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Advent 2016: Christ Was Born For This: Day 3

A Prophet Calls for Repentance

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Today's Text: 2 Chronicles 24:19, 2 Samuel 12:1-10, Isaiah 53:6, Jeremiah 35:15, Joel 2:12-13

Text: 2 Chronicles 24:19, 2 Samuel 12:1-10, Isaiah 53:6, Jeremiah 35:15, Joel 2:12-13

A prophet calls for repentance. Biblical prophets often exposed the false righteousness of God’s people and revealed their desperate need for God’s mercy. When a king or a nation’s sinfulness was uncovered, the prophet would call them to repent, reminding them of the nearness and kindness of God.

I cried every Christmas morning for years. My mom graciously knew to just go ahead and prepare her heart. Every single year I would get my hopes up way too high and then I would be disappointed with the earrings, or sticker books, or puppy that I received under the tree. Nothing ever quite measured up to my idealized expectations of a perfect Christmas morning. I thought I was just a delicate and tender flower with a heart full of big dreams. But, daggum, if I wasn’t just years and years of being selfish and ungrateful.

To this day, it’s tough for me to remember that Christmas is not about me. I buy five sets of matching Christmas jammies, not really so that my kids will know the true meaning of Christ born for them, but so that I can feast my eyes on coordinated holiday squishy gorgeousness on Christmas morning. The truth is, I need to repent of even my very best moments and plans (Isaiah 64:6).

This is where the Old Testament prophets come in: they call God’s people to repentance. The idea of repentance fills us with fear because it means we have to let go and give up our pet sins. I don’t want to let go of my idealized expectations of Christmas morning. I’m afraid to repent of my desire to keep people at arm’s length—what will happen if I let them come closer?

The prophet Isaiah accused God’s people of sin and called them to repentance for thirty-nine chapters (he really drove his point home), but followed those chapters of accusation with twenty-six chapters about the hope of restoration.

The prophet Joel pleaded with the people to rend their hearts and not their garments: “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:13). In the same breath, Joel called for repentance and promised reconciliation.

With the promises of restoration and reconciliation following so hard upon the call to repent, why do we dig in our heels and hide our faces when it comes to our own repentance? God has already promised that on the other side of that scary curtain of repentance waits welcoming arms and sweet accord. We’re afraid and hesitant for the same reason Israel was: “We are stubborn and slow to hear” (Jeremiah 35:15).

The prophets of old coaxed God’s people with the sweet fragrance of forgiveness. And in spite of the profound blessing and promise in restoration, repentance remains the hardest, simplest thing in the world. But the God who calls us to repentance also longs to be gracious to us (Isaiah 30:18). It is His kindness that leads us there (Romans 2:4).

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  • I too needed to read this today. Thank you Jesus!

  • Stephanie

    I needed to read this today.I need to remember how my words and selfishness can impact everyone around me. I am so glad that we have such a forgiving God. My ideas of what i want my life to look like are realistic as long as i change my attitude and humble myself.

  • This is sooooo meaningful and true! Repentance is so hard but it is what God wants us to do! I

  • It’s amazing how the Lord knows what days I need to read! This day’s reading rings in my heart as I know I have been selfish and avoiding God as I sit in a stagnant pool of self fulfillment… Allowing the world and the enemy to drive a wedge between me and God and me and my husband. What a beautiful reminder of the Lord’s great mercy and grace through His Son.

  • Megan Gibson

    I love this because despite our stubbornness, our slowness of hearing, He meets us with grace and welcoming arms. This study is just the perfect glimpse of the love that He has for us and meets us with every time we run back to Him. He is so patient and good!

  • Stephanie

    A good reminder that repenting is also when we let that sin go.

  • Sarah Joy

    This reading is so real and challenging. It’s incredible how God never fails to meet us where we are at. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Ashley Echevarria

    Such a reminder of how we don’t even notice our own selfishness so much of the time. God calls us to serve one another; not ourselves.

  • I am obviously a few days behind on this reading plan, and yet God is using it to speak to me right where I am. I love that I didn’t miss out because I let my busy-ness get in the way. I love that He still speaks, even when we “get behind”. I get a picture in my mind of the prodigal son returning home, and his father rejoicing just to have him there. I think that’s how God feels each time we spend time with Him. Should we strive to be more consistent?? Absolutely!! But He’s always waiting for us when we do come, no matter how consistent we’ve been! I struggle with that need for an “ideal” Christmas morning… and I think I always have! But I’m realizing that it comes from a place of needing my family to be “perfect” on Christmas morning (because we weren’t most of the rest of the year). And now that I’m older, not wanting my children to ever feel that way, I work so hard to make Christmas morning perfect that sometimes I miss out on the joy that just naturally occurs if I relax and let it. Thank you for this! I needed this reminder before Christmas morning!

    • Brittany Elliott

      Your words are the cry of my heart as well! I’m also “behind” but this devotional is exactly what I needed TODAY. God is so good!! And I also am wrestling with that “perfect Christmas” idea… Actually just the idea of a “perfect life.” I actually recently deleted my Instagram because it was really feeding into that lie that “her life is perfect” and “so is hers” making me feel like my life and all I have been blessed with isn’t sufficient. I want to be whole and healthy… Which doesn’t mean perfect. It means beautifully broken. Hallelujah! Thank you for taking time to articulate this post, it spoke to my heart!

  • This holiday season I am going to work on “pausing” and ask myself if whatever I am saying I am saying in love. Reading this was a reminder of how grateful I am that God is SO forgiving of me. I want my words to others to reflect His love and grace. And I would also like to repent of something I have held on to…my mother passed away of cancer when I 14. Sometimes I fear self care because I worry that once I do truly take care of myself – God will see that I trust Him and think “oh she can handle cancer now…” I know – so weird right? Rebecca sharing her idea of a perfect Christmas made me think of that. Oh sweet release!

  • Becca Bailey

    Rend your hearts and not your garments. God has never been interested in outward displays of holiness. He is interested in my heart. He wants me to repent, to change from the inside out. There is no place for putting on a show of piety when God knows the heart already.

  • Thank you Lord that you pursued me in spite of my worthlessness

  • I think I need to read this to my significant other; we both have been struggling with this and it really hits home for me – I hope it does for him as well.

  • Oh how I read this at just the right time. Going through a season of such brokenness & selfishness & just plain ugly… fearing that God wouldn’t even wanna bother fixing a mess like me. But all he wants is me to come to him, he is just but he is also merciful & wants to give me hope & peace & restoration. Such good reminders of deep truths, God still loves me & wants me despite me continual human selfishness.

    • Armanda

      Praying for you. God is not intimidated by your sin. He longs to be close to you, that nothing would hinder that. He paid the ultimate price for ultimate closeness with you. Trust in His faithfulness

  • Love this. Sometimes I’m shocked by my own selfishness. But God still love he’s this broken selfish mess. Hallelujah!

  • Exactly what I need to hear. I’ve been praying for God to show me His plans for my future.. but I’m afraid I’m “stubborn and not good at hearing” and have been making my own plans due to being anxious about the future. Please pray that I will be able to lay this down at His feet and keep it there while I wait patiently for His calling!

    • Julia

      I completely relate to you on this. Praying right now for peace and trust for you and your future!

  • Wow, I am so super convicted by this message! It is so easy to love my sin, especially during the stress of the holidays. I am thankful for this reminder that reconciliation, grace, and acceptance always follow repentance!

  • Keri McCue

    “With the promises of restoration and reconciliation following so hard upon the call to repent, why do we dig in our heels and hide our faces when it comes to our own repentance? ” – This is a question we should all reflect on this holiday season! Why would we fight repentance if we know that God will restore us? This is something I question in my own life so often!!

    http://www.littlelightonahill.com

    • Dianne

      That really stood out and smacked me in the face. It’s crazy the way we turn from His love sometimes.

  • Again, thankyou Rebecca and She Reads Truth. Such a wonderful passage through the prophets here. Rebecca your words really help articulate what can cause us to stumble when coming to God, and help us see repentance comes with promise of restoration, thankyou!

  • Christy Nicholson

    This is just what I needed today. Thank you for your honesty and transparency — they encourage me to look at my own “pet sins.”

  • “God has already PROMISED that on the other side of repentance waits welcoming arms and sweet accord.”

    It sounds so simple. Just get it over with like a bandaid, right? The promise of welcoming arms and communion with God is on the other side. This Christmas, I want the calm of happy communion with God. I want the peace that comes from following him, rather than choosing my own way. I want my heart to be calmed and silenced, in the midst of the busyness of the season, so that I can hear His voice so clearly. Letting go of my selfishness, of my ideals, of my plans puts me in a better position to have the best Christmas ever. A Christmas focused on Him.

  • Alle McCloskey

    I hold onto my selfishness and need for control so tightly – ignoring how it hurts those I love the most: my husband, my sons, my parents, my friends. Lately my heart posture has been creeping into my tone in the way I snap at people and in how I treat them. Jesus – please remove this from me and help me turn back to You. I try so hard to fix myself and “do better” on my own – but it never sticks. Help me to rely on Your strength and grace to change.

    • Katie Thacker

      Amen! So needed to read this. Thank you for your transparency. I read this and felt as though I could have written it. Praying for your heart and mine too. May we rely on Him and trust that He is who He says He is…loving, gracious, sovereign and full of new mercies each day! May we all remember and enjoy this advent season for the real REASON and let go of our selfish ways! :)

  • I am trying so hard this season to remember this is about Him not me. I stay so focused on me that I lose sight of that big picture! I am so thankful for such a loving God.

    • Kimberly Beers

      I am with you.
      I am already finding g it a struggle.to keepping up with this study, day 4 :( everything seems to get in the way the more we try to focus on him.

  • Elizabeth

    I am so that girl who is selfish. This year I am trying to reposition my heart and that was totally convicting. Man God is so good.

  • Truly amazing how God works. This morning I found myself repenting to god and asking him for forgiveness. I’ve been seeing a wrong perspective in my life and have not been a happy camper. I have a wonderful life that god has allowed me and rather on looking to him and being grateful I want to focus on one bad thing and it sets me all over the place. Thank you lord Jesus for reminding me that all I need is to look to you no matter what may be going on in life!!!

  • I have had this overwhelming sinking feeling that I have so many years and years worth of things to repent, and things that continue to put a barrier between myself and Jesus. But the thing is that I put this barrier there and it is imaginary. I want so BADLY to repent of my sins and walk away from the ones that are most harmful and those that don’t seem harmful, but are biblically immoral. I’m talking about living with my boyfriend, Y’all. It’s not going to change. I want my life to be with him, but I want to turn this around so badly. Pray for me in that, because it is definitely one that bothers me. Others include social media and buying things. These are my vices. They “help” help me battle the daily struggles. If only I could see my struggles as a blessing. I struggle with homework that will someday provide me with a career. I struggle with the housework that will someday make me a disciplined and efficient person. There is so much on my list. But GOD sees it ALL! And we can recognize that we have THAT MUCH SIN and the he takes it ALL away, through Jesus death. How GREAT is our GOD!

    This is definitely a complex time for me, but every bit of what I need to be hearing.

    • Emily West

      Ashley, sin is hard to repent of. Living with someone you love is something that the heart desires and is not easy to change once it has started. I encourage you to find accountability and community at church to press into you on this sin and I pray that God will move you and your boyfriends hearts to repent and take action to move out.

