Understanding Repentance Rightly

I am working through a devotional series in my YouVersion Bible app called Acts of Repentance. The first two days were great, but day three really bothered me and thus I wrote a correction for them.

Day 1 focused on Psalm 51 where David is writing following his affair with Bathsheba and subsequently being called out on it. The devotion gave a list of four things we should do: (1) Acknowledge our sin, (2) Ask for forgiveness, (3) Ask for renewal, and finally, (4) Ask God for help to use your sin to teach those who are engaged in sin and are in need of repentance. I thought that list was helpful.

Day 2 focused on Luke 13:1-8…
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure.

The take away from this devotion was: (1) What fruit are you bearing in your life currently? (2) What sins do you need to repent of in order to start bearing the kind of fruit God desires. Once again, helpful.

But now, day 3…

From 1 John 1:5-10
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Here’s the beginning of the devotion that followed this text:
Repentance results in forgiveness. We repent and God forgives. Repentance and forgiveness are not difficult concepts. Repentance is our action and forgiveness is God’s reaction to us out of His perfect love for us.

NO, NO, NO!!!

What this is saying is that forgiveness is dependent on our action. True, we need to make a confession of our sin but repentance is not something we do in order to curry favor with God so that we can be forgiven, but rather repentance is something we do BECAUSE we are forgiven. Repentance is something we do to honor God because God is worthy. When we make repentance a work, then God’s grace is taken out of the picture. Remember the woman caught in adultery? The Pharisees wanted to stone her for her offense but after Jesus silenced the crowd he turned to the woman and said, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” The forgiveness came first and the call to repent came next. True, there was no confession on the woman’s part (at least nothing that was recorded) but the point is that Jesus didn’t wait for her to clean up her life first.

God acts first. We respond.

Thus the devotional should have read:
Forgiveness results in repentance. We repent because God forgives. Repentance and forgiveness are not difficult concepts. Forgiveness is God’s action and repentance is our reaction to God because of His perfect love for us through Jesus Christ.

There, that works. I wonder of the author of this devotion will humbly accept my correction 🙂

The Pastor -|— 

Rejoicing in Victory

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What a powerful and reassuring couple verses. I wish more people would take this to heart and cling to this promise. There’s a lot of crap happening in our nation and our world today but our Lord and Savior and King reigns supreme. His victory did not happen through an election but rather through the cross. Seek JESUS and you will be found safe and secure. Seek JESUS and rest in him.

Holy Father,
words don’t and can’t adequately express my thankfulness,
as I gaze upon the cross and see
VICTORY.
I see my Lord suffering and dying there,
FOR ME.
I see my King reigning supreme,
OVER ALL.
I see my Savior with my life in 
HIS HANDS.
How can possibly express my thanks with mere words.
And so I worship
YOU.
I praise Your holy
NAME.
I rest in Your mighty
ARMS.
Holy Father,
may I not fear this world,
but rather,
rejoice the victory through
JESUS CHRIST.
Amen!

The Pastor -|—

Living In This World

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. [1 John 2:15-17]

Living in this world I see the glory of God
but,
Living in this world I fall in love with that which is fading away

Living in this world I draw closer to God
but,
Living in this world I fall away from God

Living in this world I see the beauty of God
but,
Living in this world my eyes are tempted by false beauty

Living in this world I experience God’s provision
but,
Living in the world my flesh wants more and more

Living in this world I am driven to give all that I am
but,
Living in this world I am tempted to gain all I can

Living in this world I see God
but,
Living in this world I see me

Living in this world I am recreated in God through Christ Jesus
but,
Living in this world I feel torn

Oh God, I am at odds living in the beauty of Your created world; wanting to satisfy my desires while at the same time wanting to glorify You. Break this conflict in me that I may worship You and You alone and fall in love with You over and over again. May this world be just a stopping off point to something better.

Oh God, as this world passes away, my I be found in You though Jesus Christ, that I may pass from this world with You to life eternal; living in a better world.

So,

Living in this world, may proclaim Your goodness and lead others to You.

