My son TJ spent his spring break in a small Texas town with other college students at a ministry for ex-offenders. Of all our phone conversations over the past three years away from home none was like this. TJ carried 90% of the conversation as he shared how the Spirit of God broke out in a powerful way among both college students and those in the re-entry program at the ministry.
Heaven opened and invaded hearts during the group’s times of prayer and worship. Students began to share openly with one another and sins were confessed as a spirit of humility and brokenness took over hearts. After four days of this intense work of God one of the students, who wasn’t even supposed to be on the trip, surrendered his life to Christ. His walls were high and thick caused by past pain, but as others shared their personal struggles with sin and their own spiritual battles cracks formed in his soul and the light of Christ broke in and brought everlasting love and salvation.
A few days after this young man’s conversion, the team from Northwestern College led worship at a maximum-security prison with one of the largest populations of lifers in the country. The young man who just received Christ got up in a crowded chapel and shared his testimony with the inmates. TJ said the whole experience was so powerful and the worship so anointed! College students and inmates alike belted out the words to the song, “I am a Child of God.” Truly each of one of them experienced God’s presence, which transformed the room with the joy of the Lord.
As I reflected on my conversation with my son and what their team encountered it is clear that one of the ways the knob to the door of Heaven is turned open is through repentance. As the Northwestern group shared their struggles with sin, confessed them to each other, and called out for mercy and grace to come from the blood of Jesus, Heaven opened. The gospels echo this idea of repentance through the ministry of John the Baptist. John came as a “voice in the wilderness” calling people to encounter the “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin,” Mark 1:4, this act would ready hearts to experience the gift from Heaven, who is Jesus Christ.
Jesus identified with our sins and was baptized by John in the Jordon River. Mark 1:10 says those present saw “heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him (Jesus) like a dove…” True Repentance turns from sin to a forgiving Savior, tears Heaven open for the Spirit of Christ to come and change hearts for eternity. Pause and paint that picture in your mind! Now that is power! I want that Open Heaven above for me!
Go ahead and turn the knob of repentance. It takes courage to look at one’s heart and see the “stuff” we need to confess. BUT repentance leads to forgiveness and the fruit will be absolutely unbelievable. Our Father is on the move as evidenced from what happened to these college students in Texas. I don’t want to miss it! I’m praying that God would give His beloved people a spirit to confess our sins and turn once again back to Jesus. He is the only one who has the power to turn the knob of Heaven’s door and allow His Spirit to bring Heaven to earth.