    • Tina

      Ashley, morning. I dont know if you will read this, I pray you do…
      I have been on a course these passed 10 weeks called Freedom in Christ…a great course ..I would recommend it… On this course were a couple whose story may interest you…
      They met, went out for a while, then moved in together…they loved each other…The woman then started aaking questions, went on an alpha course, started readg her bible and taking on the biblical truths…she realized their sharing a bed was not right and told her man, sorry this is wrong and moved out of the bedroom into the spare room…For 18 months she was in the spare room until they got married…by her own words it was hard, difficult, but she also knew it was the right thing to do…he loved her enough to respect these wishes, but it also got him wondering… they both now walk with the Lord..
      What I’m saying is it isnt easy, but it is doable…and where love us concerned 1 Corinthians 13 says it all…Love is patient, love is kind….love is not ill mannered or selfish or irritable..love does not keep a record of wrongs, love is not happy with evil, but is happy with truth. Love never gives up, and its faith, hope and patience never fail…
      Ashley, praying for you to know the truth that will indeed set you free ….
      Xx

    • Alexa

      Ashley, thanks for sharing and seeking prayer. I was in your boat a few years ago (both the relationship and the shame). I believed that God was irreparably disappointed in me (so there was no point in trying to please Him) and that I was too weak to make a change anyway. I had so much self-hatred. I read countless verses on repentance in hopes of shaming myself into repentance, but the enemy capitalizes on your shame because shame helps you believe that God is too small to love and to transform you. What I needed was Scripture on God’s character and love for me to move me to FAITH – and then faith to repentance. Once I believed that God would catch me, I was able to let myself fall. Not a moment sooner. Seek His kindness and grace to change your heart and give you strength! On my knees for you today asking God to show you His love for you.

  • Miranda and Kait, your words were voicing my own struggle – recently, a light switch went on and I realized Christ declared me free. My inheritance includes a standing as a free person. I sometimes forget and operate out of flesh instead of my inheritance. We are so unworthy of the gifts Christ has bestowed on us but entitled to them all the same. Praise God in His glory and kindness!

  • I don’t really comment on posts usually, but this one stirred up my heart (like so many do). Y’all, literally everything I’ve read the past five days involves repentance. I read this this morning, then listened to a Matt Chandler sermon (he’s going thru Exodus right now…super great, y’all should check it out) – and what’s it about? Repentance and belief. I’m not kidding – it’s everywhere.

    Which means God is saying the same thing over and over to my heart. Repent and believe. Repent and believe. The truth is, I’ve run to the same thing over and over for years years in order to get comfort and satisfaction – it just doesn’t work. If I’m honest, it probably has a grip on me. But, I’ve given myself over to believe that I’ll never be free (the Enemy’s work at it’s finest). So, I’ve just…given up trying.

    Would you pray for me, sweet sisters? To really, r e a l l y repent, believe, and walk in the freedom Jesus has for me. <3 So grateful for you.

    • Kait

      Praying for you right now, Miranda. I, too, have bought into the lie that I’ll never be free, but I’m about 6 months into this journey of fighting from freedom instead of fighting for it… Christ has set me free. I have to rest in that truth instead of the lies the enemy wants to keep me in captive with. You are free. Fight from that place and believe, sister! <3

    • Lonnie

      I am reading Exodus these days–where are you listening to Matt Chandler? I’d love some insights. My big aha this morning was 14:15. The Voice says (to the Israelites, with the Egyptians on their heels),”Keep moving.” I pondered when God might ask me to keep moving–when the finish line is so far out and my strength, low; when I feel like I’ve failed; when the enemy is gaining so fast that I just want to crumble and give up. Today, I’m struggling with work relationships that seem like a forever struggle–one that I don’t even want answers to–unless it would be for the problem to disappear. That’s not going to happen. I, too, need to come to a genuine repentance in God’s strength.

  • “I thought I was just a delicate and tender flower with a heart full of big dreams. But, daggum, if I wasn’t just years and years of being selfish and ungrateful.”

    This really hit home for me! So many times have I set my hopes high and been disappointed during Christmas, usually with presents. When I was younger it was because I didn’t get what was on my wishing list. When I got a little older it was because of the presents reflected how little my family did know me (I try in my every day life to live with just what I need and collect as little stuff as possible, so what am I to do with all that random stuff??)
    How selfish a thinking really. Instead of seeing the stuff for what it is: Someone have been making an effort and thought of me enough to take time to gather the stuff and bring it to me. This year I will do my best to see the effort behind it, cherish it and be thankful that I have enough to allow myself the luxury of not needing all that stuff, and if I cannot find use for it, there are plenty of people in need who will benefit from it!

    Thank you for this post, Indeed repent is needed.

  • Today my prayer is God will make clear what I need to repent!

  • He is persistently after us. He exposes our sin for us to see clearly, bringing us to humility. This is a perfect reminder of oh how he loves us. The bit about the Christmas pjs and idealized expectations is on point! Thank you for boldly bringing to focus how even seemingly harmless and lovely things can overpower our focus which should always be on Christ.

  • Valerie S.

    I find when God answers my prayers… I then turn full faced towards the blessing instead of keeping focused in Him (sort of like the 9 lepers) boy do I need to repent of this grievous sin.

  • This absolutely restores my faith in the newer faith communities. So many are caught up in the prosperity, but we must remember that we have sin that we must repent and work at. I saw a perfect reflection of myself as you described your Christmas morning with perfect pajamas. Here I am bustling around, decorating, trying to emulate the Instagram accounts that I fawn, read obsess, over. This put me at a grinding halt. I saw this person, this selfish, idealist person the entire time I have been preparing my home for the Christmas season. But he wants me to prepare my heart!!! Here I am trying to make my home and heart perfect, but only can everything fall into place once the heart is ready! WOW! The temptation to spend mo eye that I don’t have, it’s there. But I know now that I have aknowledged it that these are wants and not needs, and wants that should not be fulfilled on the salary I have and the heart distraction it causes!

    • Connie LO

      I try as well to make my party perfect every Christmas Eve and then I wonder why I feel so overwhelmed! I need to listen to the Lord’s quiet words so He can show me how to be a hostess without all the mostess!

