Archive for the ‘repentance’ Category

When Repentance happens in a nation (Ezra 9; Acts 9)

January 9, 2014

“But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant and to give us a secure hold within his holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our slavery,” Ezra 9:8

As I opened my Bible to my Old Testament reading for the day I came to a scene that is in all honesty, a scene I have never experienced.  Here we see the people of Israel coming to a place of repentance.  Yes, it is true, here we see a nation repenting before God.

Now, it goes without saying, but I am going to say it, “many nations need a time of repentance before God.”  If you do not believe me, just scan the local and world news from your place in the world.  Ours is a world that is getting worse and worse in its rebellious ways before God.

This was the same report concerning the nation of Israel.  She was presently, in the time of Ezra, experiencing the favor (grace) of God in being given another opportunity to turn from her sin and to accomplish God’s purpose for her life.

The question that dominates the moment is this: “What do these people need to do to turn from their sin?”  We are given the path in Ezra 9 and 10:

Think it through:

1.  The revealing of their sin against God, Vs: 1-8

The particular sin being revealed is the sin of intermarriage.  The person whom this is revealed to is Ezra.  Ezra is broken over this sin.  He comes in brokenness before God. He is fasting, mourning, and praying.  His prayer is a prayer that needs to be offered for the nations of the world.

2.  The revealing of the grace of God, Vs: 8-15

Even though the nation did not deserve grace, God gave grace!!!  The question on Ezra’s mind was this, “How can we stop sinning against God, while there is still time?”

3.  The response of those who understand the grace of God, chapter 10

We see the people who are sinning turning from their sin and following Christ.  This scene would be hard to explain in a national context because it is rarely seen in our world.

But it is seen time after time in the lives of individuals such as Paul in Acts 9.

Our response to what we have read:

1.  Daily seek Gods Word for your nation and for your personal life.

2.  Daily seek repentance and revival for your nation and for your personal life.

3.  Daily share the gospel one on one with everyone you meet, because this is where true repentance begins!!!

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Widen Your Heart (II Samuel 13, II Corinthians 6)3

September 17, 2013

“When King David heard of all of these things, he was very angry.”  II Samuel 13:21

“You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your affections.  In return (as speak to you as children) widen your hearts also.”  II Corinthians 6:12-13

“Could it be possible?”  I mean, “Could it really be possible fora Christian to dislike another Christian?”  The answer is, “Yes.”  The reason, “Sin in the life of the Christian.”

Here in II Corinthians 6 the Apostle Paul reminds the church of his partnership with the Lord in the ministry of reconciliation (6:1-2).  Because of this ministry there were some hard feelings that had developed in the church (7:2).  Some in the church had closed their heart’s to Paul’s ministry.  Notice how Paul responds to all of this:

1. Paul reminds them of his spiritual resume, Vs: 1-11

Paul’s heart was wide open to them.  An examination of his ministry would lead anyone with a wide open heart to see this very fact.

2.  Paul reminds the church of their spiritual restriction of heart, Vs: 12-13

They were thinking wrongly about Paul.  Paul reminds them that he has not been a hinderance to their ministry.

3.  Paul reminds the church of their responsibility, Vs: 6:14-7:1

This church was to get ride of the things that would cause their heart to be narrow and prejudice.

Think it through:

1.  Are there things in your relationships that have narrowed your heart?  Get rid of them.

2.  Do you need a clean heart?  Ask God to forgive you and to restore to you the joy of your salvation.

Take it out for a spin:

Dear Father, show me my heart as it really is.  Please remove the restrictions and replace them with a heart that is wide open (Filled with your love).” 

True Repentance (Numbers 15; Psalm 51)

May 7, 2013

“But if you sin unintentionally, and do not observe all these commandments that the Lord has spoken to Moses…” Numbers 15:22

“Against you, you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your words and blameless in your judgment,”  Psalm 51:4

Was it intentional or was it unintentional?  This was the question before me recently as I had to administer a violation during a recent NCAA prep. game that I was refereeing.  The rules for basketball have changed so much over the years.  One of the reasons is because of the increased violent behavior of some of those who play the game.

