Thoughtful Thursday: Idle Idolatry

idle idolatry.jpg

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When it seems God is absent or far off, His answer and presence might be closer than we realize.

Scripture of the Day:

Exodus 32:4-6

“He accepted the gold from them, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molten calf. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt. 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it, and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow will be a feast to the LORD. 6 So they got up early on the next day and offered up burnt offerings and brought peace offerings, and the people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.”

Moses was missing in action. Gone too long on a mission by God, or so the Israelites felt. Forty days in the presence of God, thunder on the mountain, the God who parted the Red Sea – and the people asked for another god.

When the cat’s away the mice will play. Idle lives focused on their entertainment rather than on pleasing God was the stumbling block that began their campaign of idolatry. Coupled with impatience, the people of God ached to fill their emptiness with something greater. They did not want to have to wait. Their solution seemed religious enough – they were going to worship, after all. Sure, it was a “god” that was handmade by Aaron their leader from the jewelry they had worn just a few minutes earlier, but it gave them purpose and filled the empty spot in their souls that cried out to worship the living God.

What a sad account. Not just because God’s people accepted a counterfeit for their God who had just rescued them, but also because a man of God who was their leader – enabled them. Aaron was the one who would hold Moses’ hands up to lead Israel to victory. He was the very voice of Moses when Moses felt too fearful to speak. But when Moses was absent, Aaron quickly turned away from God and gave the people what they wanted – even though it would ultimately lead to many of their deaths.

In the times when it seems God is absent or far off, His answer and presence might be closer than we realize. The Israelites did not want to be disciplined and wait. They wanted to play. God saw what they were doing, anyway.

We are not unlike the Israelites. Busy, distracted, absorbed in modern technology, we have many options for idle time spend with modern idols. At the moment of our compromise, in His mercy, God shows us our sin so we will be freed from our idolatry and come back to Him. Even though idols can have a strong appeal, God’s grace is greater than our weakness and He longs to set us free.

Our response in the moment of our sin being exposed makes all the difference. Aaron said a calf “popped” out of the fire when his sin was revealed. Wow. Add a big fat lie on top of the grievous sin is not the way to forgiveness. When the scales fall off our eyes and we become aware of our sin, concealing our sins will not hide them from the eyes of God or heal our waywardness. God welcomes us to lay down our idols at His feet and to worship the only One of worth – Himself.

No substitute could ever replace you, God. Keep us from useless idols and keep our hearts near to You.

Denise Pass, Worship Leader/Songwriter/Artist/Author

 

Truthful Tuesday: The Relic’s Power

relic or good luck charm

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Trusting in religion or religious relics are not a substitute for a vibrant relationship with God. If we want God to go with us, we have to go with God.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Samuel 4:3

“When the army came back to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why did the LORD let us be defeated today by the Philistines? Let’s take with us the ark of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh. When it is with us, it will save us from the hand of our enemies.”

Back in middle school I went through a very challenging time.  Sexual abuse, multiple divorces and moves rocked my home and I was looking for answers. Some friends introduced me to the occult, including games like “bloody Mary” and levitation games while another gave me a picture of a European-looking Jesus in a frame.

I began to experience supernatural things that were not Holy and realized I was getting into trouble. I did not know God, but I wanted to. As I grasped the picture of Jesus, I asked Him to protect me.  Somehow I felt safer with the picture, but looking back now I know the picture did not do anything – it was a tender heart crying out to God that made the difference.

It makes me sad when I see people clutching icons or relics thinking that they bring life or comfort. They can serve as a symbol reminding us of God, but they can also become an obstacle and idolatry.  They cannot save.  Only God can.

The Israelites were befuddled that the LORD had allowed them to fail. They were on the right “team”.  How could God forsake them?  Or was it the other way around?

The slow creep to religiosity is barely perceivable, but it happens, nonetheless. Slowly we begin to get comfortable and instead of crying out we just expect God to favor us because we are the King’s kids. Trouble is, the kids begin to compromise and forget that they need to be under His Lordship to receive the promised blessings.

