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Posts Tagged ‘repentance’

We’ve all seen the cartoon drawings of an ostrich hiding its head in the sand and we’ve thought “How foolish.”

If only we’d never been as that ostrich when it came to our attempts to hide from accountability for poor choices.

Oh well. There’s always the opportunity for improvement.

I’m reminded of how Adam tried to hide from God after the tragic decision to believe the serpent rather than to believe God.

As if God couldn’t see through the bush that He had created.

God saw through those leaves.

He saw through Adam’s finger-pointing blame of Eve.

He saw Adam’s real need — an atoning sacrifice of blood so that Adam wouldn’t have to die for his sin.

All because of divine love for the one who made a foolish choice.

We’ve made foolish choices.

All of us.

And sometimes, we’ve even tried to hide from God in the bushes of skipped church, ignored prayer, worldly partying, workaholism, perhaps even obsessive hobbying.

It never worked.

God still saw us.

We were still in sin.

We still needed an atoning sacrifice of blood so that we wouldn’t have to die for our sin.

God still loved us, despite our foolish choices.

It is this set of facts that we should have in mind when we read passages such as the one for today from The One-Year Bible:

“But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23)

Whether it’s the pledge to turn our lives over to the Lord when we’re saved or the pledge to tithe or the pledge to be faithful in church attendance and volunteerism, let’s do our best to keep our word.

It’s never good to tell God we’ll do something — or not do something — and then we break our promise.

Excuses don’t make good masks when it comes to how God sees things.

Let’s keep our promise to serve and to give and God will keep His promise to bless.

As always, I love you
Martin

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There’s no question that God’s Word is infinitely powerful.

It’s just a matter of if we’ll let our will plug into His.

Just how powerful is God’s Word?

Check this out….

The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created.” (Psalm 33:6)

Oh my.

The entire universe poofed into existence via a spoken word of God.

Sure lines up with the concept of a big bang beginning, doesn’t it?

Something from nothing.

All because God willed it and spoke it.

That’s a powerful word.

That same God with that same power is waiting to launch a “big bang” moment in our lives.

His Word has already spoken of the power awaiting us to create where nothing was before.

If the unsaved person embraces the Word of the Gospel, a new life in eternity will be created.

If the saved person who has fallen into sin embraces the Word of grace through repentance, restoration will replace corruption.

If the discouraged person embraces the promise that struggles + scripture + prayer + surrender = strength, renewal will be created in the place of despair.

There is so much that God wants to do for us and has already promised in His Word. We just have to receive that power so that He can create within us a new heart, a new vigor, a new perspective, a new hope and a new desire to share each with those who also need to hear His voice.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Some things about our Christian faith are really fulfilling and even thrilling.

These are what I call the “magnets of faith.”

But there are a few other things, however, that are far from being magnets.

They’re actually more like fender-bending guardrails.

They’re designed to keep us from driving off the cliff spiritually.

They’re not endearing.

But they are essential.

A segment in today’s devotional reading from the One-Year Bible explains why:

“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when He corrects you. For the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)

I don’t know anybody who enjoys feeling convicted by the Holy Spirit about a poor choice of behavior or a carnal pattern of thought.

But when we consider that alternative — a life without the spiritual guardrail of spiritual conviction — we should rejoice that we feel guilt when we lie or lust or gossip or covet or steal or resent or whatever sin over which we stumble.

If God didn’t love us, He wouldn’t warn us.

And He certainly wouldn’t have sent Jesus to the cross as atonement for those times we wouldn’t listen.

We know for a fact that Satan doesn’t love us.

In fact, he hates us.

How do we know this?

Does he ever warn us of danger?

Has he ever tried to steer anybody you know away from the cliff?

Let’s thank God when our consciences are goaded by God.

It’s a powerful sign of His love.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Satan loves to trap long-time Christians who have learned to set aside many of their past sinful habits.

He lures them into looking at how they are not as sinful as the world around them so that, as a result, they feel content with their measure of personal holiness.

You and I know, of course, that measuring our personal holiness against the behavior of the world is a recipe for disaster.

We’d never measure the sterility of surgical tools to be used on us by comparing them to the interior of a dumpster. Instead, we’d demand perfect cleanness because of the consequences for allowing filth to invade our flesh.

This principle is why we Christians should always measure our personal holiness against the life of Christ, a man who never sinned, a man whose spiritual garments were as white as snow.

You see, it was His perfection of living without sin that provides believers with the assurance of being seen by God on judgment day as vicariously perfect and thus able to enter into a glorious eternity.

Listen, I’ve been a Christian for more than 40 years and I still have occasions that I have to do the wardrobe change that Paul described in Romans 13:12.

The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.” (Romans 13:12)

I don’t like the facts of my weaknesses and failures. But, of course, God likes it even less.

Yet, because of His love and His grace — and Christ’s willingness to suffer in my place — I am given a new day to display the Light of a redeemed, transformed life.

Please examine your life for stained clothing. It’s likely that you’re quite aware of your recurring sin weaknesses. Everybody has at least a few.

If you’ll listen closely, the Holy Spirit will tell you what needs to go so that “white as snow” deeds and words might replace them.

As we practice Romans 13:12 more in our lives, we’ll profess our faith more and confess our sins less.

Hallelujah!

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s a very good thing when good-hearted, God-hearted people join in a church building for worship.

God is exalted, people are encouraged and equipped and the collective lighthouse of faith shines more brightly.

