).

3) FLASHBACK - Mr. Carl. Years after his salvation, he had more heart problems and was unable to attend services for some time. I stopped by to see him one day and as I was leaving, he said, “Tell them the Bible says you have to be born again, and by golly, I’ve been born again!” That is exactly what I told them! They rejoiced with him.


I don’t know how many times I have heard someone say, “I am a Christian, but I am no saint.” In the New Testament sense, if you are not a saint, you are not a Christian. What they mean is that they want a “fire” insurance policy, but they don’t want anyone to think they are “religious.” Many people who think Christians are wimps will die and go to hell because they cannot work up enough nerve to profess Jesus Christ openly.

A Jewish friend asked his rabbi, “Why is it that when you go to the funeral of a friend, the preacher always has to bring up Jesus?” The more he talked the more the anger showed in his voice and in his eyes. If that shocks you, think about the person who has grown up in America, attended Sunday School and Bible School, was married in a church, and knows that the only way to be saved in through Jesus Christ - and he still cannot work up the courage to profess Jesus Christ. Many teenaged boys and young man think Christians are weak, when in reality, they are the ones who are so spineless they cannot bring themselves to repent of their sins and profess Jesus publically because of what their friends might say.

Lost person, you must repent, but you cannot repent on your own. If the Holy Spirit is convicting you right now, however, you can repent, and you must repent. God will redeem you and reconcile you unto Himself.

Christian, if you have drifted, even so slightly that your neighbors are totally unaware of it, the Holy Spirit will definitely convict you. I stress: if you really are a born-again child of God, He will convict you of sin, enable you to repent, and permit you to return to Him.

If you refuse to repent as ancient Judah did, you are going to have to face the consequences. For the Christian that means in the here and now. For the lost person, God has all eternity to deal with you. John the Baptist demanded, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”

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