Posts Tagged With: repentance

A Cry

Torn between right and wrong,
I find myself dancing a wayward song
I find myself weak, though once strong.

Torn down, abandoned and forsaken by myself
and all my friends, my foes, yet not God Himself.
I take His dusty book off of the shelf.

I find my way has wandered far
I wanted to be among the stars
I wanted to claim a noble heart.

Instead, I find I’ve forgotten joy.
I have forsaken truth for petty toys.
I have ignored His Word and heeded noise.

God, leave me not alone.
Hear my aches and pains and groans.
Shine upon my heart and strengthen weary bones.

Lord, lift me up upon Your cross
Let me rise with you and count this life as loss.
Let not my sleep disappear amid the storms that toss.

If that is you, I dare to ask,
Call me forward in a simple task.
Let me drink deep the Supper’s fruity flask.

Let love again hold up my soul.
Let truth again make me pure and whole.
Let your Spirit reach each part and make me full.

Tears wash away my vanity.
Tears waste away my veil of sanity.
Tars soil my claim to chastity.

A deep stain exposes the wretchedness of my eyes.
A deep pain reveals the confusion of my cries.
A deeply planted grain grows out of the depths of mind.

Faith that the Word of God remains true.
Hope that the resurrection of Jesus applies to me and you.
Love that changes my life and impatient, cruel view.

Categories: Poem, Prayer, Testimony | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Silence Leads to Violence

The complacency of fools will destroy them. (Proverbs 1:32b)
One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys. (Proverbs 18:9)

We are all limited in our knowledge, to some degree or another. We are all also limited in our service to the Lord, in one way or another, either due lack of ability or lack of faithful effort. Anyone who fails to serve is subject to destruction. Jeremiah knew this full well:
A curse on anyone who is lax in doing the Lord’s work!
A curse on anyone who keeps their sword from bloodshed! (Jeremiah 48:10)

The reasons there are wars & rumors of wars at this time is because of the shortage of those doing the Lord’s preferred work of blessing the nations. If we do not bless, we will be accursed. If we do not build up the Kingdom of God among the nations, we will have to tear down the kingdoms of man called nations.

Ezekiel (3:16-21), who prophesied about the same time, received a message from God that made what Jeremiah prophesied clearer:

At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.

“Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”

In other words, if a person does not share the wisdom that God has given them with those who are ignorant, the wise man must execute judgment. Silence leads to violence.

In what was likely one of the first portions of the New Testament that was written down and distributed, Paul wrote in Galatians: As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! (1:9) Later on in the book, Paul expanded later in the book of Galatians how we are to identify with Jesus’ ostracism from the community of the self-righteous by setting the example: For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (2:19-20) So we see that there is a dying that must take place to identify with Jesus.

Paul went on to make it clear that:
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (3:10-14)
To follow Jesus is to believe that His death on the cross was sufficient to take all the curses that you deserve, so that through the Messiah Who was crushed, you might be lifted up with Him Who is exalted over every other name and so receive the Spirit of God through the promise you trust. We who receive this promised spirit then are able to bless the nations.

Back to an idea in Proverbs about character: Who are we? Paul says, “We are fools for Christ …” (1 Corinthians 4:10a) To be fools for someone means you will do some things that seem foolish because of your attachment to that person. This may seem like a bad idea, but the alternative to being zealously in love with the Lord is not a good one. Paul includes in the conclusion to his letter to the Corinthians, “If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!” (16:22) Whoa! Either we love the Lord or we love the world. There is no middle ground. The world may seem good and full of goods, but God is the Truly Good.

Yet our love for the Lord should lead to a love for the lost that says, “Better I die & go to hell, than that many people would die & go to hell.” Again, Paul testifies in Romans 9:2-4a “I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.” As he was about to go to Jerusalem and then on to Rome itself, he said, “I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:23-24) The only reason we live on planet earth after we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior & acknowledge Him as Lord is to make known the Kingdom of Heaven known on earth. God is patient with us so that we might make known His salvation known through our whole life.

Lest we think of this as merely exemplary living, Paul opens his letter to the Philippians with a meditation on his future on earth:
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. (1:20-26)

The point of his life is not himself, but Christ who lives in Him. Christ has become our hope of glory. Let us glory not in being right in ourselves or right with the world. Rather, let us boast of the Righteous One who has come to our defense.

Do you lack any joy? Stop looking for joy in special seasons or special saints or special gifts or special sources of happiness. Let all your springs be in the Lord Jesus. Take offense at no humbug this season. Let not death quench your happiness, but let all things lead you closer and closer to Jesus. Let Him be the Word of God to you. Let Him be the Open Door that is set before you. Let Him be your Bread of Life. Let Him be your Resurrection & your Life. Have you lost your way from the path of peace? Look to Him as the Prince of Peace and pledge allegiance to Him alone. Follow Jesus as the Way. Believe in Him as the Truth. Love Him as the Life. He will bring you to the Father from whom all family derives its name and your spirit will mingle with the Very Spirit of God this Christmas.

