The following is my devotion from July 26th at Lion's Legend Park, based on Micah 7:18-19...
There’s a show on the Discovery Channel called Deadliest Catch. Raise your hand if you’ve seen it. It’s a documentary about 8-10 fishing boats and the fishermen who risk it all in the Bering Sea. They’re out there to catch King Crab and Opilio Crab during the dangerous fishing seasons in October and January off the Aleutian islands of Alaska. Now I’m not a huge fan of the show, but I’ve got a friend named Eric who is. And last week as Eric and some other friends and I were fishing up north... the weather was just terrible. It was raining for 2 days straight and the high temp was 57 degrees. We kept joking about how we were on the raging Bering Sea risking our lives like the guys on Deadliest Catch.
And that got me to thinking…if you’re on a boat like the Northwestern on the raging Bering Sea and let’s just say you were wearing a ring, maybe your wedding ring, or just some other piece of jewelry…and it fell off…into the sea…and it sank to the bottom…what are your chances that you’d ever get it back? It would be impossible, wouldn’t it? There’s no way you’d ever be able to salvage that ring again, no matter how important it was to you. It’s hard enough to find airplane wreckage when a large plane crashes in the middle of the ocean. The ocean depths in the Pacific are up to 7 miles deep and still largely unexplored.
Well I suppose if you lost a ring or something important to you at the bottom of the sea, you’d probably feel pretty devastated, wouldn’t you? You know that feeling that you get when you’ve lost something important and you just can’t get it back? And I’m not just talking about possessions or things that you’ve lost. I lost a skateboard once. I was pretty upset about that as a kid. But I’m not talking about losing stuff.
I’m talking about relationships that you’ve lost because you messed it up with hurtful words or actions that you regret. I’m talking about reputations that you’ve torn down through gossip and camera phone pics and MySpace posts. I’m talking about your own sense of worth and purity that you may have lost because you’ve done things you are ashamed of. I don’t know what it is that you’ve lost…but we should all rightly feel struck by the realization that, “I have messed life up. I have sinned against God.” And if you don’t feel that way at all, if you’re ashamed of nothing, what you’ve lost which you’re not even aware of is a rightly tuned conscience. You’ve messed up the most important relationship of all, your relationship with God.
But this takes us to one of my favorite passages in the Bible. In our summer Bible study at Victory of the Lamb we’ve been traveling through some of the back roads of the Bible, reading some of the Old Testament prophets like Hosea, Amos, and Micah. Well last week in the book of Micah in the Bible we read a passage that all of you should think about and take to heart tonight. It’s from the very end of the book where Micah says:
Micah 7:18-19 18 Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. 19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
Did you hear what the prophet says? God will again have compassion on us. He will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities (and that word in Hebrew means messed up, twisted, perverted mistakes) into the depths of the sea.
Do you get what he’s saying? If God hurls your messed up sinful mistakes into the depths of the ocean…then can anyone dredge them up again and hold them against you on the day of Judgment? No. Not even God. God is in the salvation business, not the salvage business. He puts our sins where he can’t dredge them up and use them against us.
Now your conscience might try to dredge them up. As human beings we also have a bad tendency to try and dredge up the sins of others and hold them against people. But God doesn’t do that. He hurls them all into the depths of the sea. And the reason that he can do this is because God sent his one and only Son, Jesus Christ into this world as a human being just like you and me. But he didn’t mess up. He didn’t lose his innocence. He didn’t fall into any kind of sin. Because he came to die…for our sins. In exchange for our sins he came to give us his holiness. We receive that holiness and along with it the forgiveness of all our sins simply by trusting that Jesus took them all away. Through God’s gift of baptism, he further promises that he has washed our sins away, drowning them in the depths of the sea forever. Micah says, “Who is a God like this?” He’s our God. And he can be your God too. Amen.
God of underserved love, thank you for this beautiful day and for the opportunity tonight to hear your word and worship you. If there are any here tonight we don’t yet know you I ask you to work powerfully in their hearts through your word to ignite the spark of faith, and to give them the courage to seek you more, to find in you their God and Savior. Keep us safe tonight on our way home and bless all we do in your holy name. We pray to you with confidence in the name of Jesus, your Son, our Savior. Amen.