Instead of crying out to God, the Israelites thought the ark could save them. The presence of the LORD was there, and they wanted that insurance. They reduced the presence of God to a good luck charm. The end result was their devastation. God cannot be manipulated and our disobedience does not require Him to still “pull through” for us. In His mercy, He will restore and forgive, but it is after we have learned what we needed to from our mistakes. As a loving Father, He could do nothing less.

Though sorrow may last for a night, joy will come in the morning. If we can somehow get into our hearts that the amazing unconditional love of God longs to comfort us, longs for us to be in relationship with Him. Substitutes just will not satisfy. Though part of His care is allowing us to learn from our errors, the redemptive plan of God is the other side.  He will hear and answer when we cry out and He beautifully weaves together every aspect of our lives with Himself.

God wants to save us, but He longingly draws us to Himself; not a religion, not a picture or a statue – just Himself – and that is all we need.

Lord, thank You for Your mercy in opening my eyes to understand my sinful condition and need of You.  How can it be? Please help us to run to You and no one or nothing on this earth.  

#SeeingDeep #DenisePassMusic

Truthful Tuesday: Prevention or Provision of Blessing

Blessings prevented

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The prevention of blessing in our lives is either caused by God’s sovereign grace or our disobedience.

Scriptures:

Genesis 16:2 ESV

“And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.”

Genesis 17:1-2

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”

Walking in the Spirit means sometimes God prevents or leads in a way that does not make sense.  We want the typical blessings of life and do not understand that God’s timing is best.  So it was with Sarah.  God made a promise and she was going to make sure it happened.  Whenever we have to strive to produce God’s promise, we are probably missing the leading of the LORD.

I do not blame Sarah.  I’ve done the same thing myself.  She did not want something wrong, she just went about it the wrong way.  Compromise is like that.  It happens when we follow our own inclinations instead of waiting on the LORD and trusting His timing.

What did God want Abraham and Sarah to do?  To walk before Him blamelessly.  What is intriguing about this requirement is the word “that” which follows God’s command. Waiting on God is all about relationship.  He makes a covenant with us and WE can prevent God’s blessings in our lives when we simply do not walk with Him in obedience.

We can be like a toddler, wanting what we want and all the while God is saying, “come and fellowship with me.  I want to bless you.”  Those who would seek Him would receive the blessings and the greatest of blessings which is Himself.  Those who would seek the blessings miss out entirely on the purpose of the covenant.

If we break His covenant He is still faithful, but we might not see the promise fulfilled or see it massively delayed.

Remember the Israelites in the desert?  That trip should have taken eleven days, but instead it took forty years.  BUMMER.

Even if the journey becomes difficult, walking in the Spirit and trusting in God’s plan and timing is far better than veering off course.  God might prevent us from something, but He is always leading us to another.

Obtaining blessing apart from God’s perfect will feels empty, but the peace of Christ that comes from abiding in God and walking in His ways is unsurpassed to any blessing we were seeking in the first place.

Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness, trustworthiness and promises.  Help us to wait upon You, knowing Your plans and ways are perfect.

Truthful Tuesday: Who’s to Blame?

Pointing Fingers

Pointing Fingers — Image by © Images.com/Corbis

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When one falls, we all do.

Scripture:

Joshua 7:1, 11-12

But the Israelites disobeyed the command about the city’s riches. Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, stole some of the riches. The LORD was furious with the Israelites. 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenantal commandment! They have taken some of the riches; they have stolen them and deceitfully put them among their own possessions. 12 The Israelites are unable to stand before their enemies; they retreat because they have become subject to annihilation. I will no longer be with you, unless you destroy what has contaminated you.”

But.  I hate that word.  It usually precedes something you don’t want to hear.  Before the “but” word is typically something encouraging to set you up for the plunge you are about to take.  I gotta say it … BUT if it were not for the buts we would probably have many lessons unlearned.

We all want to hear a fairy tale ending for someone who has suffered.  The Israelites had just defeated Jericho.  We don’t want to hear that they are now about to be annihilated because one person stole what was meant to be destroyed.  Instead of celebrating victory, 36 innocent men died because one of the Israelites just had to disobey.

What is difficult for me to swallow in the above passage is the plural on the people group Israelites.  One person is named to have sinned greatly before God, but they all take the rap for it.

