Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Love Divine All Loves Excelling"1 (Lyrics)
Isaiah 44:22 – I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you. (NIV)
When I was a teenager and had strayed away from God, I found it very difficult to go back to church. I felt as though I had let God down, and the church members I once knew had become strangers to me. It was far easier to ignore God, as well as church, and just get on with my life. I thought that I could make it on my own and that God would understand, because every now and then, I offered Him quick snippets of prayers, which I believed made God happy.
However, because I was depending on my own strength, my spirit began to drain until it was almost empty. At the time, I didn't realize that for my faith to grow, I needed fellowship with other Christians. In order to compensate for this emptiness, I used alcohol and my drinking buddies. It almost killed me, and if Christ hadn't led me back to church, I don't think that I would be here today writing this message.
What really helped me was listening to a preacher who didn't condemn me for wandering away, but who actually welcomed me back into God's kingdom. Today's redeeming words from Isaiah touched my soul, and I knew that God had forgiven all of my past offenses through His Son Jesus. It was an amazing moment of grace and peace. I was able to return to God and His people by Christ's wonderful redeeming love.
Perhaps over the last couple of years, you've let yourself become disconnected from God and the church. Maybe like I once did, you've used up all of your strength and just want to get back home among God's people, but don't know how. It could be that you feel awkward, guilty, embarrassed, or unworthy to return to church. I understand, because I felt that way, too. But please know this: God will always welcome you back into Christ's fold; you are forgiven and redeemed, blessed and loved by Jesus.
Questions: How do I feel about returning to church? Am I willing to let God lead me back to where I belong?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for redeeming our lives and reclaiming our spirits. We have been wandering in a spiritual wilderness for several years. Call us back to Your fold and embrace us with Your unending love. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.