20

Jump Start # 1959

Jump Start # 1959

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”

Encouragement is a vital and key component of our relationship with one another. One writer called encouragement, “oxygen for the soul.” Let’s take a look at encouragement.

 

First, everyone needs encouragement. Some are naturally more upbeat and positive than others, yet they too, need encouragement. The journey can be long. The weight and responsibility that some carry is heavy. Some are so busy encouraging others, that their bucket runs empty. It’s easy to see some who need encouragement. The young in faith need it to keep going. Those going through tough times need it. There are those who are dealing with long health issues and they need encouragement. There are families that have prodigals and that has broken their hearts. But preachers also need encouragement. Shepherds need encouragement. There really isn’t anyone that doesn’t need it from time to time.

 

Second, encouragement lets others know that they are not alone. That is one of the catastrophic results of discouragement. A person feels alone. The problems seem so great. The nights seem so long. Whispers that no one cares fills the heart. A person can feel alone in a church full of people. The darkness of discouragement can crush a person. Encouragement is more than nice words, it’s presence. It’s being there. It’s sitting with a family in the surgery waiting room. It’s showing up at the funeral home. It’s taking food to a new mom. It’s inviting a family over to the house. We are with you is the sound of encouragement. Even when wrong choices have been made, I’ve seen court rooms filled with brethren, there to support a family whose child is on trial. That is the key to our fellowship. We are “fellows” in this together. Linked in heart and arm in arm, together we weather the storms that come upon us. It may be your turn now for help, but the next time, it might be my turn. Praying together. Sitting together. That wonderful feeling that warms the heart when you see a fellow Christian walk into the room, just to sit next to you.

 

Third, encouragement is soul strengthening. It’s more than cute sayings and quotes that are cross stitched on pillows. Encouragement takes a person back to Christ and His word. It’s reminders. It’s promises of God that have been forgotten. It’s verses shared. It’s much more than having a brighter outlook. It’s not just optimism, it’s keeping someone on this spiritual journey that we are on. It’s staying in the spiritual fight. It’s not giving up, on God, His word, or His people. It’s helping someone realize that God is greater than our problems. It’s helping them know that our problems stay on this side of life. Encouragement is spiritual. It’s helping someone get stronger in their faith and more dedicated in their commitment to the Lord. Encouragement is Bible based.

 

Fourth, some are better at this than others. Some are just natural at knowing just what to say and knowing just how to say it. Some can lift the darkest spirit and find ways to pump oxygen back into that soul. Others have had to learn, watch and develop as encouragers. Learning when you have said enough. Learning when to be silent. Learning what Scriptures are really helpful to use in different situations. All of this comes from simply being encouraged and then learning to help others. What worked for you? What did others do for you? There is a time and a place for encouragement. Often, in the church building isn’t the place. Too many people. Not the right atmosphere to really help. A smile. A hug. A ‘great to see you,’ works well in the church house. But later, coming to a person’s home, with a plate full of cookies, or a warm meal, then might be the best setting to really support, comfort, remind and help someone. Walk in their shoes. It will help you think about what you ought to say. When a person is hurting, they don’t need a sermon. They don’t need fingers pointing at them in blame. When Elijah was in the cave, hiding and scared, there was a earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake. There was a fire, but God wasn’t in the fire. There was a strong wind, but God wasn’t in the strong wind. Then a gentle breeze, and it was out of that, the Lord spoke to Elijah. He didn’t condemn the prophet. He didn’t scold him. He didn’t preach to him. He encouraged him. He reminded him. He helped him. The backseat driver in us says, “You should have done this instead…” Well, that’s a little late now. Here we are. We have to deal with what is before us. The blame game only adds on more guilt. It doesn’t lift the soul. It doesn’t breath oxygen into a heart that is discouraged. There is a time for the “lessons learned from all of this,” but not now. Now is the time to get a person back where they need to be. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Discouraged. Wanting to quit. This is the time to reach out, as the Lord did, and help sinking Peter, as he was walking on the water. Reach out your hand and pull a person up. Reach out your hand and be there for them. That’s what encouragement does.

