Let Nothing You Dismay
May the mercy of God of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ be so clearly revealed, that when you have strayed into disobedience and sin, you simply remember the promise and return, knowing He will cleanse you from all sin and unrighteousness. AMEN!
There are words that we hear God speak through Malachi this evening that are brutally scary.
“But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears?
That’s a hard question, will you be able to face God when he appears? When he brings our the Law and compares your life against it? Will you be ready?
Or will you be one of those who Jesus spoke of, when Matthew records,
21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.
Matthew 7:21 (NLT2)
While my head knows I can count on God’s grace, my heart and soul struggle to hear those words. And it gets scarier,
At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
I wonder if we have lost a healthy fear of God, a fear that drives us to Him, to ask for the mercy He has promised us?
Or do we just keep dwelling in our sin, in the guilt and shame that drives us into the ground?
You see, our fear of God shouldn’t drive us away from Him, but it should drive us toward him. That is what God is talking about through Malachai when he says,
God doesn’t Change
6 “I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. 7 Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them.
We have to understand that about God, that while he abhors the sin, He doesn’t hate us. He wants to be in a relationship with us, not destroyed for what we have done, and what we’ve not done. A healthy fear of God realizes that He is patient and merciful, and has always intended to be.
That’s why he hasn’t wiped us out and destroyed us, pouring out His wrath upon us.
He has never wanted to, it is not what He desires, and so He is patient, waiting for us to remember the promise and return.
Here is that promise,
Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Return to me, and I will return to you! What a promise, what a God who promises not to leave us alone in the midst of our brokenness, but promises forgiveness, cleansing and healing!
The people of that day struggled, they ask how they could return when they never left.
We don’t have to do that, we know that He wants us to return, so we don’t have to play that game. We see how much He wants us return, as we think about Jesus coming into the flesh, dwelling with us, teaching us about the love of God then demonstrating it on the cross.
Return to me He says, and so we do, as we move into our time of confession, knowing God will be faithful to forgive us…knowing that He will return to us.