Thursday, May 19, 2022

            In Daniel 9, we read the great prayer of confession that Daniel prayed on behalf of the people of Israel. In this prayer, the prophet acknowledged Israel’s sinfulness and rebellion against God.  We get a small sense of this prayer in 9:5-6 alone, “We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants, the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.”  Sin can easily and accurately be characterized as wickedness, rebellion, turning away and a failure to listen to God or to take heed of what we have heard.
            A bit later in Daniel 9:18 we read, “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”  Daniel teaches us that we approach God because of the reception that we find from and in Him.  He graciously receives His people and hears their confession—not because we are good and deserving but because He is good and gracious.  I John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Again, forgiveness is found and grounded in God’s character of goodness, grace and mercy and not in any special character or quality that we possess.  And we have done nothing to deserve it. 
            So, both Daniel and John direct us to the character of God when we seek forgiveness.  God is innately and inherently compassionate, loving, faithful and merciful to His people.  He embraces and forgives even when we have done practically nothing to deserve such blessings and gifts.  We take joy in the way God welcomes and receives those who turn to Him in repentance and contrition.  We are reminded of Jesus’ story of the prodigal son who returned home to his father just hoping that he might find a little grace and a place among the hired help.  But the prodigal’s father threw open his arms and offered the welcome of a lifetime.  God is often looking for us when we are not looking for Him.  And God always delivers to us more than we could ever ask or imagine. And like the father in the story of the prodigal, the Father always surprises us with His grace. 
            If you find yourself roaming in sin or sense that you have lost your way, there is a gracious and warm welcome from the Lord awaiting you.  He is more eager to welcome you back than you are to return.  Through the death and resurrection of His Son, the Father has made it possible for us to return to Him, to embrace Him and to walk with Him once again.  As Daniel teaches us, we return to the Lord not because we have righteously earned or deserve a place but because He is merciful, kind and good.  Perhaps today, you are yearning for that kind of reception and grace.  Maybe you would like to experience a warm and enduring welcome from Him.  Grace is receiving favor and love that we have not earned.  Mercy is being spared from scorn and judgment that we have earned and deserved.  Thankfully, God possesses infinite grace and mercy and shares those blessings with those who seek Him sincerely and earnestly and wish to leave behind their sins and walk in new ways with Him.  Today we celebrate the ways and character of God and that His grace that is greater than all of our sins.  Have a wonderful Thursday!

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