Mercy for Sinners

David had sinned.  Horribly.  It was the type of sin that has brought down giants.  And David had slain giants.  Bears.  Lions.  While he was a boy tending his father’s sheep.  He had even killed a man giant.  A man so large that the other soldiers were dwarfed by him.  Yet David stood up to him.   And David won.  David killed the giant with a stone and sling.  Shot him right square in the forehead and then cut off his giant head.  Oh.  David had won that battle.  He had saved his country.

Yet when it came time to slay the giant of lust, David lost.  He couldn’t conquer the desires of his mind and body.  He had allowed the sight of a beautiful married woman to undo him.  Oh.  He had every right to walk on the roof of his house in the middle of the day.  And she had every right to bathe in privacy on the roof of her house.  It just so happened, that both events took place at the same time.  And David couldn’t control his desire to have this woman.  To make her his own.  At any cost.  Possibly without her permission.  Oh.  He wasn’t thinking of the cost at that moment.  He was thinking of how great it would be to conquer yet another beautiful woman.  Never mind that he had many wives at his disposal.   Never mind that she was married to one of his top warriors.  One of the men who would fight faithfully to the end for this king.  For the king who took advantage of his wife while he was at war.

The woman later returned to David with news of her pregnancy.  You see.  Her husband was at war, so he wasn’t the father.  Everyone would know of the charge of unfaithfulness.  Even if they didn’t know who the father was.  How could David come forward and claim the child as his?  There was punishment for adultery.  Death.  So David did the unthinkable.  Again.   He stooped even lower to hide his adultery.  He made sure this woman’s husband, a mighty warrior, was killed in battle.  Put him on the front lines and then withdraw.  Make sure he is killed.  That was David’s command to General Joab.  And the General obeyed.  Did he really have a choice?  He made sure Uriah the Hittite was killed.   And he made sure that King David knew the man was dead.

After the pregnant widow’s mourning period was over, David did the honorable thing.  He took her into his home and made her his wife.  His wife who was already pregnant with his child.  But no one would be the wiser.  Right?

Perhaps David was too busy in his backslidden condition to remember that God sees everything.  God knows everything.  God is everywhere.  And what is done in secret is still seen and judged by God.   We can’t escape the all-seeing eye of God.

Oh.  How the mighty have fallen for lesser things.  But sin starts small.  And it grows into uncontrollable urges and desires.  It grows into believing that consequences are for others.  Not for me.  I deserve to have whatever I want whenever I want it.  Or so thought David.

But the consequences were great.  And oh.  How he fell.  Perhaps not publicly.  But privately, David fell.  It took a brave man named Nathan who provided wise counsel to open David’s eyes to see how he had lost control of himself.  He knew there would be severe punishment.  In some instances, it would mean death for the offender.  But God had mercy on David.  God spared David’s life when he didn’t have to.  You see.  God wasn’t finished with David.

But the baby who was conceived out of lust and passion was doomed to die.  He only lived for seven days.  And in those seven days, David was a broken man.  He fasted.  He prayed.  He begged God to save his son.  But no.  This baby would not live to be a reminder of the adultery and murder that one man’s lust had caused.  This baby would not survive.

Oh.  During those seven days, David wept and pleaded with God to save his son.  He humbled himself before God.  He asked for God’s forgiveness.  God heard his prayer.


Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love.  Because of your compassion, blot out the stain of my sin.  Psalm 51:1


God is merciful.

God forgave David of the horrible sins of adultery and murder.  Oh.  When the mighty fall, they can be picked up.  Shined up.  They can be forgiven.  But they will be scarred.  They will be bruised and bumped around.  There will be consequences.   But their sins will change color.  They will turn from scarlet to white as snow.  Their sins will be forgotten.  As if their sins were never committed.  As if David had never considered adultery or murder.  As if he had never done those things.  Because when God forgives, he forgets.  And that’s what we usually forget.  We forget that God forgets.

Oh.  We are unworthy.  Our sins are many and are hearts are so human.  We fail so often.  But God will forgive us each time we sin.  If we ask him to forgive us.

Who knows if David ever forgot that son who lived for seven days.  Somehow through the bumpy start of their marriage, David and Bathsheeba moved on.  God gave them more sons.  Their next son was Solomon.  And God loved Solomon.  His name means “beloved of the Lord”.

