Repentance

8 Reasons to Grieve Over the Orlando Massacre

Like most of you, I am grieved about the massacre that happened in Orlando this past Sunday. We are called in God’s word to hate what He hates and to love what He loves; I also believe we are to be grieved by what grieves Him. Here are some of the things related to the Orlando massacre that grieve me, and I believe grieve God too: · I am deeply grieved that 49 people –all of whom were precious to Jesus who created them and gave His life for them–were unexpectedly and violently killed, souls who may never have received the gift of salvation for which Jesus paid the price and longed for them to receive. I am greatly grieved for those victims who didn’t know Jesus who were killed, because they will spend an eternity in hell separated from Him and all that is good. I am certain that if they could speak to their family and friends now, they would beg them to turn to Jesus and accept the forgiveness He freely offers to all who repent! (See the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19-31) I pray that God would teach us all to number our days so that we would get a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12) and live for the purpose each one of us was put on the earth: for the pleasure and glory of God. (Isaiah 43:7) I greatly rejoice that many potential victims were spared, and I pray for the full recovery of those who were injured, especially for the salvation of those who don’t know the Lord.

· I grieve for the victims’ families and friends, and for all who mourn the loss of the victims. I grieve realizing they may hold the false notion that has infiltrated our culture that everyone who dies– or ‘good people’ as defined by the world– go to heaven. I pray that if they are not already saved, that they would come to know that the only One Who is truly good is God, and that the only way to heaven is through Jesus who gave His life for all who would put their trust in His work of atonement on the cross. (See Mark 10:18; John 14:6; John 11:25; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9)

· I grieve for the killer Omar Mateen and for all Muslims who have been deceived by Satan into thinking that it is a ‘good work’ to kill ‘kafirs’ (all non-Muslims) and to die as a martyr, and who falsely believe that such actions will lead to their going to Paradise. I pray that all people—including all Muslims– will come to know the love of Jesus, Who rather than wanting us to shed the blood of innocent people or to die a martyrs’ death, willingly shed His own blood on the cross and laid down His life for us, giving the assurance of heaven to all who put their trust in what He did for them. In sharp contrast to the god of the Muslims, the true God does not ask us to kill others; rather, He asks us to love everyone and to pray for our enemies and those who persecute us. (See Matthew 5:43-44; Luke 6:35)

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· I grieve that under the guise of ‘tolerance’ and ‘multi-cultural diversity’ many in our nation have become indoctrinated to believe that Islam is a ‘religion of peace’, when in fact it is not, rather, it is a political ideology more than it is a religion. I am grieved Omar Mateen’s action was totally aligned with the teaching of Islam, a belief system that separates people into two groups: Muslims, and ‘kafirs’ (non-Muslims) who are to be annihilated if they do not accept the tenets of Islam. (https://www.politicalislam.com/about/) I am grieved that so many people around the globe, and increasingly so in the United States, are being deceived by what some people– even those in leadership positions in our government and our media—falsely say about Islam. I grieve that some people think—even some ‘professing’ Christians– that the God of the Bible and the god of the Muslims are the same. That is because they are ignorant of Who God really is as revealed through the Bible, and they are also ignorant of the teachings of Islam as stated in the Koran, the Hadith, and the Sunna. I am also grieved that many Christians have been more interested in their own comfort than in the salvation of others and therefore they have failed to carry out the great commission that Jesus entrusted to us, ‘to go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:16-20) so that people around the globe, including Muslims, would know the truth that would set them free from falsehoods, and receive the love their hearts long for that can only be found in knowing Jesus. · I am deeply grieved that a pastor who professes to be a Christian proclaimed that it was not a tragedy because the victims deserved to be killed since they were homosexuals, and spewed other vitriolic statements regarding the victims. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/06/14/pastor-refuses-to-mourn-orlando-victims-the-tragedy-is-that-more-of-them-didnt-die/) It is heart breaking because that pastor and anyone else who believes what he stated obviously does not understand the true heart of God and grossly misrepresents Him. Yes, homosexuality is a sin—an abomination to God—and He is grieved that we in America have legalized homosexual marriage and promote and approve of that which He in His wisdom knows is destructive to our good. However, it is a sin—like every other sin– that His blood is able to cover and He gave His life so that ALL people, regardless of their particular sins, could find forgiveness through His atoning work on the cross. I believe Jesus is grieved whenever a person dies who did not come to Him and receive the forgiveness of sin that He offers. The Word tells us in Ezekiel 18:32, “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live." Yes, I pray that we as a nation would turn from our sin of accepting and promoting homosexuality, but I also pray that we as professing Christians would repent of the sin of pride that has led some to believe that the sin of homosexuality is somehow worse than their own sins against a holy God. We ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and we are ALL desperately in need of the forgiveness of our sins that Jesus purchased for us on the cross. (Romans 3:23)

