June 25, 2015

God’s amazing grace

Nehemiah 9:1–10:27, 1 John 5:13–16, Psalm 111:1–112:10

When I read the history of the Jews in the Old Testament, it seems so much like my own history. I’ve been a Christian for more than forty years, often in the wilderness like they were, always experiencing the goodness of God even when refusing to obey Him. 

“They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies, you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go.” (Nehemiah 9:17–19)

I’ve refused to obey. I’ve forgotten the power of God to deliver me from bondage to sin and self. I’ve even made a ‘golden calf’ of other people and things, relying on them instead of God. But He remains gracious and merciful, not because of me, but because of Jesus Christ who died for me.

The Lord is incredible. He knows my stumbling, but takes care of me and leads me in the way I should go . . .  

“You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.” (Nehemiah 9:20–21)

His goodness overwhelms me. Like those who wandered back then, I can also say that, “In your great mercies you did not make an end of them (or me), or forsake them (or me), for you are a gracious and merciful God.” (Nehemiah 9:31)

In spite of my foolishness, the Lord blesses me. He gave me faith in His Son and eternal life. He hears and answers my prayers . . .

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:13–15)

My confidence comes from His total acceptance and forgiveness. No matter how often I fail or deeply I fall, He is ready to pick me up and set me straight. There is nothing in me that warrants anything from Him, except that Jesus died for me and lives in me. My sins are forgiven – forever, even though my old nature is still prone to faithlessness and failure and will be untrustworthy until step into eternity. Now I still sin, still need to confess sin, still need His grace, and my God still blesses me – a sinner.

A modern song says to count our blessings. The psalmist did it many centuries ago. How important to do this and to remember His goodness.

“Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous. It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor.” (Psalm 112:1–9)

Indeed, praise God. His mercy endures forever, all because of Jesus and His amazing grace!

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