It’s hard to imagine biblical history without Solomon as the next king of Israel.  It’s hard to imagine who would have worn the title of wisest person who ever lived, if Solomon hadn’t been born.  It’s hard to imagine who would have built the temple of Jerusalem, if not for Solomon.  You see.  If David and Bathsheeba hadn’t been together, all of Solomon’s accomplishments wouldn’t exist.  But because God showed mercy on Solomon’s father, David, Solomon existed.  He ruled the nation of Israel.  He built the temple that King David only dreamed of building.  He was the wisest of all men.  If not for God’s mercy, would Solomon have ever existed?

We can never out-give or out-forgive God.  He is merciful when we least deserve it.

Running in Place

She said she’s in the middle.  The middle of life.

I’ve been thinking about that lately.  I’m not on the mountain top.  But I’m not in the valley.  Oh.  I was in both situations not too long ago.  No.  Not at the same time.  But unemployment was the valley.  Getting a new job was the mountain.  But now.  Now I find I’m in the middle.  And I feel stuck.  Oh.  I should be thankful.  And I am.  But I sometimes I wish I wasn’t where I am.

No.  I don’t want to be back in the valley.  I’m thankful to have a new job.  It’s just that the job is turning out to be something that isn’t comfortable.  Oh.  I have hopes of things evening themselves out.  Of feeling comfortable.  Of feeling that I can do this job.  But for now.  It’s tough.

Elisabeth Elliott said that when you’re in a tough spot, there’s something to do.  Just do the next thing.  Whatever comes next in what you do, just do it.  So that’s what I’m doing.  The next thing.  Don’t look too far ahead.  Just do the next thing.

I’m not running away from the job.  But I do find that I am running.  I’m running to Jesus more and more.  And isn’t that what he wants from us?  In spite of good or bad, I should be running to him.  Running for my life to the life giver.

I find I want to run from my discomfort. But instead I need to run to Jesus. Don’t try to escape the discomfort. Try to embrace it and hold on to the one who has great plans for me. This season could be the time of growth I need for the next phase of my life. Trust God and his plan. Run to him like I’ve never run before.

I’ve never been a runner.  Oh.  I’ve tried.  I’ve tried those starter methods of walking a few minutes.  Then running a few minutes.  In the hopes that I can build up my running time into more minutes.  It just never worked for me.  I couldn’t get my breathing to work right.  So I gave up.  I decided walking was my sport of choice.


Pray that you will not give in to temptation.  Luke 22:40


I think of Jesus.  When he was in the fight for his life.  His human life.  Oh.  He ran.  He ran right to his Father.

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed and asked his Father to remove the cup of suffering from him.  The burden of going to the cross.  Of dying.  He asked to be excused from the discomfort.  From the pain and agony.  Was this his humanity speaking?  What did he know of the suffering that was ahead for him?

The next morning when he heard the angry mob shouting for him to be crucified.  I wonder.  Did he run again to his Father?  Did he beg for mercy once again?

But no.  The night before while crying out to his Father, he surrendered.  He had surrendered his will.  Your will.  Not mine.  Then he stood and walked through the pain.  The torture.  The suffering.  The death.

God refused to change his plans.  He allowed His only Son to be tortured and crucified.  He allowed His Son to die.  But his death fulfilled God’s ultimate plan.  His death provided a way for me to spend eternity with him.  His death was not in vain.

So why should I ask God to remove my discomfort?  Why should I expect God to give me an easy life?  Why should I expect God to remove obstacles that I want out of my way?  Perhaps I should pray that I don’t yield to temptation to walk away from the discomfort when I know I am fulfilling God’s plan.  Perhaps I will find peace in the surrender to God as he walks with me in my pain.  Perhaps in my suffering, I will be anointed with the same power that he has.  I pray that my discomfort will not be in vain.

 

Good Good Father

I’ve heard it said that a person’s view of God is based on their relationship with their dad.  I’ve always had a respectful view of God.  I trust him.  I love him.  He is the authority.  Let me tell you why that is my impression of God.

My dad was always in charge.  He was the leader of our family.  He was the provider.  The authoritarian.  He was a tease.  He had a great sense of humor.  He had a great work ethic.  He loved his work.  He loved his family.  He helped those in need.

My dad  provided everything I needed.  No.  He didn’t give me everything I wanted.  But I never went hungry.  I was always clothed.  He built our home.  I was warm when I needed to be.  I was cool when I needed to be.

