God’s Grace Abounds

My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Psalm 62:7

If you think back to all the people in the Bible, I find that you notice, quite often, one very evident commonality.  People sin.  But of course we know this already, right?  We know that God created the world in the beginning, and “it was good.”  Which means He made it perfect.  But then man chose to do his own thing and eat from the tree God asked him not to.  Hence why we are all now sinful.  One thing that I think is very interesting to think about is that so often, in the Bible, where you see people, they go through “moments” in life.  These “moments” very from excitement for God, to anger with God, and even denial that God is even important enough to listen to.  I’m thinking upon the most evident case of this which is found in most of the Old Testament.  You guessed it, the Israelites,

and they are supposed to be the children of God.  We find time and time again that they tend to go through a cycle.  They go from dwelling in the presence of the Lord and following His ways to grumbling and complaining about their situation.  They ask for a new leader, so God wills it.  They get a leader who is horrible and oppresses them.  Then after a while they are like, “Oh wait, God you were right.”  (hmm, you think?)  They cry out to the Lord for deliverance, He then hears their cries and sends a judge who fights for them and delivers them from the oppressive king.  Then they thank the Lord and serve Him for a while, until they find something else they are missing out on, or they want, or they just doubt that God is who He says He is and they start the whole cycle over again.
When you look at the account of the Israelites (the chosen children of God), who does that remind you of?  This story feels like a mirror to me.  I feel like I am looking at my own heart straight through the pages of the Bible.  God is showing me that I too start doubting in God’s provision and timing.  I doubt His plans and His goodness.  I think I know a better way, and I grumble and complain and break myself over all the things I don’t have and all the things I wish I had.  But why?  Why do I struggle so much, and why can’t I seem to go for as little as a month dwelling in Jesus knowing that He will meet all my needs and more.  Knowing that He has me where I am for a reason, and that I don’t need the things I wish I had because I don’t have them.  If I was meant to have them, then I would.

 

Several weeks ago I was crying out to God telling Him that I just needed to hear His voice again.  I wanted Him to tell me something that I needed to hear because I felt so far from Him.  I had my Bible in front of me and the chapter Isaiah 43 popped into my head.  I don’t think I’ve ever read this chapter in Isaiah before, but it is my new favorite passage along with Psalm 91 (but that’s a different blog for another day).  Here you go, happy reading.  We’ll talk again when you’re done. (PS.  Don’t skip this one… it’s some good stuff.)

 

But now, this is what the Lord says—

   he who created you, Jacob,

   he who formed you, Israel:

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

   I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters,

   I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

   they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

   you will not be burned;

   the flames will not set you ablaze.

3 For I am the Lord your God,

   the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

I give Egypt for your ransom,

   Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.

4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,

   and because I love you,

I will give people in exchange for you,

   nations in exchange for your life.

5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;

   I will bring your children from the east

   and gather you from the west.

6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’

and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’

Bring my sons from afar

and my daughters from the ends of the earth—

7 everyone who is called by my name,

   whom I created for my glory,

   whom I formed and made.”

8 Lead out those who have eyes but are blind,

   who have ears but are deaf.

9 All the nations gather together

   and the peoples assemble.

Which of their gods foretold this

   and proclaimed to us the former things?

Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right,

   so that others may hear and say, “It is true.”

10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,

   “and my servant whom I have chosen,

so that you may know and believe me

   and understand that I am he.

Before me no god was formed,

   nor will there be one after me.

11 I, even I, am the Lord,

   and apart from me there is no savior.

12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—

   I, and not some foreign god among you.

You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.

13     Yes, and from ancient days I am he.

No one can deliver out of my hand.

   When I act, who can reverse it?”

God’s Mercy and Israel’s Unfaithfulness

14 This is what the Lord says—

   your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

“For your sake I will send to Babylon

   and bring down as fugitives all the Babylonians,[b]

   in the ships in which they took pride.

15 I am the Lord, your Holy One,

   Israel’s Creator, your King.”

16 This is what the Lord says—

   he who made a way through the sea,

   a path through the mighty waters,

17 who drew out the chariots and horses,

   the army and reinforcements together,

and they lay there, never to rise again,

   extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:

18 “Forget the former things;

   do not dwell on the past.

19 See, I am doing a new thing!

   Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness

   and streams in the wasteland.

20 The wild animals honor me,

   the jackals and the owls,

because I provide water in the wilderness

   and streams in the wasteland,

to give drink to my people, my chosen,

21     the people I formed for myself

   that they may proclaim my praise.

22 “Yet you have not called on me, Jacob,

   you have not wearied yourselves for[c] me, Israel.

23 You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings,

   nor honored me with your sacrifices.

I have not burdened you with grain offerings

   nor wearied you with demands for incense.

24 You have not bought any fragrant calamus for me,

   or lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices.

