Category Archives: repentance

The Heart of Rebellion


Joseph Conrad wrote a book called,
The Heart of Darkness about going into the heart of Africa in the late 1800’s.  It was pretty much unexplored and treacherous to travel to the interior of Africa, hence a great darkness in many people’s eyes.

In the Bible, Jeremiah 17:9 describes the human heart as “deceitful above all things and desperately sick (wicked KJV); who can understand it?”  In Romans 3:10-18, Paul elaborates, saying that without God, no one seeks after Him.  We use our tongues to deceive, our lips have venom like asps, our mouths are full of curses and bitterness, our feet are swift to shed blood, and the way of peace we have not known.  In reading this passage at a jail Bible study, one gal said, “that pretty much describes everyone I know, myself included.”

Not a pretty picture.  It’s the heart of darkness.  But what grabbed me in reading through the New Testament, as I’m now into Acts, are the motives of the people that rejected Jesus.  They had a chance to accept Him, they heard the truth, but they flat out rejected it all for some base reasons that are common to all of us.  This is the heart of rebellion.  Let me highlight a few:

  • Mark 15:10.  Pilate perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priest had delivered Jesus up.  The chief priests were jealous of Jesus.  This jealousy theme is repeated again in Acts 5:17.
  • Mark 15:15.  So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them for them Barabbas.  Pilate wanted the people to like him.
  • John 12:42.  Nevertheless, many of the authorities believed in Jesus, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.  They were vainglorious, or in today’s slang: a glory hound or a glory hog.  
  • John 19:38.  Joseph of Arimathea asked to bury Jesus secretly because he feared the Jews.  He was a follower of Jesus, had not consented to the council’s decisions (though a prominent member) and was himself waiting for the kingdom of God.  He was afraid so he acted secretly.  At least he acted.
  • Acts 7:25.  Stephen was preaching about how the Jews’ forefathers rejected Jesus, so it was no surprise that they did too.  Moses thought that the Jews would understand that he was to be their deliverer but they did not understand so they rejected him; Acts 7:35 saying, “Who made you a ruler and a judge?”  They didn’t get it but with an edge, like ‘go away.’
  • Acts 7:39 “So they refused to obey Moses, but thrust him aside and in their hearts they turned away saying to Aaron, ‘make us gods to go before us.’”  7:42  So God turned away and gave them over to worship the ‘host of heaven,’ the stars and images that they made.”  They made fake gods instead of obeying the One and only God.  So God gave them over to their fake gods.
  • Acts 7:51 “You stiff necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit.”  Any time we are confronted with the truth and say no to it, we are resisting the Holy Spirit.
  • Romans 1:21.  “For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  When you know the truth but reject it, you become foolish.  It sends you down a dark path.
  • Romans 1:24.  “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.”  Romans 1:25.  “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped the created things rather than the Creator.”  When you reject God and choose a lie, you live out the consequences of that lie.

The Great Turn Around

Isaiah 55:6-7  “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him, And to our God for He will abundantly pardon.”

In the midst of our rebellion, of our turning away from God and going our own way, God still calls us back.  God  loves us, He wants a relationship with us and sent His Son Jesus to redeem us from our heart of rebellion.

Call upon God while He is near, return to the Lord and He will have compassion and  will abundantly pardon.

rebellion
*Image from Quotefancy


Come to Jesus, all you who are weary and are heavy laden

Jesus- the invitation

 

This was my jail study this last week, with seven women.  This is Jesus.  Really, to know Him is to love Him.  Some have heard this in different shapes and forms, but need to hear it again and again until it sinks in.  Others haven’t heard it before.  One gal was getting sentenced this last week to a possible 20 years (she got 25).  Jesus changed her in front of our eyes over these last three years of her being in and out, especially in the last six months.  God still works miracles, the biggest being in changing lives!

 John 3:16.  For God so loved the world that He sent His only son, Jesus, that whoever would believe Him will not perish but have everlasting life.  God loves us and Jesus gave His life for us so that we won’t have to spend eternity in Hell because of our sin.

John 11:5 and Luke 19:5.  Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus…Jesus looked up at the tree and said, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down for I must stay at your house today.’  Jesus knows us by name, and He loves us.  He doesn’t just love the world generically, but specifically.  He knows us by name, even the number of hairs on our head.  Psalm 139:4 says that before a word is on our tongues He knows it completely.

John 8:1-8.  That’s the account of the woman caught in adultery.  When Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees, “Let him who is without sin be the one to throw the first stone,” and they left oldest to youngest, she looked up and saw just Jesus.  He asked, “Where are the ones who condemn you?  Who’s left?”  “No one,” was her response.  “Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”  Jesus doesn’t condemn them when they come to Him; He wants them to be set free from their bondages.

