GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 572 • October 20, 2020
YOU CAN’T ASK GOD TO DO YOUR PART FOR YOU
God said: “If 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 I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Myriad professors and pretenders of Christian faith, including many preachers and self-styled evangelists, say it this way: “If we call upon the name of God and pray to Him in the name of Christ, then He will hear from heaven and will forgive our sins and heal our troubled land, our disturbed and wayward nation. He has promised, and He will do it. Will you join us and pray for God to cleanse and heal our nation and our suffering people?” Continue reading
“And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. … Which of the two did the will of his father?” Matthew 21:28-32.
Jesus begins this parable by saying that a man had two sons. So He is speaking of those within the church who claim God as their Father.
Many are like the second son who say he will work in his father’s vineyard but who don’t go. They’re excited to find a group of good and loving people at the church who give them a sense of belonging or sometimes material things, but their service and connection with the body rarely extends beyond attendance at Sunday morning service. Continue reading
Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny
Hate what is wrong, love what is right! Promote justice at the city gate! Maybe the Lord, the God who commands armies, will have mercy on those who are left from Joseph. Amos 5.15
Amos was a prophet who was sent to the Israelites. He was warning them of the destruction to come if they did not repent and change their ways.
The Lord warned Israel that if they marched out against any one that their armies would be destroyed. There was idol worship, dishonesty, and extortion. There was injustice and acts of rebellion.
Yet, after all this, God was calling the people to repentance. He called them to seek good and not evil. They were called to hate what was wrong and love what was right.
God is merciful, but he is also holy! He commands all men everywhere to repent, Acts 17.30.
#risingjoy #Amos #repentance
People are not able to repent unless the Spirit of God wills their completely depraved heart to do so; thus says Calvinism, but not the Bible.
“Then he began to rebuke the cities in which most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent:”
Matthew 11:20 NKJV
The failure of repentance falls upon the individual, not the Spirit. Why rebuke someone if such is not the case? Indeed, the grace of God leads to repentance (Romans 2:4), but being encouraged to repent is not the same as repentance being enforced upon the individual. The Spirit engages and invites (Revelation 22:17), he does not handcuff and coerce.
If an individual could only repent by the will of the Spirit then why did Jesus, by the Spirit, preach like people had a choice in the matter? The only honest answer is because they did have a choice!
“I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3 NKJV)
#repentance #salvation #Calvinism
Perhaps it’s due to its birth, but Calvinism likes to play semantics with the sovereignty of God. One moment God is sovereignly controlling all things and the next moment he’s not in control of his own sovereignty.
You see, according to the doctrine of Calvinism, God’s sovereignty controls everything, including whether or not an individual is capable of being unconditionally saved. When God’s sovereign grace, according to the said doctrine, is gifted upon the unconditionally predestined individual by grace alone, only then is he or she capable of producing works of genuine repentance which evidences his or her reception of salvation from God. Therefore the logical end-result of Calvinism’s beginning says a person can only repent and be saved if it’s according to the sovereign will of God.
Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny
For his anger lasts only a brief moment, and his good favor restores one’s life. One may experience sorrow during the night, but joy arrives in the morning. Psalm 30.5
This is a psalm written by David. David had experienced the Lord’s anger first hand. In 2 Samuel 24, we read where the Lord’s anger raged against Israel. He incited David against them, telling him to count both Israel and Judah to know the size of their armies. Joab goes to do the bidding of the king much against his own better judgment.
After nine months, Joab returned from counting the armies. David felt guilty for having ordered the count. In 24.10, David confessed his sin to God asking him to remove his guilt. God sent Gad, the prophet, to present him with three options of punishment to remove his guilt. David chose to be attacked by the Lord through a plague rather than to be attacked by men, 24.14.
David felt the Lord’s anger in the plague that lasted for three days. It lasted for a brief moment. In 24.25, David built an altar for the Lord and offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings. The Lord accepted them and the plague was removed from the land.
Upon our repentance, God restores our lives. While we are reaping the consequences of our sins, we may experience sorrow, but joy arrives with the realization that our sins have been removed and forgiven.
#risingjoy #Psalms #repentance
Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny
So if someone cleanses himself of such behavior, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart, useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. But keep away from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faithfulness, love, and peace, in company with others who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2.21-22
Paul is talking of repentance here. The behavior that he refers to is that of profane chatter which leads to ungodliness. The influence of ungodliness can spread through the body like gangrene. It can lead to the undermining of a person’s faith from which they might not recover. However, if someone cleanses himself of such behavior, through repentance, he can be used by the Master for good.
Profane chatter is not the only thing that we should avoid. Paul encourages Timothy to keep away from youthful passions. Maintain control of your actions and your emotions. Think through the situations in which you find yourself.
Now only does Paul tell Timothy what to avoid; he tells him what to pursue. We are to pursue righteousness, faithfulness, love and peace. We are not to pursue these things on our own, all alone. It is so important that we be in the company of other Christians who are faithful to the Lord. If we need help to overcome temptation, it is there that we will find it, as well as encouragement to continue toward the goal.
For the Lord knows those who are his.
#risingjoy #2-Timothy #repentance
Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny
So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way from home his father saw him, and his heart went out to him; he ran and hugged his son and kissed him. Then his son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his slaves, “Hurry! Bring the best robe, and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Bring the fattened calf and kill it! Let us eat and celebrate, because this son of mine was dead, and is alive again – he was lost and is found!” So they began to celebrate. Luke 15.20-24
This is a glimpse of the joy that overflows in heaven when someone comes back to God. Let’s take a closer look.
