A Fresh Start
Father God, You are both the joy of heaven and hope of earth. Your goodness never fails and I magnify Your name.
Read Exodus 34:1-17
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! All this energy issues from Christ (Eph. 1:19, 20a, The Message).
This time Moses did the engraving, a reminder perhaps that this was the second time around. With the replacement law tablets he experiences again the character of this covenant God who is endlessly patient—so much love, so deeply true—loyal in love for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. Is there any clearer statement in Scripture of how God balances condemnation of sin with mercy; punishment with forgiveness? In fact, the words in v. 7 mean “bearing crookedness and rebellion and failure” and say much more than simply “forgiving,” because they point to the cost of that forgiveness—which, we now know, involved the cross.
As parents we struggle to get that balance: requiring obedience from our children as we train them in godly living, yet wanting to reassure them that whatever their failings we still love them. We call it “tough love” and it applies in employee relations, for example, and between friends when we crave honest feedback on our own behavior and habits. We have a great model in Jesus who, for example, forgave the woman caught in adultery when others didn’t, but also said to her, “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).
My husband and I have learned that the hardest experiences make the best stories. In our spiritual lives, we often learn most about ourselves, but especially about God, through failure and despair. Peter by the sea after the resurrection, receiving Jesus’ forgiveness and re-commissioning, would attest to this (John 21:15-19). Not that we continue sinning to increase grace (Rom. 6:1,2), but reflecting on God’s loving dealings with us is fertile ground for spiritual and emotional growth.
As you thank God for his generous love and forgiveness, record what you have learned about him and yourself from these experiences as fuel for future meditation.
Forgive me, Lord, for worshiping the work of my own hands. You alone are God and You alone deserve my worship and devotion.