Word Alive! © 2021 Winter Series
You Can Begin Again!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 23 Feb., 2021
Max Lucado, “Begin Again” Lesson 5, (Chap. 5)
Devotional Time: “Begin Again” (pp. 31-38)
The God Who Leads And Follows – Our faith orientates us to a God who is described in the Scripture as leading and protecting us as we journey onward. The qualities of God’s character are described as being goodness and steadfast love (mercy). David’s eloquent description of God as Shepherd, is an attempt to show how God pursues and cares for his own (cf. Psalm 23:6, NLT. Also note, the translation in the KJV). The shepherd’s care for the sheep has no limits. The sheep are loved and protected, even when they go astray. This metaphor illustrates God’s love for us. His steadfast love is inexhaustible, for the Lord leads and protects us in every way (cf. Psalm 25:6; 8-10, NLT). In his devotional Begin Again, author and pastor Max Lucado comments: “God follows us. He pursues us until we finally see him as our Father, even if it takes all the days of our lives.” Often, people are stymied in their efforts to begin life anew, because they are reluctant to trust the promises of God. There also is an assumption that God has withheld His support, because of our failures or shortcomings. The psalmist realized the importance of God’s compassion and protection, and pleaded that this indispensable support not be withheld (cf. Psalm 40:11, NLT). It’s important that whatever the degree of our needs, we realize God is present to lead us, and He follows our every footstep. Max Lucado says the goodness and mercy that accompanies us has two purposes: “Goodness to supply every want. Mercy to forgive every sin. Goodness to provide. Mercy to pardon.” We need God’s goodness (krazo) and unfailing love (hesed) to lead us along our journey. Our Scriptures teach us that the God who is with us in crises, is the same God who is with us when our futures take us beyond adverse circumstances. David assures us there isn’t any place or situation we could find ourselves in where God is not present (cf. Psalm 139:3-5; 8, NLT). When we’re not being led by God, the protection of the Lord is behind us. God pursues us, simply because He loves us. Lucado shares the testimony of a woman (Debbie) whose brother (Eric) had walked away from home, never to be seen again. For many years the woman pursued her brother with no success. When she found her brother, it was 16 years after he went missing. He was 28 years old when he left home, he was now 44. Debbie was asked why she didn’t give up? She said, “Because he’s my brother.”
God Pursues Us, And We Must Pursue Him – The Scriptures portray a God who pursues us relentlessly (cf. Psalm 139:9-10, NLT). God does not pursue us to appease us, or to curry favor. God is on our trail because He loves us and is concerned about our well-being. When God sought His created children in the Garden of Eden, He was not trying to destroy them, but to reconcile them back to Him through new boundaries and discipline (cf. Genesis 3:8-9, NLT). Although Adam and Eve were banished from Eden and encountered hardships, they were never far from God’s mercy. Their descendants restored their fellowship with God (cf. Genesis 5:23, NLT). The scriptures describe Noah’s faithfulness to God. Noah and his family survived the flood. They worshiped God, whereupon God promised His perpetual presence and care to the human family, although the Lord was aware of our human proclivities and imperfections (cf. Genesis 8:20-22; 9:1, NLT). W must always seek the God who seeks us. Max Lucado comments, “We’re accustomed to a God who remains in one place. A God who sits enthroned in the heavens and rules and ordains. David, however, envisions a mobile and active God. One who follows us as we begin again.” In addition to God’s omnipresence, He is faithful. God will deliver His promises (cf. 2 Timothy 2:13, NLT)! Lucado describes God further: “Never forcing us. Never leaving us. Patiently persistent. Using all of his power to convince us that he is who he is and that he can be trusted to give us new beginnings throughout our journey and in the end.” God invites us to follow Him, for He is always following us. Although we have our fears and doubts, we are confident in knowing God would never leave us, nor lead us in the wrong direction. We can begin again after difficult seasons, because the same God who leads us is the One who protects us along our journey. The Message Bible renders Psalm 23:6 in this way: “Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.”
What We Believe
The God who follows us, brings renewal.
1. We must pursue the God who pursues us!
2. God is ever seeking us because He loves us!
Psalm 23:6, NLT (KJV)“Surely your goodness and unfailing love [mercy] will pursue [follow] me, all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”
Psalm 25:6; 8-10, NLT
“Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past…The Lord is good and does what is right; He shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, reaching them His way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep His covenant and obey His demands.”
Psalm 40:11, NLT
“Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me.”
Psalm 139:3-5; 8, NLT
“You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it,Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head… If I go up to heaven you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.”
Psalm 139:9-10, NLT
“If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.”
Genesis 3:8-9, NLT
“When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
Genesis 8:2o-22; 9:1, NLT
“Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night…Then God blessed Noah and his sons and told them: “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth.”
2 Timothy 2:13, NLT
“If we endure hardship, we will reign with Him. If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.”