  •  One gal was caught up in an interesting thought about how Jesus was a part of       making the law, but yet let her break the law.  Jesus really was the fulfillment of the law.   He was the law.  He was loving, kind, merciful and just, which was what the law was really aimed at.  The Pharisees kept the law, but weren’t any of those things.  So they really didn’t keep the law.  Maybe that’s why Jesus kept healing on the Sabbath, to poke holes in their broken system.  In Romans 8:3-4 it says that God sent Jesus to do what the law couldn’t do in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.  Bottom line: Meet Jesus, look into His loving eyes and turn from your sin.

John 4.  The woman at the well.  Here’s the outcast of the outcasts at the well at noon.  And Jesus talks with her, asking for water and telling her about living water so she wouldn’t have to thirst anymore.  “I want that water!”  “Okay, go get your husband.”  “I don’t have one.”  “I know.  You’ve had five, and the guy you’re with now isn’t one of them.”  Jesus knows our backstory and He still likes us.  He knows what it is that we’re trying to fill the hole in our heart with.  Everyone has a hole in their heart that God put there so we would long for Him.  It has to filled with Him, otherwise it’s still a hole that needs to be filled.  Some people try to fill it with guys, others with drugs, others with shopping, others with food…

  • The other interesting discussion...What are you trying to fill your hole with?  Why don’t you fill it with Jesus?  We all have holes.  Andy Warhol is the guy that said “Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame.”  That’s why people will go on ‘American Idol’ even when they’re really bad, or do whatever do get noticed.  There’s a verse in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that says ‘that God has set eternity in our hearts.’  The Oscar Meyer Wiener song illustrates it: “Cause if I were an Oscar Meyer Wiener, everyone would be in love with me…”  Why would it matter for everyone would be in love with them?  Because God put that hole there for it to be filled by Him.

Final verses: Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”

 


You’ve lost that loving feeling

first love

I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for My name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.  But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.  If not, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place, unless you repent.  Revelation 2:3-6

Jesus gave John messages for seven churches in Revelation 2-3 when He appeared to John in a vision.  This message was for the church in Ephesus.  Paul helped to establish that church thirty or forty years before this, and he wrote the book of Ephesians as a letter to them.  Jesus was telling them things that they had that were commendable, and also some things they needed to repent of.  

Let’s take a look at the commendable things first.  They were enduring trials patiently for the sake of Jesus.  Secondly, they did not grow weary of standing firm, nor did they give up.  This tells me that God sees us when we labor on, doing the right thing, and  taking heat from others.  We might think that no one else notices, or wonder if it is worth it.  The resounding answer is that God sees and He will reward us for our endurance.  He sees both individuals and churches.

Lately I’ve been struck with the idea of doing things that are a secret between God and myself.  In Matthew 6:1-2 it says, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in Heaven.  Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others.  Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”

 There are many awesome things that God has done in my life.  If I never get to tell anyone about them, it’s okay.  That can be our little secret.  I know God sees me and He knows what I am doing and enduring for the sake of His name.  My reward will come in the end from the One who sees me.

Now for the negative:  They had lost the love and zeal that they once had for God.  He didn’t say, “That’s okay, you did a lot of good things when you were younger.”  No, He called them to repent.  To repent means to admit that losing that intensity of devotion is sin, and then to return to the devotion that you had earlier on.  It means a change of heart and a change of actions.  

It could be tempting to live your Christian life in fits and starts.  That means you have good stretches and you have bad ones.  According to this, you need to repent of the bad ones and return to the first love that gave you the drive to follow the Lord wholeheartedly, serve others and be involved in things for the sake of His kingdom. Jesus told the Ephesians that if they did not repent, He would remove their lamp stand from its place.  That means that there were consequences for their dwindling love for Jesus, or just going through the motions.  It is the same for us today.

A friend was referring to someone else who was in a “spiritual funk.”  She said, “Maybe he’s just tired of trying to save the world.”  That could sound like a good excuse for allowing someone to continue in their funk, but according to this, it’s not okay.  We can’t have good sounding excuses before God.

It’s time for a gut check: Have you abandoned your love and passion for Jesus?  If so, repent and return.  Make choices to go in the opposite direction and do it today!


Sin and the Blood of Jesus

Jesus blood.jpgIf we walk in the light 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 confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  1 John 1:7,9; 2:1-2

If you asked 100 people what they think our biggest problem is, you might get quite a broad range of answers.  Some might say something about politics, others about countries who want to attack, others may talk about the environment.  God tells us in the Bible that our biggest problem is sin.  When Adam fell in the Garden of Eden, we fell, separating us from God and alienating us from Him, ourselves, others and nature.

God sent Jesus as a perfect sin offering to save us from the His wrath and the penalty of sin.  This is the heart of the Gospel, the good news of salvation because of Jesus.  When we repent of our sins, asking God to forgive us and to give us a new heart, we receive the righteousness of Christ.  When God looks at us, He sees Jesus.

But after this glorious transformation, we still sin.  We still need the blood of Jesus to cleanse us of the guilty stain that sin leaves so that we can stand clean before God.  The good news of our verses for today is that God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness–if we confess our sins.  It doesn’t just happen automatically.  We can’t just do things that are offensive to God and everything to be okay because “it’s all under the blood.”  It is all under Jesus’ blood once you confess that sin and turn from it.