 

Fifth, we are encouraged in different ways. For the weary preacher, it may be telling him to just take a day off. That’s hard for some of us. For others, it may be an intense process, involving many hours of going to their home and working with them. Some just need that gentle reminder. Some need loads of help. I met a man recently who was dealing with a death in the family. I told him about death merely being a door, a process that takes us into the next room. The righteous want to be in the next room. As I talked, I saw his eyes lift up and the color come back into his face. It was what he needed to hear. The pain was still there, but it wasn’t so bad. He now had hope. He had a way to express it to the rest of the family. So, our encouraging others is not one size fits all. Some need just a little. Others need a lot. For some, it’s just being there. For others, much more is required. Each of us are different and our problems are different and our faith is not at the same place. So, the encourager understands this. Each person needs different means of encouragement. It’s not one size fits all.

 

This is something that the world misses. The world doesn’t have this. I’ve seen the family alone in the funeral home. I’ve seen the person sitting alone in the surgery waiting room. Scared, uncertain, and without faith. For the child of God, nothing beats an amazing church that is there for them. Arm in arm, linked together in our journey, we have one another. We have each other’s back. We will not leave any upon the field. There is such warmth, hope and love with this. This is what makes a fellowship special. The closer a church becomes, the greater the help and the encouragement will be.

 

Our verse ends, “just as you also are doing.” The Thessalonians were encouraging. Paul was encouraging them to keep encouraging. You’re doing it. Keep it up. It’s making a difference. Don’t give up. Don’t get weary in what you are doing. You are making a difference!

 

We need encouragers! Can you be that? Can you do that?

 

Roger

 

19

Jump Start # 1958

Jump Start # 1958

2 Peter 2:7-8 “And if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds)”

What a sad picture of Lot. This certainly didn’t turn out as he had planned. What a mess he was in. Our passage, one of several O.T. examples drawn to show the judgment of God, is used by Peter to remind brethren what God will do with false teachers who were corrupting and distorting His truth. Peter draws from angels that were judged and the world that was judged during the flood in Noah’s day, and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, condemned during the time of Abraham and Lot.

The background to this event with Lot is interesting. Abraham was on the move. God had called him to leave Ur. Lot tagged along. Both had large flocks. The land couldn’t contain all the flocks and the servants of both men were fussing at each other. It was time to separate. Abraham, being older, should have been the one to make the choice. Abraham was on a mission for God. Lot was just going along. But, Abraham allowed Lot to pick the area. He saw the valley was well watered and good for his flocks. He chose the land near Sodom. It had great curb appeal, as we say today. We remember that Eve saw that the forbidden fruit was good to the eye. David saw the beautiful Bathsheba bathing. There is more to things than what we see with our eyes.

Genesis tells us that the city of Sodom was wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord. Genesis tells us that Lot moved his tents as far as Sodom. The next chapter in Genesis has Lot living in Sodom. By chapter 19, Lot is sitting at the gates of Sodom, a place where community discussions happened. Lot is right there. He is among them.

When God is finally out of patience with Sodom, He tells Abraham that He will destroy it. Abraham pleads for God to spare the cities because of the righteous who may be there. God would save the cities if ten righteous could be found. TEN. Ten could not be found. Angels take Lot out of the city and the warning is given to not look back. We know what happens. Lot’s wife turned and she became a pillar of salt. Immediately, Lot lost his companion. The words of Jesus, echo so loudly here, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

Our verse today shows the negative impact that Sodom had upon Lot. It was wearing him out spiritually. He was dying. He felt his soul tormented day after day. What he saw and what he heard coming out of those men who had no regard for God crippled his heart. Why didn’t Lot stay out in the fields and away from the city? Why was he there?

There comes a time in our lives when we must admit that we made a wrong choice. Lot made a wrong choice. The land was great for sheep, but the area was terrible for Godly hearts. His sheep thrived while he was being crushed spiritually. And this ancient story, first coming from Genesis and later from Peter, is relived over and over today. Righteous people making wrong choices. Righteous people dying spiritually as a result of those choices.

