An Important Note To Students And Teachers
Christians live in a complex world. Often it is not simple to make the correct choice. Our complex world has little or no patience with those who make bad choices. So, many things operate on the conviction that "we have one opportunity." So, if we blow that one chance, too bad for us! Too many approach God in the expectation that God will respond by saying, "How dare you come to Me!" Often the problem is not God's willingness to forgive, but the willingness of the person to forgive himself or herself.
This quarter we will focus on Old Testament illustrations of the fact that we do not seek a "one opportunity/chance" God. (Next quarter we will pursue the same focus with examples provided by the New Testament.) When we see those who experienced a continuing difficulty, it hopefully will be evident the problem is in the person, not in God. The common denominator in the lives of the successful was a willingness to learn and understand, a willingness to grow, and a willingness to put past mistakes in perspective.
In our examination of people responses to God after the person had previous problems, there is no continuing theme. Some were thoughtless in their deeds. Some had good intentions, but misplaced trust. Some were selfish and arrogant. Some were rebellious. Some continued in their rebellion to God. Some redirected their lives. Some were disappointed in themselves. Some refused to trust God.
Even among the finest examples of faith in and dependence on God were people who had past problems and failures. Being useful to God did not depend on human perfection, but on a willingness of the person to turn to God after failure occurred.
The biblical message is based on hope. Peace with God is possible. The problem was not God but the person. God always is willing to accept the penitent person. It is never human perfection that grasps God's heart and receives God's attention. It continually is penitence. He or she who accepts the responsibility of being a person who repents can live in peace with God.
God does not want us to live in guilt. God is not happy when we are miserable! God wants us to trust Him and depend on Him. Being useful to God is not dependent on perfection, on having never made a mistake. It depends on turning to God, trusting God, committing your mistake to God's mercy, and dedicating yourself to understanding and serving God's purposes.
It is hoped through these studies something will become quite evident: being useful to God has never depended on human perfection. Never let an old guilt stand in your way of serving God. Deal with the guilt honestly! Trust the compassion and grace of God! Learn God's ways and purposes! Dedicate yourself to a serving life rather than a rebellious life!
If these people could serve God's purposes in spite of significant mistakes, so can you!
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