Repentence


If you are willing and obedient you shall eat the good of the land;

But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword;

For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Isaiah 1: 19, 20

 

Life is filled with choices. Many of them have minimal impact on our lives and on those of others. Some can alter everything. We may not always think about this, but we do, in fact, choose the voices that we listen to when it comes to our foundational and fundamental moral and ethical basis for life. Each of us is shaped by the ideas that we allow into our minds. We are formed by the ways of thinking and processing information that we embrace. The basic allegiance of our hearts and the way that people view us is shaped by who and what we grant access to those hearts, and this is the most vital of all of our choices.

 

God wants us to take in His Word and to hear His voice above all else. There is nothing else; no other written source, no other speaker, and no interpretation of those truths; that can lead us to thinking and to acting as God calls His people to do. Everything else needs to be subordinated to God’s Word, and all that we do needs to be engaged with total commitment to obedience and submission to God’s will. Otherwise there are terrible consequences to be endured. God is gracious, forgiving, and patient, but He does call a stop to our deliberate and willful wandering. He will not allow us to live as a sinful and disobedient people in an unchecked manner. The Lord promises that there will be a day of judgment. He also tells us quite clearly that His justice and judgment will be poured out on this world before that day.

 

We get to make the choice. We can listen to God, obey His Word, and follow Christ. We can also turn up the volume on the voices of this world, plug in our headphones to conceal the noise that the sounds of oppression and death fill our air with, and we can allow our hearts to be infused with self-glorifying images and ideas. However, this later course is that of death. In it our souls are made lifeless, and our world losses the love, mercy, and righteous voice of one more of God’s people. Alternatively, we can choose to make our next breath one that is filled with the holy presence of the Lord, and we can take our next step in willing obedience to His perfect will. Christ is present, we must choose.

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Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 14: 27

 

The peace that Jesus is talking about here is the great peace of Shalom. It is something that goes far beyond a quiet night or a day without the news about war and death filling our ears. In fact, under the circumstance at hand when Jesus was talking, peace would seem to be about as far away as anything could have been. Christ knew that in only a very short amount of time He would be arrested, tried, and crucified. The people who were close to Him would not experience earthly peace in their hearts and minds for a long time to come. Yet, Jesus stood there and promised it to them.

 

Jesus knew and was sharing with us the fact that the peace of Shalom is not an easy thing. The sort of peace that brings a deep blessing of the soul from God is surrounded with struggle, sacrifice, acceptance, and hard work and commitment. In order for us to experience the peace that Christ grants to His people we must yield our wills and surrender to His. Christ desires for us to be emissaries for His peace talks in our troubled world. Yet, we can not hope to be effective in that role if we have not settled into the state of calm and understanding that is God’s hope and intent for His people. Christ’s peace-givers have settled totally into their trust in God’s plan and have complete faith in Christ’s victory over all that is evil in this world and in the heavens.

 

Still, the peace that Christ grants to us is not a call to be passive or disengaged in the face of all that is wrong and destructive in our world. Instead we are to openly live in our calling from God. Christians who live in the reality of Christ’s Shalom are made strong rather than weak. We are compelled to speak truth in the face of the lies and the deceptive rhetoric that is thrown at us daily. Christ’s peace-givers are aware that wars and strife are not solved by bigger weapons and by causing a greater degree of havoc to fall upon an enemy. We also fully accept the fact that the differences that we see between races, nations, and tribes of people are there in order to demonstrate the expanse of God’s creative beauty. At the same time we need to recognize that the divisions that exist and that separate peoples from each other are the result of our sinful disobedience and stubborn refusal to follow God. Christ’s peace resides in our hearts; yet, it is made evident in our world through our loving and bold expression of truth, mercy, and grace in the name of Christ.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Colossians 2: 6, 7

 

There is this rather crazy idea that followers of Christ should be continually living in a state of blessedness that leads us to be thankful for it all and to express that thanksgiving to God and to the world around us in the midst of and despite of our circumstances. Although this is not easy to do, the idea of dwelling in a state of thanksgiving is something that God does make possible for His people. Through Christ and His indwelling Spirit, the perspective that we view our world with is changed from its foundations upward.