Here are some examples of modern choices like Lot:

Your child gets a scholarship to play ball in college. Division 1. Impressive. Great opportunity. Full ride. Expenses paid for. Maybe a stepping stone to the pros. Papers are signed, suitcases are packed and off goes your child. Little thought is given about whether or not a congregation is in the area. Very little investigation is put into what that church is like. Surrounded by unprincipled young people, your child plays and graduates in four years. Meets a girl on campus. Gets married. But the cost has been heavy. He hasn’t worshipped hardly at all while in school. Demands of sports, keeping up his grades, social life, and his faith in God has died. Oh, there are great memories of great games to be talked about for years to come, but he has no place for God anymore in his heart. The fields looked good but it was the wrong choice.

A family is worshipping with a small congregation. The congregation is old, not in the people, but in the thinking. Little is done. Little is expected. There are so few kids in the congregation that the fifth grader is put in with the two high school students. It’s the ole’ one room school concept. But here, it’s Bible class. This small church can not afford a preacher. Some someone usually gets up and reads a few verses and a prayer is offered. No depth. No challenging thoughts. No teaching. There are other options. There is a larger congregation but it’s about thirty miles away. They have an eldership, tons of kids and they are growing. They are doing things, and they are doing them right and Biblical. Do we stay and try to help this small church or do we move? Do we drive the distance every week? Mom and dad kick around the options. They really love their house. They don’t want to move. They decide to stay. Week after week, they are slowing dying because they are not being fed spiritually. They could have Bible studies in their home, but they don’t. They could invite families over and try to be a spark plug for the place, but they don’t. They just show up and go home. Week after week. Their kids grow up and have never really been taught. They fall away. The house this couple lives in is loved. The fields looked good but it was the wrong choice.

A man is offered a senior position at work. It is a premium job. Many would love to have this opportunity. It comes with a large salary and many perks. But the hours that this job requires and the travel that he now must do, takes him away from family. His name has been kicked around at church as a future elder but he can’t do that now. He’s way too busy. He is asked to teach a class at the congregation. He has to turn that down. He’s in and out so much that he can’t teach. The lifestyle he now lives puts him around some high rollers. He’s meeting people that he never thought he’d ever know. Name dropping, arrogance, and high spending have taken over his life. He’s feeling more and more out of touch with the people down at the church house. He’s changing. He’s becoming more and more like the people he is running with. Social drinking now crosses his mind. The others are doing it. He is attending less and less with God’s people to worship. The promotion, like the fields of Sodom, looked so good. But it wasn’t a good choice.

Now, I have known people who have gone through all of these examples, and not only kept their faith, but influenced others and did well. I know the college kids that played sports and influenced team mates to attend with them. These kids grew, got married and are serving amazingly in the kingdom. I’ve know families that worshipped in small congregations, but they were able to be great influences and bring life back to those groups. I’ve known brethren who took those senior positions at work, and didn’t allow their hope, character or outlook to change. It can be done. But I also know far too many that were crushed because of the unprincipled people around them.

You realize that your choice wasn’t right when it starts affecting your faith and conviction to Christ. When you see yourself changing and not for the good, it’s time to pull the plug on your choices. A person may have to switch schools, drop sports, move, or turn down the promotion. Those are hard choices. But in the words of Jesus, ‘what does it profit if you gain the whole world and lose your soul.’ Lot lost a wife. Later, his two daughters made terrible choices. Lot felt tortured while in Sodom. Why stay? It’s just a job. It’s just a house. It’s just a school. Are those things worth losing your soul for?

Some choices cannot be walked away from. This is especially true in marriage. Many a person will say, “I married the wrong person.” What they want is the exit door, so they can get out of that poor choice. It’s too late. God only allows one cause for divorce. This is why so much thought must be put into the person one dates. Some people change after marriage. Some get worse rather than better. A person has to try all that they can to make things better.