· I grieve that politicians, the press, and others in the public arena are once again looking to blame someone– or ‘something’, like guns—rather than the perpetrator of the act. I grieve because I know that God will hold each person accountable for his or her sin, and our culture of ‘blame’ is being stirred up and used by Satan to lead people to think that they will be able to get away with their sin by placing the blame for their actions on someone or something else. God’s word is very clear that each of us will reap what we sow, (Galatians 6:7-8) and that each of us will have to stand before the throne of God and give an account of what we have done while we lived on earth. (2nd Corinthians 5:10)

· I am grieved that Satan is not only behind, but is also using all of these violent terrorist acts as another way to instill fear, distrust, and division in our nation as we blame one another for the crisis we are in. I am grieved that our country– that still has as its pledge, ‘one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all’– has become more divided than at any point in my life as a sense of both personal and corporate ‘entitlement’ has swept over our nation and the reality of personal responsibility has seemingly be swept away . I see divisiveness as one of Satan’s tactics to destroy us, the country that for so long was the ‘city on a hill’. (http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-city-on-the-hill-american-exceptionalism-and-redemptive-violence/5350265) Satan knows the truth of God’s word that ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand’. (Mark 3:25) I am grieved that our nation that was founded upon ‘the rule of law’– laws inspired by God and based upon the fundamental liberties that He as Our Creator gave to us and that granted us greater freedoms than any other nation has ever known–is moving rapidly toward ‘lawlessness’ where we will be subject to the rule of whoever wields the most power. I pray that we as a nation will wake up and realize how uniquely blessed we have been to have liberties and laws based upon God’s Word, and we will safeguard the Constitution that our founding fathers sacrificed their reputations, homes, fortunes and very lives in order for us to have, a Constitution and Bill of Rights that has enabled us to enjoy the freedoms that we have taken for granted and are dangerously close to forfeiting.

· Most of all, I am grieved that even many Christians in our nation are looking to political figures to ‘save us’ and fail to grasp the root cause of the increasing violence and terror attacks, as well as our nation’s other grave problems: we have forsaken God. And He is the only One Who can save us! He blesses the nation that trusts in Him and obeys His commands; He brings judgment on the nation that rejects and disobeys Him. (Romans 15:4; 2nd Timothy 3:16; Jeremiah 12:17). We in America have turned our back on God, and He is turning His back on us, for He longs for judgment to cause us to consider our sins, to cry out to Him, and to turn back to Him. Crises are going to increase in number and intensity unless we repent and turn away from the sins our nation has committed against a holy God. I am grieved that many people think that we ‘deserve’ to be blessed by God, even though our nation has defied His commands by: committing idolatry in so many ways, including but not limited to materialism and covetousness, an obsession with entertainment, alcohol and drugs and other forms of ‘self-indulgence’; legalizing abortion that has murdered over 58 million children God created in His image; accepting as normative fornication, adultery, divorce, homosexuality, and various other forms of sexual sins; embracing injustice and corruption in our government; and turning our back on God’s firstborn, Israel, to name just some of our nation’s sins.

We are in a spiritual battle for the souls of those in our nation. Satan has done a great job of getting us to listen to him and to turn on one another; God desires that we turn to Him, repent of our sin, and forgive one another. Only God has the power to deliver us from the muck and mire we have gotten ourselves into!

