Tag Archives: repentance

Signs of Repentance

Jonah

The King of Ninevah sent a decree out to the citizens of his city. He had heard Jonah’s warning and believed God was angry enough at their sin, to destroy the city. At that realization, the king repented and put on sack cloth and ashes, a visible sign of his repentance.

This is what the king said to the Ninevites:

No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.

So they did, and God didn’t destroy them.

Should the Church come together in repentance? Should Christians fast, put on visible signs of mourning? I wonder if we all wore black arm bands to signify our own turning from sin. Can you imagine the conversations we would have, the opportunities we’d have to share Jesus?

We might not be 40 days from God’s judgment on our nation and the world. But God’s judgment is coming. Are you satisfied knowing at least you’d go to heaven? Or do you share God’s burden for all those who will not, all those who still need to surrender to Him before it’s too late?

The only thing that will stay His hand is repentance, obedience, surrender. Are you wearing visible signs of your own repentance? How you look, what you say, where you go, how you treat people, how you stand for God’s truth are visible signs I hope you are wearing.

Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.

Think Again

2 Samuel 15-16

What happens when sin is not addressed? It gets worse.

David turned a blind eye to Absalom’s murder of Amnon. Without even a hint of repentance on Absalom’s part, David reunited with his son as though nothing had happened. Maybe David thought if he didn’t come down hard on Absalom, Absalom would always be loyal to him, would always love him out of gratitude for the grace his dad had shown him.

Wrong.

What happens when sin is not addressed in our own lives? It gets worse.

One glance at pornography leads to another until it becomes an obsession. One drunken night becomes two, then three until it becomes an addiction. One lingering glance, one sexual fantasy turns into an affair.

You think that sin you are holding on to is no big deal? Think again.

Sleep Like A Baby

Judges 9

I play pickle ball with a dear friend who can put a wicked spin on the ball. Whenever I am playing on the opposite side of the net, and find myself swinging at the wind because the ball has taken a nasty bounce, I sometimes jokingly ask her, “How do you sleep at night?”

I find myself asking the same question of me after reading what Jotham said to the Jews in Judges 9. In a sense he told them, if they had acted honorably, if they had done the right thing, then he wished them joy. If they had not acted in good faith, Jotham called for fiery destruction of them.

I’ve had nights when I would lay awake, filled with regret or shame or guilt. I know what it’s like to feel the fiery hand of God’s anger at 2 AM. There were times I couldn’t – or didn’t want to pray, and I continued to toss and turn throughout those long nights.

But there were also nights when I confessed my sin, truly repented, and experienced the joy of the Lord – and a good night’s sleep.

We’ve all probably marveled at how infants can fall asleep so easily, and stay asleep so soundly. They have nothing to regret or feel guilty about. The sleep of a baby is generally peaceful and sweet, especially when that infant falls asleep in your arms, right?

I feel God asking me how honorably I’ve conducted myself in light of His holiness. Have my actions, thoughts, and words pleased or angered Him? Some days, I have to confess, it’s a wonder I am able to sleep at all.

As I go through my day today, I pray that I will act honorably toward God, that I will bring Him joy by my obedience. If I do, I’ll have no regrets. If I do, I just might crawl into bed tonight and into His arms, and sleep like a baby.

It’s Not Enough

Genesis 9

It’s not enough to confess your sins. Simply saying, “I’m guilty,” doesn’t always indicate repentance. Pharaoh said, “This time I have sinned. ” Yet his actions proved his confession didn’t translate into a changed life.

Have you prayed what we refer to as “the Sinners’ Prayer?” I hope so. But don’t believe for a minute saying the words guarantees God’s forgiveness. You must be born again. You must repent of the sins you confess, which means to turn from them, stop doing them, flee them. If saying those words doesn’t come from a changed heart – you are not saved.

We are wrong to guarantee heaven to someone who prays the prayer. You and I can’t guarantee heaven for anyone because we can’t know anyone’s heart but our own. Only God can do that.

Pharaoh confessed his sin but was not saved. His heart was unchanged. I pray the same isn’t true for you.

