** 40 Days of Repentance – 2019 – Day 40
Devotion during 40 days of Teshuvah
Father Damien devoted his life to working in a leper colony. One day he mishandled a teapot full of boiling water. Scalding water drenched his foot. Oddly he felt nothing. At that instant he knew he had contracted the form of leprosy rendering him unable to sense pain.
As we contemplate “teshuvah,” we often encounter a similar situation—the inability to feel and respond to our environment. We can suffer from a spiritual leprosy that makes us oblivious to danger–unaware of what is harming us and destroying us. Isaiah 29: 9 Be stunned and amazed, blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk, but not from wine, stagger, but not from beer. 10 Yahweh has brought over you a deep sleep: He has sealed your eyes (the prophets); he has covered your heads (the seers).
An essential component of repentance, teshuvah, is waking up to see who we are and where we are. Being in a state of anesthesia or slumber threatens the quality of our life in the Spirit.
1 John 1: 7 But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Yeshua his Son cleanses us from all sin.
Here the apostle John reminds us of the cleansing power of the blood of our Messiah and points out that its cleansing action is conditional. Our sins are only cleansed when they are brought into the light.
The context of this chapter intimates that confession is an act that brings sin into the light. While empty words have no impact, words expressing the true decision of our heart are powerful and life-giving. Confession is essential to coming into the light. However, many times we first need to turn on the light switch and see the truth of our situation.
We see this in the story of Yeshua’s parable commonly known as “The Prodigal Son.” In the story the prodigal prematurely claims his inheritance and then squanders it on wasteful and profligate living. When his money runs out so do his friends. Alone and penniless, he finds himself reduced to feeding pigs and starved to the point he longs for the husks he is feeding them. In Luke 15:17 the light switch flips. The translations of this verse say “he came to himself” or “he came to his senses.” Something happens that confronts him with reality. The impact of his destructive behavior becomes clear. His chosen path has reduced his circumstances to a place far worse than his Father’s servants. This dawning realization sets him on the road to repentance and restoration.
An essential part of Teshuvah is embracing the light—even admitting that we haven’t been aware of the light—being willing to open our eyes and accept the guidance of both the Word and the Ruach. Paul says in Ephesians 5:14 “Awake, O sleeper! Rise from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you!” When we have been sleeping a flash of light startles us. We recoil in pain until we adjust to the light.
Sometimes we are unaware of our true condition. Like the assembly at Laodicea we think we are rich, clothed and seeing but in reality we are poor, naked and blind. Repentance eludes us because we are asleep and our eyes are tightly closed. Often God uses people in our lives to turn on the light and other times he sovereignly accosts us through the Ruach. Our first reaction may be to avoid the light but by embracing the light we enjoy the healing found through the cleansing blood of Yeshua that only occurs in the light.
As we have walked these 40 days of Teshuvah let us pray with the apostle Paul in Ephesians 1:18—”open the eyes of our heart that we may be enlightened to know the hope to which he has called us.”
** 40 Days of Repentance – 2019 – Day 39
My Walk of Repentance
As I was pondering the Scripture portion called Shmini (Vayikra/Leviticus) 9:1-11:47 one day, I was reminded of the fact that my Heavenly Father put me in a family and home that found their fellowship with a group of believers that taught Holiness. In fact the movement was known as The Holiness Movement then. Further along in my faith walk, as I was beginning to connect with a non-denominational group that primarily pursued intimate worship, I attended a conference at which Leonard Ravenhill spoke on Holiness. There seemed to me to be much consternation over his teaching at the time. Many of the worship movement did not like the call to Holiness.
As I look back on these events and many more I marvel at the path my Creator has taken me on. He started me out in the Holiness movement and then after my prodigal years He led me into the Charismatic movement. First I learned the Word of God and was taught about Holiness, then I learned intimacy with God and was taught how to hear Him. Yet something was still missing, I was worshiping Him with such intimacy and yet I needed to learn to offer my worship through obedience, too.
