Fresh Starts

God is a God of fresh starts. He wants us to start fresh and new, every single day. He wants to forgive us, restore us, and all us to restart.

That’s who He is. That’s the kind of God that He is. That’s what He longs to do with us, for us, and through us. He’s a god of fresh starts.

Listen to what He tells Jeremiah in chapter 3:12-14:

Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, “Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the Lord your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the Lord. Return, O faithless children, declares the Lord; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.

Fresh StartJeremiah is speaking to the northern kingdom of Israel. He is telling them, confess what you’ve done, confess your sins, your wrong doings, your mistakes. Give them to God and He will forgive.

That’s what He does. He’s a God of fresh starts. Confess. Move on. Start new.

But why, why do we have to confess? Why do we have to do that? Why does God make us confess?

I’ve got a theory. I don’t think God makes us confess our sins for His sake. He doesn’t “need” us to do that for His sake. My theory is this. Perhaps it’s for our sake. Perhaps, in admitting these sins to God, we get to be honest. We admit that we aren’t perfect. We can’t lie. We can’t pretend. We’ve made mistakes.

And in those mistakes, instead of the judgement of the world, we find the grace, mercy, and forgiveness. We find that God love us more than He hates our mistakes.

God is a God of fresh starts. When we confess our sins, we being that fresh start. We find grace. Mercy. Love. Compassion.

Today, may we confess our sins and weakness to God. May we give them over to Him. And in that, may we find His mercy, there waiting on us.

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Today You are Forgiven

Sometimes we think we’ve gone too far.

That the deeds we have done are too great.

That there is no way God can forgive us.

After all, look at the terrible thing we’ve done. Look at the secret shame we bear. Look at the guilt we carry.  Look at the hurt that we’ve caused others.

There’s no way God can forgive. We’ve gone too far.

Or, maybe it’s not that. It’s not the we’ve done some “awful” sin.

It’s that we keep doing the same thing, over and over again.

Everyday, we wake up, intending to do better. To live right. To live for God.

This will be the day!

And before we even leave the house, we’ve blown it. We’ll never get it right. We’ll never get it straight. It will never happen.

Listen to the words of Isaiah this morning:

18 “Come now, let’s settle this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool.

God is a God that longs to forgive you. That longs to give you grace and mercy and hope.

That longs to have you start fresh today.

That’s God’s plan for you. That’s God’s will for you. That’s what God wants.  God wants to forgive you.

And God wants you to know that you are forgiven.

Sometimes, the hardest person to forgive is yourself.

Today, through the power of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.

Go out and live.  You are forgiven. Go and live in that assurance.

Another Chance

One of the readings that I’ve been going through the past few days has been Joel.

Joel is one of the Old Testament prophets.  They would bring a message of repentance to the people.  The would come forth and say, you have not been living as the Lord wants.

You have forgotten His way.

You have broken His law.

And because of your sin – judgement is coming.

When we read through the prophets, we can become keenly aware of our sin and the consequences  of our sin for ourselves, and for those that we love.

But in Joel, and every prophet, we see a moment like this in the text.  The Lord has condemned the people and condemned their sin.

And today, we read this:

12 Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.

Yes, our sin has consequences.  Yes, it brings great harm to us, and to others.  Yes it separates us from God.

And yes, today, God is willing to forgive.

God is willing to give us another chance.

If we will return to God, He will give us forgiveness.  If we will return to God, He will give us a fresh start.

With God, today, we find that this is a new day.

Each new day, God wants us to have another chance.

Each new day, God gives us the chance to start over.

Even today. Today is a new day.  May we return to God.  May we find that God gives us another chance. And may we find the life He offers.

Nothing

If you’re like me, sometimes you enter into your time of prayer weary.  I come before God with the list of all the things I’ve done wrong. . . . .

All the ways I’ve not loved Him with my whole heart. . . . .

All the ways I’ve not obeyed. . . . . .

The the ways that I have done wrong. . . . .

It’s easy to just enter into prayer heavy.  Thinking to God, there’s so much more I ought to be doing. There are so many things that I shouldn’t be doing.  Oh God, I’m not who I ought to be.

I think that’s the thing that stops so many folks from praying.  Just that knowledge, that shame, that, whatever it is.

So today, I read these words from Paul in Romans 8. And, wow.  Just listen to what Paul says.

Really listen:

37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Did you hear that?  Nothing, nothing, nothing in all of creation can separate you from God’s love today.

Nothing.

Nothing you’ve done. Nothing you’re doing. Nothing you’re going to do.

Even if you’re as good as you’d like to be.

Even if you’re not as faithful as you’d like to be.

Even if you’re not doing everything exactly as you ought to be doing it.

Nothing can separate you from God’s love.

Wow. That’s awesome.

Today, don’t live like an abused servant.  Live like a loved child. That’s what you are.  You are a loved child of God.  Nothing can separate you from God’s love today!

Live with joy, with peace, with freedom.  You are loved!

Let go of your burden.  Live light!  Live in the light of God’s love and forgiveness.

Nothing can separate you from that love today.  Wow.  Live in that knowledge.