What Dust is Collecting Over Your Window?

Lamentations‬ ‭2‬:‭18-19‬

Cry aloud before the Lord, O walls of beautiful Jerusalem! Let your tears flow like a river day and night. Give yourselves no rest; give your eyes no relief. Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children, for in every street they are faint with hunger.

That’s pretty intense if you think about it. A little back story: basically Jerusalem has committed sins against the Lord(what a surprise). Because of their sins, the Lord has removed His mercy from their land and now destruction is upon them. Jerusalem is being attacked, but it doesn’t matter how much effort they put into fighting back, they can’t win because the Lord has removed His protection from them. The Lord even broke down His own temple in Jerusalem. The prophets are no longer receiving visions from the Lord.

It seems Jerusalem has done some pretty terrible things against the Lord, perhaps maybe even more terrible than anything you’ve ever done, then again perhaps not. Whatever it was, it made God furious.

There’s two things I can’t help but notice in these verses though:

1) Jerusalem is still referred to as “beautiful”

So despite the many sins of Jerusalem, it is still referred to as “beautiful.” I just can’t imagine facing anyone’s wrath, but yet in the middle of it, you’re still referred to as beautiful. Jerusalem was/is God’s chosen nation, chosen people. Even in His wrath, He still loves them.

2)  There’s forgiveness

This one might be easy to miss. Despite the misery Jerusalem is in, they are still being told to offer their hearts back to God. They committed some pretty terrible sins against God, is currently experiencing His wrath, but somehow they are still being offered forgiveness through repentance and committing their hearts back to God.

This all relates back to us. In the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul uses some pretty crazy words to describe God’s relationship to us. He used words such as:

He choose us (v.4). Holy and blameless (v.4). Predestined us for adoption (v.5). Predestined (repeated in v.11). Sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (v.13). 

As Jerusalem was God’s chosen people, we all are now God’s chosen people through faith in Christ Jesus. Through faith, we are all His beautiful children, and that’s the way He is going to refer to both you and I, despite what we do. Through faith, we have forgiveness of sins. Galatians reminds us over and over again that we are no longer slaves of the law, but slaves of Christ. It’s all about Him. It’s not about us. It’s not about what you’ve done, are doing, and will do, it’s about what He has done for us. Nothing can change His love for us.

I believe the catch, if there is one, is this: the more we chose to live for the world, the less of God we will see in our life. I heard this beautiful illustration of a glass window the other day. Sunlight was trying to enter the room, but because of the filthiness of the window, the sunlight couldn’t reach into the room. Dust had collected and layered itself over the window. That dust is our sins if we let it continue in our lives. Your sins are forgivable, but they still leave a mark on us. The strongest impact is that it gets in the way of letting Christ’s light into our heart. The more we sin, the less we feel God. That’s not to say if you aren’t feeling God, it is because of some sin in your life. But often, because of sin, we separate ourselves from God. It’s the consequence of the choice we make when we sin. Our sin creates a filter over the window and that changes the effect of God’s light into our hearts.

But there is always forgiveness, your window can always be cleaned, and not just cleaned, but be made new, and bigger!

No matter the guilt you are feeling, even if it is greater, or less then the guilt we see in Lamentations 2, God can restore your heart. That’s exciting. We can’t be to far gone for Him to heal us.

You’re still beautiful. You’re still forgiven.

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let’s settle this,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
    I will make them as white as wool.

Isaiah 43:25

“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake
    and will never think of them again.

Micah 7:18 -19

Where is another God like you,
    who pardons the guilt of the remnant,
    overlooking the sins of his special people?
You will not stay angry with your people forever,
    because you delight in showing unfailing love.
Once again you will have compassion on us.
    You will trample our sins under your feet
    and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

Ephesians 1:7

He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

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Hey, Listen!

I really just want to go through the book of Joel, and take what seems to be key verses to me and talk about them.

The first 15 verses of chapter 1 can be summed up with Joel 2:3

Before them fire devours,
    behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
    behind them, a desert waste—
    nothing escapes them.

The Lord is warning them of judgement day. This verse is telling us how devastating the Lord’s army is going to be. Until His army comes, everything is going to be grand, we are going to be enjoying the pleasures of the earth in all its beauty. But when the Lord passes through, everything behind Him will be destroyed into a waste. There is nothing His army won’t cover. It will bring disaster to all. Going back a few verses, to Joel 2:1

Blow the trumpet in Jerusalem;
    shout a warning on my holy mountain.
Let all the people who live in the land shake with fear,
    because the Lord’s day of judging is coming;
    it is near.

Shake with fear. This reminds of the moment when you get to class, the toughest one, the one you really need that A in, and you get to class to realize everyone has on their desk an important assignment to turn in that you forgot to do. Fear strikes you hard, you panic quickly think how you can resolve this. Maybe you can leave class now before the professor comes. Maybe I won’t say anything and the professor won’t notice. You think to yourself, how in the stinkin world could I forget about this assignment?!

But now take this another step forward, you’re living your life, maybe on your way to work, to school. to the gym, on the way home, which ever, and this trumpet blows from the sky. Close your eyes and imagine this. Then this voice comes shouting from the sky, “Judgement day is coming next week. Prepare yourselves!” Imagine that fear. What’s the first thought that comes to mind? Whatever your thought is, I want to ask, how in the stinkin’ world could you forget that God said there will be a judgement day?!

Joel 2:6-11 describes what God’s army will be like.

When they see them, nations shake with fear,
    and everyone’s face becomes pale.

 They charge like soldiers;
    they climb over the wall like warriors.
They all march straight ahead
    and do not move off their path.
 They do not run into each other,
    because each walks in line.
They break through all efforts to stop them
    and keep coming.
 They run into the city.
    They run at the wall
and climb into the houses,
    entering through windows like thieves.

 Before them, earth and sky shake.
The sun and the moon become dark,
    and the stars stop shining.
 The Lord shouts out orders
    to his army.
His army is very large!
    Those who obey him are very strong!
The Lord’s day of judging
    is an overwhelming and terrible day.
    No one can stand up against it!

In terms of an army, God’s army is extremely disciplines and follow orders exactly to how they were given them. There is nothing that can stand in the way of God’s army. No amount of human effort or advancement can get in His way. On top of that, it says in front of His army “the sun and moon become dark, and the stars stop shinning.” Even if you were to try and fight it, there is no light to see. Total darkness. Everything will be destroyed without a trace. It’s kind of an overwhelming thought.

I love what it says next though in Joel 2:12-13

The Lord says, “Even now, come back to me with all your heart.
    Fast, cry, and be sad.”

 Tearing your clothes is not enough to show you are sad;
    let your heart be broken.
Come back to the Lord your God,
    because he is kind and shows mercy.
He doesn’t become angry quickly,
    and he has great love.
    He can change his mind about doing harm.

God never threatens us without giving us a way out of His wrath. So now, you’re sitting in class, you decided to stay, the professor sees that you forgot to do your assignment. He says to you, “Son, why have you not followed my instructions? I told you the first day of the semester of the assignment, I have warned you every week since, and here you have not done it. According to my syllabus, I am going to have to give you a zero.” And, rightly so. Yes, you may have gotten to busy, things got in the way in you just forgot about it, sure your grandmother may have died last week, but the professor warned you from the beginning of the assignment.

Coming back to the trumpet in the sky, to the voice shouting that next week is judgement day. What’s your excuse to why you haven’t been living right with God? Fortunately for you, God is given each and everyone of us a second chance. “Come back to me” He says! “With all your heart.”Come.

He says, “Tearing your clothes is not enough to show you are sad; let your heart be broken.” I think sometimes we like to pretend we are upset about our wrong doings, I think sometimes we like to make a cover of us being sad so that maybe we feel better about ourselves, so that maybe others are more easily to forgive you. But God is telling us, He doesn’t care about our physical attributes of being sad, let your heart actually be broken. When was the last time your heart was broken? Do you love that Lord so much that even the slightest sin against Him cuts you deep? Or are you like me, more adapted to my sins, kinda brush over them. As long as you say you are for God, it’s all okay right? As long as you are happy and having fun right? As long as you aren’t upsetting or doing harm to others right? I think sometimes we forget and simply can’t imagine how much God loves us and how much pain it costs Him when we sin. Maybe your sins are no big deal to you, but to God, it cost His Sons’ life.

Let your heart be broken and come back to the Lord your God. “He is kind and shows mercy.” “He has great love.” Unlike our professor who is simply following his syllabus and the rules of the university, God can and will give you a second chance. Judgment day doesn’t have to be a bad day for you, it can be the greatest day of your life. Turn back to Him.

Joel 2:14

Who knows? Maybe He will turn back to you and leave behind a blessing for you..

So God comes through and destroys all life and everything around you, BUT who knows, maybe He will turn back and leave a blessing for you. This verse isn’t saying He will turn around, but it implies hope. A blessing from the Lord is greater than anything we can conceive ourselves. Here Joel is simply stating, sure everything may get destroyed in your life, but God can still turn around and bless you and your land. There’s nothing He can’t bless.

Joel 2:18-19

Then the Lord became concerned about His land and felt sorry for His people. He said to them: “I will send you grain, new wine, and olive oil, so that you will have plenty. No more will I shame you among the nations.”

