REPENT, FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS NEAR

 

If you believe that God is restoring a friendship or a marriage, bringing victory in an area of defeat, sending revival, or empowering you for a new ministry—repent.

 

It means to change your mind, which impacts a behavioral change. John and Jesus preached the same message. It must be really important. There are two parts to the statement, a command, then an explanation as to why.

 

If His kingdom is coming near, we get ready by repentance. It clears the deck, stripping our excuses, claiming rights or desiring to do it my way.

 

If the King is coming close, we anticipate greater peace, greater power. This means going low to receive the King. This does not come by a few half-hearted prayers. It comes by wholehearted repentance. It’s a gift. Ask for it—then do it!

 

THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS NEAR

The only way for the kingdom to get close is for the King to get close. That’s good news. God rules differently than earthly rulers. Jesus said that “the Gentiles lord it over” those under their charge (Mark 10:42). Domination and manipulation are common rules of the game. God rules like a shepherd: “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. (Psalm 23). The Psalmist says, “Righteous is your reign.” Who would not welcome this kind of ruler?

 

REPENT

I begin my prayer time with thanks. Then I go to repentance. Recently, as I moved from thanksgiving to repentance, the Lord said, “This is important.” I took that to mean that it is good to repent. It gave me joy that morning to repent, to acknowledge how far I was away from the character of the Father’s beloved Son. I knew that God was changing me as I acknowledged my great need for renovation. I felt His kingdom coming closer.

 

Corporate repentance often accompanies or precedes revival. Vulnerability releases grace and keeps the revival Christ-centered and cross-focused. Therefore, “confess you sins to one another…” (Js. 5:16).

 

We are not accustomed to God’s kind of rule. We relate to many substandard rulers in our lives. We learn to react rather than respond. We excuse or blame rather than confess, as I did recently when my daughter exhorted me about the time I was spending (or not) with the family. I reacted defensively. The next morning I thanked her and told her I was sorry. She used the occasion to exhort me even more!

 

Why repent? Because the things you need to repent of will keep you from meeting the King. Jesus doesn’t hang with whiners—He rebukes them. And he judges the self-righteous. Here are some wrong ways to repent: Make it general, apply it to Harvey, or to where you don’t need it, or make excuses for not doing it, or substitute an emotional response for real change.

 

Some right ways:

Ask someone wiser how to do it. Take the first step. Don’t wait for God to do something. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” Acknowledge that you need change, more love, more joy, more passion for lost people. Tell God and a close friend. Tell Him you want to change, then do what you would do if you knew you had changed. That is the fruit of repentance. Then watch God change your heart!

 

 

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