Three Things God Will Not Do

God warned his people about allowing their hearts to wander away from him. He foretold that they would become lackadaisical in their faith. They would begin to allow idols to occupy their hearts. The true God, who had led them from Egypt to the Promised Land would be squeezed out as the people became more comfortable in their new home.

But God also promised them that even if they were scattered to other lands as a discipline for their unbelief and sin, all they would ever have to do is turn around and come back to him. They would need only to leave behind their idols and return God to his rightful place in their hearts.

How could they know that God would be there waiting? Moses said these words long before Jesus taught the famous story of the Prodigal Son. But the lesson is the same.

There would be three things that God would never do, no matter how rebellious, idolatrous and unbelieving the children of Israel became. They could always know that a loving, gracious and merciful Heavenly Father would be waiting for their return.

He would not abandon them. He would not destroy them. And he would not forget the loving promises he had made to their forefathers.

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath. (Deuteronomy 4:29-31, NIV).

What beautiful words for us to hear too! In our comfortable 21st century circumstances, we may easily find ourselves wandering away from God and finding “shiny things” that we make more important than God. We need to know that these promises are still true for those of us who are the “Prodigal Sons” of today.

This life is your time of grace. So in this life, God will never abandon you. God will not destroy you. God will not forget the promises he made to your faith-filled ancestors. He is patient with you, not wanting you to perish. God simply wants you back in the family.

So, what are you waiting for? Come on back home to Jesus!

Our Bible reading for Monday, April 6, is Deuteronomy 4:15 – 5:33, Luke 11:5-32 and Proverbs 8:32-36.

Lord, thank you for your assurance that you are merciful and forgiving. I am so grateful to know that despite my sins, my idolatry and my rebellious nature, you will always take me back. This life is my time of grace. Even if my heart wanders, you will never abandon me, destroy me or forget your promises to me. By your Holy Spirit, turn my heart back to you, Lord.

Header image based on "Three" by Hubert Figuiere, CC By-SA 2.0

God, I’m On the Same Page (But Can We Go Over Some Details?)

It’s interesting to read the account of the Israelites’ unhappiness with the lack of meat to eat as they wandered in the Desert of Sinai, following their deliverance from Egypt.

One of the things we can learn from this account is that a few complainers can stir up hundreds of thousands of people: The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat!'” (Numbers 11:4, NIV).

We can see that bickering and complaining with God’s chosen leaders — and especially with God himself — never turns out well for anyone: Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled” (Numbers 11:10, NIV).

But most of all, we can learn that the way we approach God matters. It’s one thing to complain and say this to God, “We’re not on the same page with you at all. We want to go back to our old way of life, because we hate the way of life you’ve given us.”

And it’s a completely different thing to pray and say this to God, “We are on the same page with you. We want the life you have for us. Lead us in the direction you want us to go… and if it’s not too much trouble — you being a gracious and merciful God — could we go over some of the details here?”

Think of Abraham’s prayer when God threatened the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham understood God’s reasons for doing so, and so he says, in effect, “Hey God, you are angry. I feel you. However, you are also gracious and merciful. I’m on the same page with you… but could we go over some details?

Then Abraham said, “What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?” (Genesis 18:24, NIV).

What if the Israelites, instead of complaining, had instead prayed? And what if they had said something like: “We are so grateful for our freedom. We’re excited about following you into the Promised Land. We’re on the same page with you and we love you. We know you are a merciful and gracious God, and that’s why we want to ask you about a few details. We miss the meat we had in Egypt. Any chance you, powerful as you are, could provide us with a little meat? According to your will, of course!”

I think things might have turned out completely differently if they had. A few verses in Numbers 11 stand out to me. Maybe they do to you too:

“Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’” (Numbers 11:18-20, NIV).

And for us? Well, it’s a great lesson in approaching God. Lead with prayer, instead of complaining or rejecting God’s path for you. It might go something like this: “God I may not be on the same page with you right now. But I want to be. Help me to be. I trust you. I love you. You are powerful and gracious. Could I prevail on your mercy and discuss a few details with you?”

Our Bible reading for Saturday, March 21, is Numbers 11:4 – 13:25, Luke 3:23 – 4:13 and Proverbs 7:21-27.

Lord, help me to be on the same page with you. Thank you for your gracious willingness to go over the details with me.

Header image based on "Roasted Quails" by Naotake Murayama, CC By 2.0