All posts tagged repentance

How’s Your Voice

“All human beings have an almost infinite capacity to take things for granted.”

Aldous Huxley

If you can wade through the blow up Santa’s, 5000 different kinds of Christmas lights, and fake trees, you may be able to find a few token Thanksgiving items.

The Salvation Army even starts ringing the bell for the famous red kettle before the last Thursday in November.

But Thanksgiving is important. Not just one day a year, but every day, especially for followers of Christ.

Sunday, our pastor spoke from Luke 17. Ten lepers cry out to Jesus from far away. Grotesque, smelly, voices raspy and weak from the disease, they beg, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

And He does. In fact, He tells them to go and show themselves to the Priest, and as they obeyed, they were healed. Nine of the ten continued on their way, ecstatic over their physical healing. After approval from the High Priest, finally, they could eat a meal with their loved ones, sleep in their own bed, and worship in the temple.

Physically healed, they were satisfied.

Here is what Scripture states about one of the lepers,

“Then one of the, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:15-16.

Turned back is another word for repentance in the Bible. Turning from our own way, we turn to Christ for salvation–for healing. This man knew there was more to Jesus than the healer.

Then, he cried to Jesus with a loud voice. Not only were his sores healed, but his voice became strong once again. With that new, strong voice, he began to praise God.

After he returned to Christ, he fell at Jesus feet gave thanks, and worshiped.

Christs’ response is surprising. He asks three questions of the crowd, pointing out that the man is a foreigner from the half-breed Samaritans. Jesus also notices that nine were healed and only one came back to give thanks.

But it is His last statement that is astounding. “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

All ten experienced healing in this life, but only one was saved for eternity.

How’s your voice? Is it raspy and weak? Is your body infected with sin. If so, you need healing. And the healer waits. John 6:37 states, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

Some need physical healing, but all of us need spiritual healing. Friend, don’t let Him wait any longer, Turn back, repent, worship and be healed.

Those of us who have experienced the transforming work of the gospel in our lives, use your strong voice to praise. Give thanks. Don’t take that miraculous salvation for granted!

So duck under those fresh cedar trees, get to those Thanksgiving plates, and when you sit down to your meal this Thursday, really, really, give thanks.

A blessed Thanksgiving from a very very close-up shot of the Hyltons. (Couldn’t delete it…please don’t look at the wrinkles.)

Open Our Eyes

My new church meets in a school cafeteria. Fluorescent lights shine down on tidy round tables. About 60 of us gather to worship the Lord and fellowship together.

It’s bright. I can easily see the widows across the aisle as they worship. Behind me a family from the mountains sings God’s praises.  Often, Our pastor will have us look around at each other so we know who our brothers and sisters are. We’re held accountable to love them. Love exacts a price: service, compassion, exhortation.

The message on Sunday made me think about our little band of believers. How just as we can see each other clearly in our little lunchroom, Jesus sees all of us clearly–more clearly than we can see ourselves.

Part of Pastor Brady’s message on Sunday morning came from Matthew’s gospel, chapter 11:20-24:

“Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. And you, Capernaum, will you not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.’”

My mind drifted to another scenario. What if Jesus were in our congregation that day. He might say, “Woe to Mt. Airy! Woe to you, New York! Woe to you, Los Angeles! ”

Funny how people like to quote Jesus when it comes to love and acceptance and compassion. True. The gospels are cholk-full of the tender deeds and words of our Lord. But listen to the first words spoken by Jesus in Mark’s gospel:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

The re-occuring word is repent.

Repent basically means an about face. A turning.

In this case, Jesus meant to turn from your sins and turn to Him.

It’s not Jesus plus something or someone else. It’s not your way or my way at all.

He calls the shots. He’s the Creator and Sustainer.

I’ve repented. In fact, It’s a daily occurrence. And I’m forgiven. Thank God.

But what about you, friend?

What if you were sitting in our little lunchroom and Jesus looked at you. He can see clearly–right into your heart. He knows not only your actions, but your thoughts and your motives.

