Are you like many of us who (while reading the Old Testament especially) struggles with the God of vengeance we see there? I’ve been reading through the Bible out loud to my son at night before bed from my YouVersion app on my phone and we are in the Old Testament. While I usually get a little confused and frustrated at God’s anger there, this year He’s been opening my eyes to His love in the midst of His anger. I’m bookmarking all the verses that stand out to me regarding God’s love and provision and highlight those verses in blue (my favorite color) as I go through it and there are a LOT are them! It’s really standing out to me this time through that when God allows bad things to happen to His people, it’s always for a good end result. Quite often He says, “that it will be well with you.” The ancient Israelites were constantly turning towards false gods of the people groups they encountered during their wanderings in the wilderness. They (like many of us today) needed a firm hand in order to keep them heading in the right direction and away from wickedness and danger. I find myself feeling badly for the non-Israelite nations that God had Israel destroy once they crossed the Jordan into the promised land. Mostly when it said they had to kill the children as well. As a mother that tears at my heart. But God was establishing the nation of Israel to be the people His messiah would come from who would save the whole world for generations to come. Laws had to be set in place to ensure the nation would multiply and acknowledge Him being their one true living God so that generations to come would come to know Him as their one true God too. Nations that serve idols and sacrifice their children to false gods multiply and the children would grow into adults who were wicked and it would just continue on and if God didn’t intervene the world would be populated by wicked people who would turn from God. He had to nip it in the bud, “so that it would be well with” His people and throughout future generations to us reading this now and beyond.
“Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the LORD your God.” –Deuteronomy 12:28
The following devotional is from “The Seven Mile Miracle” (an Easter devotional) by Steven Furtick and I hope it blesses you as it did me:
Key Scripture: John 19:26-27
Thought for Today: The relationship God wants to have with you is not based on anything He needs from you. It is based entirely on what you need from Him.
It’s easy to establish and prioritize relationships based on what has been or can be done for us. The value we place on relationships is often contingent on what we think other people will contribute to the relationship.
That’s what’s so amazing about our relationship with God. In our sin and imperfection, it’s difficult to say we provide much that could impress an already-perfect God.
The good news is, God doesn’t measure His relationship with us based on what we have done or can do for Him. If we receive His grace, He has already accepted, forgiven, and saved us. Nothing can take away His love or relationship.
We see this at the cross, as Jesus hung before a tortuous, merciless crowd of hecklers. He was abandoned by nearly everyone that had once fellowshipped with Him. Though His love never left them, His people left Him.
Yet as Jesus looked down from the cross, He saw two familiar faces standing amongst the crowd-His mother, Mary, and His disciple, John. Upon seeing them, Jesus issued His final words to them.
When Jesus said, “Here is your son … Here is your mother,” He showed His passion for relationship, particularly the kind He desires with His people: close, caring, intimate.
Many people hide from these type of tight-knit relationships because they may fear, “If people really knew me, they’d never accept me.” But God really knows you, and He has already accepted you.
The relationship God wants to have with you is not based on anything God needs from you. It is based entirely on what you need from Him.
Jesus knew His mother needed someone to watch over her, protect her, and care for her. When He looked down and saw how close she had drawn to Him, even as He died a horrific death on the cross, Jesus took the time to make sure she would never be alone.
Jesus knows the state of your heart today. He knows if you are trying to push through any pain or insecurity. He knows if you feel like everyone else has left you. He knows exactly what you need, and He is with you, desiring to be in close, caring, intimate relationship with you.
Embrace the unconditional love Jesus wants to show you today.
In your every thought, every word, and every action, you are loved. Stay close to God, and He will stay close to you.
Jesus, thank you for acknowledging our need for care and relationship in your final moments on the cross. Thank you for always looking upon me with love and favor, no matter what my sins deserve. Give me the perspective to prioritize my relationship with you today, and guide me as I learn how to follow you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Jesus died not to scowl at us for the price our sin forced Him to pay, but to smile at us in the joy of His eternal relationship with us. As you read Jesus’ words and instructions today, imagine Him speaking to you with a smile on His face. How does this change the way you receive the relationship Jesus wants to have with you? Shift your perspective to see He delights in you.