Lent 2017: A Call to Repentance
Theme: A Call to Repentance
Repentance: To turn away from that which displeases God. To have such a change of heart and mind that as you confess your sin and ask forgiveness it becomes a life-changing step. i.e.
"Performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.” Acts 26:20
Thoughts from Jonah:
As we move on in the story of Jonah we find he runs in the opposite direction of God’s call. He embarks on a Mediterranean cruise and goes to sleep onboard. When God calls, avoiding and evading behavior may be a familiar pattern for all of us!
A great storm rises and nothing the mariners attempt, works. Jonah realizes that in order for the sailors to be saved he needs to be cast off the boat because God is in the storm. He is the God of the storm. We can imagine him tumbling into the waters, down into the depths until he is choking. Everything is black and dark. He probably doesn’t know if he’s dying, but at some point realizes he’s breathing and can’t see a thing. Every now and then a wave washes over him with all kinds of marine life. At some point perhaps it dawns on him that he is in the belly of a fish. Alive, trapped and as good as dead.
He begins to pray to God, but not just pray. He cries out from a desperate place. In the belly of the fish with nowhere to go Jonah re-awakens to God. So begins his process of repentance, of turning toward God’s will for him.
“I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction and He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried and You heard my voice…when my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord and my prayer went up to you into Your holy temple.
Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own Mercy, but I will sacrifice to You, with the voice of thanksgiving, I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.” Jonah 2:2,3,8,9.
Given the choice of his own questionable safety, Jonah chose to try and protect the sailors by handing himself over to the God of the storm. In the storm he “wakes up” to God’s will.
In this season of Lent we can be intentional about pressing in to find the specifics of God’s will for our lives. Where do you need to “wake up” to what He’s asking of you? Often, Lent is a time of giving up things like chocolate, alcohol or even social media. What about going deeper? What if you repent from self-condemnation? What if you repent from judging others for 40 days? What would that wake up in your life?
“Lord change me.
Forgive me my sins as I forgive those who’ve sinned against me.
Let my deeds outrun my words
As I pursue all of your will.”
Excuse the length - I loved The Message version of Psalm 51: 7-15!
Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I’ll let loose with your praise.
Setting an intention is a commitment to follow through on a course of action. It’s all about honoring your intention before God. When you fail or mess up, simply return to your intention.
Jonah extended mercy to his fellow-sailors. They came to know God as their God, as a result.
“This week, I set my intention to extend mercy, kindness and grace to people on my path. Every single day I will extend mercy to others even when it costs me.”
(Mercy is defined as unearned/unmerited compassion or lovingkindness.)