My dad taught me to work.  Whether I liked it or not, my dad handed out chores for his kids to do.  Mowing the lawn.  Weeding the garden.  Cleaning the hog house.  Working on the farm.

I saw my dad spending time with God every day.  He would read his Bible before breakfast.  He would lead our family in devotions every night before bed.  He would pray for us.  He would pray with us.  My dad made sure his family spent time in God’s word every day.

My dad was always present.  He was available when we needed him.  Oh.  He worked hard.  He worked long hours.  But he always took a Sabbath to rest and restore his spirit.  He was in a noisy environment a lot of the day, so he wanted peace and quiet at home.  That wasn’t easy with seven kids.  But we knew that once he walked in the door, the piano practice time was over.  The radio was turned off.  He wanted to hear himself think.

My dad was a disciplinarian.  When we did wrong.  And we did.  He disciplined us.  It wasn’t pleasant, but it taught us to respect authority and trust his leadership.

Oh.  My dad wasn’t perfect.  But he was honest.  He was a powerful influence in my life.  He took his faith seriously.  He had a library of Bible commentaries, Christian books and Bibles to study as he prepared to teach his Sunday School class each week.

My dad is the man I measured all other men by.  He set the standard high.

He was a good good father.


The Lord is merciful! He is kind and patient, and his love never fails.          Psalm 103:8

I think of God.  My heavenly Father.  He is the giver of life.  He is the lover of my soul.  He provides for all my needs.

My heavenly Father allows me to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but he calms my fear of evil.  My God is so wise that He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.  When I am fearful, he alone is my source of strength and resilience.

Oh.  He disciplines me.  When I disobey, he teaches me how to be more like Him.  When I don’t spend enough time with Him, He calls me back.

The thing about God.  He is perfect.  He knows exactly what I need when I need it.  He provides at just the right time.  He does no wrong.  He cannot.  He will not.

My God is always with me.  I can’t move without him knowing it.  Oh.  He can see everything I do.   He hears every word I speak.  He reads my every thought.  He never leaves my side.  He is always available anytime I call out to him.  He fights for me.  He works on my behalf.

God shows me favor.  At times, I feel as if I’m his favorite child.  He showers me with blessings that I don’t deserve.  He loves me unconditionally.  No matter what I do, He never gives up on me.  He will not stop loving me.

He is the God I measure all other gods by.  May I never waver in the God I serve.

He is a good good Father.

 

 

 

Powerful Weakling

I started a new job recently.  And honestly.  I am struggling.  Some days I think I can do the job.  Other days, I’m filled with doubt.  The days and weeks have been filled with training.  So much training.  Then slowly I’m getting work assignments with lots of hand holding.  At some point, I will be on my own.  I’ll be juggling many tasks and clients and deadlines.  I don’t know how others do it.  But they seem to.  And I think if they can do it, surely I can.  Can’t I?

Then I remember.  God provided this job.  He wouldn’t give me a gift that I can’t do.  Right?  And then I remember.  No.  I can’t do it on my own.  In my weakness, I need to trust Him.  I need to lean on Him.  I need to call on His name every day and trust that He will equip me for that day.  Oh.  I try not to look ahead.  That’s when I become fearful.  How can I do all that I’ll be assigned to do in the days ahead.  It’s then I remember that He gives mercy just for today.  I need to focus on today and the tasks for this day only.

I must remember that He said I am equipped for the job.  He will help me.  Oh.  Trust is easier said than done.  When in a tight spot, trust is just a word.  Not an act.  But when I act on that word.  When I trust God, I know all things are possible.  I know that in my weakness, God’s power will calm me.  And guide me through the anxious moments.

There is no match for the power of Christ.


My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.  2 Corinthians 12:9


Oh.  It sounds like an oxymoron.  Strength in weakness.  How can I be strong when I feel so weak?  How can I be powerful when I feel powerless?  How can I succeed when I feel like a failure?  How can I act confident when I feel insecure?

Why do I want something other than what I’ve been given?  When I know who the Giver is.  And I know the gift is for this time in my life.  Why do I struggle with this gift?  It wasn’t quite what I expected, but it’s what I’ve been handed.  So I must go forward and make each day count.

Oh.  The struggle is real.

He says.  You must trust me, but I will let you fight.  I say.  Show me your power, lest I get lost in my weakness.

