Posts Tagged ‘repentance’

This Thanksgiving season, there’s good news and there’s bad news and it may depend on your perspective. As you know, most of our founders came to this bountiful land to live in freedom from religious persecution, and their standards were based on the principles in the Holy Bible. And yet, here we are in 2018 – hanging on by a thread to the religious freedoms this nation has enjoyed – and has taken for granted. 

Though we’re seeing a toxic increase of hatred, we can be still thankful for our history – and especially for hope.

The very first Thanksgiving took place almost 400 years ago—long before the nation was even born. But prior to arriving on these shores, William Bradford, the founder of Plymouth colony settlement wrote:

“…Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honor of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony.”

God is a big part of our history and always has been. The United States Congress once issued an official Proclamation of Thanksgiving and Prayer on October 18, 1780, calling on Americans “to cause the knowledge of Christianity to spread all over the Earth.”

Sadly, true American history has been edited or even deleted from public school text books. We have forgotten that the good news of Jesus Christ was once foundational to our liberties as well as our lives and as a result of our forgetting, the nation has gone from spiritual to secular. Proverbs 14:34 states:

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.

We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

Lincoln was right. He implored the people to confess their sins, and to pray for forgiveness and God’s mercy on America.

Today, we are plagued by political correctness and moral relativism, lawlessness, people calling good evil and evil good, a loss of values, and the breakdown of social order. Moreover, Hollywood and the culture have a far greater influence on the church than the church has in and on our culture.

Signs of the times indicate this nation is in rapid decline, but how long do we really have? This is up for debate and speculation. But let’s consider some of the cultural, social, and spiritual symptoms common to nations that have fallen or have been destroyed:

  • Increasing rebellion against God
  • A loss of economic discipline
  • Greed; increased materialism
  • Rising government bureaucracy and taxes
  • Declining education in quality, morality, and in measurable results
  • Lack of respect for authority
  • Policies based on feelings over facts
  • The acceptance of foreign gods and empty religious practices
  • The promotion of sin and perversion
  • A decline in value of human life leading to abortion and euthanasia

Perhaps instead of asking God to bless America we should be asking Him to save us! Repentance must come first, and Christians must lead by example. If your heart is heavy reading some of this, know there is a God who loves you and wants you to turn back to Him.

If you tend to be on social media or look at the news a little too much, at government, public schools, the corporate world, the entertainment industry or culture in general, it can be quite discouraging. But if we look at all the things we each have personally and at this country in which we’re blessed to live, we can be thankful and we can take heart.

First, there’s always hope in the promises of God which the Bible describes as an anchor to our souls during storms in life. Second, if Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of your faith, your foundation won’t be shaken as it is built upon the Rock and you know all this is temporary.

Third, as imperfect as it is, we still live in one of the most amazing countries on earth. We have countless blessings, conveniences, and advantages as citizens of this beacon of freedom. Why do you think millions of less fortunate people dream about living in America? Many still risk their lives to come here.

And fourth, if you woke up today, opened your eyes and got out of bed; if you generally have your health, family in Christ, food on the table or in a refrigerator; if you have clean, running water, electricity, a house to live in, a car to drive, a job to go to and even some bills that are paid, you are abundantly blessed more than 75% of people in countries around the world.

I am particularly grateful for each day because by the grace of God, I had a successful heart operation in April of this year.

Every day we have so much to be thankful for, so let’s –

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever.Psalm 136:1

O God, restore us and cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved. Psalm 80:3

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chipped flag on brick wallMore sobering polls have emerged recently further proving America’s downward spiral. Our decline has been so gradual many of us did not notice – or did not want to notice – how the lines of acceptable behavior have shifted and the standards of morality have plummeted – even among professing Christians.

A friend of mine who works on several farms came over recently to help me get a nice garden started. He emphasized the importance of tilling the ground, fertilizing and possibly erecting a small fence to protect the garden. But even before starting the work, he evaluated the land in order to find the best location and soil.