(Matthew 13-15) What Our World Needs

Jesus speaks so often about the difference between head-knowledge and heart-knowledge, of obedience for the sake of the Law, and willing obedience for the sake of Jesus.

Christianity is not a list of rules to follow in order to earn God’s favor. It’s a changed heart that is the result of repenting of sin and accepting the forgiveness God provides through Jesus. It’s a changed heart that wants to obey God out of love and appreciation for having received God’s favor at the cross. It’s willing obedience in light of God’s grace.

Oh, for changed hearts, not just people who do good things, or go to church, or simply wear His Name.

It’s what God demands. And it’s exactly what our world needs.

(Nahum, Habakkuk) Seriously

I am not sure the Church takes God seriously enough. We read about His wrath in the Old Testament against His disobedient children and against His enemies, and breathe a sigh of relief because we live after the cross.

The cross: the symbol of love and forgiveness and hope and eternal bliss.

We forget the cross is also a symbol of judgment without mercy, death, and God’s fierce wrath.

Read these Old Testament books and hear God say no one is immune from His wrath. You can call yourself a Christian all day long. But if you have not repented of past sins, and have determined to change in order to obey God today, you are not a Christian. You are His enemy wearing His name.

You don’t just “give your heart” to the Lord, and go on your merry way. Yes, God is love. He is patient, kind, and forgiving. He blesses and protects His obedient children. But don’t ignore the other side of that coin. He’s not a doting grandfather who turns a blind eye on disobedience.

He will not let the guilty go unpunished.

You are not immune from God’s wrath. But I want you to know God turned His wrath on His own Son for you. Jesus paid God’s awful judgment in your place. Accept it. But don’t take it for granted, either.

God seriously hates sin. We need to take Him seriously, too.

(Proverbs 3-5) My Worldview

My apologetics study Bible includes an article written by Ronald H Nash entitled, “What is a Worldview?” (CSB Apologetics Study Bible; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville; 2017; page 752). Got me thinking about how I would define my own worldview. Using the five elements in a worldview according to Nash (what people believe about God, ultimate reality, knowledge, ethics, and human nature), here is how I view the world:

My worldview can be summed up in John 3:16-17. It begins with God – not a god. It begins with God who loves.

God’s love is a blanket covering our world, and nothing can separate us from that love. But there is more. God gave His Son Jesus to live in this world, and die on a cross. Why?

Because we humans are sinful. My worldview acknowledges that no one is born good, then learns to be bad. Humans are born with a sin nature, a “want to” to have our own way, to be our own god. And because sin separates us from Holy God, Jesus (God in human form) offered Himself to pay our sin-debt so that it’s possible to connect to our loving God in a very real way.

Jesus’ death on the cross and the forgiveness of sin is available to anyone. Jesus didn’t die for some people and not for others. The “whosoever” of John 3:16 applies to children and elderly, to nice people and evil, to rich and poor, to Americans and Iraqis, to nurses and serial killers. Jesus died so that ANYONE who believes in Him will be saved. Period.

There is absolute Truth and there are lies. There is one way to God, not many. There is right and there is wrong which are not subjective or fluid or societal. Jesus (again God in human form) tells us plainly that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one goes to the Father except through Him. My worldview cannot make provisions for other beliefs and religions because God doesn’t make provisions for them.

My worldview extends beyond the physical and material and into eternity. My worldview is limitless, and those who believe in Jesus will live forever with Him. My worldview also understands that there is an eternal existence away from God for those who refuse to believe- and it’s devastating.

Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world. The world is already condemned. Jesus came to save the world, one repentant soul at a time.

These chapters in Proverbs reinforce my worldview. And it all centers around God; trusting Him, obeying Him, enjoying Him, believing His Word, accepting His discipline as an expression of love, worshiping Him, and treating others in a way that makes Him look good to a world lost without Him.

I want to view the world through God’s eyes. We are people loved by Almighty God, invited to join Him through the blood of His Son Jesus, and are promised that when we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us, cleanse us, and make us His own. We can know that when we believe on Him we will not die. We’ll change our address and live forever in His Presence.

It’s an amazing view, sharing God’s worldview!

