Happy New Year to all my readers! With a new year comes the opportunity to step back from our lives and assess the past year and make plans for the next twelve months. Jan and I have plans for 2015 but we always add the words “God willing” to our plans as we want to ensure that we are in the centre of God’s will. We live in a turbulent world and the only security available to man is in Jesus Christ. God brought to my attention recently that there is an infallible way to ensure that all is well with your soul – it is to be found in the ‘R’ word – a word that is missing from our vocabulary…
For the past few weeks I have turned to the ‘clean’ pages of my Bible to study the Old Testament Prophets. There are sixteen Prophetic Books in the Old Testament, four major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel) and twelve minor prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi). The word ‘major’ refers only to the length of the books and not their importance. They constitute a large and important portion of the Word of God (the same length as the entire New Testament!) and although the unusual names may be off-putting to some, I can assure you that a careful study of these Biblical gems will unearth amazing treasures from God’s Word. The treasure I have for you today are the words: “Return and repent”. The main message the Old Testament prophets consistently and boldly proclaimed to the nation of Israel and the surrounding nations was the need to repent of their ways (idolatry, corruption, brutality, self-centredness, social injustice, meaningless religious rituals with hearts that were far from God… – all of which are to be found in our society!) and return to the true God.
Hosea challenged the Israelites that by serving pagan gods they were committing spiritual adultery and as I read chapter 6 a sense of relief came over me as the people spoke these words: “Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and 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 before him. Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:1-3 underlining mine). It was only when I read the words that followed that I realised the shocking fact that their repentance was false and shallow: “…But they do not return to the LORD their God, Nor seek Him for all this… Yet they have spoken lies against Me…They return, but not to the Most High (Hosea 7:10,13,16). This greatly impacted my life as I began to consider that man can only look on the outward actions of people, but God sees the heart. How often don’t we cry and complain about our circumstances to God and other people and yet it seems as though we are just going round and round in circles – never-ending cycles of debt, relational problems, health issues, psychological issues etc.?
The reason is that most of the time we are looking to God for HEALING and not CLEANSING; we want HAPPINESS and not HOLINESS; a CHANGE OF CIRCUMSTANCES without a CHANGE IN CHARACTER; we want God to RESCUE US and not DELIVER US – and we shed TEARS OF REMORSE but not TEARS OF REPENTANCE. We want God to “make things right”- in short, we want a “quick fix” to our problems. Unfortunately those who want instant remedies are revealing that they have an unrepentant heart.
Christianity is not a ‘formula religion’ whereby we can push the right buttons to get what we want – the Christian life involves a relationship with God. God was not impressed with Israel’s meaningless ‘religious words’. True repentance comes from a heart that is broken before God as David was when he committed adultery with Bathsheba: Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow…The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. ÂÂÂÂ (Psalm 51:6-7,17).
It may never have occurred to you that the answer to your problem is repentance before God. Your never-ending cycles can be broken if you will humble yourself before God and ask Him to help you. Sincerity of heart is key. All problems have a solution when we come into a living relationship with Almighty God. You cannot solve your problems on your own and God wants you to return to Him and allow Him to supernaturally intervene in your life.
May the missing ‘R’ word become a reality in your life in 2015 as you return to God in repentance and discover the victory and blessings He has in store for you.