Saturday, January 2, 2010

Preparing to Fast...

During Christmas we focus our attention on the story of Christ’s birth, but as we prepare for January and the fast our pastor will be leading us into, I think we need to look at John the Baptist. Why? John’s destiny in life was to prepare people to meet their Savior. John’s message was that of Elijah’s – Repent. In order for people to get ready to have a personal revival, we need to be prepared to meet Jesus and expect him to bring on a revival.

REPENT! John the Baptist’s whole message was on repentance. He was preparing those in his time to meet Jesus. People were dying of thirst and hunger – thirst for the Living Water and hungry for the Bread of Life. People were so desperate for the Living Water and Bread of Life they were willing to go to the desert to hear a man preach the Truth and to call a spade, a spade – or in this case, a brood of vipers.

In a world that is so hung up on “political correctness” instead of the spiritual condition of a person’s soul, don’t you think it’s time for a voice in the desert crying out “REPENT” ?

So, I began digging into “forgiveness” and “repentance.” We ask for forgiveness when we’ve done wrong, and God grants us forgiveness. Psalms 103:12 says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” In Isaiah 43:25 it says, God “remembers our sins no more.” That is forgiveness. Satan is the one who would like to keep us ensnared in our sin bringing up our past mistakes over and over again. Satan enjoys throwing the dirt of our past failures in our face -- this is not of God.

REPENTANCE is a lifestyle. It’s not saying, “I’m lower than scum,” or “I am dirt.” Repentance is a daily dying to self – dying to our selfish wants and putting Christ first and above all else. It is making a conscious decision to put down your idea that you are owed something, you are due something, that you have rights. As Americans we have come to believe we are “entitled” to things, but that is contrary to the Word of God. The only reason we are blessed with good things in this life is because it is from God (James 1:17). Repentance is the daily choosing to focus on what Christ wants you to achieve during the day, how God wants you to live a victorious life. Do you want a revival? Do you REALLY want a revival? Because if you do, God will bring it, but if he brings it, you must also.

I confessed to the ladies this past Sunday that when I pray and I ask God to forgive my sins that sometimes it’s rather vague. In Luke it says people were going to the desert to confess their sins to John the Baptist. I believe if we were to pray and name our sins, ask God to show us our sins, and truly repent – turn from them, die to ourselves and focus on how we are to live our lives – then personal revival would happen. We need to be praying Psalm 19:12 – 14, “Who can discern his lapses and errors? Clear me from hidden (and unconscious) faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then shall I be blameless, and I shall be innocent and clear of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my (firm, impenetrable) Rock and my Redeemer.” (Amplified Bible)

While studying Mary and Martha this November and December, I discovered the woman with the alabaster jar was most likely Mary. This woman was described as being known around town as sinful, but in the stories of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, it says that Jesus loved them. More than once, Mary was found at the feet of Jesus – once she was listening and learning and the other time she was sobbing, pouring out her heart, repenting and washing the feet of Jesus with her tears, drying them with her feet, kissing them with her lips and pouring the most extravagant thing she had on his feet. Don’t you know she felt sweet release after pouring herself out like that? When was the last time you cried about the sin in your life? (You have to take the plank out of your own life before you take the splinter out of someone else’s. Mt 7:3-5). When we have poured ourselves out then He can fill us up. When was the last time you listed your sin before God, truly confess and lived a repentant lifestyle? If you want personal revival, this is where we have to start. Are you willing? Repent.

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