    • Katie

      Amen sister! Right there with ya. How beautiful that we don’t live at either the “prosperity end” or the “doom and gloom end” of the spiritual spectrum, so to speak – we ARE helpless sinners and He LONGS to be gracious to us! Praise Jesus!

  • Ardelle Byus

    Really great information..thanks for sharing the valuable information with us

  • I love that the writer used such simple, relatable examples of her own struggles. Things I can picture in my own life. Right now I feel myself struggling to voice my own sins yet quickly point out what my husband is doing wrong.

  • I had trouble with today’s because I have no problem admitting that I have strayed from God. I can say that to myself and to anyone who asks. I have been unfaithful Israel for months. but my trouble is saying that to God and actually making the turn back to him. I feel like I’m just going to fail again in a few weeks like always so why even try to be faithful? I feel like I am a hopeless case.

    • Kari

      I hear what you are saying Johanna, and I feel that way at times too! I came across this thoughtful story on Facebook just the other day. I hope you will see that you are not alone in this struggle and aren’t the hopeless case you are feeling like!

      “Autobiography In Five Short Chapters”
      Chapter I

      I walk down the street.
      There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
      I fall in.
      I am lost… I am hopeless.
      It isn’t my fault.
      It takes forever to find a way out.

      Chapter II

      I walk down the same street.
      There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
      I pretend I don’t see it.
      I fall in again.
      I can’t believe I am in this same place.
      But it isn’t my fault.
      It still takes a long time to get out.

      Chapter III

      I walk down the same street.
      There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
      I see it there.
      I still fall in… it’s a habit… but,
      my eyes are open.
      I know where I am.
      It is my fault.
      I get out immediately.

      Chapter IV

      I walk down the same street.
      There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
      I walk around it.

      Chapter V

      I walk down another street.

      – Portia Nelson

    • Katie

      You are not alone Johanna! Even the Apostle Paul experienced this frustrating reality. (romans 7:7-25) Our only hope is that as believers, our status before God is based solely on what Christ accomplished for us on the Cross! Titus 3:5 – not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us! He also promises to complete the good work He began in us (Phil 1:6), so even though we continue to fall into sin, we can be sure that if we are His, He is sanctifying us through His Holy Spirit and we do not have to be afraid for our souls. Hugs to you, dear one!

  • Thank for this study. Clean my heart oh, Lord.

  • Ellie Shepherd

    As I read about the constants “oops” moments and how as the sheep we are constantly going astray, I couldn’t help but think of my career. I’m a teacher and there are times (it feels like daily) that I’m so frustrated and I catch myself being crabby and saying you just don’t listen to me! Reading that last sentence about slow to anger and full of compassion got me feeling pretty guilty. What my kids do to me, we do to God as his children. We mess up. We go astray. He’s constantly saying “you’re not listening to me!!” Definitely needed the reminder of patience and compassion. Christ gives it so freely, so shouldn’t we?

    • Larissa

      I’m a teacher too and I can completely relate! Today I felt this way especially! Thank you for sharing. It’s good to not be alone in those same experiences and feelings! I appreciate your insight on how we do the same to God. I’m hoping it will help me change my perspective with my students. :)

    • Hillary

      Another teacher here too! I couldn’t agree more with your post! Praying that this oh so important reminder is set firmly in my mind and heart, has the holiday rush in the classroom is before us.

  • Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Praise the Lord for this Advent study!

  • The first 6 months of 2016 were just plain hard. I was tired and bitter towards the Lord. I was grumpy and bitter in my own sin BUT the Lord slowly lead me to repentance. A sense of relief took over as He walked with me through repentance and forgiveness. As I reflect on today’s words, that the Lord wants us to rend our hearts to Him and return to Him, I’m reminded of my journey back to Him. I’ve experienced the graciousness and compassion of my Savior and I yearn to be in His presence even more now than I ever have before!

  • great reminders,

  • Rachel Bega

    I’ve always known the concept of repentance, and have known the act of turning from sin, but after reading this today I realize that all too often I forget about what I’m turning to. I easily forget that the simplest consequence to repentance is seeing Jesus. How amazing and wonderful is the promise of Jesus in the act of turning from our sinful ways!

  • Mme.Langley

    My heart really needed to read this today. I am trying to come closer to God and be a light for him. I cannot wait to read this with my daughter when she gets home from school. repentance is so hard for me. i am trying Lord.

  • PronetoWander

    Oh I needed this today. I mess up and did yesterday. Always the same mess I get myself into. My shame has turned to excitement that God is welcoming me back and I feel like he’s wrapping his arms around me even though I brought this on myself. You know when you feel you’re doing great, only sharply be exposed to yourself and spouse that you were not doing alright like I thought I was. Abruptly stopped in patting yourself on the back. I feel freer than I did yesterday. Thank the Lord for a husband and a God who dries your tears instead of saying ‘I told you so’ or ‘this again?!!’ When both of those responses would have been called for.

  • Jess Gardiner

    Repentance is so hard. It’s particularly hard when you don’t know how or are unsure of your strength in turning away from your sin. I always start off my prayers of repentance with a cry that He would make me willing to repent. I need a willingness every day to not gloss over my sins, but to humble myself before Him in sorrow and a desire to change. Praise God for His mercy!

    • Rosesaidrah

      jess! What a wonderful prayer. I’m adopting this idea too now.
      It’s impossible to marry the thought of such a wonderful holy God with such a stubborn unrepentant at times sinner like me. It’s moments like this, when there’s that tug on my heart to pray and hand it over to him again… that I remember it is by grace I have been saved. Not by works that I should boast. Because I would. And forget to repent about said boasting for ages.