In our More For Christ readings we find ourselves looking clearly at God’s laws concerning sacrifices and sin in Numbers 15 and God’s answer to those who repent of sin in Psalm 51.   In our society the best we can do in response to man’s sin is to offer deterrents such as jail time or time out if it is a childhood issue.  But these responses fall short of the mark of being right with God.

In Psalm 51 David hits the mark with true repentance for his sin.  His act of sin takes place in II Samuel 11.  His life of sin is clearly documented in Psalm 51.  David had covered his sin back in Psalm 32, but now owns his sin before God.  He pleads for mercy and he pleads for the Lord to cleanse him of his sin.

Brothers and sisters, when we own our sin, submit to his rule, and when we repent of our sin God cleanses us of our sin.  When this happens we are able to see the clear chart that is set before us by God. Question, “How must this have looked in David’s life?”  A truly repentant person is crushed in heart (Matthew 5:3-7) and they are clearly seen living out the charted course given to them by God.

This alone is the answer to man’s greatest problem, rebellion against God.  As you seek to help others and help yourself, consider David’s path, it works!!!

More To The Story

June 19, 2012

“And so the Lord touched the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death.”  II Kings 15:5

How often have I been taken in by one of my children’s pleas for help in getting out of punishment for something they said they did not do.  I learned very early on that there was always and I mean always “More To The Story.”

This mornings, More For Christ readings come from Luke 20:1-19.  I encourage you to read the passage and discover Jesus answer to his critics.  But I also want you to consider II Kings 15:1-7.

This chapter was part of my personal reading this morning and I could not help but write about it today.  I and II Kings give us the overview of the kings of Israel and Judah.  Often as I read these chapters I find myself saying, “there is more to the story.”  When I do, I find myself searching the cross references which always lead to I and II Chronicles.  These two books give us intimate details of the king’s life.  Such is the case of II Chronicles 26.

The chapter begins with a listing of a king by the name of Uzzaiah who actually is also called Amaziah.  This king was blessed by God because he chose to seek the lord (Vs:5) but as soon as he was powerful, he chose to allow pride to creep into his life and God struck him with leprosy.  From this moment he had no fellowship in God’s house and he had no fellowship with God’s people.

Pride always has a way of severing us from the two most important things in our faith.  But often we cover up the pride with blame for others or bitterness toward God.  We consider ourselves right in all situations and no one is as worthy as we are.  Pride is always an obstacle to true gospel growth.

We see many examples of prideful men in the New Testament.  Such men as Peter and Paul stand out.  But when God broke these men, they became great humble servants.  Here is what they wrote, “For when I am weak I am strong, His strength is made perfect in my weakness,” II Cor. 12:10.  “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God and he will lift you up.”  I Peter 5:6

This morning, I ask, “What is going on in your life?”  Could it be that there is more to the story than you want to admit?  Maybe you are struggling like Uzzaiah in the Old Testament.  If you are, I plead with you to confess the pride in your life.  You may not realize it but the leprosy of pride is keeping you from true relationships that are meant to grow deep in the Lord.

Hard To Find

December 7, 2010

Yesterday the family traveled with me to do hospital visits in the afternoon.  In exchange I said I would go to the mall with them afterward.  Oh boy, what a trade-off.  My youngest son, John, doesn’t like all this shopping business and neither do I.  So John and I went to the food court and split a drink and an order of fries.  As we sat there together solving all of the worlds problems, I asked John a question, “If you could have one gift that you wanted, what would it be?”  Without hesitation he responded, “I want a dog.”

Suddenly I was faced with a little boy who wanted something that I knew his mother did not want.  So I thought, “Where can I find a dog that John will like and will meet Sherry’s requirements of being house trained, shed zero hair, and never make a mess.”  By the way, I am on her side.  The fact is, such a dog will be hard to find.

