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Remember, Repent, Return

Randy Skeete


Randy Skeete

Evangelist and revivalist from Ann Arbor, Michigan.



  • July 8, 2006
    3:00 PM
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Copyright ©2006 Freedom From Fear.

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00:05 The reason the church exists is to do the work of the gospel. (Amen) The church is not a social club where you come to kill time. The church is not a place that encourages you to develop a routine that really has no roots in your heart, it’s just a reflex. Muscles can learn certain movements and do them without the brain having to think. But evangelism, which is the life of the church, is a conscious, deliberate, purposeful intentional lifestyle. It’s not automatic. No aspect of the Christian life should be automatic; that is for animals. Lions live automatically. In season they mate when the season is over, forget it. Human beings should not be like that. We were given a capacity to choose and to develop a model character. That requires purposeful, deliberate and intentional living. The moment we go on autopilot we are in trouble. Always thinking. I believe it is Desire of Ages, p. 324 Ellen White says “but without a vital connection with God, through the surrender of ourselves to Him moment by moment”—you can’t surrender to God automatically, it has to be conscious. Are you making conscious decisions to advance the cause of the gospel? Let’s pray.


02:00 Holy Father, we’re grateful Lord that we are alive at this precise moment. We could be dead. Many people died, all over the world, between the morning service and now. Father, You’ve given us life not for our sake but for Your sake that we may use that life for Your glory and You’ve made it clear in the book of John 15:8 that we bring You glory when we produce fruit. So I ask You dear God as the message is delivered and Your people listen and Your spirit convicts, please bring us to the place of decision that regardless of how busy we are with secular activities which may be good, let us find time for the primary reason for our existence and that is the advancement of the kingdom of God. Father, hear this humble prayer, grant me utterance, remember the promise You made to Moses in Exodus 4:12 when You said “Go and I will be with thy mouth and teach thee what thou shalt say.” Teach me please I pray in Jesus’ name amen.


