Bad news that is actually good news

Have you ever received what you thought was bad news that turned out to be good news? Recently we had a tire blow out on one of our vehicles. Bad news. When I took it to the place I bought it, I was bracing myself for the cost of a new tire, maybe two. The bad news was that the tire needed to be replaced like I thought. The good news is that it wasn’t going to cost me anything. A blowout turned into a free new tire. Good news!

flat-tire

As I was reading in Nehemiah 8 today, I saw this contrast between good news and bad news. The priest Ezra was reading the Law and the Levites were teaching it to the people as he read it. What they discovered in that moment was that their lives didn’t line up with God’s standard – bad news!

Nehemiah 8:9-12 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. 10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.” 12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.

When confronted with the way of God, the people had a similar reaction to those listened to Peter preach in Acts 2 – they were cut to the heart. They realized that their lives weren’t lining up with the law of God. Tears began to flow and fear likely began to grip their hearts. “Wait just a minute! Everybody stop!” declared Nehemiah. “This isn’t a time for crying. Now we know what God expects of us. Now we can actually live for Him. It’s time to celebrate!” Their mourning was turned to joy in that moment of revelation.

The gospel of Jesus Christ often hits us the same way. When we are confronted with our sin and our shame, it often brings us to our knees. We cry out to God in desperation and humility because there’s no way we can measure up to a Holy God. But while the gospel brings us to our knees, it also brings us to our feet. It causes us to stand. It gives strength, peace, and joy. You see, the gospel of Jesus may show us our sin, but it also ushers us to a place of freedom from that sin. The work of Christ on the cross paid for those places that make me want to cry.

Don’t hang your head in sorrow and shame any longer. Receive His truth. Course correct. Then live in the freedom that He brings!

 

 

Responding to bad news

“I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you; what do you want to hear first?” Okay, what kind of question is that? I mean, really. Most of the time the good news is just some reassuring garbage to make us feel a little better about the bad news. Right? When someone makes that statement to me, I know that they really just have bad news. “The bad news is that your hot water heater is not fixable. The good news is that I can replace it for a price that is higher than you can afford.” Someone tell me what the good news was again?

goodnews-badnews

To be honest, I don’t really respond to bad news all that well. “We messed up your reservation, your warranty expired last week, we’re leaving your church, it didn’t work out, etc, etc.” These things honestly just bum me out. And I think that’s an okay response, as long as it isn’t our only response. Let’s turn our attention to Nehemiah and his bad news.

He found out that the walls of Jerusalem had been torn down and the gates had been burned. The city of the Lord that he loved so much had been destroyed. Nehemiah 1:4a When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. 

See, Nehemiah was bummed out too. Here’s the thing: bummed out as he was, that wasn’t his only response. Let’s continue to Nehemiah 1:4b-6a For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said: “LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. 

THEN I SAID… The bummed out feeling isn’t what ruled this situation. His first response may have been crying, but his next one was crying out… TO GOD! Lord, we need you. We need your forgiveness and we need your rescue. We need your courage and we need your strength. We need your blessing and we need your favor.

This is the truly great response to bad news. This is how Nehemiah changed the course of his nation. He cried out to God. He hit his knees and made his request known. Friends, this is how you respond to bad news.

So if you find yourself discouraged today, cry out to God. If you find yourself bummed out, hopeless, or depressed, cry out to God. If you just got some really bad news, turn to the God who is greater! Trust him, lean on him, take refuge in him if you need to. He is the God who turns our mourning into dancing, and our sorrows into great joy! Nehemiah would rebuilt those walls and you can rebuild yours, too.

The Messenger

1 Kings 14:7-9  7 Go, tell Jeroboam that this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I raised you up from among the people and made you a leader over my people Israel. 8 I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes. 9 You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have provoked me to anger and thrust me behind your back.

Uh oh… someone’s in trouble.  Remember when you were a kid and your brother got into big trouble and you were the messenger?  Yikes!  Sometimes it was exciting to tell them they were in trouble, because they had just clocked you in the face with a plastic toy.  Other times, you were afraid for them as the wrath of mom and dad was about to come.  Imagine being Jeroboam’s wife in this situation; she had to be the messenger.  “Hey Bo, I’ve got some bad news for you.”

And what a message it was! “I raised you up,” God told him.  “I called you out among the people, chose you, and made you king.  I told you to follow all my commands and I would be with you.  I wanted to be your God, your one and only.  I was ready to bless you and your descendants.  But you couldn’t manage to set me alone in your heart.  You didn’t follow my commands, but followed the evil in your heart.  You turned your back on me and now I am angry.  You have experienced my blessing, but now you will experience my wrath.”

I don’t know about you, but I would be freaking out right about now.  Nobody wants to get news like that.  It’s news that cuts to the heart and makes you want to throw up.  It was too late for Jereboam to do anything about it, too.  He had already messed up so bad that God had made up His mind.  But today God has mind up His mind about something else.  He has made up his mind to forgive you and accept you regardless of how bad you’ve blown it.  He sent His Son to usher in forgiveness, grace, and reconciliation.  And each day you get to choose to serve Him.  He wants to be loved with all your heart; He wants to be your one and only.

He gave us the Holy Spirit to not only comfort us, but to correct us.  He warns us of our sin and gives us the power to cut off our allegiance to other gods.  He helps us in our weakness and gives us strength to remove our idols.  That’s our God!  So if the Holy Spirit is bringing you some bad news about the allegiance of your heart, do something about it today.  Fix your eyes only on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith.  It’s not too late.