At first God’s ire seems unjust, but if we consider the family unit, when just one member transgresses, the whole family is affected.  People question how the family could allow such an action.  So it is with the body of Christ.

Sometimes tragedy awakens us to realize we might have sin in our camp.  We can oversimplify and assume that any difficulty was brought about by sin, BUT in reality, whether the root cause is sin or not, there is always a lesson within that has the potential to draw us nearer to God.

Who is right and who is wrong does not really matter.  Finding someone to blame does not necessarily fix the problem, either.

If we are all the body, then when one part of the body of Christ is found in sin we should not consider ourselves better, but surround that person and count ourselves in their number until we right the wrong.

Ultimately, the discovery of sin is devastating, BUT it can produce the beautiful fruit of repentance if we humble ourselves and let it.  Like Moses who offered to bear the blame of the sin of his people, may God help us to bear one another’s weaknesses and point one another to Christ.

Lord, help us to yield to You when we want to run the other way because of someone else’s or our own shame.  May we discover the joy of obedience and help others around us to do the same.

Truthful Tuesday: Representing the Invisible God

representing-god

Inspirational Thought of the day:

God’s transforming truth makes us truth bearers.

Scripture:

Joshua 2:19-20

“Anyone who leaves your house will be responsible for his own death–we are innocent in that case! But if anyone with you in the house is harmed, we will be responsible. 20 If you should report what we’ve been up to, we are not bound by this oath you made us swear.”

Truth is so very sweet to the soul.  Words like integrity, honesty, and responsibility smack of a valor from another era, but are just as much required of the child of God as they always were.

On the verge of imminent attack from Israel, Rahab took a risk.  She trusted in the spies from Israel and betrayed her own country in so doing.  This shrewd maneuver spared her family and ultimately her son, Boaz, who was in the lineage of the geneology of Christ.  God’s sovereignty always trumps all of man’s plans.

It is amazing to consider that she would trust these strangers, who were coming to destroy her people.  Why would they spare a prostitute?  What made her place her faith in them, her enemy?

Seeing God’s activity on the Israelites behalf was a testimony to Rahab.  If the God of this universe would part the Red Sea for His people, she wanted to be counted as one of them.  If a Holy God would do such things for His people, they must bear character worthy of such favor.

God’s mercy on Rahab and His people is such an example of the sweet grace of God, who had compassion on us, as well.  He could have destroyed us, yet chose to include us in His family.  With such mercy, we, too, are ambassadors of this grace so given.

As Christians, we stood before Truth incarnate and He judged us as innocent.  Not because we were guiltless, but because His grace was greater.  So often we forget this precious truth and do not bear the character of the One who redeemed us.

Promises are often unkept, sins repeated and grace often abused.  We lie to one another. We who have been extended such grace should not participate in or tolerate glossing over realities with half truths and schmoozing, which should be far from the people of God.

The Red rope hung from her window is reminiscent of the red painted over the Israelite’s door frames during the Passover, symbolic of the blood that covers us, too.  Our salvation has the potential to cover those in our household, as well, if we walk in the grace and truth God imparted to us.

Oh God, may Your involvement in our lives be obvious to those around us!  Help us to never forget the great salvation that You have provided and to represent you well, all for Your glory.

Mundane Monday: A Watchman’s Joy

Ezekiel 4:4-6

“Also for your part lie on your left side and place the iniquity of the house of Israel on it. For the number of days you lie on your side you will bear their iniquity. 5 I have determined that the number of the years of their iniquity are to be the number of days for you–390 days. So bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. 6 When you have completed these days, then lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah 40 days–I have assigned one day for each year.”

Colossians 3:13

“Bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.”

Galatians 6:2

“Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Matthew 18:33

“Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”

This image of Ezekiel, a watchman for Israel, lying on his left side for 390 days then on his right side for 40 additional days, eating exactly 8 ounces of food each day is tortuous.  Even moreso when we consider that he did not deserve such treatment.  It does not make sense to us, but the purposes of God are higher than our own.

We do not like to be inconvenienced in today’s culture.  Our flesh recoils at the idea of suffering for our own actions and the ensuing consequences, but to do so for someone else?  Not something eagerly desired.  Even a child will cry out “not fair” or “it was not my fault” when blamed for an action he did not commit.  This makes sense to us – no one should have to receive unfair judgment.  Still God’s righteous laws demand payment for our unrighteousness.

