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December 13, 2017

Acts of Contrition


Foster reminds us that the Christian life is one of daily repentance. We've been restored through Christ, but sin can still hinder our relationship with the Father. The Psalmist declares that God will not despise a "broken and contrite heart" (Ps.51:17). Foster asks, "How do we experience a contrite heart?" First, he says "we begin by asking." I can't overstate how important this is to our prayer life. The Holy Spirit has reminded me many times of James 4:2 "You have not because you ask not." I've asked God for a lot of things, but when I get serious and my heart desires what his heart desires, then I ask for a contrite heart. I ask to see the Kingdom of God flourishing around my life, my family, and others. He is faithful to answer when we ask.

Foster's second response is that "we confess." Confession is an acknowledgement that we have fallen short and we are in need of correction, or what I call an adjustment or right alignment back to God's Word. If we confess, we are releasing our sins to God rather than holding stubbornly to our own way. When we release we can receive.

The third response is "we receive." Foster reminds us of the prodigal who came home with a contrite heart receiving love rather than judgement. How much more is our Father waiting to fill us with his grace, mercy, and love when we come with a broken and a contrite heart? Prayer is about giving and receiving, like any relationship.

Fourth, Foster says "we obey." When we receive from the Lord, we have an obligation to obey, to walk in his ways and walk uprightly before him. Foster says "Embedded in the word of forgiveness is the call to obedience." If we're unwilling to obey, then the relationship will falter. The definition of spiritual growth is learning and living. In order to grow spiritually, we need to engage this vertical spiral upward, moving from from contrition to release to receiving and then to obedience.