  • Over the last year God has been showing me how prideful and selfish I can be. Repentance is something I find myself doing constantly. I live in the reflection today where you said “but then followed 26 chapters of hope and restoration.” I’m so thankful that God is my Prince of Peace, my Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and Eternal Father. Apart from Him I have nothing to offer but brokenness. Yet despite this, and despite the fact he doesn’t need me- he chooses me. He looked down on the earth and said I choose to create her and use her. Oh Father that I would live a life glorifying to you! That I would be completely surrendered and in awe of all you are and all you do. That I would not get caught up in my ideals of perfection or comparison striving after a life that looks like a Norman Rockwell painting but that I would strive after you. Seeking you alone and that I would thirst and hunger for more of you every single day. Lord that I would be a light right where you’ve placed me. That I would seek you above all else and that as this Advent Season passes I would quiet the noise in my mind and heart and rest in you. It’s all about you. It was always and is always only about you. Forgive me for making it about me.

    • Anna

      Thank you Gwen, your words spoke to me and have become my prayer.

    • cj8of8

      Amen. Gwen.. You’ve echoed my heart. Praying for us all to have the Lord create in us clean heart, a softened heart and a peaceful heart. Open our hearts to do your will Oh Lord. Let Your kingship come Lord Jesus.

    • Christine Marie

      Wonderfully said Gwen

    • Robin W.

      Yes! Amen!

  • LPMoreland

    Repentance. A daily, hourly, sometimes minute to minute struggle. As a wife and homeschooling mama of three little boys, I have plenty of opportunities to witness my own need for repentance. Nothing has revealed my pet sins quite so much as becoming a mom. My selfishness is horribly evident. My anger and impatience bubble over. Exhaustion amplifies my worst traits. And YET HE IS FAITHFUL and MERCIFUL. When I go astray, he brings me back. And I can trust him to shepherd my boys with that same grace and mercy. May I be an example of Christ to them–especially during this season of Advent when my expectations run high and the reality often falls short.

  • Brittany A.

    Oh how self righteous I am. Repentance issomething I don’t often relate to myself. What, me, a sinner??? I do wrong??! (Please, someone, tell I’m not on my own self-righteous island over here.) Oh God, cleanse me of all self- righteousness and filth. I didn’t just need his grace when I knelt in the pew the last night of Vacation Bible School when I was 9 years old and confessed my need for him, or when I said hurtful things to my husband last week. God, I need your grace in every waking and sleeping moment of my life. I will need it within the next five minutes and the next five weeks. How unbelievable grace is. He never stops giving it. He never washes his hands of this stray sheep. Thank you, Jesus. My words are inadequate. They feel empty in comparison to the compassion and desire he has for us to be restored to him.

    • Naomi

      No Brittany, many of us have taken the infamous “Three hour tour” (Gilligan’s Island reference :) and found ourselves on that island.

  • “The truth is, I need to repent of even my very best moments and plans.”
    This sentence just jumps off the page for me this morning. Being in college, sometimes it is so easy to lose sight of what is truly important and what brings true joy, instead of temporary satisfaction. Going to a big university, it is so easy to get caught up in society and to desire to fit in with the world. Social life, dating life, career ambitions and success are constantly fighting for my attention. I can relate with the people in these passages because I get so caught up in my sin and what I think will bring me happiness and forget how near God is and that HIS plans are always better. Following Christ might not always look appealing to the world or may not always fit in with my ambitions, but the journey he takes me on will bring joy only God can give to fill my heart.

    • LPMoreland

      Haley, I can totally relate. I graduated from college 9 years ago (man, I feel old), but the same struggles remain–I’m now a wife to a great man and homeschooling mama of three little boys. My pet sins may look different, but it’s just as hard to give them up in favor of what I know in my heart to be better. Selfishness is easier than selflessness. Pride is more natural than humility. And I wander away (again), but he always faithfully guides me back.

  • Sonja Matthews

    “Repentance remains the hardest, simplest thing in the world.” Boy ain’t that the truth – I know my need to repent but so many times just ignore it because I am to busy or to distracted to really sit in those moments of repentance. Father forgive me for being to distracted to listen to you and to hear and heed your calling!

  • Repentance has always confused me because I never feel like I can do enough to erase my sins and “tear my heart” as Joel 2:13 says. I make it so conditional upon my ability to repent that I neglect the truth that Jesus’ grace gives me the strength to repent, and HE IS ENOUGH. He isn’t far when He calls us back to Him. He is right there, the messenger sent from heaven to show the lost which way to go. Since He IS the Way, all we need do is turn around and it is enough. “It is His kindness that leads us there.”

  • Gosh, I needed this today. I have recently returned to Christ after struggling the past few years. Last night, my heart was so heavy with the need for God’s forgiveness. I still find it hard to believe that I even deserve it. I prayed to him about it, and then I woke up this morning to the beautiful reminder that we have ALL gone astray, not just me. Thank you for such a beautiful devotional.

    • Hannah

      There is so much beauty in this, Anne! Because we DON’T deserve His forgiveness. He showers it on us in our least-deserving state, and that is grace. But it is stinking hard to truly let these truths grow in our hearts and lives. I struggle with this too.

  • Oh Father, please forgive me for my deep desire to stay blind to my own sin. It is so much easier to just push away those nudges from You to turn away from my sin. And it is so much more comfortable to just ignore my shortcomings. But what communion do I miss out on because of my stubborn blindness? Please reveal to me both the depths of my sin and the heights of your grace. Thank you for being the God who longs to forgive and live in close union with your children. Please give me a repentant heart this Advent. How I need Jesus!!!

    • Hannah

      wow. This is a scary prayer, but one that I’ve convicted that I too need to confess in my heart. Thank you for emboldening me, Colleen.

    • Olivia

      Colleen, this is hard and beautiful and convicting. Thank you for being real to this community, and in turn propelling us towards being open and honest with our Father and ourselves.

  • I am new to She Reads Truth. I’m excited to be reading Bible passages with other women and to read the different directions God takes us. I’m enjoying the different insights.

  • “The truth is, I need to repent of even my very best moments and plans”

    WOAH! Talk about some stepped. on. toes.
    How often do I trade out for what HE has planned for me for my own dreamed up lofty and ambitious expectations?! I am so blind to Him sometimes. How can He continue to be patient with me and love me??!
    I love what Joel 2:13 says, “He is eager to relent and not punish.” He is EAGER to forgive me in this?? Say WHAT?! Lord, I bring a repented heart for you today and everyday!

