“Return, Israel, to the Lord your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
2 Take words with you
and return to the Lord.”
When we sin, when we mess up and we really know we did . . . we want to do better. Most of us want to “fix” it. And maybe that can be okay if we keep our eyes on God in doing so. Because while work can never save us, wanting to try, to get up and do, or even the action of stopping a behavior because we know it’s wrong-is the beginning (action of) repentance.
“But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” -James 2:18
In other words he has the desire to do good. To work, share, help, save, obey, because he has faith. Faith brought on by the hearing of God’s word which tells us we need to repent. We need to stop the bad that we do and return to our Father in heaven. Not only for our good but for the good of others.
Return with apologetic words and then words of encouragement, because the law meant to guard us. To keep us from certain death.
Galatians 3:24 “So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.”
If we ever wonder why we have a conscience, this would be the reason. It’s our flashing yellow light. When it goes off we have a choice to keep going, or return.
The word repentance literally means to ‘turn’ or ‘return’. Coming from the Greek word Metanoia meaning ‘change of mind.’
Distraction isn’t just a safety issue. Although many a driver would have certainly benefited from more attentive driving habits. How many in fact have paid the ultimate price for failing to keep their eyes on the task at hand? When we don’t focus, when we forget to look straight ahead instead of side to side . . . distraction pulls us in. We are lured in by shiny baubles, personal glory, entertainment, even the taste of good food can be a tempting diversion from daily troubles.
The Israelite’s wondering in the wilderness so many times could have avoided troubles by simply keeping their eyes on God, on His promise. But they forgot the abuse and remembered the food. They forgot the curses of many voiceless gods and remembered the gold and pleasurable rituals. They could only see desert and and remained blind to God’s infinite ability to provide and create.
Of course we all know that this was only the beginning in a long line of generational rebellion. Again and again God would fight to get His chosen peoples attention. He yearned for them to return to Him. Even His beloved King David forgot God’s great generosity; and instead of look up and thanking the Almighty God for what was already given, David took what wasn’t his to take. God gave him everything, and because David got distracted and lost focus, everything wasn’t enough. It cost David the peace of a kingdom and the life a good man and an innocent child. And while those consequences could not be undone, Davids sincere repentance kept him from death. He had seen his mistake and returned to his God.
However, all was not (is not) lost for them or us. Even though we forget and turn our backs to our God over and over; He fought till the death for His children. So that through Jesus Christ His only Son , we are saved from self imposed destruction. All we need to do is believe. God has made it irrevocably easy to keep our eyes on Him. Now when our attention is inevitably diverted, Gods great mercy and love is there pulling us back. God Himself causes us to return.
There is a long list of things I’m not. I’m not patient, kind, loving, wonderful, special, talented . . . well you get the idea. You might say, ‘Oh, your being too hard on yourself.’ or, ‘That isn’t true, I’ve met you are a indeed kind and patient.’ Yes, that may be true-sometimes. Still, I know that I am not those things one hundred percent of the time. I will occasionally slip and say something less than kind. Maybe justifying it as a joke. Even if I manage not to say it out loud, my thoughts betray me. Even if I bite my tongue when someone puts me down or they act obnoxiously, my outward appearance might not match my spirit. If I curse my enemy inwardly is it not the same as an outward lashing?
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Therefore, it is as it is with laws. Either I follow the letter of the law or the spirit of the law. And most of the time I fail miserably at following both. If you aren’t a christian, I honestly have no idea how one deals with the crushing knowledge the we fail as human beings at some level constantly. I can only come to the conclusion that some really don’t know. That they go about life believing that they are as close to perfection as possible. Maybe, but for my part I have not yet met such a person. In fact if you watch the news at all the world seems to be full of the opposite.
All that said, here is my not so secret-secret for dealing with the knowledge that I am so completely and utterly flawed. I’ve read a book. And it say this:
2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Holman Christian Standard Bible
“Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. Look, the Devil is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you will have affliction for 10 days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
We go to church, read our bible, go to Sunday school, we pray, and go about our lives with our human knowledge and human sight; and seemingly unfortunate lack of ability to see into the future. Psychologists talk about children and teenagers not being able to “see around corners.” What they mean (I think) is that kids don’t know how to think ahead far enough to foresee the end result of their current actions. When we ask why they would jump off of the couch onto their little brother, expecting them to know, we as the adults are actually doing so in folly. They really don’t know, and couldn’t predict harm. Their brains aren’t done growing, and they didn’t (previously) have the context to realize what could happen. But we adults have experience that allows us to see ahead, and logically predict results. That’s a benefit right?
