An Empty Basket

Empty wicker basketWe use baskets around our house a lot.  A basket is like a reusable box often a bit more durable. Some of our baskets are for looks with cool stuff in them on display. Others are working baskets like the one in the laundry room. Baskets for the most part are functional items used to carry things around the house.

I was reading in Zechariah of a vision he had about a basket. I wasn’t crazy about the symbolism until I thought about Jesus. Check this out…

5 Then the angel who was talking with me came forward and said to me, “Look up and see what is going out.”
6 “What is it?” I asked.
He answered, “It is a measuring basket going out.” He also said, “It is a symbol of the people’s sins in all the land.” (Zechariah 5:5-6 NCV)

I just stopped and gave some thought about what a basket with my sins might look like. I am certainly not perfect and my sins would cover everything from my thoughts to my actions. I feel like I know the heart of the Lord and I know when I’ve sinned. I started thinking for a second that it would take a industrial sized crane to carry the basket with my sin. All of a sudden it hit me… because of Jesus, my basket would be empty.  I am forgiven and my sin is removed from me as far as the east is from the west. I’ve accepted Jesus and His sacrifice brought grace and my sins are gone. Thanks to amazing grace, I have an empty basket!

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Punishment

Punishment Security IconsMy Mom and Dad certainly did not “spare the rod and spoil the child” with me! I learned early on where the boundaries were. I also learned what would happen if I crossed the boundaries as well. Punishment is usually the retribution for and offense. If you commit the crime, you must do the time! (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist!)

God was speaking through Nahum the punishment on Nineveh. He did not hold back and I’m not sure they had a clue what was coming. They were living in direct opposition to God’s ways. They were wicked and reckless and their punishment was on the horizon. Check this out….

 18 King of Assyria, your rulers are asleep;

    your important men lie down to rest.

Your people have been scattered on the mountains,

    and there is no one to bring them back.
19 Nothing can heal your wound;

    your injury will not heal.

Everyone who hears about you applauds,

    because everyone has felt your endless cruelty. (Nahum 3:18-19 NCV)

Punishment comes when I step outside the boundaries that the Lord has for me. Punishment comes in the way of consequences when I sin against the Lord. Grace comes in to play because I can never live a perfect life without sin. Jesus made a way for me to escape the punishment I deserve. He then goes way, way beyond that and not only takes the punishment for me – He gives me eternal life as icing on the cake!  I deserve severe punishment for my sin, but I get forgiveness and life everlasting!! Jesus is such a “Game-Changer”, Life Shaper, Memory Maker, Lover of my soul. I can’t quite express the difference He’s made in my life. I deserve death, but I receive LIFE!

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Mercy For Me

Word on keyboardI am a life long recipient of the mercy of God. I am blessed way more than I deserve and I have a grateful heart for the Lord’s mercy on me. I’ve seen His mercy on others as well. I believe everyone needs mercy on occasion. I think I need in regular intervals. I know my heart and the Lord knows my heart and it’s not always pure. I sometimes harbor thoughts that are unkind and harmful to others. This is a reflection of my heart not the things that they did to harm me. I have to learn to give mercy as I have received mercy.

Jonah, the prophet is acting like a spoiled brat – a Christian brat of course. He has just preached a message for God calling for the people of Nineveh to repent and turn from their evil ways and turn back to God. It doesn’t sound like to me that his heart was in the message…but he preached it anyway. I would call that obedience. But then when the Lord shows mercy to these people, Jonah gets really mad. Check this out…

1 But this made Jonah very unhappy, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “When I was still in my own country this is what I said would happen, and that is why I quickly ran away to Tarshish. I knew that you are a God who is kind and shows mercy. You don’t become angry quickly, and you have great love. I knew you would choose not to cause harm. 3 So now I ask you, Lord, please kill me. It is better for me to die than to live.”
4 Then the Lord said, “Do you think it is right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:1-4 NCV)

I love it when I receive mercy that I don’t deserve. I should be thrilled to see someone else receive mercy instead of punishment. The Lord’s heart is evident in this passage of scripture.  God is making a way for these people where there seems to be no way. He is showing them the way to return to Him and they are accepting this gift of mercy.

I’m so grateful for the mercy of God. I’ve seen first hand His love and mercy poured out over me. He is unmatched in His mercy and grace. He has an unlimited supply of both and His heart is moved when my heart moves toward Him. He loves me like no one on this earth could love. I know that I’ve told my children over and over how I love them more than they could love me. I’ve also told them that one day when they have children they will further understand why I say that.  God loves me like a Dad loves his children – after all I am God’s kid!  I just can’t say enough about the mercy of God – it’s amazing and impossible to properly describe.

Pressing On!
Dwayne