READING: Genesis 10-12, Matthew 4
“Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matt. 4:17
As I’ve traveled throughout the United States, I occasionally see a roadside sign that says simply, “Repent!” To be honest, I read it but ignore it, thinking to myself, “I’m not sure that’s the best way to draw people to Jesus.” On the other hand, there’s another way that’s also not the best way to call people to Christ – and that is, to ignore repentance in the first place. Repentance was the message that John the Baptist preached (Matt. 3:2), that Jesus also proclaimed (Matt 4:17), and that we are to announce. Coming to Jesus requires both belief and repentance, not only for conversion but also for our daily living.
Following God means that we do whatever God asks us to do, and that commitment requires forsaking wrong and doing right. It means living in such a way that these words describing Abram in today’s reading would also describe us: “So Abram went as the Lord had told him” (Gen. 12:4). The patriarch was to leave behind his homeland and all of its polytheistic culture to follow the one and only true God to “the land that I [God] will show you” (Gen. 12:1). His relatives, his country, his traditions, his security – all must become history in his life as he stepped into a future only God understood. And that step, Abraham took.
He was hardly perfect, though, at times walking ahead of God to protect himself or to provide a future family. He would learn the hard way that faith and repentance are hardly one-time events; they are moment-by-moment choices of even the most committed follower of the Lord. Taking a first life-changing step of faith today is not a guarantee of complete obedience tomorrow.
What is God calling you to forsake today? From what do you need to repent? What steps of faith (perhaps even into the unknown) does He want you to take? Victory means doing all the Lord has told us.
- Repent today from any ongoing sins in your life.
- Remember that repentance is not only turning from sins of commission, but also rejecting sins of omission. Choose today to do something you know God has wanted you to do.
PRAYER: “Father, I hear Your word to repent. Help me to do so today.”
TOMORROW'S READING: Genesis 13-15, Matthew 5:1-26