When God awakens us to our sin, we shouldn’t despair

Yes, our sin hinders our relationship with God, but we shouldn’t despair – we shouldn’t feel hopeless. In the beginning of Jonah 2:4, we learn that Jonah feels as if he has been…

“‘…driven away from [God’s] sight;’”

(Jon 2:4a)

The word Jonah uses for “driven” carries the idea of being forced out, to be forced away from. It’s what I do to our dog when he comes in the kitchen while I’m preparing food. I drive him out of the kitchen back to his bed.

As Jonah is sinking down to his watery grave, Jonah felt as if he was forced out of God’s sight. But even though Jonah felt that way, he didn’t despair. In the remainder of verse 4, he says,

“yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’”

(Jon 2:4b)

The reason Jonah didn’t despair, the reason Jonah wasn’t hopeless, even though he felt like he had been driven from the Lord, was because he knew the Lord was a God of loyal love. Because God is a God of loyal love, we can turn back to the Lord through repentance.

The same is true for us. While our sin hinders our relationship with God, we can always turn to Him because He is a God of loyal love. You haven’t messed up so big that you are driven from God’s sight forever. You can repair your relationship by repenting. That’s exactly what we should do when we discover we have sinned against God.

When God awakens us to our sin, we should repent, turning back to the Lord.

We should repent, turning back to the Lord even though we might feel as if we have been driven from God’s presence because God loves us and wants what’s best for us.

Instead of trusting in a new year, trust in the Lord.

“Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!” (Psalm 4:1)

Today marks the beginning of 2021. For many of us, we are hoping it is a better year than 2020. A vaccine promises relief from the Corona Virus, a return to work, activity, and visiting with family and friends. A new year marks a new beginning, new resolutions, and new goals.

While 2021 offers us a new start, we must not put our hope in the turn of a calendar page. Though it is January 1, 2021, a new year, it is just another day. Another day with its own successes and problems. Distress, anxiety, and all our problems haven’t disappeared because the date turned over.

Instead of trusting in a new year for relief, trust in the One who can and does provide relief. Place your trust in the Lord. The God of the universe. The One who pours His immeasurable grace out on us and who answers our prayers.

Instead of trusting in a new year, trust in the Lord.

What is God’s purpose in allowing us to suffer and face difficulties?

“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” (2 Cor 1:9)

Why doesn’t God take the pain away? Why doesn’t He free us from all difficulties? Is it because we don’t have enough faith? Some would want you to believe your difficulties are correlated with your lack of faith, but that is not the biblical answer.

Paul had faith. He worked for the Lord tirelessly, traveling around the known world at the time preaching the gospel. He, however, was ridiculed, arrested, beaten, and left for dead. He experienced difficulty not in one city but in several. In the verse preceding the above Paul relays to the Corinthians that he was “so utterly burdened beyond [his] strength that [he] despaired of life itself.” (2 Cor 1:8).

What was God’s purpose in allowing Paul to suffer? What is God’s purpose in allowing us to suffer and face difficulties?

Deep down we believe we can do life on our own. That we are capable of handling anything that comes at us. Our culture — the books we read and the movies we watch — drill that idea into our heads. We are told we can be like Mike. No mountain is to high for us to climb. No task to difficult. That we need only to pull up our boot straps and get to work. We are the master of our own ship. We can sail that ship wherever we want in our own strength and ingenuity.

While these mantras are popular, they aren’t true. Life doesn’t work that way. Most all of us will never play like Mike. There will be mountains too high to climb and tasks too difficult for us to do. While we might be able to sail some places in our ship, we can’t sail around the world. Sometimes our boot straps break!

What is God’s purpose in allowing us to suffer and face difficulties? It is so we might rely on God and not ourselves. God is all-powerful, all-capable, all-sovereign. There is nothing too much for God. We must depend on Him to accomplish what we can’t. To help us with our tasks. To use us to accomplish our mission and purpose in the world to make disciple-making disciples for His glory.

