Discipline or Wrath

Why does God allow bad things to happen? Habakkuk discusses the doubt and pain we feel when things go horribly wrong. But it ultimately explains why God allows us to experience pain and suffering.

Topics: Suffering Scripture: Habakkuk 2:16

Transcript | Audio

Transcript

So we’re in Habakkuk, which is a weird book to be in these days. It’s not a popular book to preach through, but it’s rich and it’s heavy. Today in particular is heavy. So here’s what I want to promise you. If you lived life a while, if you’ve bled, if you’ve hurt, if you’ve lost, if you’ve experienced some of that, then I think a lot of what will be said today will resonate well with you. If you haven’t and you don’t deal with those things on a personal level but more of this ethereal level, then you might have some issues with what I want to say today. But here’s my promise. I’m simply going to read the Bible.

If you get angry, you get angry at the Bible. What I’m going to do today is show you that my concern is for you and the gospel of Jesus Christ, not in any way for your attendance or for my edification. So as we’ve walked through the book of Habakkuk, Habakkuk has some problems with God. Has anybody here ever had any problems with God? We do. If you can’t look at what has gone on in Japan the last 48 hours and go, “You could have stopped that. Why didn’t You stop that? What just happened?,” then somethings wrong and you’ve turned something off in your mind, and I never want you to do that. So Habakkuk has some problems with God. He doesn’t like the fact that Judah, the southern kingdom, is worshiping idols, so he complains to God. “Why are You letting them worship idols? Why don’t You do something about this people who are in rebellion to You?” Do you remember God’s response? “Oh, I’m going to do something. I’m sending the Babylonians, I’m sending the Chaldeans and I’m going to discipline My people for their rebellion. And that freaks Habakkuk out because he says, ”The Chaldeans are more wicked than we are. Why in the world would You use what is more wicked to discipline what is less wicked? Surely you won’t do that. There’s no way that’s going to happen.“ And then God has this real generous dialogue with him where He begins to unpack to Habakkuk, ”Oh sweet Habakkuk, you don’t know left from right, bro. I love you. You’re fiery and all. I respect that. I’m a bit fiery Myself. But here’s the thing. You don’t know what’s going on around you right now. You don’t know what’s happening directly behind you right now. You don’t know what’s going on in other parts of Judah. You don’t know what’s going on with the Babylonians. You simply are limited in how you can see and what you can see.“ And then He goes on to say, ”But I’m not. I’m not limited like that. In fact, I’m beyond time. Tomorrow is not something I know about. It’s a place I already am.“ He begins to explain to Habakkuk just how massive He is.

And then from there, you get this question that begins to pull on the soul. If God is infinite, sovereign, all-powerful, all knowing and can do whatever He pleases, then what do we do with pain, suffering, loss and hurt? What do we do with those things since God is good and He is sovereign and those things exist? Well, the last time I was with you, we unpacked the first part of that, and that’s that the Bible says we’ll have one of two reactions to that kind of thing. The first way is we will be proud. We will believe if it was just done our way, if that just wouldn’t have happened, if we would have done this instead of this, then things would have worked out right. And the Bibles says that’s a heart of pride that believes it knows better than God. The second way we respond according to Habakkuk 2 is that the righteous will live by faith. That means that we don’t always have an answer for the ”why“ but we trust that, even in the darkest of days, God is good, He is loving and He is at work to redeem and reconcile all things unto Himself. So the righteous live by faith in the face of tragedy. We live by faith in the face of loss. We live by faith in the face of devastation and disrepute. We

live by faith.

That means that we can’t really explain it; we just know that God’s good and that God is accomplishing what is good in the pain. We know that He’s not always the source of but usually uses that stuff in regards to agency. Let me show you what I’m talking about here. Let’s go to Habakkuk 2. He’s going to turn here. Up until this point in the book He has addressed Habakkuk and Judah and hasn’t said anything to the Babylonians or Chaldeans except that He’s going to use

their wickedness to discipline His people. And now He’s going to turn His attention to the Babylonians, the Chaldeans, who are going to run roughshod over Judah. Starting in verse 6, ”Shall not all these take up their taunt against him, with scoffing and riddles for him, and say, “Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own—for how long?—and loads himself with pledges!” Will not your debtors suddenly arise, and those awake who will make you tremble? Then you will be spoil for them. Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you, for the blood

