Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Reconciliation’

Yahweh

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,  ~~  Genesis 2:4  (KJV)

The Lord God… the eternal, self-existent one.

As we have pondered on the names of God, a recurrent theme appears. God is first. We have being only in relationship to Him.

Our society today dotes on the concept of “self-esteem”. But really, we cannot esteem ourselves except in relationship to how God esteems us. Our worth is tied up in His knowledge of who we are.

So just who are we?  First we are His creation – created in His likeness.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  ~~  Genesis 1:26-27  (KJV)

Although we are created in the image of God, a picture of God, we are NOT God. And when we aspire to become God, all hell breaks loose.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. ~~  Genesis 3:1-6

This is the first sin — disobedience. Disobedience always brings consequences. So does obedience, but that’s another story.

Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.  ~~ Genesis 3:23 (KJV)

And now, man no longer enjoys the intimate relationship he had with God. Rather than walking with God in the cool of the evening, man must search for Him, make special time for Him. This is now a broken relationship.

Ah, but there is reconciliation. Consider this. No matter how man has defiled himself, God still loves His creation.

We have the example of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-24. The father was looking for the errant young man to return. He saw him from afar off.

In just the same way, God is looking for His errant children to return to Him.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  ~~  John 3:16-17  (KJV)

God made provision for man’s reconciliation to Him, to be able to have intimate contact with Him once again, just as in the Garden of Eden.

Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we can have daily, hourly, minute-by-minute conversation with God. With God, the all-powerful, all-knowing self-existent creator of the universe!

How do we get back to that intimate relationship with God?

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  ~~ Romans 10: 9-10  (KJV)

So today, look at yourself. If you have believed and confessed, spend this day blessing the God who created you and gives you access to Himself.  If you have never believed, please look at the evidence – and believe. Confess it with your mouth – say it out loud, even if you are alone at the time. Then rejoice that God has re-entered your life intimately – a life He gave you in the beginning.

Father, God,

Help us to see who and what You are and all the benefits You have provided us. Grant us the grace and humility to come to you, proclaiming our faults and begging Your forgiveness. Let us accept with gratitude all that You have done for us, and give us the wisdom to see You for who You really are.

We ask in the precious name of Jesus.

Amen.

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Reconciliation

Focus verses: Genesis 50:15-21

Forgiveness and reconciliation give us great difficulty. In the first place, they are not the same thing. You can have forgiveness without reconciliation. But you cannot have reconciliation without forgiveness.

Joseph’s brothers were afraid that Joseph was being kind to them only for their father’s sake. So when Jacob/Israel died, they needed to find out what Joseph’s attitude would be toward them. So they – the offenders – went to Joseph – the offended – with their apology. And Joseph forgave them and was reconciled to them.

Forgiveness is something you do for yourself. Holding a grudge takes time and energy and effort. It makes you unhappy because you dwell on the offense, not on the present joys you may have. Worst of all, however, holding a grudge puts you at odds with God. Not a pleasant place to be.

You can forgive unilaterally. The offender need not ask for forgiveness.

Reconciliation is another matter. It involves a recognition of the offense from both the offender and the offended. It requires forgiveness. And it requires a rebuilt sense of trust between the offender and the offended.

Joseph had seen the remorse of his brothers, first when they came to Egypt to purchase grain and in the intervening years between their dad’s settling in Egypt and his death seven years later. We have a tender reconciliation scene in which Joseph indicates his forgiveness of this brothers as well as his desire that they be provided for.

Can you recall an offender that you haven’t forgiven? Is there someone with whom you need to be reconciled? What steps can you take to remedy these issues?

Father, God,

You have commanded us to forgive. Give us the strength and stamina to forgive, even when there has been no apology. Grant us the faith to put our reconciliations into Your hands.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

A Place of Rest

I keep remembering the words of the old hymn:

There is a place of quiet rest
Near to the heart of God.
A place where sin cannot molest
Near to the heart of God.

