Daughters of Promise

Who Repents? Not Always The Guilty.

October 5, 2018

My sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. Psalm 40:12

Yesterday, the cry for repentance went out and the reverberations from God, through Malachi, reached our hearts. After sending it, this thought came to me. “Few who need to repent actually do. bAnd, those who are quick to repent often aren’t the guilty ones!” As soon as I was struck by this, I saw many of you taking in the message of repentance, reviewing your sins and hanging your head in discouragement. The sins may be ones you’ve already repented of, but feel that God could not possibly have forgiven. Satan, your accuser, throws them up to your face daily! They may even be false sins; ones over which others have proclaimed you guilty, but in actuality, you are not.

Any of us who were the family scapegoat will be inclined to embrace accusations as truth. We have an overly sensitive ‘guilt trigger’. Self-hatred is also often mistaken for repentance. Thoughts of unworthiness deceive, leading us to believe that what we’re experiencing is a kind of humility Jesus wants. But God desires to lift us up, set us free, and see us dance over the discovery of being so extravagantly forgiven. Wallowing in guilt was never His design. When we do, it’s a sign that we have embraced a pseudo Christianity fashioned by the hands of one who enjoys watching us live a compromised life. True repentance happens when the Spirit of God brings a sin to mind, I respond remorsefully, and am then able to get up and rejoice over His radical forgiveness. My Chris-centered lifestyle should resemble a never-ending cycle;

  • Sin
  • Repentance
  • Joy of Forgiveness
  • Well-being

Some never truly repent. They are indignant at the suggestion. The many who do acknowledge their guilt never allow Jesus to pull them out of the pit. Their cry resembles David’s lament. Sins overtake them. Ah friend, as long as you and I can see the cross, look up and gaze into the eyes of our suffering Savior, we will find the secret to living with freedom and joy.

I can’t trust others to decide when I am guilty. It’s too important a matter. My ears are open to You first. Amen

Ignoring a God I Cannot See

October 4, 2018

Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.” But this is what the LORD Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the LORD. Malachi 1:4

Edom, the nation that descended from Esau, was the subject of God’s justice. Because of its persistent rebellion against the compelling voice of God, it had been overtaken by Nebuchadnezzar, and later by another nation. Today, the ruins of a place called Petra stand as a silent testimony to the accuracy of God’s prophetic word.

The arrogance of the Edomites was chilling. They had no regard for the words spoken by God Almighty. Though He pronounced judgment because of their sin, they turned a deaf ear to His call for repentance. They asserted that they would just rebuild each time God demolished them. Where are they today? In extinction. God always has the last word.

When God speaks, I must respond and submit my will to His. I have had my moments like the descendants of Esau. “God, I know You told me to do this but I’m going to do something else instead.” I walked in my own preferred path which is always rooted in self-obsession and then wondered years later why I shipwrecked. My insistence on my path instead of God’s path felt justified logically, but I really put myself on the throne with the choice I made. Eventually, I looked at the ruins of my life ~ ruins as visible to my spirit as the place called Petra.

God’s justice against Edom was loving. After all, if God didn’t care, He wouldn’t bring consequences. By using the force of parental discipline, He hoped they would draw near. He ached for their repentance, a response that would have opened the door to His blessing. My inner world trembles today at the personal implications.

When I face the consequences of my sin, there is no ‘fixing it’ without doing it Your way. When will I learn that it’s always about submission, humility, and repentance. Amen

Do You Know What Hatred Really Means?

October 3, 2018

Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” the LORD says. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.” Malachi 1:2-3

I don’t want to run from this difficult passage so I have been researching and believe God is clear and consistent about two things:  He hates sin but loves the sinner.  Yet, this verse says that God hated Esau.  

In English, to hate someone is to strongly dislike them and to feel intense hostility at the thought of them.  In Hebrew though, it means something else.  Ancient Hebrew was pictographic, a language consisting of shapes and pictures.  The picture for hatred was a thorn, something with a sharp edge, something from which you back up and go around.  Thorns cause pain and are something to avoid.  Esau’s sins were the kind that sent arrows through the heart of God.  He found no delight in Esau’s company and made it clear He did not dwell with the wicked – with those who intentionally, and over a long period of time, chose evil. “The righteous will never be uprooted but the wicked will not remain in the land.” Prov. 10:30

Esau was the only person in scripture that God says he ‘hated’, was repelled by.  It was a serious offense that Esau didn’t prize his birthright, God’s blessing of covenant passed down through the firstborn.  He thought so little of it that he carelessly traded it for his brother’s stew.  He rejected the ways of Yahweh.  In spite of this, Esau momentarily came to his sense when he realized what he’d done and he wanted it back.  God spoke through Isaac and didn’t withhold it.  Esau was given an inferior blessing, but still a blessing. 