Not only have we failed to protect our spiritual and national heritage, but due to a generally lukewarm church, America has been easy, fertile ground for enemies of God to cultivate, plant and water seeds of immorality. They have taken root and produced an abundance of what the Bible considers sin.

Barna’s new research shows 41% of “practicing Christians” think cohabitation is a good idea, and 48% live with or have previously lived with their boyfriend/girlfriend. Let that sink in a moment.

According to Gallup’s recent poll on what is morally acceptable to Americans, cohabitation is up to 65% approval. Next, divorce is at 72%, and birth control is up to 89%. If we think like liberals, that abortion is another form of birth control, this latter number is not at all surprising. As Matt Walsh stated after the Supreme Court ruled against Texas abortion restrictions, “if leftists believe abortion mills are medical clinics, why don’t they want them to be treated that way?”

Jesus stated in Luke 18:20:

You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’

Sadly, truth and moral absolutes are now based on feelings, opinion, and what’s popular in culture rather than a fixed moral and ethical standard.

Those who think sex between an unmarried man and woman (fornication) is acceptable is now at 67%, and not surprisingly, homosexual sex is up to 60%.

In addition, the number of Americans who think it’s fine to have a baby out of wedlock has risen, from 45% in 2001 to 62% today. To me, this is a double-edged sword because sexual promiscuity is rampant, but at least more women seem willing to choose life over abortion. It has been proven that as truth and medical facts about abortion are promoted, many more lives are saved!

Though there has been a radical LGBT agenda since at least the 1970s, Christians have helped pave the way by minimizing God’s covenant of marriage between one man and one woman through no-fault divorce, adultery, pornography, and fornication. God abhors all sexual sin.

How can Christians preach the gospel and shine in darkness when we have had so much sin in our own camp?

No wonder homosexuality is now accepted by a majority of citizens (up 20 points since 2001) and by some in the church. The problem is we have gone from loving our neighbor (which is biblical) to accepting their lifestyle (which is unbiblical) to flat out celebrating sin (sinning with them). What major city or state does not have a gay pride parade or similar event?

The LGBT hijacked rainbow is everywhere; but the current estimate of LGBT adults is around 3.9% pf the U.S. population and less than 0.4% are married to a same-sex spouse. This proves the left is definitely winning the war of words, gaining ground and swaying popular opinion.

One year after the SCOTUS decided to rebel against and redefine God-ordained natural marriage, less than ten percent (123,000 couples) have married a same-sex spouse. The way the media portrayed their plight you’d think the majority of LGBT people would have flocked to the courthouses and wedding chapels in America.

Apparently, marriage wasn’t the end goal after all; and the Left’s appetite for evil cannot be satisfied.

Truth be told, we all need our sins forgiven and I hope you’ve trusted Jesus Christ for salvation. He is Lord and the Bible is true whether we believe or not!

Reflecting on the anniversary of last year’s SCOTUS decision, apologist, Alex McFarland stated:

God has the ultimate veto power. As an evangelist, I don’t want any of those 123,000 couples to be surprised by this fact. All same-sex couples should realize that what they’ve entered into will never be recognized by God. As an evangelist, I want to tell every person that they should turn to God now and be saved.

I believe God is also calling a lukewarm church to turn back to Him and repent. Jesus is standing at the door!

Is our faith strong enough to survive the massive tides of moral relativism, humanism, and secularism? It is vital we wake as many soldiers of Christ as we can before time runs out. In order for us to be more influential in our culture, let’s get back to the basics of speaking God’s eternal truth and of course, living it ourselves.

 

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Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test.  2 Corinthians 13:5-6

God has been leading me to take an honest and thorough look at my own faith and what I often see is an Americanized version of comfortable Christianity. I understand how easy it is to waste years on selfish interests and worldly pursuits. 

Thankfully, He has brought me to a point where my heart is softening again and I can’t help but notice things that must grieve our loving Creator and Father. This new journey has caused me to ask some important questions beginning with:

If the Bible teaches we need to examine ourselves, test all things, be discerning, evaluate our faith, and make judgments on sinful behavior starting with our own, are we following and obeying these instructions?