Ezekiel was a watchman appointed by God Almighty.  He was a covering for the Israelites.  The blood was on his head if he did not warn them, and by suffering symbolically, he, more than anyone, would have a zeal to warn His fellow people after catching a glimpse of what was to come.

This heart for God’s people and for the lost sheep is the very heart of Christ, who willingly chose to bear the iniquity of those who were unable to bear it themselves.  In fact, it was for the “joy” set before Him that He endured the cross.  Wow. Jesus had an unspeakable joy that his actions would deliver the entire world from the grip of sin and the sting of death.

At the height of suffering I have lamented for self, miserable that I have had to bear consequences for another’s actions, but Christ thought of us.  He chose rejection and suffering – I did not.  This revelation reveals the selflessness of Christ and our need to follow in His steps – serving others and considering them above ourselves.  Humbling and freeing at the same time.  We cannot accomplish this on our own, but we can ask God to open our eyes and to work in our stubborn hearts.

He is still calling servants today to be watchmen for His people.   It might be uncomfortable or inconvenient – forcing us to lay down our idol of comfort, but like Ezekiel, God needs humble servants willing to roll up their sleeves and bear iniquities on their knees for others still today.  No, we cannot wipe away the sins of others, but we can stand in the gap, pray and warn people of the devastation of sin.  When the sting of sin’s aftermath and its stigma is fresh in someone’s life, we can stand with them and guide them to God’s Word and the faithful forgiveness and love of Jesus.

Encouragement in the face of a fallen world might be the very catalyst to turn one from repeating the same sin or serve as an example for another to abstain from walking that path of sin at all.  The voice of truth might not be welcome today when absolute truth seems nonexistent, but more than ever the world needs to hear this voice of God’s people, uniting to be watchmen for the glory of God.  The temporary cost might be more than we want to pay, but the rewards are eternal.

Lord, forgive us for being lulled into complacency.  Help us to care for those around us as you do and to be faithful in the calling of watchmen for You.

Weapons of Warfare

Photo Credits: covenantpromises.org

Photo Credits:
covenantpromises.org

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

“For though we live as human beingswe do not wage war according to human standards4 for the weapons of our warfare are not human weaponsbut are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds.  We tear down arguments  5 and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.”

2 Timothy 2:23-25

But reject foolish and ignorant controversies, because you know they breed infighting.  24 And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient,  25 correcting opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth.

2 Corinthians 10:4

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”

Isaiah 54:17

“No weapon forged to be used against you will succeed; you will refute everyone who tries to accuse you. This is what the LORD will do for his servants–I will vindicate them,” says the LORD.”

It is difficult to live in this body of flesh and live for the LORD.  Fatigue and worldliness creep in easily if we are not watchful. Sometimes I can be lulled into a false perspective that being Christian is to be “nice” and flexible, tolerant of everyone and everything.  I can become disillusioned when I think salvation is equated to being loved by all and living a trouble-free life.

While we are called to love everyone, that does not mean we should expect reciprocation.  It also does not mean that we ought to condone sinful lifestyles or give in to the philosophies of this world.  Paul, who had previously zealously persecuted Christians, was a fighter.  He knew that to be faithful to God meant to be vigilant with our thoughts, faithful to seek God and spread His word.  He recognized that this Christian walk is a battle and he armed himself for the task at hand.

But we all do not have personalities like Paul.  I confess that I am naturally a shy person and a peacemaker.  I would rather avoid conflict, but sometimes it is necessary.  On one hand, I will not seek it out and waste energy on controversial arguments, but on the other hand, I want to be ready at all times to give an answer when someone is truly seeking.

Timothy strikes me as a more gentle soul, wanting to shepherd those around him, but equally as faithful to disseminate the word of God.  I love his heart to keep what really matters in perspective – winning one precious soul with gentle correction. It wasn’t about being right, but about caring for the other person enough to be unpopular with them while the truth was lovingly shared.

We have all perhaps seen hostile arguments over faith and even tearing down of fellow believers because their style or personality was different.  We might have even done so ourselves.  These are not the weapons we are to use as believers. Pride and vanity can cloud our view and cause us to see things from a merely human point-of-view, but love can clear the fog.  Not the world’s definition of love, but God’s Agape, unconditional love, which speaks the truth completely in love.

