Brought Down or Rising Up?

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Proverbs 24:16 –  [F]or though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity. (NIV 1984)

Seven musings to inspire us to rise again and not be brought down.

Billy Graham – “Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent.”
My Musing – The fact that we all make mistakes is not an excuse to repeat them or wallow in them.
Rick Warren – “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”
My Musing – We are only prisoners if we choose to be, because Christ has set us free.
Colin Powell – “There are no secrets to success.  It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
My Musing – Like Paul, we need to press on.
Abraham Lincoln – “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”
My Musing – What could be more dangerous than being content with our failures, with our life of sin?
Barack Obama – “The real test is not whether you avoid failure, because you won’t.  It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it.”
My Musing – We may not be able to avoid failure, but we can avoid situations that lead to failure.  If you don’t want to eat the apple, quit hanging around the tree.
C. S. Lewis – “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.” — C. S. Lewis
My Musing – A steady upward progress is often difficult to measure except in retrospect,
Winston Churchill – “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”
My Musing – Unfortunately we often keep going back to the same old tree.
My Advice – As Christians, our eraser (confession and repentance) that will always outlast the pencil (our sins).  But that does not give us license to sin.  And what a mess all those eraser crumbs can leave.  To obey is better than sacrifice (asking for forgiveness).

Pay Back or Pay Forward?

1 Thessalonians 5:15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Our ways should not be the ways of the world, but the ways of the Lord. Rather than crush a foe, we should try to win a foe. After all nothing is gained by defeating another, but we can gain a friend by winning (not defeating) them over.

My Advice – Don’t seek revenge. This is the way of the world. You are called to be different. Rather, be kind to those who would harm you.

Lessons Learned, Pitfalls Avoided

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2 Samuel 11:1-4,14-15In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite? Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her.  In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, “Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”  (NIV 1984)

2 Samuel 12:7-9Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own.”  (NIV 1984)

2 Samuel 12:13Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – David was not where he was supposed to be.  He was supposed to go off to war with his army, but he stayed at home.  In his idleness (boredom), he ended up being where he should not have been and seeing what he should not have seen, which led him to do what he should not have done.  One sin (adultery) led to another (murder).  Yet,  [God] testified concerning him: “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart.” (Acts 13:22, NIV 1978)

How can this be?  Surely not because of his sins (they were horrible),  but because of how he responded when confronted.  No excuses, no shifting the blame and no denials.  Confession and repentance. Like David (maybe not as bad as David), we all make mistakes (sin).  Of course it is always better for us not to sin in the first place.  Often we can avoid sin by being where we should be and not where we should not be (if Eve did not want to eat the “apple,” why was she hanging around the tree?).  But when we do sin we need to respond like David.  There may be consequences (there were for David and Bathsheba – their child conceived in sin died), but our sins will be “taken away.”  For, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9, NIV 1984)

My Advice – We all heard the sage advice that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Prevention can mean avoiding idleness.  Making sure we are where God wants us to be.  When we know the “fruit” is forbidden (and we do), not hanging around it.  Nonetheless, whenever the inevitable sin occurs (and it does not “just” occur), recognize that we “are the man (or woman)” and respond appropriately.

If He Repents…

Luke 17:3If your brother sins rebuke him and if he repents, forgive him. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – We like the part where we get to rebuke, and we are quick to do so. But when it comes time to forgive, we would rather maintain a grudge. This should not be.

My Advice – Always be willing to forgive sincere repentance, no matter how badly you were wronged. Just imagine what it would be like if God had been unwilling to forgive.

Still A Long Way

Luke 15:20 – “But while he was still a long way off, his Father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; He ran to His son, threw His arms around him and kissed him.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – The first thing to note is that the Father was expecting the son’s return. He was looking for Him. The second thing to note is that the son did not have to meet his father all the way or even halfway. While he was a “long” way off the Father ran to meet him. Finally, the Father welcomed the wayward son back.

My Advice – Do not be hesitant to move back towards God, believing that you are unworthy to be called His child. He is watching for you and will run to meet you with outstretched arms.

Adam, Where Are You?

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Genesis 2:9 – Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” (NIV 1984)

My Musing – Where are we, and how did we get here?  Questions we need to ask ourselves periodically.  Sometimes because we fall hard and quick and sometimes because we drift away ever so slowly.  Maybe our response is to cover it up, ignore it, evade it, or just hide.  But we really cannot successfully do any of these things.

How much does God want to know?  He already knows all of it.  But He wants us to know it too.  He knew full well where Adam was.  The point was, He needed Adam to know it too.  And Adam did know, why else would he have tried to hide.  We know it too.  We need to face it, admit it, confess it, repent of it, ask forgiveness for it and get back to where we belong – walking with God in the garden in the cool of the day.

My AdviceIf we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9, NIV 1984).  Okay, so it’s John’s advice.  But it’s good advice.  Aren’t you tired of “hiding” from God?

 

Farthest Horizons

Nehemiah 1:8, 9 – “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.” (NIV 1978)

My Musing – Let’s not put a limit on God’s ability to rescue and restore us. The horizon is as far as we can “see.” And no matter how much we move it never gets any closer. The farthest horizon is even further than that. But it is not so far that God cannot gather us back to Him. He can reach the farthest horizon.

My Advice – Never allow yourself to think that any sin is too great or too habitual for God to forgive. If you confess and repent, no matter how far you may have fallen, He will gather you back to Him. His reach is greater than the distance you could ever possibly fall.