Week Nine – blue plate special

Monday

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

“Mercy and Grace”

The theme of Isaiah 55 is the mercy and grace that God displays toward us.  “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will fairly pardon.”  (Isaiah 55:6-7).  God, the Creator of the universe, displays perfect grace toward His creation.  What is grace?  It’s unmerited favor.  It is favorable treatment that is not only not earned, but it’s not deserved.

Think of this, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).  We were dead in our sins positionally before God the Father.  He hates sin.  As the perfect judge, He cannot allow sin to go unpunished.  Yet in His perfect mercy, He sacrificed Jesus, the perfect Lamb and His only Son, for us while we were still wallowing in sin.  Contrast that with human mercy or more commonly, human judgment.  We tend to “write each other off” for minor repeat offenses.  If a person messes up more than once, the pervading thought tends to be “Why waste your time with him/her?”

But God is not like us.  Thank you Lord!  He doesn’t think like us at all.  His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  There is no comparison.  God loves the most wicked sinner.  Nothing you have done disqualifies you from experiencing His love.

Don’t let your past keep you from approaching God.  He desires for all sinners to forsake their evil ways and follow Christ.  Secondly, as a point of application, start seeing people as God sees them.  No person is better than another.  We were all dead in our transgressions apart from Christ.  Let us grant mercy and grace to one another.


Tuesday

“Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:55-58

“Victory in Christ”

In God’s perfect creation, prior to sin, death was NO BIG DEAL.  It was merely a door to walk through into the presence of our own creator.  Nothing could be more glorious.  But, what happened?  In a word – SIN.  Sin messed everything up.  Man decided that he wanted to direct his own way and be his own boss.  He wanted to fill the God-shaped void within himself with whatever he chose.  Pride prevented man from submitting to God.

The effect of this original sin has ravaged mankind.  It has changed everything.  Everyone, apart from Christ, fears death.  Why shouldn’t he?  Death is the unknown to the unbeliever.  He tries to pacify himself by claiming that it’s just the end – extinction.  But there’s that lingering doubt.  What’s out there after this life is over?

Our passage today gives great comfort to the Believer.  When Jesus died on that Cross on Calvary, He arose on the 3rd day.  He didn’t stay dead!  Paul’s words to us in Acts 13:30-31 say, “But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem.”  Jesus conquered death, the plague of mankind.  Believers have been justified by Christ’s sacrifice and therefore have been made right with God.

The Law shows us that we are all sinners – it is the power of the law.  Sin has altered our relationship with God – it is the sting of death.  But, that’s all changed through Christ.  We have victory!  Death, once again, is the door through which we enter the presence of our loving Creator.  Live life for God with passion.  He has taken care of your eternity.


Wednesday

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19

“Not a Man”

GOD IS NOT A MAN.  Obvious?  Then, why is man’s tendency to try to understand God from a human perspective?  Often, we look at our circumstances and try to “figure things out.”  You can’t do it.  Moreover, God doesn’t want or expect you to!

It says in Hosea 11: “For I am God, and not a man.” (Hosea 11:9).  He’s saying that we cannot predict what God will do.  The first problem is our credentials.  We were born into sin and from a physical standpoint are temporal beings.  God, on the other hand, is eternal.  His qualities are endless.  He is truth, purity, sinless, good, etc.  We can’t think like God, because we are sinful and don’t have His credentials (qualities).  We cannot innately have God’s perspective.

Secondly, God is love.  Our circumstances may seem adverse, but He has our best in mind.  We may not understand it.  But, our responsibility is to “die” to self.  We are to trust God and understand that “all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28).  You see, our responsibility is not to figure out what God is doing.  Our responsibility is to trust what He’s doing with our life.

But, remember this: God is knowable.  We have the ability to enter His presence in prayer through Jesus Christ.  We are called to “be holy as Jesus is holy.”  This occurs, by way of application, by spending time on your knees.  How do you strengthen your marriage or other friendships?  BY SPENDING TIME.  The great saints of the past and present spent a lot of time in prayer.  It didn’t allow them to think like God, but it allowed them to slowly, but surely gain God’s perspective.


Thursday

Who can discern his errors?  Forgive my hidden faults.  Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.  Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. Psalm 19:12-14

“Humility and Forgiveness”

We are prideful beings by nature.  We want our own way.  It is the curse of sin.  Through Jesus Christ, our souls have been made right before God.  We are justified by our faith in Jesus Christ.  However, the life of a Believer is not a bed of roses.

God orders our circumstances to “press us into wine,” as Oswald Chambers says.  In addition to God’s work in our lives, we still must deal with sin.  We live in a sinful world.  Our sin-nature has not disappeared.  Believers sin.  In order to continue to mature, we must repent.

Probably one of the biggest problems among Believers today is their attitude toward sin.  Many people seem to be comfortable with the fact that they sin and fall short.  The common thought is: “My sin is not that bad; everyone does it.”  This attitude is not consistent with the call to be holy.  We are living a compromise and God is not pleased.  Our works will be judged (1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10).  As Don Anderson says, each of us will review the computer printout of our lives as Believers with Jesus Himself.

This is a call to action!  Don’t be comfortable with your sin.  You cannot grow and mature in Christ if you do not remove these “barriers” between you and God.  The key is repentance.  As the Psalmist says in our passage today from Psalm 19: “Forgive my hidden faults, as well as my willful sin.”  Keep a clean slate!

How can you do this?  Each time you sin you must stop and pray for forgiveness.  Whether it’s an attitude, action or bad motive, stop and repent.  It may take some time at first, but God will bless you.

#Don’t remain comfortable with your sin!


Friday

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51: 10-12

“Restoration”

The setting of this Psalm of David is when the prophet Nathan confronted him about his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, another man’s wife.  There is a lot to learn from this entire passage, so let’s get into it!

David is referred to as “a man after my (God’s) own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).  This was not because David was sinless, but because of David’s attitude toward his sin.  When David was confronted by Nathan about THE SIN, he first of all didn’t deny it.  He clearly acknowledged his sin.  Secondly, he didn’t try to “qualify” his sin.  David didn’t ask, “It depends what the definition of adultery is!”  Next, he didn’t blame the sin on Bathsheba, stating that it was her fault in some way that he was tempted.  He also didn’t try to make her partially responsible for her husband’s death, which David arranged.

In short, David admitted his sin.  That fact is laudable, but if it stopped there, he would have fallen far short.  David knew that his sin had formed a barrier between him and God.  His spirit ached!  He sought renewal with God.  The way of renewal is repentance.

You see repentance is not just saying, “I’m sorry” to God.  True repentance is being truly sad that you have fallen short and impaired God’s work in your life.  Repentance requires a commitment to move in the opposite direction from your sin.  David wanted a clean heart.  He desired forgiveness.  He did not like being separated from God.  Equally important, David prayed for a steadfast spirit, that he would not again fall into the same sin.  This is far different than uttering a quick “I’m sorry” to God and then falling into the same sin the next time the chance presents itself.

The only path to experiencing the joy of your salvation is to “keep your slate clean.”  Admit your sin to God.  Truly repent.  Ask for a steadfast spirit to avoid sin and perseverance to stay the course until the end.  This is true RESTORATION.

#The secret of being thankful is learning to see everything from God’s perspective. SARAH YOUNG