repentance

The Rarity of Repentance

The tenth chapter of the biblical Book of Ezra begins this way:

109.Ezra_Reads_the_Law_to_the_People.jpg

"While Ezra prayed and made this confession, weeping and lying face down on the ground in front of the Temple of God, a very large crowd of people from Israel—men, women, and children—gathered and wept bitterly with him. Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, a descendant of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God, for we have married these pagan women of the land. But in spite of this there is hope for Israel. Let us now make a covenant with our God to divorce our pagan wives and to send them away with their children. We will follow the advice given by you and by the others who respect the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law of God. Get up, for it is your duty to tell us how to proceed in setting things straight. We are behind you, so be strong and take action” (Ezra 10:1-4).

The longing of every true and faithful servant of God's people is to lead a repentant congregation that stands ready "to proceed in setting things straight." Repentance, however, is rare in our day.

Repentance is dependent on at least three factors being present within us:

  • We must be willing to examine our lives according to God's standards.

  • We must be willing to be humbled.

  • We must be willing to pay the cost of setting our past errors straight and living life God's way from this point forward.

Are we willing to repent? If so, God will visit us and heal us.

One Nation Under God?

God Bless America

God Bless America

For years I have been very concerned with the moral direction of our nation. It seems that every headline is worse than the one before, and I cannot simply pass it off as the desire of the media to out-sensationalize each other in order to gain a larger audience. The world seems to be turning inside-out and upside-down. People seem to have completely lost their minds. What is going on? Is all this a sign of something spiritual? On Sunday at Cotton Ridge I will begin a new series called "One Nation Under God?" In it we will discover the root cause of our nation's moral collapse, how God addresses a nation like ours, and our role in the path to repentance and revival.

Join us on Sundays at 10am at 1407 Ave. H (in the Levelland ISD Annex Building) as we begin 2013 with a biblical view of God's actions toward our nation.

A National Prayer of Repentance

Yoweri Museveni

Yoweri Museveni

The African media group New Vision recently reported on a most incredible event. At a National Jubilee Prayers event celebrating the 50th anniversary of Uganda from Great Britain, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni openly repented of his sins and the sins of Uganda. His prayer is below:

"Father God in heaven, today we stand here as Ugandans, to thank you for Uganda. We are proud that we are Ugandans and Africans. We thank you for all your goodness to us.

"I stand here today to close the evil past and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask for your forgiveness.

"We confess these sins, which have greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation.

"We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal.

"Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict.

"These sins and many others have characterised our past leadership, especially the last 50 years of our history. Lord forgive us and give us a new beginning. Give us a heart to love you, to fear you and to seek you. Take away from us all the above sins.

"We pray for national unity. Unite us as Ugandans and eliminate all forms of conflict, sectarianism and tribalism. Help us to see that we are all your children, children of the same Father. Help us to love and respect one another and to appreciate unity in diversity.

"We pray for prosperity and transformation. Deliver us from ignorance, poverty and disease. As leaders, give us wisdom to help lead our people into political, social and economic transformation.

"We want to dedicate this nation to you so that you will be our God and guide. We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfil what the Bible says in Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord. A people you have chosen as your own.

"I renounce all the evil foundations and covenants that were laid in idolatry and witchcraft. I renounce all the satanic influence on this nation. And I hereby covenant Uganda to you, to walk in your ways and experience all your blessings forever.

"I pray for all these in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen."

Blessed Is The Nation

The following is the transcript of the last part of my sermon on July 4, 2010 called "Blessed Is The Nation." We have forsaken the godly heritage upon which America was built. We have not had a major movement of God in generations. We have traded the worship of God for the worship of false gods.

We have kept God out of our children’s lives. What was once freedom of worship has now become freedom from worship.

Environmentalism is the new civic religion. It’s as if Romans 1:25 was meant specifically for us: "For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator."

When we as a nation exchange God for false idols, God removes His hand of blessing and protection from us. This has led to extensive drug abuse, the deterioration of the family, and widespread dysfunctional behavior. In short, God has given our nation over to depraved minds. "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things that are not proper."

We have fallen so far that we have now elected leaders who are causing the largest expansion of government power in history. We have reason to worry about their disregard for limits on the power of government.

While we know that the Constitution was written to ensure that our federal government is one of limited, separated powers, with the states keeping every right not explicitly delineated in the Constitution, we fail to insist on it being a present reality. As a result, the individual rights that our nation should reserve and protect—rights that God, not our government, has granted—have been reduced to shell of their former existences.

We've stood by and watched as "the President and Congress have purchased ownership shares in banks, nationalized car companies, seized control of the student loan industry, taken over large sectors of our nation's health care system, and burdened generations of Americans with crippling debt" (quote from Senator Jeff Sessions).

And today, without even knowing it, we stand at the brink of a total government takeover of all of our freedoms—producing the net effect of Communism, Nazi Germany, or despotic Third World regimes—only we’re accomplishing the same result through elections.

What Benjamin Franklin saw as a possibility, we’re seeing in reality; because he wrote, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

So what can we do?

(1) Take advantage of your right to vote, while there is still time. If anything, the most important time to vote is during the primaries. If your voice is not heard then, you may later likely end up voting for the lesser of two evils.

(2) Re-establish in your heart the eternal principles that made America great.

We believe in America and we love America because of what America once stood for: Justice, individual freedoms, religious liberty, opportunity, possibility, and a hundred other eternal principles. Our devotion is to those principles.

We must always be ready to communicate to the powers that govern us our right to be self-governing. Our Founding Fathers once cast off a tyrannical government and formed one that honored God and preserved individual rights. We’re drawing closer to the time when it may be necessary to follow their example.

It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” It is not that we should act aggressively and declare war against a government that mistreats us and takes away our freedoms—to do so would not be in the spirit of Christ. Rather, it is that we reserve the right to declare and form a sovereign government of our own choosing for the betterment of our people and the glory of God, and we reserve the right to defend ourselves from a government that seeks to take away our right to be self-governing.

Not only must we never forget the words that were written exactly 234 years ago, but we must be ready to act upon them again: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness....

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States....”

Never forget that a people not free to govern themselves are not free.

Hopefully, such drastic measures will not have to be taken. Hopefully, there is still the time, ability, and desire in the hearts of the people to return this nation to its roots.

(3) Regardless of what may happen in the future and above all else, we must return our hearts to the Lord.

Whether we are citizens of a government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people, or whether we are subjects of a government that is at the people, on the people, and against the people, we must always remember that our true allegiance is to the Lord.

“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, of if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:13-14).

Out of our allegiance to the Lord, we must always remember and act upon our responsibility to pray for our leaders. "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity." (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

In closing, may we never forget the words of George Washington, our greatest president, who, fittingly, in his farewell address, said, “Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”