Thoughts on sin, repentance and other heavy stuff

January 4

Genesis 8:1-10:32
Matthew 4:12-2:25
Psalm 4:1-8
Proverbs 1:20-23

1. While the ark preserved a family to continue God’s work in the earth, it did not cure our basic sin problem. Mankind cannot by his own efforts or his own righteousness save himself. Genesis 8:21 and 9:21 underscore that. “The Lord … said in his heart, ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood …” (Gen 8:21). And sure enough, after God blessed Noah and his family and put them back to work on the earth, just a few verses later we find Noah naked and drunk in his tent (Gen 9:21). Even after a fresh start begun with the blessings of God and sealed with a rainbow, Noah, a righteous man, messed up. We cannot please God by our own efforts. Still, God’s love and mercy are evident in the blessings that He gave to Noah and his family. While our sin grieves the heart of God, He knows that we cannot fix ourselves, as hard as we might try. This leads to point 2.

2. We seriously need a change of direction. Perhaps this is the reason that Jesus’ very first message was one of repentance (Matt 4:17). “Repent.” Turn. Change your direction. “You’re going the wrong way!” Jesus seems to shout. Why is this change of direction necessary? Because the kingdom of God is near! Jesus is not proclaiming the end of the world (Hollywood films and Mayan calendars notwithstanding) but the kingdom of God. A new way of living. A new way of relating. The people were going the wrong way – trusting in ritual and religion and law. Jesus came to show them a new way – the way of relationships, intimacy, and obedience motivated by love.

3. The message of repentance struck a chord with the early disciples that resulted in action. “And immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him” (Matt 4:22). “Immediately” is a very strong word. If Jesus were to call me today to leave my work and my family and follow Him down a new path, would I be willing to do so? We have just begun a study of Nehemiah in our Sunday worship time. Our pastor said, “Nehemiah left a cushy government job because God nudged him to do so. He left the “secret service” to become a contractor.” What action does God want me and you to take in response to His nudging this year? Am I – are you – willing to take the risk?

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