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AWAKEN 2019: A Hopeful Heart

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“The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.’” - Lamentations 3:22-24

Everyone has limits. Whether it’s emotional or physical, all people have a limited supply. Not only that, but the book of Psalms communicates that all things on earth (including you and me) will wear out (v. 26). Life as we know it will one day come to an end.

“Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.” - Psalm 102:25-27

Though everything as we know it will one day fade away, God will not; He is eternal. This can be quite the head-scratcher for us because we aren’t able to comprehend someone or something being “eternal.” Yet, God has always been and will always be. There was never a time God has not existed; from eternities past to eternities future He has always been. Today's verses begin by saying, “The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail” (v. 22). God being eternal means He  has an infinite supply of lovingkindness towards us in Christ so when we make mistakes, we have no need to approach God as if His lovingkindness is limited. If He were human, there would certainly be a cutoff point of grace, but there is not because He is our eternal, loving Father!

There’s something more to remember about the Lord’s compassion towards us, “They are new every morning” (v.23). The text is not literally saying that we must wait until every morning to receive compassion from God. At any moment when we seek the Lord for forgiveness and grace, He will give it. We don’t need to wait until tomorrow to experience a fellowship with our Father. Instead, imagine the writer of Lamentations attributing the most faithful aspect of creation, the sun rising every day, to the faithfulness of the compassion of the Lord. As certain as the sun is to rise, God is even more certain to offer grace and forgiveness to those who seek Him. Therefore, let every morning be a reminder that the lovingkindness of the Lord never ceases!

In conclusion, take some time to read and reflect on the following questions:

  • Do you have a biblical understanding of forgiveness?  See Colossians 3:13
  • Do you genuinely understand God’s grounds for forgiving us in Christ?  See Colossians 1:13-14
  • Can you say, along with Psalmist, “The Lord is the strength of my heart and my portion"?  See Psalm 73:23-26

AWAKEN 2019: A Refreshed Heart

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“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” - Acts 3:19

One of the greatest things about the Gospel is the way it overwhelms us with both truth and grace. John 1:17 tells us that when Jesus entered the world, "grace and truth were realized." What a powerful reality! As we follow Jesus, His life in us will demonstrate the exact same thing: unwavering truth and amazing grace. Praise God for the Gospel!

In Acts 3, Peter is giving his second sermon in the temple square in Jerusalem. What we see is him calling the Jewish crowd to repentance for their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah which led to His death. He boldly and unashamedly preaches truth to the people around him and shares our verse for today, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away…” (v.19). Peter didn’t hold back while explaining what the Jews had done wrong. He was bluntly honest with the people as the Gospel calls him to be. But what makes this so powerful is that even when he lays out what they were guilty of, he also had the chance to offer exactly what they needed – grace!

The world has no problem with telling you what you have done wrong or making you feel guilty for your actions. Where the Gospel is different is its constant offering of grace. The Gospel's message says, "You will never meet God's standard, but He loved you enough to make a way through His Son Jesus for you to be given, by grace, an eternal relationship with Him." Today you may be or will one day find yourself entangled in sin. In fact, it's bound to happen no matter how hard you try to avoid it because we aren't perfect. This is why Paul exclaimed,

“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.”- Philippians 3:12

When this happens, remember Peter’s words, the Gospel’s call to repent and return to the Lord so that you may receive forgiveness! But more than that, remember that when we stay silent about our sins, we experience misery. It’s natural to want to run and hide, but the Gospel calls us to run TO God and confess our sins. By doing this, we don’t only receive grace and mercy, but also experience “times of refreshing… from the presence of the Lord.” Where hiding brings misery, confession brings refreshment. What is there to hide from? 

In conclusion, take some time to read and reflect on the following questions:

  • Have you been running from the Lord instead of to Him about your shame?  See Luke 15:11-32
  • How can you intentionally get into the presence of the Lord today?  See Psalm 16:11
  • Is there truth you have been ignoring or avoiding because of your sin?  See Proverbs 15:31

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