But that’s not all of what God wants to happen when church members gather.

He’s wanting more than the “woo-hoo!” moments of praise.

He’s also wanting to see the “boo-hoo” moments of repentance.

You see, we all sin. We all fall short of God’s glory.

We all hurt God’s heart with our recurring choices to ignore His Word.

Hurting God’s heart should prompt a hurting of our hearts.

Knowing we’ve sinned should prompt us toward godly sorrow.

For until we feel that “boo-hoo” in our hearts, we won’t feel a need to repent.

When our “boo-hoo” leads to a plea for God’s forgiveness, “woo-hoo!” won’t be far behind.

We all know what it’s like to experience the freedom of forgiveness in our important earthly relationships.

Much richer, though, is forgiveness from the One who created us and who wants to fellowship with us forever.

King Solomon knew well about the “boo-hoo”/”woo-hoo!” progression of faith.

In fact, his dedication service for the Jerusalem Temple emphasized the role of repentance and forgiveness of the Israelites.

In II Chronicles 6, nearly half the chapter addresses a plea of Solomon that God forgive the people over and over and over whenever they repented and turned their hearts back to God.

It’s interesting that so much of the dedication service involved the acknowledgment of future sin and the need for future forgiveness.

Solomon knew there could be no “woo-hoo!” of sincere praise if there were not “boo-hoo” of sincere repentance.

Please read this section of scripture to appreciate what Solomon was praying to God.

For your eyes just might be opened to the importance of “boo-hoo” moments in your church’s worship service.

I’m not talking about sin-prompted sobbing at the front of the auditorium, although there’s nothing unscriptural about that. Instead, I’m talking about those private conversations of the soul with the Spirit of God, conversations during meditation time or before/after the service.

I’m talking about the sort of thing I do during communion meditation moments each week when I review the sins I remember from the past week and repent of them before the Lord.

I don’t like the fact that I have such “boo-hoo” moments but I know that without them, my “woo-hoo!” moments will ring hollow before the Lord.

To attend worship without taking time to repent of sin would have been like Solomon dedicating the Temple without making any sacrifices.

That would have been incredibly dumb and would have missed the whole point of seeking God’s mercy and the entire meaning of all the Messianic promises.

Here’s the wrap-up… Church is about the “woo-hoo!” and the “boo-hoo.”

Let’s do our best to live in ways that the former far outweighs the latter.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s wonderful that God offers forgiveness to repentant Christians.

There is more to repentance, though, than simply saying we’re sorry for doing or thinking or saying _____________.

If we don’t change our ways, we haven’t repented, have we?

We’ve simply confessed our sin.

That’s not good enough.

God deserves a better response from us after we’ve crossed the line.

Imagine that you let somebody drive your car and they drive recklessly, driving off the edge of the road and wrecking it.

Would you ever let them drive your car again if he or she didn’t confess their misdeed and pledge to stay between the lines and follow all the driving rules?

I seriously doubt it.

Jesus told the woman caught in adultery that He forgave her for her sin. The text in John 8 doesn’t record her words of confession and repentance, but His act of forgiveness implies that he saw the sentiments of her heart and soul.

It was His final statement in that sequence, however, that triggered this Morning Devotion.

Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

If this woman had returned to promiscuous behavior, the grace shown her would have been forfeited.

This is the fruit of genuine repentance — enduring sanctification.

We’ve all stained ourselves with stumbling-block sins.

For some, it’s lust.

For others, it’s vanity.

For who knows how many, it’s bitterness.

We’ve repented along the way, I’m sure.

But have we really?

Are we living out the “sin no more” thing with those stumbling-block sins?

Do we automatically ignore Satan’s bait of unjust treatment designed to prompt angry resentfulness?

Do we rejoice for the physical provision we have rather than covet the nicer, more abundant blessings received by others?

Is online porn no longer a problem for us?

Jesus wants us to go and sin no more.

Let’s do what He says.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Nobody likes making mistakes and even more distasteful is being corrected for the error.

This is true for the small child misbehaving at home and for the veteran employee who is expected to avoid errors in performance or judgment.

Like you, I’ve made mistakes along the way in my secular and ministry careers.

Sometimes, the mistakes prompted difficult conversations with those to whom I was accountable.

I’ve always tried to learn from the mistakes and the subsequent “I need to do better” conversations.

Is it easy to admit a lapse in good judgment or a lack of extra effort that might have found a better solution?

No.

But you already know this from your own experiences.

Listen, we can always do better.

Even if we’re already doing well at work or personal ministry.

God wants the best from us because He wants the best for us.

That’s why He disciplines us from time to time.

Just as we err at work, we also err at times with our personal ministry efforts.

Perhaps we’re too lax in our pursuit of personal holiness. Or perhaps we’re neglectful of His call to work harder in building up our congregation’s volunteer ministries such as education or fellowship or worship music or whatever.

Because God always seeks and works for our good, we should welcome His corrective voice whenever we hear it.

For example…

“Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.” (Revelation 3:19)

The next time you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit convicting you to cease a particular sin or to let go of a particular grudge or to get more involved with a volunteer ministry at church or to start tithing as Jesus commanded, please don’t ignore the heavenly rebuke.

Humbly repent and then earnestly await the peace and the blessing that comes from a corrected relationship with your Father in heaven.

If you’re like me, you’ll find that it’s SO much better after conceding to God that you can do better.

As always, I love you
Martin

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