I started today confused. How can God love mankind while at the same time have complete hatred for sinners? Aren’t they the same people? And how does ordain the use of sinful people and sinful situations to accomplish His perfect, holy will without He Himself being the cause of the sin.
The first place my devotional reading too me was the story of Jesus turning away people who wanted to follow Him (Luke 9:58-61). They seemed genuine to me, and yet Jesus, who tells everyone to follow Him turns them away. Why? And can you imagine a church doing what Jesus did that today?
I then read the story of Samson. He’s a prideful, violent, jerk who disobeys God his whole life, and yet continues to have the Spirit come upon him in great power. Why would God choose this guy? Can you imagine a church today putting Samson in charge of anything? I wouldn’t trust him to sweep the floors without killing everyone in the room with the broom.
Then I read Matthew 12 which had a prophecy from Isaiah speaking about how Jesus heals broken people. I thought, “Aha, there we go!” Except when I turned to read it in Isaiah I went to chapter 24 instead of 42. So instead of reading about our Lord who “a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out”, I read “See, the Lord is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants…“. Wow! Can this be the same person? Can you imagine a church today with this text carved into the communion table, or hanging on a tapestry on the wall?
With my thumbs in my eyes I prayed, “Lord, what do you want me to learn about you from all this?” And I turned to read the next place my bookmark was – Romans 11:11-24, and the answer seemed to be this:
“Al, I’m able to graft together things that don’t belong together. I’m able to make life from branches that are dead. I can take a branch from the pile that everyone else would burn and graft it onto a tree that isn’t even of its own kind, and make it produce fruit. I will bring glory to Myself in ways that you do not understand, and build disciples by doing things that you would never do. Trust me, I know what I’m doing, even when you don’t.”
Then I reread Psalm 25 which begins: “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.”
What a lesson for me today.
I can trust God to do good in ways that I could never imagine, to accomplish His will in ways I wouldn’t even agree with, to build His church by means I would never pray for, and to sanctify me in a thousand ways I don’t even recognize.
I learned today to trust God even more.
[Sidenote: Lesson 1 in Pastor Al’s guide to the Christian Faith (which isn’t a real book, but should be!) is — Do Your Devos! It’s a powerful thing when the Spirit of God speaks through His Word.]