Thursday, March 18, 2010

The value of repentance

The 17th chapter of the book of Luke contains a significant story on the value of repentance. The funny thing is that it is rarely used on the topic of repentance because it involves the healing of 10 Lepers.

Repentance, in and of itself, is a greatly misunderstood value in the kingdom. We generally think of and respond to anything involving repentance in terms of our initial salvation experience. Many tend to think of repentance in terms of sorrow or guilt over Sin and while there is that element of it in repentance, the true value of the term involves not only being sorry but also turning from or changing of a lifestyle. We talk a lot these days about "lifestyle choices", but the truth is that the only lifestyle that we were truly designed for is in following God with all of our hearts. But I digress-----

Repentance should be a part of our every day life. The closer that we get to the true holiness of God, the more we should find to change. Repentance is not just a single act but a way of life that we should learn to follow. In fact, I would dare say, that if we haven't been convicted to the point of repentance in quite some time, then we are far away from the path God has planned for us.

So, how does the story of 10 Lepers equate to repentance? I'm glad you asked! 10 men came to Jesus in the same condition. (Leprosy is also a comparitive term for the Sin we are all born into) In verse 13 they all cried out for Mercy. In verse 14 the Word declares that as they went to show the Priest, they were cleansed. (a comparitive term for the Salvation experience)Do you remember the joy that you experienced at your intitial conversion? The weight of Sin was lifted and the joy was indescribable. But yet the process of change was just beginning. It is important to note that in verse 14 they were all cleansed but here is where the true issue of repentance comes into play.

In verse 15, one of the 10 "turned back" and glorified God and sought Christ, our true Priest, out. In verse 19 Jesus told him to go his way, "his faith had made him whole!" In verse 15 he was cleansed but his act of turning back again, made him whole.

Many people today encounter the cleansing power of Christ but it is that act of true repentance, that turning around, that seeking out God to give Him glory every day that truly changes our lives. Repentance leads to completion of the good work that Christ starts in our life. Cleansed is good but whole is better!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The value of brokenness

I believe that brokenness is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the Christian faith. Brokenness, in and of itself, is not a very desireable thing because we generally equate it to our human understanding. When something is broken our general remedy is to throw it out. The same concept sort of applies spiritually but it is that process of throwing out that we truly become closer to God.

I preached once on the value of brokenness and had a Lady get very upset with me. "God didn't want us to broken, He wants us to be happy!" was her general argument. It was no surprise that she was a disciple of a T.V. Evangelist that smiles a lot and sort of sounds like Stuart Smalley of SNL fame. The true fact is that brokenness is a direct product of repentance and true repentance leads to a changed life. That is something that I can smile about.

Don't get me wrong, brokenness in the Christian faith is not walking around with a cloud over your head, singing "Gloom, Despair and agony on me." Living with a heart of brokenness spiritually is to live every day in such a manner that I am aware of the heart of God toward my life and am instantly convicted if I trangress that heart in any way. Convicted to the point of repentance which bring change.

How valuable is brokenness? I believe it can prevent us from ultimately committing the greatest sin. Some would argue, "what is the greatest Sin?" and probably have a comparitive list but the Word tells us that the only unforgiveable sin is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. There are many schools of thought on what blasphemy is. For nearly all of my life I have heard it preached that blasphemy was denying that there is a Holy Spirit. I don't really agree with that assessment because if it were so there would be no hope for the Atheists of this world.

I believe that the road to blasphemy is paved with hardened heart that have learned to ignore God's promptings. I believe it starts with little things. Things that convict is but we justify it and then ignore it and after time we can't feel anything anymore because our hearts become hardened and our lives become empty and void.

I believe that brokenness always points us to God and what can be more valuable than that?