Never the Less

In Psalm 106 the psalmist lists all of the many failures of the children of Israel from Egypt to Cannan. Despite all that He was doing for them, they piled up sin, failure, and complaints against God. Many times God delivered them, but they always seemed to find a way to sin.

But then comes v44-45. 

Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry: and he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies.

I am glad to know that His mercy is never the less. It is always the more. Never less than my sin and failures. Always more.

If the Sun is Still Shining…

You know that you should feel something and you wish that you could cry, but the tears stopped coming a long time ago. You are left with the emptiness of guilt, shame, and remorse that is the result of a struggle with sin. As you attempt to stand from your latest fall, you can’t help but wonder, “How can something so empty be so heavy?” Maybe you have sinned too much, gone too far, fallen too low, or just made an unforgivable mistake. “How could God love me?” you wonder, “Will He really forgive me?”

Let me tell you how you can find an answer to this question. Ask yourself, “Is the sun still shining?” If the answer is “yes,” then the answer is “YES!”

Photo by Denis Collette...!!!


Isaiah 31:35-37 (NLT) “It is the LORD who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea into roaring waves. His name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, and this what he says: “I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature!” This is what the LORD says: “Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away for the evil they have done. I, the LORD, have spoken!

This Scripture is even more amazing when you consider its context. It is surrounded by warnings from God through the Prophet Jeremiah that judgment and punishment is coming. God repeatedly warns His people that Babylon’s army is coming and their only options are to surrender and accept the punishment from the LORD or die.

These three verses shine a ray of hope onto a set of dark circumstances. In no way do they make light of sin, for the justified punishment from God will still come. But these verses are a reminder that any punishment and any consequences of sin we face before that final judgment are not for our destruction. Rather, if we submit to the correction of God, it will always bring us back into proper relationship with Him.

So you may be wondering if God will forgive you again. Ask yourself, “Is the sun still shining?”

I Call That Mercy

Once again, I was struck with the realization that what I call punishment God calls mercy. It has to do with the motivation of punishment. If you are a parent and you punish your child with the motivation being the child’s best interests, the child calls it punishment but you call it mercy. If your motivation is not the child’s best interests, the child calls it punishment and I call it abuse.

God does not abuse His children!

Photo by ZedZaP

Isaiah 57:14-21 gives us one of the most beautiful and poetic pictures of God’s mercy to the repentant and contrite of heart.

“I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit.” (57:15)

“I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will also lead him…” (57:18)

I will “restore comforts to him and to his mourners.” (57:18) *What a great promise for those of you that are praying for a backslidden loved one.

These verses are beautiful and their promises overflow with the hope of anyone who has ever fallen and stood back up. God forgives! I was encouraged as I read these words today, but then my eyes fell on the final verses of the chapter.

“But the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.” (57:20-21)

I read that and call it punishment, until I understand His motive. There is no peace for the wicked, no peace in this world outside of Him. The purpose of the punishment is to direct us back to Him. I call that mercy.

Even Here?

I have been thinking a lot about the Grace of God recently.  I am simply amazed by the places in my life that God’s Grace reaches into and changes.  I am learning more and more that I could do nothing were it not for God’s Grace.  His Grace leads me to repentance.  His Grace helps me to be obedient.  His Grace gives me victory.

I certainly don’t want to make light of sin.  I don’t adhere to a doctrine that teaches we can live however we want and do whatever feels good because God’s Grace will cover it all.  In fact, that is an extremely perverted grace.  It robs from the true meaning of Grace.  No, Grace should lead us to righteousness.  Grace gives us the desire to be obedient and pleasing to the One who gave the gift of Grace.

I do, however, believe that there is no place that Grace can’t reach you.  If you are breathing and Jesus hasn’t taken His Church out of this world, there is still hope.  If you are worried that you have fallen too far or sinned too much, the very fact that you are concerned is proof enough for me that you aren’t out of the reach of God’s Grace.  There are only two things that can come between you and Grace; (1) your will (you don’t desire grace/don’t think you need it) and (2) the lies of the enemy.