Does God stop loving?  Does He delight in judgement?  He says, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked.”  Jeremiah conveyed God’s heart when he wrote, “I sent all my servants the prophets again and again saying, “Oh, do not do this abominable thing which I hate.” God’s arm of mercy is so long that He gives chance after chance for repentance. Doesn’t this put people’s judgement of God in perspective?  Many avoid the O.T. because God appears to them to be brutal and angry.  Daughter of Promise, He is patient, merciful, and long-suffering way before judgement comes.  He came for the sinner, he seeks them in order to win them, and he died for them to give them a chance to have their sins forgiven and start again as God’s child.

I am in awe that that You are a just God; One who takes sin seriously.  Mine was so sobering that You sent Your Son to atone for me.  Don’t let me forget why I am in relationship with You.  Amen

When Is Love Proven?

October 2, 2018

“I have loved you,” says the LORD. “But you ask, `How have You loved us?’ Malachi . 1:2

I’ve heard this exchange before – this banter between people in relationships.  Have you?  Expressions of love are met with contempt. “Love me? Oh yeah, right. How have you loved me?” The question is thousands of years old.  Someone feels that love hasn’t been adequately proven.  Perhaps it really was woefully imperfect though sometimes, it’s entitlement that causes someone to believe that love should have been defined differently.  If the one who is accused sets out to re-prove it, the hoops they have to jump through can be endless.

I’ve heard it said that the reason Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden wasn’t because of pride. It was ingratitude. They felt entitled to the only tree God declared “forbidden.” They defined the boundaries of love and expected God to cooperate.

If all God ever did for me was to respond to my plight of eternal condemnation by sending Jesus to die, would that not be enough? Would I dare to infer that being spared eternally from hell is a small thing? Do I really  feel entitled to more?  Does it make sense to sneer at God when I don’t believes He loves me like I think He should? What if my health fails or my business is near to collapse? Does God owe me miracles to make it everything right again?

He offers forgiveness from sins that would destroy me if it weren’t for His pardon and cleansing.  He offers grace when I run out of coping mechanisms.  He extends mercy when judgement would be warranted.  He invites me to be joined to Him forever, puts His robe around my shoulders, and offers me the gift of companionship for my life here.  Can I be justified in my expectations of more? Surely the gift of His Son’s blood has proven His love adequate.

Every time I’m loved by family and friends, it is an added blessing.  When I wake up with energy and have a love for the work He has called me to, it is an added blessing.  To share Spirit-talk with friends and find that I am moved by their affection for Jesus and for me, this is an added blessing.

Today, God says, “I love you.” May my answer be, regardless of the circumstances, “I know that well.”

I never have cause to accuse You. Forgive me when I have. Amen

If Ever There Were a Voice For Our Times

October 1, 2018

An oracle: The Word of the Lord for Israel through Malachi. Malachi 1:1

We’re not told who Malachi was, other than the fact that he was God’s spokesman. While it would be interesting to read some of his history, there is no personal profile more note-worthy than being called “God’s messenger.”

After seventy years of captivity, the children of Israel were back in their own land. Finally! It didn’t take long however, for them to begin to take God less seriously. They lived with careless abandon; following God when it was convenient and ignoring His commands when He required sacrifice and obedience. Maybe they were tired of waiting for the Messiah. (It would be another 445 years before Jesus would be born.) It’s possible that their trust in God’s ability to keep His promises was wearing thin. Perhaps they felt forgotten and unloved. Their issues were not unlike those I am tempted to wrestle with today. The hard truth is that sometimes God’s promises are not realized in our lifetime.

  • Revival in our nation may not occur until my great grandchildren are raising their families.
  • Great spiritual awakening among those I love may not take place until I am absent from this earth.
  • Jesus may not come back to rapture His church for another hundred years.

What I feel God has promised, I often expect to see fulfilled when I decide it’s time. Receiving the promise is exhilarating and I find that I can be patient for a while before my angst with God begins to surface. Then, questions of God’s faithfulness emerge.

“Did I hear wrong? Maybe God changed His mind. He must be fickle. What’s the use of staying faithful? I may never even live to see this come to pass!”