Boom, God’s grace. We can rebel all we want against God, but He still feels sorry for His people when disaster comes. What kind of love is this? So after destroying everything in our lives, He comes back and says I’ll give you everything brand new and will give you plenty!

Over all what I am seeing here, beyond judgement day, is a message about our hearts. Change your heart towards God, and He will restore you. He’ll make you brand new.

Psalm 51:17

The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

What does God want? He wants you to come to Him, no matter how broken, so that He may forgive you and piece you back together. He wants to make your weaknesses your strong point.

2 Corinthians 12:9

Each time he[God] said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I[Paul] am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

And one more, it doesn’t matter where you’ve been, or what’s been done, God can use it.

Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

This is what I love about my God. He’s not asking me, or you, to be perfect, He’s asking us for our heart.  When you give God your heart, all His commands, The 10 Commandments, all the ‘rules’ change. It no longer becomes something you have to follow to be a good Christian. Rather it becomes something you desire to follow because you realize His love is greater than sin. You realize God didn’t create all His laws to give us an impossible to test or to keep us away from our pleasures, rather He was protecting us from the world. If you sit down and consider the 10 commandments, look at them from a perspective that they are there to protect you, rather than a list of rules to follow and break. Watch as you realize the 10 commandments are a sign of His love for us, rather than wrath. They are there to protect, rather than take away.

God’s pretty cool. Come and give Him your broken heart. He won’t turn you away. He will only love you.

(Gonna start at verse 20 next time.)

The Hatred and Love of Our God

Proverbs 6:16 – 19 (NIV)

There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Proverbs 6:16-19

These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

God hates sin with a burning desire. It absolutely disgusts him!

Today there was s shooting this morning in a grade school in Connecticut. 27 people are conformed dead so far, 18 of those dead are children. When hearing of this news I felt a level of angry that I have never felt before. My bold was boiling. I can’t even imagine how those who are directly involved are feeling. I can’t imagine how those who lost a child, or maybe even two, to the shooting. What pain, what sorrow that family would have. To me, the worse thing one can do is to take away the life of in innocent child, a child that may not have even heard or accepted Christ into his or her heart.

I wonder how God feels.

Well, I know how God feels. God feels a level of angry and betrayal way beyond I can even imagine, but Jesus saying to Him, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” and then God doing exactly so.

We may get extremely upset over the innocent children that were lost today, but remember because of us, and our sins, Jesus who is and was perfect and completely innocent suffered hell on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. He could have easily wiped us all out kept His Godhood, saved himself from the humility and started brand new. Instead He gave Himself for us so that we would not have to bear the punishment of our sins.

The love of God is beyond all human understanding. God may hate all sin, as He rightful should, but at the same time He forgives us of our wrongs time and time again. There is no end to His forgiveness.

Today I may be upset over the shooting, but I know I am just as guilty and that God forgives us all. I am thankful for the God I serve.

Father, Forgive Them

Luke 23:34

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” [..]

I love this verse. It’s so easy to get upset with others. Someone could cut you off on the road, someone might give you a bad look, someone might say the wrong thing to you, someone might accidentally offend you, someone might say something against your religion. There is a ton of things that make us frustrated with one another, some very silly things and some serious things. Personally one thing that really upsets me is when I’m working in a group setting and others aren’t working that hard. It absolutely drives me crazy. I’m sure you have your pet peeves as well. The point is, we can get upset with others pretty easy. It’s really hard when they start dissing your religion and what you believe in. Everything in you wants to blow up.

Let us look at Jesus. This man has done nothing wrong in His life. He was always serving others and sticking up for the weak. All He ever did was love, and claim to be the Son of God. The Pharisees hated that and wanted Jesus persecuted, so they persecuted Him. Jesus, while hanging on the cross being tortured to death, being ridiculed, as in He was being made fun of for who He was and what He claimed to be, accused of not being good enough, prayed a pray for those teasing Him.

Put yourself in this situation for a second. Not only did someone punch you, but they have also whipped you on the back 40 times. They have whipped you causing enormous amount of blood to flow out of you, than dragged you a mile across gravel road, pierced nails through your wrists and feet, and then just start dissing you in every way possible. Why are they doing this to you? Just because they don’t like you, you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong but yet they are torturing you. I don’t know about you, but I would be full of hate at this point. It then gets worse because one of the men being tortured with you, disses you as well. Everyone is against you, hates you, and for what, just doing what you think is right?

In the midst of all the suffering, instead of cursing everyone out, instead of sending angels to rescue Him, Jesus prays for them. He says “Father, forgive them , for they do not know what they are doing.” Forgive them?! I don’t think that is what would be going through my mind, but yet that’s what Jesus said. I think that is pretty powerful, pretty amazing.

