We live in a broken world, a world filled with pain and suffering and things that are not right. From the very beginning, when God created the world, He foreknew that sin would enter the world. He knew that brokenness would be a way of life for us. He knew that nothing could be done to save the brokenness without Him moving in a mighty way.
God sent His one and only Son to save us, to redeem us, to pay a price we could not pay. He reached out to restore us and bring us back into a relationship with Him. Every day we have the opportunity to enjoy a relationship with our heavenly Father. Because Jesus suffered the wrath that was to be our punishment, we can enjoy His “wrap-around presence.” This is because God has stooped down to us to bring us back into His holy presence.
When the world is beating you down, when you are lost in your brokenness, be reminded of the stooping down gentleness of God. Who am I that He would even consider me? Yet, our God moves through the brokenness with gentleness. He does not attack our brokenness, but beautifully works through it and makes us new. Strange enough, when we take something broken and try to repair it, the end result is never something better. Superglue and duct tape only go so far. But we serve a God of the impossible. With God, we are a masterpiece. He makes us great—better than we ever were. With Him moving through us, navigating through the brokenness, each day we are made more into the image of His Son. All because He has stooped down in gentleness.
“You empower me for victory with your wrap-around presence. Your power within makes me strong to subdue, and by stooping down in gentleness you strengthened me and made me great!” – Psalm 18:35 [TPT]
These past two weeks, I continue to be reminded of floods. As we continue our series through Genesis, we were discussing Noah and the Flood, and the aftermath. As well, Facebook has reminded me of the flooding we had in 2011, with photos of local areas flooded from Tropical Storm Lee. I cannot fathom the view Noah would have had from the Ark as the earth was destroyed by flood waters.
When I look back on these flood photos from Tropical Storm Lee, I still cannot believe the area was flooded. I remember seeing photos of Knoebels Amusement Park underwater and thinking I would never again get to take a family visit to the park. Two years ago, I found myself walking around at Knoebels as if the place was never flooded. Some of the photos of the roads flooded by Lee I have driven on just last week. It was as if nothing ever happened.
All of this talk of flooding these past few weeks reminds me of the restoration of God. He is Jehovah Rophi, God who heals, Who restores. In Exodus 15, God proclaims this to the Israelites as they cry out because of the bitter water at Marah. Still today, God restores. Yes, we will suffer a little while; however, “He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.” Keep pressing forward. Restoration will come!
“He said, ‘If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, obeying His commands and keeping all His decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you.’” – Exodus 15:26 [NLT]
“In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.” – 1 Peter 5:10 [NLT]
As I was preparing for a message on embracing God and embracing others, I considered the half hug. You all know the half hug. It is when you sort of hug someone, but do not truly hug the person. It’s a half hug. You have one arm around the person, but the other arm just dangles there. It’s like you almost embrace a person, but yet you don’t complete it. Some would even call this a fake hug.
I continued to be brought back to this half hug as I was preparing the message, and focusing on embracing God. Do we half hug God sometimes? Is that possible? Of course it is possible. Sadly, it is what most Christians do many times. Some compare this to having one foot in heaven and the rest of their body in the world. It’s when you are not all in when it comes to your walk with God. You believe in Jesus. You have been saved. Yet, you don’t have the close relationship that God always wanted since the creation of the earth.
When God created Adam and Eve, He walked with them. He wanted to have that kind of relationship with man. We all know sin damaged this relationship. But we also know that Jesus Christ died on the cross for a restoration of this relationship. The veil was torn. The Spirit was poured out upon believers. We can have that relationship again. The Bible tells us this truth. It’s awesome. Part of this relationship is described with the word abide. If we abide in Him, He abides in us. That sounds confusing but it’s simple. We abide (or remain) in Him, and He abides (remains) with us. How awesome?!? Understand there is no half abiding. The abiding is not to be a pick and choose type thing. You are either abiding or you are not abiding. Today, ask the Spirit to share with you where you currently are at, and if there is anything that is blocking your abiding in Him.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 [NLT]
Today’s passage gets me to consider how God restores. We serve a God of restoration. Consider this—after two days He revives and then on the third day raises up. Does this remind you of anything? Earlier in the passage, it speaks about returning to the Lord. We read that God has torn and struck down. This is something that is done to prune, to grow, to stretch God’s people and produce what is meant—what is better. We read that in doing so we are healed and bound up.
The passage continues to say that we are raised up so that “we may live before Him.” I love this. Earlier Hosea speaks about being led astray, not having a knowledge of God, being far from God. Now this passage says that we will live before Him. We go from being far from Him, away from Him altogether, to being right before Him—in His presence! How awesome is that?!?
Understand friends, that our God restores. He takes that which is broken and He binds. He takes that which is dirty and cleanses. There will be breaking. There will be pruning. But there is also deliverance. There is also restoration. There is healing. Let us press on. Let us press on to know the Lord. His Word helps us to recognize Him more, to understand Him more. His Spirit reveals and reminds. Press on.
