I semi-retired when I was 70 and I now only work 5 days out of every 14 now. At long last I have been able to dedicate time, prayer and effort to following the desire He has placed in my heart, to put on paper (or a computer screen), the things that I have learned over the years about the wonderful God that I so poorly follow. The last two years has seen a radical increase in the number of posts that I have authored. Each morning, when I am not working, I ask God to give me another beam of His light and truth to share with others and it is amazing how He never fails to follow through on my request. Today is no different. And this is the scripture He has given me today.
Romans 8:38-39 NIV
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I don’t know if you are like me but performance based acceptance has been a reality in my life since I was a child. And of course, it continues throughout our education and when we enter the work force. Good performance produces good acceptance and good results. And I took pride in achieving some measure of success. By working with others I learned a lot about my own capabilities and what teamwork can achieve. But I also learned a number of other things along the way. What my strengths were and what my weaknesses were, my limitations and much more about others.
But performing in the work force is only part of the story, the lessons of life extend far beyond our work environment. When I fell in love with the girl of my dreams I entered into marriage and a whole new world of life lessons opened before me. Poorly equipped only barely scratches the surface. And then, just to make it interesting, we raised five children. That is what you call adding insult to injury. My wife and I laugh now, on how little we knew. Maybe laugh is not a good choice of words. There are also regrets, regrets on how we treated each other, regrets on how we raised our children, regrets on the choices we imposed on our children and each other.
I often think that our education system doesn’t even come close to preparing our youth for reality out in the real world. That of course is where family values and spiritual values come into play, which primarily is a responsibility of parents and hopefully the church that we belong to. In far too many cases though, that is where you have the blind leading the blind.
I knew nothing. I didn’t really have a handle on anything of substance. Through a series of events (God’s grace), I became a Christian and took upon myself the additional life lesson course of following Jesus. I wasn’t very good at doing that either. God showed me some wonderful things but I didn’t really get it, didn’t understand how it all works. Just so you know, this particular course never really ends.
And there was baggage, I’m not going to go into it but it was there. Things that I encountered as a youth, scars that weren’t acknowledged, things that needed healing. We think that we have it all taken care of but that isn’t true, hurt needs to be healed, it has to be healed in order to move forward. But I digress …..
We were heavily involved within the Church, regular attendance, home Bible studies, Sunday School teaching, outreach activities and the like. Many lessons to be learned there too.
Mistakes in judgement were made, many of them, about myself and also about those to whom I loved. It’s hard to come to terms with how often we and I in particular, let go and followed base instincts, be it related to anger, selfishness and a host of other goodies to lengthy to mention.
And yet, all along our dismal attempts to hold it all together, God sustained us so many many times. Some of the things that God did for us are simply astounding. We’re talking about back to the wall moments, life and death, last minute rescues, words of guidance that God gave me that I followed (which defied logic by the way), only to have totally unforeseen obstacles totally avoided.
I can’t adequately express to you how grateful I am that God in His mercy has been with us each step of the way. I can’t express how the wonder of what our Father in heaven asked Jesus to do to save us now means. I can’t adequately comprehend how Jesus would go through what He went through so that we could be the recipients of God’s UNEARNED love, here, now, yesterday, today and tomorrow. NOTHING can separate us from God’s love. NOTHING. NO THING. And I see the same loving God transform some of my brothers and sisters in the same wondrous ways and it is such a beautiful thing.
Two more scripture verses that you should never forget.
1 John 1:9 NIV “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Matthew 18:21-22 KJV “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.“
Remember this, God does not ask us to do what He does not do Himself!
I don’t fully comprehend how God can love us so much, but He does. I don’t fully comprehend how He can forgive us when we confess our sins, but He does. I don’t fully comprehend how God in His mercy looks not on our performance as the rule for acceptance but rather He asks us to do but one thing, to believe in His Son who He sent.
I lied, I think I do understand, because you can’t truly believe in Jesus, as being the Messiah, the only begotten Son of God, without being transformed into His image. He does it, not us, that’s the whole point.
And what does believing in Jesus mean? It means truly trying to follow Jesus day by day, even after we fail. Study His Word daily, spend time in prayer daily where the yearnings of your heart are laid at His feet. And, get up again after you fall down. He will guide you and teach you what you need to learn and do.
I also lied (lied could be the wrong word, let’s go with mislead) about just two more scriptures, actually there’s one more.
Philippians 3:12-14 NIV “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.“
God’s picture of His love is all about Jesus, always has been, always will be.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!