The Parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl

 

Today’s reading:  Matthew 13:45-46, Psalm 109

When he was younger, my son Freddy loved to collect things. Whether it was Thomas the Tank Engine trains, Cars Movie cars, Baukugan cards or Pokemon cards, he was crazy about them.  I bought hundreds of these things over the years!  I’m happy to tell you that today, for Freddy Armstrong’s 14th birthday, none of these dumb toys are included in his birthday gifts.  I’m glad that I’m no longer wasting my money on junk that I’ll eventually pitch after I’ve stepped on it for the 100th time.  Even so, I will miss seeing the pure joy in Freddy’s eyes as we sit around the dinner table watching him open his gifts tonight.  As a teenager, Freddy no longer passionately rips the packaging off his gifts and frantically searches to find the “rare and valuable” treasures hidden within.

Our passage in Matthew 13 – The Parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl, reminds me a little of Freddy Armstrong and his birthday toys. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it (Matthew 13:45-46). The merchant was desperately searching to find what he considered the most rare and valuable treasure.  When he found it, he gave everything he had to make it his own.

Jesus didn’t tell this story to remind us children would be delighted with toys. Rather, like every other passage in the Bible, this story points us to the character of Jesus.  We are so valuable to him, Jesus gave up everything he had to make us his own.  He left his rightful place in heaven to come to earth, lived alongside dirty, sinful humans, and eventually gave his life as a sacrifice to pay the price for our sins.

[Christ Jesus] who, did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8).

Thank you Jesus for searching until you found us.  Thank you for your sacrifice.  The joy we find in watching broken, sinful people be reconciled to God through faith in you will never grow old!

Parable of the Moneylender

Today’s reading:  Luke 7:41-43, Psalm 97

In Luke 7, Jesus is having dinner at the house of Simon the Pharisee.  A sinful woman from the town comes to Jesus, washes his feet with her tears, pours perfume on them, kisses them, and wipes them with her hair.  Simon is disgusted.  He uses the situation to challenge Jesus’ authority, saying if he was really a prophet he would know who the woman was and would distance himself from her.  Jesus, in turn, uses the parable of the moneylender to teach Simon a lesson.

“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said (Luke 7:41-43).

The sinful woman knew she desperately needed Jesus, showing her great love for him by washing his feet.  Simon, on the other hand, saw himself as a righteous man who dutifully followed the law of Moses.  Simon didn’t feel like he really needed Jesus, or any other Savior for that matter.

The main point of Jesus’ parable about the moneylender is this – your love for your Savior is directly proportional to your understanding of how badly you need Him.  See verse 47 – Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little (Luke 7:47).”  My question for you today is – how bad do you think you need Jesus? Have you ever looked at your neighbor, compared your sins to his, and walked away thinking you are a pretty good person or at least not as bad as other guy?  I have.  This parable is a good reminder –

All sins separate us from God, not just the really big stuff.  Accordingly, Romans 6:23 applies to all sins when it tells us “the wages of sin is death”.  In God’s economy, none of us measure up to his perfect standards on our own.  We all need Jesus.  It is only through his sacrifice on the cross for our sins that we can be acceptable to God.

And this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 John 5:11-12).

https://vimeo.com/20021457

Copycat

Today’s reading:  Matthew 7:7-8, Psalm 85

In 1988 my sister, Amanda Beasley, went away to college in eastern Tennessee. When she came home for fall break just a couple months into her freshman year, I could already detect a southern drawl in her speech.  The longer she stayed in Tennessee, the more pronounced it became.

A year and a half later, when I was a senior in high school, my parents let me go on spring break with my sister and her two friends.  As I look back on it now, I’m not sure what they were thinking.  They let me (their 17 year-old daughter at the time) take a week off of school, drive to Tennessee to pick up my sister and two friends, go to Florida for their spring break, then stay in Tennessee for another week on my high school spring break.  I was just a few months away from college myself, so maybe this was one way to prepare me for being on my own?  Or, I am a boring rule-follower, but my sister is not.  While she was having a blast as a college sophomore, maybe they sent me down to put a damper on some of her fun?  Most likely it was because I was a super snotty 17 year old girl and this was their chance to get a two week break from me.  Whatever the case, it was crazy fun.  But do you know what happened to me over those two weeks?  I picked up the southern drawl.  After two solid weeks with these girls, I naturally started to sound like them!

