Don’t Forget

There are so many days that we are blessed that we take for granted.  This past week I have seen two signs on churches reminding us that today is a gift, don’t waste it.  But it seems like so many things can get in the way of life…   at least the life I want to lead.  So many things get in the way of our relationship with God.

Today the Bible reminded me of the cycle that has gone on since the beginning of time.  God takes care of us, provides for us, saves us.  We become satisfied; we become proud; we forget about God:

I, the LORD, am your God, since the land of Egypt; gods apart from me you do not know; there is no savior but me.

I fed you in the wilderness, in the parched land.  When I fed them, they were satisfied; when satisfied, they became proud,

therefore they forgot me.

Hosea 13:4-6

I have  fallen into this cycle in my own life.  As God tells us repeatedly throughout the Bible, even though we may forget, all is not lost.  All is never lost:

Return, Israel, to the LORD, your God; you have stumbled because of your iniquity.  Take with you words, and return to the LORD;

Say to him, “Forgive all iniquity, and take what is good.  Let us offer the fruit of our lips.  Assyria will not save us, nor will we mount horses;  We will never again say, ‘Our god,’ to the work of our hands; for in you the orphan finds compassion.”

I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely; for my anger is turned away from them.

Hosea 14:2-5

Lord, forgive me.  I continue to stumble.  I know your path is straight.  And yet I stumble off of it.  There is nothing I can do that can compare to you.  Nothing on earth, nothing I can create, no work that I can perform can save me.  Only you can save me. I turn to you, Lord.  I turn to you for your grace, and your mercy.  I turn to you for your love and forgiveness which never waivers.

God’s grace

Today was a good day — but then what Friday is not a good day!  I was able to get some work done,  celebrated a friend’s 50th birthday, and participated in a moving, live stations of the cross.  I feel accomplished and satisfied.    The Bible opened tonight to Ephesians:

You were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you once lived following the age of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient.  All of us once lived among them in the desires of our flesh, following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest.  But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved), raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.  For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.

Ephesians 2: 1-10

I am reminded of God’s grace, that allows me to do all things.  I am God’s handiwork.  And you are God’s handiwork.  We are both perfectly made.  We are made for good works.  Everything around us is God’s creation, who am I to boast?  Except to boast in the Lord, who truly is almighty and amazing.  Would that I could show one ounce of the love he pours out on us.  Showering us with it every second.  The greatest works on earth, the greatest accomplishments, the greatest day — are but a fleck of dust compared to all that God can do.  And yet, I believe He delights in what we do.  Smiles with us at our happiness, and beams when we do good.  (And I think He laughs at us —  just a bit — when we forget where we come from.)

I am also reminded of one of the powerful truths.  I can not earn my way into heaven — I do not have the power or authority to achieve a spot.  It is only by God’s grace that we are saved.  Thankfully he freely gives us this gift!  As much as I would love to win this with something I have done,  to feel the power (I guess) of accomplishing this, I am grateful for the gift — because I know despite my desire, that I am not worthy or strong enough to earn it on my own.  It is comforting knowing that I don’t have to do it all on my own.  Instead all I have to do is have faith that God will provide me with the grace I need, sufficient grace.

Thank you God for providing us with your grace.  All that I am, I owe to you.  I desperately want to be the being that you want me to be.  Provide me with the strength and grace to know the path. May all of my boasts be in you.  All of my pride be in you and in being your child.  Guide me please (and give me the grace to follow).

Writing on the Wall

The gospel reading at church this morning told about how Jesus opened the eyes of the blind man.

“I was blind but now I see.”

Tonight I opened the Bible to Daniel.  The section was called the “Writing on the Wall” and it talked about how King Belshazzar  needed someone to interpret the writing on the wall:

Daniel answered the king: “You may keep your gifts, or give your presents to someone else; but the writing I will read for the king, and tell what it means. The Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar kingship, greatness, splendor, and majesty.  Because he made him so great, the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Whomever he willed, he would kill or let live; whomever he willed, he would exalt or humble. But when his heart became proud and his spirit hardened by insolence, he was put down from his royal throne and deprived of his glory; he was cast out from human society and his heart was made like that of a beast; he lived with wild asses, and ate grass like an ox; his body was bathed with the dew of heaven, until he learned that the Most High God is sovereign over human kingship and sets over it whom he will. You, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this; you have rebelled against the Lord of heaven. You had the vessels of his temple brought before you, so that you and your nobles, your consorts and your concubines, might drink wine from them; and you praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, that neither see nor hear nor have intelligence. But the God in whose hand is your very breath and the whole course of your life, you did not glorify. By him was the hand sent, and the writing set down.

Daniel 5:17-24

As I read this I thought how easy it is to see where the kings went wrong.  How easy it was to see the proverbial “writing on the wall.”  They let their greed and pride get the best of them and as a result lost all of the goodness that God had bestowed.  It is so easy to sit in judgment and say, if God gave me kingship, greatness, splendor and majesty — I would bow to Him, I would glorify Him, I would be humble and grateful.  Wouldn’t I?  Of course as soon as I started typing this thought, I was quickly reminded of all the gifts God does bestow on me.  And all the times I fail to glorify Him, all of the times I am not humble and grateful and all of the times I covet something else, or bow to the “gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone,” Facebook and electronics.  And I thought back to this morning’s gospel reading, “I was blind but now I see.”  Wouldn’t it be nice if every day we could see the writing on our own wall, if we could see, really see what God is trying to tell us, if we could see, really see all of the goodness that God has bestowed on us and be grateful and humble.

Thank you God for all of the gifts you give me.  I know I am not worthy.  Everything I have is because of you.  Please give me the grace and wisdom to see, really see.  Please open my eyes every morning to your grace and mercy.  I am humbled by your greatness and by your merciful love.  Your love is all I need.

I am grateful!  I am satisfied!