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in Hope

Be Imitators

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I was sitting in the hospital waiting room as my mother-in-law was having a procedure done. As the hours passed by, my family started a conversation with a lady beside us who’s husband was also having the same procedure done. This lady, who I will call Jane, began sharing with us where she was from, why she moved to North Carolina, and how many kids and grandkids she had. She was just a delightful lady who was totally unguarded, and quite funny.
The question then arose, “Where do you go to church?” Still unguarded, Jane began telling us why she doesn’t go to church. She gave us several reasons: she wasn’t sure what she believed about God, she didn’t want to quit drinking, and she also said she cussed sometimes and felt like she’d have to quit that before she ever went. Jane went on to tell us that she had a son who died and another one in prison. She was clearly so broken on the inside but was trying her best to appear okay on the outside.
My family continued talking to her and then invited her to visit their church. After a few minutes of hearing multiple excuses I realized something, Jane thought she had to quit everything and “act” right before she could ever darken the door of the church. I could have cried right there, my heart was pounding out of my chest! What does this lady believe about God to make her think she has to look a certain way, act a certain way, be a certain way before she can ever come to church.
I realized in that moment, the church has failed. I have failed.
God will take whoever comes to Him whether the church will or not. The church, which is actually a people and not a building, must once again come into alignment with Gods heart for people.
My privilege and my role as a believer is to be God’s representative on earth; to show others what He is really like. Why did Jane think that she had to look perfect before she came to a place that was supposed to be a loving, inviting, encouraging family atmosphere? Because that is what we have led the world to believe.
It’s time we, the church, once again echo His words, “Whosoever will, let him come.”
Whether you come hurting, broken, confused, it does not matter, just come.
God wants Jane in His family. God’s heart broke, just as mine was breaking, as I heard her story. Why does she think God is like a taskmaster? Why did she think she had to quit drinking or cursing before she came to Him?
Why does she not know that God loves her?
Why the misrepresentation of His character and nature?
And I had to go to the mirror to see part of the problem.
How I wished I would have asked this sweet lady, “What is your perception of God?”
This could have been the perfect door of opportunity to share with her about Jesus, who is the perfect representation of His Dad, God. Jesus is inviting. Jesus is kind. Jesus showed the world that God is good. Jesus provides a way for everyone to get to His Father.
How will the world get the revelation of the goodness of God if His own kids don’t even know it?
Ephesians 5:1 says,
Be imitators of God in everything you do, for then you will represent your Father as His beloved sons and daughters.
What does it look like to be imitators of God in everything we do? Galatians 5 holds the answer! When we allow the Spirit of God, who lives inside of us to lead us and control us, here’s the outcome: “God’s Spirit within us, is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.”
Jesus’s love literally attracted people into His Kingdom! Not His judgement, not His laws, but His love. Here’s the incredible news flash: He has now both called and equipped us with the same task! His Spirit enables us to do what He did: love limitlessly!
I have been so extravagantly loved, so mercifully saved from what I deserve, that I want to please my Father in everything! So let’s pursue Him and go after those lost and hurting who are looking for hope and an answer. We have the greatest news the world is desperate to hear! So I echo the words of Jesus, “Let’s go and make disciples!”
Posted by Brooke Caldwell with
in Faith

Forever Merciful!

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“For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore, you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. 7 Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” Says the LORD of hosts.  Malachi 3:6-7 (NKJV)

What an amazing verse of scripture! What is God saying here? Simply put, He is allowing Israel to receive an abundance of grace. He is offering an undeserved redemption to ones who deserved the opposite. Remember, He has spent much of the past two chapters of Malachi rebuking Israel for her lack of devotion. He has reminded her of the many ways that she has turned away from Him.

While He has remained steadfast, Israel has gone astray. One would expect a completely different reaction from a slighted King than the one we see here in these verses. Instead of reacting in judgment, God is reacting with a heart of restoration. He is reminding Israel that though they have changed, He has not.

Despite her tendency to discard the relationship with God at will, He has no plan to judge them for their sin. Instead He is reminding them that His love, mercy, devotion, and promises are still on the table. You see, God isn’t an insecure Father that feels the need to destroy those who have been less than faithful. Instead, He is offering Israel a path back to His blessings.

Isn’t it great to know that this is the heart of our Father. Despite our continued reaction of indifference to His awe inspiring love, He wants to restore not just Israel; but us as well. I find it truly amazing to encounter such mercy and grace. The God that owes us nothing wants to give us everything. Though we have been unfaithful, He has chosen to remain faithful. Where else but God can we find such forgiveness and love?

The answer to that question is easy: NOWHERE!

Posted by Mike Devine with

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