God is the God of Another Chance

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing— grain and drink offerings for the LORD your God.

Joel 2:12-14 NIV (1984)

With God, there is always an “even now”. In chapters one and even two, God pronounces His judgment against the nation of Judah for their disobedience. God through his prophets pleaded for the hearts of His people. Today if you’ve walked away from the Lord, or if you’ve found yourself far from Him because you’ve slowly but surely drifted away from Him. God is compassionate and He is forgiving. This is our reason for returning, because of who He is. And we return because He promises to return to those who return to Him (Malachi 3:7). This is God! A holy God who must punish wickedness, and also has compassion on all He’s made (Psalm 145:9).

God tells us how to return:

FASTING: It maybe fasting from what has consumed your attention or affections. It may just be taking a significant time to purposely draw near Him.

WEEPING: Don’t hold back, consider how committing sin has wounded the heart of such a loving God. A God who dwelled with us (John 1:14), died for us that He may rescue us. Weep for sorrow. Weep because you see nothing else in all this earth that is worthy of hurting His heart or disobeying His law. Weep because you know you were wrong. Weep but know that after repentance you are forgiven by Him.

MOURNING: Mourn because it is a bitter thing to forsake God. Mourn because you see the error of your ways. Mourn because you feel foolish, but know that He doesn’t call you fool, He calls you, “Beloved.”

There are endless examples in the Old Testament of God loving and pursuing undeserving people. People who didn’t deserve His grace didn’t deserve to be called by His name. Yet because He loved them and He keeps His covenant, time and time again He’d send His prophets to a stubborn people. The book of Hosea vividly describes the rampant idolatry of God’s people. How they even believed that their idols were the givers of their food, water, grain, oil, and wine. How does God respond to all this?

“Therefore I am now going to allure; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2:14)

God will separate ‘her’ (the people of Israel) from gods and in the desert or wilderness and ‘she’ will finally come to her senses and love the Lord. ‘She’ will see that all this time it has been the God of Israel who has given her necessities and luxuries. God would restore Israel in this desert and join them to Him forevermore (Hosea 2:19).

We are not like the people who shrink away from God or completely despair of life itself. We are people who draw near to Him with our backsliding and He heals us (Jeremiah 3:22). We come to Him bare-handed with our broken and contrite hearts. And He will not despise us (Psalm 51:17).

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I encourage you to never get weary of repentance. To never get weary of coming to Him broken for your sins. He will not get weary of forgiving us and reviving us to life again. And do not cease to be in awe of such a God. A God who is offended and yet forgives. Forgiveness is not a hint that God takes sin lightly, but rather how serious sin is. And don’t be deceived, you can live a life that is pleasing in His eyes. When you hear a whisper saying, “You can’t overcome this ________ .” Know that this is a lie. You can overcome any besetting sin. You don’t need to be “stronger” you need a stronger love of God. Read the Word continually and see how worthy this God is of all your affections. Note how His promises are better and truer than anything sin promises you. Cling to God and don’t let go.

Please, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter. And, stop by my shop and pick up some cute tees. Thank you for checking my little square of the Internet, be sure to follow and like. Thanks for reading and supporting my blog. I pray that it edifies you and glorifies God.

Dear, Troubled Disciple


After they had evangelized that town and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch, strengthening the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith and by telling them, “it is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:21-22 (HCSB)

So like Peter says don’t think it strange*. This is the way and the only way. You didn’t make a wrong turn, your Shepherd knows the way you are going. It is the same exact way He went. Having your supposed, “heart’s desires” fulfilled will not change the trouble that you must go through. The trouble is not because you don’t have your heart’s desires, you will still experience trouble when or if God gives them to you. Your troubles don’t exist because God is cruel or doesn’t know HOW you feel, but because they are necessary. There is no eternal weight of glory without suffering. There is no crown without a cross. Your faith, sanctification or your pilgrimage is not something that you can nuke in the microwave to make the process faster.

There is no elevator to heaven, there is only the long and narrow way. 

I know you want to avoid suffering and pain. It is something that no one wants to partake in, even the Son of God requested that the cup of suffering would pass from Him*. He cried aloud to God, “Father is there another way?” Unlike your earthly parents who may show favoritism or be partial to one child over the other, your heavenly Father’s answer remains the same, “this is the way”.

