“Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to God, your God. And here’s why: God is kind and merciful. He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot; This most patient God, extravagant in love, always ready to cancel catastrophe.” Joel 2:13-14 (MSG) The (NIV) puts it this way: “Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2:14
“YOU CANNOT HAVE A COMEBACK WITHOUT EVER HAVING A SET BACK!”
This was the sermon we heard yesterday from Pastor Danny. It really hit home to me! As I shared with some of you yesterday morning, I woke up very frustrated. My anger, was “kindled” against my dog Teddy. For those of you reading this and not knowing the story, let me explain.
Teddy wants to eat ALL OF THE TIME! I only feed him twice a day. Once in the morning, and once in the late afternoon. He thinks he needs a bedtime snack. To make a long story short, when I put him out to do his business right before we go up to bed, he invariably sneaks over, in the dark,to the place where I put bread crumbs out for the birds…and eats his fill. He did this Saturday night. We went to bed, and in the wee hours of the morning, I heard him gagging. I was exhausted, and fell back to sleep. Suddenly, around 5 a.m., I awoke to a unpleasant situation…Teddy had thrown up on the bed! Needless to say…I was more than frustrated. I was completely “ticked off!” So here I am, on an early Sunday morning, when I could have slept in for a bit, but instead…stripping the bed, and having to wash everything…even the blankets!
When we got to church, we all stood in a circle, holding hands and were praying for the morning service. I prayed for peace in my own spirit. I asked God to let me lay down my frustration of the morning, and let me come before Him in a quiet spirit so that I could receive what He had for me. It worked! After hearing the sermon, my eyes were opened, and I had to ask myself, “How many times do I frustrated a Holy God with my disobedience?” “How many times do I sneak off in the dark, and do my own thing…go my own way, and never give a thought to His commands?”
We all have unsatisfiable appetites due to our fleshly nature. I’m sure God’s anger was kindled against Adam and Eve when they partook from the very thing God told them to leave alone! They not only sickened, and brought death to themselves…they brought the sickness of sin and death to the whole human race.
The thing God showed me from the message was this: Teddy’s no different from me. I want God’s favor and love. I want His mercy. But I also want to do what I want to do. It doesn’t work that way! It says in the above verse, if I want God to be gracious and compassionate, kind and merciful, and put up with a lot from me…then I NEED to “Come back to Him; change my life…not just my clothes!” In another place in Scripture, it talks about the Pharisees only cleaning the outside of the cup, but leaving the inside still dirty.
Changing your clothes…self reformation…”looking” Holy, will not satisfy God. He wants us to change our life…let Him come in and reform our hearts…become Holy through the blood of Jesus. When we have been changed on the inside…it shows on the outside!
Teddy is forgiven, for I see my own self in his actions. I will be kind and merciful…take a deep breath and put up with all of his messes just as I want God to do for me. But Teddy’s a dog…he can’t change his life, or his clothes; but I can. I can allow God to change me from the inside out, and let Him clothe me with the robes of righteousness that I so desperately need!