“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.
The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalms 103:6-12 NIV
God is a good God. He is merciful, compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. He will not always accuse us, nor continually chide us. He will not stay angry forever nor hold a grudge. He does not treat us as our sins deserve nor repay us according to our iniquities. These are His ways and He has let us know them. How blessed we are to have a God like this, Who willingly sent His Son to die, Whose blood can wash away our sins and transgressions as far as the east is from the west! We don’t deserve His forgiveness, but He offers it to us anyway. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him. His love is so much bigger than our love. We cannot comprehend His love for us, but He loves us anyway.
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:6-9 NIV
God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts. Many people use this scripture to explain tragedies and to say that we cannot understand why God would kill, steal from or destroy us, because His ways are not our ways. However, we know from scripture and especially from these scriptures that God is not a destroyer, but He is a restorer! It is God’s mercy, grace and forgiveness that we cannot comprehend. We cannot understand how it is that God would forgive the vilest of sinners – even mass murderers. In our mind they should pay for their sins, but if they ask God to forgive them – He will not withhold His mercy. This is the same mercy that He shows to every one of us.
When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals-one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Luke 23:33-34 NIV
Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” Luke 23:46-47 NIV
Jesus’ compassion for the thief next to Him and His grace toward His murderers impressed the centurion. Even though these people mocked, despised, beat and crucified Him, He asked His Father to forgive them and to not lay this sin to their charge. This great love distinguished Him from every other person ever treated so cruelly. When we are treated badly, our earthly reaction is to fight back, but only God’s response is one of love and grace. The compassion and mercy of our Lord set Him apart from the rest. It is God’s grace, compassion, mercy, forgiveness and love that are higher than ours and when we display His heart – we are revealed as His very own!
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV
God is a gracious God and only His own can begin to know His love – that is higher than the heavens – and to allow His love to flow through them – distinguishing them from the rest of the world.