Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Lent reflections 1: Gracious call to peace

Welcome to the beginning of Lent.  As some of you know I have been passing through a time of difficulty with my mental health.  I find that such times are not the right place for deep thinking.  Instead, when your soul is troubled, I think we need to be reassured of the love of God.  As a result, these lent reflections (each weekday of Lent) will seek to remind us of the goodness and grace of the God we follow.  I hope you will be blessed and feel the reality of his grace.

I am not angry.  
If only there were briars and thistles confronting me!
I would march against them in battle;
I would set them on fire.
Or else let them come to me for refuge, let them make peace with me, 
yes, let them make peace with me (Isaiah 27:4-5).

In these verses God is inviting people to be at peace with him.  The amazing thing about this invitation is that it is being issued to those very people who oppressed Israel [his people in the Old Testament].  God desires to be reconciled with his enemies.(Romans 5:10).  He assures them that if they come to him in repentance and trust they will receive welcome and love.  'He is not determined to destroy them.  If they will "make peace" with him, they can find "refuge" in him' (NIV Zondervan Study Bible).  

Thomas Chambers, a Scottish pastor of the 1800s, explains that "the tone of God's invitation is not a tone of anger - it is a tone of tenderness.  The look that accompanies the invitation is not a look of wrath - it is a look of affection ... it may well be said of God to all who are now seeking His face and favour, that there is no fury in him.'

It is not that I am denying that there is a Day of Judgement to come.  That will be an awful day for those who have refused the offer of grace and mercy available in Christ.  But at this time his offer of acceptance is open and sincere to all.  We will only have ourselves to blame if we refuse it.  He is after all a God who takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but would prefer that they would repent and live (Ezekiel 33:11).

Happy Valentines Day from the God of Love.

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