Step One: Believe Again #TraditionallySouthside

If it isn’t too late…. That’s how I ended my last post. I promised that I would share with you how we can get out of this mess if it isn’t too late. Those are very sad words, aren’t they? To think that there could ever be a time that it was too late to avert God’s judgment is to admit that sometimes, there is no hope. I have always preached and taught that as long as there is breath there is hope. And that is true to a certain extent because we quite often don’t know when it is too late. But in my Bible studies this week, I have come across two examples of this very truth – it was too late.

First, in Deuteronomy 32, God tells Moses once again that it’s too late. He would not enter the Promised Land because of his disobedience to God in the Wilderness of Zin. It was a simple matter; he struck the rock when God told Moses to speak to the rock. Something so simple but as God said, Moses did not “hallow His name” through his disobedience. Then there was 1 Samuel 15 when God told King Saul it was time to destroy the Amalekites – to kill every man, woman, child, ox, sheep, camel, and donkey. Why? Because of the extreme savagery of these people for many years. As the Bible says in a few places, their cup of iniquity had overflown, and there was no coming back. It is sad but true. There comes a time when judgment cannot be averted.

However, the only way to know that the time has arrived is when the judgment falls or God rejects our cries for help. But even then, God is known to hear His people’s cry in the midst of the judgment. See the Book of Judges. Read the history of Israel. It truly is a cycle of blessing, apathy, sin, judgment, repentance, and deliverance. And we often wonder how the people of Israel could be so stupid that they would go through the cycle again and again. Hello? Pot, meet kettle. What I mean is that we do the same thing in our personal lives. Over and over again. And it seems that we never learn. That’s why we find ourselves in this mess as a nation – our collective sins have resulted in God’s discipline that I believe has already turned to judgment and has led to this spirit of confusion where so many professing believers don’t seem to know right from wrong. Why is this happening? Because true believers have not cried out to God. We have not repented of our sin. We have not turned from our wicked ways.

Don’t misunderstand. Most of us are not guilty of the savagery perpetrated by the Amalekites; but most of us are guilty of the disobedience of Moses. Little things that do not hallow God’s name. My wife tweeted this morning a quote from her Beth Moore Bible Study from 1 Thessalonians: “Do not give people a reason to disrespect Christ because they disrespect you.” That is exactly what God is talking about. By our words and by our deeds we have turned people away from Jesus. Our lack of love has pushed people away. Our inability to get along with each other has turned many off to the gospel. Our wishy-washy approach to holiness has confused a lost world because we don’t understand that we can love sinners and hate their sin. We don’t know how to be compassionate to the lost without condoning their behavior, and all we need to do is to remember the words of Jesus to the woman caught in the act of adultery: “Neither do I condemn you; but go and sin no more.”

At our very best, we have been guilty of the sin of the disciples. You remember the story of Jesus descending from the Mount of Transfiguration? As He approached the bottom, He saw some of His disciples in a situation. A man had brought his demon-possessed son to the disciples to be delivered, believing that they could take care of his son. But they couldn’t, and Jesus rebuked them strongly because of their unbelief. But it doesn’t stop there. Mark’s gospel tells us that when Jesus spoke to the father, the disciple’s failure reflected poorly on Jesus’ ability – at least in the mind of the father. He went from faith that the disciples could do this because of their relationship with Jesus to doubt that Jesus Himself could do it. He said to Jesus, “…if you can do anything…” and then, “…help my unbelief.” Like the disciples, because of our unbelief, we have caused the world to doubt the power of our Holy God.

So what is the solution? We must believe again. We must believe that God is God and we are not. We must believe that God is Holy and we are supposed to be. We must believe that God is all-powerful and we can do all things through Christ. We must believe that God is able to change our hearts and our lives, and then we must allow Him to do so. We must believe again. That is step one in our journey, but it is a big one because it is one thing to say that we believe and quite another to actually believe that God is able. Able to do what? To transform our hearts. To transform my heart. To help us believe again. Will you join me as we travel this path together?

 

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