Although Our Sins Are Scarlet…We Are Accepted

23rd January

Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.””

John 8:10-11

One of the greatest examples of God’s grace in the New Testament, is today’s story of the woman caught in adultery, found in John chapter 8. There is no getting away from the fact that the woman who had been found “in the very act of adultery” was completely guilty under Jewish law and by God’s holy standards. It is plain to see, clear as day, there in black and white; She was an adulteress. Yet Jesus’ response to this lady, was not one of condemnation but of acceptance, love and grace. Of course Jesus did not condone her actions at all. He clearly said to her, “Go and sin no more.” Jesus is against sin. Period. But rather than joining in with those who wanted to see her punished for her sin, Jesus truly showed why He came to this earth; to show God’s character of love, grace and acceptance. If there was anyone in the crowd that could condemn her, it would have been Jesus because He was without sin. But He didn’t.

This story really shows us an important picture about the character of God; both in our understanding of it, and our attitude to it. If God didn’t condemn a woman, who was clearly in the wrong, then how do you think He looks at us when we do wrong. With a stone in His hand, ready to throw at us? Never. He looks at us with His grace, bringing us into His embrace, as a loving parent to their child, gently reminding us of His grace and not condemnation, showing us His acceptance of who we are, and leading us into His holiness by forgiving our sin. Our crimson stains, our scarlet sins, are washed away by His love and made whole again in His grace.

Friends, know this. We are forgiven, loved and accepted, no matter how we look or what we have done. Go and sin no more, empowered by the grace you have received and changed by the radical love you are loved with.

Although Your Sins Are Scarlet…

21st & 22nd January

Weekend Edition

Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow. Though they are like red crimson, I will make them white as wool.”

Isaiah 1:18

Sin is serious. Sin has consequences. Sin leaves scars. Yet there is no sin that’s too big for God to forgive, to heal you of or to set you free from.

In today’s passage taken from the first chapter of Isaiah, God is communicating with the people of Judah. They had abandoned Gods laws, God’s righteousness and set out to live a life in opposition to Him. The first few verses in this chapter are almost like a conviction statement being read out in a court. The verdict was guilty. Even Jerusalem, once so faithful, is now branded as a promiscuous prostitute. The situation was looking bad.

Yet in the bleakness of utter condemnation, a light shone in the darkness… Gods never ending, unlimited resource of grace, love and mercy. The judge and prosecutor slams down the judgement… “Let’s settle this” He says. However, the next sentence absolutely blows the readers mind; “Though your sins are like scarlet” “though they are red like crimson”, “I will make them as white as snow” “as white as wool.” What a promise. God promised to not only forgive their sins, but to wash them completely clean in His love.. What love is that!

The interesting thing is that although God would and did forgive them, the fullness of that complete personal washing was only fully fulfilled at the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was made complete when the sinless Son of man, both fully human and fully God, came and gave His life as a sinless, spotless lamb, bearing our punishment on the cross. He had a clear conviction statement that declared we were guilty, yet in His goodness, presented Himself in our place, as our replacement.

Jesus’ words in Luke 4 are so ever true today, “He has sent Me to proclaim that CAPTIVES WILL BE RELEASED, THE BLIND WILL SEE AND THE OPPRESSED WILL BE SET FREE!” Take your healing, claim your forgiveness and be free. We are no longer prisoners, our ransom has been paid and our crimson stains are washed clean.

Keeping Our Eyes Ahead

20th January

Another said,”Yes, Lord, I will follow You, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plough and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:61-62

Sometimes in order to fully experience the living water of the Holy Spirit we need to let go of the past and give up what is holding us down. Let’s take a look.

In the last few verses of Luke chapter 9, Jesus educates three keen men, in what it means and costs to follow Him. In summary, Jesus highlights to these men that in order to follow Him, they have to fully surrender their hearts, even if it means there is a great cost. So often our response to Jesus’ call is, as the man Jesus is talking to said, … “BUT first let me…!” However, Jesus wants our whole heart, not part of it.

