Sunday, August 24, 2008

Repentance, Renewal, Renaissance - Aug 24

Change We Can Believe In? The Great Godless Utopian Lie

Barack Obama has captured many an imagination with his rhetoric. However, I doubt very much that any change of significance will happen under an Obama presidency. I will be cheering for John McCain come November but I do so with reservations. A McCain presidency isn't going to reverse or stop the downward trend that America faces. I'm fully prepared give Obama the benefit of the doubt. Either he truly believes in his own schmaltzy sloganeering or he's being horribly cynical. I'll go with the former rather than the latter for now and in so doing withhold my judgement.

Everything Starts With Repentance

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4)

This Bible verse is recognized as one of the beatitudes at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. Alas, many fail in grasping its proper context. Jesus isn't talking someone having a pity party. No, what He's talking about are those who come to faith and begin the process of mourning over their lost time spent apart from God.

There seems to be two kinds of repentance in this world: a worldly repentance and a holy repentance. A worldly repentance is sorry for getting caught. No change in behaviour is sought, apologies are issued merely for the sake of appearance. A holy repentance however is based on true remorse and a desire to reconcile to those who have been wronged. Recompense usually follows quickly and in full. Does it not seem to you that worldly repentance is pretty much the order of the day? Read this prayer from the prophet Daniel:

"Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name."
(Daniel 9:17-19)

Notice the sentence in bold. We do not make requests to God based on our righteousness or a sense of entitlement. We ask Him out of His grace and mercy. That's it. If we are to brag of anything, we are to brag of God's mercy and the love that He has for us.

Renewal Always Follows After Repentance

God provides for those who repent. Time after time His faithfulness has been on display to those who trust Him. God honors those who bring peace. If God is faithful, what have we to fear? God's promise is a sure one:

If 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.
(2 Chronicles 7:14)

No Repentance Means No Renaissance

Without it we are sunk and wicked men prevail. It doesn't matter which party you pledge allegiance to. There will be no change we can believe in so long as we persist in our selfish ways. We don't need more religion or better politicians. What we need is for us to fall on our face and beg God for forgiveness. Daniel never asked God to shorten the sentence imposed upon an unbelieving people. He asked God to remember the promise of renewal after the seventy years of desolation were complete. If only we could pray like Daniel prayed! Surely then we could have a real hope for the future. Just like the baptized believer above, we need God's favor if we wish to take back that which was taken or cynically given away for expediency purposes. Can we do it? Yes we can!

Johnny Cash

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