Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.”
John 3: 16-18
The Message Bible
An Act of Faith
“Thou didst take upon Thee my nature, and Thou didst suffer to deliver me from my sins that I might serve Thee in holiness and righteousness all my days. Lord, I am as sure Thou didst the great work of redemption for me and all mankind, as that I am alive. This is my hope, the strength of my spirit, my joy and my confidence; and do Thou never let the spirit of unbelief enter into me and take me from this rock. Here I dwell, for I have a delight therein; here I live.”
Today’s Study Texts:
“The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day; and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in His name to all nations.”
Luke 24: 46, 47
The Message Bible
“A Total Life-Change”
“To repent literally means to change the way we think. Thus, repentance is sometimes described as ‘coming to our senses.’”
How do I define the word “repentance”?
What changes have I seen in my own life when I turned away from what I was doing that brought pain to others, myself, and my heavenly Father?
“If you have truly repented – which means you have experienced godly sorrow and a subsequent detour from the sin – bathe yourself in the river of God’s forgiveness.”
“All the while that we walk by faith and not by sight, the tear of repentance glitters in the eyes of faith.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
All of Grace
When my sister and I were young, we would inevitably, like most kids, get into some type of disagreement and as our voices increased in volume, my mom’s excellent hearing would bring to her attention our fighting. She’d only let the bickering go on for so long and then she’d intervene. Mother’s technique usually boiled down to her telling us we not only needed to apologize to each other, but we also needed to forgive each other. I still remember some of those “I’m sorry’s” and “I forgive you’s.” While the words may have come out of our mouths they weren’t felt the least little bit in our hearts. Especially if we happened to be of the opinion that “I was right and you were wrong.”
Interestingly, in one of His last conversations on earth, found in Luke 24, Jesus addressed His followers with the following instruction: First, He told His disciples that everything written in the Law of Moses and by the Prophets as well as in the Psalms “must be” fulfilled. But Jesus didn’t just stop by verifying the truth found in the words of the Old Testament. The Bible says: “He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God.” He showed them how to read the Bible. And I might add, Jesus’ instruction is just as applicable to you and me in the 21st century as it was to His followers at that time. As He spoke, He made it clear that the Bible foretold of His suffering and also, not only in Jesus’ own words but in the words of the Prophets, the Good News of His resurrection was prophesied.
His words then took on an immediate importance for the disciples because Jesus laid out for His followers exactly what their message after He left earth should be about. He said that after His death and resurrection, the message His followers would carry to others would be about repentance and forgiveness. In fact, Jesus called His disciples to preach this to all nations.
With all the different topics available, we might wonder why repentance and forgiveness were at the top of Jesus’ list for sermon material. As I studied over the last few weeks, I came upon a prayer by Andrew of Crete, written thousands of years ago and I’d like to share it with you:
“Like the thief I cry to Thee;
Like Peter I weep bitterly;
Like the publican I call out,
‘Forgive me, Saviour’;
Like the harlot I shed tears.
Accept my lamentation,
as once Thou hast accepted
the entreaties of the woman of Canaan,
have mercy on me, O God
have mercy on me.”
As I read this poem/prayer several times, it hit me that there could be nothing worse in our lives than desiring to change the direction we are going only to find out that when we turn in a new direction, repent, we are met by a pointing finger, accusing words, and a harsh response “I don’t believe you.”
In order for us to more clearly understand the work of repentance and forgiveness in our own lives, I’d like to share the thoughts of Pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon from his book, All of Grace. He underscored a vital connection when he wrote, “repentance and forgiveness are riveted together by the purpose of God.” This means when I long to turn from the rebellious way I am living, I’m not met with an “I’ll forgive you if you will only…”
The problem is that sometimes we think God treats us like we treat each other – and that’s not very nice at all. Too often when someone we know “repents” or says they are turning over a new leaf, we smugly wait to see if they can prove themselves. We want evidence of change so we put them on probation and then we watch for some evidence that they aren’t really sincere. And if the person who we have given our “limited” forgiveness to messes up, we are quick to pounce with an “I told you so.”
None of us should be so high and mighty to think we are above the need to repent. As Pastor Charles Spurgeon continues, “repentance is not a thing of days and weeks, a temporary penance to be over as fast as possible! No, it is the grace of a lifetime, like faith itself.” At a time in my own life when I found myself struggling to the point of feeling that I could never be good enough, a precious elderly woman shared these beautiful words with me, “Some feel that they must be on probation, and must prove to God that they are reformed, before they can claim His blessing…God does not deal with us as finite (humans) deal with each other. His thoughts are thoughts of mercy, love, and tenderest compassion.” We read in God’s word the promise that “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, they transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins” (Isaiah 44: 22, K.J.V.). Is it no wonder that this was the message Jesus told His followers to carry out in His power and in His name. I love the way Pastor Charles Spurgeon sheds light on the twin gifts of repentance and forgiveness: “Upon your heart the rainbow of covenant grace has been displayed in all its beauty when the tear-drops of repentance have been shone upon by the light of full forgiveness.”
In Jesus own words, “Repentance should be preached in My name for the forgiveness of sins among all nations.” Author H.A. Williams, in his book True Wilderness wrote, “When Jesus urged people to repent …He was confronting them with the necessity of a radical change of outlook, a fundamental reorientation of their lives, so that they would no longer trust for security in the persona they had built up – the drama of being me which I continuously state for my own benefit – so that they would no longer trust that, but have the courage to become as receptive as little children, with all the openness to life, the taking down of the shutters and the throwing away of the armor which that entails.”
Jesus: This is what the Scriptures said: that in His name a radical change of thought and life should be preached, and that in His name the forgiveness of sins should be preached.”
Luke 24: 46, 47
The Voice Bible
“When I look back upon my life high spent,
Nigh spent, although the stream as yet flows on,
I more of follies than of sins repent,
Less for offense than Love’s
With self, O Father, leave me not alone-
Leave not with the beguiler the beguiled;
Besmirched and ragged, Lord, take back
A fool I bring Thee to be made a child.”
None of Self and All of Thee
“Oh, the bitter shame and sorrow
That a time could ever be
When I let the Saviour’s pity
Plead in vain, and proudly answered,
‘All of self and none of Thee.”
Yet He found me; I behold Him
Bleeding on the accursed tree;
Heard Him pray, ‘Forgive them Father’;
And my wistful heart said faintly,
‘Some of self and some of Thee.’
Day by day, His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free,
Sweet and strong, and, oh, so patient,
Brought me lower, while I whispered,
‘Less of self and more of Thee.’
Higher than the highest heavens,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last has conquered;
Grant me now my soul’s desire,
‘None of self and all of Thee.’”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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