Isaiah 57:15. Renewed & Forgiven

by Julia Bruce

15 Isaiah 57 15

Students in one Sunday School class were asked to write down what they liked best about Sunday school. One little boy, who also happened to be the pastor’s son, thought for a moment and remembered all the songs the class had sung during the year. His spelling was not as good as his memory, for he wrote, “The thing I like best about Sunday School is the sinning.” 

We might chuckle, but the sad part is too many people actually enjoy sinning. Even Christians can be guilty of backsliding. An old preacher used to say that if you are not moving toward Jesus, you are moving away from Him. There is no middle ground. No drifting or coasting along. No foot on this side of Christianity and the other foot planted in the world. (click to tweet)

As a Christian, we begin to “backslide” the moment we begin to move away from God. Most often, the word is used when Christian begin making sinful choices such as excessive drinking, sexual immorality, dropping out of church, cussing, gambling, setting up idols, or other sinful behaviors. It’s important to understand that a person who is backsliding has not lost their salvation. John 10:28-29 tells us that once we’ve placed our faith in Christ, no one can snatch us out of His Father’s hand. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” And in verses 35-39, Paul wrote: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” To sum up, absolutely nothing can separate us from God. Through our faith and acceptance of Christ as Savior, our place in the family of God is secure.

While you will not find the word, “backslide” in the Bible, you will see the phrase “fall away” or the Bible will tell us people who moved away from their faith in Christ and returned to what they knew before. Both Paul and James write about Christians that went back to their familiar sins and wandered away from their faith (See Galatians 6:1 and James 5:19-20).

What causes a Christian to backslide? While sometimes, it’s simply giving in to temptation, life circumstances can also lead one to wander away from their faith. If we experience difficult circumstances, hurtful relationships, unfair treatment, or trauma, we might begin to question God’s goodness and wonder if He is still in control. We might question His love for us if He would allow us to go through these circumstances. We might wonder if He’s forgotten us. But it isn’t God that’s forgotten us. We forget God’s promises to us. (Click to tweet) Promises like Isaiah 43:2 that says, “I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when 15 cttyou walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.” When bad things happen, we become angry, depressed, bitter, confused, and overwhelmed. Instead of claiming His promises, we revert back to the sinful nature to try to soothe what we are feeling and lessen the pain of what we experience. Our Bibles stay closed. We drop out of church. We give God the silent treatment. However, it is in these moments that we need more than any other to stay grounded in His Word and our knees should be raw from kneeling in prayer.

We all end up backsliding at some point. Remember that if you are not moving towards God, you’re moving away from Him. Thankfully, Jesus said He is our Good Shepherd and He seeks out His “lost sheep” (John 10). He doesn’t want us to backslide. He wants us trust Him. But as His children, He will call us back and pursue us with an everlasting love. When we come back to Him with a repentant and contrite heart, God will be there waiting. Waiting to revive our heart and spirit (Isaiah 57:15).  (Click to tweet) The greatest example of this is Peter. Each one of could be Peter. It’s a story of Peter’s pride and his failure. But it is also a story of grace, love and renewal.

Before Jesus’ arrest, Peter had declared that Jesus was the Christ – the Messiah – the one they had been waiting for. Then Peter tells Jesus that he would die for him to which Jesus responded, “Before the crock crows you will deny me three times.” Just as Jesus said, in His trial, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times… and then Peter heard the rooster. Jesus turned to look at Peter. In that moment, something changed in Peter. Something died. The pride and arrogance, his confidence that he would die for Jesus were killed. Peter, which means “rock”, was more like the shifting sand under the crashing waves washing in and out of the shore. As realization sunk in, tears began to fall down the his face. He ran away no longer bold and confident, but a broken sinner in need of forgiveness.

Three days later, Peter receives the news of an empty tomb. He runs to the tomb. He had to know and see that Jesus had risen from the dead. It was his hope of restoration. If Jesus was alive, just maybe – Jesus would forgive him and he could be renewed. The weight of his guilt was more than he could stand. If only, he could be forgiven.

After the resurrection, Jesus sent a message to the disciples through the women that had come to the tomb. He told them to go to Galilee and wait for him. So they did, but they had to wait…and wait….and wait. Perhaps disappointed and losing hope, Peter grew tired of waiting for Jesus to show up (don’t we do that too?). Maybe Peter thought, “I knew he wouldn’t come for the likes of me.” Maybe Peter thinks that if he leaves the group, Jesus would come to the rest of the disciples. Whatever was going on in Peter’s mind, he decides to return to his old ways and instead of waiting on Jesus, he goes fishing. Some of the other disciples followed him. (How often when we choose to backslide, do we take others with us?) He goes back to what he knows and trusts. In the boat, the fish doesn’t know of his shame and failure. They don’t point a fin at him and laugh about how he boldly proclaimed he’d die for Jesus and then turned around and denied knowing Him. His failure plagues him. Maybe it keeps him awake at night. Maybe every time he sees the reflection of his face in water he sees shame, guilt, failure, and brokenness. Maybe he thinks, “I’m just a fisherman. Who am I to think that Jesus would choose me to build His church on? I’m no rock!” Maybe he stops going by Peter, the name Jesus gave him and started using his old name of Simon. So, he goes back to fishing. He fished the entire night, but caught nothing. Not even one tiny, little fish. A failure at being a disciple. A failure at fishing. He’d let Jesus down. Maybe as Peter was exhausted from fishing all night, he collapses down on a bench in the boat and with his face in his hands and tears begin to flow once more, he wonders how he can go on.

