Ezra 10:3-8 Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the Law. 4 Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.”5 Then Ezra arose and made the leading priests and Levites and all Israel take an oath that they would do as had been said. So they took the oath. 6 Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the chamber of Jehohanan the son ofEliashib, where he spent the night, neither eating bread nor drinking water, for he was mourning over the faithlessness of the exiles. 7 And a proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the returned exiles that they should assemble at Jerusalem, 8 and that if anyone did not come within three days, by order of the officials and the elders all his property should be forfeited, and he himself banned from the congregation of the exiles.
Ezra didn’t stop at the weeping and praying, he took it further to fasting before the Lord. This was a sign to the Israel people that his actions during the day weren’t just an act but a true desire of our heart. True change is evidenced in our actions not our words.
Once we realize that the situation is broke and we are incapable of fixing it we now need to address the issue. How are we going to bring true lasting change to our situation? If you were to read the popular material out there you would sit down and make a plan, set some goals, and then commit to accomplishing them. While this works for a few people there always seems to be something missing for the rest of us. That missing part is what the Old Testament calls a covenant. A covenant is more than just a commitment, it is a life-binding oath that comes with consequences.
We need to dedicate our entire life to making change a reality in our lives. While we may think this takes laser like focus actually it takes three things:
- More than a Promise: If we are going to see change in our lives then we need to understand that it is more than a promise. Promises are broken all the time and have come to mean very little to people. The people made a covenant with God saying that they would put away their foreign wives and return to worshipping the lord. This was more than a commitment or promise, this was a life altering decision. It was a drastic situation that required drastic measures and this can’t be done with a pithy promise, it takes complete devotion. If there is something we need to remove from our lives we need to take action and get rid of it and we need to swear to God that it will be done.
- Fasting for Faith: The next step in bringing change is to seal with by fasting. Fasting is a biblical discipline that separates us from the things of this world and draws us closer to God. Fasting seals a decision by eliminating all distractions. When I talk about fasting I am talking about refraining from food for an extended period of time. After sitting all day weeping and praying (and not eating) Ezra retired to the house of one of the priests and continued to fast and pray all night. He denied himself food and thus showed to God his seriousness in the issue. When we fast we also break the chains of sin in our lives (Is 58:6-9). Fasting frees us from the heavy weight of sin. It also helps us to break through the darkness to a new dawn with Jesus Christ.
- Establish Consequences: The final step in making a covenant is to establish consequences. Shecaniah told the people that if they didn’t gather at the temple in three days all of their property would be seized and they would be kicked out. If we are lacking motivation then we need to set up some consequences to light the fire underneath us. Sometimes that is inherent. We are told either kick the addiction or get out. Consequences are necessary to motivate us to action. Many times we won’t do it without fear of losing something. Find someone to hold you accountable on your actions and then give them the power to invoke the consequences.
True life change takes radical actions. If you are struggling with an issue in your life then I implore you to take the action necessary to get the ball rolling. If you need to get into rehab then do it. If you are addicted to something then remove it and all people that cause it.