Tag Archives: forgiveness

December 5; Delivered

Romans 5:1-8:17

Can a Christian sin? Paul certainly sounds like he struggled with sin. I John 1:8 tells us we deceive ourselves if we say we don’t sin. Galatians 5:17 says there is a constant battle between the flesh and the spirit. Plus, I don’t have to look farther than my nose to know Christians can sin.

But believers in Christ have something non-believers don’t have. We have victory. We have the Holy Spirit right there inside us, eager to help us resist temptation. We have the very power of God to fight our enemy, and the grace of God who forgives us when we ask.

“What a wretched man I am!” Paul exclaimed. “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (from 8:24)

The sin of a Christian is no less serious than the sin of an atheist. Sin is sin, and the wages of sin is death. Your sin. And mine.

The answer to Paul’s question, “who will deliver me,” is found in verse 25:

Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God will deliver you, too, if you ask. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness. He is faithful and just to forgive us all when we confess our sin. Thanks be to God!

 

November 19; Faith

Galatians 1:1-4:7

Does reading Paul’s letter to the Galatians thrill you as much as it does me? Salvation comes from placing my faith in Jesus.

I can’t be good enough, generous enough, even religious enough to earn what Jesus freely gives to those who come to Him. He bought the right to forgive all who believe. That in itself thrills my soul.

Receiving forgiveness is the same for you as it is for me, as it is for that murderer on death row or that sweet little old lady down the street. We all must be born again by placing our faith in Jesus, the One who loves us and gave Himself for us.

Consider Abraham; “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then that those who believe are children of Abraham. (3:6-7)

Abraham believed. Do you?

But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised (righteousness), being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. (verse 22)

Isn’t that thrilling? Believe, and receive. Then this:

So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. (4:7)

Oh, dear one, I pray that you have placed your faith in Jesus. There is no joy greater than having your sins forgiven, no blessing better than being a child of God, nothing more thrilling than knowing you are going to heaven.

I am praying for you.

November 8; Zero Balance

Mark 15:22-41; Matthew 27:33-56; Luke 23:33-49; John 19:17-37

The cross. The place where criminals died a slow and painful death. The place of humiliation and disgrace. The place where Satan and the Jewish leaders thought they could get rid of Jesus.

But it was on the cross where Jesus, though sinless, became sin for me. It’s where Jesus paid my death sentence. It is finished. Paid in full. Zero balance.

I remember when I first started teaching in the early 70’s, making a whopping $3,500 a year, there were months when I was unable to pay all my bills. I dreaded getting mail because there was always an envelope with a notice inside threatening to turn off my power or turn my account over to a collection agency.

I hated answering the phone. Remember, it was way before caller ID so you never knew who you were going to be forced to speak with when you answered. And sometimes there were very unfriendly voices on the line telling me I needed to pay my bills or else.

They weren’t wrong. I owed them money. They had every right to demand payment. I just didn’t have the means to pay them.

I was reminded of that today as I considered what Jesus did for me on the cross. He paid what I could not pay. He satisfied my debt so that I need never fear God or dread His presence.

My sin debt, and believe me it was sizable, was something I had no means of paying. But Jesus took my debt, became my sin, and paid it all. I am debt-free because of the cross.

When God looks at the ledger of my life, He only sees a zero balance! I am so thankful for the cross!

October 27; What the Cross Does Not Do

Matthew 21:1-22; Mark 11:1-25; Luke 19:1-10, 28-28; John 12:12-19

It was time for Jesus to complete His mission. It was time for the cross. So Jesus, on a donkey, rode into Jerusalem with more fanfare, showered with more attention than He had permitted during the previous three years.

“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

But you and I both know just a few days later, the same people who celebrated Jesus’ entrance into the city would demand His crucifixion. What could possibly happen to cause such a drastic change?