When we live in prayerful dependence on the Lord, we experience joy, meaning, and purpose.

God is not a God of confusion

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” (1 Cor 14:33a)

Indeed our God is not a God of confusion. He desires His people have order and understanding. God’s desire is one reason we have His Word. It provides us understanding as well as it helps us know how we are to operate so that there is order.

As Paul begins to bring his letter to the Corinthians to a close, he deals with order in the church. He specifically highlights prophecy over tongues because prophecy provides understanding whereas tongues has a high potential to confuse.

When the church gathers together, understanding and order should be at the top of the list. We are not gathering together to make much of ourselves, rather we gather to make much of Jesus. Nor do we gather to confuse one another and hinder outsiders from understanding the gospel. Instead, we are to teach, encourage, reprove, and rebuke with God’s Word. In other words, we are to build one another up in the Lord. Disorder and confusion do not lead to building up of the body of Christ nor does it lead others to an understanding of the gospel and salvation. In most instances, disorder and confusion leads to stagnation and even decline.

May we be a church that seeks to build one another up in the Lord by intelligently speaking the Word of the Lord to one another in an orderly fashion when we gather.

Glorify God in everything you do!

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31)

In whatever we do we are to give glory to God. Glorifying God means we make much of Him. We show His worth, value, wisdom in how we live and act. When we follow His commands or mirror His character, we glorify Him. We make much of Him showing He is worthy.

In this particular instance, Paul, writing to the Corinthians, takes up a discussion regarding idolatry. In Paul’s day, food was sacrificed to idols before it was sold and set on the table. It was a way of recognizing and worshipping the local gods for provision. As Christians, we don’t believe there are local gods who provide for the local people. Thus, no gods should be worshipped, or are worshipped when meat is offered to them for sacrifice.

Some Christians believed the pagan sacrificial system was of no value. The people were not really offering sacrifices to gods because no gods existed. Others, however, still believed in the gods. When they saw other Christians eating meat offered to the gods, they were misled into the practice of syncretism. They believed they could worship Jesus alongside these other gods.

So as not to mislead other brothers and sisters in Christ who have not matured in their understanding, Paul advocates they not partake of meat offered to idols, particularly in front of another whom they know would be misled. Nor are they to eat meat at the house of a non-believer who expresses at dinner that the meat they are serving has been offered to idols. They are to give up their right to the meat so as not to lead another into idolatry. As well as they are to give up their right so as not to give the non-believer the impression that it is ok to worship Jesus alongside the local gods.

Giving up our rights is done out of love, not out of a legalistic spirit. Jesus willingly died for us out of love not because He was forced. When we give up our rights, as Jesus gave up His, we glorify God. We show His action of self-sacrificial love worthy to be emulated. As well as we show we value God more than our own right to eat or drink whatever we choose. Furthermore, we glorify God because we show he is greater than any so called god.

Our eating and drinking in regard to idols is one way we glorify God. As well as we glorify God in our willingness to give up our rights so as not to lead another brother or sister in Christ astray. There are many other ways we can glorify God. We should take every opportunity to glorify Him.

We should glorify God in everything we do!

You are God’s Fellow Worker

“For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Cor 3:9)

What a privilege it is to be called God’s fellow workers. As believers, we have not only experienced salvation but we are also used as God’s instruments to bring others to faith in Christ as well as to help others grow as disciples of Christ. We are His fellow workers.

If God thinks of us as His fellow workers, we must think of ourselves in the same way. We must not shrink back from Jesus’ command to make disciple-making disciples. We must get to work.

While we must get to work, seeking to accomplish the mission Jesus has set before us, as God’s fellow workers, we don’t work alone. The God of the universe, the All-Sovereign, Creator, and Sustainer of all things works alongside us as we seek to work for Him. We work with the power provided us by God Himself.

Do you recognize you are counted as God’s fellow worker? Do you trust God to empower you for the task of making disciple-making disciples?