In our scripture today, Jesus directs us to make requests of God though prayer. Why?  Why would a God who is completely omniscient ask us to pray?  Does he need us to let him know what is going on down here on Earth?  Do you think he wants our input on what action to take?  Do you think he is just lonely?  None of these reasons make sense, as every one of them goes against who we know God to be.  He is all powerful and all knowing, perfect in every way.  He does not need our time or our money to accomplish his purposes.

The purpose of communication with God through prayer is not to change circumstances, it is to change us.  As a teenager, I started sounding like my sister and friends after spending just two weeks with them.  It is the same with God.  The more time we spend with him, the more we will start to sound like him.  The more time we spend with him, the more natural it will be to seek his ways instead of our own.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).

 

As You Wish

Today’s reading:  Matthew 6:10, Psalm 73

As you wish – a formal expression of agreement to something, especially with the connotation that one does not really agree (Wiktionary).

Do you remember the movie The Princess Bride (1987)?  If you do, I suspect you thought of it when you read the title of my post today.  This fairy tale adventure is about a beautiful young woman (Buttercup) and a farm boy (Westley).  Throughout the story, Westley responds to Buttercup’s every command with the words “as you wish”.  Over and over again, his completely submissive approach led him to endure many ridiculous challenges until he was finally able to save Buttercup, his one true love, from an evil kingdom.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbX1U1tx9aw

This is really a pretty dumb movie, but I love it nonetheless.  (I know some of you do too!)  Does today’s passage in Matthew 6:10 feel a little bit like the phrase “as you wish”?  Like we are resigning ourselves to fate, or perhaps just formally agreeing to something that isn’t really what we want?  This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).

In this verse, Jesus suggested that we pray for God’s perfect purpose to be accomplished.  As our creator, God knows what is best for us and has a plan for our lives.  He designed everything to work together for good and to bring glory to him.  Is there ever a situation where you wouldn’t agree with that?  God’s plans do not promise happiness, but they do promise hope and purpose.  When left to my own devices, I could never come up with a plan that is better than the omniscient, perfect creator of the universe.  I pray his will be done.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

Substance over Form

Today’s reading:  Matthew 5:21-26, Psalm 61

Substance over form is an accounting principle used to help ensure that financial statements give a complete, relevant, and accurate picture of an organization’s transactions and events. The root of this principle is in accounting theory, but it applies to so much more than financial statements.  In fact, I challenge my team with this quite often – are we more interested in looking like we “follow the rules”, or are we truly committed making informed decisions that are in the best interest of our customer?  Almost every time, the answer is the latter.  We are responsible for looking below the surface, making sure the substance of our decision is rooted in our company mission and shared values.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he often taught through the use of parables. If his audience didn’t pay attention to the substance over simply the form of his teaching in this method, or had hardened hearts, they couldn’t understand his message.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew 5, was different. It was much more straightforward, as Jesus categorically outlined key principles for leading a Godly life.  Jesus began our passage for today in Matthew 5:21 by quoting the law of Moses – Do not commit murder.  If we stopped right here, most of us would walk away feeling okay about ourselves.  I have never even come close to taking the life of another person, so I’m good on this principle, right?  Not so fast.  We must stop and reflect – like the Pharisees, are we more interested looking like we “follow the rules”, or are we committed to Jesus and are we passionate about changing our hearts to look like his?  If the latter, we must go beyond the first sentence of this passage to get to the substance of this message.

In the very next verse, Jesus dug deeper and shared context on the true purpose behind God’s law against murder. “But I say to you, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council.  And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell” (Matthew 5:21-22).  The substance of Jesus’ message isn’t simply on the physical act of murder, it is about anger.  Hmm…that hits a little closer to home.

Jesus did not say that anger itself is sin. In fact, we can be angry without sinning, as Jesus himself demonstrated (see the story of Jesus and the money changers in John 2).  It is what we choose to do with anger and what we choose to do because of anger that makes it sinful.  Unresolved anger and bitterness eventually lead us to intentionally harm the people who made us angry, which is sin.  Even if we never get to the point of actually taking action, however, harboring anger in our heart is still sin because it draws a wedge in our relationship with others and our relationship with God.  We cannot claim to love God while we hate other people.

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen (1 John 4:20).

Do you struggle with unresolved anger? Don’t gloss over the substance of these verses thinking they don’t apply to you.  Will you consider the counsel in verses 23 and 24, and make it a priority to reconcile with the person(s) that caused your anger?  It isn’t easy, but God promises to make a way (Isaiah 43:16).

