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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Repent Now and Forgive!

The first step to get to God is to repent. That is why John the Baptist was sent as a forerunner, to prepare people for the coming of Jesus by telling them to repent. In all Biblical accounts of a person encountering God, the person's immediate reaction is to feel sinful and unworthy.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, (See Luke 5: 7-9)
It is kind of like finally meeting someone you greatly admired for the first time, maybe even a rock star or a celebrity. You are completely aware of your nothingness. You want to throw yourself at their feet. Or being called to your boss's office. You walk in and suddenly you feel 2 inches smaller and all you can think of is how bad your work has been lately.

In fact, it is said that encounters with God start out bitter and end sweetly in peace, and encounters with the devil start out sweetly but end in agitation. The devil can create feelings of agitation and fear and manic elation but cannot create the feeling of peace and true joy.

A person who rejects God cannot stand long in His presence. That is why he can not be in Heaven, because it would be unbearable torment. He sends himself to Hell because there is no other place to avoid God after death.

I had my first major repentance experience many years ago when I was still Muslim (years before 911 in fact). I was lying in bed and couldn't sleep. I suddenly saw the truth of my whole life and what tied my sins together and what animal I most resembled. In cold tears I got out of bed and fell to the floor in a prolonged sejdeh. I stayed in that position for I don't know how long perhaps half an hour thanking God for showing me the truth and begging His forgiveness and resolving to change my ways.

It was a terrible experience but afterwards I had a feeling of lightness and peace that is hard to describe. Now in looking back I know it was the work of the Holy Spirit.

Now a great way to start this is to tell God you're sorry for all your sins and ask for the grace of repentance. Then a great next step is to forgive everyone who's ever hurt you. Recall the parable of the unmerciful servant.

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"

Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.

"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'

"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."


So lying in your bed one night (after you have repented), make a list of all the people you know, go down your list and mentally forgive everyone for anything and everything. Do this every night no matter how difficult for several nights. And pray. Ask God to reveal the truth to you.

These actions will make you open to the Holy Spirit, and will bring you closer to God.





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