of man and violence to the earth, to cities and all who dwell in them.“ Here’s all God is doing. God has said to Judah, ”I am going to discipline you with the Chaldeans.“ And now He’s saying to the Chaldeans, ”Woe is you.“ So now it’s not discipline, it’s wrath. Judah gets discipline, but the Chaldeans get wrath. ”Woe is you.“ Why? ”Because you have used and abused people, and the remnant of that people who are still here are going to raise up against you and overthrow you. And the terror you inflicted upon them, they will now inflict upon you.“ Tell me we don’t see this constantly in history. Tell me we don’t see oppressive, violent regimes press on a people to control them, only to have that people finally grow weary of that heavy-handedness and overthrow and hang, decapitate and burn them alive. This has happened historically, and it’s what God says is going to happen to the Chaldeans for their arrogance.

Verse 9, ”Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house, to set his nest on high, to be safe from the reach of harm! You have devised shame for your house by cutting off many peoples; you have forfeited your life. For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the woodwork respond.“ So in this text He’s saying, ”Not only have the Chaldeans hard-pressed, beat up and conquered people, but then they have made their own lives safe off of the blood and the work of others.“ So they’re living in opulence while others are hard-pressed, and the Bible says that on the day of woe, even the walls of safety will cry out their guilt. It’s this way of animating creation.

Let’s look at verse 12. ”Woe to him who builds a town with blood and founds a city on iniquity! Behold, is it not from the LORD of hosts that peoples labor merely for fire, and nations weary themselves for nothing? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink— you pour out your wrath and make them drunk, in order to gaze at their nakedness! You will have your fill of shame instead of glory. Drink, yourself, and show your uncircumcision! The cup in the LORD’s right hand will come around to you, and utter shame will come upon your glory!“ Now this idea of cup is symbolic of the wrath of God towards man’s rebellion against Him. So when Jesus is in the garden, He prays, ”Let this cup pass from Me. Let Your wrath pass from Me.“ But what God says here in Habakkuk to the Babylonians, to the Chaldeans is, ”The cup is coming your way. Although I am using you as an instrument to discipline My people, My wrath will burn against Your rebellion against Me.“ I know some of you are like, ”Chandler, you’re really going wrath of God today? I brought my neighbor.“ But it’s the text. It’s not me. God wanted your neighbor to hear this.

Let’s keep reading. Verse 17, ”The violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, as will the destruction of the beasts that terrified them, for the blood of man and violence to the earth, to cities and all who dwell in them.“ Now, let’s chat because we’re a very tolerant society. So the idea that God could be wrathful, that God could have wrath toward sin doesn’t sit well with us. It makes us look like backwoods rednecks. It doesn’t set well with us. We don’t like it. We’d rather those parts of the Bible not be in there. And here’s what has happened to us honestly, which is very unfortunate. What you’re not going to find in the Bible Belt is a slew of really angry atheists. Now I’m not saying they’re not here. I’m just saying they don’t make up predominantly our society down here. Instead, we have something that might be worse, which is this ”back of our mind“ knowledge of God. ”Of course there’s a God. Look around.“ So what you find more readily in our culture, in this cultural context we find our lives playing out in Dallas is an acknowledgment that there is a God. Where things get goofy is when you start talking about that God. Because people want to pick and choose aspects of God’s character to negate other aspects of God’s character. So people, based on nothing but their own speculation, say, ”God is love. If God is love, there’s no way He could do these things. God is a forgiving God. I just can’t fathom that He would do something like that, that He would be a part of that.“ So what happens is God, instead of being personal, is