We must develop better vision to see beyond the fields of Sodom. What’s on paper may look good, but what’s the atmosphere like? Do some homework. Talk to people. Do your own investigation. Visit congregations a few times before final decisions are made. Think about the spiritual impact not just on yourself but upon your family. Is this a good choice? Is this a spiritual choice? Five years down the road what will this choice to do me spiritually?

Had Lot asked those questions he may never have chosen the rich fields of Sodom. What’s good for sheep, and what’s good for scholarships, and what’s good for the paycheck, may not be good for the soul. Making a wise choice based upon God is first.

Roger

18

Jump Start # 1957

Jump Start # 1957

1 Corinthians 15:51 “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will be changed.”

Our verse today comes from the resurrection chapter of the Bible. Paul gives proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He details the consequences if Christ had not be raised. He draws a connection to our resurrection. Layers of lessons for us.

Paul reveals a mystery in our verse. Two things.

First, we will not all die. That’s what he means by sleep. Jesus said, “our friend Lazarus is asleep.” Lazarus was in the grave. Jairus’ little daughter was “asleep.” Jesus raised her from the dead. Sleep is used to describe the death of God’s righteous people.

 

Remembering that Corinthians is written to a church, Paul is telling brethren that not all Christians will die. Persecution will not kill all Christians. Wars and disasters will not wipe all Christians off the face of the earth. We will not all sleep. There will be Christians alive when Jesus comes.

 

Secondly, we will be changed. The change takes place in the following verses as Paul describes the resurrection when Jesus comes. We don’t all have to die first and then be raised. Some will be alive when Jesus comes and they will be changed. In an instant. In the twinkling of an eye, he later says.

 

That is the thought I want us to think about today, not just the coming of Jesus, but the possibility that we could be alive when that happens. I feel that we have pushed that possibility so far in the background that we don’t really think it will happen. We feel that we’ll get old and die. That has been the course for most people. Why should it be any different for us? Why? This verse is why. We shall not all sleep. We might be the ones who are alive when the Lord comes.

 

Other places in the N.T. describe the coming of Jesus with a blast of the trumpet and the voice of the archangel. The skies would be filled with all the angels that are coming with Jesus. Immediately, the living is changed. Graves open and the dead are raised. Jesus said all who are in the tombs will come forth. The rapture concept of only certain ones going up to meet the Lord while everyone else remains on earth simply isn’t supported in Scriptures. The earth and creation will be destroyed at that time. Cosmic forces never seen before would change things as we know them.

 

I’d like to think all of this would happen on a Sunday, His day, the best day of the week, but I have no way of knowing. I can only imagine looking up in the sky and seeing hundreds and hundreds of angels, everywhere. At that moment everything stops. Traffic would stop. People would race out of their houses to look skyward. News casts would be broadcasting this live. Reporters from around the world would all be seeing the same thing. There are no words that would describe this. And, there surrounded by all those angels in the sky, is Jesus, our Lord. Some how we will know it’s Him. Nonbelievers may at first think that we are being invaded by aliens. Some will wonder what is this and who is that? But you and I will know. We’ve been ready for this day. We have read this Corinthian chapter over and over. And now, here it is. And, just like that, before we can take it all in and before we even have time to grasp everything that is going on, we are changed. We become immortal and imperishable. Forget the walkers, the canes, the hearing aids—you suddenly do not need them. You are in a different state. It’s glorious. It’s wonderful. And, just like that we are ushered into eternity.

 

Parts of this sound scary. We’ve never seen anything like this. It’s hard to imagine our world not being our world. We go to work until we retire. We gather weekly down at the church house. We put fuel in our cars and food in our bellies. That’s our world. That’s all that we know. It’s been that way for a long, long time. To think that all of this changes in an instant and our world as we know it ending, is scary.

 

Some people will not get to see things that they had planned for. There are weddings that were to take place that won’t. There are babies that will not be born. There are surgeries that do not take place. There are packages that won’t be delivered. Everything stops. Think about this coming week, and if the Lord came today, what wouldn’t happen in your life. I wouldn’t see if the Dodgers made it to the World Series, because there would be no World Series if Jesus came. The discussions about tax reform and border walls being built would never be solved. Some have doctor appointments. Some would be on the road traveling. Some are off in college. If Jesus came today, all of that stops.

