Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Your Past Does Not Determine Your Future!

Dear Friends,

There’s an Irish saying, “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” Meaning that every saintly person is simply a redeemed sinner and for me (and perhaps for you too) that’s good news. In fact that is the “Good News” – the message of the Gospel. That’s why every day I love to read a book of stories about sinners. Some are more sinful than you and me and some are even less sinful. (Okay..maybe that last part applies only to me.) The book I read of course is my Bible and these sinners – the bad boys of the Bible – are like me in so many ways that I squirm uncomfortably when I read about them. But these guys remind me that, “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”  

Let’s start with Noah. The Bible describes him as a man of blameless, perfect integrity who walked in close fellowship with God. And we know well the story of Noah saving the planet Earth from the flood waters, but there is a dark side to this beloved Bible hero that was not depicted on the flannel board in Sunday School. Noah gets drunk on wine and passes out naked in his tent and, in this inebriated state, something happens with his son Ham. All chaos breaks out in Noah’s household and a curse is placed upon a family member that violently reshapes Old Testament history. Noah gets totally wasted, makes a huge mistake in judgement and yet we read, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.” Genesis 6:9

The first patriarch in the Old Testament is Abraham who is  told by God, “I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.” Genesis 12:2 Wow! Abraham hears that word direct from God and what does our bad boy do? Abraham gets scared, because his wife Sarai is so beautiful, he thinks the Egyptians will kill him and take his wife. So he lied and said that his wife was really his sister. Genesis 12:11-13 What a coward and a scoundrel! God told him: “Dude! You are My main man.” (not a literal translation) And then when life got a little tough, Abraham, who is the first father of our faith, had absolutely no trust that God would protect him. 

Then we read that Abraham had a son Isaac and Isaac had twin sons Jacob and Esau. And Jacob cons his brother Esau out of his birthright by tricking their father into giving Jacob the blessing and inheritance that rightfully belonged to Esau. Genesis 27:1-29 Jacob is one of the fathers of our faith, the founder of the twelve tribes of Israel and this bad boy is a scheming, lying, cheating, con man!

Then we have our Hebrew hero, “Moses the Murderer.” After checking to make sure there would be no witnesses, he kills an Egyptian and hides the body in the sand. Exodus 2:11-12 So what happens to this bad boy? God immediately makes him the commander-in-chief over God’s chosen people and Moses leads the people to the promised land! 

And we can’t forget the number one bad boy in our Bible who truly loved the Lord with all of his heart. King David is one of the most beloved men in the Bible because of his devotion to God! He is David the poet. David the song-writer. David the worshiper. David the adulterer. David the murderer. 2 Samuel 11:1-27 And he is remembered thousands of years later as “a man after God’s own heart.” Acts 13:22

And of course we don’t want to leave the ladies out, so we could add all the many bad girls of the Bible and talk about Eve who changed mankind forever when she bit into the forbidden fruit. Genesis 3:1-24 Or the “R”-rated story about Tamar who disguised herself as a prostitute so that she could have sex with her father-in-law and is later described as “righteous.” Genesis 38:13-18 And then there was the “harlot”  Rahab who God used to help the Israelites capture the city of Jericho. Joshua 2:1-24 

When we speak of the bad girls and bad boys of the Bible, we don’t take out the hero element – we add the human element. The human element that causes us to make mistakes, use poor judgement, mess up, lose our temper, say and do hurtful things to people that we love. Humans sin. They turn to God and He forgives. We like these Bible stories because we are relieved to find God’s redemption for the worst of these bad boys and girls who are just a little too darn much like us. 

The very best thing these bad boys and bad girls teach us is that our past does not determine our future! There is full and free pardon for even the worst of us. The running theme throughout the entire Bible is God’s redemption as He stands ready to forgive the worst sinner. “Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:7

Like the bad boys and girls of the Bible, you and I have also done things in our past that were not good – that were hurtful to others. We remember the bad choices we made and the dumb things we did. We may even have a past filled with sins we are so ashamed of, that we have never told anybody else. But God knows all that we have done. He knows how much we need His forgiveness. That’s why he sent Jesus who lifted up the cup and said “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:27-28 

When we come to God with repentant hearts, He forgives and we are cleansed of our sins! Our past is gone! “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18   Amen?

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