What I fail to remember is that there are rewards for keeping my heart engaged. When I cling to God’s faithfulness and trust in His promises, my heart knows a peace and confidence that this world cannot mimic nor manufacture. Malachi set out to reprove Israel for their disobedience, but His words didn’t end there. Since He was the last prophet before the birth of Christ, he speaks more clearly of the Messiah than any of His predecessors. His descriptions of Jesus will be rich to ponder. That’s good. My expectations are high.

Jesus, would You convey to Malachi that his obedience as Your messenger touches me today? His words aren’t just dusty renderings from an ancient prophet. Thank him for listening to Your voice. As you do that, I take great joy in knowing that the kingdoms of heaven and earth have coincided at this very moment. Amen

You are the same, and your years have no end.  The children of your servants shall dwell secure.  Psalm 102:27-28

Everything having to do with the Earth is in transition.  The sun, needed to bring the flowers to full bloom, can also have scorching qualities, causing the blossoms to shrivel and die.  Everything I hold in my hands is tenuous unless it is of the kingdom and will last forever.  Is my trust in God?  Should my wealth fail, will I spiral down into hopelessness or will my faith in God sustain me?  If the favor of others fail, will I be unshakable in my identity?

If my pleasant pastures turn into a desert, will I have stored enough spiritual food to sustain me?  If God should close the door to my place of employment, the place I find so fulfilling, will I languish for purpose?

The only One who offers true stability is God.  He is the Rock upon which my feet stand securely.  He is the Anchor when the waves hit.  He is the Fortress when the arrows are aimed at me.  Though favor, wealth, and pleasant pastures are mine to enjoy from time to time, they are not the source of my well-being.  The challenge is this ~ Each one of them gives a sense of security, but it’s a false one.  Will I be astute enough to trust today’s scripture and not be fooled?  That requires more than just passive belief.  It must be active and hard-working.

While in times of prosperity, it’s easy to spout off a cliche.  “God is my security when bad things happen to me!”  Now, I may mean it but if I’m not storing up enough ‘food’ so that when I am tested, I can be nourished through the times of deprivation, how will I experience it?  I must know the One upon whom I plan to trust.  And, I must be accustomed to depending on God so that I can lean into my experience in the act of trusting.  Today:

  • There are areas where I can experience God as provider.  I lean into that.
  • There are areas where I can listen to God as a counselor.  I still myself to listen.
  • There are areas of darkness where I need to experience the light of His love.  I open myself to that.
  • There are areas of insecurity and fear where I can trust Him to face that which frightens me.  I welcome the challenge.

Life involves far more than just living what I am experiencing.  It requires being pro-active.  Digging into my faith and storing away riches for the future will be my only insurance against transitory times.

I enjoy the peace of today, Lord.  I thank you for it but I am not fooled.  Tomorrow, the winds may blow.  I make knowing you, even in peaceful times, my priority.  In Jesus name, Amen

Inside Jeremiah 29:11

September 27, 2018

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 

My life is measured by minutes as well as years. If you asked me how I was at 2:30 last Saturday, my answer might be different than if you asked me what this month has been like. Devastation can characterize one moment in time while joy describes the month surrounding it.

Never is this truer than when thinking about God’s sovereignty. God is able to zero in with a bird’s eye view to share a single event of my life. When He does, He is a High Priest who is touched by what moves me. If I’m sad, His tears mingle with mine. But when He backs away to see my life in full panoramic view, His response is altogether different than mine. He sees redemption’s story and how my life begins and ends gloriously within His divine goodness. What causes me to weep today is only a blip in the fullness of time. While I must wait to see my entire life in the rear view mirror, God already sees it. The hands of time move at a snail’s pace for me, not for God.

Jeremiah 29:11 is a lifeline to so many children of God today, including me. It is the sound of hope ringing in my ears. It is the overarching banner of faith that carries me beyond agonizing moments. I know that if I define my life by the momentary, I will be as unstable as shifting sand. I can’t depend on my self-interpretation of today’s events.

For every prayer that has yet to be answered, for every injustice that is awaiting God’s vindication, for every hope yet to be fulfilled, for every disease waiting healing, the truth of God’s panoramic view bolsters my momentary faithlessness. I know that my eyes are dim where perspective is concerned while God eyes are sharp and all encompassing. He not only sees the beginning from the end, He’s Alpha and Omega. He has authored the beginning and the end!

There are no mysteries with the One who holds my life so securely. I can say, despite the moments that threaten to undo me, that His plans for me are good. I have a future and a hope that will culminate in celebration.

Grace for the moment. Faith for the future. I need both, Lord. You know. Amen