Even harder than is, is the dilemma Jeremiah found himself in with Judah.  The people were investing in worthless things, chapters 1-4, and now they were refusing to repent, chapters 5-9.  Jeremiah was struggling to find anyone who was following the Lord, “Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note!  Search her squares to see if you can find a man; one who does justice and seeks truth that I may pardon her.” 5:1. Jeremiah scans all people groups and discovers that he cannot find righteous people in any group.

It wasn’t that God had not blessed them, “They were well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for his neighbor’s wife, shall I not punish them for these things,” 5:8. Even God’s blessings will not make a sinner into a saint. Their sins were keeping good from them and when you look closely at their hearts you find, “My people love to have it so,” 5:31. They enjoyed their sin and they did not seek the righteous of God.

Brothers and sisters can you imagine living in the midst of such a people? No one to fellowship with.  No one to study the word with and grow with.  No one who had a desire to penetrate the lostness in our communities.  Darkness was coming, “Woe to us, for the day declines, for the shadows of the evening lengthen,” 6:4. For Jeremiah it was hard to find righteous people.

So, what is a person to do when it is hard to find righteous people?  Consider what Jeremiah did.  First, chapter 7, “He stood in the temple and proclaimed the people’s need of repentance.”  We must begin at the house of the Lord proclaiming a message of repentance and a return to righteousness.  Second, “Jeremiah was broken for his nation.”  You and I must become broken for the unrighteousness around us.

To be transparent its hard to find people who stand for righteousness with a broken heart for the unrighteousness.  However such people are out there.  I personally am blessed to lead a church where many of our people are beginning to live this way and I pray that I am one of those who walk in righteousness with a broken heart that drives me to reach the unrighteous in my community.

When Sorrow Is Not Enough

June 24, 2010

Have you ever asked someone to forgive you and they said no?  In such moments the trama of rejection is almost unbearable.

Let’s put the shoe on the other foot, “Has someone asked you for forgiveness and you responded with, “No.”   Now things seem a little different.  The first question left you feeling hurt and even a little angry.  But when you read the second question your feelings changed, or did they?

My readings for the morning were Mark 6-10  and Romans 7-8.  In Mark six I find the story of a guy who was sorrowful, but he did nothing about his own sorrow.  The guy I am speaking about is King Herod.  He was manipulated into taking the life of John the Baptist.  The bible records, “The king was exceedingly sorrowful, yet…”

As I read those words, it was clear sorrow was not enough.  The bible says, “Godly sorrow leads to a repentance that is not to be regretted.”  In this we discover why it is often hard to forgive or to be forgiven.

When we ask for or are asked to forgive, we are asked to judge or be judged according to what we say, but others are going to judge us and we them according to what is surrounding the sorrow.  Someone once said, “sorrow without a change is simply words.”  To say I am sorry without heading in a different direction is not sorrow.  This is simply a snow job that hopes to get out of the trauma of the situation.

I am so glad that Jesus was more than sorrowful for our sinful condition.  He came to this earth and paid the price for our sins so that we might be forgiven.  The fact is even with Jesus sorrow was not enough, forgiveness demands a cross.

To be forgiven a debt had to be paid.  Jesus paid it in full, Hebrews 7:26.  When we come to Christ we are forgiven not because of sorrow, we are forgiven because of His sacrifice.

In conclusion I have two questions for you, first, “Are you asking someone to do something they cannot do before you forgive them?”  The fact is they could never do enough to pay you back for all of your hurt.  Secondly, ” Could you ever pay back the people you have hurt?”  The fact is, if we are forgiven it will be because of their mercy and grace.

All we can do is ask for mercy and all we can do is give mercy and seek to be repentant which means to walk in a different direction.  All we can do is hope others will walk in a different direction.  The key to all of this is Jesus.

Paul writes in the book of Romans, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.”

