In God’s providence, this devotion is being written the day after a strong message on sin and repentance was received and acted upon by many in the Class of 2024. For the Healthy Heart Day devotion, I (Mr. Reel) had the solemn responsibility of bringing a sobering challenge from Psalm 51 to our current sixth grade. It was an open air sermon that called on the students to acknowledge the sins in their lives, confess and turn from those sins, and pray for God to give them clean hearts and spiritual renewal. I recorded the message in Notability on my iPad and hope that other students may have the opportunity to hear it before the school year ends. We (the sixth grade teachers) believe that the Holy Spirit was working powerfully. Two sixth grade girls came forward for salvation and at least three boys rededicated. About 30 already believing students came down out of the bleachers by the football field for prayer and counsel to help them in their walks with Christ. My gut says that there may be a few others who respond in repentance and faith in the next week after the message sits heavy upon them this weekend. As sixth grade teachers, that is our hope and prayer.
We are also praying for sustained change and growth, the fruits of repentance, for all of our students this summer. I will be blogging each day with short posts from the book of Proverbs to help our students to stay in the Word. Remember, persistent, consistent Bible study is the most important thing people must do to grow in their relationships with Jesus.
I will also continue to plead with our families to be active members of healthy area churches. For all those who understand the dire importance of the local church to our spiritual health as Christians, I beg you to pray continually and pray hard that God will move the hearts of all of our families to commit themselves to active attendance and service in local churches, for the sakes of the parents and their children. If families are out of town a lot, pray that they can find churches where they are (there are churches at the beach, near the lake, and in the mountains).
Let us look to Nineveh for inspiration. These wicked people knew nothing of the Lord, His Word, or His ways. Yet they repented fully and immediately at the very short and confrontational message that God sent them through Jonah. They made no excuses for their sins. They did not try to blame anyone else. They did not tell God that they were too busy to obey Him. They did not try to hang onto the false gods of wealth and comfort and power that they had served all their lives. They did not let their great pride keep them from repenting. No, they immediately did everything they possibly could to show God that they were really sorry for their sins. They fasted, they covered themselves in hot and itchy sackcloth, they wept, and they turned from their wicked ways. They made particular effort to turn from the sin that was their biggest problem – violence. And when God say that Nineveh truly repented, He forgave them and showed mercy and grace. He stands willing to do the same for us now if we will just come to Him in honest repentance and faith. Believe Him today – He is strong and good and able to save you to the uttermost if you let Him!
The Text (Jonah 3:5-10)
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. 6 Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying,
Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?
10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.
Questions to Think About
- Why do you think that the people of Nineveh believed God so greatly and immediately after Jonah’s preaching?
- Based on your own testimony and the testimonies that you’ve heard from your classmates, what do you think are the most important factors that lead people to come to Jesus Christ for salvation?
- Do you want to see God bring a revival to NRCA? Do you want God to bring revival in your own life? Why or why not?
- What are your greatest sins that God wants you to repent of today?
- Nineveh can definitely remind us of the importance of what the Bible calls “the fear of the Lord.” For the unsaved, the fear of God should lead them to dread His wrath and judgment so much that they repent and trust in Christ for salvation as soon as possible. For the believers, the fear of God should be a healthy reverence, like children for their fathers. We should be ever thankful that God has forgiven us for all of our sins and always seek to live humble and thankful lives that honor Jesus. When we read passages like this, we should be moved to tears of gratitude for the miracle of our own salvation and prayers for God to save others. We should recognize that as our Father, God will discipline us when we ignore and disobey Him. Better to trust and obey now before God has to force us to do it through suffering.
- We should not miss the fact that it was only after Nineveh actually turned from their sins that God recognized their repentance as genuine and showed them mercy. Walking forward at an invitation and crying tears over sin is confession, and that is a very good thing. But confession must be paired with repentance – a resolve and plan to change, to stop sinning and start obeying God from a heart that loves Him. This is the living sacrifice that pleases God (see Romans 12:1-2).