My wife and I had an interesting conversation yesterday morning about the 11th hour. I believe we will be surprised with who’s in Heaven when we get there.
“Wait, what? Am I in the wrong place…How did YOU get here?!”
Right? I mean, we all think: this person is holy and that person obviously is not or this person is saved and that person obviously is not. But scripture tells us another story.
Let’s look at the cross. There were two thieves on each side of Our Lord that day. Now, you didn’t find yourself at the business end of a crucifixtion for nothing! Suffice it to say, these two were probably what we would consider “not holy” and definitely “not saved.” However, at the last possible moment one of them accepted Jesus into his heart and Jesus saved him! Talk about saved at the last moment! Thank God for that kind of Mercy and Grace, right? I don’t know about you, but I need it everyday!
Quickly let’s also look at Jesus’s teaching about the 11th hour and “Idle-all-day” people (Matt. 20:2-16). Some workers work all day long and some only work for one hour, yet all were are paid the same amount. My favorite part of this parable is that the lord of the vineyard KEPT going out every hour to look for labourers! He looked for people who were idle… all day! Jesus will never stop! Even until the last hour of the day, He will search for you! His love is relentless!
In Ecclesiatetes 7:8, Solomon tells us better is the end of a thing than the beginning. I’ve ran marathons, that statement is very true! Sometimes it’s how you finish that makes the difference. Goal-setting resolutions can never match the unbelievable blessing of God’s divine intervention to have Mercy on us!
So you see, it’s never too late. God is waiting on you, not the other way around!
When I was little, I was scared of quicksand. I was absolutely certain I was going to fall into some quicksand and never get out. I don’t have facts on this, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t even any quicksand in West Virginia. Anyways, try telling that to a 10 year old.
Anyone who has ever seen a Western or Indiana Jones, can tell you – don’t struggle! It will only make you sink faster! If you just remain calm, you may have more of a chance… to find a rope, or branch, or call out for help, or something.
2 Cor. 12:9-10 tells us that God’s Grace is sufficient. His power is made perfect in our weakness. Boast happily in your weaknesses and then the Power of God may rest upon you. If that doesn’t make your heart burst in praise, I don’t know what will. The weaker you are, the easier it is for God to jump in and blow that hardship out of the water? Sign me up!
Tenth Avenue North has a song called, “The Struggle.” It has a line that really resonates with my wife and I. “We are free to struggle, We’re not struggling to be free.”
Every night at around 10 o’clock, I let my dog out for one last time. The first thing I do is look up to the sky and see if “the stars are out.” I’ll tell my wife, “Man, the stars are really out tonight!” or “No stars out tonight!” Now, I know full well that the stars are not precarious things that are sometimes there and sometimes hiding. It’s just that on certain nights, I cannot see them. I can thank Miss Grewe at East Dale Elementary for that.
There are times when you feel like God is not there. Saint John of the Cross called it “The Dark Night of The Soul.” You walk out into that night and there are no stars. The sky is black. Your gut sinks as you peer into the cold vast nothing. You are unprotected, alone and forgotten.
God has gone out of His way to let you know how ridiculous that is: Deut 31:8, Heb. 13:5, Joshua 1:9, Phil. 4:6-7, and Psa. 55:22 just to name a few. Over and over He tells us we are not alone, He will never forsake us and He protects His children. So when your flesh is weak and when your heart fails, remember – God is there, He has not left you and He alone can get you where He needs you to be.
The stars are ALWAYS out there, it’s just sometimes you can’t see them.
I read somewhere that your brain can always see your nose, but it chooses to ignore it. There is a section in your field of vision that gets continously… deleted.
Sin can be like that. It’s gets so constant, that we just sort of ignore it. We knows its there, we can see it… but we continously delete it from our sight.
Conversely, Good can be like that also. Far too often we ignore what’s so plainly in front of us: good health, amazing riches, and unbelievable blessings. The fact that you are reading this right now means a coulple of things: 1. You can see. 2. You can read (14% of US Adults are illiterate). 3. You have access to the internet (119 million lack broadband internet). How about thanking God for any of those?
Ignoring something doesn’t make it go away. If it’s something bad – address it. Proverbs 3:6 says in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. If it’s something good – give thanks for it. Psalms 95:2 says let us come before Him with thanksgiving. Either way, let’s stop deleting things from our sight and acknowledge our Lord and Saviour!
“This will not hurt your dog. Using these steps, you can keep her safe.” said Joe as he described his dog obedience techniques. He also said something curious: “I can tell she loves you, but she doesn’t respect you. Respect is how you’re going to keep her safe.”
Anyone who’s met my labrador retriever, Annie can attest to her… energy. I say we misnamed her: Godzilla would’ve been more appropriate. Anyways, what Joe said made sense. She didn’t respect me and that could lead to her getting hurt or worse, killed.
It’s the same with God: the only way He can keep us safe is if we respect Him. If we do not listen to his commands, we are putting ourselves in harm’s way. Just as much as I would never want anything bad to happen to my dog, God only wants to take care of us. If only we would settle down and listen for once!
He’s not trying to limit us, He’s trying to set us free!
Twice Jesus said that He desired mercy over sacrifice (Matt. 9:13 & 12:7). Telling us something once is enough, but twice? He really must’ve wanted us to get it! So what does it mean to desire mercy over sacrifice?
Jesus was quoting from Hosea 6:6. The Israelites were offering sacrifices to God because it was their duty not because they desired to please Him. Their hearts were not close to God. There was no relationship.
Jesus is saying He desires that we genuinely love him. He desires that we follow His will because we truly want to. He doesn’t want us coldly following rules like the Pharisees.
God sees the heart and no amount of rule following can replace a heart that isn’t true. Mercy wins over sacrifice, everytime. God bless!