When You Cannot Stop it

June 10, 2010

Yesterday a young friend of mine told me about his truck that was missing.  He got up to go to work and could not find his truck.  After further investigation he discovered that his truck had rolled down a hill and into a pond.  It is still yet to be determined whether someone knocked it out of gear or it just came out of gear.

As I thought about that scene I wonder if anyone came by while the truck was going down the hill. One thing is for sure, no one did or could stop it with their own ability.

I was reminded of this illustration as I read the books of Nahum and Habakkuk.  Both prophets were writing about the collapse of nations, one was Israel the other was Nineveh.  That’s is right, you read it correctly, the city that had been spared 100 years earlier during Jonah’s time is now going to be destroyed.  Here is what the Prophet wrote, “though Nineveh of old was like a pool of water, now they flee away. Halt! Halt! they cry; but no one turns back,” 2:8.

Brethren, two important things come to mind; First, just because a nation is faithful in the past does not mean it will be faithful in the present.  Our nation is an example of this.  Secondly, when God’s judgment comes no one can stop it.  No one can hold it back.  I wonder, is it possible that our nation is facing the judgment of God?  As I worked out this morning, CNN reported that the oil crisis in the gulf is the worst disaster in our history.  I immediately though, “God, this is of You.”  But still yet our nation seeks after other God’s and continues to defy the only true God.

So what hope do we have if we cannot stop the judgment of God?  Brethren the hope is not in ourselves.  Hope is in Christ.  We must place our complete faith in Christ alone.  He alone can change men’s hearts and He alone made a just payment to a Holy God that causes the judicial judgment of God to cease because He paid the debt in full.

If our nation will repent and turn to Christ we will once again be at peace with God and experience the presence of God in all of our lives.  I invite you to join me in modeling Christ and in spreading the gospel to the world.

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him,” Nah 1:7

The Fruit of Repentance

May 27, 2010

There can be no greater joy in a relationship than when the person you have offended says, “I forgive you.”  There are been several (Probably many) times when I have failed my wife.  Those moments are heartbreaking and they are often lonely because our lines of communication have been blocked by sin. However when forgiveness comes, the sweet fruit of restoration is wonderful.

However there is something that must occur between offense and forgiveness.  The something is called repentance.  Without repentance there can be no restoration.

My devotion this morning covered chapters 11-18 in the book of Ezekiel.  God’s people were in sin and this sin was robbing them of the sweet fellowship with God.  The more God sent prophets to deliver a message of repentance, the harder they became.  Judgment was upon this people because they refused to evidence the fruit of repentance.

However Ezekiel makes it clear that God does not take joy in the death of one who dies.  God actually cries out; ” Turn and live,” 18:32. In this chapter God makes it clear, repentance is for everyone.  Our Lord does not refuse anyone who evidences fruit of repentance.

For me, this is amazing because to be honest we as human’s often do not forgive as easily and as completely as does God.  Often we say we forgive but it comes at a price.  We are cold for a few days or we make the person pay over and over for their failure.

But how different is our God.  He placed all of His wrath upon Christ and His forgiveness is total and unconditional because Jesus made a sufficient payment for our sins.  So when anyone bears fruits of repentance he or she receives forgiveness and a new standing with God.

My challenge to you is twofold.  First, do you need the forgiveness of God?  If so, bear fruits of repentance in this moment.  Second, do you need to give forgiveness to someone who is bearing fruits of repentance?  Someone once said,” God forgives much quicker than we do.”  I challenge you to be like Christ and forgive unconditionally.  Jesus said, “If we do not forgive men their trespasses our God will not forgive your trespasses.”

So no matter which place you find yourself in, either needing to repent or needing to forgive the repentant, so do it in Jesus name.  Sherry and I know first hand the joy of the fruit of repentance.  It has been invaluable to our marriage and to our walk with Christ.

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, “But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all my statues, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die,” Ezekiel 18:21.