 

Some people would not be ready. Many would not be ready. They have lived their lives doing what they want, ignoring God and finding happiness as the most important thing to pursue. The skies fill with angels and for the first time, some might pray. Some don’t know what to pray, how to pray, nor who to pray to. Some have lived their entire adult life mocking God and living with the assumption that God doesn’t exist. Some have been very vocal and even sought to discredit the Bible. Now, the Lord appears in the sky. Now, they know. Now, they know what a fool they have been. Begging for mercy, cries of ‘save me,’ fill the air, fear and panic race through their hearts. Will the unrighteous also be changed immortal and imperishable? I suppose. The Corinthian passage is written to believers. But Hell is real. Hell is linked with Heaven. If there is a Heaven, then there is a Hell. No Hell, no Heaven. They are found together in the last sentence in Matthew 25. So, the unrighteous will be cast into eternity as well.

 

For us, it’s a different picture. There was a photo taken years ago, of a serviceman getting off of an airplane. His arms are stretched out as his children run towards him with big smiles on their faces. I’d like to think that’s what it will be for us. We have loved Jesus all of our life. We have followed Him, obeyed Him, quoted Him, imitated Him and talked to Him. We have remembered His death weekly. We have sung hymns to Him. We have told our family and friends about Him. We are who we are because of Him. Our hearts have changed because of Him. And now, there He is in the sky. We have waited and waited for this for a long time. For the righteous, tears will stream down our cheeks as we reach out to embrace our Lord and our Savior. It’s Jesus!

 

We will not all sleep. It’s not up to us, but if it were, would you like to be one who is alive when Jesus comes? Would you like to witness His coming? You might. Don’t push this so far back in your mind that you’ll be shocked if it happens. It just may.

 

We sing, “There’s a great day coming, a great day coming…”

 

Someday, it will come.

 

Roger

 

17

Jump Start # 1956

Jump Start # 1956

Ecclesiastes 7:10 “Do not say, ‘Why is it that the former days were better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.”

 

Wow! That passage slaps us in the face! Don’t say the former days were better? The former days were not better than these? We are living in better times than the former days? Really?

 

This verse is found at the end of Solomon’s series of contrasts, in which he says one thing is better than another. Our verse is like that. We think the former days were better than these days. God says, “don’t say that.” What Solomon identifies as better is not what would make our list. The day of death is better than the day of birth. Most wouldn’t agree with that. Better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting. Not typically. We’d take the party over the funeral, any day. Sorrow better than laughter. Strike three, we’d say. We’d think that Solomon got this all mixed up. Then comes our warning, do not say that the former days were better than these. God is showing us the deeper spiritual values through these contrasts. What’s on the surface isn’t always the best. The easy way is not always the best way.

 

Here are a few thoughts:

 

First, the older a person becomes, the more “former days” he collects. I asked a Wednesday night class to raise their hands if they had been a Christian longer than a decade. Tons of hands went up. Twenty years, lots of hands. We did that all the way up to fifty years. Some could have gone past that. A Christian for more than half a century. That’s a lot of former days. The older one gets the more former days he has than future days.

 

Second, we tend to remember good things. Our memory can be colored and we can only see things a certain way. We tend to look with fondness to our childhood. Those simple days before mortgages, kids in braces, stressful deadlines and traffic that doesn’t move. Going to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving, playing with cousins, carefree and fun. Toys. Cookies. Naptime. Cartoons. That’s how we remember the former days.