You need to learn how to lift up your eyes and squint to see past what you are feeling and dealing with today. It is quite a difficult discipline to learn, but it is also necessary. There is more to this story than what you were feeling yesterday or today. You are not hopeless, your light of hope is only getting brighter and brighter. You’re only getting closer to your real home. God’s word says that what you are feeling today is momentary and light* compared to an eternity in His presence. The troubles you are going through today are not worthy to be compared to an eternity with God. For your dimness, today will be gone and exchanged for sight. Your loneliness today will be gone and exchanged for a prepared room with your Savior and the rest of the beloved. Your sorrow today will be gone and exchanged for undisturbed joy. Your confusion today will be gone and exchanged for amazement when you see God’s wisdom in writing His story. It is safe to believe the best things about God, He will never disappoint you.

Take the comfort God has graciously given you in His Word and cling to it, better yet cling on to Him! Ask God for wisdom* on how you can go through these varied troubles with hope and joy but without sin. Rest in God’s wisdom. And remember that God’s peace surpasses any understanding your heart may desire. Think the best things about God don’t allow these light afflictions to wound the heart of the One who bled for you. Rejoice in hope, be patient in affliction, and be persistent in prayer*.

Prayer: God, I thank you for this reader, I’m also thankful for this message of encouragement I was able to share. My prayer is that you would grant this reader wisdom so that they can see with the eyes of faith that the trouble they may be experiencing today is indeed incomparable to the glory that You’ve prepared for them. Lord, make them mindful of all the good that they have in their life, namely the salvation of their soul through your Son Jesus Christ. Lord, I pray they wouldn’t be too pressed by their troubles that they can’t count your fresh mercies. God, help them to set their minds on heavenly things, where your Son is seated. Lord, I pray that they would not feel lonely in their troubles but that they would feel greatly loved. No human is without trouble, but not everyone has the privilege of having God work in it for their good. I ask that You would give them a steadfast, trusting heart that perseveres in troubles. Thank you, Lord, in Jesus’s name, Amen.

Please, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter. And, stop by my shop and pick up some cute tees. Thank you for checking my little square of the Internet, be sure to follow and like. Thanks for reading and supporting my blog. I pray that it edifies you and glorifies God.

I Am A Self-Entitled Christian

 

Confession: I am a self-entitled Christian. Recently I’ve started to study the book of Job. I was reading about Job’s significant test of faith. I greatly admired how Job reacted to the first test of his faith in chapter one. After losing his 10 children, all his servants, and livestock, Job worshiped and blessed God’s name. I also admired Job’s theology that he knew that God was sovereign over all creation and that He is sovereign over the sequences of his own life. Job’s saw God hand in all that he was suffering, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). And then when he was covered in boils from head to toe, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). I’ve taken adversity from my Father’s loving hand as well, so I knew how difficult it is to not sin with your lips or to blame God (1:22). Let’s be honest, God is an easy culprit, especially when you know that He is sovereign. But, let us not fall into the snare of the enemy, who desired to see Job curse God to His face (Job 1:;11;2:5).

More honesty, I would love to say that when my faith was tested I held onto my faith or integrity like Job did. But, I identified more with Job’s wife, who suggested that her bridegroom, “curse God and die” (2:9) Job’s unnamed wife had gone to the place where her beloved sat in ashes scraping his skin with a potsherd, and asked him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity?” She had already lost her integrity by sinning with her lips. She said to her husband, “You are covered in boils, how is your integrity serving you now?” Job faced yet another temptation to sin with his lips, his own wife was encouraging him to join her. Yet, he resisted and said that he would accept this adversity, just as he had accepted all the good God had given him.

At the core of Job’s wife, harsh words were self-entitlement. Her family simply didn’t deserve what had happened to them. She could not embrace God or this new season of her life because it was what she did not deserve. As I was reading a great commentary by David Guzik, along with the text God began to open up my eyes and reminding me of my previous reactions when my faith was tested. In times past I’ve responded questioning God and throwing pity parties. I would quickly weep, “but God I’m trying so hard”. As if my effort should be rewarded.  Somewhere deep inside of me I truly believed that I deserved God’s good gifts. I had corrupted God’s generousity into something more like an allowance system.

But God wasn’t done with me yet, He began to counsel my heart. He peeled back layers and showed me that my discontentment and the difficulties I had dealt with embracing all that my life is in this particular season, stems from my own self-entitlement. Here I was applauding Job’s theology and yet holding to the same wrong theology his friends suffered with. Job’s three friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar believed that God rightly gave good people or good actions the gifts they deserved or earned. So Job’s suffering had to stem from some wrong he had committed. Their theology is simply that the righteous don’t suffer. However we are different, these men haven’t had the luxury of reading the New Testament letters, or having the knowledge that God’s own Son suffered greatly.

