Sunday, June 30, 2013

Horizontal or Vertical Repentance, which do you practice?

I have noticed as of late that some people, who are aware of my convictions, are apologizing to me when they realize they have used profanity around me.  This has happened in the past as well, but for some reason I have noticed it a lot lately.  It's not that I mind that my presence and the knowledge of my convictions causes people to adjust their habits.  I am glad for that.  My thought is that, I am not the one they should apologize or repent toward.  Now, before I go any further let me clarify that if I know a person not to be a professing Christian then I fully appreciate their consideration.  However, some who adjust their behavior or apologize in my presence are professing Christians.  Even more concerning is that there are those who use profanity rather casually at times who don't even seem to mind who is around when they do it.  Anyhow, that's another post.

So here is my question, and one we should all consistently remain aware of.  Do you practice vertical repentance or horizontal repentance?

 In 2 Samuel 12:13, after having stolen the wife of one of his best men, getting her pregnant, and having him killed, David has been confronted by Nathan the prophet.  David's response, "I have sinned against the Lord". Not, gee Nathan, I'm sorry that upsets you or I hope I didn't offend you Nathan.

Repentance means to turn from your sin and run toward God.  In today's society, even professing Christians often have a tendency to have more sorrow for their sins toward those humans they have offended with their sin(horizontal) rather than sorrow toward Jesus for the same sin's that also were committed against God(Vertical).  It's ok to apologize to people you have sinned against but repentance must be vertical.

If your sorrow and repentance is directed at God it will be much more likely to stick than if you direct it horizontally toward those whom you have offended.  You may feel the temptation to debate or even blow off those who strive to hold you accountable if they are the primary ones who are recognizing your sin and making mention of it.  However, if God is the primary target of your repentance then there is no valid argument to be made.  You cannot argue with the word of God if you are interested in growing in your relationship with God.  Jesus prayed that God the Father would sanctify us in the truth for God's word is truth(John 17:17).

In Luke 6:45 Jesus says, "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks"Changed hearts bring changed actionsThose who are in Christ are a new creation  The old has passed away behold all things have been made new.(2 Corinthians 5:17)

IF you are in Christ, that should be your hearts desire.

So, do you practice horizontal or vertical repentance?  And, is it sincere?  If you have placed your trust in Jesus and confessed Him as Lord of your life then remember the price he paid for your sins and let that be your primary accountability.

If you have never accepted Christ as Lord and Savior then there is no time like the present.  It is not a get out of jail free card for hell.  It is a be redeemed and live for the eternal goal that God intended at creation, to glorify God and enjoy him forever, for free card.

Except, it is not free.  God in His perfect holiness cannot tolerate sin.  In fact Psalms 5:4-6 says that God hates evildoers.  He hates sin and because sin is a part of sinners he hates sinners and he must destroy them.  That is the way in which God's justice and wrath must manifest themselves in order to defend His holiness. 

And yet God also wants to defend the glory that He created us to enjoy and appreciate to begin with.  All through the Old Testament God is showing his love for his people by giving them second chance after second chance.  The ultimate second chance came in His son Jesus Christ whom HE sent.  Jesus came to become the object of God's wrath so that we as God's creation could have eternal life through HIM.  He paid the price by becoming the punishment for our sins and erasing the guilt of our sins.  Selfless love from a glorious creator.  We all deserve to be destroyed because of our sin.  Christ lived the perfectly sinless life that we could not live and died the death that we deserved to die.

You can have this eternal relationship with the loving heavenly Father and Creator of the Universe.  All you have to do is confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe with your heart that God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved(Romans 10:9-13)  That's it.  Believe and, as discussed before, repent from your sins. 
Repentance is a continual process that will last the rest of your earthly life. However, if your belief is not merely intellectual ascent but it is true submission to His Lordship, then it will fuel genuine VERTICAL repentance and you will be grateful for the desire to do it.


Love in Christ,


Monday, June 10, 2013

A message of hope and encouragement

In this world of uncertainty it is so easy to loose sight of Jesus.  It is so easy to begin to look at our circumstances and begin worrying about job stability, health care, etc.  I have to confess that lately things have been shaking me up at work.  Financial struggles for the company,  a new boss, lot's of changes happening quickly are all things that have been causing turmoil and worry among myself and my coworkers.  Sadly I and other brothers and sisters in the faith have found ourselves shaken, allowing ourselves to get caught up in gossip and negativity, and loosing sight of who it is that we serve, what is commanded of us, and what is promised to us.  I say this not to criticize but simply to be transparent because I know many Christians are facing trials and need to be encouraged.

