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REALIZE GOD WANTS YOU BACK
Isaiah 30:18“The Lord longs to be gracious to you.”
Many of us think that God is up in heaven just waiting for us to make a mistake so He can zap us. This verse says that is not true at all. God longs to be gracious to you.
2Pe 3:9 “The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (WEB)
Once you’ve admitted what caused the drift in your life and realized that God wants you back, I hope that the third step is obvious.
C. RETURN TO HIM IMMEDIATELY
Why wait? What is there to wait for? Why procrastinate? Run to Him. Don’t wait and don’t delay. Hebrews 3:15“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.’” This is the moment to return to Him, no matter what you’ve done. No matter what you have done, return to Him immediately.
Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
I know some of you may be thinking, “Return to Him? You don’t know! I have messed up my life so much there’s no way back. I don’t know the way back. I don’t know how I would get back. It’s been so long. There’s such a mess in my life. It feels so complicated, so complex to try to get back to Him.” No matter how messed up your life has become, no matter how long it has been, no matter how far from God you are right now, it is only one step back.
There are not a lot of things that need to be done. In fact, there’s only one thing that needs to be done. It’s already been done. Jesus stretched out His arms and He died. He gave His life for you. And He said as loudly as He possibly could, “I love you.” He said it so you could hear that above whatever complexity or confusion there is in your life, “I love you!” However far you’ve gotten from Him, however distant you feel from Him, He wanted you to hear Him saying, “I love you!” More loudly than all of that so that you would know it’s only one step back to Him.
Jeremiah 15:19 “If you return to Me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve Me.”
There is a happy ending to the story of Peter in the book of Mark. As you read the end of the story you realize he did return to God and God did enable Him to serve Him in new and greater ways. In fact, two of the books of the Bible were written by Peter. God used him in great and new ways even after he returned to Him. In a way, Peter was able to understand the things that cause us to fall more than anyone so he was able to help others in new ways in his life.
In the story of Peter’s return, there are two significant moments that shine out where he knew that Jesus could bring him back.
The first occurs on the day of the resurrection. Jesus meets with the women who had been at the tomb and had been the first to see His resurrection. After meeting with them for a few minutes rejoicing in the fact that He was alive He tells them to go back and tell the disciples that He was alive. But the way He says it is very significant. Jesus says, “Go tell the disciples and Peter that I’m alive.” (Mark 16:7) Why did He include Peter’s name individually? He wanted to make sure Peter didn’t feel left out, that he didn’t feel like his denial meant he was no longer a disciple. He included his name.
Maybe you need to hear God say your name today in your heart. To realize that He cares about you; that He wants to restore your relationship with Him.
There’s another significant moment a little later. Peter himself meets with the resurrected Jesus it’s on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. As they talk, Jesus asks Peter three times – looks him right in the eyes and says to him, “Peter, do you love Me?” Remember it had been three times that Peter denied Jesus as he drifted away. And three times Jesus gives to Peter the opportunity to say, Yes, I love you. He gave him the opportunity to reaffirm his faith.
God’s also giving you that opportunity today to reaffirm that faith, to restore the joy of your salvation, of your relationship with him. If you’ve wandered away you can come home, you can come home today.
Consider a few questions. Ask yourself, Was there ever a time in my life when I was closer to Christ than I am right now? If so, what happened? Why did you drift, what got in the way? Was it a career? A relationship? Bills? Finances? A hobby? Television? Anything can get in the way. What got in the way?
Ask yourself, Have I gotten close to a commitment to God once or many times only to draw back in fear? Ask yourself, What am I afraid of? He loves me more than anybody ever will? Maybe you need to ask yourself, Has my relationship with Christ gone stale? Am I heartlessly going through the motions? Has duty replaced delight in my life? Maybe you’ve stopped caring, stopped caring for the salvation of those around you. When was the last time you shared a positive word about Christ with a seeker? Or maybe have you been ashamed about your relationship with Christ?
Consider, have you slacked off in your giving, doubting that God will provide for you when you put Him first? Is that possibly why you’ve lost your joy? What’s the one thing that you know God wants you to do that you keep procrastinating? You’re going to do it someday. Maybe it’s a spiritual decision. Maybe it’s being baptized, letting other people know that you’re a believer. Maybe it’s joining the family here at Faith. Is the only connection you have with other believers sitting in a weekend service? Maybe you’ve been ashamed to come back to a full commitment to Christ. You don’t have to wait any longer.