Day 10: Toward Certain Destruction

Here’s the point. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction. John 3:17 (The Voice)

Advent 2019 – A Journey Towards Forgiveness

One of my biggest frustrations with God is that he never goes with my ideas. I love being in charge and making decisions. I think I’m at my best when I’m in control and set the destination. If he would only go with my ideas, we (or and least I) would be so much better off.

But this passage is a firm reminder as to why he doesn’t put me in charge. Truth be told, I’m actually pretty terrible at it. I make self-destructive choices. Worse than that, I make choices that hurt and harm others. I’m inclined to make sure fair benefits myself first.

I make choices headed towards certain destruction. Rarely do I make choices that deny short term pleasure for long term gain. I’m capable of wasting an entire day trying to discover how to have my cake and eat it too. And if I can’t, I’m totally willing to steal your cake. Day 10: Toward Certain Destruction

My point? Despite my best efforts, to date, I have been unable to save myself. More troubling, the more I have found out about myself, the more I have discovered just how incapable I truly am.

There is a lot I can do for myself. One of the things I am forever unable to accomplish is my own salvation. I need something else…someONE else to do it for me.

Toward Certain Destruction

We’re all in the same boat. It doesn’t take a long glance at the nightly news to know our world is deeply troubled. Wars, famine, disease, conflict, political division, all are wreaking havoc in our society and around the world. The end result of people looking for something besides Jesus to save them.

In fact, these are all forms of people looking to save themselves. Because I’ll be good if my political candidate wins, my team wins, or my country becomes the world’s leading superpower. It is a belief that “might makes right.” I’ll win when I have enough power to keep you from harming me.

And along the way, I’ll make whatever destructive choices I need to. We are a world headed toward certain destruction.

Advent’s waiting is a time of examination. It opens us up to all of our self-destructive habits, all of our worst behaviors, all of our selfish choices, and invites us to repent. To go from “toward certain destruction” and go “toward life abundantly.”

John, today’s author, even ends his observation this way.

Light, sent from God, pierced through the world’s darkness to expose ill motives, hatred, gossip, greed, violence, and the like. Still some people preferred the darkness over the light because their actions were dark. Some of humankind hated the light. They scampered hurriedly back into the darkness where vices thrive and wickedness flourishes. Those who abandon deceit and embrace what is true, they will enter into the light where it will be clear that all their deeds come from God. (1:19-21)

 

Advent Series Previous Posts

Introduction

Active Forgiveness

Ocean Depths

Emotional Baggage

Compassion and Forgiveness

Those Who Forgive

Repentance Requires Action

Learn To Do Good

Dirty Clothes

Day 9: Dirty Clothes

Advent 2019 – A Journey Towards Forgiveness

Just as I have taken away your dirty clothes, I have taken away your guilt from you. In place of those clothes, I will dress you in pure, expensive garments. Then you will be ready to serve God and lead the festival. Zechariah 3:4 (The Voice)

Day 9 – Dirty Clothes

As a family of six, every day is laundry day. Four rambunctious kids who like to play outside, a steady supply of gym clothes, and the inevitable winter sicknesses leave us scrambling to have clothes clean consistently. It seems like just as soon as I have taken away dirty clothes, more appear. An unending mound of socks, towels, and pants are cascading down our hallway.

From a very visceral level, I get the analogy God is using. My selfishness and deceit have piled up in the corner of my life like an ever-growing pile of dirty clothes. The mess we find ourselves in is one we cannot escape on our own.

Despite all of that, there is God, as a patient parent, cleaning everything up for us. More than that, he has also given us new clothes. Clean clothes. Dressed-to-the-nines clothes. In his lavish generosity, God has replaced our worn out, dirt ridden clothes with luxury items of the finest quality?

What did we do to deserve this? Day 9: Dirty Clothes

Well…nothing.

More difficult is that there is nothing we could’ve done. This is all God. The creator of the universe, not content to let us stay dirty, has taken away our rags and given me riches.

Deep Cleansing

Like Eustace in Voyage of the Dawn Treader. His selfishness left him a dragon covered in scales. Unable to cleanse himself and transform back into a boy, he must let the lion-king Aslan do his work. Eustace describes the experience as,  The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab off a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

Eustace walks away transformed. He’s a boy again. More than that he is kind and generous and brave. His external transformation from a dragon to a boy led to a deeper transformation of character and heart.

That is what God offers us here. A chance to experience deep, real, and lasting transformation . A chance to experience a new life direction and purpose.

Advent reminds us to wait expectedly. A new hope is coming. A Messiah will be born. Coming into this world is a Savior-King longing to rid us of the filth we put on ourselves and give us a new purpose.

 

Advent Series Previous Posts

Introduction

Active Forgiveness

Ocean Depths

Emotional Baggage

Compassion and Forgiveness

Those Who Forgive

Repentance Requires Action

Learn To Do Good

Day 7: Repentance Requires Action

Advent 2019 – A Journey Towards Forgiveness

Even now, turn back your heart and rededicate yourselves to Me; Show Me your repentance by fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rip the wickedness out of your hearts; don’t just tear your clothing. Now return to the Eternal, your True God. You already know He is gracious and compassionate. He does not anger easily and maintains faithful love. Joel 2:12-13 (The Voice)

Day 7 – Repentance Requires Action.

As a father of four, I spend a fair amount of time repeating the same phrases over and over again.

“Don’t do that.”

“Think of others first.”

“Don’t hit.” Day 7: Repentance Requires Action

“We don’t put our butt’s in other people’s faces.” (Y’all think I’m joking but….#NotJoking)

In response, I also hear similar objections.

