Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Wanderers

I was listening to a Francis Chan message last week and Francis mentioned how much he enjoyed the hymn Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. He specifically mentioned the last verse - Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart. O take and seal it; Seal it for thy courts above. He mentioned how all of us at one time or another feel pulled in a direction that we know we should not go. A couple of days later I was reading through the book of Judges and came across the following passages. 

Judges 3: 7, 8 -  7 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. 

Judges 4: 1, 2 - 1 After Ehud died, the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the LORD. 

Judges 6: 1, 2 - 1 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 

Over and over and over the Israelites wandered from God. They saw how He delivered them from Egypt but they forgot. They saw how He delivered them time and time again. The amazing thing is the cycle they got caught up in. After they forgot about God, He allowed them to be taken into captivity, they cried out and repented, God sent a judge to deliver them from the hands of their oppressors and after a short time they forgot God, He allowed them to be taken into captivity, they cried out and repented, God sent a judge to deliver them from the hands of their oppressors and on and on or as the Bible says "once again". This is not unique to the Old Testament. Remember Peter? 

Matthew 26: 31 - 34  -   31Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: " 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' 32But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee." 33Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." 34"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times."

Jesus tells Peter that he will deny him. A few verses later look at what happens:

Matthew 26: 69-75 - 69Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. "You also were with Jesus of Galilee," she said. 70But he denied it before them all. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said. 71Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, "This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth." 72He denied it again, with an oath: "I don't know the man!" 73After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, "Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away." 74Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, "I don't know the man!"   Immediately a rooster crowed. 75Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: "Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Peter wandered, he did not stay close to Christ. He quickly forgot all he had seen Christ do. I cannot sit in judgement over Peter because I have done the same thing. The best part of these stories is the forgiveness. None of these people deserved to be forgiven but that is the beauty of it, God forgives when we ask, He is there to help us in our time of need.  In Judges God continued to send Judges to get the Israelites out of trouble. In the New Testament Christ forgave Peter and reinstated him as one of his disciples:

Judges 3: 9 But when they cried out to the LORD, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, who saved them.

John 21: 18, 19 -  18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." 19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"

Regardless of how many times you and I have blown it and believe me I have blown it royally too many times. God is willing and able to forgive us. 

I John 1: 8 - 10 - 8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

We should never take advantage of God's grace but we should not be too hard on ourselves and think we have mess up one too many times. He is faithful even when we are not. He will forgive us even when we are unwilling to forgive ourselves. Let me wrap this up with another verse from a great hymn that reminds us of the goodness and mercies of God:

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

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