But you have burdened me with your sins

   and wearied me with your offenses.

25 “I, even I, am he who blots out

   your transgressions, for my own sake,

   and remembers your sins no more.

26 Review the past for me,

   let us argue the matter together;

   state the case for your innocence.

27 Your first father sinned;

   those I sent to teach you rebelled against me.

28 So I disgraced the dignitaries of your temple;

   I consigned Jacob to destruction[d]

   and Israel to scorn.

 

I hope you enjoyed that chapter as much as I did, and I pray that God spoke to you too through it as He did for me.  It gets me every time to think about the amazing love that our Father has for us.  No matter how terrible we are, His love for us is constant.  We don’t deserve it in the slightest, in fact, if we got what we desered, we would be living miserable lives void of any and all blessing, and we would be doomed for eternal damnation.  Regardless, of what we have done, God, in His love and mercy, loves us anyways.  In verses 1-2 he declares blessing over His people Israel (keep in mind, they were a terrible nation).  “Fear not, I have redeemed you and called you by name YOU ARE MINE!  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned and the flame shall not consume you.”  (emphasis by me)  I think it is important to notice that God declares some absolutes here.  WHEN you pass through the waters, WHEN you walk through the fire.  Because of our sinfulness, we are guaranteed consequences.  There will be “high waters” and “fires” in our lives.  These are sickness, abandonment, disaster, divorce, depression, loss of job, and the list could go on and on.  God does NOT say, live in me and your life will be perfect.  But He does combat the absolutes of trials with the absolutes of His grace.  “I WILL be with you, They SHALL NOT overwhelm you, You SHALL NOT be burned, The flames SHALL NOT consume you.”  I can do nothing but bow to our maker because that right there, is ALL Him.  There is no way that I can get myself out of the trials in my own life that I cause myself.  The stress and fear that seem to overwhelm me will shrivel at the sound of His name.  He is so good and so mighty.  He is God!

 

In verse 18-19 He declares, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness.”  I, in particular, am so prone to stressing myself out.  In fact, I stress myself out so much that I have developed serious medical complications in the process.  The anxiety from my past, and from the unknown of the future often are very crippling to me.  But in this passage, He declared, do not worry about the past.  Don’t worry about the things that have happened already.  Trust that I am here, I am good, and I am now changing you into something new.  You can’t see it, because there is a shroud of worry and doubt covering your eyes, but if you would just allow me to take that off of you eyes, you would see the newness that is already occurring.  

I just got this image in my mind of Azaria.  Sometimes I will take a blanket and drop it over her head.  Sometimes that blanket is very large, so she will try to take it off, but I will just see her struggling so much.  Then she gets so frustrated that she starts screaming at me, so I have to take it off for her because she just can’t get it.  This blanket to her is like the shroud of worry and fear that covers our eyes and head.  We struggle so much to get it off ourselves, but it is too large.  After a while of struggling (sometimes a LONG while,) we get so frustrated that we scream out to God, and he, in His grace and mercy, gently says, “Come here child, let me help you,” and He takes it off for us.

 

If you look at verses 22-25 God is speaking to the children of Israel and telling them that they were not faithful in bringing their offerings to the Lord or praying to His name.  They had been keeping the best for themselves and not giving themselves over to Him.  Iinstead, they had burdened Him with their sin and wearied Him with their iniquities.  BUT, He says that He is faithful anyways, and He blots out their transgressions for His own sake, and will not remember their sin.  Now, we can’t take this out of the context of the Bible.  

DISCLAIMER, This does NOT mean that we are now permitted to do whatever we want to.  This DOES NOT mean that if we do whatever we want to and don’t give our lives FULLY to Christ we will still be considered one of His children.  His gift is free, but it does not allow us to be immune to the law that he sets out.  We are still required to trust and obey.  We are still required to follow Him and repent from our sins (which means turn away from them).  But what this DOES mean is that for His children, He offers free, full forgiveness of any and all sin.  Then, His Spirit works on us to change our hearts to fully repent of the wrong we have done.

“His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

His power is freely given to us throughout weakness to now live by His statutes and follow Him wholeheartedly.  We are now given power to fully repent of our sins, fully walk away from that sin, and fully live holy and righteous lives in Him.  Not because of our own power, but because of His!

 

We are free to live our lives free of sin and connected to our Father by His power working in, around, and through us!  Hallelujah, Christ is good!    

     

Just the other day I had felt so bogged down with the weight of stress and fear over all the things I don’t have or I wish I had.  So in my creative and spur of the moment spirit, I decided to seize the moment and buy chalkboard paint.  Then I painted my wall and this wall is now my thankfulness board.  I am choosing now to live acknowledging my blessings and being thankful for them, rather than striving for what I don’t have. Satan YOU LOSE!

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