Peter hears something and looks up towards the shore and a man is there. He listens again and the voice says, “Friends! Have you caught any fish? Throw your net on the other side. You’ll find some over there.” Peter has a deja vu moment as he wonders “Where have I head that before?” He shakes his head as the memory of his last fishing trip before Jesus had said, “Come follow me” had a similar ring to it. He’d fished all night and caught nothing on that night too and Jesus had been the one to tell him to cast his net on the other side. When he did, he and his companions brought in so many fish the nets began to tear and they were so heavy the boat was close to sinking. He looks at the man on the shore again. Squints his eyes. Who was this? Was he just trying to pour salt into the huge, gaping wound in his heart? Still, Peter doesn’t talk back. Perhaps he thought, “What if it’s Him?” He wearily stands and picks up the net. Tosses it on the other side of the boat with a splash into the sea. Just like before – there were so many fish, he couldn’t haul the net in. Perhaps Peter couldn’t bring himself to hope what His heart wanted to hope – that Jesus was the man on the shore because in the Bible, it’s John who figures it out. He cries, “It’s the Lord!”

That’s all Peter had to hear. He jumps out of the boat. His only intention is to get to Jesus just as fast as he could and rowing back to shore with so many fish would just take too long – even if it was just 100 yards or so off shore. But when he gets to shore, he stand there with his clothes dripping water, looking at Jesus, and he has no words. It’s as if there are no right words to say to the one he had hurt and disappointed – the one whom he had failed.  Jesus fixes breakfast for them and they eat in silence. Peter needed for Jesus to say something. He didn’t need for Jesus to remind him of how he had failed. He didn’t need a sermon. He didn’t need, “I told you so.” Peter was constantly and vividly aware of his failure. What he needed was Jesus’ words of love, grace, and forgiveness. He needed to be made new – again. (click to tweet) 

Jesus turns to Peter and says, “Simon, do you love me?” Peter replies, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus tells him, “Feed my lambs.” Then, Jesus asks it again. Peter answers again and Jesus tells him to feed his lambs. Jesus asks a third time and Peter, feeling frustrated, answers for a third time and Jesus once again says, “Feed my lambs.”  Peter is hurt. The man he had offended, denied, and rejected was asking him if he loved him. But, Jesus was tenderly reaching out to this wounded, hurt man who had made the biggest mistake of his life. Peter had denied Jesus three times, and three times Jesus asked Peter if he loves him, followed by “Feed my lambs.” Jesus then invites Peter to once again, “Follow me.” For Peter to become the rock the Jesus said he would, Jesus had to re-commission him and invite him back to ministry by saying “feed my lambs.”

Although Peter had been the one in the wrong, Jesus went to and sought out Peter. The weight of Peter’s guilt was so heavy, that it kept him from being able to seek Jesus out to make things right. The same is true for us. We stay in our state of shame and guilt rather than seeking Christ’s grace and forgiveness. (click to tweet) But our good shepherd will seek us out and like Peter, Jesus will heal us, restore us, renew us, and forgive us. God is always with the one who has a broken and contrite heart. Like Peter, He tenderly seeks us out, longing to revive our hearts and call us back into serving Him. Don’t stay in the boat with your failures and sin. Jump in the water and get to Jesus as quick as you can. Can you hear him say, “[Your name], do you love me?” (click to tweet)

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If you would like to be a part of the God-sized dream we call Wellspring Christian Ministries, you can help with your one-time or monthly tax-deductible contribution. Now, with two ways to give, you can help us grow and expand our ministry. To donate to our general ministries, you can now make a contribution through our website. We are also seeking the perfect 200 (or more) acres of land on which we will build and do the various ministries God is leading us in. To make a donation towards Phase 1 of our Land and Building campaign, you can give at buymeacoffe.com. We like to think of ourselves as “Distributors of Living Water” …and for just the cost of a copy of coffee, you can be one too through your contribution that will have an eternal impact as we lead others to Christ, help Christians develop passionate relationships with God, and help couples connect and reignite their marriages. Who knew the cost of a cup of coffee could do so much? Donate today to become a Living Water Distributor

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Cover_mBOOKING NOW to be a host site for the NEW God, Love & Marshmallow Wars Book Tour & Couples Conference:

This event helps couples understand why the daily activities found in the book will equip them to build a stronger marriage and the book provides them with 365 intentional activities to take what they learn at the event and apply it on a daily basis. Through the event, couples will discover the Biblical “why” behind the categories of activities found in the book and the “how” these activities are important to building a stronger marriage. Focus points of the event includes :