(Psalms 49-52) Going Through The Motions

The psalms are full of reminders that God isn’t interested in our “just going through the motions” kind of worship. He often asks the Jews, who were given the sacrificial system by God Himself, if they thought He actually needed those animals. He owns ALL the animals in the world, so why would they think He placed some special value on one of His own animals burning on an altar? The sacrificial system was never about the animal, except as a picture of Jesus. That sacrificed animal was about sin, about the sinner’s heart condition before Holy God.

Warren Wiersbe in his “Be Worshipful” commentary on the psalms said this in reference to 50:14-15):

“What the Lord wanted from His people was thanksgiving from their hearts, obedience to His Word, prayer, and a desire to honor Him in everything. But the Lord doesn’t want ritualism or formalism. He wants our worship to come from the heart.” (David C Cook publisher; 2009; page 182)

I can hear all the contemporary worship proponents shouting WOOHOO! Told ya!

But haven’t we simply replaced tradition with a new tradition? We may have stopped worshiping with hymnals in front of us, but now we worship with screens in front of us. Where hands and heads used to be bowed in worship, we’ve replaced that with hands and heads lifted.

We’re told to smile, look joyful, move our bodies, be free (but they usually don’t mean you are free to worship with your head bowed and hands folded). We are no less concerned about ritualism, we have just changed how ritualism looks.

I believe that is no less offering God a “going through the motions” kind of worship than before. And I believe that is still worship that God rejects.

“Surely you desire integrity in the inner self…purify me…wash me…turn your face away from my sin…create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit in me...”(51:6-10)

“The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit…” (vs 17)

Stop focusing on how people look when they worship. Stop organizing worship around what people like. We have got to focus on worshiping God with clean hearts, not upraised hands. We need to worship God in purity and not worry about whether people are clapping their hands or not.

You can have a rocking worship service, and still just be going through the motions.

The worship God accepts is only that which comes from people who have dealt with their sin problem first, who approach God in His holiness through the blood of Jesus. Clean hearts. Purified. Washed.

Anything else is ritual and formalism and simply going through the motions.

(Nehemiah 4-8) The Joy Of The Lord

As I read about the worship service in the square in front of one of the gates in the newly repaired wall around Jerusalem, a couple of things occurred to me.

One is that worship was expressed in two ways – with the raising of hands, as well as the kneeling of people with their faces to the ground. I believe there is a place for both in our worship of God still today.

The other thing that spoke to me is how the people reacted when Ezra read Scripture, and when God’s Word was explained. When they understood what was read, they grieved. Their reaction to the Truth was an honest look at their failure to obey it. And it broke them.

Ezra and Nehemiah encouraged the people with, “Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (8:10b)

It wasn’t that their grief was wrong. But there is a time to recognize sin and repent of it, and there is a time to get up off our knees and allow God to strengthen us to worship and serve Him with joy.

Just being sorry for our sins isn’t enough What you do with that grief is just as important.

When you are faced with your own sin, I pray it breaks your heart; that you realize what your sin does to our precious Father; that you fall on your knees and ask Him to forgive you. Just don’t stay there in your sorrow.

Accept what Jesus offers – complete forgiveness – then get up and allow His joy to fill and strengthen you. Worship Him with gladness. Serve Him, obey Him, submit to Him with joy.

Because the joy of the Lord is YOUR strength.

(I Samuel 8-12) Gotta Let It Go

God had made Saul King of Israel. Yet when we next see Saul he’s out plowing his field like any other day. Wouldn’t you think God would want him doing king-stuff? It seems Saul was caught between his old comfortable life, and the unknown life for which God had anointed him.

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of our past. Most of us liked it there. It was familiar, predictable, perhaps exciting. It was “us.” But when we meet God and accept His will for our lives, He asks us to turn, to leave behind the old and put on the new.

It can be uncomfortable and scary. But if we are to be the people God wants us to be, we’ve got to let go of the people we were. Sometimes it means leaving home in a physical way, leaving former friendships, overcoming old habits.

Saul could not be king hanging onto a plow. We can’t be the people God wants us to be hanging onto our pasts, either. We’ve got to let it go, leave it behind, and step toward the blessings of life according to God.