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Seeing life's events in the light of God's Word.

Restored

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Matthew 26:28- “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

 

We experienced a huge Monsoon storm in the middle of last week. It began with a gentle breeze blowing as I left my Bible Study group at 8:00 p.m. About ten minutes down the road, it began to rain. It was a full-fledged storm by the time I neared home.

I entered my neighborhood to find that the power had gone out. That meant I had to run from my driveway around the house to the front door, since my non-working electric opener prevented me from pulling into the dry garage.

My umbrella bent in the strong wind, so that by the time I got the door to the house open I was drenched. My hair, cut and styled earlier that day, was sopping wet. My shoes and legs were muddy. My hallway, littered with grass and twigs.

I was a total mess. The face that had looked passable enough to me to take a “selfie” a few hours before, now needed a good scrubbing.

Power was finally restored around 2 a.m.

Have you ever felt wonderfully clean inside after you partake of communion at church? After you spend time in quiet reflection, confession of sins, and then experience the feeling of being totally forgiven? And, for those few moments following, as you listen intently to the sermon, feeling so much closer to God…without that load of sin between you and Him?

Then, before you know it, your mind wanders and you think a sinful thought? Or, you get all the way to the car before making an unkind remark to your spouse?

You suddenly find yourself in that sin-confession cycle once again…in need of cleansing…going before the throne and asking for forgiveness…wanting to be in right relationship with the Heavenly Father…knowing that although you mean well, you are human and will mess up many more times? 

The good thing is that He is willing to forgive and restore us each time we come to Him with a humble and contrite heart. We don’t have to wait for communion Sunday or until 2:00 a.m. 

We have access to the Father—and his cleansing grace—twenty-four seven!

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Snow and Wool

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Isaiah 1:18– “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

 

As a child, I was fascinated by the story of Pinocchio, a puppet whose nose grew longer and longer with each lie he told—an outward manifestation of his inward sin.

As I got older, a required reading in school was The Scarlet Letter, in which a young woman is forced to wear a large letter “A” on her chest, branding her as an adulteress. Her shame was displayed for all to see…her humiliation public.

Still later, as an adult, I saw a movie in which a Chinese man who had stolen from his employer had his smallest finger cut off, a common punishment in their culture for those convicted of theft.

Fortunately, most of us will never have to bear such outward signs representing our sins. If we did, how grotesque some of us would look!

Inside each one of us is a sinful heart. For some, the load of increasing guilt is often too much to bear. This is often the cause of rising numbers of suicides in many countries around the world.

So, how does one live with a load of sin? Is there a cleansing for the brokenhearted? Some kind of absolution?

Jesus says the heart can be made whole again. By confessing our sins to Him and repenting, we will be forgiven. It is by His perfect sacrifice on the cross that the penalty for our sins is paid.

God is our only true and righteous judge. He sees Jesus’s atoning blood, not our sin, when he looks at the hearts of those who have repented and received salvation through his son.

No, Christians will not be required to display their sins outwardly. No long noses for us.

Instead, we bear the radiance of the forgiven. Knowing that when God looks at our hearts, he sees Jesus, our Savior, who paid the price for our sins.

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Will He Call Your Name?

Revelation 21:27- Nothing impure will ever enter it (heaven) , nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

The National Football League held their yearly drafting of eligible football players last Thursday night. It is the NFL’s most common source of player recruitment. Each team is given a position in the drafting order and can use it to select a player, trade their position, or in several other options.

Currently consisting of seven rounds, the first player chosen is most likely given the highest paying contract, reflecting the fact that he is the most sought after player and deemed the one with the most potential.

Just imagine what it must have been like for these young men to learn that they were in the draft and for them to sit, waiting on Thursday night, to hear their names called—to be chosen for the coming season by a prestigious NFL team.

Some of you may be able to identify with their emotions because you, too, may have waited—or may be currently waiting—to hear if you have been selected as the chairperson of a committee, if your painting received the blue ribbon, if your book or song will get major recognition, if your recipe is voted as the most delicious, and so on.

I recall a song they used to sing quite often in church when I was a child. It was called “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder (I’ll Be There)” This, of course, refers to the fact that Jesus will open the Book of Life in heaven and present the names written there to God. As Christians, I’m sure that none of us can imagine a list we would rather be on!

