Repentance Precedes Renewal
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).
Repentance plays an important role in a fresh move of the Holy Spirit in individual lives, in a church, and in a nation. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus to begin His ministry: In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near (Matthew 3:1-2).
Israel had turned away from the Lord. They had worshipped false gods in the place of Jehovah. Judgment was coming. After calling for repentance, Joel prophesied a great move of the Spirit (Joel 2:28-32). Listen to the call to repentance that preceded the word of a coming revival:
Now, therefore, says the Lord, Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him — A grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and nursing babes; let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room. Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; let them say, Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not give Your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, Where is their God? (Joel 2:12-17).
I believe the Lord is calling us to repentance today so that He can move in a fresh way by the Holy Spirit in our personal lives, in our churches, and in our nation. Remember 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT): Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
Repentance has three ingredients. When I repent I must renounce, repent, and obey. First I must renounce any area of disobedience, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. When light comes into my life, I am responsible to walk in it or darkness will invade and blind me. Repentance is a mental and willful “about-face;” a 180 degree turn in the opposite direction. I change the course of an area of life. It is a decision of heart that produces a lifestyle change in me.
To repent I must also submit. That is, I must allow the Word of God to saturate my mind and heart, and then I must willfully choose to submit and obey it. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves (James 1:22 – NLT).
Lastly, to repent I must obey. I must decide moment by moment to obey my conscience and the tender tug of the Holy Spirit as I walk through each day and its demanded choices. Renounce, submit, and obey must become my lifestyle.
The Father wants me to live a lifestyle of repentance. When I do, I can expect times of refreshing from the Father’s awesome presence in my personal life. Then, as we act in corporate repentance, we can expect times of refreshing in our churches and in our nation. Walk with me today into repentance: renounce, submit, and obey!