3 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
On meditating these theme verses, the Lord prompts us on three things this year. Before it becomes a year of miracles, it first needs to be a year of:
1. ALIGNMENT 2. AGREEMENT
ALIGNMENT in the sense of recognising He is at the centre, and we are not; that our lives be adjusted and repositioned in the vantage point of His divine purpose and sovereign plan. God's miracles flow to those who are aligned to His direction and desire. Look at all the Biblical stories and characters. They received their miracles because they were found where the Lord was. AGREEMENT is a sense that our hearts are submitted, yielded and surrendered to His will. We recognise that God is infinitely wiser than us, and we cannot debate with Him. This year, let us not ask God to bless our plans. Let us seek to know His plans for us and say Amen to that no matter what it looks like. We can trust that His plans are good because He is good and He loves us. (Jeremiah 29:11) ASSIGNMENT in the sense of accepting and obeying the call of God in our lives. God has a mission this year, and He needs you and me to play His divinely assigned part. It is a privilege more than a burden. He needs labourers in the vineyard for the harvest is plentiful, and workers are few. Let's remember that the Great Commission to "go and make disciples" and proclaim the gospel was given to all He has redeemed and are now children of Light. All these three PREPARES THE WAY for the LORD's coming and is not possible without REPENTANCE. In Biblical history, REPENTANCE paved the way for the Lord's manifest presence and power to be poured out, and His glory revealed. Ezekiel said “Repent and turn from your transgressions” (Ezek. 18:30). John the Baptist said “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). Jesus Himself said, “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Peter said “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38) and again, "Repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord (Acts 3:19). And Paul said God “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30) and to "turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds" (Acts 26:20).
Repentance has never been easy. No one likes to be told “Die to yourself. Kill that in you. Admit you are wrong and change.” That’s never been popular preaching nowadays. It’s much easier to get a crowd by leaving out the repentance part of faith, but it’s not faithful. It’s not even Christianity anymore. Who Needs Repentance? The Bible's Message is both for the UNBELIEVERS and the BELIEVERS alike. All it's truths, promises, warnings, instructions, encouragements and teachings can be identified as to who God is speaking to. For the message of repentance, the Bible speaks both to the UNBELIEVERS (repentance unto salvation) and the BELIEVERS (repentance unto sanctification). Whilst the former results to redemption; the latter results to revival. The story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) talks about two sons. One who is physically turned away from the father and has been lost; and the other who is with the father but whose heart is far away from him and therefore, also is lost. This is a picture of the world and the church. Jesus came to restore both.
THE GREATEST NEED OF THE WORLD TODAY IS REPENTANCE (as the prodigal son did). THE GREATEST NEED OF THE CHURCH TODAY IS REPENTANCE (as the older brother should have).
J. I. Packer explains,
"It is a costly thing to repent and so we try to walk at a distance from God. But God says turn around, face me, and walk towards me. When we take repentance seriously, we find and rediscover great joy in communing with God that far outweighs the cost of sacrificing our selfishness and sin."
The call of God to four out of seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 is repentance: CHURCH IN EPHESUS
You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
CHURCH in PERGAMUM Revelation 2:14-16
There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore!
CHURCH in SARDIS Revelation 3:1-3
I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent.
CHURCH in LAODICEA Revelation 3:15-19
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You 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. 18 I 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.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. “The tragedy of today is that the Church is pursuing happiness, not holiness,” Leonard Ravenhill says. WE NEED TO WAKE UP! Without genuine repentance, there is no genuine revival.
WHAT DOES GENUINE REPENTANCE LOOK LIKE?
WITHOUT HUMILITY, REPENTANCE IS IMPOSSIBLE.
God gives grace to the humble, and that implies the repentant. Take the example of King David vs. King Saul or the example of Peter vs. Judas. If King Saul did not.ustify out of embarrassment, he could have found grace. If Judas just repented, instead of just regret, he could have known grace. But King Saul was arrogant. And Judas did not really know Christ. Judas was consumed by regret. Regret and self-condemnation killed him. If Cain was just repentant, he could have found grace. If Adam and Eve, repented and di not pint fingers they could have been spared. And on and on and on the many examples we are to learn from.
Repentance has never been more about being sin-conscious. It is really more about being grace-conscious. It springs from the revelation that God is a God of mercy and compassion and patience and many chances; that the "kindness of the Lord leads us to repentance." (Romans 2:4). He is not angry at us. He loves us. He is angry at sin. Repentance is not a call for us to pay for our sins. It is a humble and contrite admission of our sin and a heartfelt gratitude and acknowledgement that God's Son has paid for it on our behalf.
Repentance is not just regretfulness. Regret often comes after the negative consequences were experienced after the wrongdoing. Regret is easy, but it is not repentance. Repentance is not just because we are embarrassed and got caught that's why we say sorry. Apology is part of repentance but apology alone is easy, but it is not repentance. Repentance doesn't only apply to acts of sin (e.g. lying, stealing,, etc.) but also to the wrong attitudes of the heart and wrong persuasions of the mind (e.g. arrogance, unbelief, vengeance, insecurities, etc.) that does not ALIGN or AGREE to the will and Word of God.
Repentance involves these things: a change of mind, a change of heart and a change of behavior.
Repentance means you change your mind. That’s what the Greek word metanoia means– a changed (meta) mind (noia).You change your mind about yourself: “I am not fundamentally a good person deep down. I am not the center of the universe. I am not the king of the world or even my life.”
You change your mind about sin: “I am responsible for my actions. My past hurts do not excuse my present failings. My offenses against God and against others are not trivial. I do not live or think or feel as I should.”
And you change your mind about God: “He is trustworthy. His word is sure. He is able to forgive and to save. I believe in his Son, Jesus Christ. I owe him my life and my allegiance. He is my King and my Sovereign, and he wants what is best for me. I believe it!”
The result of genuine repentance is a transformed lifestyle. We cannot change what we are not repentant of. True Christian repentance involves a heartfelt conviction of sin, a contrition over the offense to God, a renewing of the mind, a turning away from the sinful way of life, and a turning towards a God-honoring way of life. The change involves both a turning from what the Bible calls sin and a turning to God.
REPENTANCE results to ALIGNMENT in GOD
REPENTANCE shows its AGREEMENT with GOD
REPENTANCE accepts its ASSIGNMENT from GOD
And then REVIVAL comes!
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” - Acts 3:19:
Questions for Discussion: 1. This year, what areas in your life do you need to ALIGN with God's will?
2. What does AGREEING with God mean?
3. What do you think is God's ASSIGNMENT for you this year? in your life? 4. How does this message deepened your understanding on REPENTANCE? What's a new revelation? What have you realised? 5. Which of the four churches in Revelation can you relate the most (either in the past or at present)? 6. Read on Revelation 3:7-13 - Church in Philadelphia. How would you like to be this? 7. Why is humility a requisite to genuine repentance? Site some examples. 8. Share a genuine repentance testimony and how has the Lord shown you grace and transformed you.