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When You "Screw Up," Don't Give Up, Look Up!


It is my persuasion that all of us, yes, Christians included, have breaking points. There are times, maybe just moments, maybe longer, when the issues, or pressures of life get the best of us (also the worst of us). I heard Chuck Swindall say one time that, "There is a little pool of insanity in all of us that's just waiting for the opportunity to slop over into our lives." What do you think?

In recognition of these "cracks in our armor," these lapses in good judgment, these "falling back into sin" experiences, Dr. Paul Tournier, in his book, The Meaning of Persons, says something that continues to bring reflection to my life; This falling back into sin, is "...our normal condition. There is scarcely any such thing as a stable spiritual life: (I'm sure there are people who would disagree with him). Tournier goes on to offer the conviction that, "God has allowed (in us) a margin of moral disobedience which maintains, if I may put it so, his (our) spiritual life...It is when we stray from the direction ordained by God, for his purpose, that it (the moral conscience) comes into action in order to bring us back. This coming back, which is repentance, reconciles us to God, and rekindles our spiritual life" (The Meaning of Persons, pp. 114,115). In other words there's hope for our "screw ups." Someone has thoughtfully observed that, "The way back to the father as through the 'far country'" (See Luke 15: 11-32).

The apostle John, recognizing our frailties, penned in 1 John 2:1,2; "My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if you do sin, there is someone to plead for you before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who pleases God completely. He is the sacrifice for our sins. He takes away not only our sins, but the sins of all the world" (See John 3:16 on this last part).

Even with our best intentions; even with Christ in our hearts, we're going to screw up sometimes. And sometimes life may smack us so hard and suddenly, we'll fall off the edge of our faith into a pit of worry. What does God think about us when this happens. David wrote in Psalm 103: 13, 14: "As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear (reverence) him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" (NIV). David is referencing Genesis 2: 7 in the last part of this verse. Let's examine three things from Psalm 103: 14.

First of all, GOD KNOWS US COMPLETELY. David reflects upon the fact that God 'knows how we are formed' because he formed us himself. Genesis 2:7 tells us: "And the Lord God formed man (human beings) from the dust of the ground (we are earthly beings with all that means) and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being: (KJV; a living soul). Our bodies are of the earth, but our life source is God. People who ignore the godness in all of us spend all their time on the earth part and as Solomon penned, are "never satisfied" (Ecclesiastes 1:8).

As marvelous as we are, "make just a little lower than God himself" (Psalm 8:5) there is a limitness to our being. We are "dust." Our strength is found in the Lord. David testified in Psalm 28:7: "The Lord is my strength..." Is this your testimony? Psalm 103: 14 tells us that God, "Knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." Aren't you thankful that God has a good memory? He understands our situation. Now a word about our "dustness." It is a reference to our earthiness. I like what Matthew Henry has to say about this: "He (Adam) was made of the dust of the ground, a very unlikely thing to make a man of but the same infinite power that made the world of nothing made man, its masterpiece, of next to nothing. He was not made of – dust, powder of pearl, or diamond dust, but common dust, dust of the ground. Our fabric is earthly, and the fashioning of it like that of an earthly vessel. What have we then to be proud of? (Our) Maker was great, and the make fine...The workmanship exceeded that materials. Let us present our bodies to God (Rom. 12:1)." (Commentary On the whole Bible P. 5). God knows us completely!

Secondly, HOW DOES GOD RESPOND TO OUR "DUSTINESS?" David writes in Psalm 103: 8 "The Lord is merciful and gracious, he is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love." A question comes to me as I write this: Am I are we, slow to anger? The apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:27 "...for anger gives a mighty foothold to the devil." If anger pushes us over the edge, we need to seek forgiveness; from both God and the person we have exploded on. That will take away the devil's "foothold."

Why is God slow to anger? Because he knows about our dustness; he understands our frailties. He knows that even when we want to stand, we fall sometimes. There is a difference between willful moral disobedience and weakness or dustness. A little child may spill their milk at the dinner table because of a lack of coordination, and not because of rebellion. The wise mother or father will know the difference and respond accordingly. God knows the difference. David continues in Psalm 103: 9-12: "he will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He has not punished us for all our sins, nor does he deal with us as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as the east is from the west." God's ultimate expression of his "unfailing love" was expressed through his Son's death on the Cross for our sins. Have you acknowledged to God your sinfulness and frailness and given your life to Jesus as Savior.

Thirdly, HOW SHALL WE RESPOND TO OUR "DUSTNESS?" First of all we need to recognize it and admit it both to God and ourselves. David wrote in Psalm 37:23: "The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand." It's OK to confess to God that we have stumbled; he will not withdraw his hand from ours.

We need to give our life to Christ so that his Holy Spirit will indwell us (that's being "born again," John 3: 1-6), and raise up God's new life within us.

Live in community with God's people, the church. Become an intimate part of the family of God. WE NEED EACH OTHER. Paul wrote in Romans 12:5: "And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs ALL the others." Paul wrote in Galatians 6:2: "Share each other's troubles and problems and in this way obey the law of Christ ("love your neighbor as yourself"). In James 5:16 we read: "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." I know, this is a toughy, but we need to be transparent. We need the church. David penned in Psalm 34:3 "...let us exalt his name together."

We all have our breaking points in life; those times when we go down either because of circumstances or sin; the former may lead to the latter. But God knows "that we are dust," and he will not forsake us. Out of his great compassion and unfailing love he will meet us where we are (like Jesus did with Peter, and with Paul, lift us up unto a solid place and send us on HIS WAY with our hand in his. Can you believe it? Will you receive it? Oh, Yeah, will you offer God's grace to others?

Until next time,

Pastor Joe


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