    • Lana

      Peach Lauren!!! I am so with you. It’s funny how our traded out goals are never as fulfilling as we expected them to be either. A life of righteousness – which means a life of saying YES to everything God has planned for us – is a life of joy. Even if we have to work really hard to find the joy lol. Once we do, it’s always there and always abundant. Thank you for your comment today. My first smile of the morning!

  • Today’s lesson was so wonderful ! I cried tears for all the times I have not been repentant in my heart and then I wept tears for the goodness, compassion , and forgiveness of God. Thank you for this beautiful and challenging reminder today of Repentance! The Christmas PJ’s hit home as well, a good reminder to me that I do not always have to fret over having a perfectly decorated home for Christmas either!

  • Carrie Rogers

    I chuckled with sweet conviction as I read about matching jammies so that my kids will know the true meaning of Christ born. Thank you for pointing me back to Christ.❤️

  • Wow. I’m new here to SRT. For 20 years my husband and I fight every Christmas over my expectations. Never once have I paused to consider my heart and actions as sin in need of repentance. I always just felt entitled to how I like things, or accused him of being a bad gift giver. Hmmm…entitlement? Accusing spirit? Sounds worthy of repentance for sure. Thank you.

  • Many times it’s so hard for me to have someone point out my shortcomings, I get defensive and many times lose people in my life because I get upset, “how dare they tell me what I doing wrong, if I just point out what they’re doing wrong, etc etc.” I guess in some way we are all prophets sent by God to help each other out, to be better Christians. I “should” try to listen better and explore what is pointed out to me so that I have the opportunity to explore, repent, and grow closer to go and be a better Christian. Not always easy.

  • Thankful for his grace when we repent. What a beautiful reminder.

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • I love this message. It’s another testament of the Lord’s patience, gentleness, and perfect love. I believe there is nothing more beautiful than a heart surrendered to Him. That surrender is a choice that we make over and over again. He waits for us. He guides and also gives us free will to choose the best choice, which is always Him. Lord please give us repentant hearts that diligently surrender to You out of love, truth, and worship.

  • I often find myself non-repentant not out of anger but fear- letting go is scaryz

  • Awesome devotion today! All of it touched my heart and the Holy Spirit really spoke to me through todays study. Thank you!

  • Kasey Summers

    Very grateful that “the God who calls us to repentance also longs to be gracious to us (Isaiah 30:18). It is His kindness that leads us there (Romans 2:4).”// “Turn to me with all your heart… for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and He relents from sending disaster.” Joel 2:12-13. He has so much love for us!!! Resting in His love and praising Him for His love this morning. Instead of always asking for things from Him, this morning I am praising Him for His goodness! He is a Good Good Father and has our best in mind!

  • Thank you She Reads Truth Team for all you do! The Kids Read Truth Advent cards are so amazing! And of course, so is this Advent study! I love the discussions that are happening each night with my 4 and 7 year old. The three different leveled questions are just wonderful. I love that the cards are not overwhelming. Even on a busy night, we can make time for them. I’m hoping we can have more Kids Read Truth in the future? I love that my kids and I get to learn at the same time. How cool would it be to have it for every study!!!

  • The Message version of the Joel text had me in tears this morning:

    13-14 Change your life, not just your clothes.
    Come back to God, your God.
    And here’s why: God is kind and merciful.
    He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot,
    This most patient God, extravagant in love,
    always ready to cancel catastrophe.
    Who knows? Maybe he’ll do it now,
    maybe he’ll turn around and show pity.
    Maybe, when all’s said and done,
    there’ll be blessings full and robust for your God!

    How unbelievably fortunate we are to have the love of God showered on us – kind and merciful. The image of God taking a deep breath over my mis-steps and ALWAYS, patiently waiting with arms wide open ready to turn trouble into blessing. All I need to do is turn to God! The forgiveness on the other side of repentance is astounding and never ending.

    Take my heart and change me from within, today, tomorrow, and always. Thank you, Lord!

  • Adrienne MacLeod

    Wow! I can’t believe “He waits to be gracious to me” Me? It is so hard to fathom His love for us, but I am so thankful for it. Lord, help me to remember you love me and are waiting for me. All I have to do is come to you and you are there with open arms. Thank you for your kindness Lord, that leads us to repentance. Thank you for your love, your mercy, and your grace.

  • Diane Huntsman

    The prophets of old coaxed God’s people with the sweet fragrance of forgiveness. And in spite of the profound blessing and promise in restoration, repentance remains the hardest, simplest thing in the world. But the God who calls us to repentance also longs to be gracious to us (Isaiah 30:18). It is His kindness that leads us there (Romans 2:4). This!

  • Lord, I don’t want to be so selfish anymore. Lead me to a true heart of repentance and transform my heart and soul to be more like you. Thank you for your kindness!

  • What a wonderful reminder, Thank you God for patience and the opportunity to repent and turn to your unfading kindness and love.

  • Annette Briones

    What a beautiful reminder that it’s His kindness that leads us to repentance. I truly am stubborn and slow to hear, just like the Israelites. I needed the reminder that on the other side of repentance is His open arms.

  • The reading today is a reminder that our God speaks. He sends warnings. We need to listen. I paused on the thought of God sending His message through His chosen prophets. Today we are a country greatly divided. We are divided within the church and in our individual cities/towns. Who is God sending His message through today? Can He find a righteous person to speak through? Does anyone have time to stop and listen? I’m grateful that He sent Jesus so that I can sit and hear directly from Him.

    • Christine

      This is the thought that struck me as well. Right in the beginning when it read “Biblical prophets often exposed the false righteousness of God’s people and revealed their desperate need for God’s mercy.” That is still us. But who would stop and listen? Now that we have Jesus as our King and Prophet I fear there are so many, even within the church, that just don’t take the time to listen or have the ears to hear. We are greatly divided indeed and need to hear the words and love of our Savior now more than ever. But people aren’t listening. I pray that He would open hearts and minds and ears today!