Let us go out and tell our families, our friends, our neighbors, and yes, even our enemies what the Lord has done for us not only at Christmas, but also on the cross. The devil also needs to hear more about the saving victory of the Lord Jesus Christ who is risen and coming quickly. Marana tha!

Categories: Evangelism, Holiday, Missions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Short Shorts, Sin, and the Incarnation

Scott Mackintosh took on shame so that his daughters would live honorably.

Scott Mackintosh took on shame so that his daughters would live honorably.

Almost a year ago, the above foto of Scott Mackintosh went viral. He dressed down, way down, to communicate to his daughters, one in particular, that “modest is hottest.”

Scott was not above humbling himself in what many would regard as humiliating. He did not aim to humiliate his daughters, but humbled himself of his rights as a the “Best. Dad. Ever.” in order to help his daughters choose the path of honor.

There are some fathers in the world who will beat their children if they do not dress in a full burqa. There are some fathers and mothers who might make their kids wear a sign and stand on a busy intersection. But real men make their points in humility.

Indeed, this is a small picture of what Jesus did for us. He who knew no sin, became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God. In Christ, God touched the unclean and became “contaminated” in the world’s eyes. He was humiliated in the world’s eyes. He was scorned by the world. But Jesus had a higher aim in view: the salvation of the world.

The Lord Jesus was instrumental in creating the world, and though the whole universe was formed at His command, the people He had redeemed from Egypt rejected their Savior. Jesus used this rejection to bring righteousness to the nations. Jesus became utterly sinful, a blasphemer in the eyes of the Jewish establishment, in order that all the peoples everywhere might join in praising the Holy Name of God and call God, “Our Father.”

Our Father in heaven did not remain austere and distant, but drew near. The Lord spoke severely against sin, but all the same he spent time with sinners. Jesus made it possible for the wretched rebel to reconcile: He revealed our sin and redeemed us from it. Jesus healed the defiled by touching us and telling us to clean up our act.

Jesus did not confirm us in our sin, or merely “tolerate” sinners. He called sinners to follow. To be holy. To be like Himself in mindset.

Joy, Peace, Righteousness … all are available in the Holy Spirit.

What sin are you deceived by?
What rebellion are you clinging to?
What wrong have you not sought to right in your life?
Where is Jesus inviting you to repent?

Do it. He is worth it.

The Father’s embrace is waiting. The Fame of our King is worth you calling on the Name of Jesus. The Fullness of the Spirit is available to all who turn at His gentle rebuke.


Categories: Good News, Holiness | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lamentation in the Land

A couple days ago, I was encouraged by something a brother in Israel-Palestine said:
How do your people lament?

The Great Lakes Initiative Leadership Institute in partnership with Duke Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation invited me to Kampala, Uganda, to share what we at Musalaha have learned about reconciliation in the Israeli-Palestinian context. More than 150 African leaders from countries surrounding Lake Victoria attended this conference and for some of them it was the first time meeting a Palestinian Christian. An interesting aspect of this was their perception of all Arabs as being Muslim. It was also intriguing for me to understand how these African leaders are grappling with the issues of land and how they found several articles in the book The Land Cries Out relevant to their contexts. Other than being encouraged by how relevant our Curriculum of Reconciliation was to their local situations, I was also challenged by what they shared.

After a session on the prophet Jeremiah, we sat down to eat. One of the leaders and his wife asked me how our people lament. This question struck me, it is not something that I think about often, but I knew exactly what she meant. This is something that we have not done adequately or addressed enough in our society. We grieve when there is tragedy or great loss, but we don’t ask ourselves how we lament over the fact that there is no peace in our land, a hardness of heart among our peoples, and an unwillingness to reconcile.

Reflecting on the life of the prophet Jeremiah, several thoughts come to mind, especially as someone laboring for reconciliation. We become discouraged when a portion of the body of the Messiah doesn’t see the essential importance of reconciliation. It is like during the times of Jeremiah with people not heeding the warnings and looking to stand the tests of time. How many times do we see the hardening of hearts, embracing a victim mentality, and blaming the other without self-examination and repentance? We are living the consequences of a lack of reconciliation. It is a high price our society is paying for the enmity and hostility that we have towards each other.

Our African brothers and sisters have much to teach us about lamentation in light of the major genocides some of them have experienced. Lamenting for our people and having the willingness to change the course is something that we have not invested much in.

Prophets who suffered personal difficulty for the discredit of their work, also had to suffer for the grief and consequences their society brought on itself for not taking their warnings seriously. Taking a stand and lamenting comes at a high price. We want to remain in our comfort zones, be fearful of change, and have doubts of what will happen in the future.