03:40 Do you remember ladies, mothers, those years before you had children when you were free and gay—by the way, the word gay meant happy, that’s what I mean—remember those days when you were well pleased with your figure? Fathers, remember when you could look down and see your toes? Remember those days? now perhaps there's a little regret but there is something you can do to change that. Remember when these experiences that you wish you could bring back—aren’t there events in your life that you wish you could bring back?—you had your hair. I promised my Indo-angels I'll mail them, I’ll send them, by e-mail a picture when I had an afro the size of this church. No one believes and I haven’t forgotten I just lost your e-mails—let me have them before I leave. You remember those days in college when everything was fine; you had no bills, your parents paid for everything. But those days now are gone and sometimes we sit as we reminisce and we wish we could go back to those days. There is a situation in the Bible just like that. I believe it is appropriate that we examine that situation in light of Freedom from Fear. And not just Freedom from Fear 206 but in light of our responsibility as a church and as individuals to do the work of God. Revelation 2:1-7 from the King James Version of the Bible “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3And hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast labored, and hast not fainted. 4Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent. 6But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God”—what does this message to the Ephesus church have to do with you and me? A lot.  Jesus says a lot of nice things about Ephesus. He says nice things about all seven churches. I’m sure He would have nice things to say about Fontana. (Amen) Would it be a long list? (Uh-hu) It would be a long list but I believe Jesus would come to the place where He would end that list and say Nevertheless, I have a few things against Fontana. You cannot go through life with God having a few things against you. Even if the list of commendations is a mile long and God has one thing against you, that's where your concern ought to be because a little leaven ruins the whole thing. Ellen White says in Steps to Christ “Even one wrong trait of character, one sinful desire, persistently cherished, will eventually neutralize all the power of the gospel.” {SC 3:34.1} “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil”—they had an aversion to hypocrites and to sinners who refused to repent—“and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3And hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast labored, and hast not fainted”—all these things they use to do—“4Nevertheless”—says Christ—“I have somewhat against thee”—all your good deeds cannot make up for one area of sinful living. It is not statistics that get us to heaven. Statistically if I have 99 good qualities and 1 bad quality in the eyes of the world “this guy is doing well”—he deserves a ribbon, a medal, the Congressional Medal of Honor pinned on his lapel. In the eyes of God something is wrong because what God desires is perfection. (Amen) You don’t like the fact that God desires perfection because that places a burden on you? To say to God, Father, let us cooperate. Here is my effort. Grant me Your power and perfect me. The world accepts 1 or 2 weak flaws. God accepts none. Not in the individual, not in the corporate body of the church. If Fontana has flaws, if Fontana is not strong in evangelism, that needs to be fixed. “4Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love”—“thou hast left” suggests deliberateness. You were aware of what you were doing but you thought you would get to it next week. It did not happen overnight. It happened gradually so perhaps you did not grasp the seriousness of the little steps you took that took you gradually away from Me—“thou hast left”—it did not happen overnight. It’s not a sudden thing. Leaving God happens over a period of time. And so you decide tonight I’ll miss Bible study because there's a sale at Wal-Mart. So let me just miss this study. I’ve already studied the 7 Trumpets, the 7 Seals, there’s nothing more I need to know. Let me miss that and go spend God’s money wisely. Or I’m tired tonight let me not go to prayer meeting. They won’t miss me anyhow. Or I’ve had a hard day and my mind is all mush. That’s no condition in which to read the Scriptures let me just watch the playoffs. And gradually, gradually, little by little we begin a decline. A decline from God is never precipitous. What does precipitous mean? (straight down) A vertical drop. That's not the way we drift from God. We drift from God on a slow incline. So that you need ten years to look back and say wait a minute, what happened? That can’t be me because I remember where I was. I remember when no one could exceed me in the study of God’s word; no one was getting to church earlier than me. No one was ahead of me in contributing to the gospel. What happened? I use to be a firebrand for God. What happened? Whatever it was that happened, you did it gradually and so Jesus says thou hast left Me. It’s deliberate and it’s our fault—“thou hast left thy first love.” Now, we have the problem, you’re far from Me and I'm not happy. And all your good works cannot make up for the fact that you have left your first love. God always tells us how to get out of problems. He always has an answer. Revelation 2:5 “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” There are 3 things that Jesus Christ recommends. Step 1- Remember. Do you remember when you were baptized, came out of that water? People could almost see the wings sprouting from your shoulder blades. And you were eager to do the work of God. You were conscious about living like a Christian—the way you dressed, the food you put into your body, where you went for recreation, how you spent your money, you were concerned, there was a consciousness you had about the requirements God has on a child of His. You had that! And you wanted to know about the 7 Churches, the 7 Seals, and the 7 Trumpets, and the 2300 Days, you wanted to be able to explain that with your eyes shut in the middle of the morning. Remember that? Remember when you refused to rent movies?—because you wanted to spend your time more profitably. Remember when the Bible was your favorite book?