What Is Stopping You? (Matthew 21:32)



What does it take?  In order to be or do something, it usually requires some preliminary steps or skills.  To run, you first need to walk.  To read, you must memorize and recognize letters, their sounds and words.  But what about something like believing.  What does that take?

For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.  (Matthew 21:32)

It appears that repentance affects a person’s ability to believe.  It seems that when the publicans and harlots had their lives changed as a result of John’s message, those who witnessed it should have then recognized John as a man from God.  Yielding to that truth would then have caused the listeners to accept and believe John’s message and how it pertained to their lives.  By repenting, they would have enabled themselves to believe.

Repentance continues to be a major aspect of the believer’s life both before and after salvation.  In salvation, man must repent and believe what God had said about him and his sinful condition.  Once man recognizes and yields to this, his entire attitude about himself, his condition and his ability to save himself will be changed.  He then can believe the gospel.  Again, repenting enables a person to believe.

Repentance continues to affect us after salvation.  As we face trials and difficulties, our hearts have a tendency to have fear and sometimes even doubt about the goodness of God.  It is only when we allow God’s word to turn our hearts around and accept the truth of passages such as Romans 8:28, that we then again can believe and trust the Lord.

What action of repentance do you need to do in order to help you believe and trust God?

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The Turning Point (Jonah 2:7)

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I was glad to hear recently that a friend’s father had finally trusted Christ as Savior. He shared how he and his family had prayed for this person for 20 years. Recently the individual had become very ill. It was during this stage in his life that more people began praying for his health and salvation. My friend encouraged others to continue to pray for the lost because God is still working.

God is still working on the lost and he continually works on the hearts of those who have drifted away. Many get discouraged in prayer because their prayer does not get answered in a reasonable time. What they fail to see is that God does answer their prayer in a reasonable time. However, the reasonable time is not determined by God, but instead by the lost or backslidden.

What needs to occur before a person turns to God is that they must come to the end of themselves. In other words, they get to a point where they recognize that they cannot make it on their own or they cannot face the conditions in their lives. It was at this point that Jonah finally turned to God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. (Jonah 2:7). It will be at this same point when the lost will turn to God and the backslidden will do the same. Until that occurs, you and I may not see any change in the individual’s actions or attitude, but rest assured, God is working to bring them to the point that they will turn to him.

Be patient in your prayers and trust that God will work in your loved one’s heart. Yield to him so that he may use you in this work and keep you from trying to bring about the change that only he can bring.

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His Hand Is Stretched Out Still (Isaiah 5:25)

The book of Isaiah contains writings of the prophet’s messages to the people of Israel. They drifted away from God and had become idolatrous. Their idolatry caused God to become angry and to smite them because of it. The scriptures are clear that he was angry. However, we must ask ourselves, “Was that the only emotion that he felt towards Israel?” Could God feel another emotion or even one contrary to anger? Thankfully we can see from the scriptures that God with love was still reaching out in mercy. This may be confusing to some people. They may question, how can God be angry and love at the same time? How can he smite his people and still love them?

I John 4:8 tells us that God is love. It does not say that he has love, but that he is love. Because he is the Self Existing One, then he exists to love. Because he exists to love, he must love. Isaiah 5:25 shows us that even though God was angry with Isaral, he still wanted them to come to him and his hand was still stretched out to them.

Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. (Isaiah 5:25)

This principle applies to us today. What we must recognize is that regardless of what sin we may have done and how angry the sin makes God to become, he still wants us. He will always be reaching out in love, because God is love. Over the years, I have heard people say that there is a line to be crossed and if you do, you have gone too far and God will not reach out to you. We must shun such thoughts because they are unscriptural. For salvation, it is only death that stops God’s calling work. For the saved who have wandered away from God and chose the world, God will continue to work at bringing them back to himself. Remember, the works and callings of God are without repentance and he will continue to perform them until the day of The Lord Jesus (Romans 11:29; Philippians 1:6).

If you are away from God, he wants you back. There is no sin that you could commit that would be able to turn his love away from you. When he found you at salvation, you were worse off than you could ever be after salvation. He wanted you then and he wants you now. Your loving father’s hand is stretched out still: waiting for you to respond. The question is, will you respond.

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