Many of you have probably heard this often repeated verse about sin:

Sin will take you further than you ever wanted to go.
Make you pay more than you ever wanted to pay.
And keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay.

Certainly, this is true on all accounts.  But I would like to add one line to this; someone may need to hear it.

Sin will take you further than you ever wanted to go.
Make you pay more than you ever wanted to pay.
And keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay.
And Grace can reach you there!

Yes, Even There!

This Hurts Him More Than It Hurts You

My Bible (ESV Study) has headings, or titles, throughout the text.  Leviticus 26 has two headings; Blessings for Obedience and Punishment for Disobedience.  I found myself reading the section titled “Punishment for Disobedience” with much anticipation.  It goes something like this…

“But if you will not listen to me…I will set my face against you.” (Plus lots of other unpleasant punishments)
“Then if you [still] walk contrary to me…I will continue striking you.” (And other unpleasant punishments)
“If by this discipline you are not turned to me…I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins.” (And other unpleasant punishments)
“But if in spite of this you will not listen to me…I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins.” (And, yes, other unpleasant punishments)

It may seem strange to you, and it did to me, that each time the Lord punished Israel for their sin I felt extremely relieved.  Relieved?  Yes, relieved.  I wondered why I felt so relieved.  The reason came to me.  I was relieved because each time I read the words, “If you continue to sin,” I was fully expecting to read that God was going to take His presence away.  And I realized in that moment how merciful God was being even in these harsh punishments.

You see, there is something far worse than the punishment and correction of God.  What if He left?  What if He gave up on you?

If we have heard it once, we have heard it a thousand times, God punishes those whom He loves.  But this passage (and my expectations) revealed to me just how merciful God is when He punishes us instead of leaving us.

It will not always be the case.  There will be a separating, a judgement, but until that day every punishment from the hand of God is an act of mercy trying to guide you back to proper relationship and obedience to Him.

And yes, it hurts Him more than hurts you.

Oh, How He Loves Us!

P.S.  When I ran spell check on this, it asked me if I meant “presents” rather than “presence” when I said that I was expecting God was going to take His presence away.  No, that is not what I meant.  My version is a much more terrifying prospect…for some.

Your Title Here

Pay Attention! Give this post a title in the comments section.  The best/most creative title wins a $10 Starbucks Gift Card! (Winner will be chosen Friday).

In my first post, I had said that one of the things that I would be writing about was failures.  Now, I have to admit that even as I wrote that, I didn’t think I would actually write about any of my failures.  But today, that is what I am going to do.  I am doing this for two reasons; (1) because God is merciful, and (2) maybe it will help you…or me.

I’m sure you know about and have experienced that deal.  You know, that one where things are going good.  You just got out of Indiana District Men’s Conference (or you had some other wonderful God encounter), everything is cloud nine, and you are feeling great in the Lord.  The DEAL is, the enemy doesn’t like that.  And he is an expert at knocking you off your feet when you begin to run.

Well, needless to say, I got the raw end of the deal today.  To say that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed is an understatement.  I woke up downright mad.  No reason in particular.  I just didn’t feel like ___________. (You can feel free to fill this in with anything).

If you know me at all, you know that I am a list person.  I got stuff to do.  I have a whole list of stuff to do, and today was no exception.  So I drug my weary, whiney self out of bed and started working on the list.  Problem was, when you don’t feel like __________.  It’s hard to get _______ done.  And my attitude went south.  I mean, I was nasty.

And at the end of the day, this is what I accomplished:  Almost nothing crossed of my list, I was mean to my mother (she is in bed, I have to apologize in the morning), I was mad at other people (people who didn’t even know that I was mad at them and that I didn’t even have a reason to be mad at), I made myself feel like a complete and total loser, and worst of all, the great connection that I had felt with the Lord just yesterday…it was gone.

But I’m so thankful that we can come to Jesus when we fall.  Where would I be without His grace?  I would be the person I was today.  But, Jesus loved me so much that He died so that THAT person does not have to live.

“Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise” (Micah 7:8)

To anyone that has ever been knocked down, His hand is reaching to help you back up.

So…what’s your title?