some sort of object to be studied so that sin carries no personal weight to it at all. It’s not rebellion against the Creator God of the universe. It’s simply breaking abject moral law. Like, ”Why is God getting so frustrated that I’m lying? Why does God get so frustrated with the wickedness of my heart? I don’t cuss the big ones. I don’t drop the bombs. It’s just the little ones I use. Why would God get frustrated with that? Why would God get upset about that?“ So because we’ve removed Him as someone we have a personal relationship with, the idea of His being offended at our rebellion against Him comes off as wrong and wicked. So the thought of God being wrathful towards our rebellion doesn’t sit well with us because most of us don’t know we’re supposed to have a personal relationship with God. You instead think of Him as someone to be studied. This thrives where you’re doctrinal, orthodox and where you say, ”This is what the Bible says about God.“ Because people are drawn to that and stay self-righteous, stay self-consumed and stay in these sins of self because God is simply something that is studied and He’s not someone who is known, worshiped, loved and pursued. He’s just an idea. So we don’t fathom that God could be angry. We don’t fathom that we could burn because we don’t know Him. He’s not personalized. He’s something to be studied, not someone to know. And once that happens, things really start to get goofy in regards to what we believe, how we interact with God and what we’ll say. People say things all the time that are so far from biblical, but they just sound right. People quote Benjamin Franklin and think they’re quoting Jesus. ”Cleanliness is next to godliness. It’s like the Proverb say.“ No, that’s actually not in your Bible. ”God helps those who help themselves.“ That’s not only not in the Bible, but that’s completely anti-Bible. The Bible goes the exact opposite direction and says, ”God helps those who cannot help themselves.“ So it’s this kind of back of the head idea about God that doesn’t roll to the front.

And what we see being unpacked here is God’s rage against rebellious creation. Romans 8 would tell us not only is man in rebellion, but the creation itself is subjected to futility, aches, groans and longs to be reconciled and put back into its right order. So I know all the science behind earthquakes and tsunamis. I’m not an expert, but I know plate tectonics, and I know how that begins to create a tremor that causes a wave that works its way towards shore and draws up and floods on inland and causes all sorts of destruction. I get the science behind that, but there’s something under the science behind it, and that something is this picture that all of us get to watch that the world is broken and in need of reconciliation, in need to be made right. Everyone can watch that on TV and agree, ”That shouldn’t be happening.“ And that thing that wells up in us is an evidence of eternity that God has placed in our hearts so that we would long for and desire something better than what we’re seeing. And you have God clearly articulating in this text that there will be wrath poured out on some.

But there’s something you’ve got to notice here, and here’s where we’ve got to spend some time together this morning. You’ve got God’s wrath being poured out on the Chaldeans through difficulty, suffering and rebellion. All these things are going to come out on the Chaldeans because of their disobedience, but difficulty, suffering and pain are going to befall God’s covenant people too. But it’s for a completely different reason and a completely different purpose. The purpose on Judah is discipline. The purpose on the Chaldeans is wrath, and it’s different. Let me show you what I mean. Let’s go to Hebrews 12. You’re going to see some parallels in Hebrews 12 to what’s going on in Habakkuk 1 and 2. Here’s what I mean by that. The church that is being written to in Hebrews is being hard-pressed by non-believers. There are non-believers who are persecuting, who are imprisoning, who are beating, who are creating havoc for this church in such a way that they are losing heart. So the writer of Hebrews, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is going to encourage them. So look at how he encourages them. Hebrews 12, starting in verse 3, ”Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have

not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.“ Here’s what he just said. ”Consider Jesus.“ Earlier in the book of Hebrews, he’s going to remind this church that they have an empathetic high priest, that anything they are experiencing or walking through, Jesus experienced or walked through so that He might be empathetic to our plight as humans in a broken world. I’ll give you some examples. Have any of you ever been betrayed by someone close to you? It stings, doesn’t it? It makes you want to harm them? Or is that just me? We have. Do you know who else was? Jesus. So when it

happens, He’s empathetic. Has anyone lost a loved one? The Bible tells us that Lazarus is in the tomb and the shortest verse in the Bible tells us that ”Jesus wept.“ So in our loss, we have a high priest who is empathetic. Does anybody have crazy family members? Do you remember Mary and Jesus’ half brothers come to get Him because they thought He had lost His mind? We could go on and on. He was arrested, falsely accused, beaten and ultimately killed, and the writer of Hebrews is going, ”Look to Jesus. You’re not alone. You haven’t been abandoned. Of course sinners are pressing into you. Don’t you remember Jesus? Didn’t Jesus say that if they persecuted the prophets and persecuted Him, surely you would be persecuted?“ And we don’t know the half of it. I feel silly talking about this in our culture. We’re not persecuted in this culture. Nobody here has been thrown in prison, beaten or killed. We’re made fun of? That’s cheap. Your coolness is cheap.

