Over twenty years ago I experienced firsthand the waters of revival in my home church. God moved in in a unique way for years, with miracles, deliverances, salvations and restorations. Although I witnessed incredible works of God, my strongest memories are of our altar, flooded with our own church members, weeping in repentance. I spent much time there.
Numerous times, many of us in choir poured out of our loft to join our brothers and sisters crying out to God on the steps of the platform. The humbling experience of publicly moving from worship leaders to penitent seekers cost us our fleshy pride. We knew people speculated about what sins we might be involved in. At first, when I sensed the Holy Spirit putting his thumb on me, I prayed silently from my spot in the loft. Eventually, I realized that fear for my reputation kept me seated instead of kneeling with my church family and I wanted no more of it.
As time passed, thousands of us came to the same conclusion; we wanted to be right with God in every single way, more than we wanted the approval of others. We also came to understand that God’s heart is moved when his people repent sincerely. Blockages that previously hindered his ability to move in our lives and in our services, began to be removed. Free to do what He wanted, God showed up in large ways.
Today, as I conclude our study of Hosea, I want you to consider this question: What if your personal repentance is the key to unlocking revival, renewal and restoration in your family, your workplace and your church? You might be that lead bowling ball at the front of the other nine. Once you humble yourself before God, others might fall right down with you once the power of the Holy Spirit comes rolling through your life. At our church, it started with a few people who didn’t care how they appeared to others but simply responded to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Their courage and obedience paved the way for the rest of us.
In Hosea 14:1-2, the prophet says,
“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for your sins have brought you down. Bring your confessions and return to the Lord. Say to him, ‘Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us, so that we may offer you our praises.’”
When a culture becomes as fallen from God as America is now, it becomes easy for the church to trumpet the transgressions around us while ignoring our own spiritual adultery. The irony in this, is that we’ve forgotten that as the church goes, so does the culture around it. Jesus called us, the city on the hill and the salt of the earth. Fellow believers, we must take some ownership of the darkness and rottenness that are now the norm of our society. Yes, Satan will always garner followers and create havoc until the Lord returns, but we are the army of God, armed with better weapons and resources. The problem is, sin saps our strength, lack of faith cripples our courage, and apathy keeps us from noticing. This is what happened to the Israelites.
God’s chosen nation experienced many miracles and demonstrations of his power in their flight from Egypt and journeys in the wilderness. In their battles to possess their new homeland, God showed up faithfully, giving them victories over their enemies. Despite all that, once they became settled for a few generations, they gradually adopted the gods and evil religious practices of their lost neighbors while still attempting to observe all the Jewish sacraments and holy days. Voices like Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah and others warned Israel repeatedly that God’s intolerance of spiritual adultery would end in judgement and destruction, but Israel persisted in sin. Eventually, God allowed heathen nations to drive them away from their promise.
Sisters and brothers, we must open our hearts to God for a thorough examination by the Holy Spirit. Once we let God know that nothing is off the table or held back from him, we will be surprised what he will reveal to us. When we maintain that attitude, junk doesn’t collect in dark corners of our souls anymore. When we welcome the Holy Spirit and daily relinquish our desire for control to him, we become more sensitive to things that grieve him.
For me, it’s a squirmy feeling in my gut, and I know immediately that my words, thoughts or behavior are akimbo. Most of us recognize when we hurt someone with whom we are close because of the way they respond to us. The Holy Spirit is no different and we will smell the stink of sin much more quickly when we develop a deeper relationship with him.
In response to Israel’s hoped-for repentance, the Lord says in 14:4-5
“Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever. I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven.”
Only God can heal of us of spiritual adultery. He will shoulder the lion’s share of work to transform us, when we come to him with repentant hearts.
Lamp and Sword
****Resources for study and reflection****
“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword.” Hebrew 4:12
Psalms to Use for prayers of repentance: 51 and 32
Other verses about repentance:
1 John 1:9, Acts 3:19, James 4:8, Joel 2:13, Revelation 3:19
A prayer of repentance (from Rick Renner’s “Sparkling Gems,” March 18 devotional)
Father, I am deeply convicted by Your Spirit about areas of my life that need to change. I admit that I’ve been tolerating things that are unacceptable for a child of God. I have been living far below what You expect of me. I see areas where I have fallen short of Your glory in my thoughts and attitudes, and it has negatively affected my life, my relationships, and my conduct. But starting today, I am choosing to repent. I make up my mind that my life is going to change. I’ve been wrong to think the way I have thought, and I’ve been wrong in the way I’ve behaved. I am no longer ignorant because You have spoken to my heart about these things. Since I am accountable for my attitudes and my actions, I am making the choice to repent and to change –– and it starts today!