Perhaps one of the least discussed Scriptures in the New Testament is Jesus speaking to professing believers in Matthew 7:22-23, stating ‘I never knew you; depart from me,’ further proving lip service does not fool a holy God. Luke 6:46 sums it up clearly:

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

It’s that important to walk our Christian talk and obey the commandments. I recently heard a message in which the pastor said, “You’re looking around at others or nodding your heads as if this doesn’t apply to you. When I suggest some of you may not be saved because there is little evidence you’re living for Jesus Christ, I’m talking to you.”

He was preaching about repentance to professing believers. Remember, John the Baptist said to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8). The two go together.

According to the Apostle Paul, it is possible for some to fail the test and not recognize Christ is in them and therefore, not live according to the gospel they supposedly received. 

Paul wrote this to Christians in the church at Corinth whom he was preparing to visit for the third time. After getting to know them and hearing about their behavior he basically told them to make sure they were saved! 

Even with eye witnesses of Jesus still around at that time, some believers had conformed to the world instead of resisting sin. Paul felt it necessary to confront them about exactly what they believed and how they were living. 

When we mention this today some accuse us of judging or being intolerant. Here’s a memo for those who have not studied the whole Bible: GOD IS INTOLERANT OF SIN.

Paul confronted and challenged believes on their hypocrisy, warning them to repent. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus Christ by preaching repentance from sin. Revelation 3:2-3 further warns Christians:

Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.

Why are there so many Scriptures telling people that are already saved to wake up?

Why don’t we have a sense of urgency as we watch the moral decline of America and witness more corruption and godlessness than ever in our history? Have we lost our influence?

One of the questions I attempt to answer in my book, ERADICATE: BLOTTING OUT GOD IN AMERICA, is, if a majority of Americans (77%) profess some form of Christianity, why does the evidence (fruit) overwhelmingly show secular culture has more influence on Christians than we have on culture?

If we fail to preach the whole gospel message, we limit the Holy Spirit rather than inviting Him to work. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8) Without conviction of sin there can be no repentance and without true repentance there can be no salvation!

Leonard Ravenhill said, “There’s one thing we need above everything else; it’s something we don’t talk about these days. We need a mighty avalanche of conviction of sin.”

 Isn’t this what the true gospel is all about?

But don’t miss the good news, that while we were still rebellious sinners, God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us so we might be forgiven. Jesus bridged the gap between sinful mankind and a holy, righteous God.

We should never back down from the same truth Jesus warned the early Church about when He confronted lukewarm believers. (Rev. 3:15-16)

Examine yourself, my friend! Please do not put this off any longer. At the risk of stating the obvious, a person is not saved because their family used to take them to church or because their parents are Christians. 

If we believe what the Bible teaches about Heaven and Hell, shouldn’t we care about the authentic salvation of others? What about the sin that is all around us infecting both our culture and the church? Do we understand we are called to be set apart from the world (sanctified)?

Compromise seems to be the new tolerance, however, biblical truth must be the foundation of our worldview and that truth should affect everything we do and say. 

When Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, He told them that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name (Luke 24:27). Think of the last three sermons you heard at church. I hope your pastor is following His lead.

What kind of lasting fruit are you and I producing? Are we abiding in Christ? He is glorified when we abide in Him, and when we bear good fruit it proves we are His disciples! (John 15:8-9)

Let’s seek Him first in our lives and then live what we believe. 

Let’s not be ashamed to speak up about Christ and love others by telling them hard truths. We are commissioned to preach the Word in every season (2 Tim. 4:2) because the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:18).

If Jesus has truly changed our hearts and if our minds have been transformed, our lives will show it. Regardless of whether the message is accepted by others, you and I are called to be His messengers. Peter said, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” (Acts 2:40) 

No more hypocrisy, please. When Christians say one thing and then live just like the world, why should unbelievers want the Jesus we profess to believe in? We can have this world or we can have Jesus Christ, but never both. If we love the things in this world, God’s love is not in us (1 John 2:15).

Let’s examine ourselves to make sure we are fully in Christ. 

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