So look at verse 5. Verse 5 is where it gets interesting. ”And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”“ So now, difficulties, suffering and pain are used by God to discipline us because He loves us. In order for us to get this, we’ve got to talk about discipline, because I think most of us think about discipline wrongly. Most of us think about discipline in regards to punishment because of an act. So discipline in the house is, ”Don’t do that. . .don’t do that. . .don’t do that. . .That’s it. I’m getting the belt.“ That’s discipline to most of us. It’s kind of this snap. But in reality, that’s not discipline at all. Discipline is a vision for the future that enacts things today. So Lauren and I have a vision for our children, and that vision puts us to work today to get to tomorrow. So we shape, we mold, we chisel and we bust out the belt when necessary. Why? Because we’ve got this vision, and it’s our kids being vibrant, loving the Lord, operating well in this world and learning to be grateful for the life that God has granted them. Do you know what that means? That means there is work to do today, unpleasant, difficult, long work today for tomorrow. And what the Bible just said is that God has this vision of you. God has this picture of you. God is bringing you to this place.

Let’s look. Verse 7, ”It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.“ So the discipline of God is ultimately for our good and leads to our holiness. And I love the next line because it’s honest. ”For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.“ So you’ve got this great text here where God is saying, ”I’ve got this picture. I’ve got this vision of you. I’m turning you into this thing, and we’re going to need to chisel some edges off, we’re going to need to sand down some corners and I’m going to absolutely need to break a couple of things to get you there. But listen to Me. It is for your good, for your holiness and for righteousness, grace and peace in Me that all of it will occur.“

Let me show you this working itself out. Flip over to 2 Corinthians 12. This is such a profound text that should get preached a lot more often than it does. This is the apostle Paul speaking. Verse 7, ”So to keep me from becoming conceited. . .“ Let me just stop there because he hasn’t become conceited yet. So whatever is about to happen to our boy is not because he had done something wrong. It’s not punitive. God is not punishing Paul. So Paul operates on a bit of a different plane than I do. Here’s what I mean. I preach Scripture. Paul wrote Scripture. I pray that people would get healed. Paul walks into a room and goes, ”Get up,“ and they’re healed. I haven’t been able to do that. I’ve been in the hospital dozens of times to pray for our people here, and I’ve always done what I’m biblically supposed to do and humbled myself before the Lord, anointed them with oil and asked the Holy Spirit to heal. Sometimes He has, and sometimes He hasn’t. But I’ve never walked into a room and gone, ”What are you doing, Charlie? Let’s go. Get up. Get out of there. Take the IVs out of your arm. Let’s go.“ I’ve never done that. That’s what Paul does. He’s like, ”Get up and

walk.“ He’s got this unreal spiritual power. When he preaches, things blow up. Not like going from 168 to 5,000 in 8 years, but if you look at what happens in Ephesus, literally the whole socioeconomic climate of the city shifts at the proclamation of the gospel. He preaches there for two years, and a riot breaks out because people who could make money off of sinful things were no longer making money and they led riot against Paul’s preaching. So I’ve been cussed out before, but I’ve never started a riot. So I’m junior varsity compared to Paul. So he operates in power, a power that is hard for most of us to get our minds around.

So let’s get back to this text. ”So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh. . .“ Why is it so important to keep Paul from becoming conceited? Because the Bible is clear that the proud, God knows from afar, but the humble of spirit, He draw near to. So Paul is loved by God, and God says, ”Because I want you close to Me, because I want you near to Me, I’m going to give you a thorn in your flesh.“ Now theologians freak out and try to guess what the thorn is. ”Maybe it was a physical ailment. Maybe it was some woman issue.“ And they’ll just try to guess. I don’t know how it manifested, but I know what it was because of the next line. ”. . .a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me. . .“ He had a demon. ”. . .a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.“ Now follow this because I love this in regards to the spiritual war in which we find ourselves. So the demonic realm is going, ”We’ve got to shut down Paul. Look at him. He’s casting out demons, he’s telling people to get up and walk and people are getting saved everywhere. We’ve got to shut this fool down. What are we going to do?“ ”I’m going to latch on to him. God, can we latch on to him?“ ”Latch on to him.“ The demon latches on to Paul and it furthers Paul’s love for God, love for the gospel, it keeps him humble and lowly and attaches him to the things of God for the glory of God. You see, even what is dark ends up working for what is light.

