God has a heart to warn people before He brings judgment. He does not want anyone to receive the wrath that is poured out from His righteous judgment. "Return O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you, and return to the Lord." (Hosea 14:1-2)
Today begins the biblical season of T'eshuvah. In Hebrew, this means to repent or return. This is a time for us to self examine, to personally contemplate and discover where we have departed from God. This is a time for us to examine the scriptures that hold evidence that the Messiah is who He said He is -- our Reconciler. Then we can return to God.
This biblical season is 40 days long. It begins on the morning after the appearance of the new moon in the six month. It includes 30 days of examination and repentance in preparation for Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah. Then, we enter a 10-day period of High Holy Days -- the Days of Awe ending with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It would be in one's best interest to be completely repentant before Rosh Hashanah, not waiting for the Days of Awe.
How can we as a community enter into this season? We can repent from being overly individualistic. Can you name your five closest neighbors? Our lives are overly busy. We fill them with many things, not necessarily bad things, but so many that we don't have time for meaningful relationships or prayer. Prayer and relationships often get pushed to the end of our "to do" list.
We can use this time to gently put things in order in our lives. To have a change of our mind and will that arises from our sorrow for sin which will lead to a transformation in our lives. Acts 3:19 says, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord."
Taking an inventory may help. Have we offended a neighbor? This is a time for a gesture of friendliness. Is there someone we have neglected? Now is the time for a telephone call. We can bring a time of refreshment to others as we have a sacred concern for their lives as well as our own.
A movement that is sweeping across America right now is called "Lighthouses of Prayer." A "lighthouse" is simply a cluster of two or more believers who are banded together to pray for, care about and share the blessings of Christ with their neighbors. It is a simple manageable way to make prayer a priority. To pray specific blessings for your neighbors, as well as to pray for specific opportunities to share with and care for them.
These "lighthouses" are contributing powerfully to the national prayer movement that God is now raising up. This is the most hopeful sign on the horizon that God is leading, and how He is choosing to work today.
You and your church can become involved in this movement. Together we can allow our churches to be the focal point of our community. Jesus commanded that we be at the center of our community because it is really His community.
Love INC is here to encourage your church to help members find their God-given talents, abilities, passions and resources, then to use these opportunities to minister to the needs of this community.
Our community will benefit, His church will be revived, the Great Commission completed, and society transformed when God's people repent and pray. When we work, we work; when we pray, God works! Our world can be changed one neighborhood, one workplace, one town, one nation at a time. It starts with one person. Watch for the new moon every night. See it changing, and be reminded that the Holy Days are coming!
Janine Espy is program director for Love INC of the Kenai Peninsula.
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