 

There is no place that we can travel where the Lord is not with us. Although we may turn onto the darkest of streets, the presence of the light of truth and the protection of the Lord are there to guide and to guard our steps. This world and its culture can be harsh and dangerous, but regardless of appearances, Christ rules over it all. So, if He is Lord of my life, then He takes precedence and holds authority over the powers and the influences that would attempt to distract, discourage, and defeat my intent and desire to enter fully into Christ’s calling for my life.

 

Therefore, thanksgiving is a fully worthy expression of worship for this and for every day. This is entered into in words of praise and recognition of God’s great love and perfect truth. Yet, even more so, it is poured out upon the altar of life as a fragrant and worthy sacrifice of praise by virtue of the way that we engage with others and with our world in a manner that brings the truth and the peace of Christ to all that we do and to every encounter along the way. Jesus walked with His feet firmly rooted in the will of the Father. So too, we who are in Christ Jesus our Lord can follow Him in this journey in which all is committed to bringing about reconciliation to God through relationship with Christ. As this is so in my life, I am thankfully dwelling in Christ’s land of blessing.

 

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

1 Corinthians 15: 20

 

Death is a big deal. That’s a brilliant thought, right? Not really. Throughout our history people have been concerned about it and have focused attention on its inevitability. When it comes in old age, we can be sad yet accept that the person lived a full life. When it comes to the very young, we are overwhelmed by the lack of fairness; and when the end of breath happens to those in their 20s, 30s, and such, we are frightened and saddened by thoughts of a life cut short. Still, it does come to us all.

 

What seems even sadder than the end of this life is a life that is lived in the shadow of spiritual death. Life, itself, is the handicraft of God. He designed the circuitry and the plumbing that make these bodies work, and He fabricated the molecules that perform their infinitely intricate functions in such amazing harmony. Even more important than all of this, the Lord breathes the essence of what we call life into us. He provides us with the divine connection that is our soul, and He forms us in a manner that is like Him so that we can relate to Him and interact with other people like He does.

 

Jesus defeated death. This does not mean that we won’t die, for He did that. However, Christ has given us the solution to the puzzle that is death and has provided us with proof of the absolute certainty of God’s promise of our personal eternity with Him. More importantly, Christ defeated death’s hold on our lives in the present. Jesus is the firstfruit. He is the best, sweetest, and most desirable of the crop. Also, as the first of the fruits, He leads the way for an abundant harvest of God’s precious souls. Each of us alive, everyone empowered to live and all of us sent into life to share the promise of being alive with others.

 

For when I have brought them (the Israelites) into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and have grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise Me and break My covenant.

Deuteronomy 31: 20

 

This is strong language that comes from the mouth of the aged and soon to be dead Moses. God has granted to him a view into the future that is thrilling in the way that God will fulfill His promises to provide a dwelling place that is bountiful in all areas of human need. However, Moses also is made aware of the fact that these people who have been so hard for him to lead have not changed all that much. They will enter into the riches of God’s blessing, and they will become complacent and bored with it all. They will go off searching for something better, and they will abandon the hard discipline that righteous living demands.

 

It seems that there may very well be a cautionary tale in all of this for people today. For the most part we have it all a lot easier than the people that Moses was leading. Yet we still live in a hostile land where the only true and reliable provider of what we need is God. We live today in the shadow of constant peril. There are evil giants roaming our landscape, there are false gods calling to us with their winsome voices, and our culture makes it easy to ignore active involvement with God’s Word and in Christian fellowship. So the words of Moses are speaking loudly to me, and they cry out a challenge and a warning, “You are growing fat; you are acting like you no longer fear God and desire to serve Him with all of your heart.”