      • Ally

        I love, “that is still us”. I had the same thoughts in reading today. I love this because we often hear in church that Scripture does not change, Christ does not change, and we see that simple truth just in todays reading. Its so powerful, and so humbling.

      • TinaW

        Maria, I was thinking on this same thing…we Christians need to open our hearts, ears, and minds to what God is speaking to us through Scripture… I am enjoying each input during this study… Thankful, and repenting here in my seat at this time, I want the loving arms of God to enclose around me and teach me through the Holy Spirit, so I will become more and more like Him…

  • Today’s reading from Samuel turned me into a heaping pile of tears. I went on to read all of chapter 12. I’m moved by how David recognized his sin against God, turned back to him “with all [his] heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning,” (Joel 2:12). But when God’s justice was doled out, he got up and worshiped the Lord despite the painful outcome. I pray for the wisdom and surrender of David.

    An abbreviation of 2 Samuel 12 and the verses that moved me are as follows:

    In response to the prophet Nathan’s rebuke:
    ” ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ ”
    “On the seventh day the child died. Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshipped.”
    “Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba.”
    “She gave birth to a son. The Lord loved him.”
    “So David went to Rabbah, and attacked and captured it. David took the crown from their king’s head, and it was placed on his own head.”

    I am so grateful that since the time of David, “the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all,” (Isaiah 53:6)

    • Hannah

      This is really insightful, Zoe! I can get confused as to how to truly repent, and I’m tempted to stay in the self-denial stage to the point where it’s selfish. That doesn’t even make sense. But to see that David repented and then WORSHIPED and then loved others shows a more rounded, complete view of repentance. It’s more than just feeling bad about sin. It is turning to the LORD and walking towards Him.

  • Kendra Terry

    My husband and I have our first child due on December 24th, and as I was reading this devotion it was clear that I also had been lead astray. So much of our time has been invested into this precious gift God has given us that we have struggled to always recognize the real reason for the season as we scramble to get last minute things with those Black Friday deals. However, through asking for forgiveness and prayer Gods provision has been astounding and we can’t wait to raise our son to be humbled by the true meaning of Christmas.

  • Sarah_Joy

    That ideal of a picturesque Christmas morning has stolen my joy. This past weekend had me staring for hours at screens seeking a deal. (I feel foolish even admitting it.) Will my family delight in this? Will this bring me happiness?

    Chasing after the wind.

    Forgive me, oh God, for attempting to improve upon your perfect Gift. You came. To us. You laid down your glory to wrap yourself in human skin. Forgive me for focusing on the temporal instead of the eternal. Redirect my gaze.

    • DebbieinAZ

      Amen!

    • Sasha

      Thank you Sarah for your honesty. I am guilty too. His gifts can’t be improved upon. God, please forgive me too.

    • Nancy

      Yes! I’ve been fussing over my Christmas decor and mad that my plans for my week off are not going according to my pre-planned week of festivities. And then I read this and it was a big wake up call. He is so so good!

    • Larissa

      In reading your comment, I realized that I not only had been fixed on getting good deals for Christmas presents, but I was mostly fixed on getting myself things that I wanted! How selfish of me! Praying that Jesus would forgive me. Praying for His rich mercies and forgiveness this morning for my selfishness.

  • Isaiah 30:14
    Therefore the Lord is WAITING to show you mercy. What a sobering thought. While we are deep in sin with no plans of repenting, He is sitting and waiting for us to repent and come back to Him so he can generously pour out His mercy on us and gently but effectively bring us back to Him. Man that’s good stuff!!

  • I’m learning slowly to let go of my ideals. Nothing is ideal and I have been much happier since trying. There is so much beauty in my imperfect moments but I couldn’t see them before.

    • Amanda

      It’s refreshing to read this; I struggle a lot with wanting everything to go a certain way. You can’t perfectly plan life out, but I’ve tried, then I’m disappointed when life doesn’t go as planned. I need to fully trust God in every circumstance and twist and turn. Thank you Brandee for your encouragement in seeing beauty in imperfect moments.

  • I struggle every year with Christmas. I also have extreme expectations. I also keep people that have hurt me at arms length and new acquaintances also. Thank you for this.

  • Diane Vincent

    Isaiah 57:15 “I am the high and holy One who dwells with those who are humble and of contrite heart to revive the spirit of the humble and the heart of the contrite.” Praying for God’s gracious reviving in my heart this advent season. I want to dwell with Him!

  • I’m also afraid to repent of my desire to keep people at arm’s length and what will happen if they come closer. Jesus, guide me gently to repentance.

  • Sitting here embracing the tension that I am a sinner. Always. That all of my righteous acts are like filthy rags. And yet, I am completely and utterly loved by my Father. I am His precious daughter. This Truth, this tension, brings me to a place of repentance and gratitude and wholeness. And I am over- whelmed by His goodness and the beauty of the cross.
    Have a blessed day in Him ladies.

  • Oh, I love this so much. I resonate with the “ideal” Christmas morning story. The line about repenting from my best moments and plans in regards to this, and really LOTS of areas, is one I pray the Holy Spirit brings to mind quickly.

  • I had to pull out the Veggie Tales song about the sheep from 2 Samuel this morning. I couldn’t get it out if my head!

  • “Cleanse me from my hidden faults. Please keep me from willful sins, do not let them rule over me. May the words of my moth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Taken from Psalm 19 and a helpful prayer for my heart. God’s kindness leads us to repentance…love that.

  • Lindsay Sterchi

    “The truth is, I need to repent of even my very best moments and plans.” I love this reminder that repentance is not only about turning from obvious sin, but also about surrendering our ways to God’s perfect plan.

    • DebbieinAZ

      Yes… and the surrendering part is the hard part. Lord may I be willing to surrender, that you may have Your way!

