“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

So many times this verse is used as a reminder of our individual sins. You’ll hear it often, especially when someone blows it! I’ve said it many times: I might get a bit angry, or say something not so nice to my lovely wife. I know it’s hard to believe such a holy person as myself would do something like that. (LOL! I hope you know I’m joking!) I use it to let myself off the hook, because of that great word “all.” This means everyone blows it, so I’m in a crowd and not solitary in my sin.

The truth is, this verse isn’t really about our individual faults, but the sin of mankind. The emphasis is on falling short of the glory. See, in the garden when Adam sinned, the Bible says he realized he was naked. Why? Because up to that point, it was the glory of God that was covering him. That’s why God could come and meet with him. When Adam sinned, the glory departed. His covering (God) was no longer available.

In reality, this verse speaks more of where we’re headed than where we’ve been. We’re all headed back to that state of glory, that place where we’re no longer completely separated from God and all His glory. It’s like driving: you can’t drive looking in the rearview mirror (unless you’re going backwards). Because of God’s grace, you and I are not going backward but forward. We’re in a constant state of progression. We’re moving up!  We aren’t going to be naked much longer.

Let me leave you with verse 24 which sums up this progression: “Being justified freely by His grace through redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).

I’ve been reading through the book of Isaiah lately and ran across this verse:

“For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still” (Isaiah 9:17).

Israel had turned their hearts away from God. They had adopted much of the idol worship and ideology of the nations around them. They were not seeking God to say the very least. But His mercy was still available to them.

What strikes me about this verse is the reality that no matter how much the children of Israel turned away from God, He was still there wanting them back. God’s hands were a symbol of mercy, not destruction.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve let God down many times. I’ve not been there when He needed me. I’ve made stupid mistakes and taken Him for granted. But He has always, and I mean always, been there when I turned around. His mercy was extended to me at all moments in my life. A great definition of mercy is God not giving me what I deserve.

Take some time to thank God for His mercy today. Take some time to meditate on how God’s hand is still extended to you. Maybe say your sorry for taking your relationship with Him for granted. Either way, God’s love never fails.  “His hand is stretched out still.”

Is God schizophrenic? Does He say something then change His mind a couple days, weeks or months later? I don’t think I’d want to serve a God who can’t make up His mind. How about you?

So why do people blame God for their wrong choices or their personal flaws? It happens all the time. Someone will come to a church, get into a relationship, move to city or take a new job because “God said.” Then two days later, “God says” something else and they leave that church, stop serving, leave that relationship, leave that city, or leave that job. I really don’t think God should be blamed for our lack of discretion or poor choices, do you?

I was reading 1 Kings 13 recently (read it when you get a moment). There was a prophet sent from God to King Jeroboam. God specifically told the prophet not to eat with the king or stay in the city, so he obeyed God and left. But then another prophet met him on the way and told him to return to the city to eat.

This story used to puzzle me because I didn’t understand why God said two different things. But the truth is, He didn’t! God didn’t change His mind; the second prophet was lying and blamed it on God. The story didn’t end well: the first prophet returned to the city to eat with the second one. When he left the house after dinner, a lion ate him because he disobeyed God. It is never a good day when you get eaten by a lion!

Here’s the deal: We should be a little more selective in how we throw around “God said.” If God spoke to you–and you’re sure He did–listen and do what He told you! If you’re not sure, then don’t say, “God said.” Be mature enough to continue to seek Him for the answer.

So let’s re-cap. God doesn’t change His mind based on the circumstance or the pain we might feel. God doesn’t change His mind based on the climate of a relationship. God doesn’t change His mind just because we get our feelings hurt. God is faithful to His word if we can believe it and receive it. He is always faithful!

What is God saying to you today?

Our good friend Joel Osteen has released a new book called “Break Out! Five Keys to Go Beyond Your Barriers and Live an Extraordinary Life.” We so love what Joel’s ministry stands for! We’ve partnered with him several times in the past, and we’re excited to do it again. Freedom House is giving away a free copy of this book to all our first-time guests. That’s right, you read correctly! Wal-mart is selling the book for $20, but we are giving them away to anyone who comes for the first time!

We’ve done a commercial with Joel that’s airing alongside his program on Sundays, and we’re doing other advertising as well. Check out the Freedom House Church and Joel Osteen

I hope you’ll come by and see us. If you already attend Freedom House Church, then invite a friend. If you have any questions about it, just go to Freedomhouse.cc/breakout.

Liberty 2013 is quickly approaching at Freedom House.  We are doing some incredible things around our BIG GIVE this year the first week of May, 5/4 and 5/5.  Every year we give sacrificially toward Expanding the Vision that God has given us as a church.  Here is a video outlining our goals and what we are believing God to do through our sacrifice.