 

The righteous life is not a sedentary one. It requires that we remain active and highly vigilant. In order to avoid becoming fat in our spirits and complacent in our minds we need to continually seek out God. He desires for His people to turn to Him in prayer with worship, praise, and thanksgiving on our lips. Our Lord wants for us to stay lean and light on our feet through the constant practice of reading His Word and discussing its content, meaning and application. Christ implores us to join Him in the daily battle for the souls of people and for the healing of our sin ravaged lands. Regardless of age or physical condition, in Christ we can all remain hungry and stay lean as we passionately serve the King.

 

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Psalm 19: 8

There is a right way to live. It is a part of the way that we were created. Yet, sinful disobedience entered into our lives; so, it is often buried so deeply beneath layers of self determined personal code and law that it gets hidden and locked away. Righteousness is buried so deeply that our ensuing thoughts and the behaviors that are their result of them don’t look much like those of Christ. There is a sadness and a heaviness that runs through our culture that is the result of the prevalence of this sort of human devised interaction. Our vision is clouded, and our hearts are made heavy.

Yet, there are answers, and there is relief from this oppression. God has implanted a desire for truth in our hearts. People have a deep-seated need for that which is eternal and not situational or convenient for a season. God provides the source of eternal truth to all who seek it. God’s hand made our world, and His law binds it together. Thus, when we act in ways that are contrary to the will of the Lord, the tension and the disconnectedness that follows is nothing more than the natural outcome of acting in a manner that is contrary to the forces of true nature.

Peace, joy, and restoration are readily available through God’s plan for living. His plan is clearly defined in His Word and is communicated by His Spirit. God, the Father, leads us to His Son, Jesus Christ, and He elevates our existence into one that is lived in theKingdomofGodso that we are now dwelling in the presence of our Lord.  When we decide to listen to God’s words of salvation, renewal and hope, He provides the insight that is needed for what we are facing today. As we allow His truth into our hearts, our thinking is changed to reflect God’s loving and righteous ways, and God’s true law becomes the joy of our hearts.

Endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

Romans 5: 4

 

Sometimes my mind speculates on just how much better this world would be if only God would just step in and fix the things that are wrong. If only we had better leaders in government and in business then we wouldn’t be in the financial mess that we are in. If God would just end disease and illness then so many people wouldn’t be going through the torment and the suffering that they bring. If only God would —-, we can just supply the area of need and the hardship that comes due to the frailty of our humanity. Yet, if God did choose to reach into our world and in a god-like manner simply change things, consider what the real outcome would look like.

 

Would people be so impressed by the power and the control that God possesses that they would respect Him and give all of their allegiance to Him? Would our nations become lands where righteousness, justice, and true faith rule? Maybe I am too skeptical or perhaps my view of life and of this world is not open enough to appreciate the potential that resides in the human heart, but I don’t think that either of these conditions is actually true. Life experience and the recitation of God’s view upon the way that humanity has functioned throughout history tell me otherwise. The sinful self-reliance and desire for control that our ancestors selected over simple obedience, absolute trust and complete faith in the goodness of God has left us in a hopelessly broken state as people, and it has caused deep fractures in the fabric of His perfect creation, this world.

 

Real healing comes about when individuals decide to yield our wills to God. It is produced through surrender to the one true heart that loves us absolutely and that desires for each and for all of us humans to know and to respect Him fully. This is a form of healing that doesn’t always ease our pain; however, it will provide us with understanding of it and with purpose for it. This God gifted ability to stand tall and strong despite the hurt and the loss is character. It is what marks people as trustworthy. Character leads individuals to seek the counsel of God above all other, and it allows us to make decisions and to stand firm in them even when our culture, our community, and our friends might disagree. God also builds character in His people so that we can be bold yet know that we will not always be right. Character grants people the ability to stay confident while admitting failure. Through all of this God brings hope. Hope is not found in wealth, in government or in people. Hope is made known as God, Himself, and His perfect purpose are revealed. It is hope that leads God’s people to bring Christ’s healing touch to our land.

 

 

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