“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” ~ Revelation 2:5, ESV
“Repentance is not something God demands of you before He will take you back and which He could let you off if He chose; it is simply a description of what going back is like.” ~ C. S. Lewis
The week is moving fast. It is Wednesday already! I hope that you are discovering how much God, the Creator of the universe, desires to have a relationship with you. You are precious to Him. For many of us this is a hard truth to believe because we hear the lie of Satan that there is nothing about us which is worth loving. Today, as you begin your personal time with God, take a moment and ask God to love you. My prayer for everyone at Hi Teen 2 today is that all of us will experience the love of God before the week ends. In a world which constantly tells us that we are worthless, it is vital to remember that Heavenly Father loves us. Take a moment and invite God into this time and ask Him to prepare your heart to receive His love.
It was my intention yesterday for you to be a little bit depressed. I wanted you to understand how you shut yourself off from God’s love as you pursue lesser things. We pursue romantic relationships with more intensity than we pursue God. We pursue sports with more intensity than we pursue God. We even pursue entertainment with more intensity than we pursue God. It should make us depressed to think about how we ignore God for the lesser things of this life.
On Monday, I noted that God is calling out to us because He wants to have a relationship with with us. Yesterday I made the point that our sin breaks the heart of God. Sin breaks God’s heart because sin prevents God from blessing us with His love. The next step of this journey we are on this week is to discover our responsibility in receiving the love of God.
Jesus told a parable (parables are stories which illustrate deep spiritual truth) that captures our dilemma perfectly. Before you read the parable pray and ask God to reveal the meaning of the story to you.
Read Luke 15:11-32
When do you receive an inheritance?
What is the younger son saying to his father when he asks for his share of the inheritance?
Does the older son object to the request? Does he refuse his part of the inheritance?
What does the younger son do with his portion of the inheritance?
What happens to the younger son? Why does he come home?
What does the older son do while his younger son is gone?
How does the older son react to his brother’s return? Why does he react this way?
This is a story of two sons who missed out on their father’s love. The youngest son missed out on his father’s love when he took his inheritance and left for a distant country to live the way he wanted to live. The oldest son missed out on his father’s love by not trusting his father. Even though he was physically close to his father, he was still distant because he didn’t have a love relationship with his father.
Which son finally experienced the love of the father? The youngest son came to understand that his father’s heart could be trusted. You see, this son realized that his father treated his servants better than most other people treated their sons. The younger son decided that it was better to be a servant in the household of his father than it was to live life on his own. When the younger son came to this realization he went home.
The older son, even though he never rebelled like his brother, did not experience the love his father had for him. The older son never learned that his father’s heart was good. This is seen in the fact that he never asked his father for anything, not even a young goat so he could have a party with his friends. He played the role of the dutiful son, but never learned how to be the beloved son.
Some of us are missing out on the Father’s love because we are wasting our lives as we pursue lesser things, just as the younger son did. Some of us are missing out on the Father’s blessing because we are playing the role of the older son. We claim that we are Christians, and we are dutiful in things like going to church, Bible reading, attending camp/CIY, and judging those who don’t live up to our standard, but we have never invited God to be part of our lives. Going though the motions of being a Christian is just as deadly as living a life of rebellion against God.
How can we experience the blessing of God’s love? We have to go home. The Bible calls returning to God repentance. Repentance doesn’t mean to feel sorry for your sins, rather it means to change your mind, to change your loyalty, or to change your direction. If we do not repent, we cannot experience the blessing of God’s love.
The idea behind repentance is that we give up our way of living in order to trust God’s way of living. In other words we come to the place in our lives where we understand that God can be trusted to provide what we truly need for life. That means repentance is a one time act of declaring our trust in God, but it is also a daily activity we do by obeying God’s will (loving God and loving people). If we are not willing to trust God, then there is no reason why we should expect God to bless our lives.
Take out your journal and turn to the first blank page. At the top of the page I would like you to write: I Pledge My Loyalty. Take a moment and ask God to give you a clear head and a calm heart. Now think about what you desire in life. Do you desire to follow Jesus and be part of God’s Kingdom? If you do, write a short prayer to God explaining to Him that the desire of your heart is be a part of His family. When you have that accomplished, take some time and once again ask God to calm your heart and clear your mind. This time I want you to think about what you trusted to give you happiness more than you have trusted God. Have you trusted in food, sex, video games, sports, achievement, or relationships more than you have trusted God? Before we can pledge our loyalty to God we have to renounce those things that we have trusted more than we have trusted God.
Write a short prayer stating that you renounce___________________as a source of happiness. The final part of this exercise is to write your pledge of loyalty to God. State that you love Him, that you are willing to trust Him for life, and that from this day forward you will do your best to follow Jesus.
God wants to bless us with His love, but we have to return to Him in order to experience that love. Repentance is that process of returning to God. Are you willing to repent today?
Point to Ponder: God wants to bless us with His love, but we have to repent in order to experience His love.
Passage to Remember: Luke 15:11-32
Prayer to Pray: Father in Heaven, Thank You. You have blessed me in so many different ways, but I have kept You at arms length because of sin. I am sorry. The desire of my heart is to be known as Your child.
Lord, I want to ask for courage. It is scary to think about giving up something I have relied on for so long to provide me with comfort, meaning, and happiness. I want to be part of Your family and experience Your love in my life. If that is to happen I need You to provide me with courage and strength so I can break old allegiances and become loyal to You...(Finish in your own words)
“God is shouting at His people saying, It is not the lost who need to repent—it is God’s people who need to repent! We are the ones who have moved away from the LORD.” ~ Henry Blackaby, Holiness, p. 16