Devotions

  • Throne of Grace

    By in Devotions on

    In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace, that He lavished on us. Ephesians 1:7-8

    Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

    Insight

    Each morning before my kids get out of the car to go to school, I make sure to tell them I love them.  Those last words are the most important thing I want them to remember as they face their day.  I intentionally use this farewell sentiment to conclude our morning time because, come what may during the course of their day, this is what I want them to know.

    I recently observed that the last sentence of the Bible is this:  “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people, Amen” (Revelation 22:21).  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people.  I believe just as I intentionally tell my kids that I love them, our Lord intentionally issued these final words (through John, the Spirit-led, human author of the book) about grace because He knows it is one of our deepest needs.

    Christ has already given us grace; He simply wants us to receive it.

    In Christ, the Bible tells us that we have received the remarkable riches of His grace.  “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace, that He lavished on us.”  In Him, our guilt is removed and our freedom is gained.  He offered Himself as the once for all satisfaction of God’s justice for our sins.

    Therefore, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

    We can not skip over the profound implications of this verse.  What do we find when we approach the throne of God?  We find mercy.  We find grace.  We find forgiveness.  We find peace.  These are things we all innately long for and they are the very essence and character of God.

    In Christ, let us not be hesitant to come to Him with our messiness, our needs, and our authentic selves.  As we approach the throne of grace with confidence, we can be sure that we have access to the very presence of God Himself.  And, in Christ, we have full assurance that He will give us everything we need and more.

    Our world is packed full of anger, artificialness, judgment, pain, resentment, and uncertainty but it desperately needs more grace.  I confess that when approaching the throne of Gina you may at times find these things.  But, I am working on it – not by trying to muster willpower to change but by understanding how loved I am by a God who reigns on a throne of grace.   Grace is, in fact, our best teacher (Titus 2:11-12).

    We can only forgive others to the extent that we understand we are forgiven.  We can only offer as much grace and mercy as we believe we have been given.  We can only impart the peace we have received for ourselves through Christ.

    “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people”.  The Lord knows how much we need grace for others and ourselves.  I believe Christ wants His church so identified with grace that it begins to naturally radiate from our lives.

    For me, abiding in grace today means I will not yell at my kids.  It means I won’t freak out at my husband when he doesn’t do something I ask him to.  I won’t honk at the person who pulls out in front of me.  Lord knows I may feel like doing those things, but instead of acting on it, I’ll choose to remember his throne of grace, receive it, and ask for the strength to extend it to others.

    Reflection

    • “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3). Do you believe this?  If you’re like me, it is hard for you to believe.  However, this truth brings a tremendous amount of grace and freedom to all of our relationships.  Spend time thanking God that He has given you everything you need.  If you find this difficult to believe, ask God to give you the gift of belief in this truth.

    Prayer

    Father, thank you that we may enter into Your presence with confidence.  Thank you that we can trust You to give us all that we need.  Help me to abide in Your grace and truth so that I may love others well.  In Your name, Jesus.  Amen.

    PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.

  • Undeserved Grace

    By in Devotions on

    You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:1-4

    Insight

    My junior year of college, about a year after my father died, I was a mess. I happened to attend a Christian college but, at that point, this fact meant nothing more to me than the occasional chapels we were required to attend. The end of the semester was at hand and a massive paper was due in my least favorite class. Whether it was grief or entitlement or both, I don’t know, but I do know that I cheated on the paper. I found a student who had previously taken the class and, with her blessing, used her paper and put my name on it.

    I foolishly thought it was a great plan and it definitely took a load off my shoulders. In fact, my load was incredibly light for a glorious week until my professor called and wanted to see me in his office as soon as possible. I just knew I had been caught.

    What would I do? What would I say? Would I be kicked out of college? At the very least, he would fail me for the entire class. I thought about my poor mom and began to feel shame and guilt that I would put her through the embarrassment of having a daughter who cheated. I also thought about the thousands of dollars my blue-collar parents had poured into my tuition and how all of the money may be wasted.

    I walked into his office tepidly, sitting in the chair he offered waiting for wrath. As I stared off into space, the first thing my professor said to me was, “Gina, I forgive you.” That was not what I thought he would say. I continued staring into space silently trying to process what was happening. “Gina, I forgive you,” he said again. He kept saying it until finally I looked back at him and tears started streaming down my face.

