Repent and worship. You’ll be glad you did.
MARCH 9, 2023
Repent and worship. You’ll be glad you did. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
The deepest message of Jesus and the Bible is the radical grace of God to sinners and sufferers. That’s what key life is all about. So, if you’re hungry for the hopeful truth that God isn’t mad at you, keep listening. Steve Brown is a professor and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. We’ve been talking about repentance all week. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of it. But if you listened, it’s life changing. Repentance is knowing who you are, knowing who God is, knowing what you’ve done and taking it to God and agreeing with him as David did in the 51st Psalm. Repentance is an attitudinal thing it isn’t change. Listen, I thought I’d work at it hard. I thought I’d read the Bible more and pray more, and I’d be nicer. I would make all kinds of promises to God, but I found out I couldn’t fix myself. All I could do was tell God I can’t fix myself. And when I said to God, I can’t fix myself, then God began to fix me. That’s how I became this spiritual giant who is now teaching you. And if you, if you believe that, you will believe anything. I’m not fixable, but God does sometimes fix us. But that’s not even the issue. The issue is the cross. The issue is justification. The issue is imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us. Okay, let me give you a principle. Genuine worship leads to awareness. Awareness leads to lament of repentance. Lament and repentance leads to reordering of one’s perception of oneself, others, and the world. And that leads to laughter and freedom. One of the books I often use in my devotional and worship time is The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. I love that book because I find myself in it. The Puritans got Christmas wrong and probably some other stuff, but they knew about grace and mercy. And believe it or not, they knew how to party because of some stuff that are in our English literature books, American literature books, the Puritans have gotten a bum wrap and we shouldn’t have given it to them because they were godly in the most refreshing and free and joyous sense of that. Let me give you one of the prayers from that book, the Valley of Vision. Now, just listen, it is so good.
Before thy cross, I kneel and see the heinousness of my sin. My iniquity that caused thee to be made a curse. The evil that excites the severity of divine wrath. Show me the enormity of my guilt by the crown of thorns, the pierced hands and feet, the bruised body, the dying cries. Thy blood is the blood of incarnate God. It’s worth infinite, it’s value beyond all thought. Infinite must be the evil and guilt that demands such a price. Sin is my malady, my monster, my foe, my viper, born in my birth, alive in my life, strong in my character, dominating my facilities, following me as a shadow, intermingling with my every thought, my chain that holds me captive in the empire of my soul. Sinner that I am, why should the sun give me light, the air supply breath, the earth bear my tread, the fruits nourish me. It’s creatures subserve my ends.
Now, that is kind of dark, isn’t it? But when it gets dark enough, you can see the light and the prayer begins to see the light, and it’s powerful.
Yet, thy compassion yearns over me, thy heart hastens to my rescue, thy love endured my curse, thy mercy bore my deserved stripes. Let me walk humbly in the lowest depths of humiliation, bathed in the blood of Christ. Tender of conscience, triumphing gloriously as an heir of salvation.
I know, I know. What I’ve said in these broadcasts is rather intimidating, and in fact, it’s supposed to be. You know why? Do you know why unbelievers don’t pray? They don’t pray because they’re afraid that God might show. Do you know why many Christians don’t pray? Some don’t pray because they’re afraid God might not be there, and those who know that he is also know that God is scary. Many of us would rather do religious stuff, do our best to be obedient and stay under the radar with our silent trying than to go before a holy, sovereign, and righteous God. It’s safer that way. No, it’s not. When I was in grammar school, the scariest place I knew was the principal’s office. I was kept in line with the threat that if I didn’t do things right, that’s where I would end up. The principal was big and intimidating and frightening, and there were horror stories about kids who had gone into his office and never come out. Then one day horror of horrors. I was disciplined and sent to his office. I remember thinking that my life was over and wondering if my little brother would enjoy riding the bicycle he would inherit on my demise. I remember knocking on the principal’s door with a trembling hand, knowing that I was in serious trouble. Then to my surprise, the principal asked me to sit down. He said, you don’t like Mrs. and then he mentioned the teacher’s name much. Do you? I was too scared to lie, so I said that she was not my favorite person. Then I almost fell out of my chair when he said, son, I don’t like her either, but that will be our little secret. This really happened. Then he suggested that I visit his office regularly and we would spend time together keeping quiet about the purposes of those visits. The principal’s office became my favorite place. I haven’t felt free to share that story publicly until now. But everybody involved is dead except me, so it’s a perfect illustration of the subject of the chapter that I’ve been talking about, confession, lament, and repentance are hard if you do it to someone who is angry and condemning and who doesn’t give a rip about you. It is one thing to go before an executioner, and it’s quite another thing to go before a loving father. The prayer Jesus taught his disciples has an incredibly wonderful beginning. Jesus said.
When you pray and you want to do it right, start your prayer by saying, Our Father.
When you start there, the forgive us our debts is a whole lot easier. In Dane Ortlund’s book, he unpacks Matthew 11:28 through 30 where Jesus says.
That we should cast out our burden on him, for I am gentle.
This is Matthew 11:28 through 30.
I’m gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
It’s the one place in the Bible where the Son of God pulls back the veil and lets us peer way down into the core of who he is. We are not told that it is austere and demanding in heart. We are told that he is exalted and dignified in heart. We are not even told that he’s joyful and generous in heart. Letting Jesus set the terms, his surprising claim is that God is gentle and lowly in heart. This according to his own testimony is Christ’s very heart. This is who he is, tender and open and welcoming, accommodating, understanding. If Jesus hosted his own personal website, and the most prominent line of the about me dropdown would be gentle, lowly of heart. Oh my. You think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. And thus concludes another fantastic week exploring the Biblical foundations of Steve’s latest book, Laughter and Lament. If you want to pick up a copy of said book, just stop by key life.org that’s also where you can replay past episodes of Key Life and all of our other shows as well. And of course, hope you’ll join us again tomorrow for Friday Q&A, the time each week when Steve and our good friend Pete Alwinson answer the challenging questions you’ve sent in. So, you’ve been hearing about Steve’s new book for the last few months, all about how laughter and lament are often found together in unexpected places. But don’t have a copy yet? No, that’s cool. Just taking the wait and see approach. I can respect that and that’s why I think you’ll be interested in our new Laughter and Lament booklet that features several excerpts from the book. Kind of a, you know, a try before you buy, free sample kind of thing. Can we send you a copy of that booklet? Just call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that booklet. Or to mail your request, just go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses for the U.S. and Canada. Again, just ask for your free copy of the Laughter and Lament booklet. Finally, would you partner in the work of Key Life through your giving? You can charge a gift on your credit card or you can include a gift in your envelope. Or simply pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Just text that to 28950 and then follow the instructions. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And as always, we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.