As He led me to listen to Him and do what I heard Him say I found myself in some wonderful gatherings of His people from different streams. Through hearing and obeying, I was led to let Him change my heart. As I was praying one day asking Him to deliver me from a tough situation, He stopped me dead in my tracks when He spoke into my inner-man and said “Your heart needs to change.” WOW! What a tough thing for me to do. In truth I could not. Once I realized I could not make this change I told God I could not, that He would have to do it, then I let go and gave Him free reign to do it. He did it and I felt so good. It has been the most rewarding thing in my life.
Then through His leading and provision I started a company and found much reward both in the natural and in the spiritual. He led me to customers, to believing businessmen and many opportunities to share my testimony of what He was doing in my life. I was invited to speak at businessmen gatherings and soon found myself invited to a Tuesday afternoon meeting of believers that sought the Spirit for direction at each gathering. They came without an agenda each week and let the meeting flow. The subjects that were talked about and the flow of like-minded brethren left my heart hungering for more. I also began to find myself digging into the Word more and more to see if what was spoken was true.
After one such afternoon as I was heading home I was talking to my Heavenly Father and He asked me if I would give Him my Tuesdays. Well I wanted to be faithful yet Tuesdays were a work day and I had an excess of work. It took me a short time that day to come to the decision that I would do what He asked. I set my schedule to take Tuesday off and would regularly attend the businessmen’s meetings and then go to the Tuesday afternoon meeting with the others.
At these afternoon meetings I learned to listen better and to follow the Spirit of God even easier. The talk in this gathering drove me into the Scriptures even more and to a deeper prayer life. I found myself studying the Scripture with great enthusiasm to find the new revelations that my Father would lead me to. This time was wonderful and also hard. I gained new friends and found that I had to give up other relationships. Through this time He also taught me how to stand firm in the Scriptures even when I found myself at odds with some friends that I considered close spiritual brothers.
What I realized was most important was not my relationships or my friendships or my reputation or my church status, but what stands supreme is my walk with my Creator. You see, He started me young in life with the message of Holiness. Now again I find myself hearing the call to “Be Holy as I am Holy.” As I look back, I see that He has led me to build my walk not only on what I learned in my church life but also upon what the Scriptures teach. Yashua/Jesus is the living Torah/Word and He is the Lawgiver that is able to save. James 4:12
In a book I’m reading titled “The Unseen Realm” by M. Heiser, I found this statement; “My conscience wouldn’t let me ignore my own Bible in order to retain the theology with which I was comfortable. Was my loyalty to the text or to christian tradition?”
Being willing to let my King and Loving Father change me has been a walk of repentance that continues today. I find spending time reading and studying the Scriptures, all of them, puts me in the place to hear His leading, of the places in my life where I do not line up with His Word.
Abba, here I am, You are the potter, I am the clay, mold me and make me, this is what I pray. Change my heart oh God, make it ever true, change my heart oh God, may I be like you. (Song by Eddie Espinosa)
** 40 Days of Repentance – 2019 – Day 38
In the Path of Mephibosheth
Then David asked, “Is anyone still left from the family of Saul, so that I may extend kindness to him for the sake of Jonathan? …Mephibosheth was living in Jerusalem, or he was a regular guest at the king’s table. But both his feet were crippled. 2 Shemu’el (Samuel) 9:1, 13
After the warfare between the Dynasties of Shaul and David, there was consolidation of the tribes under David’s reign. He thoroughly defeated the Philistines, brought up the Ark into Jerusalem, built a home for his family, and began to lay plans for building a Temple for Yah’s Presence. Things were going exceptionally well for him, with 8:15 stating, “And David reigned over all Yisra’el, and David was doing right-ruling and righteousness to all his people.”
But something more needed to be accomplished. He asked of the remnant of Shaul’s House, the family of the former dynasty, if there were any yet alive. This would normally be a threat to any survivor as they posed a potential claim to the throne, but David’s motivation was one of covenant; that which he had made with Yehonatan. 9:1 says, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Shau’ul, that I might show him loving-commitment, because of Yehonatan?” There was one, Mephibosheth, a son of Yehonatan, dropped as a child and rendered lame in his feet. This one was living in the home of Machir [sold] son of Ammi’el [My kinsman is El], in Lo’debar [without pasture].