The young man had come to his senses. In the verses prior to our reading, he had sunk to the bottom of the well. He was in a dark place and it was not going to get any better if he continued there. He had run out of options and of hope. Then he remembered… the father that had always taken care of him and loved him. Finally, he decided to make a change. He repented. He started back home.
Notice that the father was watching for his child. He was seen a long way from home. The father did not turn his back on him. But he ran to meet his son, hugged him and kissed him. The father was so happy to see his son that it seems he gave his son’s comments little importance. He called for a celebration of the return of his son!
All of us have been at the bottom of the well. Perhaps you are still in that dark place. What is important is that we remember that we have a Father who loves us more than we can imagine. He is anxiously waiting for us to decide to return to him. It must be our decision to change our direction and come back. Come back to God! Let the celebration begin!
#risingjoy #Luke #repentance
Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny
Now I rejoice, not because you were made sad, but because you were made sad to the point of repentance. For you were made sad as God intended, so that you were not harmed in any way by us. For sadness as intended by God produces a repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret, but worldly sadness brings about death. 2 Corinthians 7.9-10
Repentance is necessary. It is not just feeling sad because you got caught with your hand in the cookie jar. After all, when your mom leaves the room, you go for another cookie! It is a decision to change the direction in which you are headed. The decision to change your behavior to be in submission to God’s will. To be obedient to him.
When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, he had addressed several problems and sins that were occurring among the Christians in the church in Corinth. Now he is rejoicing because they had repented. Yes, his first letter had made many sad, but the end result had been a change of behavior on their part.
When someone comes to me to correct me in a behavior that is sinful and wrong, I must be willing to listen. It is a matter of salvation, my salvation. It might make me sad or even angry, but if I consider what is being said, I have the opportunity to change. That change is repentance! But the one who feels sadness alone without repentance brings about death. Sin will drive the person further away from God.
Sadness alone is not what God wants. He wants me to repent and change my actions without regret. For that is what leads me to salvation!
#risingjoy #2-Corinthians #repentance
“For a long time Israel had no true God, or priest to instruct them, or law.”
2 Chronicles 15.3
This was a perennial problem in Israel. The people followed idolatry, neglected the teachings, and ignored the law. The prophet Azariah urged King Asa to inaugurate reforms.
Congregations can abandon the true God, also. They may lack faithful men to teach. The may ignore God’s commandments. Then it is time for repentance and obedience.
#votd #2-Chronicles #repentance
BY CHRISTOPHER UNDERWOOD
How many secrets do I have that God does not know? By my last count, there are exactly zero secrets that I have that God does not know. That can be a comfort when my prayers are made and the Holy Spirit helps to intercede for my own thoughts (Romans 8: 26, 27). The comfort is in my own failing there is God using his power to help me and guide me. It makes for a positive future in my life. Continue reading
“Throw away all your sins you have committed and fashion yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why should you die, O house of Israel?”
Without a change of heart, Israel would die in her sins. The Lord sent his servants the prophets to warn the nation and to plead for repentance. How he loved his people!
God loves the church. The church is his people in the new covenant of Christ. But churches sometimes go astray. Examples can be found in Rev 2-3. Jesus pleads for repentance because he loves.
#votd #Ezekiel #repentance
“God, the one who has reigned as king from long ago, will hear and humiliate them. (Selah) They refuse to change, and do not fear God.”
David felt despair because of enemy attacks. He did not give up because of God’s certain judgment. Refusal to change and fear God is a sure path to destruction.
Repentance is necessary for salvation, Lk 24.47. One must make the decision to change and then make the change. God’s people are repentant ones and confident of his judgment against those who refuse to change.
#votd #Psalms #repentance
“Because of this, the Lord said,
‘You must repent of such words and thoughts!
If you do, I will restore you to the privilege of serving me.
If you say what is worthwhile instead of what is worthless,
I will again allow you to be my spokesman.
They must become as you have been.
You must not become like them.'”
God speaks to the prophet who recoils from suffering, v. 18. Now Jeremiah must decide if he will return to useful service or not. He must not be like the people, but serve as an example of what they should do.
Saints must be ready to suffer for serving God. They must not become like those to whom they proclaim the gospel. They must preach repentance. At times, they must repent themselves.
#votd #Jeremiah #repentance
This quote, by one Derek Price, whom I know nothing about, is right on:
I have spent countless hours counseling Christians with problems, and have come to the conclusion that there are limits to what can be accomplished by counseling. I would say at least fifty percent of most Christians’ problems are due to the fact that they have not repented. I suggest that if you are struggling with problems in your Christian experience, ask yourself if you have truly repented. Turn totally from everything displeasing to God and yield yourself to Him in unconditional surrender.
Of course, “fifty percent” is an attempt at quantification that most of us do. No harm there. The estimate might even be low, which means in many if not most cases, people need prophetic words urging them to repentance, rather than soothing assurances to accept self or situation or offering other options to consider.
The will of God is complete. All Scripture encompasses the whole of human experience. How many problems would be solved, and pain and suffering avoided, if people but knew and obeyed the Word of God!
#repentance #counseling #Bible #quotes