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Repentance

Some of my most precious times of prayer have been in repentance. 


So repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, regret past sins] and return [to God—seek His purpose for your life], so that your sins may be wiped away [blotted out, completely erased], so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord [restoring you like a cool wind on a hot day];” Acts 3:19 AMP


Perhaps you have not associated repentance with refreshment, but I testify today that I have found this to be the truth. 


When we follow Jesus and we walk by the Spirit, we spend time in the Word and we spend time in the Lord's precious presence - and things happen there. 


The Spirit opens up the Scripture to us, feeding us the Bread of Life. We see Jesus. We see the Father. Even a glimpse confronts us with the simple truth:


The Lord is holy. Holy, holy, holy. There is none like Him. And although Jesus has made us holy, we are yet growing in holiness, growing in conformity to the image of Jesus, and we are not Lord. Jesus is Lord. 


This conviction and repentance following happens in many ways…


We may have something we have been struggling with for some time. I want to be clear that I do not speak to all of our struggles, but many “struggles” are, in fact, sin. We are struggling, wrestling, even, with dying to parts of ourselves. There are places in us and in our lives that the Lord wants to fill with even more of Him and we cling so tightly to things that simply will not last. They are not eternal. But He is. 


The point is that more and more of us will die as we move deeper and deeper into Jesus so that what remains is Him. That may sound offensive - but Jesus is who we are after. Jesus is the image we are to be conformed to. Jesus is holy. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. (Col. 1:15) and “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” (Heb.1:3)


We come face to face with our sin and cry out in desperation, finally, for help. For forgiveness. For refreshing. The Lord Jesus, who has been patiently waiting with outstretched hands to help us in our sin and our weakness, moves toward us. Can you believe that? He moves toward us, even at our lowest (which, if you think about it, is not truly our lowest, since He loved us while we were yet sinners). 


And the refreshment comes. Healing comes, as we confess our sins. We can repent and we can renounce that sin and it's almost as if life begins anew, in a way. It's a relief to have the struggle come to an end once we have repented. It is finished. 


Other times, we encounter the Lord's holiness in the Scripture. We see His character. We are struck with the fear of the Lord. We sit with Bibles open on our laps, in stunned silence and with tears welling up in our eyes. The beauty of Jesus overwhelms us. Parts of Him we have not seen or known before in this way move us to repentance. It is the natural response: we are set in awe before Him and we worship. Repentance is our worship. “Jesus, I have not lived according to this truth from your Word. Lord, I have not believed you as you are worthy to be believed. Father, I have not trusted you as you are worthy to be trusted. I have not worshiped you as you are worthy to be worshiped!” 


It pours out of us. What beauty it is when our stiff-necked-ness and our hardness of heart and our flat-out ignorance melts into a tenderness from the work of the Spirit of God.


The heart of our worship is refreshed. 


Other times, we are rebuked. Again, this will often happen as we spend time in the Word. We come across a hard Scripture, a command, and the Spirit stops us right in our tracks. If we are in healthy, godly community, this will come from a trusted brother or sister in Christ, who come to us with the truth in love. Either way, we are confronted with what the Word of God says and we are struck with a conviction over that sin and a desire to walk in the way of life that God, in His perfect wisdom, has laid out for us. Even if it stings and even if our flesh screams to react, we must yield to the Holy Spirit. We must let Him lead us in responding with humility and honor. 


What refreshment lies on the other side of rebuke and repentance thereafter!


My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:11-12


We are commanded not to despise this discipline and we rejoice in knowing that our Father in heaven loves us, his children, too much to leave us in our sin. It is less than what He paid for. He has more for us, better for us. Greater are His ways! We are refreshed as we turn from our way and walk in the Way. 


Sometimes, we are moved to repentance as we witness the work of the Lord in another. There are stories of those in Scripture who respond to their circumstances in ways that are truly supernatural. Their humility and their reverence seem to shine a spotlight on our own pride. We meet people who live their lives in a way that pours out the aroma of Christ onto all they encounter. It causes us to examine our own lives: what do they have that I do not? What do they do that I do not do? 


I'm not referring to a sinful comparison - it is a wonder over the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. It is a longing for the Lord to come and do it in us. It is a recognition that they have seen and known the Lord in places that we may never know about, but we get the sense that they have dug and dug and dug the deep wells that spill out of them. We sense that they, like Jacob, have wrestled much with the Lord. There is history. There are testimonies unending. They have seen the Lord. 


We want to see Him, too. Whatever it takes, Lord, we want you. Whatever it costs, Lord, I am willing. I just want you. More of you! 


My friend, repentance is one of the greatest things that we can experience as a follower of Christ. Repentance testifies to the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Repentance brings to remembrance the steadfast love of the Father. Repentance spurs us on in our walk with the Lord. Repentance ensures that we move deeper and deeper into the Lord Jesus. We become more and more hidden in Him. We must live in Him! He must become our dwelling place.


Repentance does just that: it transforms a heart into a home for the Lord. 


Today, sweet sister in Christ, let that cool wind of the Lord refresh you as on a hot day. Let true repentance bring that refreshment your soul has been longing for.



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