Despite these hardships, we can learn from Jeremiah’s lesson of a future and a hope as demonstrated in his teaching about the New Covenant in chapter 31 and his act of buying a field in Jeremiah 32. We have a God who is constantly working through our history and his grace is new every day. We are excited that this hope was demonstrated in the recent successful events of Musalaha.

By Salim J. Munayer, Ph.D
Musalaha Director
Some thoughts came to mind after reading this:

In Jeremiah’s writing Lamentations: He insists in the middle of the book that God’s mercies are new every morning. Towards the end of the book, Jeremiah says, “The Lord’s anointed, our very life breath, was caught in their traps. We thought that under his shadow we would live among the nations.” (Lamentations 4:20 NIV) In other words, the Lord’s Messiah, the Spirit of our face, was caught in their dungeons. … This is a messianic prophecy of Jesus & His crucifixion. Indeed, the Jews thought that He would be their protector among the nations, their strong king who would defeat the nations. Instead, there was an apparent defeat when Jesus marched to the Golgotha, to Calvary, to the place of the skull. Jesus came not to kill his enemies, but to be handed over by and killed by his enemies. Indeed, we were all those enemies.

We have met the enemy, and it is us. It is not some other nation. The enemy is not some pagan land or lord. We ourselves are the enemies of God.

Later, in Zechariah, again there is the mention of this enmity. It is an enmity which was first mentioned in Genesis 3:15 when the Lord prophesied that the seed of woman would crush underfoot the seed of the serpent after much hostility. This Seed of woman, this Seed of Abraham, this Seed of David would choke out the weeds of the world because greater is HE who is among us than the one who is in the world. The particular lament in Zechariah 12:10ff is this, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, and all the rest of the clans and their wives.”

What do we see here? We see Jesus high and lifted up, all men (and women) of every family are being drawn to him, just as Jesus Himself prophesied in the Good News according to John. The seed fell and died and was buried. Then there sprung up a fount of mourning at Pentecost as those who had been in the crowds at Passover mourned at what they had done to their Lord: they had rejected Him, they had sought to trample Him underfoot and let the birds snatch him. But God is greater! Fifty days later, a jubilee of days later there was released in Zion great mourning as the Spirit was poured out and languages of many nations were spoken and Jews, Cretans, and Arabs from one end of the inhabited world to the other, gathered, heard the Word, and believed on the Lord Jesus, were baptized and repented. We know at least a remnant of 3,000 believed that day. More later. …

We cannot detail all the spread of the Good News in the New Testament accounts of the early church. However, this theme of Lamentation gets picked up again in Revelation 1:4-8 John writes, “to the seven churches in Asia: grace to you and peace from the one who is and the one who was and the one who is coming, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To the one who loves us and released us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father—to him be the glory and the power forever and ever

Behold, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even every one who pierced him,
and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over him.

Yes, amen.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, the one who is and the one who was and the one who is coming, the All-Powerful.” (LEB)

Here it is not only Israel that will mourn, but all families of the earth. The very ones who would be blessed through Abraham’s seed. When people see, hear, and perceive Jesus, they will mourn, abandoning sin, and clinging unto the Savior. We all killed Jesus. It was because of our sins, the sins of all nations, that Jesus bled and died upon the cross. Your sins & my sins put Him there, as the Lord suffered on our behalf. Twice the Lord is called the one who was, is, and is coming. God is the same Yesterday, Today, and Forever, even Jesus our King, the All-Mighty. Revelation is essentially the story of how this prophecy is fulfilled: how God brings about morning and some degree (however slight) of repentance among the nations.

This repentance is accompanied by mourning and lamentation at what our sins have done to the Lord.

So what does this have to do with Salim’s words from Musalaha. Musalaha is all about reconciliation. Indeed, this is what Christian Ministry is all about: Reconciliation to God and reconciliation to one another. In another word: Love.

We are reminded of the man who came to Jesus and said, “Judge between me & my brother: decide who will get the inheritance.” Musalaha works betweens the brothers who are sons of Abraham: Jews and Arabs-who occupy the strip of land between the “great sea” and the “dead sea” between the river in the North and the River of Egypt. Today these two brothers fight among themselves about who should “inherit” the Land. I am sure that Abraham would want them to get along. Even more, Jesus steps above and beyond the conflict over land and says that this is not why he came. He came to reconcile the brothers in the land not to divide it between them. The sword that Jesus brings is His word which pierces our hearts when we hear how we have pierced His Heart with our fighting and wrangling and malice. Jesus cuts through out façade of pride and prejudice. He cuts across all cultural and social boundaries. You are either for Him or against Him. Then, when you have decided to follow Him, He gathers you in to His fold.