Bitterness

Today’s reading:  2 Samuel 17, Psalm 49

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Bitterness is defined as anger and disappointment resulting from unfair treatment; resentment. The definition of malice is the intention or desire to do evil; ill will.  Our scripture in 2 Samuel 17 today is a great illustration of the destruction caused when people hang on to bitterness and eventually allow it to turn into malice.

Earlier in the reign of King David, Ahithophel had been one of David’s most trusted advisers. In 2 Samuel chapters 15 and 16 this week, however, we saw him begin to take a lead part in Absalom’s revolt against David. What happened to turn Ahithophel from a trusted advisor in to an enemy?  Bitterness and malice.  In addition to being the King’s counselor, Ahithophel was also Bathsheba’s grandfather.  Because of David’s adulterous behavior with Bathsheba, his arrangement of Uriah’s death, and the family heartache it caused, Ahithophel was bitter with David.

In 2 Samuel 17, Ahithophel turned his bitterness into a plan to kill David.  Instead of just executing the plan, Absalom decided to get a second opinion from Hushai.  While Ahithophel’s plan was clearly more logical and would have resulted in fewer casualties, Absalom didn’t choose it.  Why?  Verse 14 tells us the Lord intervened in order to frustrate Ahithophel’s plan and bring disaster on Absalom.  What Absalom failed to recognize was that King David was still God’s chosen leader, and Hushai was still loyal to him.

When Ahithophel recognized that Hushai had outwitted him by getting Absalom to accept a plan that ultimately gave David the advantage, he foresaw the Absalom’s defeat. Verse 23 tells us that Ahithophel responded by going home, getting his things in order, and then hanging himself.  Ahithophel’s bitterness provoked him to create a plan to kill David, but in the end, Ahithophel was the one who ended up paying the ultimate price.

The moral of the story – God’s plans will always prevail.

Do you sometimes feel like you haven’t been treated fairly? I know I do.  Even though I’ve tried to do what was right, it isn’t uncommon for me to feel like I’ve gotten the short end of the stick.  Fortunately I have never found myself being bitter to the point of plotting murder, but overcoming bitterness and resentment after feeling like a victim of dishonesty and manipulation is really hard.  Taking the high road and choosing to forgive over harboring bitterness and seeking some kind of revenge is God’s plan, but often a place I cannot easily get to on my own.

Fortunately we serve an incredibly patient God who loves us and has our best interest in mind.  We can forgive others because he forgave us first.  We can love others because he loved us first.  Hanging on to bitterness and resentment eventually results in self-destruction.  Today, will you let go and trust God to help you make a different choice?  We may not have clarity on what every step of the journey will bring, but the final outcome is definitely certain.  God’s plans will prevail.  Always.

Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall (Psalm 55:22).

Waiting

Today’s reading:  2 Samuel 5, Psalm 37

How good are you at waiting?  Honestly, for me it depends on the situation.  At 7:29 on Thursday morning last week I wasn’t very good at it.  I was trying to drop my kids at school so I could get to an 8am meeting, thus I was only willing to wait about 10 seconds for the Jeep in front of me to pass the semi pulled over on the side of University Street.  After a VERY LONG 10 seconds, I looked behind me, poked my nose around the Jeep to make sure no one was coming, then stepped on the gas.  Ten seconds later, I had passed both the Jeep and the semi, and went on my way without incident.  No harm, no foul, except perhaps that I called the Jeep driver a moron as I sped around her.  Probably not a the best example of patience, safe driving, or using kind words for my 11 and 13 year old children that were sitting in the backseat.

Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off (Psalm 37:34).

David was not a “do as I say, not as I do” kind of guy.  He was exceptionally good at waiting on God.  Consider this – back in 1 Samuel 16:13, Samuel went to the house of Jesse to find David and anoint him King.  From there, it was about fifteen years before David actually became King over Judah in 2 Samuel 2.  It was then another seven years before David became King over the entire nation of Israel in 2 Samuel 5, our text for today.  This is twenty-two years of waiting.  Yikes, I couldn’t wait even ten seconds last week before I took matters into my own hands!

So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.  David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.  At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years (2 Samuel 5:3-5).

If you had to wait more than 20 years for something that was promised to you, what would you do?  I think we can learn a lot from what David did and didn’t do during his time of waiting.

David’s increased his reliance on, and intimacy with, God – David was the author of approximately half of the Psalms (76 of 150).  As we’ve been reading through these, have you noticed how many of them are about David waiting and relying God for deliverance?  His words are incredibly personal.  They show us that waiting helps develop our patience.  It helps us put our faith in the word of God, rather than what we see or experience.