—and not Harlequin romance novels. Remember that? “5Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen.” Step 2 - Repent. What is repentance? (turning away) There’s a funny story of a pilot who was with his buddy. They were flying a 2-seater plane and flew into a storm. The pilot said let’s do a 360o and get out of here. That’s not repentance. What he needed to do was an 180o. Repentance is doing an 180o to get out of there. You’re going south and you collide with Jesus Christ and He deflects you north, with your permission. But to do that you need to understand what you’re leaving and understand what you’re going to. There’s a place for individuals to repent. There's a place for a church to repent. Is there anything that Fontana has to repent of, in the context of doing the work of the gospel? You may say as an individual well, the church may have to but not me. How many sins does the Bible record Daniel committed? (none are recorded) We are not saying he was sinless but none are recorded. Have you read his prayer on behalf of his people? When he prayed whom did he say sinned? We. I’m talking to that person who thinks the church needs to repent but not me. We have sinned. How many sins did Jesus commit? (none) What kind of death did he die? The death of a sinner—made curse for us—suffered the wrath of god. So don’t tell me I have nothing of which to repent. Yes, you do. You may not know it. The closer you come to Christ the more you feel the urge to repent. You begin to repent of things you’ve never done because you realize you have had the same mindset of people who did it, which makes you just as guilty. Read Matthew 23:29 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves”—says Jesus—“that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.” You are no different because your mindset is the same. You ought to repent of something you’ve never done physically. Repent. Repentance that is genuine brings us to tears. When was the last time you were broken over something you did that offended God? I mean broken up—you cried! Because you felt deep in your soul I have hurt my God and it broke your heart and you cried! That’s what God wants a broken and a contrite heart, deep repentance. And God says Remember from whence thou art fallen and repent. Step 3 - Do the first works (return). I was in a man's house in northern Africa, having dinner he said to me Elder, I want you to pray for me—and I’ve come to a place when people say pray for me I need to know exactly why because I may have to say no. A little girl came to me in New York City and she said pray for mewhy?well, my boyfriend won’t come to church—why won’t your boyfriend a nice, handsome, Seventh-day Adventist come to church? (That’s my assumption. I must assume the best in people.) She dropped her head and her curls and said Elder, he’s not an Adventist.—Oh, what do you want me to pray for?that he’ll come to churchI’m not praying that prayer—why not? —I will pray that you will repent. You will go back to that young man and apologize for giving him an impression of the church that is wrong and you will pray God gives you the courage to stop it before it goes any further! I will pray that but I’m not praying that he will come to church. You do what’s right!—a high-heeled-hypocrite telling me to pray for her boyfriend. Nope, not praying for that. You do what’s right and the Lord will take care of that. This man said to me pray for mewhy?—I use to be close to Christ but I’ve lost it—You can’t tell a man “I’m not praying for you” when you’re sitting at his table, eating his food, you can’t do that. I said no, no, no. I’m not prayingwhy?when you were close to Christ what were you doing?I use to conduct Bible studies. I would enroll people in correspondence school. I ran revivals. I would teach a Sabbath School class. I would…—so now make a list of those things and start doing them again—don’t bother me. Go and do the first works! Go back to giving the Bible studies. Go back to praying. Go back to reading God’s Word voraciously! Go back to familiarizing yourself with what Ellen White has written in her many books that are gathering dust on your shelves. Turn off the television and see what happens in your life: a resurrection will take place. So I don’t pray for people any more who use to be close to Christ. No, no, no. I send them to Revelation 2:5 [“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”] I’m not killing a mosquito with a sledge hammer. You know what you ought to do. You go and do that! Repent. Do the first works. God is very practical. God is logical. He’s practical. He’s logical. He’s a commonsense God. That’s why God doesn’t perform miracles every time you turn around because God knows if you follow certain steps certain things happen that are miraculous. I don’t need to do something spectacular like part the Red Sea. No man could have done that–I understand. But if you have drifted from Me, I will not perform a miracle to bring you back. You know what you ought to do. Do it! Step by step. The formula for reversal of your spiritual misfortunes is found in Revelation 2:5 Remember-repent-return! Now there is a threat in that passage. God is not a god that wants you to serve Him by threats but threats are necessary. They provide negative motivation. The Bible speaks of heaven. What kind of motivation is that? (positive) What else does the Bible speak about? (hell) What kind of motivation is that? (negative) People tell me well you can’t go to heaven because you’re scared of hellYes! I don’t want to go to hell! And when I pray to God I tell him Father, I don’t want to go to hell!–why would I want to go to hell? So I tell God I have no interest in going to hell! But Father, I want to be in heaven to see You but I am also afraid of burning in flames. As long as some part of you remains you feel the agony, I don’t want to go to hell. There was a missionary who was working in South Africa in the 1830s among the Zulus. He wrote a letter complaining to the head office of the Zulu nation. His complaint was this: The Zulus are not attracted to heaven and they are not intimidated by hell. He couldn’t make any converts. If you can’t make heaven attractive and hell frightening that’s not a Zulu problem. That’s his. There’s a warning. There’s a threat. The Bible is full of threats from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. The Bible is full of threats because God again is a god of justice. If this doesn’t happen, that will happen. Genesis 2:17 “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Use the word threat, use the word revelation of consequences, it is the same thing, has the same affect. The Bible says in Revelation 2:6 “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate”—the threat actually ends in verse 5—“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent”—let’s examine the threat I will remove. What does the candlestick represent? (church) Represents the church, yes. What does the candle give? (light) “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel...” [Matthew 5:14, 15] So you and I are a candlestick, individually; Fontana, a candlestick corporately; Seventh-day Adventist church, a candlestick at a larger general corporate level. A candlestick gives off light, the light of truth, the light of life. Jesus does not say I will extinguish your candlestick. He can’t do that. You can’t extinguish truth. You can’t destroy truth. Truth is light. The truth of God cannot be destroyed! God can withdraw it. He does not destroy truth. So He doesn’t say I will come and put out your candlestick. I will remove it; when God removes the light—darkness. The worst kind of darkness is that which results from failure to use the light. “The light of the body is the eye”—Matthew 6:22—“if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” [Matthew 6:22, 23] When a man or a woman knows the truth of God and does not live according to the claims of that truth eventually God has no choice as a just God, to withdraw and leave you in a darkness you can feel, and that darkness