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God Has Feelings Too (Part 1)

pink and green flower buds
 
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.  The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them.  I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who. . . bent down to them and fed them.  Hosea 11:1-4
 
God can easily become an abstraction – all those “omni” words, like omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, that are taught in confirmation classes.  God is a person, well, three persons in one deity.  The personal nature of God can get lost when we view God as sort of stoic, you know, just ruling the world and sending angels and such.  In Hosea 11 God speaks in the first person, and what we learn is that God has feelings too.
 
The feeling revealed in the verses above is heartache.  God depicts himself as a father, who rescued his son Israel from slavery in Egypt and raised that child with all the love that could be imagined.  He took Israel by the arms, like a small child, and taught this mob of emancipated slaves how to walk.  He held Israel in his arms to comfort them when they were afraid in the desert, protected them when enemies attacked.  Like a father, he bent down to feed them with manna day after day.  He promised them a wonderful land of their own, and he led them there with kindly forbearance.  When Israel disobeyed, God called them back to himself.  And what did God get for all this love?  They ran away from home and adopted the lifestyle and worship habits of their pagan neighbors.  God was heartbroken.
 
Has God been any less a father to us?  He calls us his children.  We in America are the best fed people in the world, living in relative safety and blessed materially beyond our needs.  He has opened his heart to us in Scripture and forgiven us no matter how often we’ve strayed.  Maybe though, like Israel, we’ve adopted too much of our pagan culture.  Maybe we’ve taken our God for granted and forgotten him when we get caught up in our little lives.  Do you think God is sometimes heartbroken as we ignore his calls to repent and return?  Does it occur to us that God has feelings too?
 
To see the heartache of almighty God, look at his Son on the cross.  There God abandoned his only Son in order to save us adopted children.  But when the price of our forgiveness had been paid, God raised his Son from death and assured us that all the heartache we have caused him has been forgiven.  We are still his children.  He still wants to spend eternity with us.  And there we will experience the overwhelming feeling that characterizes our God – love.
 
PRAYER:  I’m sorry, Lord, for all the times I’ve caused You heartache with my sins and indifference to Your will.  Thank You for Your enduring love and the forgiveness Jesus earned for me.  Shape my feelings with Your own, that I live as Your child now and forever.  Amen.

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Power

white and black labeled book selective focus photography
 
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me.” [Matthew 28:18] 

“Come on, just get it done!” A line we love to use with our children or grandchildren, to get them finally to finish their homework or cleaning or dinner. Finish it, just do it. Thoughts we love to harbor about what other people should be doing. But do we bring the same conviction upon ourselves? 

Jesus said that all authority is his. And he proved it by rising from the dead. He did get it done! He did complete it. Jesus has all the power. And the crazy thing is that Jesus has promised to share. 

Jesus has given his disciples the Holy Spirit, the power to live out everything he’s asked us to do. Often, we are controlled by fear, worry, or laziness, and we give up or fail even to start living out the Christian life. What are your excuses for not living out your faith? Write them down, think about them. Take them to Jesus. Be bold enough to say, “Jesus, here are the reasons why I cannot do what you are asking me.” 

But then read Matthew 28:18-20, and remember Jesus can do anything. Our God can do anything! That means even turning your life around. Maybe he already has. Jesus promised to give us life-changing work- being loving and patient and gracious. Jesus appointed us to make disciples by demonstrating what it means to be a Christian day by day. And Jesus made a promise that he would be with us always.

So come on, just get it done! I believe in you. I know you can do it. Why? You have the power of Jesus on your side. And Jesus can do anything.

Prayer: Jesus, please show us Your power today. May we experience how easy it is for You to give Your love and strength to us, that we may do the things to which You’ve appointed us. In Your name we pray, Amen.

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Pardon

 
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” [Luke 23:34]

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t… 
That is how life feels sometimes, right? No matter what decision you make, no matter what you say, no matter what you do, you are in trouble. Guilty. Angering someone. And let’s not forget that we ourselves are pretty good at getting upset, too.

