Joel 2:13 ESV
I Corinthians 13:4-6 ESV
Matthew 7:7-11 ESV
Micah 7:18-20 ESV
Psalm 86:15 ESV
Luke 4:22 ESV
Romans 5:20-21 ESV
From the Beginning
In the Old and New Testament scriptures, God’s graciousness is available for the just and the unjust. We read in Joel 2:13, “And rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”
Notice the Prophet Joel used the words ‘return to’ the Lord God. The Hebrew word used is Shuwb (pronounced Shoob) and it can mean turn back or return. Some translators use the word TURN to. In every case, the Hebrew word denotes a turning to God. If we turn to, turn back to or return, we seek the face of God.
That’s the key.
Whatever the circumstance, whatever the case, no matter what the reason is or what HAS occurred, when we turn or return to God, He is “gracious and merciful”.
The Prophet also tells us by the very character and nature of God He is slow to anger. We know from I Corinthians 13:4-6, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”
In addition to God’s graciousness, the character of God is patient and kind. I might also note that the love that comes from God is full and free to all.
God does give love to those who turn and return.
When I was young, I would pray and when I didn’t get what I prayed for, I would go to my dad and tell him that God either ignored me or refused to give me what I asked for.
My dad would smile.
He would tell me to read The Bible.
Now, I love to read, but being told to go find the answer wasn’t always what I wanted. I wanted it to be easy.
However, my dad had a way of looking at me without blinking and I knew that meant it wouldn’t do any good to argue with him.
So I open my Bible and read. I find in Matthew 7:7-11, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (I’m old enough that THE Bible translation I had when I was a child was the KJV and here I used the ESV because it is a very accurate translation.)
So, God hears us when we turn to Him.
God will not give us anything that is not good for us.
God doesn’t tell us no just because He wants His own way or He’s busy right now. God wants what’s best for us. Sometimes that means the answer is WAIT because we’re not ready for what God has for us. Sometimes the answer IS no because it’s not what’s best for us. God will not harm us.
The point is that God is always gracious and good to us.
God is compassionate, forgiving, and faithful.
According to Micah 7:18-20, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.”
When I was in my twenties I read the Psalms over and over again. I remember finding great comfort from reading the Psalms. I prayed and prayed asking God to show us the path of ministry God had for us. It seemed like every door was closed. I had three of my children (which was a very good thing). Then I lost a fourth child when I was 28 years old.
Because we felt like we were called to ministry but no doors seemed to be opening, we were often confused. Daily I needed to be reminded that God is gracious and gives us exactly what we need. In Psalm 86:15 we read, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
I needed to be reminded that God is gracious and faithful but even as we struggle to understand, God IS still gracious and faithful.
It’s grace that set Jesus of Nazareth apart from the crowd. In Luke 4:22 we learn, “And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?” Jesus in the flesh was WITH them and yet, some did not see.
Jesus paid the ultimate price so we would have full access to God’s Grace. In Romans 5:20-21 Paul wrote, “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Even though we miss the mark, we have access to God’s Grace through Jesus by faith. Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
God’s grace is a gift. We don’t earn it but God’s graciousness is always available.
When we turned thirty, we received the answer to our prayers. We accepted a call to pastor a small church in Northwest Missouri. My fifth child was born. God had a plan all along but I was young and impatient. God wasn’t saying no…He was preparing us for the ‘yes’.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Receive God’s Grace
Take time to open your hands to say yes to receive what God has for you.
In God, Deborah