Oh, how we should mourn those who are outside of the flock of God!! How we should cry for those who are homeless, not only with regard to a roof, but have no eternal dwelling yet! How we must lament those who are not clothed with Christ! How we should weep and wail over those who are blind to the mercy and glory of God. Many have been baptized with water, some claim to be baptized with fire and the Spirit, a few are severely baptized with blood, but what is needed in this hour is a baptism of tears. Oh that we would be plunged into weeping, never to emerge, until souls are saved and lives are changed. Until there is peace in Jerusalem, no more a modern sodom, but a Heavenly City.

Because Musalaha has the same mission as we have, I encourage you to help them out if you want to see peace in the middle east.

PRAY that peoples will mourn over their alienation from God even though they live in the land of promise.
PRAY that nations will mourn over their assault on the throne of God by claiming rights of life and death of the unborn and the poor.
CONFESS the times you have been bitter or resentful in your heart. CONFESS the times you have clung to anything, any property, and object, any cherished relationship more than you cherished Jesus. PRAY that Jesus would be exalted in your land and in your relationships in the earth, just as you want Jesus honored in your relationship with God.

Now I will speak to another group of readers: those who are set on being hostile towards God, the haters of God. Do you really think you can cling even to your tomb forever? Tombs are transitory places, more transitory than your own body, for as soon as you die, you may well be forgotten and never praised or admired again. You say, “This is why I want to be cremated!” Do you think that this will burn away the impurity of your sins? Do you think by hiding your flesh in earthly flames you can hide from the coming wrath of God? Do not hate God, turn, and run to His arms. Now He is not eager to crush you but is wanting to embrace you if you will but turn back like a wandering child who comes home to his or her father. God will not hold you off in the pig sty … he wants you to come to Him. Do you think you are too defiled and that you love your sin too much? You will love the Lord even more as you get acquainted with Him. He will extend His Hand and lift you up though you are weary and fallen in the mud.

The Father is searching for his separated sons and daughters. He wants a reunion. Not merely in the land of Canaan, in the coming New Heavens and New Earth, where there will be no more crying or mourning or sickness or death or pain. Then, the piercing will have passed. The comfort will be complete. Those who have faith will be forgiven.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

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No Barrier too Great for the Grace of God

It says in Isaiah and is quoted in part about John the Baptist:
The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make straight in the desert[a]
A highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;
5 The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
(Isaiah 40:3-5; cf Luke 3:4-6)

In other words, a prophet would come who would go before the Messiah and prepare society to receive her king. Whenever a king comes, the earth must be prepared lest he have any trouble. Better he ride on a horse and bring deliverance than that he ride on a mule and His people suffer judgement. … at least that was the Jewish perspective of the time. Yet on a mule he had to ride in order to fulfill prophecy. Humble he came, over the rough roads of Galilee, Samaria, and Nazareth.

Jesus later called all of us who are saints to engage in the same work that John did: lowing mountains and raising up valleys. No longer should the valley of the shadow of death be as dreadful for those whose hearts are lifted up to the Lord. No longer should the mountain top experiences lead us to arrogate ourselves against the Lord. Instead, we will walk upon a smooth path. Each person who walks with Jesus should help ease the way by going before others who follow them in the way of Jesus.

Are you leading others to Jesus or away from Jesus? Are you choosing to follow Jesus are walk away from Him? When you see others follow Jesus, do you try to put a stumbling block in their path or do you seek to smooth their path by encouraging them? Hopefully you are among those who cultivate faith though love.

Jesus later said in his own ministry that faith does exactly this, it prepares the way for the faith of others. To quote Jesus:

Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:20-21)

Later we read this:

And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”

Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:20-22)

Friends, could Jesus have been any clearer? He wants no obstacle to our faith! Heaven has come to earth. This is what Christmas is about. Now earth must make way for the Kingdom of Heaven to spread through out the earth so that none should perish but all should come to repentance. While Scripture is clear that this all is not “all” without exception, but all without distinction should respond to the Lord. Poor & rich, Jew & Gentile, slave & free, male & female, civilized & barbarian, near & far … ALL will be represented before the King of Heaven.

What chasm lays between you and God? If you will but perpetually pray in Jesus name, that barrier can be overcome.

As Paul testified to the Ephesians:

Jesus Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. (2:14-18)

If you need proof, look at how Nick Wallenda overcame fear and walked with the Lord across such a chasm on the path to victory:

If a chasm like the little grand canyon cannot interrupt him from worshipping the Lord God, why should the little troubles you face keep you from crying out continually to our Savior, “Lord, have mercy!” He is listening. Cry out to Him now! Jesus will save you. Jesus alone.

If you have chosen to follow Jesus today, feel free to email me at: mertaka (at) everybody-dot-org .

All Scripture Quotations from the New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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