There is One.  One who has conquered that fear.  One who has overcome failure.  One who has choked insecurity.  One who has all power.  He even conquered death.  I want Him on my team.  Always.  If I’m choosing teams, I choose His.  Why?  Who doesn’t want a miracle maker on their team?  Who doesn’t want an encourager?  A helper.  I choose the army of God.

Father, thank you for going before me to open doors.  Thank you for staying with me to hold me steady.  Thank you for going behind me to protect me. You surround me with your love and goodness.  Your faithfulness is ever present.  Your mercy reaches down and calms my fears.  Yours is the power and glory forever.  Amen.

Feedback

She asked to meet with me.  She wanted to hear my thoughts on how the job was going.  We chatted.  She offered feedback.  When is feedback ever positive?  Oh.  Her feedback was supplied by someone else.  She named the informant.  I was surprised with the feedback.  But not offended.  After all, I’m new.  I’m still learning.  I’m in training.

Another new person also had a meeting.  She also received feedback.  Feedback that offended her greatly.  She couldn’t let it go.  So she talked to another.  Little did she know that her information would be passed on further.

It seems that these coworkers share more than they should.  They discuss salaries.  Raises.   Performance reviews.  Beefs with coworkers.  Oh.  They’re nice.  But do I trust them?

So I’ve learned.  I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut.  Oh.  I already knew to do that. But now I’m careful what I say and who I say it to.

One, in particular, likes to gossip.  She learned of my meeting.  She knew I had received feedback.  She was desperate to know what had been said.  So she pretended to be friendly.  Asked about my weekend.  She was fishing.  Fishing for information about my feedback.  I didn’t take the bait.  I knew that if I shared it, everyone would know by the end of the day.  That’s not what I want.


Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.  Ephesians 4:29


I once worked with another group of women.  They had a meeting to discuss what they didn’t like about each other.  Oh.  Imagine how the tensions flew.  Needless to say, that group fell apart.  Quickly.  By the time I joined the team, all trust was gone.

Why would they do that?  How can people be so cruel?  Why didn’t they instead share what they liked about each other?  Why not build up instead of tear down one another?

I wonder.  What would happen if we would focus on the positive and beautiful instead of finding the juicy gossip or negative tidbits about others?  Why do we instead go for the information that will get us the most laughs or gasps of horror?  When the story is about another?  Why do we do that?

Oh.  You’re guilty.  I’m guilty.  We all have done it.  Most likely.  We all will do it again.  But what if we stopped first and asked ourselves a question.  If this information I’m about to share was about me, would I share it?  Is there a positive story about the other person I can share so others will see them in a better light?  Or.  Why say anything at all?

If someone is talking about others to you, then they’re most likely talking about you to others. 

I learned that lesson years ago in another work situation.  Someone I worked with would tell me unflattering stories about others in the company.  Then it dawned on me one day.  She must also be talking about me to those people.  Because I could see the way they looked at me.

If you can’t say anything nice or positive, don’t say anything at all.  If Jesus Christ was standing beside you, what words would you say?

 

Fear Is A Liar

They have a new pool.  They asked me to join them after a long, hot and humid day.  So I did.  But I’m no swimmer.  I can’t float to save my life.  Oh.  I took a few swim lessons, but they ended badly.  Oh.  I got in the pool.  Well.  I sat on the second step.  And watched.  And splashed a little.

The others were more adventurous.  Some were swimmers.  Those who weren’t used noodles.  They clung tightly to the noodles, but they ventured out into the deep.  Not me.  No noodles for me.  No deep water for me.  As they swam and splashed, the water around me would move.  This unsettled me.  It felt as if I could slip out into the deep water and plunge to the bottom.  My water is moving.  I would say.  Don’t make my water move.

Oh.  Yes.  I was fearful of moving into the deep.  Of having no control of my surroundings.  You see.  Water is fluid.  Ever moving.  Only when it’s frozen does it stop moving.

Oh.  I could see myself enjoying the water if I spent enough time in it.  The thing is.  I don’t have those opportunities.  So I played it safe.  I sat on the step.  Waist deep in the water.  Safe.   Until my water moved.


The Lord will fight for you.  You have only to be silent.  Exodus 14:14


Fear of the unknown can stop a person in their tracks.  Fear of the known can be very unsettling.  Fear of any kind can paralyze and overwhelm.  Fear will cloud reasoning and judgment.  Fear will keep the one sitting in waist deep water from experiencing the joy and freedom of what the deep has to offer.

