Every time I read the story about the adulterous woman it hits me between the eyes. While we are all sinners, Jesus still forgives us of all our sins. Even the really bad things in our lives He forgives. Jesus’ words in John 8:10-11 are some of the most powerful to me, 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Other than Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, I think this is one of the most powerful examples of His love. God may be disappointed when we sin, but He never stops loving us.
Today we begin the book of Hosea, which was written during a prosperous time for Israel, though it was morally declining. The book was written to illustrate Israel’s unfaithfulness to God when Hosea is commanded to marry a promiscuous woman named Gomer. Hosea’s relationship with her, her adultery, and their children became living prophetic examples to Israel. As I read this book I am amazed by Hosea’s obedience to God, but then I am reminded of God’s faithfulness to me. This story illustrates my relationship to God and how I stray from my faithfulness to Him. I read this book reminded of how my relationship to God must change and how it must grow for me to be more faithful to Him.
Today we read the story of Jonah. Jonah is very much like most of us. God has a plan and wants to use us to fulfill His plan, but many times we fight Him on it. We make excuses and find ways to avoid doing what we know He wants us to do. In the end, Jonah was finally obedient to God and when God blessed Jonah’s effort by turning the people of Nineveh from their evil way, Jonah became resentful of God for allowing the people of Nineveh to be forgiven. We can sometimes be like this too. There are people in our pasts who have hurt us or caused pain in our lives and God has blessed them. This is sometimes a hard pill to swallow, but it is God’s prerogative to forgive who he chooses to forgive. It helps to remember that God forgave us too. None of us is exempt from a sinful life and all of us need His mercy and grace to come into His presence.
We also read Psalm 84 today. The beginning of verse 10 is one of the most beautiful passages I have ever read, Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. We are nothing without God’s presence in our lives. If we could only be in God’s presence for a single moment, it would be enough. Thankfully God desires for us to be in His presence on a constant basis. It is up to us to take advantage of that desire and choose to be with Him.
There is a common theme with many of the kings of Israel, even with the kings who do the right thing in the eyes of The Lord that allows evil back into Israel. While some of the kings do the right thing, most of them fail to fully remove all the things that are against God’s law. This allows an easy return of evil. The same thing applies to us and our lives. When we repent of our sin we need to fully remove it from our lives. We all are capable of stopping sin, but are we capable to never returning to the same sin? That is a question we all must answer for ourselves.
As we cross over to chapter 18 in the book of Leviticus, God’s message shifts from the sacrificial system for forgiveness of sin, to instructions on how to live as forgiven people. This is a good reminder to us a forgiven people through Christ’s sacrifice. As I read the second part of our reading in Proverbs this morning, verse 16:9 jumped out to me, In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. This verse may not seem to tie into the reading in Leviticus, but to me it says a lot about how we, as changed people, are to allow God to show us how to live once we are forgiven. It’s difficult to live according to God’s plan if we are not first aware of the forgiveness He has provided us. We must first feel His forgiveness before we can truly live as forgiven people.
Today’s reading went in many directions, but the story that stood out to me the most was the story of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter. While I may find Simeon’s and Levi’s revenge distasteful,it is an example of the consequences of sin. Sin ultimately leads to pain. Sometimes it is greater than others, but through the Holy Spirit, God always convicts us of what we have allowed to deceive us in our lives. However, we must never lose sight that God’s grace and mercy is greater than any sin in our lives. When sin is allowed to creep in, we must repent (turn away) and commit our lives to following God’s leading. We will never be perfect or free from sin, but we must always strive to be more like Christ each day we are alive.
For our first reflection day, I wanted to share a video someone shared with me a few years ago. This is Reverend David Wilkerson’s soul-stirring sermon on the necessity of anguish – to bear God’s heart, passion, and burden within our lives. It is lest than 8 minutes long and is one of the more powerful messages I have heard in a while. I’d love to hear your comments on it.
In today’s reading I could not help but think of our country when I read verse 2, When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order. As a country we follow many rulers depending on our political affiliation. When we as a country decide to stop being so rebellious and follow God, we will no longer have this issue and will be able to unite behind the right leader.
As I started to read Psalm 78 I thought I would not have much to say about the chapter because it was mostly a recounting of the history of the Israelites through David’s reign. However, as I read and noticed how many times the people rebelled and God forgave them, it reminded me of my life. No matter how bad things I do, God always forgives me when I repent and ask Him for His forgiveness. As we fast-forward to Christ, He solidified grace and forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. It humbles and sometimes shames me to think how many times God has to forgive me. I need to be reminded daily that I need the Holy Spirit to help me and guide me through my life to stay away from my potentially sinful ways. God is merciful and full of grace, which makes me love Him all the more.
We all have sorrow in our lives because we all have sin. It is how we react to sin that really matters in our lives and our well being. Verse 10 says, Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. When we are the ones who repent to God and don’t wait for the world to be the one to point out our sin, we experience forgiveness that allows us to be restored to our faith instead of shaming us away from it.