    Instead of calling the Dean or failing me, he offered me the chance to write the paper on my own. It was one of the most grace-filled things anyone has ever done for me. I humbly received his forgiveness and grace. I submitted the paper again and this time I used my own words. There were no deductions for the late submission, no subtracted points for the incident…it was as if it never happened.

    I walked away from that experience softened. I felt the sting of my depravity and gazed a glimpse of the grace of God, albeit through a grey-haired, science-loving professor. His grace for me filled a need I didn’t even understand that I had. It would be a few years later before I would thirst to get to know God for myself (it was easier to let others tell me about Him). But on that day in his office, I surely felt the grace and kindness of God through the grace and kindness of my professor.

    How much different would our world be if everyone extended this kind of grace? Grace that is surprising, undeserved, and even unjust. If my classmates knew about what happened, I am sure they would have been angry that I was given so much grace. From their perspective, the scales were completely unbalanced. Truly, it was unfair. On the other hand, this professor’s kindness was a landmark on a journey that led me toward repentance.

    Our flesh may beckon us to bring out the scales but God asks us to put them away. He is the One that will do the measuring. The gospel of Christ, in the words of Bryan Stevenson, tells us that we are more valuable than the worst thing we have ever done. Today, I am so thankful this is true and my prayer is that everyone would come to know it.

    Reflection

    • It is the kindness of God that leads to repentance. Sometimes the most difficult person to forgive is ourselves; however, self-condemnation leads nowhere. Brennan Manning asks, “Do you believe that God loves without condition or reservation and loves you this moment as you are and not as you should be?” Truly receiving the grace and forgiveness of Christ pulls you from self-condemnation to Christ-exaltation. Do you need to forgive yourself for something? Spend time thanking Christ for His absolute and completely sufficient sacrifice.

    Prayer

    Father, help me to see everyone through the lens of Your grace, including myself. Thank you for Your undeserved suffering for my sin. Please help me to extend the grace You have so freely given to me. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

    PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.

  • Dirty Feet

    By in Devotions on

    Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him…When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.  “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:3-5,12-17

    Insight

    On a recent trip to California, we stopped at a park called Torrey Pine to see miles of ocean and gorgeous overlooks.  What was meant to be a quick pit stop turned into an hour long hike.

    At each overlook, the kids wanted to go farther.  The view was certainly breathtaking.  There was a slight problem, however.  I was wearing sandals and walking through the dirty, dusty sand and rock was totally annoying me and my feet.

    But this quick stop turned mountain trek was the first nature-inspired activity the kids were eagerly participating in without the slightest complaint.  They were sincerely awe-struck by the greatness of God’s creation.  It was truly beautiful.  How could I ruin the moment by complaining about my sandals and dirty feet?  (Ok, I really wanted to.)

    By the end of the hike my feet were filthy.  I was trying to enjoy the moment and marvel at the view like my kids, but honestly I couldn’t wait to get back to the car and use Wet Ones to wipe off the dust.

    After thanking God for Wet Ones and also for the fact that I do not live in Biblical times, it struck me why foot washing would have been such a big deal back then.  The shoes people wore had a thick sole but thin top.  Much of their feet would have been exposed.  So, when not riding a camel or donkey, walking through dirt and sand would have made their feet extremely dirty.

    I began to seriously imagine what it must have been like for the disciples to have their feet washed by Jesus.  It was a common and necessary cultural exercise.  However, this was mostly a job reserved for slaves.  It was completely unexpected by His disciples that He would take on such a lowly role.

    The life of a slave had little to no value.  Slave life in Roman culture was extremely difficult.  They were used for manual labor and often chained or even branded.  For any reason, they could be starved, whipped, or beaten to death.

    I can hardly imagine such a life, yet I know this kind of life still exists for many today.

    And this is who King Jesus chose to identify Himself with shortly before His time on the cross.    He was not only showing the disciples how to lead by example but He was establishing His identity.  He was uniting Himself with a people considered to be the lowest rung of humanity.  In a simple and single act Jesus affirmed the dignity and value of all people.