  • I love the verse from Isaiah that talks about laying our sin on Christ! This is an amazing way to view forgiveness and repentance! Handing over my sin is so freeing. I am going to fail, but Christ’s love for me overcomes those failures.

  • And here I was sitting here thinking that these devotionals were just going to be “feel-good” thoughts to make the Christmas season cheery. Instead, I’m sitting here convicted of my sin, which is actually the perfect way to prepare my heart and my family for this Christmas season. Thanks for the perspective and for pointing me toward the Truth.

  • Wow. This hits home. I am so selfish when it comes to Christmas, my birthday, and any other holiday where I am constantly comparing myself to others’ “perfect” holidays on Instagram! Let us remember that not everything is perfect “behind the scenes,” and that all this glitter has the power to cloud our judgment about what Christmas truly is. I found myself reconsidering taking an Angel Tree child this year, but didn’t bat an eye at spending $100 on myself and my family members for the holidays, buying stuff we don’t need! Lord, help me to repent of my selfish ways and to return to you. This holiday season should be about tearing open our hearts and our Bibles, rather than tearing open more “gifts” under the tree.

  • churchmouse

    I’m so done with the two year old temper tantrums. Not from my granddaughter, but from me. Because that’s what I’m having when I stubbornly demand my own way, my “rights.” It’s ugly even when it seems oh so justified. Why do I hold onto this sin and thereby miss the “sweet accord” with my Savior? Rebecca, thank you for prompting me to do some introspection and repentance this morning.

  • Mary Rachel Fenrick

    What a gift that he LONGS to be gracious to us! His grace isn’t stingy or reluctant, but ever seeking and loving, even in the midst of our sin. Thank you, Jesus!

  • I think we have a hard time repenting sometimes because we put human’s sinful characteristics on God. We are afraid that God will not forgive or that He may say “I told you so!” We are scared that he will rub our sins in our faces. We fail to remember that He is God and that He is Love so he will naturally act from that place of love.

    • Kendra

      Thanks for this reminder, Laura! I fall to easily into the trap of thinking like this.

  • RoseBergamot

    Ouch…
    Idealized expectations? Raises hand over here.
    Pet sins? Yep. For sure.
    I will be spending today deciding how I can have a nice Christmas without allowing my heart to be ungrateful. Thank you! This is a wonderful gift.

  • My husband and I were just talking about how the lure of improving our new home and all the glitter of Christmas can cloud our vision so fast. I want our 15 month old to learn about Jesus, not tradition. I want my hard heart to rest in him, not just go out and live selfishly!

    • Andrea D

      The distractions of secular Christmas are ever present when you have a child and you begin to teach them about Christmas. This changed my heart and changed my focus. For my 3&4yo, it is a daily reminder of why we are blessed to celebrate this season. It is all about the birth!

  • 19 Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the Lord. These testified against them, but they would not pay attention.

    So easy to look back on the Old Testament and criticize those Israelites for being so stubborn- yet I sit here this morning and think of all the things… all the sin I have been clinging to. Thankful for the call to repentance at the beginning of this season which is truly a celebration that Christ came to forgive all sinners and beckon them to a life of eternal life.

    • Johanna

      so true, Terri. It took me a long time to see myself in the Israelites. I did the Hosea study a few weeks ago, and that was what really opened my eyes to how unfaithful I am to God.

  • It is easy to feel sorrow at the evil we see in the world around us. Much harder to admit that we are part of the problem. But when the light comes it exposes things for what they really are.
    And yet we have hope that God shows us our sin not to condemn us but to restore us, and through Jesus he made a way.

  • Michelle Henley

    As I write these words I’m under so much conviction. February 2016 My husband, 3 yr old son, 1 year old daughter (now 2 1/2 and 4) moved from NC, USA to the Philippines as missionaries. I have been having a pity party about the Traditions that I can not make happen due to lack of family here, certain foods unable to be cooked because I can’t get the ingredients, and the list goes on…even upset because it is always hot here so it simply can’t be Christmas. After a couple conversations from precious sisters back in the states and then another one sending me this I was reminded Christ doesn’t care about all the preparations, He just wants us to spend time with Him and sharing Him. I know I’m here for that very reason yet I sit here convicted because my focus turned to me and what I was going to do without for Christmas, not focusing on Christ and what HE gave up to come to earth and what HE did for me and everyone else ! Thousands of people here that will die and go to hell if they do not hear and accept Jesus Christ as Savior. Thank you.

    • Pam

      Thank you for sharing your story, Michelle. I tend to focus on all there is to do in preparing and keeping the traditions alive when my focus should FIRST be on HIM, our Lord and Savior, … and in sharing Him with others. Prayers for you and your family as you serve in the Phillipines! Blessings for a Merry Christmas!

    • Sue D.

      Thank you for serving Him in that hot place. Praying you have the opportunity to share his love and what Christmas is really all about with those in that country.

    • Robin W.

      Sending love to you in the South Pacific! Bless you, sweet woman, and your family for literally being the hands and feet. ❤️

    • Stefanie Finegan

      Michelle – my family and I (my husband & our 4 little girls) are just returning to the US after spending 2 long years as missionaries in one of the poorest parts of N India. Christmas was absolutely one of the hardest times of year for me because I grieved over all that you mentioned. I know how you feel sweet sister, & my encouragement is that the Lord in all His grace and mercy pulled me near in the hardest of times. He is pleased with you (not for what you’re doing but because you are His daughter…something hard for we missionaries to grasp sometimes;)), & I’m praying that you will sense His nearness in powerful ways this Advent season. It’s always an encouragement to me to hear from others serving around the world. Thank you for sharing your heart! Big hugs to you!

    • Stephanie

      He

  • Repentance is one of the hardest, but best things about following Jesus. I hate admitting I’m wrong, but the reconciliation that follows is more than worth it. I pray that I take this to heart as we enter this season of remembrance – that I may grow closer to Jesus each day.

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