Categories
forgiveness

God Must Be So Mad at Me

I’ve made so many mistakes…

Tax collectors may not be too popular these days, but in Bible times they were hated,  loathed, and greatly feared.

Jesus lived in an area governed by Rome, and Rome wanted lots of income from taxes. To maximize the amount collected, the Romans contracted Jews to collect taxes from the Jewish people. These tax collectors were given power to collect any amount of taxes and they kept much of it for themselves. If people wouldn’t or couldn’t pay, they could be forced to sell their children as slaves or even be killed.

Not surprisingly, tax collectors in that time and place were despised as traitors, thieves, and murderers.

In Matthew 9:9, Jesus encountered a tax collector: “As Jesus left Capernaum he came upon a tax-collecting station, where a traitorous Jew was busy at his work, collecting taxes for the Romans. His name was Matthew…”

Jesus knew the evil propagated by the Jewish men who collected taxes for Rome. He had every reason to be angry with Matthew, to call him out for his betrayal, his greed, and his abuse of his kinsmen in order to line his own pockets.

Was Jesus furious? Did he angrily call Matthew a traitor? A thief? No, Jesus wasn’t mad. He called Matthew to come and follow him. Matthew immediately left his tax collection station and followed Jesus. This vile tax collector went on to write the book of Matthew.

The religious people of the time were appalled and outraged, asking why Jesus would associate with low-life tax collectors. Jesus answered, “…Healthy people don’t need to see a doctor, but the sick will go for treatment” (Mark 9:12).

People don’t make God angry. Sin makes God angry.

God looks at sin like we look at a cancer that attacks the body of someone we love. We aren’t angry at that person. We don’t hate that person. We love the person, but we hate the cancer. We want to get rid of the cancer so the person we love will be healthy.

Just as we want our loved ones to be healthy, God wants us to be healthy. He is grieved at the sin in our lives because he knows it makes us spiritually unhealthy. He provided forgiveness, cleansing, and salvation at great cost to himself in order to free us from sin.

God isn’t mad at you. He doesn’t hold grudges. God loves you deeply and completely. “The way a loving father feels toward his children—that’s but a sample of your tender feelings toward us, your beloved children, who live in awe of you” (Psalm 103:13). Reject the idea that God is angry at you and eager to judge and punish you. That’s a lie from the enemy. Instead, believe the truth—God loves you tenderly, completely, and always.

Dear God, I accept your great love for me. In the past, I have believed you were angry at me, waiting to judge and punish me. Remove this lie from my heart and my mind. Replace it with faith in the greatness of your love for me. Help me love you with all my heart, soul, and mind. Help me love others the way you love me. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Categories
End Times

“The End Times Scare Me!”

“‘Even if the mountains were to crumble and the hills disappear, my heart of steadfast, faithful love will never leave you, and my covenant of peace with you will never be shaken…” (Isaiah 54:10)

When we were teenagers, my brother and I went to see the movie, “Halloween.” Thankfully, I can’t remember much about it now, except that it cured me of horror movies forever and convinced me my mom was much wiser than I knew.

John Carpenter meant to scare the willies out of us in Halloween—mission accomplished! But God definitely does not intend his children to be afraid of the events during the end times.

Yes, it can seem a little creepy. Horses, dragons and beasts—oh my! Throw in some famine and pestilence and it can be downright alarming.

But here’s the thing: The end times should be viewed through the lens of God’s great love. He is good and kind. He extends grace and mercy. His character will not change during the end times. God will always care for us, provide for us, and rescue us. God will not stop loving us when the time comes to wrap everything up here on earth.

In fact, the Scripture tells us that Christians are not destined for wrath. “For God has not destined us to experience wrath but to possess salvation through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). In a Bible chapter all about the end times, God tells us that we who are saved are not destined to experience God’s wrath. The word, “destined,” means, “a person’s future developing according to a plan.” The plan for our future does not include God’s wrath.

In John, chapter 14, Jesus tells his disciples he is going to return to the Father, prepare homes for all of us, and return one day to take us home. But he didn’t want any of us to worry or be afraid while he was gone, so he left us a gift: “I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace…Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!” (John 14:27).

When John’s was on the Isle of Patmos and God began to share the revelation of the end times with him, John was so afraid that he fainted. The vision was too much for him. But Jesus reassured John with a kind touch and words of encouragement: “Don’t yield to fear.” (See Revelation 1:17.)

You see, we don’t have be afraid because the end times aren’t about famine, plagues, death, and despair. It’s about every curse being broken. It’s about the light of the Lamb demolishing darkness. Pain, disease and death are banished forever. Grief and loneliness become things of the past. Peace, joy, and love flow freely. In the end times, Satan will be completely, permanently defeated, and God’s kingdom will be gloriously established.

So, don’t yield to fear. Be strong and courageous. God loves us, and he has this totally under control.

Dear God, you tell me so many times in your word that I don’t need to be troubled or afraid. When I am fearful, give me courage and peace. Help me trust your plan for my life, for my family, and for the world. You are powerful, wise, just, and loving. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Categories
prayer

How’s Your View?

What picture comes into your mind when you think of God?

“If any want to boast they should boast that they know and understand me…” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Our understanding of God affects our actions, opinions, and decisions. It influences everything we do.

In his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer discussed the significance of our view of God. “What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” He went on to use the foundation of a building to explain the importance of having a correct view of God: “Where [the foundation] is inadequate or out of plumb, the whole structure must sooner or later collapse.”

So, how do we view God? Many people view God as a genie, who exists to grant wishes. Others see him as a judge, ready to mete out wrath and punishment for any wrongdoing. Still another view is that God is a distant cosmic force who doesn’t get involved in day-to-day events.

Our view of God is particularly important when we pray. How we approach God in prayer is largely shaped by our view of him. In Luke 11:2, Jesus presented a new view of God. When he taught his followers (that includes us) to pray, he said to address God as “our father in heaven.”

This was a new paradigm, a new view of who God is.

People in the Old Testament couldn’t see God’s goodness clearly because their vision was blocked by their sin. They had to continuously offer sacrifices and observe rituals to stay OK with God, but the sinful nature of their hearts never changed.

Thank God, things are different now. Now, because of the cross, our hearts can be changed and our spiritual eyes opened. We are able to see God’s grace, mercy, and love clearly. We are blessed to see the truth, that God is a loving and kind father who works for what is best for his children.

God isn’t angry with us, filled with wrath, eagerly anticipating an opportunity to punish someone. His wrath was poured out on the cross. It was directed at the sin that separated him from his children, whom he dearly loves. A. W. Tozer said it like this: “The Cross is the lightning rod of grace that short-circuited God’s wrath to Christ so that only the light of His love remains for believers.

John 3:16 tells us the story in just a few words: “For God loved this world so much that he gave his only son…” He did that for us, when we were covered in sin and transgressions. He did it because he loves us as a perfect father loves his children. Earthly fathers vary greatly on how well or how poorly they love their children. God’s love isn’t like that. He loves each of us perfectly.

When you pray, remember you’re praying to a God who loves you dearly. He wrote you a love letter on a cross 2,000 years ago. He treasures you. You can approach him in prayer with confidence, knowing you are praying to your heavenly father…and he loves you like crazy!

Our father in heaven, reveal who you are. Set the world right. Do what’s best—as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the devil. You’re in charge. You can do anything you want. You’re ablaze in beauty. In Jesus’s name, amen.