John and Luke provide us with insight. “…the whole crowd began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.” (Luke 19:37). John tells us a similar account in that the people who witnessed the bodily resurrection of Lazarus spread the word, and people flocked to Jesus because they heard He had given a “miraculous sign.” (12:18)

The people who joined the parade to accompany Jesus into Jerusalem seem to have been focused on the material. They may have thought they were leading their ticket to easy street into town. Maybe they followed Him out of simple curiosity. But their faith quickly died because they weren’t following Jesus in truth.

During Jesus’ public ministry He performed many miracles, more miracles than could be recorded in the Gospels. But He never healed a sick person so that person would be well. He never gave sight to a blind person so that blind person could see. He never raised a dead child or adult so that person would live a few more years.

All His miracles had one purpose only: to establish the fact that Jesus is God, so that when they nailed Him to the cross, everyone would know just who was hanging there.

Did Jesus die on the cross so His followers would be healed of all physical ailments? No! Did Jesus die on the cross so our bodies would live forever on this earth? No! Did Jesus die so our bills would be paid and we’d have roofs over our heads and food on the table? No!

Jesus died to pay the price for your sin and mine. Jesus died in order to redeem sinners. Yes, Isaiah said “by His stripes we are healed.” But people who claim that guarantees physical healing for the saints are twisting Scripture to mean something it doesn’t.

Dear one, if you are following Jesus because of what He can do for your bank account or your doctor’s appointment, you run the risk of making the same mistake the people in Jerusalem made that last week of Jesus’ life on earth.

Let’s turn our eyes away from the temporal and look to the eternal. Let’s not make the cross about our comfort. Jesus promised that we will have trouble in this life. Paul lamented his thorn in the flesh. Most of the twelve disciples met with gruesome deaths.

What the cross does not do is guarantee a healthy, wealthy life in this world. But it does guarantee a glorious eternity with Jesus Himself. The cross does not buy my comfort or my happiness or my cancer-free life. The cross bought my pardon, my redemption, my salvation. And yours!

What the cross does do is nothing short of amazing!

 

October 23; The Truth Will Set You Free

John 7:53-9:34

If you know someone who is unsure whether or not Jesus is really God, point them to these passages in John. Because not only does Jesus repeat the Truth, He demonstrates that Truth in amazing fashion.

Jesus told the Jews that His testimony is true because He stands with the Father who sent Him. He told them He is not from this world, but from above. They asked Him, “Who are you?” and his reply was, “Just what I’ve been claiming to be all along.”

He even told them He not only knew their father Abraham, He existed even before Abraham was born. Then He used the words, “I AM,” which really got the Jews’ attention. That was the name God gave Himself in the Old Testament.

I hope you’ll read these verses in John today. There is so much here!

Jesus told the Jews if they hold to His teaching, they “will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” God’s Truth is not subjective or fluid. God’s Truth is Jesus; the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is Jesus only who is able to set anyone free from the chains of sin. And, friend don’t kid yourself. If you are living with sin, you are a slave to that sin. That’s the truth.

But holding to Jesus’ teaching, believing He is who He says He is, and accepting the forgiveness of your sin, is so freeing! Have you experienced it? It is life-changing.

Sometimes I think we talk ourselves out of sharing our salvation experience because either we think it wasn’t dramatic enough, or we just wouldn’t know what to say. I love what the man born blind said to the Jewish leaders after Jesus gave him his sight. They were pressuring the man for details, looking for something they could pin on Jesus to get rid of him.

“How did he heal you?” they asked.

“He put mud on my eyes. I washed. And now I see.”

“Impossible,” they insist. “Don’t give credit to Jesus. He’s no better than any of us. He’s a sinner like everyone else.”

Then the healed man said something so profound: “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know, I was blind but now I see.”

Period.

Friend, there is only one Truth that can set anyone free. His name is Jesus. You might not be able to explain the “how” He saved you. But if you know He did, that’s all you need to know. Tell it.

People couldn’t help but notice the change in the man who had never seen a day in his life. It was obvious something had happened. He could see!

And people will see a change in you, too, when God takes up residence in your life. It will be as obvious as a seeing blind man. And when they ask you how, it’s ok to say, “I don’t know. One thing I do know, I asked Him to forgive me, and He did.”