When we as a nation put our trust in God and realized our dependence upon Him, we were blessed, and we proved the truth of His Word: ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!’ (Psalm 33:12 ESV)

His plea to America today is the same as the one He gave to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament when they too forgot the God Who had been the Source of their blessings: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations…. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin (Ezekiel 14:6; Ezekiel 18:30 ESV) But if any nation will not listen, then I will utterly pluck it up and destroy it, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 12:17 ESV)

God, Who is merciful and Who even relented in judging wicked Nineveh when that city repented during the days of Jonah, also makes a promise in His Word,’… if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. (Jeremiah 18:8 ESV)

May we who know God and His merciful, compassionate heart of love be found faithful to fervently pray for our nation to repent, to boldly stand for the truth of His Word regardless of the cost, and to share the good news of His love for everyone and His desire that all should repent and be saved!

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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What Does Easter Mean to You?

Christmas and Easter mornings were the highlights of every year of my childhood. From December 26th on, I anticipated celebrating Easter and all that went along with the holiday: going shopping with my Mom and sister to buy a new and frilly dress to wear to church; coloring eggs that mysteriously appeared outside our house for my siblings and I to hunt on Easter morning; singing favorite hymns like “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”; sharing a special meal with all my in-town relatives following church; and capping off the day with a huge Easter egg hunt at my Grandparents’ house, which resulted in an Easter basket filled with a bounty of egg shaped candy that I feasted on for days. I knew that Easter was a celebration of Jesus being raised from the dead, but like most children— and I venture to say even many adults— my focus was more on the accoutrements of the holiday rather than on the true significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. My family and I always attended Good Friday services, where I faithfully remained somber during the sermonettes on Jesus’ last words from the cross. I remember thinking it peculiar that the day that Jesus died and suffered so much pain was labeled as ‘good.’ Now, with a much greater understanding of all that His death and resurrection accomplished, I consider it not just ‘good’ Friday, but GREAT Friday! Life giving, death-defying Friday!

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I realize that Jesus Christ came to earth for the express purpose of delivering me from the pain, suffering and eternal death that I deserve for my sin of rebellion against a Holy God. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and awe that Jesus, the perfect Son of God, chose to take on human flesh and died in my place on the cross! Yes, Christmas Day when we celebrate Christ’s birth is noteworthy, but Easter—or as I prefer ‘Resurrection Day’—is now ‘hands down’ my favorite holiday. It commemorates the day that Satan and death were defeated! It is the day that reminds me that ‘because Jesus lives, I can face tomorrow’, and every tomorrow after that, no matter what! Death has lost its sting! It has been ‘swallowed up in victory’! (1st Corinthians 15:54-55) I no longer have to fear the death of my body and eternal damnation; I can embrace death when it comes as the doorway to seeing Jesus ‘face-to-face’ and spending eternity in His glorious Presence!

The ultimate significance of Easter is that what we believe about what happened on that day divides the world in two: those who believe that Jesus atoned for their sin on the cross and receive Him as their personal Savior and ‘Lord of their life’ and therefore will be resurrected to eternal life with Him, and those who reject Him as their personal Savior and Lord and therefore condemn themselves to being resurrected to eternal damnation.

What separates Jesus from every other so called god in the world is that He alone claimed to be God, and proved His claim by His perfectly obedient life…. and by His power to overcome death as evidenced by His resurrection from the dead! His tomb is empty! Jesus, ‘the Word Who became flesh’, is alive! (John1:14) His Words are just as alive today as when He walked on earth in the flesh, and they produce life in all who believe them. Jesus is alive; He is at the right hand of the Father; and He is praying for those who draw near to Him! (Acts 2:33; Hebrews 7:25)

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. “ John 11: 25

After making that claim, Jesus asked Martha, Lazarus’ sister, ‘Do you believe this?”