    He also profoundly broadened the disciples’ view of serving others.  He revolutionized their categorization of people and the social caste of their world.  He wants to do the same for us.  “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

    Reflection

    • “The greatest among you will be your servant.  For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matthew 23:11-12).  Washing the feet of the disciples was much larger than the act itself; He was shifting the disciples’ worldview, challenging them to see every person as worthy of their love and service.  Spend time reflecting on ways you may categorize or judge people.  Today, how can you imitate the type of service that Jesus exemplified?  It doesn’t have to be big — washing feet was a simple act.

    Prayer

    Father, help me to see the ways in which I keep people at arms’ length because I hold a prideful and self-righteous view that I am somehow better than them.  Forgive me, Lord, for my presumptive sin and the sin that I am unaware of.  Shape my heart to see everyone the way You do and to wholeheartedly serve everyone uninhibited by preconceived notions or ideas that I hold about them.  Shift my entire paradigm if You need to, Lord.  Thank you for leading by example.  In Your name, Jesus.  Amen.  

    PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.

  • Our True Enemy

    By in Devotions on

    Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1

    For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

    For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of the dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

    Insight

    We see throughout the Bible that Jesus is not simply calling us to be a church that believes.  He is calling us to be a church who loves.  But let’s be real — sometimes loving others feels more like stepping into a wrestling match than a holy discipline.  In our quests to love others, we may often have good intentions but when things get hard, we find it easier to walk away.

    The Bible is clear about the struggles in our lives and relationships: there is no struggle with flesh and blood, our struggle is with the enemy (Ephesians 6:12).  It is the enemy that tries to wreck havoc in our relationships and havoc in the world around us.  It is the enemy who wants us to fixate on other people as if they are the problem.  The Bible says that the devil is filled with fury because he knows that his time is short (Revelation 12:12).  The enemy came to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10), but Jesus came to teach us to walk in the way of love.

    When love and forgiveness feels more like a wrestling match, let us ask God to see our true enemy.  Believe it or not, 100% of the time our true enemy is never the person standing in front of us!  It is futile to spend our time fighting people.  Understanding that our struggle is not with flesh and blood frees us to love others the way Christ has called us to.

    We are called to wage war differently than the rest of the world (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).  Paul teaches us in Ephesians 6:10-20 the kind of war we are to wage and how to take our stand against the devil’s schemes.  Christ does not call us to wage war against others with sharp words, clever comebacks and cunning tactics.  Instead, Christ calls us to wage war with love (patience, kindness, and hopeful endurance) and to fix our minds on His Truth, His Gospel, His Spirit and God’s Word.

    So today, instead of fighting people, let us talk to God.  Let us wage war in love and prayer against our true enemy, appealing to the only One who holds the divine power to transform hearts and lives.

    Reflection

    • Think about a situation in which you have found it difficult to love.  Ask God to give you spiritual eyes to see the spiritual battle that is happening.  In what ways can you fight with love and the spiritual weapons God has given you?
    • Christ calls us to follow in His footsteps and walk in the way of love.  Ask Christ to show you the next step you need to take to love someone today.

    Prayer

    Dear Lord, forgive me for the many times I have seen my enemy as flesh and blood and not the true enemy that You describe in the Bible.  Help me to wage a war of love and not one filled with the ways of the world.  Help me to value unity as much as You do and thank you for leading me in the way of love and peace.  Please grant me the courage to walk in it.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.  

    PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.

  • Prodigal Love

    By in Devotions on

    I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants. And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. LUKE 15:18-20

    Insight

    Picture someone who has wronged you. I mean full-on, blatantly crushed you. If the wound is any bit a fresh one, it’s probably hard to imagine running to that person to forgive him or her. For the prodigal son, he experienced forgiveness in that way precisely.

    It was not just love that drove the father to run to his once lost son. He was protecting his son from due punishment. Let us recall the son’s sins against his father: he requested his share of the family’s wealth (on a whim), took it, then blew it all on “reckless living.” Then he decided to come back.

    In a first century Jewish community, the village would have performed a kezazah. This was a ceremony against anyone who squandered his inheritance among Gentiles then returned home. They would have broken a large pot in front of the son and yelled something such as, “You are now cut off from your people!”