So my error was that I believed that every good gift God gave was repayment and every “bad” gift that was given to me was undeserved and uncalled for.

I’m reminded of when Jesus fed the 5,000 people. After He’d fed them they looked for Jesus and His disciples. The Savior waits no time in calling them out, “Truly, Truly I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled (John 6:26).” Then Jesus goes on further to explain that He is the Bread of life. And that He is the sustenance that they should seek, not perishing food. When Jesus confesses again that not only is He the bread of life, but He came down from heaven (John 6:41). The people began to take offense at Him and many of them withdrew from walking with Him anymore (John 6:66). Then Jesus turns to the twelve disciples and asks them “You do not want to go away also, do you?” It’s then that Peter makes the confession that every child of God must say when their faith is tested, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:67-69).

At the core of it that is the purpose of our faith being tested, will we still walk with God even when life throws us a curve ball? What about when you are tested back to back like Job will you curse or blame God? Because Satan is still hoping to get the children of God to curse Him. And he’s still out to destroy our faith with the same fervency he hoped to quench Job’s faith. What if God doesn’t grant your heart’s desire in “a timely matter” or even at all, will you still serve Him? Job’s wife believed that her husband’s integrity served no purpose, or at least it wasn’t serving his best interest. Are you following God for what He can give you? Or do you know that there is no other place to be? Do you know that no one loves you more than He does?

I have had hidden motives for serving God. Satan is right in believing that removing certain creature comforts or being inflicted with pain exposes one’s purposes. But he was also very wrong in his estimation of Job. I pray that we would also prove our Adversary wrong and fight the temptation to blame God when we suffer or experience adversity. I also pray that God’s manifold wisdom will be displayed to Satan and his motley crew (Ephesians 3:10). We need not despair when our Father’s hands open to reveal an adverse gift. We can always be sure that adversity is not punishment, for Christ has been crucified (Romans 8:34). We can also know that we are never left to experience the adversity in His hand by our lonesome. While Satan hopes to destroy our faith, our Father’s purpose is to strengthen our faith. When we know that God owes us nothing at all and that He has not given us what we really deserve, with gratefulness we can accept His good gifts and we can see His hand and heart in the adverse gifts. We are debtors to God’s grace and it’s in His generosity that He gives and gives again. Let us not taint what is good, perfect and holy with our pride. And let us not worship the gifts but the Giver, who is ever worthy and blessed. Amen.

Please, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter. And, stop by my shop and pick up some cute tees. Thank you for checking my little square of the Internet, be sure to follow and like. Thanks for reading and supporting my blog. I pray that it edifies you and glorifies God.

Grace


“On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat.”‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭1:4-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I was going to make this blog about Hannah and her godly traits. But, as I was journaling and inwardly rolling my eyes because of Penninah. I was reminded of grace.

I read these stories in the Bible, and I bring myself into context. I would be Hannah, and I imagine Penninah to be some popular girl in school; who I secretly admired, but yet openly was rejected by. So, I found myself inwardly doing what Hannah wouldn’t do at that table, every year. Then, the Holy Spirit tapped me on my shoulder and whispered ‘grace’.

Penninah was an unloved woman, it (v.5) doesn’t read that Elkanah loved Hannah more than Penninah; it reads ‘he loved her’. So, we can assume that though he had two wives, his love was devout and not divided.

I’m sure that much like Leah (Gen 29:32), Penninah assumed that having multiple sons and daughters would make Elkanah divide his devotion. But, to no avail. The Holy Spirit had to remind me that there are two hurting women at that table. Hannah had her husband’s love but wanted a child. Penninah had the children but wanted the love of her husband.

And, while Penninah was no angel, and did what was unpleasing in the sight of the Lord; she too was a woman troubled in spirit. Penninah should have followed Hannah and poured her soul out to the Lord. Instead, she looked forward to inflicting her hurt on another woman.

Prayer: Lord, may we be people who show grace towards the hurting who in return hurt us. May we as your vessels empty ourselves at your feet. Lord, we thank you that you are a God who hears unheard prayers. We thank you that we can always come to you, and in the solace of your Presence will you change our countenance. I thank you for loving the accused and the accuser.I pray that as you are making us into the image of your own Son, we will love like He does. I pray that we wouldn’t hold on to old wounds but allow you to heal them. For we know there is still balm in Gilead. I say this prayer in Jesus name. Amen