God's Kindness And Sternness

Thursday, August 24, 2017
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Give Me That Old Time Religion"1 (Lyrics)

I often listen to a Christian radio station located in upstate New York, USA. Their tagline is "God's Presence is with you giving you eternal life". Those words are like a hug from God just for me. I like to think that God's Presence will always be with me, and that I will always choose Him over everything else. That's why I really like the verse where God said to Moses, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest" (Exodus 33:14b NIV). This promise included the Israelites who had fled slavery in Egypt. Even so, the promise held true for subsequent Israelite generations through God's promise to King David: "Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me." (2 Samuel 7:16a NIV)

God's ultimate fulfillment of this promise came through His Son, Christ Jesus. According to Paul, those who follow Christ are grafted into Israel. "If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, … you stand by faith" (Romans 11:17,20b NIV). Faith keeps us crazy-glued into the branch. No external force can pull us from God's care. No hurricane can dislodge us. No tornado can displace us. Whether on earth or in heaven, Christ's got us, "for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable." (Romans 11:29 NIV)

But there's a catch. There's always a catch, it seems. Paul tells us what the catch is: "Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off." (Romans 11:22 NIV, italics mine)

Oh, that's not comforting or uplifting. It doesn't give us warm, fuzzy feelings. Talk about alarming! Here's the deal. We are the glitch, the catch. We need to remain connected to Christ, but our pride and ego may rip us from the branch. Paul writes, "Do not be arrogant, but be afraid" (Romans 11:20b NIV). That's enough to make us shudder.

However, here's the thrilling news. Our loving God's merciful kindness pities His wandering children. If we have moseyed too far from the path, the Holy Spirit gently, and sometimes not so gently, nudges us back. This reminds us of the harnessed toddler who bolts after a butterfly, only to be stopped by the leash held in his mother's hand. He tumbles, cries, and then, she tucks him into her arms. As long as we come to Christ, He tucks us into His arms, forever.

As Paul contemplated God's merciful kindness, he sonorously wrote:

Romans 11:33-36 – Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (NIV)

Yep, it's not about us. It's all about God's most amazing mercy. Let us be sure to remain in Christ through word, deed, and worship, so that He may tuck us into His Presence, both now and forever.

Prayer: Father God, You call us to come to You, and when we do, Your Spirit nudges us onto the right path and gently keeps us there. But we confess that we too often let our desires lure us from the safety of Your arms. Forgive us, Lord, for we are so very sorry for choosing waywardness instead of You. We pray in Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Forward this devotional     Share this devotional on Facebook     Like PresbyCan on Facebook

About the author:

Cassandra Wessel <casswessel4319@gmail.com>
Tionesta, Pennsylvania, USA

Send your feedback to the author

1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    A good word for today Cass.

    And that means being sure to listen for the Spirit!
    Thanks for this.

    Cass thanks for your uplifting devotion.
    Thank the Good Lord HE is always with us and continues to hear our prayers.

    Great lesson Cass. God is both holy and just as well as kind and loving.
    Delighted to see you’re writing again. Keep up the good work!

    Hi Cass,
    I loved the word picture you painted of “being tucked into Christ’s arms” no matter what! Thanks for today’s message.

    Hi Cassandra,
    There are indeed forces which draw us away from the Lord, it is good to be reassured that we can always go back.
    Thank you for writing

    Well explained that WE do have a say in possibly losing the blessings and Graces of God, but the Mercy of Jesus, also helps us to not give up hope, but to always seek His will and guidance.

    Thank you for your devotional this morning. For me it was most comforting & reassuring reading the words that God’s presence with us will give us rest. We have just received a medical diagnosis for my 3 infant great-grandson and as we pray about his situation, knowing God’s presence and the feeling of being tucked in His arms helps us cope.
    Lord’s blessings upon you.

    Dear Cassandra,
    Thank you for a great scripture-full devotional of assurance, challenge, warning, and reassurance.
    Keep writing.

Previous Post
Next Post

PresbyCan is a community of faithful, Holy Spirit-filled, Christ-centred, God-honouring Christians.