God Making Mistakes?

I was reading a blog recently and the author posed this question, “Have you ever felt like God made a mistake?”

Well, the Bible does record that He was sorry for ever creating mankind in the first place (Genesis 6:6-7, see also Exodus 32:14, 1 Samuel 15:11, Jeremiah 26:3). Sin sorrows God who is holy, blameless and without sin (Ephesians 4:30), so don’t sorrow Him by the way we live. The Lord’s sorrow does not indicate an arbitrary change of mind, though it seems that way to man. Rather, it indicates a different attitude on God’s part in response to some change in man’s behavior. Because He is holy, He must react against sin. The description “was sorry” expresses God’s change of action (Genesis 6:7) in terms understandable to man. God would no longer be longsuffering with such widespread wickedness. Sin impacts the work which the Spirit does (Ephesians 4:30).

Back to the question, “Have you ever felt like God made a mistake?” That is how the Israelites felt with the Egyptian army breathing down their necks and the Red Sea staring them in the face (Exodus 14:2, 3, 9, 10). Here’s the kicker: God led them there. From a military standpoint, they should not have been there. They have no escape route. They couldn’t retreat or advance. It seems like God has made a mistake, and the Israelites let Moses know about it. But God had them right where he wanted them.

Sometimes God leads us to a place where we have nowhere to turn but to Him, and that is often the last place we want to be. But it’s the best place to be. Here is the great irony: all of us want to experience a miracle, we just don’t want to be in a situation where it is needed. Sometimes you need to be between the Pharaoh and the Deep Red Sea so God can reveal more of His glory (Exodus 14:4).

We often know what to do, but we cry out to God anyway. God’s response to Moses was, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the people to get moving.” (Exodus 14:15). Just when you think God has made a mistake, He parts the water (Exodus 14:16).

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A Picture of Repentance

These are notes for my Bible study class on Sunday mornings at 9:45, a book called Downpour by James MacDonald. Today we will look at five marks of genuine repentance.

What is repentance?

Repentance is the funnel through which all personal revival flows. After we have seen God’s holiness and been brought to a place of personal brokenness over our sin, repentance is the first step in the personal cleanup of the wreckage that sin brings. Here are a few passages regarding repentance: Matthew 3:2, 6:12, Luke 15:7, Acts 3:19, 17:30.

Repentance is change inside of me, in every way and at every level. Change not on the outside but in me. There’s a three-part definition: recognition of sin for what it is (heartfelt sorrow) culminating in a change of behavior. I see sin for what it is (changing my mind) and experience heartfelt sorrow (changing my heart). Then I determine to change my behavior (changing my will).

Repentance is a work of God; where God grants repentance (2 Timothy 2:25 (NIV)). It is a gift of God to anyone who wholeheartedly seeks Him. It’s not easy, only God can grant to us repentance from all that we have failed to do on our own.

Here are the five marks of repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9, 10, 11). Paul lists eleven fruits but are grouped here into five categories:

Grief over sin:

We must lose the grip we have that life is all together. We need to feel like a worm and recognize sin for what it is. If we desire to go higher, we must go lower. Here are a few responses of people who have made contact with the Lord: Genesis 18:27, Job 42:6, Isaiah 6:5, Luke 5:8, Revelation 1:17. The essence is heartfelt sorrow and regret over sin. This sin is always against God, not just against other people.

The word used is lupeo, meaning “greatly distressed,” like the feeling the disciples had after hearing Jesus’ announcement of His crucifixion (Matthew 17:23). It is used 26 times in the NT; half of those in 2 Corinthians; half of those right here in this passage.

Repulsion over sin:

See what godly grief has produced in you (2 Corinthians 7:11). To see means to behold; repentance brings with it an urgency about my relationship with God and strong negative feelings toward anything that would injure it. Those activities no longer bring happiness.

Restitution toward others:

Repentance does not demand anything, but it does request reconciliation; it is not concerned with what another person’s part may have been but what my own part has been. I am the one who is to do whatever it takes to make it right. Repentance is concerned about the people who are affected by my sin. We should be innocent in matters (2 Corinthians 7:11) meaning free of guilt, blameless in the eyes of others. Many people what to be right with God but will not make it right with others. We are to be bridge-builders for reconciliation. No more blaming. No more excuses.

Revival toward God:

Repentance brings an obvious restoration I our relationship with God. Your heart will become sensitive to sin, hunger for the Word of God, and crave less the things of the world. Fear is an attitude of the heart that seeks a right relationship to the fear source.  Fear of the Lord is a good thing (Proverbs 9:10, Luke 23:40). It is an increased awareness and respect for God.

All of a sudden church is not a chore for the repentant person, there is a longing and zeal (2 Corinthians 7:11). Bible study is not a burden. Joy in the Lord has returned. There is a realization that life is temporary. Revival is renewed interest in God after a period of indifference and decline.

Moving Forward:

We are to move forward and not look back; no “if only’s…” that bring regret (2 Corinthians 7:10). Repentance without regret! Move beyond self-punishment that is stuck in the past and won’t move toward the future. Worldly grief produces death, separation from God and hell for eternity. Let’s keep these five marks of repentance in the forefront.

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