This time of year marks a period of reflection of the birth of Christ. Jesus was sent to the world to save us from sin and reconcile us to God. In light of this, I’d like to do a devotional for December to prepare our hearts to receive the beloved Son of God this year.
I had a conversation with a friend today where we both exchanged questions we have about our faith and our futures. We both acknowledged how hungry we were for the reality of Christ to be made known in our hearts in a tangible way everyday. We shared how in seasons past, there seemed to be a deeper passion and effortless purity that is now too often occupied by the complexities of life and difficult times. This conversation provoked me to dig deeper in songs, books, and scriptures that have continually inspired me and have lit a flame in my heart in times past.
Today’s blog is an entry setting up the next 23 days of devotionals that will lead up to the final entry on December 24th, Christmas Eve day. I am going to be asking 23 questions found in one of my absolute favorite books, The Revival We Need, by Oswald J. Smith. These heart searching inquiries come from a chapter titled, Obstacles. They will cause you to examine barriers where sin creeps in and separates us from God’s presence and power flooding our lives. Stephen and I will be prayerfully working through these questions everyday with you and sharing some reflections we have. I will keep them short and simple ;) but please take time to read all of today’s post.
My prayer is that this Christmas season would be the best yet as you are filled with the knowledge of the love of Christ. I pray that as we ponder these truths and pray these next 23 days that we would eradicate things that would hinder Jesus from having all of our hearts. He desires to be Lord of all of our lives, not just the parts we’re willing to give to Him. Our lives need His power, our lands need His presence. God’s word promises us that if we humble ourselves and pray, He will hear us and forgive us of our sins. There may be times this month in examining these thoughts, that you feel you need to acknowledge (or some say “confess”) your sins against God and others. In these times, as painful as it can be to your own will, emotions and intellect, choose the road of humility and ask for forgiveness. Those who were at Jesus’ birth came and bowed down because they acknowledged that even though they didn’t fully understand what was happening, this small baby was worthy of their worship.
A simple way to walk through these devotions would be to write down the questions and a response daily. You could make a post it note, or save it as a screen saver on your phone. Setting a reminder on your phone with the question typed on there can alert you to further reflect as the day unfolds. When repentance is needed, boldly ask for forgiveness from God, others, and from yourself as the spirit leads.
I encourage you to check this blog daily and if you miss a day, make it up when you can.
**Here’s a short excerpt from the chapter we will be discussing to prepare our hearts for the coming questions.
“There is only one obstacle that can block up the channel and choke God’s power, and that iss in. It alone can hinder the work of the Spirit and prevent a revival. “If I regard iniquity in my heart,” declared David, “the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18). And in Isaiah 59:1,2, we have these significant words: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.” Sin, then, is the great barrier, and it must be put away. Nor is there any alternatives. There can be no compromise. God will not work as long as there is iniquity covered up.
Sorrow for the consequences and punishment of sin is not sufficient, but sorrow for sin itself as committed against God. Hell is full of remorse, but only for the punishment incurred. There is no real contrition. The rich man uttered not a word of sorrow for his sin against God (Luke 16:24). David, though guilty of both murder and adultery, saw his sin as against God alone (Psalm 51:4). Mere remorse is not true godly sorrow unto repentance. Judas, though filled with remorse, never repented.
There are three kinds of confession that must be considered:
1. Private Confession. Where sin has been committed against God alone, it need be confessed to none but God (1 John 1:9; Psalm 32:5).
2. Personal Confession. Where the sin has been committed against another, it must be confessed not only to God but also to the one who has been wronged. Nor will there be any peace until the confession has been made and forgiveness sought (Matthew 5:23,24).
3. Public Confession. Where the sin has been committed against the church, that is to say, an entire congregation, a class, organization, family, or a company of people, the confession must be as public as the transgression.
As long as iniquity among the people of God is covered over and unconfessed, just so long will the Spirit of God be unable to bring about a revival. Men must get right with each other in order to be right with God.
It is a common experience for groups of people to gather together for nights of prayer for a revival and yet never have their prayers answered. What is the trouble? Let the Word of God answer. “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.” Hence, let us uncover our sin first of all; let us make straight the crooked ways, let us gather out the stones, and then we may ask in faith and expectancy for showers of blessing.
Now let us take our sin one by one and deal with each transgression separately. And let us ask ourselves the following questions. It may be we are guilty and God will speak to us.”—Oswald J. Smith, The Revival We Need