Monthly Archives: April 2016

Amazing Grace

By Pastor Ruth Denboer

It’s amazing to me as I try to understand the grace of God.   The scriptures this week started out in Leviticus.  Here we see just a glimpse of the very specific detail God went to in order to purify His people from their sins.  As wonderful as it was for them to have the opportunity to have their sins forgiven … it was a terrifying process.   Literally, a matter of life and death if they did not completely follow God’s very specific directions.   Although the whole process was rigorous and frightening, the Israelites took the instructions from God very seriously.   They realized that this process was allowing them to be in right standing with God once again.   Even though it was difficult and distant, they recognized it was indeed God’s grace being bestowed upon them.   What a contrast to how we understand forgiveness and our relationship with God today!    We read in Hebrews that we can come into the presence of God boldly and with the confidence that are His children.

How is all this possible you ask?

Glad you asked!  JESUS!  The difference for us is simply Jesus.  I am overwhelmed with the amazing grace we are offered through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  It is incredible that as we confess our sins directly to God, we are instantly forgiven.  Jesus’ sacrifice paid the price for every one of the sins I’ve ever committed and ever will commit.  Your sins are completely paid for as well.

Why then do we sometimes live with guilt or shame?

I think the answer was revealed in Psalm 32.

3When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.  4Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.  My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.

5Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt.  I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the lord.”  And you forgave me!  All my guilt is gone.

It really is this easy for us!  Jesus paid the full price of our sin.  When we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us completely.  So as I read the passages for this week, I was so humbled by the amazing grace of God in sending Jesus to be the final sacrifice for all sin.   We really can live forgiven and guilt free!

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for allowing me to come into your presence so personally and intimately.  Thank you for paying the price for my sins, past present and future.  I could never deserve this, but I choose to confess my sins to You, and accept Your generous offer of forgiveness.   Help me to never forget the price You paid for my sins, and how much You desire me to live guilt free!

~ With a grateful heart.  Amen

The Love of God

By Pastor Nikki Ragush

Love is one of the deepest desires of every human. For some people they seek to find love through a marriage, others have dreamt about being a parent their entire lives, some find acceptance and love through deeply knit friendship groups, and some dedicate their entire lives to singleness as to focus solely on God. A variety of these things can be melded together, and at points people may feel very loved yet also at points they may feel loneliness and emptiness. People always seem to try and explain love, never finding a solution that completely satisfies the meaning of the word. Scripture says “God is love”, but that still seems vague for those who want to completely grasp, understand, and then dissect this concept. God is one of the greatest ways we can understand love, but it sometimes seems to be complicated what it looks like.

Hosea is probably one of the prophets that sticks out the most in my mind because the story is odd. Most people think that as a prophet God would want you to have a solid base around you… but God goes against our expectations. We find out God’s first command to Hosea “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” (Hosea 1:2) The first thing God calls Hosea to do is to commit himself in marriage to someone who was unlikely to commit themselves back. I myself am not married however I know that when I commit to support someone there is an expectation they also will support me; whether in a friendship, a relationship, as a teammate, or as a co-worker. I remember many times in grade school being rather frustrated after a group assignment where I ended up doing more work than others, feeling like they didn’t care about me or my grades.

If we simply look at the situation we see Hosea in, we probably would see it being unfair and possibly a little ridiculous for God to ask this of Hosea. However, this imagery should mean something to us, because God’s reasoning for this is to prove a point… Hosea’s life became an object lesson to each one of us.  We say “God loves us” but do we truly understand how deeply He feels this love and how unconditional it is. God knows these people don’t care about Him, He sees them worshipping other god’s even when He’s proved himself in the Bible time and time again.

In Chapter 3 we see God call Hosea to reconciliation with His wife, ““Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”  (Hosea 3:1) God knows that He himself begs and pleads for His children to follow Him still knowing that some still are temptation and find something that may in the moment satisfy them.

God wants all of us. He doesn’t desire for us to have a couple hours on a Sunday, maybe ten minutes a day studying His word, or the quick prayer at meals when He is thanked for our food. I encourage you to read through this book and think that the God who made the entire universe desires to have all of your attention. We may not have the same idols, however sometimes it is obvious in our lives what we value most by the way we act, the way we speak, and where our time goes. God wants a full commitment to him, and He is ready to be fully committed to us but God allows us to make this crucial decision. The love of God is so beautiful in Hosea; it is unconditional, forgiving, understanding, and passionate.