One of the mistakes we make… one of the schemes of the enemy… one of the consequences of busyness… one of the results of focusing on ourselves is to take what Jesus did lightly. To be in relationship with God means that we take God seriously.
The Lent season is a traditional opportunity to take God seriously. It is much more than giving something up. Abstinence from something that we like is a great reminder, but not the focus. Doing without is worthwhile as it causes us to appreciate Jesus’ sacrifices and move toward Him.
Repentance is one of the themes of Lent. It is not another word for asking for forgiveness. It goes much deeper than that prayer and is CENTRAL to having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Repentance is “turning around.” When I sin I am facing what I want and I have my back to Jesus. Repentance means I turn my back on my sinful desires, turn my face toward Christ and walk toward Him. Repentance means I leave my sin behind me and zero in on growing closer to and in deeper relationship with Christ, evidenced in obedience.
Repentance is ESSENTIAL. Without turning around there is no forgiveness, no relationship, no Heaven.
Look at these messages from Jesus Himself to first century congregations.
1“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Revelation 2:1-5 (NIV)
It doesn’t matter how much good we do if we are not fully turning to Christ and turning our backs on all else to REPENT.
1“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. 3Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Revelation 3:1-3 (NIV)
It doesn’t matter how good a reputation we have if we are not fully turning to Christ and turning our backs on all else to REPENT.
14“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:14-20 (NIV)
It doesn’t matter if we have material blessing from God – they do not prove God approves of us – if we are not fully turning to Christ and turning our backs on all else to REPENT.
During this Lenten season, ask God to show you all areas where you have your back to Him, then REPENT!
(To listen to Herb via the internet go to http://www.newsongpittsburgh.org/sermons.htm )