Pardon written in the wounds of Jesus

Your have been pardoned, and your proof is written in the wounds of Jesus.

I know it is Christmas time and we are supposed to be thinking about the birth of Jesus, but this past week, I have been gripped with a thought concerning His death. His death decreed our pardon, our forgiveness, and our release from sin.

Isaiah said, “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

I have needed that, have you? I have transgressed, I have been caught in iniquity, I have failed my loved ones, and I have needed pardon.

Pardon is amazing. To be guilty and then to be set free is a gift of immeasurable proportions, and it changes everything for the freed. Life is sweeter when it gets returned to us. Decisions matter more when we actually have the freedom to make them. Our blessings are more potent when we know we don’t fully deserve them.

Exiting presidents often issue presidential pardons in their final moments in office, and the recipients of those pardons get a second chance to begin again. How amazing to have received something greater than the forgiveness of a human president, how amazing to be forgiven by God!

It did not come cheaply. Although we call God’s forgiveness a free gift, it did not come to us easily or casually. It was purchased by the ultimate act of love, a love that absorbed unthinkable pain and stared down death itself.

Let’s exult in our forgiveness. Let’s strive to live lives that never need to ask for it again. Let’s be quick to extend pardon to the people who fail us, and let’s grow into God’s beautiful blend of truth, justice, and unquenchable grace. Your pardon has been written in the wounds of Jesus, and the life you are dreaming of is found in Him.

Advertisements

A ‘storied’ people

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.” (Psalm 107:2)

In your readings through the Old and New Testaments, do you ever marvel at the constant, even redundant, telling of Israel’s story? Doesn’t it seem like the biblical writers are always rehearsing Israel’s formation, bondage, rescue, decline, and promised renewal?

It is sort of like shampoo instructions on an endless loop: wash, rinse, repeat.

Why is that? Why is the rehearsal of a story–a history–so important? And do you think it might be equally important for us?

There is power in story, in remembering where we have been and where God has brought us. Although it might get tedious to constantly be reminded how God parted a Red Sea for Israel on their way out of Egypt, that story never loses its potency. It is a constant, real-time reminder that God can still split chaos and lead us safely through to the other side.

We are a ‘storied’ people. We have a history and a life with God. And when we remember what God did back then, it can bolster our confidence for today. Remembering yesterday’s rescues, prepares us for glorious victories in tomorrow’s looming battles.

The old hymn, Blessed Assurance, declares, “This is my story, this is my song…” and it is powerful. We have a story to tell, a song to sing. We are a storied people, and perhaps we should follow Scripture’s lead and spend more time remembering it. It will bolster our courage and vivify our souls when we do.

Let’s do it this week as we pause for our Thanksgiving celebrations; let’s let our expressions of thanks become a re-telling of stories that become predictors of better futures.

Love built this

There are two things happening in and through your life, whether you realize it or not: you are becoming what you love, and you are building what you love.

It is an undeniable fact of life that we humans begin to resemble what we love. If we love kindness and honor and courage, we begin to resemble those things. Conversely, if we love ego gratification or winning at all costs, those things begin to shape us too.

We look like our gaze. We look like our passions. Counselors and coaches tell us that in five years we will look the composite of our closest current relationships. For better or worse, love sculpts, shapes, and defines us.

Additionally, love determines what we build. Regardless of who or what we say we love, the reality of our love will be found in what we spend time building. I might say that I love certain people, but if I never invest or build into their lives, my words of love ring hollow. I might say I love my loved ones, but if they routinely get my emotional leftovers while everyone else in my life gets my best efforts, then I might not love them as much as I say I do.

It is fascinating to consider what the Scriptures say about what Jesus loved. He loved the rich, young ruler (Mark 10:21). He loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (John 11:5). He loved His followers (John 13:1). He even loved the whole world (John 3:16). Consequently, when it came time for building, His words were to be expected, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18).

Jesus loves people, so He builds a church with the intention to serve them.

What do we look like? What are we building? And whom do we really love? At the end of my life, I want to be proud of the things I have built. I want to honestly and gratefully say, “Love built this.” What about you?

Hard work mistaken for talent

One of several books that I have  been perusing recently is Erwin McManus’ 2014 The Artisan Soul, wherein Erwin beautifully describes the interplay between hard work and talent. He writes:

“Eventually art becomes craft. The combination of talent and passion funneled through the crucible of discipline and determination resulted in an expression of skill and execution that was later deemed greatness and genius.” (p.126)

Then later, “If we work hard enough, hard work will eventually be mistaken for talent. And if we refuse to give up, perseverance will eventually be mistaken for greatness.” (p.133)

Let’s keep working hard. Let’s keep marrying our talent with effort and discipline, so we can offer greater, more excellent service to God and humanity. Our talents and aptitudes were God’s gift to us; our dutiful honing of them can become worship that we offer back to Him.

God certainly deserves our best, and the world around us needs our best. Let’s give it. Let’s labor to do and be the best we can be for the glory of God and the blessing of our world.

Michelangelo once laughed when people praised his brilliance. He said, “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” If we too work hard enough and long enough our work will be mistaken for talent and our determination will be deemed greatness.