Seeking Him Challenge, Day 4 — Apologies Don’t Equal Repentance

What happens when you take a wrong turn on the trail? You have to turn around and go another way. That’s what’s happening today in our Seeking Him Through Prayer Challenge journey. Bob Bakke knows the way—listen as he gives you guidance for today’s leg. —Hayley Mullins, True Woman Blog Content Manager

Today’s Verse: 

Create in me a clean heart, O God,  and renew a right spirit within me. —Psalm 51:10 

Your Challenge: Respond to God’s conviction with genuine repentance. 

Today’s Devotional: 

I was in seminary when my father retired from the federal government. He counselled three U.S. presidents, leaving D.C. as the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. Two years later, he and my mother moved to be near family around New York, and he became the executive director of the Newark Transportation Council, Newark, New Jersey. Though he wanted to help Newark because of its desperate need, he quickly tired of politicians. But rather than leave Newark, he took over a rescue mission in Center City. It was the hardest job he ever held. 

Over lunch one day, Dad contrasted the worlds he had worked in: the pinstriped world of self-absorbed politicians, bureaucrats, and lobbyists who never apologized for anything unless compelled by political expediency or legal jeopardy versus the penniless substance-abusers on the city streets who often sobbed about everythingtheir failures and their dependencies. The federal buildings of D.C. and the streets of Newark were worlds apart, but there was a common thread that laid bare the human heart: apologies rarely produce change.

Today, I’m older than my father was when he died, and I can attest to what the Bible makes clear: apologies do not define repentance, however heart-wrenching they might be. In the New Testament, the Greek word for “repentance” is metanoia, which is related to our English word “metamorphosis.” In other words, true repentance changes the thinking and behavior of people, now and forever: “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death,” wrote Paul (2 Cor. 7:10).

God convicts all who encounter Him. We pray for this. But authentic repentance transforms us “into [Christ’s] likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18 NIV). By this we test ourselves. For this, too, we pray, refusing to settle for less.

Look Up: Seeking Him in Praise

In Seeking Him, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Tim Grissom wrote: 

The very fact that God reveals sin in our lives and urges us to repent is evidence of His great love, mercy, and kindness. . . . God never asks anything of us that He does not provide the grace to do.1

God gives us a means to escape from sin’s lure and grip, through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us.2

Before you pray for true repentance in your life and the lives of others, take time to thank Him for these truths.

Look In: Seeking Him for Our Own Hearts

Repentance is not a one-time act. It is a lifestyle. Ask the Lord to give you that “godly grief [that] produces a repentance” and to transform you into Christ’s likeness more and more each day. Then keep seeking Him for a life that is marked by true repentance and transformation. 

Look Out: Seeking Him on Behalf of Others

Pray that the leaders of your nation and your city would repent and turn to the Lord. Implore Him to mold their hearts, so that their apologies would give way to God-honoring change. Ask Him to do the same in your church and in the lives of your neighbors—so that our world would be transformed by the repentance of God’s people.

Reflect and Respond:

  • Are you willing to commit to seeking authentic repentance? How would it change your thinking and behavior?
  • This radio series by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is a great place to hear more teaching on personal repentance.
  • And for help on praying for others’ repentance, read this blog post by Erin Davis from the True Woman blog. 

1 Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Tim Grissom, Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival (Chicago: Moody, 2004), 70.

2 Ibid., 67

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About the Author

Bob Bakke

Bob Bakke

Dr. Bob Bakke is the teaching pastor of Hillside Church, Bloomington, MN. For ten years, Bob produced The Nationally Broadcast Concert of Prayer on the evening of the National Day of Prayer. In 2012, he helped launch OneCry, a movement of Christians mobilizing and uniting for the purpose of seeing revival come to the American Church. He is currently researching and writing for a major film on America’s Second Great Awakening.

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