Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Repent. Believe. Receive.

Please read Numbers 10-11, Psalm 27, and Mark 1 if you'd like to read through the Bible in a year. Tomorrow's readings are Numbers 12-13, Psalm 90, and Mark 2.

"The time has come," Jesus said. "The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news." -Mark 1:15 (NIV)

Today is Ash Wednesday and the first day of the Lenten season in the Christian tradition. On Ash Wednesday, we emphasize a dual encounter: we confront our own mortality and we confess our sin and our need for a Savior. If you're in or around Fayetteville, I invite you to attend our Ash Wednesday service tonight at 6 pm in our sanctuary at 200 North Elk Avenue.

Regardless of whether your tradition or denomination observes the season of Lent (click the link to read more about what it means), I invite you to join me in preparing your mind and heart to experience the joy of Easter.

Begin today by examining your heart and mind to see how you've wandered away from God. If you haven't done that in a while, then as Jesus says in the assigned reading today, "the time has come." But don't stop with simply acknowledging the ways that you have wandered from God. Jesus says that you must actually repent, which means to have a change of mind. It's more than just feeling sorry for the consequences of your sin; it's actually feeling sorry for the sin itself and turning away from that sin and back to God.

I haven't met a lot of people who really like to admit their sin. But it's necessary. It's also dangerous. Why? Well, when confessing sin, it's easy to get stuck dwelling on sin, becoming overwhelmed by it. "How could I have done that?" "I am such an awful person." "God must really be upset with me." It's so tempting to beat yourself up when confronting your sin.

Please don't beat yourself up. Jesus tells us to repent, to turn back to him, to heed his voice instead of the other seductive voices out there. He invites you to believe
and to trust him. But he doesn't want you to beat yourself up. Repenting and believing is not meant to bring you down; it's meant to lift you up. Jesus wants you to repent and to believe because good news follows.

Today, may God grant you the grace to acknowledge the ways you've wandered from God. Confess these things to God. Turn away from these things and turn back to God. Believe in God. And receive the Good News that comes from being forgiven.

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