One coworker had a little package of mustard seeds that she is keeping with her as a reminder that we only need a little faith to effect great change.  It is also a reminder that we, as Christians, are to be a light in the world.  We are supposed to rise above in our attitudes and behavior.  Sometimes we apply the idea of mustard seed faith to ideas that seem to require big faith and forget that, this same mustard seed faith is often required for our day to day faith walk.  Her package of seeds was a good reminder to me and a confirmation of what the Holy Spirit had already been convicting me about.

So who do we serve?  We serve the Living God!  The one who spoke creation into existence.  There is nothing He cannot do.  If we are faithful He will see us through.  If we lack faith we need but pray and He will increase our faith.  He is the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and the End.  And while He is God and we are not, He does not allow for that to be an excuse for worry, lack of faith, or disobedience.  No, God's word commands us to be Holy and strive for perfection(1 Peter 1:14-16, Matthew 5:48).  Scripture states that we have been given the tools by which to accomplish this task(2 Peter 1:3-8).  

What are some commands from our King regarding our concerns and challenges in life?
Philippians 4:4-7 says this, "Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again:  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds  in Christ Jesus."

In Philippians 4:8-9, Paul goes on to say, "Finally, brothers, whatever is pure, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you."

You see Paul is telling us that we are to rejoice in every circumstance, always representing gentleness which is a fruit of the Spirit(Galatians 5:22-23).  We are not to be anxious but to simply bring our requests and concerns before God and trust Him with them.  Then what?  Then we can have peace.  What else brings the presence of the God of peace.  Right thinking and obedience to biblical teaching.  These are actions we must take but that we are not alone in undertaking. You see in Philippians 2:12-13 scripture states that we are to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to work according to His good purpose."  His grace under-girds our actions.

I'm sorry.  I must go a little further because this really all ties together.  God's word is so good and Philippians speaks so much to growing in righteousness and walking it out.  We love to quote Philippians 4:13 which says that, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Unfortunately we often miss the context in which it is quoted.  The context is the previous vs. 12 and the end of vs. 11, which states, "for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

1 Timothy 6:6-8 says that, "Godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing we will be content with that.

So much of our approach to life and the way we handle our circumstances comes from the way we approach our circumstances and the way in which we wrongly prioritize what is really important.  Then we sit and worry about what is going to happen instead of trusting God when He gives us promises like this:

Matthew 6:25-33, which states, and I paraphrase, that we should not worry about tomorrow because each day has enough worry of it's own.  That if God is concerned about the birds of the air and the lilies of the field and takes care of them, He will most certainly take care of us.  What are we to do?  "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these other things will be given to you as well."

Hebrews 13:5 says, "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, never will I leave you nor forsake you".  The last part of this scripture is actually a NT quote of the OT scripture from Deuteronomy 3:16.  See, even the NT authors thought scripture reference was important to make their point :-)

Last but not least in Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says, "Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my  yoke is easy and my burden is light."  I don't think it gets much clearer than that.  Yokes were used to connect two oxen or horses together so that they shared the load.  When you yoke up with Jesus, He will carry the weight with you. Often times carrying more of it than you could possibly bear thus making your load easier and lighter.

Now, I have quoted a lot of scripture here because it is authoritative, God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work(2 Timothy 3:16)  God's word is truth.  Jesus said in John 8:31, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

So let the truth of these scriptures set you free.  Meditate on them.  Memorize them.  Hold to their teachings.  Apply them to your life that through your obedience you may find peace, rest, and joy.  One preacher I heard recently said that, in order to really experience joy, you have to always have at least one eye on heaven.  We must always remember that as believers we are not of this world.  We live for a world to come.  So no matter what may come in this life, if we are living for the next one, it has a tendency to help us scale back the dramatic ride that our emotions like to take us on.  If you are living this way then Joy, not happiness, but Joy can be found in the worst of circumstances.  Happiness is a surface level event.  Joy comes from the well of living water that is available when you have Christ abiding in you and you abide in Him.

This blog post is for me as well and I will be going back and reading it and allowing the word of God to minister to me as well.  We are in this thing together.  Please pray for me as I pray for you and let's trust and obey our Heavenly Father and Savior King together in Jesus Name.


Love in Christ,