is worse than the darkness of the heathen who has never heard about Jesus. “Repent… or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick…” There are many Christians; they sit in church every sabbath but the fire has gone out. There are people who have committed the unpardonable sin and still come to church. In 1 Samuel 15:23 Samuel informs Saul that God has rejected him from being king because Saul rejected God’s word. Saul is rejected in 1 Samuel 15:17 he is sitting on the throne when David fights Goliath, still on the throne but rejected as any man can be rejected. There are people in pews, possibly at Fontana, I hope not, with whom the Spirit has no more connection because of persistent refusal to do the will of God but they come to church like Saul they sit on the throne of their so-called spiritual lives but there is no connection with God. When the first twinges of the time of trouble hit—gone! That is serious business. Don't ever consciously, knowingly, deliberately, disregard the light that God has given and if you examine your life as you sit and as I examine mine as I stand, if you realize that you have, that there has been some slippage in your spiritual life, act on it now because the road back requires a lot more energy than the energy it took to slip away. When you try to lose weight—you know how that is, it’s like a living hell but when you put it on it was one ounce a week and that’s fine, that’s o.k. But 16 weeks later that’s a pound. 4 months later that’s another pound. In 6 years you don’t recognize yourself. Now to go back to where you were, you can’t do it. You go to Jenny Craig, Jenny Craig's cousin, anything because you just cannot muster that will, that discipline, to fight that fight and get back. Now the first thing to do in the first place: don’t ever get in that position. The point is a spiritual one. Don’t slip away from God my beloved brothers and sisters, but if you have the remedy is Revelation 2:5 “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else”—it could be that many of us are very close to ‘or else’ we’re that close to God saying I have had enough! Spending more time with that man than in My word. I have had enough! Or that woman than My word. I have had enough! God is infinite but His patience is not. If His patience were infinite the antediluvians would still be alive, no need for a flood but God comes to a point and says My spirit will no longer strive with man and then that’s it. Once God does that—that’s it because God doesn't chew his cabbage twice—when He says it—that’s it. In other words, if your probation closes you can not apply for an extension. You can apply for an extension of your visa; not your probation. When it closes it is closed. I don’t care how much you come to church and sing loudly and off key, it is closed! All I am saying my beloved brothers and sisters, as I close the book (as evidence of my coming to the conclusion of this message), we need to look at our lives—have I drifted from God? That is to be answered privately. If you have and the message has touched your heart, that’s hope. Only God, His Holy Spirit, can touch your heart to do what’s right—the devil doesn’t do that. If your heart has been touched you ought to make a commitment before you leave this place today. Father, I want to personalize the formula in Revelation 2:5. I want to go back and just look at where I was with You. Then I want to repent and say I’m sorry and thank You for not cutting me off. Thank You for Your patience and for enduring all the pain You endured as You watched me slip and slide and as You watched me ignore all the messages You’ve sent me from sermons and friends to turn back before it’s too late. Thank You for Your forbearance. Now Lord, help me as I repent—without God’s help you can’t repent. “The goodness of God leadeath thee to repentance.” [Romans 2:4] Give me repentance and help me to do the first works. If you do that, God will restore the years eaten by the locust [Joel 2:25] because God is good (all the time!) God is good (amen). I like God. I love God but I like God. I like the way He functions. And I’m glad He's not as I am. You heard the message. Did you understand it? If it applies to you and you want to say Father, this message was for me personally and I need to follow the steps in Revelation 2:5 and come back to my first love, if it applies to you—stand up. Only if it applies—stand up. I have to assume you're very serious. Preachers come they preach, you hear the message, amen, good sermon, by the time you go outside, talk about something else, the message is gone. Remember the parable of the sower? Some seeds fell the birds just came, plucked them and gone! Then another preacher has to come. But you’re standing now. Don’t wait for another preacher because you may not be alive to see or hear him/her. We stood to say Father, we have drifted from You. We have left—not lost, left—our first love. It’s been gradual. We didn’t mean any harm but we did harm and we harmed You and we harmed the gospel. We are sorry. Lord, we want to go back and do the first works when You and IYou and we were together and our greatest joy was proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, fellowshipping with one anotherwhen Your word brought me more joy than Time magazinewhen seeing my fellow believers brought excitement to my lifewhen the church was my favorite spot to hang out. I want those days to come back as we approach Your soon return. If this is your prayer confirm your standing by raising your right hand.  God bless you. Every head bowed. Every eye closed.


37:49 Loving Father in heaven, I ask You from my heart to have mercy on us. Father, I believe in every persons heart there is a love for You and those of us who drifted we meant no harm. Yes, we’re responsible but Father, we meant no harm. Now, we apologize to You. Lord, if You truly love us convict us deeply of the serious condition we're in—except we repent—because once You declare Yourself as having had enough we cannot cross that line. Father, in the name of Jesus who died for our sins, I ask You to receive us. Forgive us dear God, we lay aside our pride, cleanse our hearts from worldliness, help us to learn to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first. Dear God in heaven, give us an appetite for spiritual things, give us a mind for Your Word and give us a desire to see our unsaved friends in the ark of safety. O Father, take us back to those days when You and we had a good time together. Hear us loving Father, receive us back into Your bosom and as we purpose from this day forward to do the first works bless our efforts with Your divine power. I pray that we may see the progress as we go back up that hill. Father, hear this humble prayer. Bless this church in the crusade coming up. As a result of the efforts let many souls come to know Your Son and to know You. And Lord, when You come in Your kingdom save every person under the sound of Your manservant’s voice and those whom You have brought to the truth. Lord, we offer this prayer from our hearts in Jesus’ name and for His sake. Let God’s people say amen and amen. God bless you.


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