Let’s keep going. It gets crazier than this. Just to be straight, Paul is not going, ”Oh, thank You for the demon.“ Verse 8, ”Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.“ Man, if we could get this, it would change everything about how we view and how we look at life. Because very few people I know who are under weaknesses are going, ”Thank You for weakness, because weakness ties me to Jesus.“ Instead they’re like, ”Get me out from under this weakness! Get me out from under this pain! Get me out from under this stress! Get me out from under this weight! Get me out from under this calamity!“ And it’s this constant petitioning of, ”Get me out of this. Get me out of this.“ Did you hear what Paul said? He’s like, ”No, I’m going to sit in it. Because when I’m sitting in it, I’m really dialed in to God. And when I get out from under it, I wander, I concentrate on other things and I begin to are about other things. I’d rather

sit under the weight and be content in the weight, be content in the loss and be content in the pain. Because when I am weak, I am strong.“ That’s an unbelievable text. And listen, this is a brother who knows. A lot of us don’t know. Paul knows. He is beaten multiple times, and he’s shipwrecked twice. You want to talk about a bad day? He literally was shipwrecked, he spent a night and a day in the open sea, he finally got on to land and then was bitten by a snake while He was preaching. If that’s not a ”Come on!“ moment, I don’t know what is. He is shipwrecked, floating in the sea, finally gets to land, gathers some people around, begins to preach and while he’s preaching, a snake attacks him. It’s like, ”Seriously? I’m working for You here!“ So he is stoned on multiple occasions. And just in case there is some sort of cultural misunderstanding, he’s not getting high. He was pelted with rocks and is twice left for dead. He is constantly persecuted, he is robbed and he is ultimately imprisoned and killed. And our boy, in the middle of all of that, says, ”I’ve grown content in this type of pain, because in it, I’m latched to the Lord and not to other things.“

So I’ll interject myself into this stream. I’m grateful for the journey over the last year and a half. It has been wrought with fear, depression and miserable weeks, and I’m grateful for it. Because it has dialed me into some things that I don’t know that I would have dialed into. It has dialed me into things I knew were true, but I don’t know that I would really be

dialed in if it wasn’t for it. Like here’s what I know. My wife loves me. I have a great marriage. I love going home, and I hate leaving. I love my kids. It hasn’t always been easy with my wife or kids, but I love it. I love this church. I love you. I love the proclamation of the gospel. I really have been freed up by the Lord to just love the gospel. I love my life, but here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter when all is said and done. Lauren can’t save me. My kids can’t save me. Taking care of myself physically can’t save me. In the end, I’ve got this one hope. And what anaplastic oligodendroglioma does is drives that hope deep down and makes me almost daily have to go, ”I better have my hope there. . .I better have my hope there.

. .I better not have it on Lauren. I better not have it on this church. I better not have it in my money. I better not have it in this house. I better not have it in my health. I better have it in Him.“ Because what is made upfront and personal to me is absolutely true about you. That’s why we talk about these things. They’re not pleasant, but we talk about these things. You know you’re going to die, right? You know that you’re an hour closer? Everybody knows people are going to die today, but nobody thinks it’s them. Everybody knows that people are getting diagnosed with cancer this week, but nobody thinks it’s them. Everybody knows that there will be loss this week, but nobody thinks it is them. It’s this real weird thing where we float high above everything and go, ”It’s not us. It’s other people. God bless them.“ But what I’m trying to tell you is that your day is coming.

