Worship Requires Repentance

If you have damaged your relationship with someone by betraying them, how well would things go if you showed up at their house wanting to hang out but without any acknowledgement of your betrayal? Surely, that would not go well. We can never, in our right minds, expect things to be “okay” without any effort to resolve problems and conflicts.

Now, consider that any form of disobedience to the Word of God is sin – a betrayal of God and His plan for your life. Yet, how often do you seek to worship God, whether individually or corporately, without turning away from sin? How often do you pray for God’s will for your life, while willfully continuing to disobey His Word? How often do you ask for God’s blessings, while holding on to bitterness toward others? How often do you expect God’s provision, while picking and choosing which parts of His Word to obey? How often do you sing songs of praise, while your heart is sick with unrepentant sin?

If we truly want to honor and worship the Lord (and be in a right relationship with Him), we must repent of our sins and turn to Him. Firstly, of course, this requires we believe the gospel and surrender our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. That humble surrender that requires sincere repentance, though, is not a one-time desire that ends with our justification. Repentance is an ongoing expectation in the Christian life, and without regular repentance (because we are still sinners), we have no right to cry out to God in worship, whether individually or corporately.

Really, we have no right to do so anyway because God is holy and we are not. When we trust the gospel, though, Jesus takes away our sins and makes it possible for us to boldly approach God’s glorious throne. Now, repentance and worship go together. They are inseparable. One cannot sincerely worship the Lord without turning away from sin, and one cannot truly turn away from sin without a resulting desire to worship the Lord.

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching through Nehemiah 9:32-37 on “Repentant Worship.” We will consider a couple ways to worship the Lord in repentance, as I hope to challenge our church family (all of us together) to be marked by a lifestyle of repentance.

Is there any sin you are holding on to right now? Is there any part of God’s Word you are refusing to obey? Will you ask for God’s help to turn away from sin and to Him? Let us return to worship with repentant hearts!

Please click the picture above if you want to learn more about the life-changing (now and eternal) result of sincere repentance.

Back with the Body

One of the clearest evidences that someone is a follower of Jesus is that the individual loves the church of Jesus (John 13:34-35). The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated this, as Christ-followers who have quarantined and consequently missed gathering with the church have longed to return. That return is sweet and precious, and we believers understand that, perhaps now more than ever.

Most have returned, while others remain isolated, to some degree, for various reasons. In conversations with many of those individuals, I can sense their heartache as they long to be back with the body of Christ. Hopefully, that return will be sooner rather than later.

Then, there are others who are not with the body because they are out of the habit of gathering and have failed to make corporate worship and fellowship a priority. For most, this is likely because no genuine relationship with Jesus exists. “They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us” (1 John 2:19).

For others, though, perhaps they have fallen into unrepentant sin, or they are about to fall into such a trap. Rarely is someone walking with Jesus while simultaneously willfully neglecting the body of Jesus – His church.

Whatever your situation, would you consider your values and priorities? Is corporate worship important to you? Is church involvement a priority? Even if, for health reasons, you are currently unable to gather with your church family, are you staying connected for the sake of growing closer to Jesus and helping others grow closer to Jesus?

Remember, church is not just about you. Primarily, church is about the glory of God. Secondly, church is about building up His people. We need one another, so when you are tempted to think, “I don’t need the church to worship God,” remember that the church needs you. And, really, you do need the church. We all do. Jesus established the church, in part, because we are to be interdependent on one another, needing one another to grow as He intends.

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will begin a new sermon series on the power of repentance and returning to God in worship. Looking at Nehemiah 7:1-5 and 8:1-8, I hope to encourage our church family to value and prioritize “True Worship.” Nehemiah led the efforts to identify the people of God, rebuild the wall for protecting those people, and return to faithful worship with those people. While we do not have a need to rebuild a wall, we do have a need to identify what it means to be a Christ-follower and regularly turn to Him in faithful worship.

What will it take for you to gather back with the body? Please understand, I am not asking this question to those who are waiting for the vaccine and are thus self-isolating for health and safety reasons (for a time). Rather, I am asking this question to those who are willfully neglecting the church – the family of God. Will you return? Will you let us walk alongside you? Will you tell us how we can help and how we can pray for you?

If you do not value the church because you have not yet surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, would you turn to Him today? You can learn more by watching or reading The Story.

What a gift!

Perhaps more than any other time of year, December is a month we think a lot about gifts. What will we get those we love? What should we ask for on our Christmas list? What do we “need” or want? How much money should we spend?

