Conviction

Psalm 36:1-4
An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin. The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful; he has ceased to be wise and to do good. Even on his bed he plots evil; he commits himself to a sinful course and does not reject what is wrong.


I asked my kids what they were doing in their Sunday school classroom when I picked them up after church was over. I knew they had been praying because the lights were dimmed when I got to the room. Were they praying for missionaries in other countries? No. Were they praying for orphans and widows? No. Were they praying for God to strengthen His grip on America? No.

They were repenting.

Apparently, it had been discussed that if you’re constantly getting into trouble at home, you can talk to God about it and let Him help you make some good changes.

Now, I don’t know all of the kids in the classroom, but I’m guessing most of them are pretty good kids. Not the wicked people mentioned in the psalm. But if those “good kids” were allowed to continue on in their arrogance, possibly blaming someone else for something they did, those kids would eventually become bolder sinners to the point of losing their fear of God.

I’ve done an eight-part series on the fear of God. (You can read those posts by clicking “fear” in the sidebar labels list.) So if you’ve read that series, you know I’m not saying we should be afraid of God. We should respect God enough to respond to the conviction we feel when we sin.

If we lie to make ourselves feel better, we risk making a habit of ignoring the conviction. When you don’t feel the conviction anymore, you’ve entered the danger zone.

God still forgives and loves every sinner. But that conviction that makes you want to repent is a big neon sign announcing that you’re headed the wrong way. If you close your eyes to the signs, that doesn’t mean your way is suddenly right. You’re still going the wrong way.

So if you feel bad when you do something wrong, that’s good. Respond to that feeling by repenting. A simple prayer will do. That prayer will help you keep your feet headed toward God. It will help you reject what is wrong.

Then you will feel good.

The Patience of God

Psalm 86:5
You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.

My Heavenly Father has taught me about my relationship with Him through my experience as a parent. He shows me how He feels about me after I have "a moment" with my kids. When I get frustrated with them because they’ve been disobedient, God lets me know that I should be more obedient to Him.

Yes, I’m still growing. (And I was the “good child” among my siblings.) But my mistakes and bull-headed ways cause that inner feeling of conviction to rise up in me. God’s always with me, always watching. I sometimes think He never lets me get away with anything, but then I wonder how often He’s just being super-patient.

When God corrects me with a loving word, I remember how it made me feel and try to follow that example with my kids. I don’t always sound as loving as God, but that’s to be expected. He’s God.

As the psalmist said, God is abounding in love. I know this from experience because I constantly call to Him. He doesn’t correct my every mistake. I make too many. But I do swallow some of the correction that comes to mind when I’m with my kids. I want to be an encouraging and patient parent. I challenge them to grow in their obedience, and they provide occasional opportunities for me to improve my patience.

My kids appreciate the fact that I try to be a good and loving mom. …Well, maybe not yet. But they will.

Trying to be as good or as patient as God isn’t a reachable goal, but it does help us treat each other better along our journey.

Giving to God

Mt. 25:37-40 (NIV)
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Amazing questions come to mind when we apply this story to our own lives. We remember seeing someone we could’ve helped, but didn’t. We remember people we did help. Were they all humans or were some of them angels sent by God to test our devotion to Him?

Generosity is a gift God gives us so we can joyfully comfort, aid, or bless someone in need.

It's a gift that shouldn’t be hidden away for one annual donation, but used all year to glorify God. It isn’t just giving money to the poor, but a gift that can be developed if it is used and practiced. Generosity is one of the ways we act like God, or at least with God. He wants to satisfy the hungry and heal the sick, but He wants to participate in that activity with us.

Whatever we've done to comfort, aid, or bless His children, it has comforted, aided, and blessed Him. And God gets all the glory.

Waiting Expectantly

Lamentations 3:25-26
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

When God sees us in trouble, He is not surprised.

He gave us power to get into as much trouble as we want. He gave us free will, the ability to make our own decisions. We can choose to do things our own way or choose to do things His way.

When we choose to do things the way God wants us to, we’re surprised by how well things turn out.

Why are we surprised?

We have plenty of opportunities to see God’s goodness in our lives and in the lives of those around us. But we rarely seek Him.

Our prayers sometimes start off with an emotional rant about our troubles. Don’t you think it would be better to wait quietly for Him to speak?

I know He can help us in our troubles, but He can also share in our joys. He can help us with minor questions and major problems.

Sometimes He just wants to be with us.

If we’ll work on our relationship with God in good times and bad, we’ll place our hope in Him. We’ll seek Him out not just for help, but for companionship and joy-sharing.

When we develop a relationship with God, we develop our ability to trust Him. And when we trust Him, it’s so much easier to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.