An understanding of discipline vs. wrath lets you really tap into the idea of God’s love and mercy being made manifest in difficulty. What would be more cruel of God? Because if I had to write the script for my life, it would rain C-notes at my house, my kids would be obedient and Lauren would do everything I say. Now if God gave me that script but didn’t give me Himself, isn’t He cruel? If God gives me long life, a beautiful wife, great kids, tons of cash, fame, friends and joy but He doesn’t give me Himself, isn’t He cruel? And if He gives me nothing but blood and tears here but I have Him, hasn’t He been merciful? If we can get past this inkling we have on this planet, hasn’t He been merciful if He gives

me Himself? Well the answer is yes. And that’s why, throughout the Scriptures, people who experience these unreal tragedies are rejoicing. Now I’m not trying to make it kitschy. I’m not trying to go, ”Oh, cancer! Thank You, Lord.“ This week alone I’ve been on the phone and I’ve been to the hospital and just wept with people. I have just literally wept at what appears to be hopeless. It’s easier when they’re 80, brutal when they’re 6 and hard to get your mind around when they’re 30 with a 6- year-old. And it’s remarkable to go in and press in, pray, see and watch those men, those women go, ”How good is God in this!“ Through tears, through confusion, through pain to find that bedrock of grace and mercy of God made evident in Jesus Christ.

So here’s the question you have to answer, and here’s the question as I wrap up. This world holds many troubles. If you don’t know that, you just haven’t lived long enough yet. Loss happens, loneliness occurs, depression creeps in, despair happens, people die, disease is real, you lose your job and your sins catch up with you. On and on I could go. The question you have got to answer is: are you under wrath or are you under mercy? Are you under wrath or are you under discipline? How that question is answered comes back to what you do with Jesus Christ. It’s why every week I’m hammering on the same thing. So that cup we read about in Habakkuk will surely come around to you. Now I deserve that cup. I deserve it. I don’t know you, but I know I deserve it. I have rebelled, I have belittled, I have mocked and I have run my own way. I deserve that cup. But here’s the thing. When it’s time for that cup to be poured on me, it’s going to be empty. Do you know why it’s empty? Because it was already poured out. It was poured out on Jesus Christ on the cross. So God, to pour that cup on me, will find that cup empty with Christ sitting next to Him going, ”No, he’s perfect. He’s spotless. He’s holy. He’s blameless. He’s Ours.“ Not only does Jesus absorb the wrath that God had for me in my rebellion, but then He speaks of my righteousness through Himself to the Father. ”No, he’s righteous. He’s Ours. I have purchased him for You.“ So now, regardless of what befalls my life, it’s God’s mercy, not His wrath. I am never under the punitive punishment of God Almighty. I am instead under His merciful hand as He chisels away at me, making me more and more like His Son for the good of my eternal soul and the glory of His name. And if you could put on these lenses, it makes the day of trouble much more easy to stand in.

If you can’t put on these lenses, then you’re going to try penance. And nothing is more exhausting than penance. I think I have figured some of you out too. I think some of you come here because I yell at you and I say things like I’m saying this morning. We grow fastest when I go off. I’ll be like, ”If you’re not serious, don’t come here, you lifesucking leaches. You plug in, you get involved, you connect yourself to the body or go watch a show somewhere else.“ The next week, we’ll double in size. People are going, ”You’ll never believe this guy. He told us not to come to church.“ ”He did what? I’m coming.“ I think what’s happening is that’s some sort of weird penance on your part where, ”Man, Chandler makes me feel like trash. Let me go do that so I feel better about my rebellion against God.“ Please don’t trade God’s grace and mercy for acts of penance. You have no righteousness of your own. You have only the righteousness given to you in Jesus Christ. You don’t have to sit under God’s wrath. That’s a decision that you’re making. Christ has paid the bill. You only need to get under that, to trust in it, to roll the idea of God from the back of your head to the front of your head and begin to follow, serve and submit to Him as He has revealed Himself to us in the Scriptures.

Let’s pray. ”Father, I thank Your for Your mercy. I know that for some of us, this is really close to home. We hurt, we’ve experienced loss and in that loss some of us have sinned, rebelled and grown angry. We have shaken our fists at the heavens. So I pray that You would give us new eyes, that You would allow us to see Your mercy, Your kindness, Your grace, Your love for us as You lead us into holiness, as You lead us into righteousness, as You give to us and grant to us blamelessness in Jesus. I know so many are just on the precipice of belief, not sure what to do with You, Jesus. So many of us are caught in Bible Belt silliness where You’re an idea but not personally known. So Father, I pray that, by the power of Your Spirit, You would draw us into Yourself and let us walk in relationship with You. God we love You. Help us. It’s for Your beautiful name. Amen.“

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