His Loving Patience

What a great Top 10 Lynden shared with us yesterday on things we take for granted.  His examples were definitely aligned with mine as a reminder about many of the things we have in this life. After Psalm 105’s reminder about the hidden things we take for granted comes a reminder in Psalm 106 of God’s grace and patience despite our forgetful and self-willed lives.

Todays Reading: Psalm 106

I read and listened to a recent Podcast that recommended going back and reading different Bible versions.  Today I landed on the Good news Translation.

1 Praise the Lord!
Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good;
his love is eternal.
2 Who can tell all the great things he has done?
Who can praise him enough?

Who can praise him enough? I know that I can’t.  Even if I started a list right now, I’d still be making a list for days to come. Take a moment to pause and reflect. Write it down in your journal, on the side of your bible, say them out loud.

  • Praise for His transformation in my life.
  • Praise for His love and grace He shows and gives me.
  • Praise for my family.
  • Praise for small groups.
  • Praise for 1777 posts Bible Journal has posted since 1/1/2016.

These were just some I thought about today.  As you continue to read through this chapter, you will be reminded of the importance of our obedience in verse 3.

3 Happy are those who obey his commands,
who always do what is right.

Verses 6-43 humble me and remind me of the blind, rebellious, and forgetful we can be in our sinful nature how stories from the Israelites shortcomings can connect back to our stories today.  To my story.  To yours.

Thankfully, we have a Father who has given and shows grace to those who deserved judgment. Verse 44-47.  God’s faithfulness to us is not dependent on our faithfulness to him.  Just a few weeks ago, we remembered that God sent His son to die for you and me.  He showed us grace when we were still sinners.  Imagine the grace He shows as his children.

44 Yet the Lord heard them when they cried out,
and he took notice of their distress.
45 For their sake he remembered his covenant,
and because of his great love he relented.
46 He made all their oppressors
feel sorry for them.

47 Save us, O Lord our God,
and bring us back from among the nations,
so that we may be thankful
and praise your holy name.

48 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel;
praise him now and forever!
Let everyone say, “Amen!”

Praise the Lord!

A Thrill of Hope

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  Isaiah 7:14

I wonder how this landed on people seven hundred years before Christ came. We may accept this prophecy as known and believed today, but based on the responses in scriptures, they didn’t seem to. God With Us?  Could they imagine it or understand it?

When you zoom out from this moment with God, King Azah, and the prophet Isaiah, the landscape is heavy. Isaiah served as a prophet to the people of Judah and during the reign of four different kings. This time period experienced war  after war, and all the while Isaiah counseled the kings to trust only in the Lord. Wait on the Lord. But his advice fell on deaf ears resulting in defeats, captivity, and exile.

All the while, the people had turned away from God – their hearts weren’t in it. Interesting enough, they were still going to the temple and making sacrifices for their rebellion. They knew they weren’t following the Lord, but rather than truly repent and change, they tried to quick-fix their sins with worthless sacrifices. These sin and hypocrisy cycles continued for decades!

You know what I love about God and how he used Isaiah? In the midst of all of the disobedience from the kings and leaders of the nation, to the disobedience to the everyday people – at every level they had turned their backs on the Lord – but he remained. He still continued to give them hope. He didn’t leave them. He provided prophets to point the people back to himself. The thrill of hope is woven all through the book of Isaiah!

Isaiah is truly an amazing foretelling of Jesus. God used this one prophet to share so much hope and truth about our Messiah. The need of a savior was apparent, and Jesus Christ is our perfect provision!

        • The coming of Christ is announced in Isaiah 40:3-5
        • The virgin birth of Christ is foretold in Isaiah 7:14
        • The Good News through Christ is positioned in Isaiah 61:1
        • Christ’s death and sacrifice for our sins is outlined in Isaiah 52-53
        • Christ’s return and reign in Isaiah 60:2-3

These are just a few of the many recorded and fulfilled prophesies from Isaiah about the life and ministry of Christ.

When we zoom back in to what is happening specifically in Isaiah 7, we find King Azah too rebellious and too proud to ask God, or “test God”, even though God commanded him to. God wanted to have his whole heart and be fully trusted. Even after King Azah’s excuse to not ask God, God still offers him a sign of the future to come. A future of hope and salvation through Jesus. If the people would just trust the Lord and have faith! Today we can do exactly that. We can trust. We can follow the Lord. We can let go of our empty sacrifices and rely solely on the saving grace of Jesus.

As we continue looking toward the birth of Jesus, we can trust the one who sent him. He wants us to believe. He sent Jesus so He can be with us again. I’m praying that we all experience the thrill of the hope we have in Christ!

A Living Stone

What goes into building a strong structure? Time, energy, and a strong cornerstone. Together as the Church, we are all one strong structure that is supposed to uphold our faith with Jesus as our cornerstone. That means that we must see ourselves each individually as small building blocks.

As a stone to uphold a structure, how are we able to be good enough to work together as the church and have Christ as our cornerstone?

It may come to a surprise to some of us, but we are not perfect. Our Heavenly Father made us in His image, but sin has made us broken. When we are born into this world, we are made to be broken because of sin. How do we overcome sin and be in a relationship with Christ? We can’t, we can only believe in what God has done for us to be saved.

It is by faith alone through Jesus Christ that we come to know true salvation and the presence of the Holy Spirit. As we come to a relationship with Christ, He calls us to believe in Him. That means to believe that we are made broken and in need of a Savior. Jesus is that Savior, fully God and man. He is eternal with the Father and Holy Spirit. Because God loves us and wants to be in relationship with us, He brought His Son down to Earth to preach the “good news” and to become an eternal sacrifice for all. Therefore, Jesus came to Earth as a baby, died on the cross as a man, and was resurrected to give us eternal life.

When we believe in this, there is a change in all of us. We see lives to start changing and go toward the Word of Jesus. In 1 Peter 2:4-5, Peter says, As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”. We come to Jesus broken and with a past. None of us are perfect or are called to be perfect when you come to a relationship with Jesus. We need a Savior and He wants us to be with Him.

Jesus makes us into living stones, building blocks, that will be rejected by others, but will make us into one whole structure. This structure is a royal priesthood that is in a relationship with Jesus. This structure is constantly growing and will continue to do so. The Church is unlike other structures or buildings, it will continue to transform each and every day. It will add more building blocks and become more refined, but always have a perfect cornerstone that allows the structure to never fall.

As the Chruch, let us grow more towards living like a royal priesthood and sharing the good news of the Gospel. Never forget that God’s grace is a blessing and gift towards us, that is worth sharing with everyone!

My Song

“The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.”

Psalm 118:14

Even though most of our family does not have much musical talent, with the exception of my mom, uncle, and late grandmother, for as long as I can remember music has been a big part of our lives. While riding in the back of my parents’ car at a very young age, my Dad would quiz me on what the name of oldies songs were and who sang them when they came on the radio. I even had to know the back story of the song or band. For example, not only who sang “For What It’s Worth” (no…the name of the song is not…..’Stop..hey…what’s that sound’) which is Buffalo Springfield..but my dad would ask, “Where did the band get their name?” To which I would reply, “Off the side of a steamroller..” and roll my eyes. I remember one time in high school biology our substitute teacher was doing random trivia questions when he asked, “Who sang the one hit wonder from the 60’s called ’96 Tears’?” To which I shouted out from the back, “Question Mark and the Mysterians!” He was in awe and said never ever in of all his years of substitute teaching had anyone answered that one correctly. Well…not only was knowing the name and artists of songs a big deal in our family anyway, but that one just happens to be my Dad’s favorite song. In fact..as soon as he started out with “Who sang this one hit wonder from the 60’s….” I had feeling he was going to ask that song before he even finished his sentence. I love music so much I often say it’s good that God didn’t give me even one ounce of musical talent because if He did I would probably be traveling the US trying to make it as an artist with little to no chance of doing so.

Up until about 10 years ago when we started going to a church that played contemporary music, Christian music unfortunately was not a part of my life though. I thought of Christian music as being something with an organ which I was not into and just didn’t connect with so to speak. Then, I began to really get into contemporary Christian music and sing along just like I did with my favorite rock or country songs. Who knew that Christian music and singing about God and His love for us can be “cool” and fun, too? Now, it’s about all I listen to. I don’t think it’s a coincidence with music being such a big connection in my life that I would also say that’s when I started to connect with God more, too.

Have you ever noticed how impactful music in general and often times a specific song is to people’s lives? We often crank up our favorite song after a great day or week or connect with a certain song to help us get through tough times as well. How about the joy of watching a very young baby or child move and dance to music? If that doesn’t bring a smile your face, I’m not sure what will. It seems as though God has wired us from birth to connect with music. He’s also wired us to seek a connection and relationship with Him. Our words to describe Him today from Psalm 118:14 reference earlier is “my song.”

Can you imagine life without music? I don’t know about you, but I feel it would be pretty boring and just downright depressing. That’s what a life without a connection and relationship with God is like..empty. He is our song….our joy…our happiness…despite whatever is going on in our lives.

The following verse in Psalm 118:15 says, “Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous…” None of us are righteous and without sin…but through His blood and faith in Him we are. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God.” When we have faith and a relationship with Him, we are righteous and it changes us. Knowing we are free from sin through His sacrifice brings us true and everlasting joy. The song that plays in the “tents” of our heart is Him and His salvation as Psalm 118:15 says.

Today, I would encourage you to read the rest of Psalm 118 and embrace how it describes that “His steadfast love endures forever…” Psalm 118:6 also reminds us, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” If you’re going through a rough time, try connecting with Him and making Him your song and joy.

Maybe you haven’t gotten into Christian music yet, but love country. Here’s a new one from Chris Tomlin featuring Florida George Line and Thomas Rhett you may not have heard yet to get you started. Or maybe you’re already into Christian music. Either way, I hope that any time we all hear it now it will be a reminder that He is our “song.”

 

Salvatio

Our daughter Gianna is now 2. As a newborn, I read that the only two fears infants have are loud noises and falling. At her young age, she has a fear of some bugs, large animals, heights by herself, and other things that her parents and older siblings have trained her to be afraid of. As an “adult” in my mid-40’s, the world’s fears have taken hold of me for many years.  These fears can include what I say, do, or act in front of others with underlining insecurity.  Fear can make you wonder if you have enough or hold a high enough position with the constant fear of failure.  The Lord’s transformation of my life started around ten years ago, even though I can point to various points in my life where I know the Lord has always been by my side.  Truth is he has never left you, I just never listened or opened my eyes.   Until I was willing to surrender my selfish pride and surrender to a losing battle, I found my salvatio. (salvation) Merriam-Webster has a few definitions for salvation like 1. deliverance from the power and effects of sin, 2. preservation from destruction or failure, 3. liberation from ignorance or illusion.  I feel like all three of these definitions fit me well at that time with some lingering effects.  But thankfully, our debt has been paid in full, and we have hope in our Lord.

Today’s verses are a couple of my favorites.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of life; of whom shall I be afraid?  Psalm 27:1

The world is sending a message always.  In these dark times, we can always look to the light.  As something or someone starts your anxiety level to rise, relax, turn to God our say in your head, “Whom shall I be afraid? ” As you begin to feel weak, and the physical or mental exhaustion kicks in.  Remember where your strength truly comes from.  Go ahead this morning, today, at lunch, dinner.  Say it to a friend, a colleague, child, your spouse.  The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I be afraid? The Lord is the stronghold of life; of whom shall I be afraid?  Repeat it if you need to. Say it as the pressures of the world enter into your day.

Remember Gianna, still semi-fearless besides what we as parents have instilled. No fear. She would jump from anything into your arms because they trust you.     I would want my children, my wife, and myself to remember this verse as the world attempts to enter fear into our minds.   Where are you today? Are you worried about something? School? Kids? Finances? Health?  Our Lord is right there waiting to be the light, to be your strength. To be your salvation.

The Lord is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my Father’s God, and I will exalt him. Exodus 15:2

Whom shall you be afraid?  Sing praise today; salvation is yours.

King of Kings

 

 

My Salvation

How do you describe God? What words do you usually use? Deliverer, comforter, loving, just, redeemer, etc. There are endless words that can be used to describe God. Throughout all of Scripture, we are constantly learning more about the character of God. God is described in so many different ways, but what truly makes us believe and have hope in Him is that He is our salvation.

What does it mean that God is our salvation?

In Exodus 15:2, we see that Moses describes God as his salvation, “The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him”. Moses and all the Israelites have just been saved from the Egyptians. The Israelites, since the time of Abraham, believed in God as their Creator, but now, they are coming to a different understanding of Him, he has now become their hope and freedom from slavery. The Israelites have been delivered from 400 years of slavery. They know that God is for them, and is willing to save them! Moses is rejoicing and trusting that God is the only hope that He has.

In God, we have hope, and we are saved from our enemies. For the Israelites, their enemies were the Egyptians. Our enemies look a little different today. Sometimes we face physical enemies, but more than likely, we are facing “the enemy” through sin. Depression, anxiety, racial tensions, poverty, lust, etc. These are the tactics that Satan uses to try and lead us astray. Since we can say that God is our salvation, we have hope from sin!

Jesus Christ is our salvation and hope! In John 3:16, we see that Jesus says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. God loves us so much that He gave His only Son to die a horrific death, so that we may be saved from our enemy and sin! God is our salvation through Jesus Christ!

In our salvation through Jesus Christ, we have confidence in being worthy of freedom from our enemies and sin! Psalm 27:1 says, The LORD is my light and my salvation; who shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”. We are not only saved through Jesus, but we are made into a new creation. God protects us in our salvation and promises that He will be with us forever.

Jesus Christ is our salvation. He is the only one that can free us from the bondage of sin. The salvation that Jesus provides is eternal. It gives us hope for the future. This salvation that Jesus grants us is to be shared with everyone. How are you sharing this joyous message today? I encourage you to lean into understanding the Gospel message more, so that way you can continue conversations in your daily life around the salvation that Jesus gives us.

Our Peace

Our world has changed over the past few months. Currently, we are dealing with social and racial issues that are splitting the country apart. COVID-19 has changed the economic, physical, and emotional tides of the country. Each day, in the United States, we hear on the news about everything that is going wrong in the world around us.

Many of our families live in fear and dismay over the COVID-19 pandemic and all the other concerns going on. Each one of us is shaken and made to rely on something in their lives for hope and peace.

During all the uncertainty, I keep listening to Christians and Non-Christians’ uncertainty of what the future could be. Each one of us depends on some type of faith. I believe that during all this time, that Christians should portray a peace that passes understanding.

Ephesians 2:14 is our verse today. It says, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility”. Paul is speaking to the Ephesian church and is addressing the disagreements within the church. He addresses this issue by saying that, Jesus is our only true peace, and He is the only thing that can solve all their issues going on. Also, in Christ Jesus, we are made brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, as brothers and sisters, we must represent the sacrifice that Christ has made for us and rally together around that.

How does this disagreement that the church in Ephesians helps us understand peace?

Dictionary.com defines peace as “a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations:”. As stated above, we can see that we are far from peace in this country and world. There is only one way to obtain true peace, by putting your hope and faith in Christ Jesus for your salvation. Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you that in me you have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world”. Our peace is found in Jesus!

Each day we fight, disagree, backstab, and worry all out of the fear of the future. We are looking for some type of utopian society. Because of sin, that isn’t possible, but with Christ, we do have a peace that will surpass all understanding. See Jesus paid for our sin on a cross to provide us the peace in our hearts that we yearn for. The peace that Jesus provides, is the understanding that we have a Savior and God, who loves us so much that the Father sacrificed the Son to pay for all the sin in our lives so that we can live with Christ in eternity.

In the current season of life that we are all living, Christians need to unify under one banner, the cross of Jesus Christ. I encourage each of you to keep your hope in Jesus Christ. Life isn’t easy and there will always be some amount of uncertainty. However, when we are able to band together as believers, we gifted with the Holy Spirit that strengthens us. In Galatians 3:28, Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” There is no distinction that Jesus makes.

Our peace is stronger together as Christians. I encourage you, now is the time to reach out to Christians and Non-Christians, that you know you disagree with on topics. Pray with them, share the Gospel with non-Christians and Christians alike, share a meal together, and overall be together and unify under Christ Jesus, who provides a peace that passes all understanding.

Bad Investments

Luke 21

When I read Luke 21, I get a little scared.  It starts with the destruction of the Temple.  Jesus is telling us that God’s very house will be destroyed.  When it does, we will be tempted to follow others that are not God.   We could easily be led astray.   There will also be wars, natural disasters and persecution.  Jesus makes it personal.  He tells us that we, as believers, will be beaten and tried with some being put to death.  This action is not caused by strangers or even the government. It is our own parents, brothers, relatives and friends.   Entire cities will be destroyed and overtaken.

The events found in this chapter are truly horrifying, with one exception.  Did you notice the first paragraph about the widow?  How did it land here?   It is out-of-place, isn’t it?  I thought so, until I got a closer look.  Read it again and note that the widow kept nothing back for herself.  She gave everything she had, because that is not where she found value.  Consider it this way.  She invested everything she had.  Why?  Was she foolish?  No.  She gave everything because she did not hold value in herself, her own comfort, or her own well-being.  Instead, she invested everything she had for the Kingdom.  She only though of others’ comfort and well-being.  She invested it so that God’s kingdom could be full.

It is worth considering our investments vs the widows.  I realize now that my fear when reading chapter 21 is a result of the investments I am making.  You see, if I am investing in my business or my possessions or even my family, Jesus is quick to show me that my investment will not pay off.  This is what gives me anxiety.  Thankfully, I have an opportunity to make it right.  Today, I choose to invest in God’s kingdom.  I can do it with my pennies and dollars as well as my talents and abilities. Will you?

Two Roads + Two Gates

The Narrow and Wide Gates

 Matthew 7:13-14 and Psalm 87

 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

This scripture is equally perplexing AND frightening! It is really hard for my small brain to comprehend God’s ways sometimes. Why will only few find it? If all will hear, why will just a few enter?

As Jesus wraps up His teaching on the hillside (now called the Mount of Beatitudes), He has covered a lot ground with topics ranging from serving, to judging, to prayer. He addresses our hearts: pointing out areas of law, tradition, and ritual, and replacing them with pure motives, love, and authenticity.

In an environment of Jewish law and order reigning over all, He fulfills those laws by showing what’s at the root of them – going back to the basics/intention of the law, and then maximizing the law to the fullest with love + utmost surrender to the Lord.

Every time I read this passage, two things come to mind. Anyone else watch A Thief In the Night back in the day? I was 7 and that movie FREAKED ME OUT! The razor left in the bathroom sink… the sad sad song “I Wish We’d All Been Ready”. It was more than my developing brain could process.

The second thing my mind races to is the scripture about the lukewarm being spit out (Rev 3:16). If you’ve read any of Francis Chan’s work, you’ve likely come across some of his thoughts on this scripture.  One cool thing about heaven is we will see + know things as they truly are (1 Cor 13:12) – no more guessing!

When I think about this narrow road of a few, it’s easy for me to start feeling frightened or downtrodden. Many enter the path to destruction, but few enter the path of life. Who am I to be among the few? There are a lot more Christians that are more spiritual than me.  Yikes!

How does this scripture coincide with the popular mantra “Just Believe”? If you pray the sinner’s prayer and confess Jesus as your Lord + Savior, that’s it, right? How do we know for certain? Will we ever know for certain?  Paul’s letter to the Philippians (1:6) sure sounds assuring: Being confident of this very thing, that He that began a good work in you will complete it until the day that Christ returns. How do we get that confidence??

I don’t know the answers to all of these questions. What I do know is that God doesn’t want me living in a state of fear, worry, or a mindset of “working my way into heaven”. This is exactly what Jesus preached against.  He wants my heart surrendered and pure. If I am truly believing in His saving grace and can comprehend His love for me, then my life wouldn’t be lukewarm. My passion for Him would be evident in all areas of my life. My desire to glorify Him (not earn salvation) will supersede everything else.

So what about when it’s not? What’s happening then? Am I “saved” when I have seasons of lukewarm living? When I start walking on the wide path toward the big gate…then what?  Is there grace for that? If I had a car accident in that moment and died, can I just use the common line “well, God knows my heart”?  And is that always a comfort or is that just what people say to justify sin and lukewarm living? Because the truth is, God really does know my heart. ALL OF IT. I’m not sure that’s something I want to brag about all the time.  Sure on Sundays when I’ve sang some worship songs and taken good notes from the sermon…or when I just got back from a long run filled with talking to God. But what about when I’m stuck in traffic, see someone that’s really treated me poorly, or my kids won’t listen. Yep, He sees my heart then, too. We can’t pick and choose when and what He sees. I digress…

The bottom line is, in my heart of hearts, I have confidence in the saving grace of God, His love for me, and I choose to surrender all to Him. I can’t wait for heaven!! I believe in Jesus and I believe in heaven! And I believe I will be there.

As I say that, I also have to tell you that I’ve had moments where I couldn’t get a hold of someone… so had to call another Christian (Grandma Rita is a good one) to make sure Jesus didn’t come back and I was left behind. You know, because if anyone’s FOR SURE IN, it’s her. HA HA!

Does anyone else ponder these questions? What have you come up with?

 

 

 

 

He Wants Us

2 Samuel 19 and Psalm 51 – Resurrection Eve

Have you ever wondered when the deniers, doubters, crucifiers, and liars had their moment of realization of who Jesus was and their role in His death? Was it immediate, like Peter when the rooster crowed the third time? Or did it take longer, after Jesus had been taken from the cross and put in the tomb? Or was it not until days later, when word got around that Jesus was alive, and Thomas even put his hand into his side.  Did they respond like David does, in his Psalms about his own sins? Had I been there, would I have realized it immediately, or would it have taken me awhile to understand? What would have been my response to knowing I put Jesus on the cross?

From an early age I learned about Jesus and have never doubted who He was or what He did for me.  As I got older, my heart to please God was challenged by my selfishness and temptations to sin. In high school especially, I was stuck on this hamster wheel of wanting to “be good” and do the right thing, but time and time again would fall into cycles of sin and rebellion. I would go through a period of mourning, praying, and vow to not fall into that junk again. I would “be good” for awhile and then it would start over. I was so frustrated with myself and lack of self control. Everything seemed so easy and made so much sense sitting in church on Sundays and at youth group on Wednesday nights.  But by Friday night – it all flew out the window.

I made a decision when I was 16 to try to get off that hamster wheel for good, and I wanted a REAL CHANGE. While I had always believed in Jesus, I needed to do something different and drastic in my life so that I could be more consistent in my choices to follow Jesus. I believed. I could talk the talk. I needed to WALK the WALK – even on the weekends.  I joined a conservative faith community that was rich in tradition and strong in holy habits.  The fellowship of the close-knit group was unmatched. The believers there invested time and energy in helping me understand God’s Word. I learned so much in this season of life and thank God for putting people into my path to draw me to Him.

One of the biggest things I learned is that even with all of the holy habits, fellowship, and accountability, I still sinned.  As much as I wanted to ‘be good’, I couldn’t. I wasn’t. And it took my early adult years to figure out that God doesn’t want me to ‘be good’. He wants me forgiven. This is why He brought us Jesus. In my youth I found myself categorizing sin and thought mine was the worst – if I could just stop those major sins, then I would be acceptable in God’s eyes. It took a lot of years to really believe that ALL sin is unrighteousness in God’s eyes. While sins may have greater or lesser consequences on earth – the sin itself is all the same: separation from God, no matter how big or small.

During this time of growth, the elder of our church, a kind and sweet man named Ervin, would point me back to Psalms 51. Over and over again, I would counsel with him, pour my heart out, trying to figure out why I would still from time to time fall back into those old sinful ways and make bad decisions.  He was so patient with me, and would read this scripture with me.  Even though it was twenty years ago, I can clearly recall our conversations.  He would encourage me to go home and pray the prayers that David did, a man who loved God so much and would still find himself in a mess of sin. And just like David, I would weap and mourn over my sins and ask God for forgiveness.  My quest to “be good” was a fruitless journey – and through prayers like Psalm 51, I found that a broken heart for my sin drew me closer to Him more than my checklist of ‘being good’ ever did.  As C.S. Lewis said: God doesn’t want something from us, He simply wants US.

Today, on Holy Saturday, the time between Jesus’ death on the cross, and His victory over the grave tomorrow, I can’t help but put myself there and walk through the range of emotions.

It is our sins against God that crucified Jesus that Friday vs. 4 and David calls his own sin what it is – evil.

Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;

I wonder how quickly we would have realized this and sought forgiveness and change. Would it have been the very next day, on Saturday?  Would we have prayed vs. 10?

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

And then to wake up Sunday morning and learn that HE IS ALIVE! Would we really believe? Would we spend the rest of our days living in the JOY that salvation brings (vs. 10)?

Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

How would our lives be different if we lived everyday with the utmost JOY for Jesus conquering the grave and the utmost JOY for our salvation?