So, how does one get their name written in this Book of Life? Pay a fee? Perform an unusual feat? Help society in some way? Follow on the coat tails of ancestors?

What if I told you there is NOTHING you can do? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Why?

Someone already did it for you. All you need to do is acknowledge the gift and follow the giver. It is so simple; yet, millions will miss it.

You see, prior to Jesus dying on the cross, God had a system of laws in place. Those who broke the law were to use a sacrificial system, requiring the blood of animals to “cover” each individual’s sin. The problem was, they had to keep sacrificing because—you guess it—they kept sinning. Thus began a vicious sin-sacrifice cycle.

When God gave his son, Jesus, as the only perfect sacrifice for man’s sins, He did away with the prior sacrificial system once and for all because sins were not just covered—they were forgiven.

Jesus was able to end the sin-sacrifice cycle because His blood—and only his blood—wasn’t tainted by sin. The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23-25 “ “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith by all who believe.

So, that is our part in the story of forgiveness. We must confess our sins and receive our new life in Christ by putting our faith in Him. We read in 1John 1:9 that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

So you see, our sin is a barrier to the relationship God wants to have with us—so much so that He was willing to sacrifice his own Son for us. On the third day, God raised him up in victory over sin and death. Our part is to put our faith in Jesus. When we do, we will not only have our sins forgiven and lead a life on earth that is in relationship with our Heavenly Father, but we will be assured of eternal life in heaven, as well!

When the Book of Life is opened, will He call your name?

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Is God Still God?

Mark 8:27-29 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 “But what about you?”he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

Last week, a national television morning show posed this question to viewers: Who Do You Say Jesus is Today? All week long, correspondents polled various groups of people, sharing their thoughts with the viewing public.

Responses were varied and included: a great humanitarian, the only person to live a perfect life, a famous charismatic figure, a historical guru, the Son of God, and so on. People who lived when Jesus was on earth showed similar responses. But, Peter got it right. Jesus was the Messiah the world had been waiting for.

First of all, we need to remember that Jesus IS God. He came to earth in human form, lived a sinless life, and died for the sins of mankind. Secondly, God declares in the Bible that He is unchangeable, the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) So, no matter what man might think, what opinions man might have centuries later, the fact remains that He hasn’t changed. He is still God—and He always will be God.

What does this mean for us? It means that we can always count on his Word being true because it, also, is unchangeable. What it declares as good and pleasing to God will remain so. What it declares as sin will not change with the whims of society. The sins committed today remain sins in God’s eyes, even though our culture may declare them to be otherwise.

It is disheartening for Christians around the world to see how our world is changing. Many of the norms and values that we used to hold as a society, are nothing but vague memories.

We must let our voices be heard in social media, in the voting booth, in town hall meetings. And, while the results of elections and the enactment of laws may not be what we would want, we can take great comfort in knowing that our future is in the hands of our changeless God—our God who has the power to use the unpleasant things in this life to bring about His ultimate purpose and glory.

Brenda

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What’s In the Bucket?

1 John 5:11b-13: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.  13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

My husband and I saw a rather intense movie this afternoon. We rode home in quiet contemplation, each of us lost in our own thoughts.

When we arrived home, he went outside to do yard work and I grabbed my shopping list and headed to the car for my weekly trip to the grocery store.

As was just about to pull away from the house, when my husband walked up to me with a bucket in his hand. “Guess what is in this bucket?” He held it out toward me. “Go ahead, look.” He smiled and gestured for me to come closer.

Hunkered down in the corner was a brown baby bunny! My heart soared and my tenseness faded away. This precious example of new life changed my countenance in an instant!

What is it about new life that lifts our spirits…give us hope?

The Bible says that we can have a new life, in Christ, when we acknowledge Him as our Savior and accept His forgiveness of our sins.

Our hearts will soar when we give up the things of the past—the sins that weigh so heavily on us—and let Jesus claim the victory over them!

Romans 6:14 says that sin will no longer have dominion over us, but instead we will have newness of life.

May the God of all hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him. (Romans 15:13)

Brenda

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