Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

Posts tagged ‘repent’

Sackcloth and Ashes

Sackcloth & ashes

Sackcloth and Ashes on the Ponte San Angelo photo by GOC53 on Flickr.

By Lisa Nordell-Detres

What does the word “repentance” mean to you? How does it feel? Can you remember the last time you were truly penitent for something you had done? Have you ever asked for forgiveness for the sins of your parents, grandparents or ancestors? What did this remorse look like; could anybody else tell you were feeling sorrow for your sins?

In the Bible, one outward sign of abject humility and repentance was referred to as wearing sackcloth and pouring ashes or dust over one’s head. In his book, Nehemiah starts out hiding his grief over the dilapidated state of the wall around Jerusalem from King Artaxerxes. Sometime later, the king recognized Nehemiah’s sorrow and allowed him to go to Jerusalem to oversee the rebuilding project.

By chapter 9, Nehemiah and the Jews came together fasting, wearing sack cloth with ashes on their heads after the prophet Ezra read the Law for what was perhaps the first time to many of the people. To drive the point home, the Levite priests then recounted the history of Israel from Abraham until that day in which the repatriated exiles gathered together to dedicate their lives and their country to God.

The people wore sackcloth and ashes as a sign of their understanding of the grievous sins that they and their ancestors committed against God. They understood that the sins of the entire nation of Israel resulted in God carrying out His threat to scatter the people across the earth if they did not follow His commandments. They set about making things right in their land in order to regain God’s favor on them.

I often wonder how bad things will get in this country and in this world before the voice of God echoes’ “ENOUGH!” throughout His creation. I was recently asked if I thought this country is under God’s judgment and I have to believe it is. We have not realized the extent of what judgment looks like, but if you want an idea, read the books of Jeremiah, Lamentations and Ezekiel. It is not pretty and it definitely is not something I would wish even for my worst enemies. Perhaps it is time for Christians to put on gunny sack tunics and humble ourselves before our God.

Lisa Nordell-Detres is a mother of four, grandma to three boys, a pastor’s wife and has worked in the garment and customer service industries in southern California. Besides writing, Lisa enjoys cooking, sewing, organic gardening, hiking, skiing and doing most anything outside. Lisa is a member of the Central Oregon Writers Guild.

Lisa was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, studied Christian Apologetics at Simon Greenleaf University, holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Fashion Design from Woodbury University and an MBA from California State University at Northridge. Lisa, her husband and their youngest child now live in central Oregon. 

An Open Invitation to Worship

Hezekiah's Messenger_BiblePaintings

Illustration courtesy of Visual Bible Alive Resource Center.

By Lisa Nordell-Detres

Hezekiah became king at a time when Judah had already been overrun by Syrians and many of the people were carried off as captives. 2 Chronicles 28:5 makes it clear that this defeat was due to the unfaithful lifestyle of his predecessor, King Ahaz. This time, Israel defeated the Syrian army and eventually returned the captives to Judah. When Hezekiah ascended the throne, the first thing he did was open up the temple, repair the doors and summon the Levite priests to clean up and start doing their jobs again. Hezekiah understood that God’s blessings only came when the nation was obedient to His commandments.

Once the leadership had repented and were committed to worshipping God as He required, Hezekiah sent messengers with letters to all of Israel and Judah, inviting them to join in the Passover celebration. The letters begged the people to consider the consequences of their ancestors’ choices (many of the Israelis were captives in Assyria) and to come back to serving God, “that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you.” (2 Chronicles 30:8c, NKJV) The letters went on to assure that if the people in Israel repented and committed to serving God, those in captivity would “be treated with compassion by those who lead them captive, so that they may come back to this land; for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you if you return to Him.” (2 Chronicles 30:9, NKJV)

What do you think was the response to this generous offer? Many of the people of Judah and some from a few of the tribes of Israel humbly came to the celebration, but most of them “laughed at them (the messengers) and mocked them.” (2 Chronicles 30:10b, NKJV) Sound familiar?

We have all been given a similar message to deliver to the world: turn away from practices and behaviors that cause pain and sorrow, repent and come serve the LORD God with all your heart. Those who accept God’s generous offer of salvation and eternal life can testify that there is no judgment in their new life. As messengers, we should not be discouraged by the jeers and laughter; we will all face the same God in the end. Ours is to make sure that the message is delivered humbly and with the complete love that only God can give.

Lisa Nordell-Detres is a mother of four, grandma to two boys with a third on the way (!), a pastor’s wife and has worked in the garment and customer service industries in southern California. Besides writing, Lisa enjoys cooking, sewing, organic gardening, hiking, skiing and doing most anything outside.

Lisa was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, studied Christian Apologetics at Simon Greenleaf University, holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Fashion Design from Woodbury University and an MBA from California State University at Northridge. Lisa, her husband and their youngest child now live in central Oregon.

One Hundred Percent

david-goliath-5490152-l

By Lisa Nordell-Detres

David is one man who stands out in the Old Testament as “a man after God’s own heart.” (Acts 13:22) The youngest of seven brothers, David was the ruddy-complexioned runt of the family who was sent out to tend the sheep and then forgotten when God’s prophet Samuel came to anoint one of Jesse’s sons (David) king. What was so special about David? What did he do to earn this honor from God? His own family did not seem to be very impressed with him!

David had bold faith. When he went out to fight the Philistine giant, Goliath, David first told King Saul that since he had killed a lion and a bear to protect his family’s sheep, he knew that God would give him the victory over Goliath. He then told Goliath, “This day the Lord WILL deliver you into my hand, and I WILL strike you …that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.” David’s words were resolute and his actions were not self-serving.  David was extremely offended by the giant’s taunting of God and the Israeli army and was intent on doing something to restore respect to Israel.

David respected authority. Even when King Saul was tracking him down to execute him, David refused to do the king any harm even when he had two opportunities to kill Saul. (I Samuel 24:4-7, 26:5-12) David understood what so few Christian Americans get, that God sets up governments and He takes them down according to His purpose. (Daniel 2:21) Rather than spending the years in hiding from Saul bemoaning his circumstances, David helped people when he could and gathered a faithful following of warriors who would be his royal army when the right time came for him to rule.

David repented completely. David was not perfect and when he did sin, he did it big. Although he already had several wives, King David seduced Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, a soldier in the Israeli army. Bathsheba became pregnant by David, so David had Uriah killed in battle to cover up the misconduct. After avoiding God for a year and a half, the prophet Nathan confronted David with his wrongdoing and David confessed and repented before God. He did not try to blame anybody else, he did not try to rationalize his sins, he just fell on his face before his merciful God. Psalm 32 is David’s beautiful song of repentance and praise for God’s forgiveness.

There are many lessons to be learned from David’s story, but being open and honest before God and giving 100 per cent of ourselves to God are two of the keys to being a man or woman after God’s own heart.

Lisa Nordell-Detres is a mother of four, grandma to two boys, a pastor’s wife and has worked in the garment and customer service industries in southern California. Besides writing, Lisa enjoys cooking, sewing, organic gardening, hiking, skiing and doing most anything outside.

Lisa was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Fashion Design from Woodbury University and an MBA from California State University at Northridge. Lisa, her husband and their youngest child now live in central Oregon.

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