    There was no kezazah. The father ran to his son before anyone could fault him as he entered the village. Forgiveness was clear. Celebration commenced.

    Christ shared such parables as the lost son to convey the nature of His Father. God’s forgiveness is indispensable. But run to someone to forgive? Even do them a solid for their otherwise doomed reputation? Suppose they are out to burn you again. Can we not at least wait and make them state their case?

    Like the lost son, we are prone to wander. We stray from the good path God has paved for us. Sometimes we even do detestable things that bear zero consideration for loved ones. Still God is full of grace. What He offers to us is incomparable, especially in terms of forgiveness. Not only does He refocus our humility, but He frees us from the grips of our sin.

    My mind goes to a person who has wronged me multiple times. It has hurt me and angered me. A kezazah would be the warm-up! It has been a tumultuous path to forgiveness, but I know it is necessary in order for me to live free. Vengeance is suffocating. When you live in The Room of Rogue Justice, it consumes. There is no alternative to a constant defense of your character and an endless wait for their just deserts. The Room of Forgiveness has open doors leading to possibilities. It holds potential for progress.

    In the same way the father forgave the son, we have to forgive others. Tough to swallow? Absolutely it is, but it is essential. It’s sort of a green light or admission ticket to live on; to live freely and stop walking on the egg shells of keeping up appearances while we contemplate penalties.

    The father had a right to authorize the ultimate slam on his young son. He instead loved, dispensed forgiveness, and redeemed a bad reputation. God too is justified in disowning us. But He delights in loving us, knowing us, and blessing us. Forgiveness makes it possible. We arguably could slam justice down on some of our transgressors. What might come from that?

    Here’s what we do know: Psalm 36 reminds us the Lord’s justice is like the great deep. It preserves “man and beast.” We are all included in that!

    Justice has the potential to become a questionable thing in a worldly sense. But rejoice! God’s truth in forgiving is unquestionable.

    Reflection

    Maybe there is someone you need to forgive. Maybe you are not yet in a position to communicate that forgiveness. That’s OK. Approach forgiveness in the heart first. It will give potential to opening doors rather than surely stifling peace.

    • For what specifically might you need to offer up forgiveness to someone?
    • How will you prepare your heart to do it?
    • What might come out of it?

    Prayer

    God, in the midst of the uncertainty of life, there is one thing I can count on and that is Your unending love. Thank you for welcoming me back home. Even though I didn’t deserve grace and mercy, You threw a party when I returned. My redemption provides ultimate security and frees me from the bondage of unforgiveness. Rather than seek justice when others wrong me, may I reflect Your love instead. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

    For further study: Luke 15:11-32, Ephesians 4:31-3 and Psalm 36

    PC3 writer Adam King wrote today’s devotional.

  • In God’s Place

    By in Devotions on

    But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:19-21

    Insight

    Before Joseph asked this question of his brothers, “Am I in the place of God?”, a long history preceded.  His brothers, jealous of him since the time of his birth, sold him into slavery and left him for dead.  Before eventually rising to power in Pharaoh’s court, Joseph endured long imprisonment and was even punished for doing the right thing.  His story, filled with suspenseful twists and turns, is one wrought with hardship and suffering.

    If anyone was deserving to withhold forgiveness, it would have been him.  Instead, when finally coming face to face with his betrayers, his own brothers, Joseph understood his place.  He understood that he was not God.  Now that he was in power, he could have treated his brothers harshly.  He could have taken vengeance into his own hands.  Yet instead, Joseph left room for God to work asking,  “For am I in God’s place?”

    This simple question reveals a lot about how God desires us to see forgiveness. A healthy view of forgiveness can dramatically shift the course of our lives.  Rather than being weighed down by anguish and bitterness, we can choose to live a different way.

    Forgiveness is a cornerstone of our faith.   The entire life of Jesus assumes that God does, in fact, hold the guilty accountable.  This is both scary and a little satisfying, depending on whether or not you see yourself as the offender or the offended.  When I am the offended I easily forget that I too have been an offender. The truth is that all of us are both.  To give forgiveness, we must first truly receive it.

