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My God is…Stern Romans 11:17-24

Romans 11:17-24 – graftedIf some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

Definition of STERN

a : having a definite hardness or severity of nature or manner: austere
  b : expressive of severe displeasure : harsh
2: forbidding or gloomy in appearance
3: inexorable <stern necessity>
4
: sturdystout <a stern resolve>

Do you like it when someone is stern with you?

Most of us are not a big fan of having people be stern with us. Why not? Probably because if someone is stern with us, it’s pretty likely that we’ve done something wrong. People really don’t like the idea of God being stern. They don’t like to think that they could do anything that would cause God to cut them off. But, we see from these verses that God is stern. If we don’t believe Him, our unbelief breaks us off from Him. It puts a division between us.

How can God’s sternness be a good thing?
God is not stern without cause, but when people deny Him, He wants to draw them back to Him. Like the Israelites who made it a habit to draw close to God and then to lose their way. They found out that life without God not on your side isn’t good. They were well aware of the amazing things The Lord had done on their behalf when they had clung to Him. He led them out of Egypt, gave them plunder of the Egyptians and then parted the Red Sea. Then when He promised to give them the promised land, they doubted His power. They broke themselves off from God and it resulted in a sternness from The Lord, in 40 years of wandering around the desert. Even in the desert The Lord provided for them.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness.
God never kicks us to the curb. When we try to kick Him to the curb and exclude Him from our lives, we deserve and should expect His sternness. Just like our earthly families, if we deny them, ignore them or act as if we’re more important than them, they may not stop caring for us, but they may not be quick to show their kindness. In the same way our Lord shows us sternness when we deny Him, make ourselves more important than Him or just ignore Him.

Kindness to you, provided you remain in His kindness
But there is good news for those who know The Lord and keep Him at the forefront of their minds and actions. For those who believe and seek The Lord, we can expect His kindness. We can expect Him to show up when we need Him. We can expect Him to show up and provide all our needs in amazing and unfathomable ways.

This story from 2 Chronicles 20 reminds me to expect God’s deliverance even when His way seems impossible.

15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”

20 Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his[c] holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.”

22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

24 When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. 25 So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing[d] and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. 26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah[e] to this day.

God is stern and God is Kind
My prayer for you and I is that we continue to seek The Lord and are amazed by the ways that God shows up on our behalf while not being surprised that He did. We can trust that He will be there for us, even when it seems there is no way out.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2013 in My God is Stern

 

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My God is…Kind Jeremiah 9:23-24

Jeremiah 9:23-24 – counting-fortune

This is what the Lord says:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.

But let the one who boasts boast about this

I don’t know about you, but I was taught not to boast. Not that I did a lot that was worth boasting about. I never worked that hard really. I was a decent student, but I wasn’t super motivated. I can’t say that I’ve achieved a lot by the world’s standards even now. I have reduced my working hours so that I can remain at peace and have more patience with my teenage boys. It’s worked, and it’s a huge blessing, but as the world sees it, all I really did was reduce the amount of money that was coming in the door. My boys struggle with knowing that as well. Every now and then they ask if I could go back to work so we could have more money, but then I ask, “Do you want “mean mommy” back?” They quickly say no. They like it that I’m calmer now when they come home. I work from home, and often wanted them to be quiet when they came home so I could quickly finish working. So I would snap and be grumpy. Never mind they were coming into their home, not an office (as far as they were concerned).

I can boast:

Being home without a super large workload has allowed me more time for Bible study, devotions, writing my blog and spending time with people in prayer. I’m no saint. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still working on a lot of things, but having time to worship God on a daily basis has allowed me to get to know my Lord more.

But let the one who boasts boast about this: That they have the understanding to know me

One thing that is so amazing is how the Lord reveals Himself in scripture and through prayer. Spending even 5 minutes a day reading His word can make a difference in my outlook for the whole day. I’m excited about my faith, and the faith of others. I enjoy discovering God’s truths (sometimes for the first time, sometimes being reminded of old discoveries) with my sisters in Christ. Mostly I enjoy sharing the joy they have when they see the difference knowing the Lord is having on their reactions to unkindness, injustice and stress. As we journey with Christ through the scriptures, we’re led to know Him more and that changes a person. Knowing your creator and savior is powerful.

But let the one who boasts boast about this: that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth

So now I will boast. I boast in my Lord who loves me and who loves you. He shows us kindness through His grace, mercy and patience as we are being set free from the bondage of hate, addiction and abuse. He is patient, so that we might not be lost, but that instead we might know Him. That we would know that he is the one who exercises kindness. He’s the Lord, and He exercises justice – you can trust Him to handle the vengeance you want to take out on those who’ve hurt you. He is righteous, and is exercising righteousness through His Son Jesus Christ who gave us righteousness by dying on the cross so that we would not be left to our own failing attempts at righteousness. Instead we are free to strive for righteousness because He has already washed us clean from all our sin and failures.

Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches

All of these things are good, but we need to recognize the source of them. We can’t boast in our wisdom, because any wisdom we have is from the Lord. We can not boast in our strength, but we can boast in the Lord giving us strength. We can not boast in our riches, because they are a gift from God. These things are all temporary and do not amount to anything without faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus. With Him, these things can have purpose, meaning and value. But only in Christ to they have any value at all. Only if they point back to Him.

We can boast: in Christ.

 

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2013 in My God is Kind

 

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