  • But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head (Psalm 3:3).
  • In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety (Psalm 4:8).
  • Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me (Psalm 7:1).
  •  I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you” (Psalm16:2).
  • I love you, O Lord, my strength (Psalm18:1).
  • The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want (Psalm 23:1).
  • Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long (Psalm 25:5).

David did not check out and passively wait for God – David defeated Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, he fled from Saul who was trying to kill him in 1 Samuel 19-22, delivered the people of Keilah in 1 Samuel 23, and destroyed the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 30:26-31.  In these stories, we see a consistent pattern.  When presented with a situation, David inquired of the Lord before he acted, he obeyed the Lord’s direction, and he gave Glory to God for the victory.  After becoming King, David followed this same pattern.  (See the story of David defeating the Philistines in today’s reading – 2 Samuel 5:19).

What are you waiting for today?  Will you follow David’s example and use this time to draw near to God?  Do not be discouraged.  God makes all things beautiful in his time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  His promises are always worth waiting for!

Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off (Psalm 37:34).

 

Revenge or Reconciliation

Today’s reading:  1 Samuel 24, Psalm 25

Chapter 24 of 1 Samuel opens with Saul and three thousand troops headed out to search for David. Ever since David killed Goliath in Chapter 17, women began to praise David more than Saul, and Saul was enraged with jealousy.  He was desperately trying to track down and get rid of David.  Hence, David was running for his life.

The plot became more interesting in verse 3 when Saul entered the cave in which David was hiding. He didn’t know David was in there, he was simply answering “the call of nature” and needed a semi-private place to go to the bathroom.  In short, this was David’s perfect opportunity.  God seemingly delivered Saul right into his hands.  Instead of running away, David could have gone on the offensive, taken out Saul, and claimed the throne that was coming to him anyway, right?

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? I’ll be honest, I can’t identify exactly.  I’ve never been in such a desperate situation where I had to run and/or hide from someone who was literally trying to kill me.  I have, however, been in situations where people were jealous.  Where others didn’t like me or what I stood for and, as a result, tried to harm me.  In most of these cases, I’ve had to make a choice between getting revenge and pursuing reconciliation.  My heart often wanted revenge while my head always knew reconciliation was the right choice.

Let’s take a closer look at how David worked through this this situation. We know he went on to be the greatest King God’s people ever had.  The Bible refers to him as “a man after God’s own heart”.  Because he sought reconciliation instead of revenge, he produced a completely unexpected outcome in this situation.

  • David made every effort to show mercy to his enemy (1 Samuel 24: 7-11) – In this case, David respected Saul’s position of power. Although Saul was trying to kill him, David knew it wasn’t right to take the life of another, especially God’s anointed King. He didn’t harm Saul, nor would he let any of his men harm Saul even though the opportunity was right in front of them.
  • David made every effort to communicate and build understanding with his enemy (1 Samuel 24:12-15) – By revealing the piece of robe he cut off, David helped Saul understand the opportunity he had to kill him. He went on to clearly profess his commitment to God’s authority, and allowed God to judge the situation.
  • David made every effort to be reconciled with his enemy (1 Samuel 24:16-22) – When Saul realized David’s genuine intent to make good from Saul’s evil actions, he asked David to have mercy on his family and descendants. David promised to honor Saul’s request, even after what Saul had done to him. In 2 Samuel 9, we will see David’s follow through on this promise when he invited Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, to live in his palace.

Will you take a few minutes to reflect on David’s approach and his commitment to honor his promises? He humbled himself, returned good for evil, turned hate into honor, and glorified God through a hopeless situation.  This is an example worth following.

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you (Luke 6:27-28).

Fear the Lord and Obey His Commands

Today’s reading:  1 Samuel 12, Psalm 13

Samuel faithfully served God’s people as their spiritual leader for many years. Our text today covers the farewell address Samuel delivered as he prepared to pass the torch of leadership on to Saul.  Saul was the first earthly king to be appointed over God’s people.

Samuel’s opening remark (verse 1-2) reminds God’s people that appointing an earthly king to reign over them was their idea, not his. Why would he begin with this statement?  God knew an earthly king was not in the best interest of his people.  Nevertheless, he gave them what they wanted anyway.  Although it wasn’t the direction he would have chosen, Samuel also obeyed God and anointed Saul as their king.  Samuel continued to be their spiritual leader, offering guidance on how to keep their hearts right with God – fear the Lord and obey his commands.

If you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God—good!  But if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors (1 Samuel 12:14-15).

Have you ever read the Old Testament books of 1 and 2 Kings? If you have, you know God’s people did not heed Samuel’s counsel.  For almost 500 years, they were ruled by 42 different kings and one queen.  By my count, only 8 of these 43 rulers (>20%) followed the ways of the Lord.  The rest were anywhere from kind of bad to downright evil.  Ouch, those are some pretty severe consequences!

Can you think of a time in your life you’ve had a similar experience? A time when you asked God to give you something that wasn’t in your best interest, but he gave it to you anyway?  How did it turn out for you?  If you’re like me, you probably suffered through some consequences you wish you’d have avoided.  Perhaps you live with a little regret.  May I offer these word so of encouragement today?  Stop agonizing over your poor choices.  It isn’t too late to confess and get your heart right with God.  Fear the Lord, obey his commands, and he can bring good out of your poor choices.

Consider this – if God’s people had followed his ways throughout the Old Testament, would they have needed salvation through Jesus Christ? Aren’t you glad God had a plan to use their poor choices for good?  Aren’t you glad he still has a plan to use our poor choices for good?

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

The choice is yours

Today’s reading:  Joshua 16, Proverbs 16

Remember in April of 2016 when I told you I am an “accounting dork”, love using numbers to tell a story, and often can’t resist the urge to count and/or reconcile most everything?  As we started to read about how the Promised Land was divided among the tribes in Joshua 13 this week, I found myself with a familiar urge to reconcile.  In the book of Genesis we read about Jacob’s 12 sons, who became the 12 tribes amongst whom the Promised Land was divided in Joshua 13-19, who are the same 12 tribes cited in Revelation 7 where we read about the preservation of God’s people during the end times.  In theory these tribes should be the same in all three books, but they don’t reconcile exactly:

Genesis 29-30 Joshua 13-19 Revelation 7
Rueben Rueben Rueben
Simeon Simeon Simeon
Judah Judah Judah
Levi Manasseh Levi
Dan Dan Manasseh
Naphtali Naphtali Naphtali
Gad Gad Gad
Asher Asher Asher
Issachar Issachar Issachar
Zebulun Zebulun Zebulun
Joseph Ephraim Joseph
Benjamin Benjamin Benjamin

Hmm… We see inconsistencies with Levi, Joseph, Manasseh, Ephraim and Dan.  Are you curious as to why?  I certainly was, and went digging to see what I could figure out.  The three factors I think account for the inconsistency between Genesis and Joshua are:

  • In Genesis 49, Rueben, Jacob’s firstborn son, lost his birthright when he slept with his father’s concubine. Jacob gave the birthright to Joseph, firstborn of his second wife Rachel. Remember, a birthright is essentially a double portion of inheritance.
  • Jacob adopted Joseph’s sons Manasseh and Ephraim as his own sons in Genesis 48.
  • In Joshua 13:33, we also learned that no land was given to Levi, the tribe of priests. Here is how I reconciled the tribes in Genesis to Joshua:
12 Sons of Jacob in Genesis 29-30
+2 Add Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were adopted by Jacob (Genesis 48)
-1 Take away Joseph, as his double inheritance was accounted for by his sons
-1 Take away Levi, as this priestly tribe did not receive land (Joshua 13:33)
12

Reconciling the tribes in Joshua to the tribes named in Revelation was a little harder. Why were the tribes of Levi and Joseph added back?  Perhaps because land is no longer the “inheritance” of Christfollowers under the new covenant?  Perhaps just to reconcile back to 12?  I’m not totally sure.  I do, however, understand why the tribes of Dan and Ephraim were removed from the list of God’s people in Revelation 7.  It is because these tribes were worshipping idols (See Judges 18:30-31 and Hosea 4:17).  The Bible is clear, those who worship idols are not God’s people and should expect nothing but judgment from God. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (Ephesians 5:5).

Here is how I reconciled Joshua 13-19 to Revelation 7:

12 Tribes who were allocated land (Joshua 13-19)
+2 Add back Levi and Joseph
-2 Take away Dan and Ephraim (Judges 18:30-31, Hosea 4:17)
12

Now we know where everyone went, and we mostly understand why. So what?  What is the benefit of this exercise?  I believe it illustrates God’s incredible patience, and willingness to use imperfect people to accomplish his purposes.   It gets messy sometimes, but don’t be deceived. God will accomplish his purposes with or without us.  We can either choose to be part of his plan, or he’ll leave us behind and move on.

The Lord works out everything to its proper end—even the wicked for a day of disaster (Proverbs 16:4).