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Jude shares today that we are called, loved, and kept by God.  These three words are loaded with meaning and we can’t gloss over them – our relationship with God starts with his love, is enacted through his call and our response, and sealed in the Spirit…

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For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. Psalm 103:14

understandsHave you ever felt like a complete and utter failure? Ever looked at what you are supposed to accomplish and realize that there I no way you’ll be able to fulfill the task before you?

A friend of mine told me about a situation he had to face at a new job he’d recently started. His responsibilities included marketing a particular event and although he did everything he could to promote it, the numbers didn’t look good. In fact they looked horrible.

“I remember losing sleep over the whole situation. Did I do enough? Would my boss see my efforts? Was my job in jeopardy? Those were the thoughts that plagued me throughout the night.”

The next morning my friend got a phone call from his boss. In the course of the conversation his boss told him several stories of his own failures as he started his business. “We’re going to stumble before we walk and walk before we run.”

My friend’s faith in himself and his job were restored that day because he realized that his boss understood what it was like to endure disappointment and failure.

That situation is an excellent example of God’s response to our own weakness. We fail on a daily basis. For some of us those failures are huge and cause destroyed relationships or consequences that will follow us for a lifetime. Some of us struggle with addictions that would embarrass us if they became public. Regardless of how hard we try to change, it’s impossible.

Not only do we struggle with weakness, a natural consequence of those weaknesses is the guilt, frustration and shame that go along with it.

When you look failure in the face for the hundredth time, remember this. You were created by the God of the universe. He knows how work inside and out. The Psalmist writes “For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.” (Psalm 103:14)

Of all the reasons I believe God is good, this is perhaps the best one. He knows I’m weak. He knows how I work. I don’t need to explain myself. Even though my actions may surprise me they never surprise him. He understands me better than I understand myself.

God is good. He understands.

PRAYER: Father God. There are so many ways in which I feel too weak to accomplish all I have to do. So many times I’ve failed you, others or myself. Thank you for understanding me in my weakest moments. In Jesus name, Amen.

The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. Psalm 103:13

“I told her she needs to leave before she gets hurt, but she said her dad beat her mom and it was okay, so this must be okay too. I’ll be alright”

dadThose words from one of my youth group kids still haunt me. She was telling about the latest fight her aunt was having with her uncle. The aunt would quite frequently end up bruised and battered from his beatings but did nothing about it. A couple times the police were called but by the time they arrived the fight would be over and the aunt would take full responsibility for the uncle’s actions.

There are so many things wrong with that picture, but the one that stands out to me is this poor woman who watched her dad beat her mother and thought it was okay. Her small children were learning the same pattern!

Many churches say the Lord’s Prayer as part of their weekly worship. The first few words “Our Father, who art in Heaven” must create a huge disconnect for some. Unfortunately, the vision of a father is bruised and battered by men who abuse their wives and children or abandon them. One type of abuse is physical, the other emotional. But both leave lasting scars.

Proverbs tells us two attributes God possesses as our father. He is both tender and compassionate. To be tender means to be sympathetic, caring, gently, generous and warm hearted. To be compassionate means to be understanding, sensitive, loving, merciful, and considerate (among other things).

If God was your dad he would never miss a concert or school activity; he would never fail to understand you even though the struggles you are going through are nothing compared to what he went through when ‘he was young.’ Your heavenly father disciplines in love and never punishes in anger. He lets you hold the remote and watches the cooking channel with you. When work beckons he chooses you over status, money or power.

That’s the kind of dad he is because God is good. I was personally blessed with a good, caring, compassionate earthly father. But even my earthly father was imperfect. Not my heavenly dad. He’s everything I could hope to have and more.

PRAYER: Father God. I can’t comprehend the extent of your love and compassion. My view of fatherhood is skewed by my own imperfection and the examples of ‘fathers’ I see around me. Help me to see you as you are so that I can rest in your love and compassion. Thank you for being my dad. Amen.

He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. Psalm 103:9

FearlessAre you afraid of God? I don’t mean a healthy respect for God and his power. I mean a nail-biting, goose-bump raising fear of God.

There are two extreme answers to that question. One is to focus so much on the ‘God is love’ idea that we see God as a kindly old grandfather type. You know the kind of guy that wants nothing more than to hang out at the ice cream shop with you and give you all the ice cream you can possible hope for.

The other extreme is to be so terrified with the concept of an almighty, all knowing, all powerful God that you walk on eggshells your entire life because you ‘know’ that one small slip and you’ll be spending eternity in hell!

God isn’t some cop looking to catch us at doing something wrong, nor is he an ogre hoping to keep us miserable our entire lives. On the other hand, he isn’t an eternal Santa Clause whose only goal in life is to give you nice presents and keep you happy.

God has rules. But his rules aren’t to make you miserable, but to help you be the very best you can be. He wants you to excel, but he also knows that certain lifestyles and certain activities may seem fun at the time but will cause problems in the future.

Zephaniah 3:17 says “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

When you fail (notice I said ‘when’ not ‘if’) don’t forget that God isn’t concerned about pointing out your faults or making you feel guilty. When we fail we remember how we failed last time. God doesn’t keep score. Rather than pointing a finger at us to accuse us, he puts his arm around us to guide us along the way. He delights in you even though you fail. He sings joyful love songs to you. We need never fear coming into God’s presence because we bring a smile to his face every time he sees us.

God’s goodness guides us and never condemns us because of his great love for us.

PRAYER: Father God, thank you for your patience with me. I confess that many times my failure is rebellion more than mistakes. Help me to see your goodness in the midst of my struggle and accept your guidance for my life. In Jesus name, Amen.





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January 2016
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