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Matthew 3:1–3 (NKJV) “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.”’”
Repentance is the first word of the Gospel (Mark 1:14-15). Repentance is also the beginning of true revival. Repentance is often stereo-typed as self-punishment including wearing sackcloth while sitting in ashes. However, repentance is not self-punishment. Neither is it regret (2 Corinthians 7:10-11) which is a feeling of remorse due to the consequences of our wrong actions. The Greek word for repentance is metanoia (Strong's #3341). Meta means "change" and noia means "mind". Therefore repentance means a change in mind. Changing our mind means giving up our own thoughts about life, future, career, ethics, purity, physical pleasure, worth, money, riches, marriage, family, and a host of other things that are inconsistent with the will and nature of God. Repentance is not only turning away from sinful behavior but also from the thoughts and attitudes that generate sinful behavior. Repentance begins with humility--letting go of our pride that sets us up in our own mind as lawgiver, prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner so that we might realize that in reality we ourselves are lawbreakers, charged, judged, sentenced, and condemned as sinners. Repentance pleads the mercy of God in absolute submission to Christ’s Lordship as evidenced by a transformation in attitude and behavior in keeping His law. Repentance brings about a radical transformation in our life through the renewing of our mind to the Word of God on every matter and issue of life (Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 10:5). Repentance is living life from God's eternal perspective rather than from our own self-centered and temporal perspective. Repentance lives in the humility of continual self-evaluation, self-discipline, and self-judgment to turn back from any tendency to drift from God's standard (1 Corinthians 11:31). But even in this, the truly repentant believer does not accept or trust self-evaluation alone (Jeremiah 17:9). Repentant believers also submit their lives to the loving and caring evaluation of other godly believers in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:21) and, most importantly, to the evaluation of God Himself (Psalm 139:22-24; 1 Corinthians 4:4). Therefore repentance requires a complete surrender of self to God. True repentance is not only essential to the new birth (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21), but its reality is evidenced by a daily lifestyle consistent with repentance (Luke 3:7-14; Acts 26:20). When repentance comes to the lost, they are saved. When repentance comes to backslidden believers, they are revived. Without repentance, the new birth and Christian growth is impossible. Without repentance, revival is only a dream.
Hosea 6:1-3 (NKJV) "Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight. Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth."
America needs revival. And yet, revival is not the responsibility of America but of the church in America. Charles Finney once said that Christians are more responsible for being revived than the lost are for being saved. After all, we should know better, right? The economy is bad, the government is corrupt, the races are rising up in anger, families are falling apart, and society is pulling apart at the seams. We are experiencing the judgments of the LORD upon our nation. He has torn us. He has stricken us. He has moved away from us until we acknowledge our sin. It is clear that unless there is a sweeping revival, our society will sink like the Titanic. While it seems that we are already sinking, there are many who are crying out for revival. I believe we are a people ripe for revival. If we cry out to Him in repentance, God will answer us. Yes, He has torn us, but He will heal us. He has stricken us, but He will bind us up. He will revive us and raise us up that we may live in His sight. If we will determine to return to Him and pursue again the knowledge of the Lord, He has promised to come to us like the rain. Rain brings refreshing, but more importantly it brings life to the seeds that have been planted during the dry times. Nothing done for God in the dry times is in vain. The Word of God will not return void. That is why it is important to faithfully sow the Word of God even when it seems nothing is happening. There is a due season when the harvest will come. Currently in our own fellowship it is evident that God is moving. I will not presume to define what God is doing but it does seem that God is hearing and answering prayers for revival in some measure. In a spiritual sense many are beginning to sense, feel, and hear the rain. It is a refreshing anticipation for people who have been dry and crying out for rain. Our youth just returned from an Activate Conference in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and the entire morning service yesterday ended up being a time of testimonies and praise and worship. They were excited and it was contagious. We are thankful for what God is doing in our young people and for those who sacrifice to lead them. People went away convinced that this is more evidence that God is coming like the rain. As the rain begins to fall, don't be like those up put on their raincoats and sport their umbrellas. God wants to rain on our hearts and bring forth the refreshing and fruit that both we and He desires. Remember the words of Zechariah 10:1 (NKJV): "Ask the LORD for rain in the time of the latter rain. The LORD will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone." We have scheduled a special prayer meeting to pray for revival this Saturday evening (August 7th) from 6:00-8:00 p.m. When the people of God begin to humble themselves and pray and seek God's face and turn from their wicked ways, God has promised to hear, forgive, and heal (2 Chronicles 7:14). With a promise like that, what are we waiting for? "Even so Lord, come to us like the rain!"
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