“It’s not my fault.”

“I didn’t do it.”

“They started it.”

Along the way, my wife and I are trying to teach them. We want to teach them about life and relationships. About sacrificial service and generosity. About reconciliation and justice.

God, speaking here through Joel, is inviting people to repentance.

Repentance requires action.

It’s much more than saying sorry.

It’s changing behavior to move in a new direction.

That’s the goal of parenting, right? To get kids to move in a new direction. From one of selfishness to one of generosity. We want our kids to know right from wrong. Our desire is for our children to grow up to be bold and daring, to be passionate, caring, thoughtful, and world-changing.

God invites people into fasting and mourning. Similarly, we teach our kids to change their behavior and do something different. It’s not enough to say sorry, we show repentance by not doing it again.

The waiting of Advent is designed for preparation. We prepare our hearts to receive Christ’s forgiveness. During this time, we examine our hearts and motives. We repent and mourn. Because of Advent, we are invited into a space of reconciliation: with God, with each other, and within ourselves.

God is gracious and compassionate. He desires repentance. But repentance requires action. A change of direction. It’s a new thought, habit, and pattern of behavior. Words alone fail.

For those that change their gaze towards a forgiving Savior, a deeper experience of God awaits. One of abounding love, gracious compassion, and lasting forgiveness.

Advent Series Previous Posts

Introduction

Active Forgiveness

Ocean Depths

Emotional Baggage

Compassion and Forgiveness

Those Who Forgive

Advent Cover Title: "Emotional Baggage"

Advent 2019 – A Journey Towards Forgiveness

When I finally saw my own lies, I owned up to my sins before You, and I did not try to hide my evil deeds from You. I said to myself, “I’ll admit all my sins to the Eternal,” and You lifted and carried away the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5 (The Voice)

Day 4

Forgiveness is messy. Processing emotions can take years. Deep offenses and transgressions can feel like they will never heal. I once spent months in denial that I wasn’t angry about a former coworkers offenses.

“I’m over it.”

“It doesn’t bother me anymore.”

“I was mad, but I’ve moved on.” Advent Cover Title: "Emotional Baggage"

All of them were untrue. It’s not that they were lies, at least not in any sort of intentional way. Instead, I was unaware of some of the deep residing issues and hurts that were in my life. It wasn’t until months later, under different circumstances, that I saw how hurt I still was. Feelings of bitterness and anger resurfaced and fractured my false facade of security.

The psalmist in this passage is also dealing with issues of forgiveness. These, however, are of a more personal nature. These are the internal lies, deceptions, and personal failures that are always present.

Emotional Baggage

Personal moral failures are often much harder to shake than relational slights.  The unending burden of emotional baggage can get exhausting. 

As we have already seen in this series,God’s greatest delight is the forgiveness of sins.

But here, it goes one step farther: the leader must forgive themselves. The weight of their own emotional baggage has been removed. The guilt of the sin is atoned for. The stain has been removed, but the emotion of the psalmist is also one of relief. The nagging, self-loathing, how-could-you-do-that, inner critic is silenced. When we own up to our sins, our failures, and our shortcomings, we find freedom. When we express remorse we experience freedom. By being honest with ourselves about guilt, we find that we are freed from the guilt and shame of our failures.

Advent reminds us to wait. While we wait, we worship. While we worship, we examine. When we examine, we discover all the falsehoods we’ve told ourselves-the lies and self-deception. The failures and setbacks.

So we confess. Openly and freely to the God who discards them, carries them away, and abandons them.

Advent 2019 – A Journey Towards Forgiveness

Day 1 – Introduction

Day 2 – Active Forgiveness

Day 3 – Ocean Depths

Blog Post Cover Photo: Advent 2019 A Journey Towards Forgiveness

Advent 2019 – A Journey Towards Forgiveness (Day 3)

Is there any other God like You, who forgives evil and passes over the transgressions done by Yours who remain? He does not hold onto His anger forever because he delights in showing love and kindness. He will take pity on us again, will tread our wrongdoing underfoot. He will cast all our sins down to the bottom of the sea. Micah 7:18 (The Voice)

Day 3

I’m fascinated by the ocean. The vast open spaces, the abundant life, the endless possibilities. Rich biodiversity where the biggest animals on earth are sustained by some of the smallest. A wild place of exotic animals, it’s fascinating that we have better maps of our moon and Mars than we do of the bottom of the ocean.

My oldest son shares this fascination. Every chance he gets he’s reading a new book on sharks or ocean life. If you ask him something about a particular shark, he’s likely to know it. How fast it swims, where it’s located, its favorite type of fish, or what it does if it runs into an octopus.

And somewhere down there, Micah tells me, are my discarded and forgotten sins.  (Thank goodness we’ve only mapped about 20% of the ocean floor to date so no one has found them….). Day 3: Ocean Depths

And likeyesterday, here is yet another verse reminding us that God’s first desire is love, kindness, and forgiveness. When he finds our sins, he tramples on them, grinding them under his foot and destroying them. Then, for extra measure, he chucks them into the open ocean.

The season of Advent, this time of waiting in hope and anticipation of a Savior is the fulfillment of a long-suppressed hope. For centuries, humanity has been waiting for liberation. Freedom from the bondage of sin. A releasing of the shackles that bind us.

It is in this action that God delights: forgiving, removing, trampling, and discarding sin. As we await the birth of the Liberating King, may we delight in the God who has trampled and discarded our sins, never to be found again?

 

Advent 2019 – A Journey Towards Forgiveness Previous Posts

Day 1

Day 2