  • How memorizing scripture together and studying God’s Word together as they study, meditate and apply scriptures related to marriage and life issues will help them develop marriages that honor God.
  • Why utilizing fun conversation starters that spark meaningful conversations will keep interest alive as they continually learn new things about each other.
  • Why keeping romance alive is essential to intimacy and connectivity.
  • How making memories and working together builds relationship investment bonds and how these investment bonds can become the knots that keeps them together through the tough times.
  • How they can understand what they are or are not contributing to the marriage as well as how they might be contributing to problems or potential problems within the relationship through the use of targeted, intentional personal reflections
  • Why it is important that couples never stop dating and how group dates with Christian friends can be both an encouragement and accountability to their own relationship.

During the event, couples will be given an activity from each focus point to do together, making this event an interactive, fun, and engaging event with practical, hands-on learning. Unlike other couple events that are over when the event ends, couples who attend the GLMW event will be able to apply what they learn when utilizing the book on a daily basis for a year. Since the book is not dated, couples are able to reuse the activities year after year to continue being intentional in strengthening their relationship with each other and with God as they strive to live out God’s design for marriage every day.

Learn more about hosting this event at your church or conference site by clicking here.

About the book: The GLMW book contains 365 daily challenges for couples to strengthen their relationships to each other and with God. Couples will complete activities such as Scripture memory, conversation starters, relationship builders, learning about Biblical marriage, romance builders, personal reflections, and date ideas. Click here to purchase your copy. (This link will open a new widow and take you to Westbow Press’ bookstore.) It is also available at Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

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Looking for a speaker for your next ministry event? Julia is now booking for 2019 and 2020 Christian events for women’s and couples’ ministries for both small and large events.
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Julia is CEO of Wellspring Christian Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people and couples develop a passionate relationship with God. A public speaker, conference trainer, event planner, and blog writer, Julia is a two-time graduate from Grand Canyon University with a bachelor in Psychology and a masters in Professional Counseling. Saved as a child and raised in church and in a Christian home and private Christian School as a Pastor’s kid, Julia has taught Sunday school, led music, played the piano, served as Children’s Director, and engaged her gifts in many other areas of church life. Previously employed with the Florida Baptist Convention, Julia organized events and led conferences for church ministry assistants.

Julia enjoys sharing her journey as a growing Christian with others looking for a deeper connection with God. Through Bible study and her own life experiences, God has given Julia a passion to help couples understand God’s design for marriage while they learn to place God first in their marriage, cultivate meaningful relationships, build intimacy, and address the tougher issues that come in every marriage so that they can experience a marriage that honors and glorifies God. Julia also loves mentoring, teaching, and working with women to help them learn to live as Godly women.

With her history and experience growing up in both small and large churches, Julia enjoys bringing top level quality events to churches of all sizes. Her father largely pastored small churches and therefore she understands that these vital parts of the believing community need to be good stewards of the resources God provides them with. This knowledge inspires her passion for being available with a fresh perspective for those who want to provide their congregations with meaningful spiritual growth opportunities, regardless of size.

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Affiliate links for The Case for Christ by Lee Stroble:

350034: The Case for Christ, Updated and Expanded, Mass Market The Case for Christ, Updated and Expanded, Mass Market

By Lee Strobel / Zondervan

If you were a journalist, how would you investigate the top story in human history? Join the award-winning former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune as he cross-examines scholars to uncover incontestable evidence supporting Jesus’ claims. Includes updated archaeological material, an interview with Strobel, and more. A powerful defense of the Christian faith! 464 pages, softcover from Zondervan.

The Case for Christ, Blu-ray/DVD/CD Combo - The Case for Christ, Blu-ray/DVD/CD Combo

By Pure Flix Entertainment, LLC

A hard-driving journalist, Lee Strobel was exactly where he expected to be at work: on top. His award-winning investigative reporting recently earned him a promotion to legal editor at the Chicago Tribune. But things weren’t going nearly as well at home where his wife Leslie’s newfound faith in Christ went against everything Lee believed—or didn’t believe—as an avowed atheist.

Utilizing his journalistic and legal training, Lee begins a quest to debunk the claims of Christianity in order to save his crumbling marriage. Chasing down the biggest story of his career, Lee comes face-to-face with unexpected results that could change everything he knows to be true.

Starring Mike Vogel (The Help, Cloverfield), Erika Christensen (Parenthood, Flightplan), Faye Dunaway (The Thomas Crown Affair, Chinatown), and Robert Forster (The Descendents, Jackie Brown). Rated PG. Approx. 113 minutes.

Includes Blu-ray, DVD and CD

Features:

  • “The Heart of The Case for Christ” Featurette
  • Intro to the Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC
  • 11 Music Videos from “The Case for Christ” Album
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  • Deleted Scenes
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Bonus CD included:

  • The Case for Christ – Songs Inspired by the Original Motion Picture

 

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