Isaiah 55:6-7 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Discovering and doing the will of God is the “only” way to have a consistent experience of His abundant life. I have but one simple decision every morning as I shake the sleep from my eyes. That decision is how I shall live my life today. Either I will let the world affect me or I will affect the world for God. There are thousands of alternative paths to follow if the world is my choice. But to choose Jesus there is only one. Today I will seek. Today I will find. Today I will call upon Him. Today God will have mercy. Today God will be God in my life. Today God will freely pardon. Today I will choose to glorify Him. Today I will be the person God has intended me to be. I will seek Him while He may be found. I will call upon Him while I still have breath. It may sound trite, but I say it again: today is the first day of the rest of my life.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Paul, writing to the Romans disturbs me. How do I know that God is causing the infinite and the totality of things to become good? War, pain, pandemic, unrest, in the large, and the weakness of my life, the small, become good? I live a life of gradual delegation to inactivity and frailty, how can these things become good? Ministry seems so far off. I struggle to be all that God wants of me. I must take the voice of Paul who faced terribleness and trust God to be in my imperfect world. I must love God and acknowledge his purpose. I must keep making one step at a time. I well understand the happenings of my life are to make me different. To make me better. I already have received the greatest miracle of all, which is eternal life. I will continually keep crying out to God knowing His Word is true. All things transformed into good. It is a miracle.
Micah 7:18-19 “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
The Bible of the Old Testament refers to people most of the time as transgressors or sinners. Sinners condemned. Sinners in need of pardon. Sinners estranged. Sinners in need of acceptance and love. Sinners in deficit. Sinners falling short. Sinners who were deserving of a penalty. Sinners afar off. Sinners separated from God. A people who are deeply troubled, without hope, without expectations, and without vibrancy. The perfect image of God’s most treasured creation was seen as adulterated, corrupted, and broken. Conversely, we hear God responding as one who would bring pardon. Pardon at the expense of Himself. Pardon exercised in love. Forgiveness is offered, no matter how terrible my attempts at life have been. And that special pardon includes the purposeful forgetfulness of our past. Undeserved blessedness.
Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
The electricity was out for a while this early morning. No coffee, no heat, no internet, and no TV. When it came back on I heard the wistful and melodious words of my wife, “Thank God.” Emotions pointed at the supplier of our power were not that good when all went black. But the moment it returned, attitudes changed. All was forgiven.
Why does God care so much as to forgive me for all the dumb decisions, willful acts, nurtured bad habits, and purposeful neglect? Why would the personified perfection of God desire to have such a flawed, imperfect person like me be a part of His family? Why would God want to call me “beloved”, “child”, or even “heir”? We are saved to save. WE ARE FORGIVEN TO FORGIVE. It is the greatest Godly act we can do. Forgiveness is love acting out. It is not keeping records of wrongs. Forgiveness is being kind when wronged. Forgiveness does not dishonor. Forgiveness is not self-seeking. It is love.
February 17: Psalm 51:1 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.”
It was a family decision to take the old 4WD International Scout up the mountain to cut a fresh Christmas tree. Up with seemingly hundreds of others, we pushed through the snow-covered roads to the designated place. We cut the tree and tied it to the roof and set off home. Then the right front wheel fell off! It seems all the nuts holding it on had become loose and finally, the last one gave up and we came to an abrupt stop. I needed help, I needed abundant mercy, and I needed at least four undamaged lug nuts. I tried to solicit other travelers on that road to give up one of these valuable restraining nuts. Finally, a mechanic stopped and simply encouraged me to take one nut off each of my other tires. What a concept!
In the early church, the saved encouraged others to show compassion, to daily inspire others to love one another and to forgive one another. By the way, if you have a spare lug nut, share it with one who needs it.
Matthew 6:23 “Jesus said. ‘Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself, each day has enough trouble of its own.’”
There is nothing wrong with planning for the future. Looking forward to a new experience, and planning a task list for today and for tomorrow are both good things. But there is a danger if we are worrying so much about a coming rainy day to miss the good weather. There are only two days to savor each week. Two days fill my heart with joy and expectation. The first of these days is tomorrow because it has not yet come and is filled with hope and anticipation. The second of these days is today because it is the only day we have to in. I will live in it by making every moment count and forgiving and moving on. All the rest of the days are already gone. There is nothing we can do but live in the grace and mercy of our Lord. The Lord is in my today and that is good enough.
Thought for January 23– Day 23 of the new year
Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Our times seem to be becoming ever more difficult. Cancel culture, perceived racism, homeless in the streets, and the destruction of past norms, all seem to point to a need for mercy and grace. We hear from all sides this is the “new normal.” Nevertheless, if this new way of seeing the world leaves out our dependence upon God, I want no part of it. Instead in our times of need, my reach must be much further than my grasp and my vision must be more than what I perceive. God is here and He is willing to hand out both lavishly and perfectly the love of mercy and grace. Today I am in need, so please forgive, and pour out your mercy and grace, as I do so for you. Renew in my heart the desire to seek God before any other solution.
Revelation 21:5 “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Revelation, the last book of the Bible, is difficult to understand. Visions of beasts, horses, fire, judgment, and images that are simply unimaginable. It is just weird. But then again, I am weird too. To the world my belief is weird. I am weird enough to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, survived in the wilderness 40 days, walked on water, healed the sick, raised a man from the dead, was hung on a cross, and rose from the dead, was and is God and now sits at the right hand of the Father. If I am weird, so be it. Join me in my weirdness. Perhaps, our stubborn defiance of the norm will make a difference in the world.
Colossians 3:9-10 “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
In California, winter snow is delegated to the high mountains. The stark contrast of white is seen from the valley and is a welcome sight knowing the coming summer will have enough water. Winter is the far edge of spring. At this point in my life, I too am at the far edge of my beginning. At this time of year, I listen to the rain rhythmically on my roof. The leaves have been raked, and all else has been put away for protection. In the summer we pray for rain. In winter we pray for sunshine.
Nevertheless, with winter comes a promise of spring. Spring is putting off the quiet for the new. I look forward to the spring. It is about pressing on to bigger and better things. I am not exaggerating when I say last year was tough. As I move on with my life, I often must stop and remember to cleanse my mind from the negative and fill it with the wonder, splendor, grace, and mercy that pours from the creator. Renewal in the knowledge of my image moving toward the image of Jesus.
Romans 6:4 “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
It seems like an eternity ago. A little creek outside Red Bluff, California became the assigned place where the church gathered that special day. My church had come to see, among a few others, a brash, loud, red-headed kid be baptized. It was a public display of my faith. The word baptized just means to be well-wetted. I was dunked for what seemed an eternity and up out of the water I came sputtering and coughing. I had forgotten to hold my nose. An outward sign of an inward change in my life. It was giving up on the past forever. It was cleansing of my soul. Clean for a new life, a life worth living. A life with an objective. A life with hope. A life with a goal. A new life.