The next time someone makes you mad, ticks you off, stop for a moment. How is your anger going to solved the problem? It’s not. Say a prayer for them, forgive them. There’s nothing more powerful than a pray so why not use it? Don’t let the devil use your anger.

Matthew 5:44

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Matthew 5:39-41

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

Forgiving Others

Proverbs 3:29-30 (NIV)

Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
who lives trustfully near you.
Do not accuse anyone for no reason—
when they have done you no harm.

Proverbs 3:29-30 (KJV)

Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.
Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.

It’s all to easy to form envy, hostility, and a grudge against others. It’s to easy to form a negative opinion about someone after they have wronged you in some way. When someone wrongs us, we all to often try to get back at them for what they did to us. As for me I have many friends who have been wronged in such a way by another person that it has taken everything in me to hold in my emotions. About a year ago, I have started doing something that can be very difficult to do, that is whenever someone wrongs me or a friend of mine, or does something to make me upset instead of doing something that I know I would regret, I pray for them. This can be a very difficult thing to do, but there is no point in letting their actions boil your emotions, and there is no point in retaliating back because that just leads to more frustrations. I have found it best to just pray for others and yourself when you feel wronged, or anger towards another individual. What is more powerful that the power of pray?

I am currently reading a book called Soul Detox by Craig Groeschel. In the last chapter I read Craig writes about how when he was a child he found out his favorite teacher had molested his sister in either 5th or 6th grade. When this news came up, it came to light that she wasn’t the only child this teacher molested, there was a good number of children that fell victim to him. Craig grew a strong disliking to this man afterwards. He prayed bad things upon him. He thought this teacher was the exception to God’s forgiveness and grace. Over the years the teacher fell victim to some sort of muscular disease. When Craig found out he was happy inside, he liked to think of it as God’s way of punishing that man for all that he had down. Over the years Craig, against the will of his heart, sent his old teacher a letter. Despite how much he felt against this man, he sent him a letter of forgiveness and a short message of God’s grace and forgiveness. The man died shortly after. Craig, also a pastor by the way, went to talk to a nurse after the man died and the nurse told Craig about how the man accepted Christ into his heart after he received the letter from Craig.

We are all quick to anger against others, and it’s really easy to hold a grudge against others. We have all done it, doing it, and will continue to do it throughout our life. I just want to ask you to let go of your grudges, don’t blame others, don’t wish harm upon your neighbor, and always pray for them as well as for yourself. Blaming others and looking to get “even” with them is simply a victory for the devil. As we strive to be more like Christ lets learn to forgive and forget. Let’s learn to put our emotions aside and show love for others, as Christ has shown love for us!

KJ-52, Dangerous

One of my favorite Christian artist while I was in high school was kj-52. I absolutely loved how much he rapped about Christ and how silly he is. Christ was very obvious in all his lyrics. Well, kj-52 just came out with a new album yesterday called Dangerous, and I wanted to share one of his new songs.

can’t forgive or forget
we hold on and it’s dangerous
it’s dangerous
we resent, we regret
we look back but it’s dangerous
living like we do is so dangerous

Ay yo, I wanna hit you up ain’t got the words to say
cause all the junk would do is push you farther away
and every time i see you acting like it’s all ok
you were the last one i ever thought would fall away
i never thought you’d change, never thought you’d stray
and run right back to the very things i know you hate
with all you gone through now tell me why you go this way
caught up in the junk, going where you came
caught up on the run, your every day the same
you hold your head up high, living it without no shame
and every day it gets a little harder just to pray
if i could sit you down, here’s what i’d say

can’t forgive or forget
we hold on and it’s dangerous
it’s dangerous
we resent, we regret
we look back but it’s dangerous
living like we do is so dangerous

your wings are broken yet you keep on flying
every time i talk to you, you never recognize it
holding on to your past yet you keep denying
try to mask your hurt in all the junk that you’re trying
yet i’ll be lying if i said it’s all ok
you’re missing church man, it’s getting worse today
it’s obvious that you’re hurt, that’s the role you play
the one where you blame and push everybody away
i have to say that he’s the one you need
the one that died, crucified, now on that tree
and the final thing i’ve got to say now honestly
the one i’m talking about…is me

can’t forgive or forget
we hold on and it’s dangerous
it’s dangerous
ah, we resent, we regret
we look back but it’s dangerous
living like we do, it’s a long hard road to nowhere
and we’re having trouble finding our way
and it’s a long hard road to nowhere
need something different, someone help me to change

can’t forgive or forget
we hold on and it’s dangerous
it’s dangerous
we resent, we regret
we look back but it’s dangerous
living like we do is so dangerous
can’t forgive or forget
we hold on and it’s dangerous
it’s dangerous
ah, we resent, we regret
we look back but it’s dangerous
living like we do is so dangerous