“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and (if) My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)
I spent three hours crying out to God in the night: three hours seeking Him to hear my prayers, forgive my sin, and heal my land. In those three hours God made me increasingly aware of the repentance needed. Here it is:
God is God alone, there is no other. Do you believe this truth? Repentance acknowledges His sovereign, His Lordship, and my extreme need of Him. I can do nothing apart from Him. He is my first, most vital need and necessity. Because of Him, in reliance upon Him, I can proclaim, “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.” All the remainder of Psalm 23 is mine only when my life stands in agreement with Psalm 23, verse 1. The Lord, my Shepherd, meets my every need. Anything short of honoring His Lordship over me-mine is sin. Bow down.
It’s the same in my Lord’s Model Prayer. Matthew 6:9-10 says, “Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed be Your Name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” As we bow ourselves to these truths, honoring Him as Father God, our only God, being above all, in all, and over all, worthy of honor and glory; and as we, in honor of His great Name, desire His will over our own wills, all the rest of that model prayer is ours to possess, for the remainder of that prayer guide is His will – His righteous provision for us, the sheep of His pasture. Bow down to His sovereignty. Bow to His will done His way, even and especially when we don’t understand it. (Matthew 26:39-41)
Repentance begins by acknowledging the Lordship of God alone as my God and Shepherd, recognizing my dire need of Him.
Father God, being God, my Lord, I can do nothing apart from Him (John 15:5), not even to truly and fully repent. In my typical attempt at repentance, I look at what I do and don’t do from my limited understanding of God’s Word and will, and I believe in acknowledging and deciding to turn from those things that I have successfully confessed as sin. But that only scratches the surface of the cup that is me. True and full repentance comes from the positive of what I know and acknowledge about God. What I believe true of God, am I living that out in life’s situations? Am I trusting Him because I believe? Here is what God led me to and revealed to me in those three hours of crying out.
My greatest good is as filthy rags before our Holy God (Isaiah 64:6). I cannot begin to be good, for only God is good. I cannot possess good apart from Him. Even Jesus, the perfect Lamb that takes away the sin of the world, in the days of His flesh, told those who addressed Him as good teacher from our fleshly understanding of goodness, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).
Only God is good. Any true good in me comes as a gift from the Father of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting of shadow (James 1:17-18). In repentance, I must acknowledge and accept that I possess no good apart from Him. That knocks a lot of stilts out from under me, forcing me to seat myself fully on the solid Rock of God’s grace – His merciful grace to me.
God looks for the righteous lot. He addresses many promises to those who are righteous. But I am unable to be truly righteous apart from Him. God’s Word tells me that one of His good gifts to me is the fact that He makes me the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. He is my righteousness. Repentance comes to Him fully surrendered to that Righteousness. Claiming any good, any righteousness apart from Him, that is sin. Bow down.
By the same right, when we seek Him truly trusting and surrendered to that righteousness gifted to us in Christ, living in and walking that righteous fruit out into our days, we can know His promise is ours. Watch for it. (Romans 3:21-26, Philippians 3:7-11)
We, who belong to God through Christ Jesus, are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.” God empowers us to walk in this truth. Are we fulfilling this purpose? Bow down; “for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
“Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”” Bow Down. Only from a humbled heart toward Him can we draw near to the throne of His grace.
“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:5-10)
We draw near to God as we submit ourselves to all we know and believe true of Him, His ways, and His will. That submission automatically puts us in resistance to the devil, where, in the voice and authority of Christ, we can say, “Leave me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” (Matthew 4:10)
Draw near to God today, through the veil of our Savior, and intercede with Him in the authority given those fully surrendered to God’s will done God’s way. Draw near trusting He will hear our prayers, forgive our sin, and heal our land.
“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near WITH A SINCERE HEART IN FULL ASSURANCE OF FAITH, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:19-25)