God hates sin. God is light. In him is no darkness. He is the ultimate judge. So, we can only imagine that God, too, sees it this way. To be sure, each and every one of us is damned by our action or inaction. Each of us is damned because we’re human. But more than that, each of us is loved because we’re human. God has the power to judge, and instead chose to pardon. Jesus came to display the judgment of the world in his body, hanging on the cross. That’s where judgment was done, so that we could all live in pardon. In grace.

We are sent to display that pardon in our lives. “Forgive them Jesus. They don’t know what they’re doing.” They are just like me. We receive God’s love and God’s call to love others. Are you withholding a pardon- or need to seek some forgiveness? Take time today; live out that pardon. 

Prayer: Father, help us to experience Your pardon of our sins in Jesus, so that we can live in the freedom of sharing forgiveness with others. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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Presence

 
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. [John 1:14]
 
After a year of limited relationships, people are ready to get back together with others. But if we’re honest with ourselves, there are some people we are happy not to see so often. Some people bother us, irritate us, anger us, frustrate us. Some people judge us, condemn us, dislike us. Let’s be honest. We are not always saddened when some people aren’t present. 
 
How about God? If God were present, what would that be like? We can imagine being struck with fear, or judgment over all the wrong we’ve done. We are the ones who have probably annoyed, angered, or frustrated God, after all. Wouldn’t we expect God to come at us with anger? Or maybe just want to stay away from us for good?
 
God is so unpredictable. Instead of pulling away or coming against us in judgment, God did the unthinkable. God came down to us. In love. In weakness. In humility. God sent Jesus, born as a baby, living in human flesh. God not only wants to be present with us; God wants desperately to know us and be known by us. 
 
Jesus is present with his people. Jesus is present with you. Let’s be honest; we don’t deserve it. But that doesn’t matter. Jesus loves you, and he wants you to know that he is with you, God-with-us, Immanuel. 
 
Today, no matter who you’re missing (or not missing), you don’t have to miss God. Jesus is always with you, showing you glory. Showing you grace and truth.
 
Prayer: Jesus, You are God with us. Thank You for being with us, especially when we don’t deserve it. Help us to see You always, and live in Your grace and truth. In Your name we pray, Amen.

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Will You Start?

black and silver steering wheel
 
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:9-10)
 
I can’t believe it. I woke up this morning, got ready for my day, got in my car, and I turned the key in the ignition. Guess what? It started! Amazing! 
 
No. Not amazing, just expected, right? It’s science, or technology, or math. Something that just works (until it doesn’t). Our cars starting, or our electricity working, or so much of our modern lives, faithfully happens. We have lost some sense of the wonder that should accompany such alarming consistency in our lives. Thank God so much of this world is faithful!

What about God? Well, we know God is faithful. God creates life, sustains life, and has a plan in place for life forever. God’s forgiveness in Jesus is consistent, unfailing, unwavering. God’s love doesn’t change with the weather or our moods. 
 
But what about us? We are about as far from faithful as you can get at times. We regularly break our promises, do what we say we won’t, don’t do what we say we will. We get so low and desperate that we need to hear it again: “You are God’s child.” But then the second we feel confident in ourselves, we take up that unthinkable line: “I haven’t sinned!” 
 
John wants us to know that is the equivalent of calling God a liar. This side of heaven- everything we do is tainted by sin. Our best and most holy works are touched with sin, even as our worst acts of sin are touched by the forgiving and healing hand of Jesus. 

God is faithful and just. No matter what today brings for you, takes from you, works in you, God is faithful. Jesus has put His word in you, and like a key in the ignition, that will ignite our lives every day.
 
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are faithful. We want to see Your faithfulness and mercy every day. Keep Your forgiveness before us, as we trust in You and share Your love with the world. In Your name we pray, AMEN.

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