Well that depends. Children who can’t see possible harm, also trust that it will work out. And really it usually does, even when flawed parents drop the ball. (And that I do.) They believe that things will be okay. Children believe it even unto to death. Christian parents know this well, however if for some reason we have to live through the ‘even unto death’ part . . . we find it almost impossible to see around the corner and believe it will be okay. Our adult minds, with our adult experiences have given us reason to think it might not be. And its much easier to accept ‘even unto death’ if it’s our own.
But when we’re faced with the death of a loved one, it’s so much harder. We can’t see them, nor can we logically predict our lives without them. The thing is we don’t have to be logical when it comes to trusting God. We don’t have to know everything, we don’t have to do anything. We can mess up everyday, be happy, be sad, maybe be on our game; just hold out hope in Christ. Let go and be faithful until death, and God will give us the crown of life.
Matthew 7:13 & 14, “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.”
Jesus of course was speaking of the afterlife. Why is it that it’s so hard for people to get to heaven? And why is it so easy for us to find ourselves in hell? Apparently if human kind were a pie graph, a narrow 10-20% sliver would be in heaven and the other broad part of the pie would easily be in hell. The thing is, we LIKE doing bad things. We like to drink in excess, eat in excess, and smoke our paychecks away. There’s plenty of evidence that Americans fornicate without restraint as well. Look at divorce rates (even among Christians), look at how many have sexual relations before marriage, and how many registered sex offenders there are. And when it comes to gossip, complaint, little white lies, slander, or plain ol’ discouragement . . . look no further than the social giants of the internet. Pleasure however, is not happiness. And if we continue to revel in what pleases us, what we are really doing is refusing Christ. We would do well to remember that.
The truth is that it takes discipline to do right. It takes restraint and focus to keep ourselves safe from, well ourselves. But there is hope and His name is Jesus Christ. Even if we fail at trying, that’s something. It means that we are no longer just stopped, but we’ve turned around, and made an effort to move toward Jesus. We don’t need to be perfect by any means, because Jesus did that for us. Still, there’s a difference between messing up and regretting it, and knowingly messing up and justifying it.
Anyone that has teenagers or younger kids probably knows that phones (as it were) are a big part of life. Back in my day . . . our phones were just that, phones. And they weren’t very portable. In fact a lot of them still mounted to the wall. And then there were those that sat on the counter. Still you were limited to the distance of the cord.
But I acquiesce, now its different. There is a world of information at your fingertips. Some good, some bad. Lately I’ve noticed a good trend, a musical one. Many of the games are based on a music. And the music that plays is largely classical. As they tap on the screen in time with the tune they’re immersed in wordless melodies. I think its a wonderful way to re-introduce our next generation to something besides glamour based hip hop. (Not that I haven’t indulged myself on occasion.) But there is study after study that shows how classical music in particular, has various benefits to our human brains.
Do I know the science of it? Absolutely not. But I know that when I listen to music, something happens. There’s always at least an emotional reaction, and often if it hits home, I get literal chills. Y’all know what I mean right? Everybody has felt it. Everybody has that one song. That has to be God given.
And we may never know why exactly, but God seems to have given us this beautiful gift not solely for entertainment, but in part at least to inspire, and heal. In fact music is so important to God, He created Psalms. A large collection of music mostly written by a beloved warrior king. (I’d love to be able to go back in time to hear how they were originally meant to be heard.)
So while kids today have it pretty good, and technology is scary, God will always want to share His wonders with His children. And that’s pretty cool.
I know that’s rude, in my defense I’ve only said that to my dog. And so far, since I’ve kept my tone loving, she doesn’t mind at all. (I really do love my dog, I just have a twisted sense of humor.) But call a person that and O M Goodness, it’s on. Do I have a point? Well yeah, people are obese and they’re sensitive about it. Me too I might add. No one has to point out to me my extra weight. I’m well aware. How’d I get that way? Did I stuff my face way to much? No, not really. Although I admit I’m not always great about what I eat. My main problem is a lack of activity. I went from fairly active, to not so much. (My injury had a lot to do with that.) So it’s hard, harder than it might be for other people. But that’s OK. That’s my normal. This is me. Would I like to loose weight? Of course. What’s my point again? Fattys like me might not be as lazy as they look.
Maybe sometimes that person we’re looking at has a story. Maybe we’re more than what we look like. God told Samuel that he saw human hearts, He said he saw past our bodies. And I’m both glad and concerned when I hear that. I’m glad he sees past my crippled body, and I hold out concern for what I know is a dingy heart I hold.
That being said, there’s an obvious increase in obesity in this country. Sometimes, we do need to remember we eat to live. Not live to eat. And moderation applies to food as well as politics. Sometimes a weight issue is rightly attributed to overindulgence. God provides well for us, and we need to thank Him for it. That might mean showing some discipline and gratitude. Discipline through restraint, and gratitude through sharing with those less fortunate.