In a world where sin seems rampant and sovereign, I like to reflect on the fact that God keeps a small corner of stillness for our retreat. Some days that retreat is the only place of serenity in the entire universe.

People disappoint us either by accident or by malice. Circumstances frustrate us whether it is technology glitching or traffic jamming.

And we let ourselves down by being less that we could or should be. Most exasperating to me are the times when I come across something I intended to do and didn’t. Those are the times I need to remind myself of my worth in God’s eyes.

If there had been only one person in the world, Jesus would still have come as Redeemer. If it had only been me, He would still have gone to the cross. He’d have done it for you if you were the only one as well.

When we look at the price God paid for our salvation, we are reminded that we are not important because we are who we are – but because of the value He placed on each of us.

There is another old hymn:

Jesus paid it all.
All to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain.
He washed it white as snow.

Look back at some of the older hymns and recognize the validity of the theology contained therein. When we forsake all the old hymns in favor of only new choruses, we lose part of our roots. Find an old hymn this week and think about the words and thoughts it sings.

Father God, I thank you for this place of rest and healing near to your heart. Help me to see through all the miscellany of life to the reality of the one thing that is most important — my relationship to you. In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Transgressions

Focus verses: Numbers 15:30,31

Today’s readings talk about offerings for sin. God knows that we are fallible and will fall short of His designs for us. But he prescribes a method for bringing us back in to fellowship with Him. At least these readings detail those methods for the children of Israel.

We have a different mode of reconciliation. Jesus Christ. Because of His atoning death on the cross of Calvary, we can come directly to God with our failings, repent directly to Him, and ask His forgiveness.

And we can receive that forgiveness if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Our response to that forgiveness should be a turning from those sins and a renewed mind to follow the precepts of the Lord.

That’s the way it should work.

But there is a terrible caveat in today’s readings as well. The focus verses say that if someone sins defiantly, he blasphemes God and his guilt remains on him.

We seem to live in a society today where people sin deliberately, wantonly, defiantly. And we remain tolerant of their sins in the name of diversity. We fail to speak out when people defy God, and we act oblivious to the fact that when we remain silent, we are complicit with their sins.

Father, God,

Let us not grieve Your Holy Spirit with sins either of omission or commission. So touch us with Your love that our constant response is obedience to You and love for Your people – a love that speaks the truth of Your salvation.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Reconciliation

Focus verses: Genesis 50:15-21

Forgiveness and reconciliation give us great difficulty. In the first place, they are not the same thing. You can have forgiveness without reconciliation. But you cannot have reconciliation without forgiveness.

Joseph’s brothers were afraid that Joseph was being kind to them only for their father’s sake. So when Jacob/Israel died, they needed to find out what Joseph’s attitude would be toward them. So they – the offenders – went to Joseph – the offended – with their apology. And Joseph forgave them and was reconciled to them.

Forgiveness is something you do for yourself. Holding a grudge takes time and energy and effort. It makes you unhappy because you dwell on the offense, not on the present joys you may have. Worst of all, however, holding a grudge puts you at odds with God. Not a pleasant place to be.

You can forgive unilaterally. The offender need not ask for forgiveness.

Reconciliation is another matter. It involves a recognition of the offense from both the offender and the offended. It requires forgiveness. And it requires a rebuilt sense of trust between the offender and the offended.

Joseph had seen the remorse of his brothers, first when they came to Egypt to purchase grain and in the intervening years between their dad’s settling in Egypt and his death seven years later. We have a tender reconciliation scene in which Joseph indicates his forgiveness of this brothers as well as his desire that they be provided for.

Can you recall an offender that you haven’t forgiven? Is there someone with whom you need to be reconciled? What steps can you take to remedy these issues?

Father, God,

You have commanded us to forgive. Give us the strength and stamina to forgive, even when there has been no apology. Grant us the faith to put our reconciliations into Your hands.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.