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Recently, I have been reading through Ezra and Nehemiah in my personal study. I’ve been reading them together because these books tell the same story of the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem, just from two different perspectives. Our pastor has also been walking through Nehemiah on Sundays, so it has been very helpful to have his insight as I read through it myself.

There are so many wonderful parts to this story, from the sovereignty of God in using a pagan king to accomplish His purposes, to the priests’ mighty prayer in chapter 9.

But what I’ve enjoyed the most is seeing a beautiful picture of what true revival looks like.

Sometimes we think revival looks like an emotional experience at a conference where tears are shed and hands are raised, but it usually fades in a week or two after we come down from that emotional high. I had many of those experiences at high school church camps, but there was rarely a true change of heart.

But in this story, we see where long-lasting, true revival starts. After Nehemiah and the people complete the wall, Ezra the scribe comes and reads the Book of the Law before all the people. He read it to the men, women, and all who could understand (Nehemiah 8:2), and it says that “the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law (8:3).” Also, while he was reading, the Levites went among the people to help teach and explain the words that were read (8:8). Once Ezra was finished reading, the people wept, mourned and confessed their sin before the Lord (8:9;9:1-3). They understood that they had abandoned their God and had sinned greatly against Him.

But as they wept and mourned, Nehemiah exhorts them and says, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength (8:9). What followed their repentance was great rejoicing and worship, because they fully understood the mercy and grace of God on them: “But you are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness” (9:17b). They exalted God and recalled His faithfulness to their fathers and His continual forgiveness of their iniquities. They then made a covenant before the Lord to obey His commandments and to walk in His ways (10:29).

What a glorious picture of what true revival looks like.

There’s no need of dim lights and emotionally manipulative music. In this story, we see what is necessary for revival to take place:

1) Reading/hearing of the Word

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)

2) Acknowledgement and brokenness over sin.

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me (Psalm 51:3).

3) Confession of sin

“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion” (Proverbs 28:13).

4) Rejoicing in the grace of God who is ready to forgive

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:8)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

5) A renewed spirit of obedience to the Lord

“Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart” (Psalm 119:33-34).

“for I delight in your commands because I love them. I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees” (Psalm 119:47-48)

If we want to see revival like what took place years ago amongst the Israelites, it starts in our own hearts. But it cannot take place without the Word of God being prevalent in our lives. We must be diligent to read it, to meditate on it, and to glean from it. It wasn’t until the people of Israel heard and understood the Words that were read to them that they were able to acknowledge the full weight of their trespasses against a holy God. Once they recognized that, they were overwhelmed by their own sin and they repented and turned to the Lord. It is the same for us today. The truth of God’s Word never changes, nor does its ability to convict and change hearts. May we all humble ourselves and seek the Lord so that we can see revival in our own lives, in our families, churches and communities.

  • Writer's pictureHaley Maddox

The notion that a woman cannot find fulfillment in her role as homemaker is a myth endorsed by our culture. Many Christian women have fallen prey to this message, and that is partly due to poor teaching in the church. We have missed the importance and deep meaning of this role and exchanged it for a cheap, superficial, and often legalistic version. It is vital that we strip away the unbiblical teaching so that we can unveil the beauty of this God-ordained role.

Many times, when discussing the role of homemaker, it is framed in terms of a woman’s limitations, instead of how it is directly connected to her Christian walk . A homemaker is often identified by a woman who stays home, cooks good meals, and keeps a tidy house. But boiling the term homemaker down to these kinds of superficial standards is to completely miss the essence of this role. It can also lead to self- righteousness and legalism, and it’s easy to see why many women reject the term based on this wrong explanation.

The original meaning of the term “homemaker”, however, gives a very rich and beautiful picture of what God intended. This term comes from Titus 2:4-5 which says “and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Other translations say “busy at home” (NIV), “keepers at home” (KJV) and “homemakers” (NKJV). The Greek word used here is oikourgos which is formed by combining two other words: oikos, meaning “house” and ouros, meaning “guard.” So, as an oikourgos, the woman is the guard of her home. This means much more than just checking off to-do lists full of tasks like cooking and cleaning. She is to watch over her household. To ensure what is taught, what is discussed, what is seen and what is heard is edifying. To guard against evil and fight against sin that desires to entangle the members of her household. To selflessly care for the ones whom God has entrusted to her.

When the role of homemaker is viewed in this light, it should empower women to remember their first and foremost calling, which is to be devoted followers of Christ, and to be well equipped in their walk with the Lord. They must “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). As a woman grows in her relationship with God, she will be able to carry out her role as homemaker more effectively.

Below are four ways that a woman can not only grow in her faith, but also guard her home well.

Spend time in prayer

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

(Colossians 4:2)

Lifting her husband and children up in prayer and interceding on their behalf is the most important thing a woman can do as the keeper of her home. Praying for their safety, their health, and most importantly, their relationship with the Lord, is something she should do daily.

Study the Word

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:1-3)

Spending time in God’s Word is essential so that she may know it herself and teach it well. Meditating on the Lord’s precepts will enable her to communicate the Truth to her children as she raises them in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). She will also be able to influence her husband to do the same as she leads by example.