Imagine Him asking you that question right now. What would your response be to the One Who knows you best? Do you truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God Who laid down His life as the perfect sacrifice, and thereby paid the penalty that your sin deserves? (Romans 6:23)

Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, and His words and His life reflected and proved His claim to be true. If you claim to follow Jesus, do your words and actions support that claim? Would your family and friends say, “Wow! She’s a Christian!” or “Wow, she’s a Christian?!”Are you clinging to His words and closely following in the path that He has laid out before you and called you to walk in? Are you daily ‘denying yourself and picking up your cross’—in other words, putting aside your own selfish will and desires and living for the desires and will of God? (Luke 9:23)

Or, are you following Jesus from a distance…like Peter did when the authorities arrested Jesus? From a distance, it was easy for Peter to deny Jesus. Do not be deceived: from a distance, it will be easy for you to deny Jesus too. While they were in Jesus’ Presence and before the reality of the cross, all of the disciples had claimed that they would follow Him, even if it meant their death. (Matthew 26:35) However, their claim was proven to be false because their faith was proven to be weak. They all abandoned Him rather than follow Him to the cross. Why? Because their fear of man was greater than their belief in Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man. Because they saw Jesus as their friend—even the Messiah— who was supposed to conquer and rule the world, but they had not yet seen Him as their personal Savior Who had died in their place, conquered death, and Who longed to reign in their hearts.

However, following his death and resurrection they saw and knew Him as the ‘Risen Savior’, which solidified their faith in Him and simultaneously diminished their fear of man. They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was the Son of God and the fulfillment of God the Father’s promise to send a Messiah to His people. The same men who had feared man and death prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection, would post-resurrection willingly lay down their lives for what they knew to be true and could not deny: the reality that Jesus is God, and the Way, the Truth and the Life! (John 14:6)

Do you know Jesus personally and experientially so that there is no doubt in your heart and mind that He is indeed God? Have you received the free gift of salvation and eternal life that He offers to all that humble themselves and believe that He paid the price for their sin and took on the death they deserve?

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3

If you do not know Him, you can! Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and to give you a heart that seeks after Him. If you ask, He will answer! (Matthew 7:7)

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8 “Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” John 6:29 "Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55:6

May God grant us all hearts that seek after Him, believe in Him, receive His love, follow Him, and obey His word, proving ourselves to be His disciples!

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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Yes, Words Matter!

  The latest buzz among the celebrity world is Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s “Ban Bossy” Campaign. The goal is to eliminate using the word ‘bossy’ for women. Celebrities Beyonce, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Garner, Diane von Furstenberg, Condoleezza Rice, Jimmie Johnson, and the CEO of the Girl Scouts are all on the bandwagon marketing this campaign.  The campaign is predicated on the belief that changing the word will change the way people perceive women who are bossy: pushy, stubborn, assertive, outspoken, determined women.  During the video clip promoting the campaign, it accurately states, “words matter.”

Yes, our words do matter!  Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Jesus, ‘The Living Word’, says in Matthew 12: 36-37, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Satan also knows that the words we use matter. That’s why since time began his goal has been to twist, change, and eliminate God’s Word. The word Satan would most love to ban is the word ‘Jesus’, because there is life-giving power in that Name! (See our blog “What’s In a Name? Everything!”). Another word that Satan seeks to ban because it is inextricably linked with Jesus is the word ‘sin’. As Christian author Basilea Schlink writes, “the Savior and the sinner are inseparable”*. Sin literally means ‘to miss the mark’ (of God’s commands) or ‘to wander from the path of righteousness’, ‘to wander from the law of God’. Sin, therefore, necessarily means the acknowledgement of God— something that Satan definitely does not want us to do.

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Satan has been the instigator behind trying to remove the word ‘sin’ from our public arena, and even from seminaries and the pulpits of many churches.  Rather than calling those things that violate God’s commands ‘sin’, we now commonly use euphemisms for sin that are far more benign, such as: an ‘indiscretion’; ‘human nature’; alternative lifestyle; addiction; disorder; predisposition; bad habit; character flaw; or even one’s ‘choice’.

So does it really matter what we call something?  Yes! It can be the difference between freedom and bondage; between life and death!

