Lord, put into my life enough delays to teach me patience. .......................enough failure to teach me humility. .......................enough expenses to teach me to work. .......................enough needy people to teach me generosity. .......................enough leisure to teach me to enjoy myself. .......................enough health to allow me to help the sick. .......................enough barriers to teach me perseverance. .......................enough illness to teach me to accept help. .......................enough stress to teach me serenity. .......................enough loneliness to teach me to reach out. .......................enough joy to teach me to smile. .......................enough questions to teach me faith. .......................enough of YOU to teach me awe.
“As a Christian, all my sins of the past, present and future have been forgiven. Therefore, I don’t need to repent. Repentance is only for lost people, isn’t it?”
Unfortunately, many of God’s children have such an attitude concerning repentance. And their lack of repentance causes them to miss the blessings of a close relationship with Him.
Repentance is not one of the things from which we are “set free” when we are saved. This is pointed out in II Chronicles 7:14 when God said “…if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin.” (Emphasis mine.)
We, more than non-Christians, should be sickened by sin, especially the sin in our own lives. We know that our sins damage others and displease God. Thus, more than all other people we should be ready, even anxious, to repent.
The Chronicles verse makes another important point. Repentance is more than confession. Confession alone involves only “I acknowledge I did it and I’m sorry.” There is nothing beyond the past (“I did it”) and the present emotional impact (“I’m sorry.”)
Spirit-led repentance includes both of these plus a future resolve. God included this factor when He said “…and turn from their wicked ways.” Genuine repentance requires that we attempt, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to avoid sinning again.
For the Christian, confession is the beginning of what we are called to do after we have sinned. Repentance is the completion of God’s call to destroy the barriers sin places between us and our heavenly Father.
- Jesus prayed early in the morning. (Mark 1:35)
- Jesus obeyed the promptings of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 4:1)
- Jesus cared about lost people he had never met. (Matthew 23:37)
- Jesus met the physical needs of others. (Mark 6:36-42)
- Jesus cared about the emotional needs of others. (Luke 24:36; Matthew 10:31)
- Jesus let God control his speech. (John 14:10)
- Jesus turned regular conversations towards spiritual issues. (John 4:4-41)
- Jesus attended church regularly. (Luke 4:16)
- Jesus fulfilled family responsibilities. (Luke 2:52; John 19:26-27)
- Jesus gave proper priority to physical possessions. (Matthew 8:20)
- Jesus helped disciple new believers. (John 6:3)
- Jesus welcomed “outsiders”. (John 4:4-41)
- Jesus faced criticism in order to tell the truth. (Mark 2:13-17; Mark 3:1-6)
- Jesus had an enthusiasm for the church. (Mark 11:15-17)
Jehovah knew we could never understand a god who could create galaxies, control storms and harness the tides. But He thought maybe we could understand a god who washed feet, loved children and cried at funerals. So He sent Jesus.
Should we study God’s word so that we can be informed or transformed? Are we as willing to be confronted and challenged as we are to be comforted and calmed?
In my efforts to please my Father and be like Jesus, do I emphasize rules or relationships? Have I allowed myself to settle for a reasonable degree of success in the “Thou shall not” part of Christianity while allowing myself to fall short in the “Cup of cold water aspect”?
Lost people don’t need to see good people working for God; they need to see a good God working through people. And these good people need to be aware of and acknowledge that it is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables them to do that work.
What specific things did I do yesterday that said to the world “That man loves God”? What will I do tomorrow that says the same thing?
The Father decides. The Son delivers. The Holy Spirit defines.
Love is giving your place in line (#1) to someone else and then going back to the end of the line (#50) to start over again.
Until we realize we are desperate without Christ we can never be complete in Christ.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus was the most popular person in Jerusalem. He soon made enemies of the town’s businessmen and religious leaders by honoring his Father. Popularity was never his goal, but intimacy with hurting people was. Are we willing to establish our priorities the same way?
The most horrible condition on the planet is “God forsaken.” Jesus must have felt the first touch of this in Gethsemane. Knowing he would feel it much stronger on the cross must have made the hours between his arrest and death almost unbearable.
The privilege of prayer is one of the best things God has ever given us. It allows us to access Him anytime, anywhere, for any reason.
Are you stymied for gift giving ideas? Giving gifts can be problematic in our society of affluence when trying to find something for those who “have everything.” Here’s an idea for consideration. The ideal gift is yourself.
That’s right, give away some of yourself:
Give an hour of your time to someone who needs you. Give a note of encouragement to someone feeling down. Give a hug of affirmation to someone in your family. Give a listening ear to someone who is lonely. Give a word of compassion to someone who has suffered a loss. Give a deed of thoughtfulness to someone who is overlooked. Give a gentle response to the frustrated. Give a quiet push to someone needing encouragement. Give the benefit of a doubt to the misunderstood. Give a second thought to someone else's opinion. Give forgiveness to those who have harmed you. Give a second chance to someone who has failed.
