Head Straight for the U-Turn
It is not our duty to persuade God to send revival. We must meet the conditions for Him to do so.
Last month we looked closely at the hedges of protection that in times past God set around individuals (Job, for example) and nations (the nation Israel, and even the United States).
We saw that His hedges were part of His blessing for walking in His ways.
But then we saw that God sometimes takes down His hedge of protection because of sin and rebellion. And we saw the importance of humility. If you missed this study, you can find here.
We looked at an ancient promise, hedged by conditions. Notice the “If”:
14If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
We saw that God is talking to whom in this verse? ________.
Repentance begins at the house of God. The church must start at its own front door. We—the people of God—are to turn from our wicked way. Think about it. If revival and survival depended upon lost people to repent, how long would it take for revival to come?
We looked at what it means to humble ourselves. And hopefully we understood the importance of our doing that, not asking God to do it to us!
Now we come to a crucial step on the road to national survival:
A CLOSER LOOK AT REPENTANCE
- Repentance is a word we hear all the time at church.
- Repentance is used 969 times in the Bible.
- Repentance was Jesus’ first message when He began his ministry.
- “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say__________ for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matt. 4:17
- “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: _____________ ye, and believe the gospel.”
- “I tell you Nay, but except ye _____________, ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3
- “Jesus repeats the very same words two verses later (v. 5)
Reasons Why We Must Repent
- Prayer without repentance is a religious farce.
Do you believe God is going to bless us when we’re not willing to turn from our sin? Is it logical to sing “God Bless America” while we’re killing little babies? When sodomy struts down main streets with pride? When He is cursed, maligned and cannot be mentioned in our public concourse? Why should God bless America?
- Prayer without repentance actually angers God.
Have you ever thought that the act of praying might anger God? Turn in your Bible to Psalm 80:4.
“O Lord of hosts, how long wilt Thou be _________ against the ______________ of Thy people?”
Not only does God not hear their prayer; it angers Him!
(Read Psalm 80’s short 19 verses to get the larger picture of what was happening in Israel.)
- Refusal to repent stops the hand of God.
Turn to Joshua 7:1. The Israelites had crossed Jordan. There were battles to be fought. There was mighty Jericho. Joshua led the children of Israel against Jericho—and you know the story. Then they went against another city—a little city named Ai.
a. Read the entire story (7:1 through 8:30) to see how Israel was ignominiously
defeated; they turned ran from the army of Ai.
Joshua, the leader, fell on his face and cried, “Oh, God, why have You failed us? Why have we been defeated?”
b. In your own words, what did God say in response to Joshua? (7:10-12) _______
What Repentance IS—and ISN’T
- Repentance is more than FEELING conviction about sin. As you go through this study, God may bring to your mind a sin, and you may feel convicted about it. You may be living in sin. You may have felt a little stab in your heart because of it. That little stab is not repentance.
PAUL CONFRONTS FELIX
A great example of this is Paul talking with Felix, the Roman governor in Caesarea. Turn to Acts 24:25.
25And as he [Paul] reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix _________________, and answered, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.”
Felix shook like a leaf in a storm. Why? Because he was convicted of sin. But history tells us that he never did call. He was convicted, but he would not repent. Repentance is more than feeling.
- Repentance is more than CONFESSION of sin. If you confess your sin, you have not repented—if confession is all you do. Even Pharaoh confessed his sin.
MOSES CONFRONTS PHARAOH
Turn to Exodus 9:23-27
And Moses stretched forth his rod toward Heaven: and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt…. And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, _________”
When fire, hail and lightning came, Pharaoh confessed his sin. But what happened when the storm died? The conviction that was born in the storm died in the calm.
The same thing happened in America. After the 9-11 terrorist attack, the next Sunday churches were full. A week later they were not so full. By the 3rd week, attendance had returned to pre-9-11 days. Fear is not repentance. Confession is not repentance. Conviction is not repentance.
- Repentance is more than CONTRITION for sin.
“Godly sorrow ______________ repentance.” 2 Corinthians 7:10
Notice it doesn’t say “Godly sorrow IS repentance.” Tears and sorrow for sin may accompany repentance—they may help get you there—but sorrow alone is not repentance. The question is not “Are you sorry for your sin?” but “Will you turn from your sin?”
So Then, What Is Repentance?
- Repentance Is a Turning. Look once more at 2 Chronicles 7:14
14If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and _________ ________ their wicked ways...
God says we are to turn. To turn from. The word literally means “a change of mind.” It’s making a total “U-Turn.” You’ve been going one way. You STOP, turn around, and start moving in the opposite direction!
- It’s Both Negative and Positive
We turn from our _______________ _______.
We turn toward ________.
“Testifying both to the Jews and to the Greeks, repentance __________ God, and faith _________ our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:21
Repentance and faith are two sides of a coin, the heads/tails of getting right with God. We seek God’s face. We turn from our wicked way.
- Repentance is a heart change, and a wholehearted change.
A wholehearted change is when you say, “Once and for all, now and forever, I turn from ALL these sins.”
Wherefore, say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God: “Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols, and turn away your faces from _______ your abominations.” Ezekiel 14:6
What percentage of sin did God command that they turn from ? _________%.
Not only must we be broken over our sins; we must be broken from our sins.
The normal Christian life is to live openly and honestly before God daily, where there is no unconfessed, unrepented-of sin in your life. This should be the norm.
- Repentance is a change of mind.
- Repentance is a turning.
- Repentance is a turning from.
- Repentance is a turning to.
- Repentance is a heart change.
- Repentance is a wholehearted change.
- Repentance should be total, not incremental.
America would be changed almost overnight if each of our churches, from sea to shining sea, had in their pulpit a man of God, opening the Book of God, with the Spirit of God, preaching the Christ of God to the people of God, calling America to repentance.
Is It Already Too Late?
Have we passed the point of no return? No one really knows for certain, but one thing we know is that America will perish unless she repents.
Jesus said, “Except ye repent, ye shall likewise, all likewise perish.” WHO is to repent? “If My people...”
“At His wrath the earth shall tremble, and the _______________ shall not be able to abide His _____________.” Jeremiah 10:10
We have insulted the Almighty; we are ready for judgment. But we need mercy.
The God Who sent revival on Mount Carmel, Who sent revival to Nineveh, to Jerusalem, to England in the 16th Century, to America in 1857—that God is alive and well.
The God We Will Answer To
The last Scripture in this study is perhaps the most important: Exodus 34:6-7.
Do not fail to turn in your Bible to this Scripture. Mark it. Here you have the Lord God, Creator of the universe, telling Moses Who He is. Note God’s description of Himself—not what someone else has said about Him, but what He says:
6And the LORD passed by before him [Moses], and proclaimed, “The LORD, The LORD God, ________ and _________, longsuffering, and abundant in __________ and _________,
7Keeping mercy for thousands, ____________ and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”
God is not a Republican or a Democrat. He is LORD. He is King. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, conservatives, liberals—all need to bow before Him.
If ever we needed to repent, it is now. Don’t put it off until tomorrow in your own personal life. Tomorrow you will only have more sin to repent of and less time to repent in!
God is angry at our sins, but He is full of compassion. He is full of mercy. God would rather pardon than judge. God will forgive our sins. God will forgive America, “if My people” meet the conditions.You may want to hear this message in its entirety. Please call 1-800-274-5683 and ask for CD #2469 “It’s Prayer Time in America” or order online.