Devotional: The Called Understand Repentance
God’s heart is to always be near to his people. But in Samuel’s time the voice of God was rare. God’s people lost their reverence for God and sinned. In 1 Sam 7:1-14, as soon as Samuel returns to the scene, he calls God’s wayward people to get right with God. They confessed their sin and God delivered them with an overwhelming victory over their enemies, the Philistines. But repentance is more than feeling remorse and getting inspired or to become complacent without any real change. Rather, for the children of God, all of life is repentance. It is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment choice to renounce our idols, hate our sin, and turn to God for His mercy and embrace. When we repent by confessing our sin and turning to God, God returns. And when God returns, He helps. Repentance not only invigorates and sustains our call, but it brings in the power and presence of God to help in our call.
Questions For Meditation
The first thing Samuel does upon his return is call people to rid themselves of foreign gods and commit themselves to God. As priests, we are called to do the same. Jesus commissioned us to make disciples – that is, to lead others to follow Him. Reflect: have you seen the act of calling others to Christ as something only pastors, preachers or people in ministry do?
Do you have the same boldness in your call as Samuel had when calling Israel to repentance? What do you attribute that to? Or have you felt deflated and experienced a lack of boldness, confidence, conviction, or effectiveness? If the latter, would you attribute that to a lack of reverence for God and/or sin?
Despite our best efforts, we can fall into a couple traps when it comes to getting right with God. When we lack repentance, we can feel inspired without being transformed. And we can become complacent on the Christian journey without being rooted. Reflect: have you used the songs or the sermon at Church as a way to “feel better” about things and about yourself without actually turning away from your sin and committing relentlessly to following God? Or, have you become complacent in your walk with Christ, perhaps thinking you don’t need mercy and forgiveness?
God returns to us the minute we turn to Him with contrite hearts. Yet, sometimes, we put ourselves in the “penalty box” because we feel remorse or feel as though we have to be punished for what we’ve done. Is there a difference between regret and remorse on the one hand, and repentance on the other hand? What is involved in repentance? Have you acted as though remorse was enough and not repented fully? Or have you kept yourself in the “penalty box” instead of charging out in repentance? Is that worth repenting about?
“I know that God forgave me. But I can’t forgive myself.” What is the problem with that statement? Contrast that statement with Isaiah 51:8. When it comes to the crushing weight of guilt and the complete forgiveness of sins, who has the last word?
When God returns, He really, really helps! When we repent and turn to God, He becomes our champion again. What is it about repentance that draws God towards us and deploys His supernatural power?
Read 1 John 1:9. Are there any sins that you need to confess and turn away from? Will you repent? How often? Will you receive God’s help and step out boldly in your call? Because of the cross, we get forgiveness and power instead of judgment. Will you share that with someone this week?