Boldness from God consumes me and causes me to see my need of God and to fulfill the calling He has on my life.  I just want to be faithful.  Sometimes we can be about the work of God and suddenly find ourselves under attack.  (Which, by the way, should not surprise us, but being that my short term memory is lessened a great deal, I am surprised every time).

Even fellow believers can nip at our heels and judge the work we are doing in the LORD.  What weapons should be use in our arsenal?  Prayer.  Forgiveness.  Love.  When persecution or judgments arise, they are opportunities to walk after the Spirit and not the flesh; to cry out to God, not man; to read His Word and apply it in our lives.

The stumbling blocks of fear and self-preservation can inhibit us from using the weapons God prescribes for use in spiritual battle and from trusting in God to fight for us.  He is our Deliverer and able to accomplish far more than we ever could with our human tools.  His weapons are not of this world and the battles we face are not, either.

Lord, thank you for being our Defender.  Help us to recognize that every we battle we face in this life is a spiritual encounter, not a physical, fleshly one.  You have overcome all!  Help us to use the weapons You have given us, that many will be saved and healed.

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

Photo Credits: halepringle.com

Photo Credits:
halepringle.com

Exodus 13:9

It will be a sign for you on your hand and a memorial on your forehead, so that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth, for with a mighty hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. 17 When Pharaoh released the people, God did not lead them by the way to the land of the Philistines, although that was nearby, for God said, “Lest the people change their minds and return to Egypt when they experience war.”

Exodus 14:4

“I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them. I will gain honor because of Pharaoh and because of all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” So this is what they did.

Exodus 16:3-4

The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this desert to kill this whole assembly with hunger!” 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people will go out and gather the amount for each day, so that I may test them. Will they walk in my law or not?

With a mighty hand God delivered His people, yet three days after many miracles, including parting a sea, granting favor to the Israelites so they plundered their enemies and prophesying and fulfilling 10 plagues, they doubted God.  They replaced the faith they had learned to have in God quickly with fear and doubted God’s goodness and character.

God’s people did not understand His purposes and looked at their circumstances of discomfort and misinterpreted them.  A good God would never have them wonder if God would faithfully provide, would he?  Why would He test them?  Because He knew their tendency was toward the superficial.  They wanted to be provided for, but did not expect that a relationship with God would mean they would have to go without to make them see their need of Him.

God knew them and their tendencies to go astray, but they were not acquainted with God’s nature.  We often displace our own character flaws on others, but God has none.  The LORD wanted them to know Him.  He wanted even their enemies, the Egyptians, to know Him.  He wanted them to learn to walk faithfully with Him.

The Israelites had forgotten their purpose.  The main thing for them became their happiness.  They became self-focused and disillusioned when trials came.  They began to think that the grass was greener on the other side, but forgot that the other side was slavery.  Suddenly the “feast” they used to eat while there was embellished to be something they missed.

We might think this happened only in Old Testament times, or with an unintelligent people who were ignorant of God’s plan, but we, too, are easily distracted and forget what we have been saved from.  We forget our purpose, our mission.

We become enchanted by the world or begin to be lulled into thinking this world system and the here and now are the most important.  Eternity hangs in the balance for all those around us, yet we are often preoccupied with worries of this world and distracted with trivial things.

The Israelites thought God’s deliverance was all about them.  They focused on their freedom or on the comforts they wanted. God’s purposes always run far deeper than ours.  He chose us and wants to use us for His glory.  He loves the world and does not want any to perish.  God help us to keep the main thing the main thing . . . knowing Jesus and making Him known.

Lord, help us to remember daily Your promises and to fulfill the mission You have called us to.  Help us to keep You at the center of our lives and your salvation as the main purpose of our lives.