Remind her family of God’s faithfulness

“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:21-26)

Instead of worrying, being discontent or frustrated with present circumstances, a good homemaker will trust the Lord and remind her husband and children of the faithfulness of God throughout their lives. She will guard against the sins of discontentment, covetousness, bitterness, fear and worry by proclaiming what God has done and how He has kept His promises.

Be a voice of wisdom in her household

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” (Proverbs 14:1)

A woman who is wise and discerning can properly guard her home from false teaching or sin that can so easily infiltrate her family. She can build a strong house that can withstand attacks from the enemy, she can teach her children what it means to fear the Lord and walk in His ways, and she can be an encouragement and trusted advisor to her husband.

The role of homemaker should be highly esteemed and seen as something more than a list of chores to accomplish. The world desperately needs strong women who fully embrace this role, who are growing in their relationship with the Lord, and who desire for the Truth of God’s Word to penetrate their hearts and the hearts of their families. As the guard of her home, a woman must be equipped to combat sin, she must know how to teach God’s Word, and she must strive to influence her family to know and fear the Lord.

The theology concerning the gift of tongues is usually viewed as tertiary and, therefore, is sometimes seen as less important to have correct. But, there is a great amount of heresy, deception, and confusion surrounding the subject of tongues, and many people have either been grossly misled out of ignorance, or worse, are deliberately deceiving others for selfish gain. As Christians, we should be aware of this so that we can guard against doctrine that is contrary to what Scripture teaches.

In this article, I have chosen to discuss 4 key points that I think are very important to know about the gift of tongues, why it was given, and how it was used.

1) It is the ability to speak a true language.

The Greek word for “tongue” is glossa and it can either mean, literally, “tongue” (the organ) or “the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations.” In Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, those in the upper room began to speak in tongues. Those who were listening heard the truth spoken in their native languages (vs. 6-11). Unfortunately, the gift of tongues is often watered down to mean a spiritual, or prayer language that doesn’t have to be a language spoken by others. This view is extrapolated from a few New Testament verses in 1 Corinthians 14 that are taken out of context and misunderstood.

One of these verses is 1 Corinthians 14:2 which says, “For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.” This verse is often taken to mean that these “mysteries in the Spirit” are equivalent to unintelligible gibberish. The meaning of this verse is made clear in light of the chapter as a whole. What Paul is saying here is that if someone is speaking in a language that no one in the church understands, it is a mystery to them because they have no idea what he is saying (1 Corinthians 14:9-11). This brings me to my next point.

2) It should not be done without an interpreter.

This is one of the commands that gets ignored so often. Paul tells the church at Corinth that those who have the gift of tongues should not speak in church if there is no one to interpret (1 Corinthians 14:28). If someone comes to a church where they only speak Greek and, through his gift of tongues, starts speaking in Hebrew, he will not be understood. This is why Paul says that “he who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church” (vs 4). Speaking in a language that no one understands is not profitable.

3) It was meant to be a sign to Israel that the new covenant had come and God’s salvation was offered to the Gentiles.

This was prophesied in the Old Testament, and the Jews knew this day would come. Paul even references this prophecy in Corinthians 14. The original verse is found in Isaiah 28 and says, “For by people of strange lips and with a foreign tongue the Lord will speak to this people” (vs 11). In Acts 10, when Peter went to the house of Cornelius, the Holy Spirit was given to the Gentiles and the same sign of tongues that was given to the disciples at Pentecost was given to them, also. The Jews who were with Peter could not believe that God gave His Spirit to the Gentiles, but Peter replied, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have” (vs 47). In his sermon entitled “The Gift of Tongues,” John MacArthur says, “The Lord would now speak to all nations in all languages. The barriers were down. And so, the gift of languages symbolized not only the curse of God on a disobedient nation, but also the blessing of God on the whole world.”

4) It is not evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

A common teaching is that believers should pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and that the only way they know that this baptism has occurred is by their ability to speak in tongues. This view is wrong for two reasons. Firstly, if someone is a true Christian, he or she has already been baptized by the Holy Spirit and placed into the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:13 tells us that “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free- and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” The filling of the Holy Spirit, however, is something that should happen over and over again in the life of the Christian.

We see believers in Scripture be filled with the Holy Spirit numerous times, and Paul urges us to do the same (Ephesians 5:18). Being filled with the Holy Spirit simply means walking in obedience to Christ. MacArthur says, “When you’re filled with the Spirit of God, it means that you have yielded to the total dominance of the Spirit in your life.” There were a few instances in Scripture when the filling of the Spirit led to believers speaking in tongues (Acts 2, Acts 10, Acts 19). However, we are never told that speaking in tongues is the only sign of being filled with the Spirit. In Ephesians 5, we see actions like a husband loving his wife, a wife submitting to her husband, children obeying their parents, Christians lifting each other up with spiritual songs and submitting to one another in humility, as the result of being filled with the Spirit.

What we see today from many charismatic churches and organizations is not the true and Biblical gift of tongues. It is often a self-glorifying heresy that is leading many people to believe they are experiencing a manifestation of the Spirit, when in reality, they are experiencing something far different. Whether you are a cessationist or a continuationist, we must be diligent to guard against false representations of the gift of tongues and to test all claims against the true and authentic gift found in Scripture.

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