“Come, let us return to the Lord; for He has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live before Him. Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” – Hosea 6:1-3 [ESV]
In John 5, we read about the healing at the pool. There was a man that was there for 38 years in need of healing. He said he never had any help to get into the healing pool to receive healing. Jesus commands Him to get up, to carry his mat, and to walk. The man was at once is healed and he rose to his feet and walked.
Later we read that Jesus and the healed man meet up again at the Temple. This time, Jesus notes that the man is well, followed by a command. He tells the man to “sin no more.” Even though the man was healed, it didn’t mean he could continue along on a path that was opposite what God intended.
At the end of the day, it is important for us to realize that anytime we sin, we are going again God. As we walk closer to God, as we receive healing and restoration, we should always keep our eyes fixed on Him. Sometimes when we get a bit of healing in an area we wanted badly to change, we revert back to old ways. God wants to continue to make you a new person—to continue to restore every part of you and grow you into the person you are meant to be in life. It is by your continual obedience that this will be fulfilled.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.’ …Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.’” – John 5:8, 14 [ESV]
As you look through old clothing, you might find a pair of old shorts that are not even able to be donated. They are beyond salvageable. They are discolored. They are frayed. They have holes. The fabric is worn hard and perhaps stained. They are worthless.
God had Jeremiah take a linen belt, or for us to better understand, some linen shorts, and wear them without any washing. Then he was directed to take them off and hide them. When they were retrieved, they were worthless because they did not receive the proper care.
The people of God, which includes us today, are to cling to God. But like the people of this time, the people that went from clinging to God and His Law to burying themselves in idolatry and sin, we have a great problem with corruption that can take away our worth to the Kingdom. Thankfully, Jesus Christ can wash us and we become as white as snow. When we come to know Christ, we do not have to be a pair of old shorts. We are made new. We are forgiven. We are redeemed. We are restored.
God told me, “Go and buy yourself some linen shorts. Put them on and keep them on. Don’t even take them off to wash them.” So I bought the shorts as God directed and put them on. Then God told me, “Take the shorts that you bought and go straight to Perath and hide them there in a crack in the rock.” So I did what God told me and hid them at Perath. Next, after quite a long time, God told me, “Go back to Perath and get the linen shorts I told you to hide there.” So I went back to Perath and dug them out of the place where I had hidden them. The shorts by then had rotted and were worthless.
-Jeremiah 13:1-7 [MSG]
God made man from the dirt. It is something that we do not consider very often. We read about it in Genesis and we might hear during a funeral service that to dust we shall return. I think it is fair to say that most people do not consider these facts on a day-to-day basis but it is important to recognize both.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, they were both tossed out and today’s passage says they were then left “to work the ground, the SAME DIRT out of which they’d been made.” It was not God’s intention. God walked with Adam and Eve. They had a special relationship, a beautiful relationship. This relationship was broken when sin entered the world. By God’s grace we are able to have that relationship restored.
Today consider this same dirt—but more importantly—consider the grace of God. He may command us to work the dirt from which we come but then one day we return home. We do not need return to the same dirt forever. He has something more for us—eternal life with Him.
“So God expelled them from the Garden of Eden and sent them to work the ground, the same dirt out of which they’d been made. He threw them out of the garden and stationed angel-cherubim and a revolving sword of fire east of it, guarding the path to the Tree-of-Life.”
– Genesis 3:23-24 [MSG]
There were different offerings given to the Lord including the Grain Offering. The Grain Offering was to show honor to God. Recently when I was reading Leviticus 2, I read about what was involved with the Grain Offering. There was choice flour, olive oil, and frankincense. But there was something else. Something else was added to the Grain Offering. Salt.
The salt was used to season the Grain Offering. That might sound strange to us because we think of salt as a seasoning for food that we will eat. Why would a person salt an offering that was going to be given to God? This salt was to remind the people of God’s covenant with them. Salt symbolized preservation. Salt symbolized healing. God offers us preservation and healing. This salt reminded people that God was active in their lives. He was active and he was offering preservation and healing and restoration.
Today we are still offered preservation and healing and restoration through Christ. Like salt, God can penetrate our lives and preserve them. He can offer us healing. He can offer us eternal preservation. But have you added the salt? Have you allowed God to penetrate your life? Are you allowing Him to be active in your life?
“Season all your grain offerings with salt to remind you of God’s eternal covenant. Never forget to add salt to your grain offerings.” – Leviticus 2:13 [NLT]
As I was driving home from work, the sky looked scary. A storm was nearby and the sky was gray up ahead and promised a nasty storm. There was a rain shower that quickly passed. I drove toward the gray area after a long day at work. Third Day’s song “Lift Up Your Face” was playing on the radio. I was in pain and only wanted to get home and put my feet up.
I turned the corner and listened closely to the song lyrics: “Lift up your face / Salvation is calling.” I looked up and before me was this beautiful rainbow. I considered what the rainbow symbolized and remembered His promises. I thought of a day He promised where I would feel no pain—when things would be different. I considered His love- His salvation- His mercy – His forgiveness. I started to feel a lot better.
Today lift up your face. Focus on God. Remind yourself of His promises to you—His Word—His mercy—His love. Remind yourself that He makes all things new. Remind yourself that things will not always be like this—He has promised us restoration.
“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” – Proverbs 4:25 [ESV]