Christmas time is often referred to as “The Season of Giving.” While I would like to think that is because we would do well to “keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, for He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive‘” (Acts 20:35), more than likely, we call this “The Season of Giving” because we are so consumed with the giving and receiving of gifts. Commercialization rules the season more than we would probably care to admit.

WANTS CONSUME OUR HEARTS

From the time I can remember, I have been asked every single year, “What do you want for Christmas?” I, too, ask this question, although I will admit that I am thankful for my wife, who does the vast majority of our Christmas shopping for pretty much everyone for whom we buy gifts.

Our wants tend to consume our hearts, though, right? Naturally, we ask for things we want, and this is not solely the case with Christmas presents. An honest assessment would reveal that this is the way of our lives.

We think about what we want. We seek what we want. We get obsessed, sometimes, with what we want. And, if we are honest when asked what we want, we tell people what we want. Discretion might keep a 30-year-old from asking for the pony she has wanted since she was 13, but if pressed, maybe she will even admit that desire.

THERE IS A GIFT WE NEED

So much greater than the things we want, though, are the things we need. Sometimes those things overlap, but usually our list of needs is much shorter than our list of wants. Makes sense, of course, because we are pretty fortunate to have much of what we need.

There is no greater need, though, than our need for redemption – eternal life through the debt of our sin being paid in full.

What greater example of “The Season of Giving” than the gift of God’s Son, who came to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21)! He came to redeem us – to buy us back. His blood-sacrifice on the cross is the only payment sufficient to cover our sins and make us right with God. His resurrection from the dead is the only victory sufficient to conquer sin and death for all of eternity.

When you purchase Christmas presents, you redeem them, to a degree, with your money. You take possession of them and make them yours (perhaps to then give to someone else) by giving up something – money.

That is exactly what Jesus did when He died on the cross. He gave His life to purchase your salvation. This is why we use the word “redemption” when referring to God’s act of delivering us from eternal death in hell by sacrificing His Son. He bought us and made us His own.

For this to be true of you, though, you must repent of your sins and trust in Jesus’ sacrifice for your salvation. On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching from Matthew 1:18-25 on how “Repentance Is Redemption.” I hope to challenge those listening to trust in Jesus alone for redemption and for the assurance of such redemption.

Have you trusted in the greatest gift ever given – the gospel of your redemption? Are you finding great hope and assurance in this gift? Are you so grateful for this gift that you are passionately sharing it with others? Eternal redemption is the ultimate gift we all need and should be the gift that gives us the greatest joy, hope, and peace. Praise be to God!

If you have yet to experience the joy of redemption, would you consider watching or reading The Story?

Repent or Regret

Few things in life are more difficult than admitting you are wrong, saying you are sorry, and asking for forgiveness. When is the last time you have done that?

Perhaps you can remember situations where, if you had not apologized and admitted you were wrong, a relationship could not have been repaired. Likely, you remember expecting such actions from someone else, too. Regardless, we have all experienced the necessity of repentance and forgiveness, whether we realize it or not.

If you are clearly in the wrong in a situation, selfish, foolish pride can still prevent you from admitting your guilt. Thus, humility is an essential part of reconciliation and restoration.

How much more so is this the case when it comes to our relationship with God? The brokenness that exists between God and us is completely our fault, and the only way to fix that brokenness is through repentance and faith. Jesus Christ took our shame, guilt, and disgrace upon himself when he died on the cross for our sins. He took our place and took the punishment we deserve. When he rose from the dead, he defeated sin and eternal death, so that everyone who truly trusts in His sacrifice can be restored into a right relationship with God forever. In order for this to be a reality for you and me, though, we must repent of our sins and trust in Him alone to deliver us from sin and death.

Repentance is essential for our lives now and for our lives eternally. Repent or regret. There are no other options.

To repent is to change your mind and change your direction. Repentance is a decision to turn away from sin and turn to the Lord. On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching from Mark 1:1-8 on how “Preparation Is Repentance.” We cannot be prepared for meeting Jesus Christ unless we repent of our sins, so we must understand biblical repentance.

Of course, this act of repentance is something that happens when God’s Spirit changes our hearts and draws us to Himself the moment we surrender our lives to Him for salvation. Also, though, repentance must be a consistent, ongoing attitude and action that defines our lives.

Repent or regret.

Are you walking in daily repentance and faith?

If you are not convinced that you have truly surrendered your life to Jesus Christ through repentance and faith, would you turn to Him now? Learn more by watching and/or reading The Story.