 

Third, our passage is telling us not to think that the former days were better. I’m not sure what all Solomon had in mind, but let’s talk about our times. We eat better and smarter today. We live longer today. We can reach more and do more today with technology. I have a friend who had by-pass surgery. That wouldn’t have happened a hundred years ago. Cancer once was the death sentence. It’s not any more. The good ole’ days, before air bags, seat belts and cars that were safe. The good ole’ days when you slept with the windows open under a floor fan on a hot sweltering July night. The good ole’ days when paint had lead in it and buildings were stuffed with asbestos. The good ole’ days of hippies, rights that were not very civil, and the place on the bus was determined by your skin color. The good ole’ days of getting up in the middle of the night and walking out in the dark to the outhouse. The good ole’ days when parents worried about mumps, diapers were cloth and had to be rung out, and every dish had to be hand washed. Oh yeah, we say, ‘we forgot about that stuff.’ Memory will do that.

 

Are there pieces of the past that were better than today? Probably.

 

Fourth, there is no going back. We are a forward moving people. We are witnessing all around us the death of many major stores that have been around for a long time. Trends in shopping have changed. Folks like to stay in their jammies and shop on line at home. Saying the former days were better and yet realizing that we are not going back, will only make one sad and depressed. I don’t miss typing sermons on a electric typewriter. I don’t miss copy machines that never made the copy look like the original. Hard wooden pews. Long sermons. Hot church buildings. Preachers pointing to sheets with diagrams outlining their sermons. Those were the days we may say. But it’s onward that we move. We can reach more people today faster and easier than ever before. We are wealthier as a nation today than in days gone by. Our homes are larger. Our pantries are stuffed. Our closets are full.

 

In many ways our times are turning more secular. Sin is more popularized today. People are more vocal about wanting wrong today. But in contrast I see larger and stronger congregations today. I see more powerful congregations today. In the good ole’ days, you didn’t hear of very many churches that numbered over 200. Today, that’s common.

 

Fifth, God was with us in the former days and He is with us today. Our need for Him hasn’t changed. What He expects of us hasn’t changed. We continue to walk by faith, just as in the former days. We continue to reach out in prayer, just as in the former days. We still need the Gospel, just like the former days. Some things will never change. Some things we will never outgrow.

 

Sixth, it’s rather sad to be stuck in the past. Some are. Some fight change. Some fear change. I love to see senior citizens who are using smart phones, facetime and have learned to keep forward looking. Those that are in the past feel like the best days are behind us. It’s all down hill now. Nothing good. This thinking can make us bitter, ungrateful, and miserable. The best days, from the standpoint of a Christian, are yet to come. The best days are when we are with the Lord in Heaven. Nothing will beat that. We won’t look back and miss these days. We will be so thankful and happy that God has invited us to His home.

 

Do not say that the former days were better than these. We need these reminders. We can forget.

 

Roger

 

 

 

 

16

Jump Start # 1955

Jump Start # 1955

2 Corinthians 7:10 “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

 

“I’m sorry.” That seems to be in vogue these days. It’s good to recognize wrong and to be sorry for it. But, it seems too often, a commentator, comedian, politician or sports figure can say anything that they want, no matter how thoughtless, cruel or offensive it is, and then when they are called on the carpet for what they said, out comes, “I’m sorry.” Often the damage has been done. Would they have apologized had they not received such a backlash from the public? Are they truly sorry or only sorry that they got in trouble for what they said?

 

Saying, “I’m sorry,” doesn’t fix all things. It doesn’t repair broken trusts. Confidence in a marriage, the bond of friendship, the relationship between parents and their children can be shattered by poor decisions, careless words and actions without thinking. Just saying, “I’m sorry,” doesn’t magically restore and repair these strained relationships. One wonders why a person said what they said in the first place. And we are not just talking about what people say, but what they tweet, put on Facebook or text.

 

Saying, “I’m sorry,” doesn’t keep the consequences of wrong and sinful choices from coming. A kid, on a dare, chooses to shoplift a dvd from a store. He’s caught. Parents are called. The police are called. He’s in big trouble now. He says, “I’m sorry,” but there are consequences that he will have to face. A college student chooses to plagiarize. It’s a long paper. The professor won’t catch it. There are too many papers to read. It is found. And now there are consequences. The student says, “I’m sorry,” but that may not stop all the punishment he’s about to face. A wife finds out that her husband is having an affair. She confronts him. He says, “I’m sorry.” The marriage may be over. He’ll have to move out. How will he tell his parents? What happens when the church finds out? “I’m sorry,” doesn’t stop consequences.

