2013-09-13 - Repent
Weve examined what worship looks like and how that leads us to the truth. The truth is God is perfect and we are not. You cant mix perfect with imperfect so the imperfect must be made perfect. That is what repentance means deciding to live by Gods standards not our own. Repent is a choice you make - a decision you make. Its not an easy decision but it is one you have to make.
The movie 127 Hours is based on the true story of Aron Ralston. Aron went rock climbing in Utahs Blue John Canyon on April 26, 2003. No one knew where he went. He wound up getting stuck when a nearly one thousand pound boulder slid onto his arm. He tried to move it and couldnt, he tried to chip away at it and couldnt. He used the little water and two burritos he had to keep himself alive for five days and even drank his own urine. When he awoke on the fifth day he decided to break his arm and cut it off using his now dull pocket knife. He was rescued six hours later when he ran into a family that was in the area. His decision to remove what trapped him saved his life.
Thats what repentance is deciding to get rid of the trappings of life to be saved by Jesus. We all decide we may decide to take one action or we may decide to take another action or we may decide to take no action at all. But it is a decision. Aron couldve decided to wait it out like he had done for the previous five days. Likely his body would have been found in the weeks to come.
Now I want to take you on a little journey through the Bible beginning back in Joshua. Joshua is about to die and he is sharing final words with the people of Israel.
Joshua 24:14-15 (NASB)
Joshua eloquently told the people their choices and encouraged them to decide. He shared his own decision too. In September of 1989, I made a choice; I decided one stormy night to live life Gods way and not my own. I had been a good kid and I had done the best I could do but neither my goodness nor my sincerity was the issue. Neither our goodness nor our sincerity is ever the issue; our sin is the issue on which we must decide.
Lets fast forward past the time of the judges and on into the period of kings for Israel to one of my favorite stories. To make a long story short, Israel, led by King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, chose to follow false gods. God tried getting their attention with a lack of water a drought for three years. God was patient. But after three years God had had enough so he called on Elijah to confront the king and that is where we will jump back into the scriptures.
1 Kings 18:18-20 (NASB)
The false prophets tried and tried to get fire to come down but they couldnt. They were very sincere and very good at what they did but, much like my story, neither sincerity nor goodness mattered.
Finally Elijah takes over and BOOMSHOCK-A-LOCKA WOP-BOBBA-LOO-BOP WOP-BAM-BOOM! Fire comes down burning up everything.
I Kings 18:37-40 (NASB)
The people saw God. They worshipped him; then falling on their faces, they repented proclaiming that they would follow him as the only God. Choosing to live Gods way and then their choice led to action. It led to service which well talk more about next week. It is interesting to note that they killed the false prophets getting rid of the bad influences in their lives.
When you decide to follow God you will have some tough choices. Aron decided life was more important than a limb. The Israelites decided God was more important than Baal and Asherah so they removed it. What influences you? What negative influences do you have in your life? What do you need to choose to get rid of if youre going to choose to follow God? Perhaps it is a boyfriend or girlfriend that is leading you down bad paths. Maybe it is a close friend. Maybe it is some habits you have made.
Whatever the case will you decide today to give them up?
Now flash forward to Jesus time on earth. Some were asking Jesus about some people that were slaughtered in Galilee.
Luke 13:1-5 (NASB)
Jesus minces no word repent or die. Turn or burn as some old preachers used to say it.
Repentance is not just feeling remorse or regret. Repentance isn't about getting out of trouble. Repentance isn't just admitting you have done wrong. Repentance is not about doing anything to make up for something. Repentance is all about turning around. Turn your mind around, turn around your will, and turn around your actions. Have you had a moment in your life when you came to God and repented?
Have you ever said something like the following prayer? "God I know I am a sinner. I know you paid for those sins. I accept that payment and I want to live for you. I give up my sin and surrender to you."
Aron Ralston gave up on his arm to save his life. Maybe you need to give up a boyfriend, girlfriend who wants to do things with you that you shouldnt be doing. Maybe you are the one wanting to do those things. Maybe you have a close friend who is pulling you down a bad path. Maybe you are the bad crowd others fall into. Maybe you have some habits or interests that are keeping you from God. Are you willing to give them up to save your eternal life?
If you need to repent, if you need to give your life to Jesus then please talk with me or one of the other writers or a local pastor. Talk to someone about what steps you can take to repent and know that you are heaven bound.
Author's note: This is based on a sermon preached to the Luthersville Baptist Church youth group on 9/4/2013. This is Part Three of a series based on three keys to the youth group's mission: Worship, Repent, and Serve.
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted