Archive for February, 2013

Am I… beyond saving?

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There are times when we feel we are beyond saving. We messed up, then we messed up again, and then we messed up again. We responded to altar call after altar call and despite our best intentions we are still surrounded by the mess we made of our life. At this point we no longer blame a person, an event, or even Satan. We simply blame ourselves. There is a time when our prayers to God seem more like cries to someone who is far away and unhearing. We are lost in our pain and our sorrow, and our only options seem to be: give up, give in, and stop trying. We hear sermons saying God gives second chances, but we leave dejected anyways because we are on our 6th chance.

 

When sin controls your life it destroys your relationships with those around you, and it destroys your relationship with God. The amazing thing is as we draw further away from Christ, it is we who decide to leave Him. He does not shut us out, but rather we close the door on any chance of a relationship with Him. As we lose ourselves in the world, we chose to remain prisoner to our sins, our past mistakes, and to our regrets. We are too sinful for church, and we are definitely too sinful for God—or so we tell ourselves. It’s okay for us to believe Jesus died for those people in church, but that wasn’t for us. We have fallen too far and for too long. He gave us another chance and we messed it up. We see Christianity and all we see is condemnation.

 

Let me tell you a story. You have heard it all before, but just humor me one more time. One day Jesus was very thirsty when He came upon a woman at a well. The woman was a Samaritan, and Jesus, a Jew. In those days the Jews felt that the Samaritans were not worthy enough to even converse with them. Yet Jesus asks this Samaritan woman for a drink of water. And how does she reply? The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” The Samaritan woman knew that in the eyes of Jesus she was considered unworthy, even ‘dirty.’ Why would He lower himself to even talk to her?

 

Truth is; why does God even lower himself to talk to us? We cannot fathom why, and so we presume that He doesn’t. We presume that our prayers if spoken would only fall on deaf ears. We presume that God doesn’t care about the individual details of our lives. But in 1 Peter 5:7 God tells us to cast all our worries and cares upon Him, because He cares for us. He cares for you! Wicked, sinful, faulty though you may be, He cares for you.

 

Okay, back to the story. We are at the part where Jesus mentions that He can offer the woman fresh living water. He tells her that if she drinks from the water He has to offer, she will never thirst again. Wait a minute!! You know that struggle that you keep wrestling with? Or that sin you keep falling into? Stop fighting it with your own strength! You will drink, but thirst again. You will overcome, but you will fall again. Psalms 16:2 tells us, that apart from God we can do no good thing. When you try on your own and you fail. It’s not cause God left you (and here is the crux), it is cause that’s how it will always be when you are working apart from God. Look, the water the woman was drinking was “holy.” Think about this. In John 4:12 the bible says Jacob, a holy man of God gave the people the well of water. But yet, one drink was never enough to satisfy the people. The same way when we go to church, and we hear the gospel preached, that ‘second-hand’ water is not enough to save us from our sins. We need to go straight to the source. We need to go to Christ. When we seek His living water, it is then we will have the power to overcome our sins.

 

Lastly, after this woman was convicted of her need for God, Christ took a look at her past. He saw that she could not fully serve Him, when she was still holding on to all her past baggage, all her sins. So Jesus told her to call her husband. And you know what? God didn’t just forgive her of the fact that she was living with a man who was not her husband. Neither did he forgive her of the fact that she had married twice, three times, or four times, but rather five times! In the Jewish tradition it was adultery to divorce and marry again. But this woman had been around the block and back again!

 

Look, Yes, you have sinned, and yes you have fallen short, but when God forgives you He doesn’t forgive the lightest of your sins. He forgives them all. The burden, the sorrow, and the weight you have been carrying? Know that right now, at this very moment! If you want to open your heart to God. No matter how sinful and defiled it is. God will take your sin, all of it, and nail it to the cross. God says in Luke 7:47, “I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” The love you have for Christ in your sinful state can never compare to the love of one who has never sinned.

 

You alone know how low you have gone, and God alone knows how high He can lift you up! So the next time you feel unworthy of Christ’s grace, remember that yes, you are. Yet He bestows it anyway. Yes you don’t deserve His love, but He gives it anyway. Yes, you don’t pray, but God has cared for you anyways.

 

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Hope. Less?

Your life experiences make you who you are. The good, the bad, the success, the failure, the happy moments, and the lonely nights. All these moments help grow you and shape you into the person you are today. Nevertheless, sometimes when we look at the times when we were at out lowest moments, when we felt that we could not go on, when there was no hope in sight, we often turn to God and ask: “Why??” “Why did you let it happen?” “Why weren’t you there to protect me?” “Is this what I get for serving you?” “Where were you when I was going through the worst moments of my life? I couldn’t see you. I couldn’t hear you…”

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And it is at those moments that God turns, and says to His children, “In your darkest moments, when you turned to your left and to your right, and you still couldn’t see me… know that I was right behind you. I was behind you making sure that the stark realities of life did not break you, but that they developed you to make you into the person you are today: stronger, more compassionate, and more loving. I took the horrible things in your life and I used it to turn you into a precious pearl. It is because of your past, not despite it, that you are strong enough to take a step of faith wherever I lead you.

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The truth is, we live in troubled times. Marriages fail, jobs are lost, natural disasters reek havoc, and an uncertain future surrounds us all. And yes, it is so easy to lose hope. In fact, it’s human. Job, Moses, Jonah, Jeremiah, Elijah. All men of God, and all utterly hopeless at multiple points in their walk with God. Yet, consider this. Hope is defined as “expecting with confidence.” Likewise the biblical definition of hope is not a ‘hope-so’ but a ‘know-so.’  It’s the “assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hope is certain. Our hope in God is surer than the sun rising in the morning. It is more sure than cold in the winter and heat in the summer. When we read God’s word we can know for certain that we have a hope for the future. God will never allow us to suffer anything beyond our ability to handle it.  God will never leave us nor will He ever forsake us.  He is our anchor in the present, and our hope for the future.

Sometimes the only way to survive adversity and struggles is to just keep moving forward. If you can’t run, you walk. And if you can’t walk, you crawl. But you have to keep moving. God will walk you through storms, through trials, and through adversity. Storms never last, but people do. You will make it through. If you can hold on and get through today, God will give you strength to get through tomorrow.

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When we are God’s children, it doesn’t matter that we are not perfect. Yes you may not have the best credit, you may not be smart enough, nor have the best résumé for the job. You may be single, broken, and desperate for a companion, or you may be despairing of achieving your goals. But God will see you through—even when you fall short.

True love is this: when we come to God after we have messed up, and we are filthy, broken, and hopeless. And instead of turning us away as we deserve. God runs out to us while we are still crawling our way back to Him, and He lifts us up out of our filth and embraces us. He cleans us. He renews us. Yes, He makes us “new.” The devil tries to trap us in our guilt and shame, but our strength is in our Lord. In His forgiveness and in His love. Every time you lose something you get a little tougher. Every time you suffer a setback you get a little stronger. Your past humbles you, so you know that your coming success is not because you are so good, but because God is so great. People will come and go in your life, but God is faithful, He will never leave you. Don’t lose hope!

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