“Once I was lost, now I am found. Once I was blind, now I see. Once I was dead, now I am alive. Once I was a slave to sin. Now I am free.”

That Truth, dear one; the Truth that is Jesus Christ, and only that Truth will set you free, too.

 

 

 

October 14; Bread From Heaven

Mark 6:45-56; Matthew 14:22-36; John 6:16-59

Seriously, is there anything better than the aroma of freshly-baked bread, filling the entire house with its enticing scent? There might be something better than that. But you have to agree that smell is right up there.

On the surface, what Jesus is saying in John 6 is anything but appetizing. If you don’t understand metaphors, reading this portion of John’s Gospel can be disturbing because it seems Jesus is proposing cannibalism. That’s the opposite of baking bread, right? But take a closer look at this Scripture. Jesus is telling us He is the Messiah!

He is the Bread which came down from heaven. His body made of real flesh, will be brutally beaten and hung on a cross where He will die. His blood, as red as yours, will be shed so my sins – and yours- can be forgiven. And we who take Him in are satisfied forever.

No more hunger for peace. He is our peace. No more longing for love. God IS love. No more thirsting for joy, or happiness, or worth. Jesus is all that, and more. People who are always looking for more, have only to accept what Jesus offers, and find more than they were looking for.

There are those who will tell you that Jesus is talking to a chosen few, because He tells us, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…: (vs 44). They use the word, “unless,” to suggest God is selective in who He draws to Himself. But read on.

Verses 45-47 says, “Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him come to me… he who believes has everlasting life.” I will tell you without hesitation that Jesus is talking to YOU.

Jesus is saying you can’t bake your own bread. God has sent His Son, the Bread of Life, into the world, and like a fresh loaf right out of the oven, His aroma spreads out over the whole world, drawing all people to the source. Everyone who listens to God, and believes in His Son, will have everlasting life.

That’s what God chose. He chose to save everyone who listens to the Father, learns from Him, and comes to Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Jesus tells us not to work for food that spoils. Don’t try to find happiness in a spouse, or fulfillment in a job, or success by driving a BMW, or salvation in church attendance. The only “work” we can do to receive what Jesus died to give us is believe in Him. (vs 29)

Breathe in that aroma, devour that Bread from Heaven, make Him a part of you. And never hunger or thirst again.

October 8: A Clean House Is Not Enough

Luke 7:18-8:3, 11:14-26; Matthew 11:1-19, 12:22-45; Mark 3:20-30

Have you ever asked God to forgive a sin, then turned around and committed the same sin again, or ended up doing something much worse than the sin God forgave? Do you constantly ask God to give you victory over a sin, but fail repeatedly to overcome?

I hope you’ll read Jesus’ words today. God is faithful to forgive every sin, every time we repent from broken hearts. But what happens next is crucial in our victory over that sin.

Cleaning house is merely the first step. Allowing God to forgive, to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, is necessary – and wonderful! But we’ve got to fill that house, too.

If God forgave your sin as a result of repentance, if you’ve turned away from that sin, what are you turning TO? If we don’t fill our lives with godly endeavors, study of His Word and prayer, if we don’t replace screen-time with time invested in knowing God, we are opening ourselves up to repeating the sin God forgave, even worse than before.

Scripture tells us to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus, and you don’t do that sitting on a bar stool, or tucked away in a private spot looking at porn. You can ask God to forgive you a dozen times, but until you replace those things with things of the Lord, you will find yourself right back where you started.

Sure, it’s not easy. It might mean changing friendships, giving your passwords to your spouse or children, getting rid of cable TV, whatever. That deep cleaning is often painful. Do it anyway.

I remember looking for a house a few years ago. I’d walk into empty homes, no pictures on walls, no couches or tables or lamps. It would be barren. Clean. But lifeless. It took someone getting in there and replacing that space with life and love.

That’s what God wants to do with a cleansed heart. I pray you will repent of sin, allow Him to get in there and clean house.

Then make a concerted effort to fill your time, your thoughts, your relationships with the sweet Presence of Jesus. Let Him fill your house with Himself.