God calls us to move out into the deep.  To go where we can rely only on his strength.  He calls us to move out into the unknown. To trust him and him alone.  Oh.  It’s easier said than done.  But the joy that obedience and submission to God brings is incomparable.

I wonder what I missed out on by refusing to grab onto a noodle.  By not being willing to get out of my comfort zone and float in the water.  There were those around to help if I struggled.  But no.  I held onto my fear and didn’t even want my water to move.

I wonder how many blessings I miss out on by allowing fear of the unknown to hold me back.  I wonder where God would lead me if I went out into the moving waters of faith knowing that his guiding hand was always holding mine.  I wonder why I so easily trust the lies the enemy puts into my mind, but quickly dismiss God’s truths in my heart.

Fear strangles life and enjoyment.  Fear will stop you cold.  Fear will tell you that you’re not good enough.  Fear will whisper that you can’t do the job.  But know this.  Fear is a liar.

Decide fear will not be your obstacle, as you do the hard thing, and see all the             beautiful things you would’ve missed if you’d lived afraid.                           ~~Rachel Macy Stafford

 Fear is A Liar

Heart Guard

There are families.  Oh.  At one time, they were loving.  They spent time together on a regular basis. They laughed together.  They cried together.  They ate together.  They celebrated together.  They spent holidays together.  Then something happened.  One family member upset another family member.  And that was it.  Or maybe it was a slow fade.  Perhaps over time, enough was enough.  Whatever the situation.  Someone decided they had had enough.  And that was it.  No more holidays together.  No more laughing together.  No more eating together.  No more celebrations.  There was definitely crying.  But not together.

And they call themselves Christians.

Oh.  There was plenty of talking.  About the other person.  But not with the person.  It happens in more Christian families than anyone would want to admit.

I’m not judging.  I’m asking.  How can Christians on different sides of the argument say they love each other but then not be willing to share time?  Family members or friends.  Does it really matter?

I once asked someone the question.  How can a Christian family who won’t spend time together talking out their issues.  Forgiving each other on earth.  How will they all be in heaven together?  How can souls spend eternity together in heaven when they couldn’t spend time on earth together?  It doesn’t add up in my book.

There were two men who did not see eye to eye.  They had harsh words for each other.   Harsh public words.  They weren’t friends.  Perhaps they could have been close colleagues, if they had tried.  Oh.  If they had tried, they would have discovered they had things in common.  They would have also found they disagreed on other topics.  Nevertheless.  They never tried to close the gap.  Several days ago, one man died.  He was called a war hero by some.  The other is called the leader of the free world.  The one who died asked for the other not to attend his funeral.  His request was obliged.

I try to imagine the possibilities that could have been achieved if both men had set aside their differences.  If they had agreed to disagree on some things, and then work together on common ideas.  But no.  They chose to stand their ground and not come together.

What happens if both these men end up in heaven?  Will they be able to come together and celebrate the wedding feast side by side with their Lord and Savior?  Will they be able to welcome and celebrate each other’s spiritual rewards?

Can’t we be better than that?  Can’t we as adults agree that we can still work together.  Can’t we still be colleagues or comrades?  Can’t we still be friends?  Can’t we still be family even if we disagree?


Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.  Proverbs 4:23


I ask the question because I now find myself in a similar situation.

I felt she had wronged me.  Done me dirty.  Not once.  But twice.  I thought I could call her friend.  I trusted her.  But she hurt me again.  So I’ve let her go.  I’ve let her go as in I can’t see her anymore.  I can’t communicate with her again.  She hurt me and I don’t want to be hurt again.  Oh.  I’m sure I’ll be hurt again.  But I don’t want to be hurt by her.  Ever.  Again.

Does that mean I haven’t forgiven her?  Does that mean I’m holding a grudge?  I don’t have angry thoughts about her.  I don’t wish harm to come to her.  I don’t harbor any ill will against her.  But I don’t trust her.  That’s it.  Plain and simple.

Oh.  We don’t run in the same circles.  Our days are not mixed together.  Our lives aren’t in the same location.  So I have no reason to see her.  If I saw her, it would be accidental.  Unless it was planned.  But I have no plans to see her.

I know healing takes time.  I’m healing.  Slowly.  Very slowly.  Perhaps, in time I would welcome the thought of a conversation.  I don’t know.