In Jesus name (as I am living in this world), Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Hungry sheep

A prayer for you as you prepare for worship this morning.  May God be glorified in your song and may you be fed by the Word:

Holy God, we enter this place as lost sinners; those who have denied you through our selfishness and sin. We, like Peter and the other disciples, have fled from you when given a chance to proclaim your Good News. We are lost sheep, but you have come looking for us.  Through the cross you have brought healing.  Through your grace you have restored us.  Through your command you have sent us.  We come now to offer our thanks and praise to you.  Hear our song.  Receive our worship. And feed us at your table that we may go out and feed the lambs and sheep you bring to us.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we pray, Amen.

And…as we leave worship let’s remember Jesus’ command to Peter (and us) to feed his lambs; take care of his sheep and to feed his sheep.

May God bless your day 🙂

The pastor -|—

Eyes of Faith

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
[1 John 5:13-15]

A big misconception I keep running into about the Christian faith is that we can somehow get what we want from God when we pray.

If we live the right kind of life.
If we are kind to others.
If we volunteer enough.
If we serve in the church.
If we bring hot meals to the home bound.
If we are “good” people (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that one).
If we ask in the right way.
Etc, etc, etc…

And when people don’t get what they want they become disillusioned  about God and the whole point of even trying to be a Christian.  The problem isn’t that God is being a bully but that we are not understanding who God is and what our relationship looks like.  We are not understanding our place in this creation and what God has called us to be.  Despite what Joel Osteen says we can’t get what we want from God if we try really hard or have the right attitude.

It’s not about us or getting what we want when we want it, it’s about giving praise and glory to God.

Scripture repeatedly talks about praying according to God’s will.  The problem is that sometimes our will doesn’t line up with God’s will.  In that case we need to pray for understanding and patience.  We need to have eyes of faith to see what God is up to.  We need to understand that we are to draw others to God and we do that by living according to God’s will.

It might not be God’s will that you get that promotion or new job.
It might not be God’s will that your child get’s into that Ivy League school.
It might not be God’s will that healing comes.

But God’s will…whatever it is…WILL be awesome, because, well…it’s from our sovereign God.

So the next time you pray open your eyes of faith and watch God do His thing.  And the more we do that the more we come in line with his will.  And what a place to be.

edh -|—

Not that bad…really?

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
(1 John 1:8-10)

Maybe you have never said that you are without sin.
Maybe you have never claimed to be perfect.

But…

Have you ever said or thought:
At least I am not as bad as that person sitting over there
At least I am not living in sin like that couple.
At least I attend worship more than that person.
At least I don’t________” (Fill in the blank).

Sin can be a tough thing to talk about or listen to because many people don’t want to hear that they are sinful, they want to hear how to make their lives better.  Our society today has been so inundated with the prosperity gospel that any talk of personal sinfulness has become very offensive to people.

“Don’t tell me I am sinful, tell me how to be successful.”
“Tell me how to have a better marriage.”
“Tell me how to be blessed by God.”
“Tell me how to be happy in this life.”
“Tell me that, deep down inside, I am a good person.”

Go to the self-help section of any bookstore and you will see book after book after book that uses scripture to “teach” you how to be successful, to be happy, to get ahead in this world.  These authors claim that God wants to bless you and this is how you can make that happen.

Really?

The Good News is not that God wants to bless you, but the Good News is that because we are SINFUL God has blessed us with his Son, Jesus Christ.  There are no steps or actions we must take, but…

Jesus has already died on the cross for you.
Jesus has already risen from the grave for you.
Jesus has already made the offer for forgiveness.
Jesus has already gone ahead to prepare a place for you (John 14:1-7)

And Jesus has done all of this because we really are that bad.  We are sinful, evil people.

[Sorry if I just burst your bubble.  Well…actually…I am not sorry.]

Being happy and successful in this life is something Jesus never promised.  But what Jesus has promised is that we can have a PEACE that surpasses all understanding and HOPE in this life of eternal life.  And it is this PEACE and HOPE that sustains me in this life…even when things are not going my way because I know that there is more than just THIS life.

Admit your sinfulness and know that God is faithful and just and will forgive your sins through Jesus Christ.  For in the end, that is all we truly need.

Dear sinner…have a great day basking in the love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord 🙂

-edh-