March 5, 2015
Doing a 180
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord (Acts 3:19, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Music has always been an important part of my life. I attended college on a music scholarship. The piano was my main instrument, but I also wanted to be a guitarist.
The musical challenge of playing the guitar was not my problem. It was my fingers.
A friend gave me guitar lessons, but after a few hours of practice, my fingertips were sore and raw to the point of bleeding. When I asked him what I was doing wrong, he just laughed and held out his hands, showing me the rough calluses on his own fingers. "When I began playing the guitar, my fingers were just as sore and raw as yours are now. Just keep playing, and your fingers will eventually develop calluses and it won't hurt to play," he explained.
Sin works the same way. The first time we commit a sin it really hurts. We feel guilty. We mourn the fact that we have hurt God. But if we keep committing that same sin, our hearts harden, and spiritual calluses are formed. The only solution is repentance.
Repentance is serious business to God and needs to be a serious part of our faith journey. To repent literally means to turn away from sin and go … no, make that run … in the opposite direction.
One of the greatest examples of true repentance is found in the life of Jonah. God told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh. Jonah didn’t want to go. I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t have wanted to go either.
Nineveh was a brutal place, a major city in the wicked and ruthless Assyrian empire. Temple prostitution and the sacrifice of children were common practices in Nineveh. It gets worse! Nineveh removed the noses and ears of their prisoners to mark them for life. You can understand Jonah’s hesitation. But he finally gave in and obeyed God. Here’s the story.
Jonah 3:4-10 (NIV) “Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, ‘Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.’ The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish. When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”
Amazing! These vicious and seemingly heartless people simply heard God’s call and believed Him. That belief produced immediate change because it was a belief rooted in repentance.
The Ninevites fasted from food and water. I don’t know if you have ever fasted. I have. Fasting is hard. It can even hurt. Fasting is tangible and costly. It changes how we live. That is true repentance - when we turn from the things that give us human comfort and turn to God.
The Ninevites sat in ashes.
They ditched their comfy clothes and covered themselves in rough scratchy cloth.
They cried loudly to God, turned from evil living, and stopped doing harm.
In other words, they did a 180. They totally changed the direction of their lives. They repented.
The Ninevites - from the king to the lowest servant - humbled themselves publicly and bowed before the one true God, begging for His mercy and forgiveness. They were desperate for God. They repented. And because they repented, God had mercy on them and spared their lives.
God will do the same for us. The desire of His heart is always restoration – not condemnation. When we truly repent, God will forgive us. And He will give us new life.
Father, forgive me for the sin in my life. Right now, I choose to turn away from the sin that stands between You and me. I turn to You, Lord. I know that I am lost and totally helpless without You. Thank You for the unconditional love and unending forgiveness I find in You.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (NIV).
Consider the following promises found in 1 Corinthians 10:13. What do they mean to you and how do they apply to your life?
More from the Girlfriends
Need help learning how to overcome temptation? Check out Mary’s Bible Study, Winning the War With Temptation that examines the life of Eve to discover five steps she could have and should have taken to win the war with temptation. The central message of this study is grace, His unconditional love, and the complete forgiveness only He can give. Temptation is a certainty of life, but God has a plan that enables us to stand firm in His power and through the power of His Word. Be sure to connect with Mary through email or on Facebook.
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