Christianity 201

December 31, 2013

Lord, You Are Forgiving and Good

Today, something totally different: Two reflections on the same verse, one from a women’s blog and one written for men. (You might want to send the link to someone who might wish to subscribe to either one.) We’ll let the women go first, this is edited from the blog Letters from the Loft, which is edited by Julie; today’s feature is by Judy.  Click here to read Asking A God Who Is Eager To Forgive.

When I read my Bible this morning, I was overwhelmed, then very teary.

Psalm 86:5
You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.

I know it’s so everybody’s-heard-this-a-thousand-times, but the truth of it hit me today, and I had to visit Strong’s Bible Concordance to see what all is there. (Where Strong’s didn’t have something, I put in my own.) After I read the definitions, I reread the verse. Wow!

Psalm 86:5 Revisited

You are kind, loving, beautiful, desirable, pleasing, joyful, even merry! You are prepared, ready, eagerly waiting for us to ask You to forgive us, so You can send our sins away forever (gosh, I’m getting choked up again, just typing this), as far as the east is from the west (so cool — you can arrive at “north,” you can arrive at “south,” but you can never arrive at “east” or “west”); they’re gone and even You forget them! Your unfailing love and mercy (often based on a prior relationship, especially a covenant relationship — thank You, Jesus, for our covenant relationship!) is abundant, exceedingly huge, plenteous to all (who does that leave out?) who call on You.

…who call on You. That’s our part. Somewhere this past week I read, and I think it was in Psalms or Proverbs, that there is a difference between just wailing and actually asking God to help you. Anyone can just wail into space, but only someone who believes or hopes that there is a listening God out there will actually ask Him for help.

This goes for us Christians, too. Sometimes I just wail instead of, with my words, asking Him. By asking, too, it helps by clarifying in my own mind what the problem is and what I want Him to do. If I listen for how to pray, sometimes that in itself helps to solve the problem, usually by changing me!

Then His answer will draw us to Him. This is His heart, and I’m finding it all over the Bible. “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you.” This is what He wants — His kids tucked into Him, trusting, asking, rejoicing in Him. And He wants to take care of us and fix us and make us new and free and abundantly joyful, because He loves us so much!!

Our men’s look at today’s key verse is a devotional sample from the Christianity Today blog, Men of Integrity. Today’s post is an excerpt from a book by Tony Evans.  Click here to read Hope at Halftime.

Key Bible Verse: O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help. (Psalm 86:5)

Dig Deeper: Psalm 86

Halftime [in football] is a time to evaluate how things have been going and to decide what adjustments need to be made for the rest of the game.

The first half of any football game is important, but it is not determinative. Numerous teams over the years were ahead at halftime only to eventually lose the game. And numerous teams were losing at halftime, but by the time the game ended, they had turned things around. Until the final whistle is blown, the game is still up for grabs.

The same is true in life. You might be in your first or second quarter or heading into halftime, but if you are still here, the game of life is not over. Your clock is still ticking. There is plenty of life yet to live. Not only that, but your first half doesn’t have to determine the outcome of the game.

Maybe you’ve made mistakes and poor decisions; perhaps you’ve experienced many disappointments and failures. But you are still here. And as long as you’re still here, the whistle has not blown and it is not too late for God to take you straight to the plan he has for you.

—Tony Evans in God’s Unlikely Path to Success

My Response: What hopeful and encouraging message does today’s reading have for me? For my family? For a struggling friend or coworker?

And that wraps up 2013 here at Christianity 201. There is a wealth of devotional material compiled here and I hope you take time to go through past articles, and click through, and then click again to see what those writers have been up to lately.  Your prayers for this online project are both always needed and always appreciated.  Best wishes for 2014.  ~ Paul.

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