(Acts 19: 4-6) 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
At the dawn of a new year, it is human nature to begin to think about the ways in which we can be and do better in our lives. We make plans, join gyms, go on diets and cleanses, and write lists…which are all a part of our well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions. At my job, we have a Biggest Loser weight loss competition that is going on. People are gearing up for the blessed days of summer and the dreaded season of the flaw-baring swimsuit. I have had numerous conversations with friends in every aspect of my life about things we all just want to do differently this year. It is, as always, what feels like a fresh start…a revival.
Many times, the catalyst for a big change or shift in our lives is the ability to look back on things as they were and realizing that something has to be different. There is always something there, a common denominator, that is aiding in our failures. When we are able to pinpoint that thing, name it for what it is, then in turn walk away from it, that’s when things begin to change…often times drastically so.
A few years ago, I was the heaviest I had ever been in my life. I had never really been overweight, but due to some medications and a bout of depression, I had gained 60 pounds in one year. It was very disheartening! My motivation to make a change was simply knowing that underneath the fat there was this girl I had been before and who I longed again to be, but what set things in motion for me was figuring out what I needed to turn away from in order to begin to make choices that would bring about an eventual 70 pound weight loss.
My point is this, in the above passage taken from Acts 19, before he ever lays hands on the disciples at Ephesus, Paul explains to them that John’s baptism was one of repentance. To repent means to turn away from something negative and replace it with something positive. Now the disciples were followers of Christ…they were not actively living in sin…yet Paul still saw it necessary to mention repentance to them. Whether you are a mature Christian with an active prayer life, or a person who has slipped into old ways and habits, there is always room for improvement. One of the most important aspects of a person’s spiritual life is taking a regular spiritual inventory and being aware of the state of one’s own soul.
So we are in a new year. Maybe you’re one of the many who have spoken of a desire to see a move of God amongst our church family. Take inventory. Repent. Then see what happens. For the disciples in Ephesus , it was a move of the Holy Spirit of God that forever changed their relationships with Him. It’s a good thing to desire more, but you have to be willing to approach your desires with humility and a willingness to sacrifice something from the past that no longer needs to be a part of your life. Repent…and with an open heart prepare for the shift that follows.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I recognize that no matter what stage of my spiritual life I am currently in, there is always a need for repentance. Help me to see those things that are holding me back, and give me the humility and wisdom to turn away. I want more of You, God, this year and always. I want to see Your Holy Spirit move…shifting souls and breaking the chains of bondage to sin…and it all starts with repentance. Amen.