The other error that we might be prone to is to fall apart because of our sin.  It’s like falling down and not getting up again.  The good news is that “as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us,” as Psalm 103:12 declares.  He wants us to come and repair our broken relationship with Him, the sooner the better.  There is no sin too dark or too big that God can’t or won’t forgive.

When we sin, we have a defense attorney–Jesus Christ the righteous one.  Picture a courtroom scene.  When the judge asks “How do you plead?”  We say, “Guilty.”  The Judge delivers his sentence and then offers for his Son to pay it for us.  Though that would be preposterous in real life, that is exactly what happens when we confess our sin.  Jesus, our advocate, stands in our place.

This is made possible by the blood of Jesus.  Throughout the Bible, from the very beginning, blood had to be shed.  In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig  leaves after they sinned.  God stepped in and covered them with animal skins.  In doing so, blood had to be shed.  All of the way through the Old Testament, the people brought animal sacrifices and their blood spilled out on the altar to show that their sin was covered by blood.  It was a down payment until Jesus came and shed His blood once and for all on the cross.  

There is power in the blood of Jesus.  In Revelation 12:10-11 it says that the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.  And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…  Satan accuses us day and night, trying to get us to wallow in guilt and shame.   But if we stand in the blood of the Lamb, bringing those sins that Satan is accusing us of to God and confessing them, then Satan has no dirt to dig up on us.

If Satan is badgering you about certain events and sins of the past, confess them to God out loud, announcing to yourself, to God and to Satan that the debt is paid.  If there is something you need to do to make something right, do it.  Then you can stand free before God and before everyone else.  

Finally, Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).  He will use any open door to torment and to taunt us.  If you have been abused or wounded in spirit, that puts a hole in your heart that Satan can use to mess with you.  Perhaps you have held bitterness against the offender, against yourself or against God.  Bring that incident, or string of incidents, to God in prayer, asking Him to cover those holes by the blood of Jesus.  He will set you free from that bondage and from the torments of Satan.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our tresspasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us.  Ephesians 1:7-8

*Image from speakthewordonly63.wordpress.com


Here’s My Heart Lord

Know this, my beloved brothers; let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  James 1:19-20

Both Ephesians 4:31 and Colossians 3:8 command us to put away anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk, as well as clamor (chaos or drama).  I suppose all of those cousins of anger keep us from being good listeners.  Go back to James 1:4.  In the ESV it reads, “Let steadfastness (perseverance, endurance, patience)  have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete…”  

That means we have to let, or to allow, God to do His work in our lives.  We also have to let go of resentments, bitterness, our tendency to get revenge and to back stab.  We’ll look first at how to let God do the work in us that leads to righteousness, and enables us to be quick to hear and slow to speak, as well as slow to anger.

  • James 1:21 gives us our first clue: “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.”  The ‘implanted Word’ is the Bible at work in our lives.  It is able to save our souls, according to this verse.  We are to receive it with meekness, which is another word for humility.  We get the implanted Word from preaching, sound teaching and from our own reading and studying.  All of this needs to be aimed at applying its truth to our hearts and lives.  That’s where humility comes in.  Instead of hearing a sermon and thinking, “My sister should hear this,” we must listen for ourselves and ask God what it is that He wants us to implement.
  • 2 Timothy 2:22 commands us to, “Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”  If you try to get rid of a bad habit without putting a good habit in its place, you are bound to fail.  We are to chase after righteousness and hang with people who do the same.  Don’t be a companion of fools.  Pursuing righteousness involves monitoring all of the music, tv shows, movies, books and things in your environment.  Instead, spend your time reading Godly books, worship music that lifts up Jesus, and fellowshipping with like minded people.  Pray and ask to help you to find them.

Now for how to ‘let go of’ the things that we are to put away.

  • Do a fierce moral inventory and see who and what you are holding on to bitterness and resentment about.  Give them to God, asking Him to forgive you for holding onto the bitterness and then forgiving the person who wronged you.  Ask God to show you if you have “anything against anyone.”  Bitterness fuels drama and forgiveness fuels a peaceful heart.  Forgiveness enables you to walk away from drama and backstabbing.
  • Do a clean sweep in your house and life.  Get rid of things that keep you from pursuing righteousness, burn them if necessary.  End bad relationships as gracefully as you can.  Do the hard work of finding new friends and  hobbies.
  • Embrace God’s forgiveness.  Psalm 103:12 promises, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.”  Corrie Ten Boom has said that God throws our sins into the deepest part of the ocean and puts a ‘No Fishing Allowed’ sign on it.  Don’t get bound up in anger against yourself because of things in the past.  Do what Paul urged in Philippians 3:13, “One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”  If Satan reminds you of your past, you remind him of his future!

This song is a cry for God to do a work in our lives.  It’s so good.  Click on the link:

Here’s My Heart, Lord by David Crowder