Repentance

Tuesday Devotional: 2 Chronicles 7

bibleRead 2 Chronicles 7:11-22

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

Can we lose the gift of Jesus Christ?

YES.

Jesus Christ is not a gift you receive, store for a later date and then use to your advantage.  To view him in this way is to receive without understanding, store the gift without valuing it and use it without respect.

How do we lose the gift of Jesus Christ?

We lose the gift of Jesus Christ if we stop practicing the following disciplines in regards to our sinful nature. Daily we must:

  • Openly identify with name of Jesus Christ
  • Humble ourselves to His authority and commands
  • Pray
  • Seek the face and presence of God in our life
  • TURN FROM SIN

We cannot be ashamed to be called Christians.  We cannot be embarrassed by our association with and nature in Jesus Christ.  This central reality of the Christian life should be our strength.  Being an ambassador of Christ is not just a burden we are meant to carry.  Representing Christ is to be His light in the world.  It is an honor and a privilege to be called a Christian and to hide our identity is to reject the gift.

When we receive the gift of Jesus Christ we no longer possess any authority in our lives.  Naturally there are times when our sin fights viciously to draw us away from the presence of the Lord.  This command is not a command of perfection.  However, it is a daily decision we must all make.  We must all decide if we will use this day to serve our own interests, or His.  We must decide if today we will follow His commands or our own.  To receive the gift of Jesus we cannot claim authority in our lives or wisdom in the steps we ought to take.  Jesus is the final authority, and the Gospel to which we dedicate our lives is His.

Faith in Jesus is a relationship, and like all good relationships, conversation plays a central role.  The fruitfulness of a relationship corresponds with level of communication between the parties involved.  How can we claim to love Jesus or to receive His forgiveness and mercy and at the same time be totally disinterested and apathetic about our intimate dialogue with Him? We cannot. Prayer is not asking for things or saying sorry for things we’ve done.  Prayer is a practice in faith.  In praying we believe that we are talking with the God of Creation and that He takes interest in what we have to say.  Prayer is a powerful gesture to God that we believe Him, we miss Him, and that above all else we need Him.

The gift of Jesus IS Jesus.  The gift of Jesus is not merely rescue from our problems, peace from our strife or joy amidst the misery.  The gift of Jesus is the fact that we no longer have to search for happiness or contentment in anything else.  We no longer have to try and fail to satisfy our own hearts.  The gift of Jesus is the fact that in Jesus we have the answer that our hearts have sought to find from the moment we were born.  Therefore, if we understand the gift of Jesus and resist or even resent the presence of Jesus in our lives as our King and Savior, we are continuing to rely on the gifts that Jesus replaces, and we continue to search for satisfaction that, apart from Jesus, is nowhere to be found.

If you are carrying a box that requires you to carry it with two hands and a person asks you to carry another box, both the same size, both requiring you to carry it with two hands, you’ll have to make one of two choices.  You can either drop the first box and pick up the new box, or you can refuse to carry the new box and continue carrying the box you were carrying at first.  In the same way we have to face our sinful desires and temptations in relation to the gift of Jesus Christ.  The gift of Jesus Christ is the second box.  To receive it we HAVE to put the other box down.  Where do we get the idea that we can carry both? In order to be a recipient of the grace and promises of Jesus Christ we have to lay our lives down, pick the up the cross and follow our Lord.

 

Tuesday Devotional: Isaiah 1

Read Isaiah chapter 1

bibleFrom an early age we come to understand two “truths” about life that are reinforced into adulthood.  The first is that we are not totally responsible for the problems in our lives.  As children we are quick to point the finger elsewhere when something goes wrong, even if the facts point in our direction.  We are quick to defend ourselves, not only by explaining our actions but also by highlighting the faults of others.  Early on we understand the weight of responsibility and guilt, and we learn to avoid carrying it at all costs through dishonesty and denial.

The second is that, when the facts weigh heavily in the direction of our own guilt, we can bargain our way out of punishment or consequence.  While admitting guilt is far too painful to even consider, the next best thing is to shower the accuser or injured party with gifts, praise, or attention, in an attempt to redirect and distract them.  Our view of the guilt and forgiveness process is so shamefully simplified that we see the bargaining approach as not only a viable option, but often as the most logical response.  The absence of guilt after transgression displays a complete lack of respect toward the offended party, reducing them to objects, not actual people.

For many, God is simply an object.  God is an idea, a concept, or a creation.  Viewing God this way makes it far too easy to evade our own guilt by trying to “buy” him off with church attendance, tithes or prayers of confession.  If he is an object, we will never find any reason in our stubborn hearts to ever feel remorse for our transgressions, remorse that could lead us to the repentance necessary to be forgiven and free.  If, however, he is not an object to manipulate, we will finally confront our own hand in our problems, an acknowledgement that acts as a jumping off point for growth and change.  If he is not an object, we will realize that we can never buy our way out of our transgressions, and more importantly, we will begin to understand and finally value his forgiveness, as it should be understood.

 

ASK: 2 Kings 17

After reviewing our session notes from the first meeting of ASK Daegu, what follows is a summary of the teaching that as a group we were given by the Holy Spirit. Each member contributed something to the message that follows. We pray that our group encourages you in the same way that it encouraged all of us. We’ll have a new ASK recap up next Wednesday.

Do we have idols? Are there things that we turn to for relief, satisfaction or joy before we turn to the Lord? Do we try to hide the fact that we have idols? Are we so convinced in our power to confine God to a day, time or place that we become certain that our secrets are in fact ours alone?   Do you know the commands and teaching of Jesus Christ? Do you know them beyond memorization into the place of salvation where they rightfully belong? Do you know why the teaching was given to us? Are you burdened by the commandments, as if they were there to prevent you from reaching the potential that could truly bring you joy? These are not fun questions but they are absolutely necessary for us to ask if we truly profess faith in Jesus Christ. If we don’t ask them, what are we doing? What is the point? Stop wasting your time.

The truth is, we all possess idols. We have all been tempted by them and our relationship with God has suffered as a result of our flippant and childish view toward His love for us. The truth is, God desires us. We were created to receive His love and then return His love with a heart in tune with his own. The pleasures and cravings of the flesh are merely vessels for the nature of sin to prolong and imbed the deception of sin that we don’t actually need God. The truth is, while idols tempt us with grand promises of satisfaction and fulfillment, they will inevitably only achieve two things. They will slowly but effectively destroy us, reducing us to shadows and dust. More importantly, they will exile us into a place where God can reach us but we become so deaf and blind to his presence that we deny the presence of his power and the hope of his salvation.

So, what? What can we do? Admit it! Admit that you have idols. Go to God with this shameful confession trusting in His promise to embrace, forgive and love. Seek his way and his will. Reject the idea outright that you have something to say in the matter of what is or isn’t good for you. You don’t know! We as his children have never known so why would it be different for us today? It isn’t. Invite the Holy Spirit to make his commandments sweet to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring you close enough to the cross to touch the blood but then close enough to the tomb to verify that it no longer contains the body.

There is nothing in this world that can ever give you what we have been given in Jesus Christ. Nothing is worth it! God is patient but the promise of his patience does not even compare to his promise to ultimately judge what is right and wrong. We have been warned. Heed the warning and grab ahold of the hand of Christ and choose to live!