But I know my judgment day is coming.  I’m planning to go to heaven someday.  I know she’s planning to go there, as well.  So what happens when we both get to heaven?  When I see her for the first time, how will I respond?  How will I feel?  Will I run to her with arms wide open?  If I can’t do that on earth, can I do that in heaven?  And if I can’t do that on earth, what does that mean?  For me and my eternity?

I have to examine my heart.  Very closely.  Is it ever ok not to reach out?

Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24

 

The Good Worker

I started a new job.  There are weeks and weeks of training.  My head is full of information and knowledge.  I wonder how I will ever remember everything once I start doing the work.  It is a scary thought.  What if I fail?  What if I can’t do the job after all the training that was put into me?  What if I can’t cut it?

There are so many instructions.  So many steps.  So many complicated steps.  To everything.  Nothing is simple.  Nothing is quick.  Copy this.  Encrypt that.  Make notes of this.  Learn three new systems.  Track your time.  There is so much to learn.  Oh.  The work isn’t really difficult.  It’s just a very manual process that needs to be automated.

I shared my concerns with a friend.  I asked her to pray.  She hears from God.  His message was loud and clear.

It will settle.  You are well equipped.  He assists you and never leaves your side.  Deep enjoyment is forthcoming.

That was the promise.  How could I doubt?  I realize I don’t doubt God.  I doubt myself.  But in doubting myself, am I doubting God?  So many times I have gone back to read that promise.  To steady my nerves.  To gain confidence.  To face the fear.  I pray for God’s mercies each day as I walk into work.  I know God is with me.  With each task I struggle with or accomplish, God is there.  He has not left my side.


What if the Lord had not been on our side?  Psalm 124:1


I have to remember my time of unemployment.  When I prayed for a job.  When I prayed that God would provide the right job for me.  I felt such peace about this one.  This place.  I knew it was where I should be.  I am so thankful to be there.  The company is great.  The people are great.  Now I need to feel great about it.

The blessings of God are not trouble free. The answers to prayer are part of our path to eternity. The work of God in our lives is a work in progress. The ups and downs of daily life are blessings and obstacles that put us on a path to God.  Success is as much a curse as it is a blessing.  Success brings challenges that failure never thought of.

I know God can run my life much better than I can.  His plans are perfect.  I need to trust Him more than I trust myself.  Because right now.  Right now I wonder if I can do the job that he has provided.  I need God’s strength and help right now just as much as I needed His provision when I was looking for a job.  The truth is.  I always need God’s help.  There’s nothing I can do on my own that is done better without God’s help.

I need to keep my focus on my God.  And His strength.  My work has just begun there.  His work continues in my life.  As long as I have breath.  For everything I need, He will provide.

 

 

The Fade

It’s been in the news lately.  A couple of famous people have fallen off the sobriety wagon.  Oh.  They’re jumping back on, but now their private acts have been exposed.  The battle they’ve been fighting is still being fought but now out in the open.  Their worst private moments are made public.  They lost their way.  They had a tough year.  They gave in to the dark thoughts and desires within.

Oh.  It’s easy to point fingers and name names.  It’s easy to blame others’ problems on their lack of self-control or unknown weaknesses.  But I don’t know these people.  Except for what I read in the news.  I’ll never meet them.  I’ll never shake their hand.  I’ll never look them in the eye.  But what I do know is that the issues they’re facing can’t be faced alone.  They need others to help guide them and hold them accountable.  They need help.

They’ve had years of sobriety and great success.  They have been applauded and rewarded.  They have been the center of attention for a period of time.  But something happened.  Poor decisions.  Hard times.  Uncertainty.  Temptations.  Dark thoughts.  Who knows what caused the downfall.  They knew all the right things to do.  Go to meetings.  Be accountable.  Get help when things start to spin out of control.  But this time.  This time things were different.  The downward spiral started and before too long, they were too far gone to rescue themselves.  They no longer listened to the voice of reason within themselves or from those who wanted to help.  They got lost as they walked the path of sobriety.


I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119:11


I read a story in the Bible about a nation called Israel.  They had a history of ups and downs in their relationship with God.  Oh.  Life was good when they kept God on their side.  But when they started to spiral downward.  And they did.  Life went out of control.  Their enemies came calling.  No.  It wasn’t social calls.  It was war.  All-out war.  Then when life became so unbearable, they remembered God.  Oh.  Yes.  God can help us.  They remembered.  When they allowed God in their lives and routines, He always came through.  He helped them win those battles.

