Disturbed By Grace

Hudson Taylor, founder of the Inland China Mission, understood that a repenting man was a healthy man, and a repenting church would be a strong church. Yet we shy from repentance because it will always be preceded with some measure of correction.

He would greet people in an unusual manner. When he would come across a colleague, he’d say, “Have you repented yet today?” I am sure it caught many by surprise and left a few bewildered.

He may have learned that from Paul when he encountered the Cretans. Look with me at Titus 1:12:

“…one of their own prophets has said, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith.”

I laugh every time I come across this verse.

It humors me because you are expecting some kind of defense for the Cretans when they’re being described as lazy gluttons, always lying, and evil brutes! Not the most flattering description of an ethnicity. In today’s world, that would make headlines if a leader spoke this way of another. A major “no-no” in political correctness.

But Paul, the great father of faith, the mentor of leaders, instead of defending them, he agrees with them! He continues,“This testimony is true. Now tell them to repent!”

How we’d love to dictate the way God deals with our errors and immaturities. However, that is not something we have input into. God’s grace sometimes comes wrapped in sandpaper. His goal is not to make me feel comfortable. It is to make me feel convicted so I’ll change my direction and return!

Amos gives us a glimpse into God’s ways. He sends plagues, hunger, sickness and famines, and He does it for one purpose. To get us to return to him! And the option if we chose not to?

“….yet you have not returned to me,” declares the LORD. Therefore … prepare to meet your God….” (Amos 4:11-12)

Remember this: It is not necessarily sin that destroys God’s people. It is unresolved sin. And when there’s blight, famine, and strain, maybe the first order of the day is not to rebuke the illness, but to repent and return!

In today’s modern religious movement, it seems that God’s sole purpose in existing is to bless me. Then we tend to rebuke the very things God is using to get us to return. We forget that His grace does not always come wrapped in velvet or greenbacks. They don’t always arrive in the form of a bonus check or a promotion.

Acts 3:26 is an eye opening verse: “God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

That’s an interesting way to bless someone!

Listen to God’s quiet voice so you won’t have to hear his louder voice. An old Cherokee proverb states, “Train your ears to hear the whispers so you will not have to hear the screams.”

Sometimes God’s grace comes wrapped in sandpaper, and according to Amos, if we don’t respond, His next message may come wrapped in this morning’s newspaper.

A Leader’s Prayer:

Dear Father:

Thank you for reminding me that You speak in ways that are best for me, not always in ways that are most comfortable. If you need to, disturb me with your grace that I may return to You. My goal in life is not leisure nor is it comfort. It is likeness.

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