    One of the main verbs relating to forgiveness in the Old Testament was nāśāʾ, meaning “to lift up, carry or take”.  I love this imagery.  It reminds us of the heavy weight an unforgiving heart bears and signals the freedom a heart dependent on God creates.  Ultimately, forgiveness is releasing our fate and the fate of others to a power higher than ourselves. This does not absolve responsibility but leaves justice and consequence in its proper place – with God.

    Imagine Joseph’s story with a different ending.  Instead of forgiving his brothers and releasing their fate to God, imagine that he decided to pay back evil for evil.  The temporary satisfaction Joseph may have felt in “paying back” his brothers would have paled in comparison to experiencing the power of God and His capacity to bring good from evil.  Because of God’s work through Joseph, many Israelites survived a famine.

    “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  We will not experience this promise if we constantly try to manipulate circumstances or put ourselves in the place of God.  Forgiveness leaves room for God to work in all things for the good of those who love Him.  We have not been deserted.  Like Joseph, we can trust Him enough to forgive.

    Reflection

    • Joseph’s posture of forgiveness required a great deal of humility.  Sometimes as we read verses in Scripture we easily miss the emotion and despair that would have accompanied the words.  The Bible says that Joseph “was deeply stirred over his brother, and he sought a place to weep; and he entered his chamber and wept there” (Genesis 43:30).  Because of his deep hurt, forgiveness was not easy.  We can see that Joseph grappled between his desire for revenge and his desire to surrender.  In fact, his first instinct was to throw his brothers in jail.  He could have left them there, but he didn’t.  It is never too late to allow God to take our burdens and hurts through an act of forgiveness.  Is there someone you need to forgive today?
    • Often the most difficult person to forgive is ourselves.  If we deny ourselves this grace by continuing to live under a heavy weight, we deny God’s work for us on the cross.  Do you need forgiveness?  Spend time with God thanking Him for His unmerited grace.

    Prayer

    Lord, thank you for freeing me from the bitterness of vengeance and vindication.  Thank you for Your radical grace.  Help me to live in a posture of forgiveness and humility.  In Your name Jesus.  Amen 

    PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.

  • In The Face of Animosity

    By in Devotions on

    If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners do that.  LUKE 6:32-33

    Insight

    One afternoon I was driving with two of my children in the car as we approached a stoplight.  I looked down to play with the radio and suddenly the car that I thought was way in front of me had somehow crashed into mine.  I had not been paying close enough attention and I hit her.  Thankfully, everyone was fine.  But I was completely unprepared for what happened next.

    The young woman I hit came flying out of her car and tried to get in mine (thankfully the door was locked).  She was yelling and screaming curse words at me, demanding that I get out of the car (in the middle of the MLK highway) so that she could “teach me a lesson.”

    I pleaded with the woman that I had kids in the car but it made no difference as she continued to yell.  Then suddenly, as quickly as she had appeared, she drove away, not even stopping to exchange insurance information or waiting until the police arrived.

    My kids were completely terrified.  One was crying very hard and shaking.  Even though I was crying too, I was angry.  Extremely angry.  I wanted to chase her down and accept her offer to get out of the car and unleash my pent-up fury on her.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

    The next day in my quiet time I read today’s Scripture from Luke 6. Jesus could not have been more clear.  He may as well have been sitting across from me at the table reading me the Scripture Himself.

    Loving someone is a choice and He is calling me, and all of His disciples, to a radical love.  This type of love chooses kindness, patience and true forgiveness even in the face of animosity.

    In Acts 6-7 we learn the story of Stephen.  Stephen was an early messenger of the Gospel and courageously spread the good news in face of persecution.  He eventually paid the price with his life.   In Greek, Stephen’s name means “crown or victorious.”  Yet, read what happens to him.

    By all human standards, Stephen seemed anything but victorious: “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7:59-60).

    Stephen was stoned to death, yet he found freedom and victory in the supernatural love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.  To the very end, Stephen chose love.

    If Stephen could automatically decide to forgive those who stoned him, how could I do anything but forgive a woman who simply yelled at me?

    I wasn’t given another chance to love that woman, but I did have a chance to pray for her.  Let’s be honest, at first I was kind of half-heartedly mumbling a prayer for her, asking God to help me forgive her and to somehow use the situation for my children to know His love a little bit better.  The words were there but it took my heart some time to catch up.