During the times of forgetting God, the temple priests preached feel-good religion.  The priests quit reading the Bible to the people when they visited the temple.  The Bible got lost in the shuffle and wasn’t read for years.  Oh the joy when they found the Book.  When Josiah became king, he commanded the priests to dust it off and read it again.  Oh.  The change was real.  The king and his people repented and enjoyed peace in their land and in their homes and hearts.  But when Josiah died, the people forgot God and went back to their old ways.

It makes me wonder.  What happens in our lives and homes when we don’t read the Bible?  When we put the Bible on the shelf to accumulate dust?  How long does it take for us to forget God’s commands and promises?  How long before we begin to ignore God’s calling and will for our lives?  How long before we no longer talk about God to our children and families?

What do we turn to during our times of trouble if we’re not turning to God and his Word?  What stumbling block is in our path if we don’t keep the path to God clear and uncluttered?  Who will hold us accountable when we start down the slippery slope?

How does it happen?  It’s not an overnight change.  It’s gradual.  A slow move to accepting.  Or thinking.  Or acting in ways you once thought repulsive.  A giving up.  A letting go of values.  Beliefs.  To accepting the viewpoint you once disapproved.  The gradual release of convictions.  Of letting inhibitions go.

How do we go back?  How do we return to our first love?  How do we get back on the road of redemption?

Oh God.  Forgive us for not faithfully reading and studying your Word.  The lifeline to you.  We’ve forgotten it and moved to thinking that being good is good enough.  But really.  The Good Book needs to be dusted off and placed in the center of our lives.

Angels Rejoice

I heard the news.  Two people recently made a life-changing decision.  That decision.  To follow Christ.  To turn their back on their sins.  To turn their back on themselves.  To turn their back on their old thoughts.  Desires.  Ambitions.  To place their faith, hope and trust in the God who created them.

They humbled themselves and bowed to the only God of the universe.  They bowed to their will.  Their ways.  They have turned themselves over to the one true God.  They have submitted their lives to God.

Their slate of sin has been erased.  Wiped clean.  Any wrong they have done has been removed as far from God as the sea is from the heavens.  Those sins have been forgotten by God.  Oh.  He’s that good.  Salvation is that good.

I imagine the peace these two people now feel.  The burden of sin they carried has been crushed by the weight of the cross that Jesus carried.  The charred blackness of their hearts has been made white as snow.  The weight on their shoulders has been removed.

Once they walked away from their sins, they walked through an open door straight to a new best friend.  God Almighty.  Now they have the opportunity to build a strong, close relationship with their Maker.  They are now learning how much God is on their side.  The one they once shunned is now the center of their life.  I pray they will continue to build that relationship with him.  He is fighting for them.  He is working for them.  He loves them.

They will learn that they still have free will.  Oh.  They can choose to sin.  There will be times of temptation.  Every day when they wake up, they will have to choose.  Will they follow God?  Will they follow their own will?  I pray that as the sun rises each day, they choose God.


There is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.  Luke 15:8


There have been many prayers sent up to heaven for these souls.  There have been tears.  Pleas to God.  Please save our loved one.  Oh.  God was willing.  He’s always willing and waiting.  The decision is in the hearts of each of us.  Will we give our lives to God or will we selfishly hold on to our will and our ways?  We each have a choice.

This news fills me with joy.  It reminds me that God is still bigger and better than all our worries and problems.  It tells me that God is still working in the hearts of men and women.  Teenagers and children.  God is not dead.  God is not done.  He is holding out on sending his son, Jesus, back to earth.  Just for this reason.  He wants all of us to be saved.  He wants everyone who is ever born to join him in heaven.  But we can only do that if we repent of our sins.  If we turn our lives over to him and let him guide us.

Some may think God is not relevant today.  Some may believe God is dead.  Or that he never existed.  Some people think that being good is good enough.  The fact that two more people have made the decision to follow God tells me God is very much alive.  God is still waiting for those who are not yet his followers.  God is still working in the hearts of those who need him.  God is a very patient God.  God is still in the saving business.

Angels in heaven rejoice when a sinner on earth makes the decision to become a Christian.  Heaven throws a party to celebrate new believers.  Has there been a heavenly party for you?  If no, it’s not too late.