Monday, January 27, 2014

Our/OUR Past: A Stepping Stone or Quicksand

Understandably some parts of the Bible are more engaging than others. Stories and the exploits of others tend to peak our interest and hold our attention more than unending lists of do's and don'ts.  But these list when rightly understood reveal a rich and complex spiritual heritage which each believer can claim as his/her own. Psalms. Proverbs, The Prophets and even the historical books all  find their beginnings in the understanding of an agreement between God and His people.
Too many times we focus on our past instead of OUR past which God specifically orchestrated in order to present the world with a Savior which it so desperately needed.
Maybe a few short years ago (our past) you found yourself in an uneviable or even embarrassing circumstance(quicksand). But a few thousand years ago (OUR past) God was putting together a plan with you in mind (stepping stone). Maybe just yesterday (our past) you did or said something which weighs heavily in your spirit today (quicksand). The plan God put into motion (OUR past) and fulfilled in Christ allows us to move past those failures embrace his already promised forgiveness, turn our attention towards Him and do things differently( stepping stone).
In our Sunday service we often take questions by either text or sometimes a person will just ask during service. This past weekend this was one of the questions asked:
What if I don't think God will ever forgive me?
Well for one, it really doesn't matter what we think about God in this context. God doesn't act based on our opinions or (usually) feelings. He is rock solid in His word and He says we are forgiven in Christ. Period.Stepping Stone
The human problem still exists however. How we feel usually dictates our actions. Usually these feelings about God are guilty consciences because we have wronged a person. If that person can't or won't forgive us then surely God won't either. Or if I can't forgive then God won't forgive me. Either way, we make God in our fallen image, which is incapable of forgiving, or being forgiven on our own. Quicksand.
The Bible is God's gift to a fallen world in dire need of answers. Even those hard to understand books are part of these answers. The Bible shows humanity in fallen and broken state. The Bible also shows the perfect grace, mercy and yes, justice of God. If there is a time when you just can't think God would forgive you then read these words from God found in the book of Numbers, after the Israelites rebelled time and time again.
20 So the LORD said, "I have pardoned them according to your word;
21 but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD.
22 "Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice,
23 shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it. Numbers 14.
After they refused to go into the promised land, God still pardoned. Moses interceded as does Christ for us. And while this pardon didn't gain them entrance to the promised land, God explicitly stated they were pardoned. I bet those people didn't feel too forgiven!
Which brings us to our closing point: Earthly consequences don't reflect heavenly forgiveness. We live in a world governed by laws, which is good! Imagine life where your neighbor could ransack your house at will. Break the law and there is a price to pay. Courts and our justice system usually see to this.
But in the Kingdom of God, He is the judge, the prosecution, the defence, the jury. We are the accused, but that guilty verdict was placed upon Christ on our behalf. How do we know this? The Bible. Our spiritual history (OUR past) shows the plan of God and how He never gave up on humanity, even when humanity had given up on itself (our past). It's a solid truth that can allow us to stand safely (stepping stone) and securely in His grace. The other choice is to focus on how bad we messed up and sink (quicksand).

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