Envision this scenario:  You have cancer and go to your physician who tells you that you merely have a bad cold, so he gives you a prescription for cold medicine.  Does it make a difference if he calls it cancer or a cold?  You bet it does! The severity of cancer and the treatment for it is markedly different than the severity and treatment for a cold.  Similarly, if we do not call sin what it is, people will be deceived and either ignore their incurable condition or spend time, energy and their very lives looking for a remedy that can’t cure them. And sin always leads to death…unless a person receives the only ‘cure’… faith in the atoning work of Jesus’ blood that was shed on the cross to pay the penalty for their sin.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Satan, the author of death, desires that you and I ‘misdiagnose’ our  ‘sin condition’ so that we won’t seek after Jesus, the Great Physician and the Only One Who has the cure for sin. Only Jesus can set us free from the penalty of sin! Only Jesus can set us free from the power of sin!

Ignoring our sin or calling it something other than sin does not change the reality that it is sin; sin ignored, and sin ‘by any other name’ that we choose to call it, still leads to death.

The only cure for your sinful, fateful condition is found in believing that Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross and took on your sin and also the penalty that your sin deserved. It means humbling yourself and confessing that you are indeed a sinner, recognizing that you have violated the law of God and therefore deserve the penalty for doing so, which is death.  To be set free from the power of sin in your life requires repenting of your sin, or in other words—turning away from it— and choosing to live for the glory and purposes of God.

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We are promised:

“If we confess our sins, He (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1st John 1:9

“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me] and resting [in Me] you shall be saved; in quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength … “Isaiah 30:15 Amplified

"Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you…” Acts 3:19-20

When we call sin for what it is and repent of it, we will be freed from the bondage of our sin, saved, and able to experience joy and rest in the arms of Jesus, Who gave up His life so that we could have abundant and eternal life in Him.

Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of any sin in your life that you may be ignoring or calling by another name. Ask Him to forgive you of your sin and to give you the strength to turn from it. Jesus longs for you to experience the freedom and joy that comes from confessing and repenting of your sin!

*From I Found the Key to the Heart of God by Basilea Schlink

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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How To Experience Spiritual Revival

The foundations of our nation are crumbling: we are experiencing moral collapse everywhere we look.Many are crying out for revival—or healing—in our land. How can we create revival? 

There can be no revival without true repentance.

Repentance cannot come until we humble ourselves and see our sin in light of a Holy and Just God who created us and made us for His pleasure and for His purposes (Isaiah 43:7-9). If we wish to see revival in America it must begin with admitting:

  • - I am a sinner in need of Jesus as my Savior
  • -Confession of my own sin

When was the last time that you spent time considering God and asking Him to convict you of your sin?If you desire change in our land, have you considered that the change that brings revival must first begin in you?

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Years ago I used to wonder why God did not change the problems in my life, in our nation, and in the world. As I came to know Him better through spending time in His Word, I realized that God has given us the prescription for change.

It can be found in 2nd Chronicles 7:14, “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. “ Amplified version

This is an admonition to “My people”—to God’s people, not to the world in general.It assumes that God’s people—those who claim to know Him and choose to be aligned with Him—have gone astray.It is imperative that we as the Church:

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  • Quit looking to others to change in order for revival to come upon our land
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  • Open up our eyes, humble ourselves, and realize that we are the ones who have turned from God

After meditating on that verse, I have made it a daily practice to ask God to reveal my sins so I may repent. I have also asked Him to show me the sins of the Church that I might “stand in the gap” and pray for the Body of Christ to repent as well.

It is foolish to think that we will not reap the punishment that a Holy God and Our Creator has decreed for those who turn away from His just and good commands and embrace evil.

“The Harbinger” by Jonathan Cahn is a New York bestseller that hypothesizes that America, like Israel before her, is under judgment. He states that a series of judgments are forthcoming unless we repent.

Any honest appraisal of America’s history will see that we are a nation that was founded upon biblical precepts by God-fearing men.However, we have rebelled against God, the Source of all of this nation’s blessings. God’s Word is very clear that there will be blessings for obedience to His commands and curses for disobedience—for both individuals and nations.

So, is there hope for our nation? Can there be revival in the land? The key question to be asked first is, “Are you willing to repent of your own sin so that God can bring revival in you?”

Written by Julie Van Gorp

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?