Turnaround

During much of the past four years I’ve been in the habit of getting up early and starting my day by meeting with God through reading the Bible, a few devotions, and praying. And it has revolutionized my life. And, I haven’t stopped during this short trip back to Houston where I continue to look for employment. It has become my lifeblood.

While I’ve been a Christian since I was a young girl, my passion ebbed and flowed over the years. I don’t know how many years have gone by where Jesus Christ was not the “Number One” priority in my life when I first climbed out of bed in the morning. In fact, days and sometimes weeks would go by where I wouldn’t even open my Bible except on Sunday if/when I went to church and if/when I remembered to take it with me. And more often then not, when I prayed it centered around my needs and/or the needs of others but lacked thanksgiving and praise as a meaningful part of it. And, I also wandered my way through a number of prodigal years, too. It wasn’t until I moved to Houston on September 25, 2008, to start that fateful job that has ended in this very long time of unemployment that I clearly felt God’s Spirit wooing me to “get serious” in my relationship with Him. And I did. And my life hasn’t been the same.

I read a couple of short devotions this morning and I want to share them with you. Perhaps you find yourself in a lukewarm lifestyle of Christian apathy that rarely finds any real passion for the things of God in this life, or perhaps you don’t personally know Him even if you do attend church every Sunday but it rarely leads to a changed life during the rest of the week. The first devotion is titled Turnaround for August 31, 2012, and is from Our Daily Bread:

Turnaround

Galatians 1:11-24

Bill was a friend of mine in seminary who had come to Christ out of a blatantly sinful lifestyle. He described it this way: “I was driving down the street drinking a bottle of brandy with another man’s wife at my side. When I saw some Christians on the sidewalk witnessing to passersby about Christ, I drove by and shouted, ‘Fools!’ But only a few weeks later I found myself kneeling in a church and asking Christ to become my Savior and Lord.” Bill’s conversion resulted in his giving up his old ways and experiencing a new life in Christ. It was a life-changing turnaround.

True repentance, which is initiated by the Holy Spirit, includes a real turnaround. Often we see that the greater the opposition to the gospel prior to conversion, the more stunning the change of direction afterward. When Saul of Tarsus encountered Christ on the road to Damascus, he was changed from a persecutor to a preacher of the gospel. Of this many observed: “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy” (Gal. 1:23).

Authentic conversion includes repentance, which is a change of mind and direction. For the follower of Christ, repentance means to keep turning away from sin and turning toward Christ in obedience.

Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee. —Sleeper

Repentance is being so sorry for sin
that you are willing to give it up.

The second devotion is from Open Windows published by LifeWay and is titled, “Zeal Without Knowledge” (for August 31, 2012):

Zeal Without Knowledge

Romans 10:1-4

“For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge”
(Rom. 10:2)

I used to make New Year’s resolutions–things I wanted to change about myself. If I had followed them, I would be almost perfect! Unfortunately, my good intentions usually fell apart within a week. I had a zeal to be a better person, but I was relying on my own strength or willpower.

Self-help books fill bookstore shelves and often make the best-seller lists. We can long to improve our lives physically and spiritually, but zeal without God’s power sets us up for failure. Any changes we make on our own will be superficial.

Paul yearned for Israel to be saved. They had knowledge of God but didn’t know Him on a personal basis. They were depending on their own righteousness to save them. But we can never make ourselves righteous through our own efforts. Self-righteousness is a poor substitute for God’s righteousness.

Knowledge “puffs up” our self image. We may be impressed with the information at our fingertips. But only God gives us wisdom to interpret data and use it to live for Him.

Father, help me remember that lasting change
can only come through You.

A.W. Tozer (1897 – 1963) once stated, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference” (quote source here). He died almost 50 years ago, but this statement is still so very true in many of our churches today. We do a myriad of “things” in the name of Jesus Christ but rarely consult with Him on what really needs to be done. We have lost our first love in order to strive for a life of prosperity and comfort. We place our passion in “things” instead of the Creator of everything.

If this sounds familiar to you, it’s not too late to turn your life around. And you can do it right now. Repentance is the key that unlocks the door to a real and vital relationship with Jesus Christ.

I want to end this post with the words to a song by Twila Paris titled, True North(YouTube Video below):

We lost our bearings following our own mind
We left conviction behind fear of the future
Springing from the sins of the past
Hiding the hope that would last

How did we ever wander so far
And where do we go from here?
How will we know where it is?

True north
There’s a strong steady light
That is guiding us home

True north
In the lingering night
We were never alone
True north

Wonders of nature
Speak to us all of Your plan
Why would we run from Your hand

Laws of the earth
Just like the laws of the heart
Only begin where You are

How did we ever wander so far
And where do we go from here?
How will we find it again?

True north
There’s a strong steady light
That is guiding us home

True north
In the lingering night
We were never alone

“Finding ‘true north’ is essential for accurate navigation . . . . In life’s journey we are often uncertain where we stand, where we are going and what is the right path for us personally. Knowing our true north would enable us to follow the right path” (quote source here). For those of us who are Christian, Jesus Christ is our “True North.”

Are you in need of a turnaround in your life?

If so, won’t you do it today?

YouTubeVideo: “True North” by Twila Paris:

Photo credit here