The power of forgiveness is remarkable. When we think of the grace we have received from God through his forgiving of our sins, we are left speechless.
Ephesians 1:7 says, "He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins."
Gone are the excuses, the pretense, the masks. We can do nothing to wash away the ugliness of our sins, or even earn our cleansing. But we come in humility to Calvary and we find freedom! We discover that his forgiveness has the power to transform. This Sunday we will look at Psalm 51 where confession is taught and God's forgiveness is celebrated.
The following quote is from musician Rich Mullins, who wrote 'Our God is an Awesome God'.
"I think I would rather live on the verge of falling and let my security be in the all-sufficiency of the grace of God than to live in some pietistic illusion of moral excellence. Not that I don't want to be morally excellent but my faith isn't in the idea that I'm more moral than anybody else. My faith is in the idea that God and His love are greater than whatever sins any of us commit."
Ever feel like your life is so mundane and ordinary, wondering, "Does anyone really notice the things I do?"
Colossians 3:17 says "Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
May this quote from Mother Teresa encourage you today: "Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. Nothing is small for our good God, for he is great and we are small. That is why he lowers himself and cares to do small things, in order to offer us an opportunity to show him our love. Since he does them, they are great things, they are infinite. Nothing he does can be small. Again: practice fidelity even in the least things, not for their own sake, but for the sake of what is great – that is, the will of God."
It's good to stand in amazement of God's greatness, majesty, holiness and power. And to think that this same God loves us and pours out his mercy upon us! As Romans 11:33 says, "Oh, how great are God's riches and wisdom and knowledge! It is impossible for us to understand his decisions and his ways!"
For people of faith, to stand in awe of God is to give him glory. All glory to him forever!
I've been really encouraged by the message of 1 Corinthians 15 that speaks of the resurrection of Jesus, and our hope of resurrection at His return. It's the heart of the Good News, and the hope we stand on. The chapter ends with a word of motivation for us all:
"So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless."
Did you know one of the most important ways to demonstrate your faith to others is simple gratitude? Over and over in the Scriptures we are urged to be thankful. It is not a hard command, but we can often forget to give thanks to God.
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, the only long weekend that comes with specific instructions. How about going to our church's FB page and saying what you're thankful for. God is GOOD!
I hope everyone has found at least one reason to smile today. Eugene Peterson writes the following:
"Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship, it is a consequence. It is not what we have to acquire in order to experience life in Christ; it is what comes to us when we are walking in the way of faith and obedience."
The recent eclipse serves as a reminder that the heavens declare the glory of God, and that we do well to take notice in wonder and worship. The following is from Philip Britts, a 20th century British anabaptist writer, farmer and poet. He calls us to retain our childlike wonder as we see the power of God in a thunderstorm, or observe the miracle of the sea of grain growing in the fields.
"A young child believes in miracles, as a natural or normal part of life, because it sees the miracle in everything. And in that seeing, that seeing of miracles, to which our older eyes have become dim, the child is very near to God. Verily, unless we become as a little child, we cannot see the kingdom of God. Let us beware then of doing anything that can pull any child away from its vision, away from God. If ever we find that we have no time for the children, that we are too busy to talk to them, or too tired, let us consider well what is that business we are about--is it really more vital than to share time with a child, is it really more our Father's business?"
Not every why question can be answered. Our perspective is simply too limited, our minds too finite, our reason too tainted. We cast our cares upon the One who cares for us. We trust, even in the most trying of times, knowing that God is worthy of it. He alone knows and loves us perfectly.
Below is a quote from Fred Epstein that I found very thought-provoking.
'The question, “Why do children suffer?” has no answer, unless it’s simply, “To break our hearts.” Once our hearts get broken, they never fully heal. They always ache. But perhaps a broken heart is a more loving instrument. Perhaps only after our hearts have cracked wide open, have finally and totally unclenched, can we truly know love without boundaries.'
The Book of 1 John is a mighty testament to the love of God.
He Himself is defined by the character of agape love (4:16).
Jesus is the ultimate demonstration of that love (3:16).
His perfect love drives out fear (4:18).
As you go through this week, allow His love to both comfort you and compel you. He knows you fully, and loves you through and through. This is our spiritual "Red Bull", energizing our spirits to extend costly love to others. Actually the Scriptures have a better phrase than spiritual red bull, it's called living water.
I was chatting with a friend recently who has faced adversity, and we were reminded of the wonderful truth of James 1:2-4, that testing develops endurance and strong faith. As my trust in Jesus grows, whether I feel stronger or not, I truly am. Relying on His strength is the spiritual sweet spot that adversity invites us to. His grace is sufficient.
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." (James 1:2-4 NLT)
Pastor Ward Parkinson