Once found, this crippled man is brought to the king of another dynasty, expecting to be eradicated. He dropped his crutches and fell on his face before David, probably an awkward and possibly a painful process. Instead of hearing the “zing” of a sword being unsheathed, he hears the words of mercy and restoration, “Do not fear, for I shall certainly show you loving-commitment because of Yehonatan your father, and shall return to you all the land of Shau’ul your grandfather, and let you eat bread at my table continually.”
Like Mephibosheth, we were found in a sold condition, though we were children of Yah. We were living like sheep without pasture, of the fallen house of the first Adam, condemned, expecting nothing more than judgement. Yet the King of the superior dynasty looked for us, found us, and promised the restoration of all things lost. He brings us to His table to eat of His food, His Word continually, sustaining us by His wealth and guarding the very life that should have been taken. We are not forgotten but searched for and restored. Let us rise to live worthy of such effort, focusing our minds on being thankful and righteous stewards of what has been entrusted to us.
** 40 Days of Repentance – 2019 – Day 37
Is There Anyone Who Knows?
Have you ever heard someone state that God cannot forgive them of their sins or that they cannot forgive themselves ?
Somehow this person has become sure that whatever sin they believe they have committed is just too great to be forgiven, much less forgotten. Someone dear to me had not been to a worship service in 30 years, they loved the Lord but didn’t feel worthy of being in a house of worship. I finally asked, what is it that you believe God will not forgive. The answer stunned me. I sat there thinking that the adversary has robbed this person of so many blessings because this individual believed this was a great sin that God would not forgive so therefore never considered repenting.
Had this person been willing to repent before The Almighty he would have discovered the freedom of forgiveness.
In the book of Joel, God brought upon the children of Israel a plague that devastated the crops in the land. God assures them that another calamity is coming, one that nobody can endure. In the midst of the current plague God tells the people to “proclaim a fast, lament, spend the night in sackcloth, proclaim a solemn assembly, blow the trumpet, sound an alarm and cry out to the Almighty.”
While God is continuing to tell Israel about this next coming calamity, “the day of The Lord,” the King of Kings says to them “Yet even now, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning, and rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting from sending calamity.”
What comes next is absolutely stunning, Joel says “who knows whether He will relent or not?” This statement is very similar to the King of Nineveh’s statement, “who knows if The Lord will relent?” If repentance is not sought, and forgiveness requested, how will one ever know if God will forgive or not?
The only people who will ever know whether God will forgive and relent are the people who are willing to repent!
Those willing to acknowledge sin and repent will experience the attributes of the great I AM. The one who is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting from sending calamity.
Nineveh did exactly as God had pleaded, “return to me.” They put on the sackcloth, proclaimed a fast, lamented and blew the trumpet. By returning they ceased practicing their evil ways causing The Creator of the universe to relent from bringing calamity upon them.
** 40 Days of Repentance – 2019 – Day 36
(1) “You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep going astray and ignore them. You shall take them back to your brother. (2) And if he does not live near you and you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall stay with you until your brother seeks it. Then you shall restore it to him. (3) And you shall do the same with his donkey or with his garment, or with any lost thing of your brother’s, which he loses and you find; you may not ignore it. (4) You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen down by the way and ignore them. You shall help him to lift them up again.
Do we seek to be a part of restoration? We often focus on our relationship with the Father but we do have a role to help each other? If we see a brother or sister having a difficult time (for the sake of this article, “lost their way”) do we seek to help them? We could try to ask questions or see where the need is, but our motive is equally important.
To restore something to its owner implies we have no ownership of that which we have helped. Why would I bring this up in context of people? When we help someone we often have some type of expectation that we put on them. We could expect a certain action, or a specific behavior, or words of affirmation, etc. because of our intervention.
This causes us to look at one fact, if we are to restore to the owner which is not us, do we have the right to put our expectations on them? To state another way, do we require someone to theologically, and doctrinally, agree with us in every point before we decide to help them? Do we think that when we offer help to someone that they must think and act exactly in accordance with my beliefs? Are we trying to restore them to the One they strayed from, or are we trying to make them our own?
We should always be seeking the heart and will of Yah. Our actions should be birthed out of love for Him and that which He created. When we encounter difficult times, we need to keep our eyes on the One who created us. Sometimes we need others to help us lift up our heads. If we are the one helping, make sure we don’t get in the way of those being helped so they can see the heart of our loving, heavenly Father.