 

Hiding our sins, like Adam and Eve hid from God, is a common human response. This is our default mode. We keep things hidden and hope that no one finds out. Cover-up. Cover our tracks. Make excuses. Denial. Dodge the questions. We’re pretty good at this stuff. When caught, we are quick to point fingers. It’s been a long day. I’m under a lot of pressure and stress. I haven’t been myself lately. But all of this smoke to cover what we really know is going on, never fools God. The Lord is not deceived. We can hide things from others. We can after awhile, start believing our own lies, but the Lord knew all along.

 

This is where our verse comes in. Godly sorrow is different than sorrow of the world. A person can be sorry for many reasons. He can be sorry that he got caught. He can be sorry that he lost his job or is kicked out of the house. He can be sorry that he is in jail. None of this points a finger back to his heart. Is he sorry that he even did or said what he did? Caught or not, is he sorry? Consequences or not, is he sorry?

 

Godly sorrow is based upon God. It’s not based upon what I did to others or the punishment I now receive because of my choices. One is sorry that he has shamed God. He is sorry that he has disappointed God. He is sorry that he did not bring glory and honor to God. This sorrow, is based upon the will of God. It’s Biblically based. It doesn’t come from the outcry of the public. It’s not the result of being suspended by the owner of the company. It comes from heart that wants to please God. When he has not, he is sorry, very sorry.

 

This godly sorrow leads to repentance. It leads to changes. Thought is given as to how I got myself into that situation. Thought is given to what should I have done differently. Prayers are sent Heavenward. Pleas for God’s mercy are beseeched. Lessons have been learned. Changes will take place. A heart is drawn even closer to the God of love and mercy. A renewed desire to walk closer to the Lord takes place.

 

This is seen in the story of the prodigal. Life got so desperate for that rebellious kid that he desired what the pigs were eating. He came to his senses. Godly sorrow. He decided to go home and apologize. Repentance. He said, “…I have sinned against Heaven and in your sight.” No excuses. No fingers pointing to anyone else. A broken heart that wants to be loved and mended by God. His father accepted him. There was a celebration. A feast. Music and dancing were heard coming from the house. But what about the next day? The party was over. The food was eaten. Now what? The obnoxious brother was still obnoxious. The father wasn’t changing any of the rules to keep the prodigal home. What was expected of the prodigal didn’t change. One thing changed. The heart of the prodigal. He was different. He had repented. He saw things differently now. He was a new person.

 

Had he come home with a “I’m sorry,” but no change in his heart, it would only be a matter of time until he hit the road again. What changed was his view of things. What changed was his view of self. Godly sorrow leads one to God.

 

In a perfect world, we would never do anything wrong. The world is not perfect and neither are we. We sin. Hiding the fact, blaming others, and waiting for someone to demand an apology, is what the world does. Their sorrow leads to death. The death is the death of their heart and soul. Judas seemed to be sorry that he betrayed Jesus. He returned the money. His sorrow did not lead him closer to God. He took his life. Sorrow of the world leads to death—physically, emotionally and especially spiritually.

 

It’s great to recognize that you have done wrong. It’s important to understand that others have been hurt by you. Now, when you say, “I’m sorry,” what are you doing with that? Are you making changes? Are you better because of this? Are you closer to God? Are you showing that you mean what you say? Or, is this just a quick band aid to cover up a deeper problem? Is this being said, only to keep the job, the marriage, and to hold off any embarrassment or consequences that may come your way?

 

I’m sorry—are you? What are you going to do with that now?

 

Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow—they can say the exact same words, “I’m sorry.” But the intent, purpose and aftermath is totally different. One is driven by the need to be right with God, the other is driven by the fact that one wants to save face. One is more concerned about God than anything else. The other is concerned about self more than anything else.

 

I’m sorry…give that some thought!

 

Roger