The Purpose and Fruit from Testing

Photo Credits: gardenofpraise.com

Photo Credits:
gardenofpraise.com

Exodus 9: 1-7; 11

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Release my people that they may serve me! 2 For if you refuse to release them and continue holding them, 3 then the hand of the Lord will surely bring a very terrible plague on your livestock in the field, on the horses, the donkeys, the camelsthe herds, and the flocks. 4 But the Lord will distinguish between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, and nothing will die of all that the Israelites have. 5 The Lord set an appointed time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this in the land.” And the Lord did this on the next day; all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but of the Israeliteslivestock not one died. 7 Pharaoh sent representatives to investigate, and indeed, not even one of the livestock of Israel had died. But Pharaoh’s heart remained hardand he did not release the people. 11 The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for boils were on the magicians and on all the Egyptians.

Psalm 66:11-13

“11 You allowed men to ride over our heads; we passed through fire and water, but you brought us out into a wide open place. 12 You allowed men to ride over our heads; we passed through fire and water, but you brought us out into a wide open place. 13 I will enter your temple with burnt sacrifices; I will fulfill the vows I made to you.”

Throughout time, the story of God’s mighty deliverance of His people from the Egyptians has captivated many.  The thing we often forget though, is that deliverance costs.  The Israelites suffered along with the Egyptians for the first few plagues and thereafter from the resentment the Egyptians poured out on them as retribution for their own judgment.

The rain falls on the good and bad, and the righteous and unrighteous alike will be tested – with one key difference.  The testing by God on one of His children has the potential to yield a bountiful harvest and has eternal purposes.  For the unsaved, God is hoping the testing will cause them to turn toward Him, but often testing yields punishment and exasperation for an unbeliever who does not understand the heart of God.

For those who fear the LORD, there is protection and a purpose in all hardship endured under the sun.  It makes me smile to consider that the magicians, who were so smug at being able to duplicate God’s miracles initially, then were suddenly covered in boils and recognizing the finger of God.  Not enough to repent and recognize their need for salvation, but humbled, nonetheless, in the presence of a Holy God.

God will be glorified in our moments of testing and of victory.  Knowing that nothing is in vain in Jesus gives encouragement when the testing seems lengthy.  He is at work.  Even when it seems like the enemy is advancing, God knows the end.

God is so good in all of His purposes.  He longs to bring us to a place of abundance, but not if our character is not prepared first.  Of far greater worth is our heart than our comfort, even if it means we suffer for a little while.  In due time, we will reap a harvest, and it will be beautiful.

Lord, thank you for patiently loving us and carrying us through life’s adversities and triumphs.  We need, You, Lord.  Help us to not resist testing but embrace the lessons learned and submit our souls to You in the process.

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Judgment and Compassion – A Perfect Combo

Photo Credits: james-mcwilliams.co

Photo Credits:
james-mcwilliams.co

Exodus 9:19, 26, 29-30

So now, send instructions to gather your livestock and all your possessions in the fields to a safe place. Every person or animal caught in the field and not brought into the house–the hail will come down on them, and they will die!”‘”  26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived, was there no hail. 29 Moses said to him, “When I leave the city I will spread my hands to the LORD, the thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth belongs to the LORD. 30 But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the LORD God.”

What a merciful God we serve!  In this passage, we see God’s deliverance of His people as well as His rebuke of the Egyptians, who held the Israelites captive.  What is astounding to me was the mercy that God showed even the rebellious. This is such an encouragement to me, because ultimately, God showed this same mercy to us, who were His enemies. What humility and compassion.  He is not willing that any should perish.  Right in the middle of demonstrating His power to the lost, He warns them to protect themselves from His judgment!

Even amongst the unbelievers, the Bible says that the “ones who feared God were protected.  God is the God of second chances.  He is long suffering and administers discipline with a heart of love.  God’s people were also protected.  God was demonstrating that He differentiates between believers and unbelievers, but He also extends His hand of mercy that maybe some unbelievers will also see His goodness and repent.

God did not judge to condemn, but to wake us up to our folly.  The motivation of His blessing is an attempt to encourage us toward righteousness, not to alienate us.

We may not like judgment or discipline, but they are necessary to uphold righteousness.  Praise God that He always has a purpose in His judgment and that He has a Holy standard.  Praise Him that His love is unconditional and he offers grace mingled with His discipline. Perfect parenting from our perfect heavenly Father.

Lord, thank You for Your grace.  Thank You for Your correction.  Help us to walk with You and fear Your Holy Name.