God gave Jesus to us on the first Christmas morning. Jesus gave his life for us on a cross of disgrace. How much of ourselves are we willing to give others this Christmas season?
In Revelation 3:20 Jesus said “I stand at the door and knock.”
Which door? The front door, we hope. That is the door we want Him to enter. We want Him in the part of the house most likely to be dusted and “picked up.” This is the part of the house that is ready for an honored guest.
But what if He is standing at the garage door or the back door? What if Jesus wants to come in through those “other” parts of our house? Are we as anxious to let Him see our storage room and garage as we are for Him to see the “parlor?” What if Jesus wants to see our clutter room and our “junk” drawer?
While Jesus is visiting are we going to take Him on a tour of all the house? Will we open every door and even allow Him to look into the closets and behind the shower curtain? How about the medicine cabinet and the magazine rack?
How long will Jesus stay? That depends on us. How long do we really want Him to stay?
However, if we want Jesus to be a permanent resident in our home, we will have to clean out all known sin and disobedience. He will not abide long where He is expected to share living quarters with known sin.
Such house cleaning cannot be done alone. We need the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will show us just what clutter and junk has to be removed and He will give us the ability to do our share of the clean up.
In Luke 10 and Matthew 25, Jesus told his followers to be concerned with the physical and emotional needs of their neighbors. Then in Luke 19:10, he stated that the main purpose for his incarnation was to meet the spiritual needs of the human race. In Matthew 28:19-20, he directed us to have the same priority – the spiritual needs of others.
Before we can successfully carry out this Great Commission we must have the
Courage to Care
We must allow the Holy Spirit to created within us a sincere attitude of concern. We must allow the joys, sorrows, dreams and disappointments of others to become important to us. Until we have a true, heart-felt caring attitude we will not be successful “Great Commission” Christians.
Courage to Contact
The boldness of first century Christians caused them to go to public places and intentionally meet non-Christians so they could witness to them about Jesus. They were not content to form a holy huddle and hide their light inside the walls of a church building. We, too, must be willing to meet and interact with lost people so we can tell them the Good News.
Courage to Confront
In our live-and-let-live society, most of us avoid confrontations because they make us uncomfortable. The gospel of Jesus Christ is, by its very nature, confrontational. This is what Jesus taught in Matthew 10:34-37. Every person is either lost or saved, serving God or serving Satan, condemned or forgiven. The Great Commission will never be carried out until we confront the world with this knowledge.
We must allow the Holy Spirit to make us brave enough to care, contact and confront.
Does Satan sometimes influence a Christian to do “good” things? Oddly enough, it seems sometimes the answer is yes.
One of Satan’s most successful ploys is to encourage us to do good things which will prevent us from doing the best things that God intends for us.
Satan may tempt us to do a religious thing rather than a Christian thing. Satan may tempt us to do a church thing rather than serve a neighbor. Satan may tempt us to only pray for another person rather than help them while we pray. Satan may tempt us to give a cup of cold water rather than explain the path of salvation.
The allure of the good is strong for several reasons. Such activity is usually socially acceptable and we gain the praise of others for being so generous. Good behavior is less likely to involve a long-term relationship that might be confining. And, of course, good behavior allows us to have warm feelings of self-satisfaction.
What is the promised reward when we correctly identify, select and carry out the best? We will hear “well done, thou good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)
How can we know which actions are good, but not the best? James 1:5 promises such wisdom. If we don’t seek this wisdom, we are likely to miss the chance to do the best things by instantly doing every good thing that comes along.
It is vital that we have an eagerness and willingness to joyfully serve our Master. But before putting our enthusiasm into play, we must seek and find his will. We must allow him to help us correctly identify our assignments. Then He will help us complete them.
Luke 2:49 indicates Jesus had unusual spiritual sensitivity. Does it mean He knew then He was the Messiah? Maybe and maybe not. But it does mean He understood that God had a specific, personal claim on his life to one degree or another. And what did He do about it? He went home and correctly played his proper role as a family member (Luke 2:51-52). He continued to do so for the next eighteen years (John 2:3-10). My first and greatest opportunity to behave in a Christ-like manner is at home with my family. If I don't follow his example there I won't follow it anywhere. Genesis 4:26 states the people began to "call on the name of the LORD". Do I call on his name in surrender as often as I do in request? Do I call on his name asking that He change me as often as I ask him to change others? In my efforts to please my Father I need to emphasize relationships more than rules. I must not allow myself to settle for reasonable success in the "Thou shalt not" category of Christian living, while ignoring the "cup of cold water" part. Joshua 24:15 says "Choose you this day whom you will serve". I think we are also asked each day to decide who we will "worship." This will be determined and demonstrated by which TV shows we watch, what internet images we download, which magazines we read, how we spend our money, which gossip we listen to, what attitudes we reinforce, which priorities we develop and what parts of our culture we embrace.