    The Lord knows I am not Stephen.  But I pray that as I continue to walk with the author of love Himself, my heart will be so filled with love that everyone around me might somehow be touched by its natural overflow.

    Reflection

    • Stephen’s story shows us that our victory is not based on our circumstances, but our ability to choose love.  What else do you learn from his story that is applicable to your life today?

    Prayer

    Dear God, thank you for being love.  Thank you for showing me what true love looks like.  I have no idea what today may bring, but help me to choose Your way of kindness, patience, love and forgiveness.  I pray that You would shape my heart in such a way that I might choose love as quickly as Stephen and as naturally as breathing.  In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

    Today’s devotional was written by PC3 Writer Gina Fimbel.

  • Sin No More

    By in Devotions on

    Wake up from your drunken stupor and do what is right and do not go on sinning. 1 Corinthians 15:34

    Insight

    I once had a man tell me he was mad at God. Mad because he thought God had promised him healing from an alcohol addiction and since God had promised healing, surely that meant he could drink a beer. Or two. Heck, why not three? This man was entitled. He thought freedom in Christ meant he could indulge in his favorite sin, and the consequences would be nil.

    Needless to say, it didn’t work out that way. He fell back into his addiction. So, he felt that God lies or was the lie.

    I responded: Jesus healed the blind man. But that didn’t mean the blind man could go around poking shards of glass in his eyes, thinking his sight was going to stay okey dokey. Also, while Jesus didn’t condemn the adulterous woman, neither did He mince words when He told her, “Go and sin no more.”

    Jesus heals, no doubt. We are saved by grace. We are free. But the freedom that Christ gives us through His death and resurrection isn’t an allowance to sin. If we feel this way, we need to examine our hearts.

    Followers of Christ should have disgust for their sin. Simply put, if we love God, our sin should become more and more unpalatable. Because our sin is like, well, vomit. Proverbs 26:11 says, “Like a dog that returns to his vomit, is a fool who repeats his folly.”

    Our sin and our desire for God are incompatible. We will gravitate towards one or the other. As soon as there’s a temptation to sin, we need to go to God and consciously choose Him. We must choose to surrender. To go and sin no more is a purposeful act.

    We surrender to God when we pray, read Scripture, journal, seek community, serve others, love others, and honor our God-given priorities and responsibilities. We choose God when we love Him in these tangible ways instead of indulging in sin.

    But when sin becomes a controlling desire, we are like the dog in Proverbs. We succumb to a sin pattern. In other words, we return to our vomit. And once we’re done, there’s regret and shame. And then there are consequences, because there are always consequences.

    But there’s hope and grace too, because we can go to God with our mess.

    Romans 2:4 says that God’s kindness leads to our repentance. Not our regret, our shame, or our consequences, but ultimately, it’s His kindness that draws us to Him. We are His. His work on the cross rinses the bad taste from our mouths. And once our mouths are clean and minty fresh, we crave more of this refreshing taste of God.

    I think of it like this. Right after I brush my teeth, or have a cleaning at the dentist, the last thing I want to do is chow down on a bag of chips and onion dip. I don’t want anything to interfere with the work that had just been completed. If anything, I want to keep up the good work, like go floss or rinse with mouthwash.

    It’s the wonderful power of the gospel. A taste of God makes us want another taste of God and another taste, until our sin becomes less and less appetizing.   We come to know and live the truth that satisfaction is found only in Christ. This is freedom.

    Reflection

    • Read Galatians 5:1 – “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Our sin is slavery. It holds us captive. Our guilt, our shame, our feelings of hopelessness and our seemingly inability to ever change handcuffs us even more. BUT Jesus promises freedom and His promises never fail.
    • What yokes of slavery do you submit to? Now, memorize this verse, as an act of declaring freedom from those things. Hiding His word in your heart (Psalm 119:11) is a way to stand firm. It is a tangible way to fight sin.

    Prayer

    Jesus, thank You for the grace and freedom You give me. I don’t have to earn it, ever. It is mine because I belong to You. I pray that I will become more and more satisfied in You. I want to live my life for You, truly free and wholly content. Help me to love You, Your word, and Your ways. Help me to express Your love to others. Amen.

    PC3 writer Donna Piner wrote today’s devotional.