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Return to the Lord and Find Mercy

“For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.” 2 Chron. 30:9
Fear can make us do crazy things. When we’re afraid of being caught after doing something wrong, we might hide (Gen. 3:8). If we are caught, we might lie (Gen. 18:15) or blame someone else (Gen. 3:12). Maybe that’s why we drag our spiritual feet at the thought of returning to the Lord. God is all powerful, sovereign, worthy, holy, omniscient, omnipresent. There is none like Him. Maybe we can sweep a few sins under the proverbial rug while He’s busy running the universe?
This fear comes from an incorrect understanding of God. Yes, He is powerful, sovereign and more. But we miss a fundamental part of His character if we neglect His other attributes. “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Joel 2:13).
What happens when we return to God? Because of the shed blood of Jesus, Scripture is clear: we find mercy. Our Lord Jesus Christ paid the price in full for our sins. There’s nothing to fear in approaching God (although we aren’t flippant or disrespectful of Him; He’s still God!). “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Return to the Lord, and find mercy. It is there.
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Return to the Lord and Put Away

And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.” 1 Sam. 7:3-4
Samuel knew the Israelites were worshiping foreign gods. (Ashtaroth was a Canaanite god associated with perverted sex and fertility). He told them to return to the Lord and put away those false gods. Samuel called for single-hearted devotion of the one, true God.
Idolatry is beautifully, horribly described in Isaiah 44:16-17, when a carpenter cuts down wood, and uses half of it for a fire for cooking and warmth, but fashions the rest into an idol and worships it. The wood is rightly used for warmth and cooking, but it’s crazy to worship it as god!
And what about us? Where have we allowed false gods from our culture to take a prominent place in our lives? What empires have we built that we exalt? Careers? Finances? Homes? Cars? Vacations? Education? Sports teams? Children’s abilities? Fitness, looks, body type? And the list goes on. Anything we exalt in our lives higher than Jesus is an idol. The subject of our affections can even be a good thing, but wrongly prioritized.
May we return to God and put away those things not of Him. And rightly order even the good things in our lives. Paul also urged us to put off our old self (Eph. 4:22) Maybe it’s time to take inventory: “Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!” (Lam 3:39-40). Return, and put away.
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