Think about that a while. Makes me shudder.

Jesus said to repent and believe the gospel so here it is:

God is holy. You are a sinner destined for judgment. God provided a way of escape through believing on His Son, Jesus Christ. Believing that He lived a perfect life, died a gruesome death, and rose from the grave to pay the penalty of your sin and my sin.

If you choose not to believe, I have one word for you.

Woe!

 

Humble Ourselves and Pray

Birds call to one another as I talk to my Father on the farmhouse porch before the sun comes up.

“What do you think, Lord?”

I hear what He says. “I’ve told you what I think, it’s in My Word.”

The recent Supreme Court Ruling was no shock—it was just a matter of time. America ceased to be a nation that follows after Christ’s teaching years ago. Yesterday just confirmed it.

Now what?

It’s a kind of beginning, I think.

Last night Tom and I attended our church prayer meeting. We spoke of the ruling and then we prayed. They weren’t prayers most liberals would expect us to pray. We cried. We pleaded, most of all, we confessed our own sin.

We prayed about I Corinthians 6:9-12:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

We didn’t so much concentrate on the part about homosexuality. We confessed the part about “and such were some of you.” We confessed our greed and our reviling and idolatrous thoughts. We confessed our sins and asked God to give us grace and compassion as we deal with others—even those who will persecute us because of our beliefs.

After we finished, our pastor said, “Real revivals start with confession of sin. If what happened in this room tonight happens all over America, we might have the Third Awakening.”

So I’m asking you, Brothers and Sisters to get on your knees and pray.

II Chronicles 7:14 states, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

After we pray, we need to turn. Turn from the sin of our culture, our own desires, and plead the blood of Christ.

What we need in America is a good dose of the Gospel. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. According to the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says we are all guilty since we’ve all had bad thoughts. Lustful, hateful, selfish, proud thoughts. It doesn’t even matter if we’ve acted out on those thought, they are all an affront to a Holy God.

But Jesus intervened. That is what changed us—not what we did or didn’t do. Faith in Christ alone for our salvation.

It’s time we share that message boldly with our culture—no matter what the cost.

And God will be glorified.

And we may be persecuted.

This could be a new beginning.

It’s up to us.

 

 

Investing in Easter, The Crucifixion of the King

For some, Easter snuck up on you. It tends to do that to me.

At Christmas, we begin to hear the music and see the decorations in October. It’s almost too long.

But Easter, that’s a different story.

As I contemplated the death and resurrection of my Lord today, I wondered if a generation from now, anyone would know what Easter meant.

I don’t think so.

Easter is the most important event in all of human history.

God became man at Christmas. God died for man on Good Friday. God saved man on the  Easter.

Tomorrow, we’re going to have breakfast with the King, but for today, we’re going to meditate on the cross.

I could talk about prophecies fulfilled, or the forgiveness of Christ, or how His disciples abandoned Jesus that day.

But I think I’d like to stick to just the cross of Christ.

At the beginning of the year, I spent a day by myself in prayer and Bible study. Loud and clear I received the message. “Lift High the Cross.”

The cross of Christ wasn’t just wood and nails and suffering. It was a transaction between God and man. Christ atoned for mans’ rebellion.

I’m not rebellious, you might say.

Yes you are. The Bible says so in Romans 3:23; “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

No matter what we do or don’t do, we aren’t good enough for God.

It’s hard for us to grasp the idea of ultimate authority leading to absolute accountability, especially in America.

In North Korea there’s no problem. In China, everyone understands submission to authority.

But in America, where we have rights, we tend to think we deserve them.

Jesus–God incarnate gave up His rights to redeem us. The cross is about giving up our rights in submission to Christ.

Faith.

Take a look at this passage:

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”             Philippians 2:5-8 (NASB)

That’s humility. That’s love. That’s Jesus.

Come to the cross this Easter. Kneel at the feet of the one who washed His disciples feet. Marvel at His love. Meditate on His grace.

Enjoy one of my favorite Selah songs and we’ll see you for breakfast tomorrow.

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