Monday, August 01, 2016

Because He Lives: "But I'm Scared of God"

  (Part of a series sharing my devotional thoughts from almost two decades ago. For the back story & links to other posts, see the first post in the series.)

Is this the way you feel -- “This relationship with God sounds great, but I’m scared of God. You don’t know what I’ve done ... what’s He going to do to me?” If so, you probably feel very alone - and it may surprise you when I say that I know exactly how you feel. There was a time when I, too, was scared of what might happen if I got too close to God. If He saw what I was really like. If all the masks were dropped. And mostly, if I stopped rationalizing my sin and called it what it really was -- that scared me more than anything.
We’ve seen God as the Father who wants to fix what is broken in our lives. Now let me share with you a beautiful story from Jesus’ lips about another child who faced going to his father after a time away, a time that had brought him only misery. Luke 15:11-24 records the story of the prodigal son:
And Jesus said, “A certain man had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ And he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be in need. And he went and attached himself to one of the citizens of the country, and he sent him into the fields to feed swine. And he was longing to fill his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight: I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ And he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ And they began to be merry.”                        
Luke 15:11-24

Jesus’ parable gives a beautiful picture of God’s reaction when we return to where we belonged all along -- with Him. He is excited! In another parable about finding lost things in this same chapter of Luke, Jesus explains, “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7)
You see, God, in His ever-perfect justice, has already endured the penalty for our sins. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He was bearing the sins of the world -- every one of them. Every murder, every affair, every evil thought, every hurtful word uttered by you or me or anyone else. The Bible says that He who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). That is why we can come to God through Jesus, with the full assurance that our sins will be forgiven. That is why we receive God’s mercy.
Because Jesus Christ stretched out His arms one day on Golgotha almost 2000 years ago, we have the assurance that God’s arms are eternally stretched open for us.
As the old song goes, that is why they call it “Amazing Grace.”

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,
that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
2 Cor. 5:21

“ Thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Thee.”
Ps. 86:4b-5

“But Thou, O Lord, art a God merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.”
Ps. 86:15

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found.
Was blind, but now I see.”
From Amazing Grace, written by John Newton, a former slave trader
who experienced God’s grace and salvation
through faith in Jesus Christ

No comments: