The Value of Repentance
Day 1. Repentance. Both John the Baptist and Jesus began their ministries with a similar call, a call to repent. Repentance literally means to change our mind or to change our thinking. Change, rethink, choose a different path, or go another way. How do you view repentance? Do any of these words come to your mind: weakness, stubbornness, humility, anger, hopelessness, hopefulness? Take a few minutes to contemplate your own working definition of repentance. Read Mark 1:4-5, 14-15. How would Jesus describe repentance? Pray and ask the Father to show you anything that does not lead to life, is not consistent with being a citizen of His Kingdom.
Day 2. Read Matthew 5:4-6 Do you have a heart that can mourn your own thoughts or actions from time to time? Do you hunger for things to be “right”, that is, in harmony with God’s Kingdom (or how God intends things to be here on earth)? Are you longing for God to have His way, with and in you, and in your areas of influence? Recall the message on Sunday. Is there something in your thinking, attitude, behavior that helps hold up sin and brokenness in you or your area of influence? Did the Holy Spirit bring something to your mind? What would it look like to repent, to change your thinking, in your mind and to trust God to provide a different way?
Day 3. Read Mark 1:4-5, 14-15 again. Repentance is a change of mind or rethinking what or how we have been living. Confession is critical. Why is confession so important? Why does it matter? It’s the only way to receive forgiveness and restoration of relationship. I can forgive someone, but if they reject it or ignore it, there is no reconciliation of the relationship. But God loves us and wants relationship. While it’s true I will benefit from forgiving them, without them accepting my love and forgiveness, there is no reconciliation. Repentance is our ongoing “yes” to God’s free gift of grace and forgiveness. Is there something you need to confess to God or to another to move toward restoring relationship?
Day 4. Read 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 Has anyone ever called you out or had a hard conversation about an attitude or behavior of yours? How did that initially feel? What did you have to fight through to actually repent? Self-defense, blame of others or circumstances, rationalizations–what eventually helped move you to repentance? A stern attitude on their part, a threat of punishment, their care, concern, or even love they have for you? In the book of Romans, Paul reminds us that it is God’s kindness and goodness that leads us to repentance. Repentance is owning our stuff and sin not to belittle, but to offer real life and freedom. The gospel writer, Luke, in his day,called it times of refreshment. Could you use some refreshment? Is there something you need to either let go of or maybe it’s to own and accept?
Day 5. Have you ever wanted to hide from God? As silly as that sounds, we all have some ways of hiding. We can avoid God like we would someone at the grocery store by going down another aisle. We can cease to pray or skip church or small group, but that won’t get us what we want or need. It just leaves us in our sin and stuff, and usually deepens it. Picture a parent, friend, co-worker, or spouse who has acted badly. Once you move past wanting to angrily straighten them out, don’t you want them to understand how their actionshurt you and others? How much more so does your Father in heaven want you to understand how you have acted and how it has hurt your relationship with Him? Are you willing to trust the goodness of God, His goodness to forgive you, His goodness to restore what was lost and begin healing that which is inside of you? What would it be like to stop hiding, to pray, and to repent? Read Psalm 145:8-21 and enter into a conversation with God.