In verse 62 Jesus answers the “but first” statement with a profound statement of His own. “Anyone who puts a hand to the plough and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

If we are to fully surrender our lives and follow Christ, if we want to be fully washed and cleansed by the Living Water from His heart, then we simply cannot afford to live in the past. Looking back, after you have had your hand on the plough, implies that you are still living in the past. A farmer cannot plough a field if his eyes are not fully focused on the task. The plough would simply loose control and not dig up the fields evenly. So it is with our lives. If we keep looking back then we can never move forward.

What is hindering your today and your future? Are there things that you need to let go of in order to move forward in and with Christ? Looking forward may not always be clear and we may not always know where to go or what to do, but it encourages us to trust in God and lean on His guidance and know that our past is forgiven and that there is healing in His Name.

Fix your eyes on Jesus, follow Him, and you wont get lost.

 

Living Waters

19th January

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me! Anyone who believes in Me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from His heart.” (When He said “living water,” He was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in Him…..)”

John 7:37-39a

Are you thirsty? Do you feel spiritually dry? Well, there is good news! No this is not an advertising campaign for the newest organic drink nor is it a ‘how to make your life better in 10 steps’ farce. It is simply the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Good News about Jesus Christ. There are no steps to follow nor anything to buy. Jesus is available to all who believe. Jesus said time and time again, that He was a place of refuge and shelter for those tired, weary and needing rest. He is our burden carrier. He takes our worries from our shoulders. He sets us free and liberates us. Furthermore, because of Jesus’ ascension, we now have the Holy Spirit living in us, through us and among us, guiding us and filling us with His power.

It is the Holy Spirit’s power that washes through our lives, through our hearts and through our minds, purifying us from the pains, temptations and sins of the world. His living water flows through us and washes our spiritual aches and pains away.

This morning, as you wake up, challenge yourself to take a moment out of your day for a Holy Spirit infilling. You can sit quietly or stand up with your arms held high. Simply pray and allow the Holy Spirit’s ‘Rivers of living water’ to refresh you and overflow in you and around you!!

Prayer

Holy Spirit, I am dry, empty and in need of Your ‘Living Water’. Come and fill me once more. Wash out the muck in my life and fill me with more of You! I am thirsty and want to drink from the fountain that comes from Your heart.

Amen

The Sabbath Hypocrisy

18th January

Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed. But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision. . . For if the correct time of circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.””

John 7:21, 23-24

Earlier in John chapter 5, Jesus miraculously healed a man who had been lame for a long time. Instead of people rejoicing in this amazing miracle, the crowds (particularly the Pharisees) where enraged as this miracle happened to fall on the Sabbath; a day where no work should be done. The people missed out on the blessings of this great miracle, because they were too caught up in religiously following the law.

Yet Jesus, in John 7, points out a very interesting fact, that turns the table on the Pharisees’ and the Jewish people’s judgmental hypocrisy. He questioned why the people where angry with Him for healing a man on the Sabbath, when they too work on the Sabbath, if the time for circumcising a boy falls on the Sabbath day (eights days after the birth of the child). What is the difference?

Sadly, many of us too can fall into the same trap as the Pharisees. We judge people for things we deem to be wrong and not according to scripture, yet we too are doing the very thing we are judging others of. Jesus finishes His defence with these words, ‘Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.’ In other words, before you point the finger, take a moment to see what is really going on. Why is the person doing what they are doing? What’s going on spiritually in this person’s life? Before we are quick to judge others, let us too, reflect on our own actions. Look beneath the surface.

Who Else But YOU Jesus?!

17th January

Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.””

John 6:67-69

In John chapter 6, Jesus reveals to the crowds, that witnessed the miracle of the ‘feeding of the 5000’, the significance of it. Jesus said, that more than the miraculous physical provision of food, He wanted to feed the spiritually hungry with Himself. Jesus referred to Himself as the ‘Bread of Life,’ the food to satisfy our deepest longings, desires and needs. Yet many of Jesus’ listeners found it hard to accept this teaching, as they took it as literal and took offense at the imagery of eating Jesus’ body, particularly as this was being taught in the synagogue. As a sign of their offense, much of the crowd dispersed and deserted Jesus.

Of course Jesus was not encouraging cannibalism, but rather He was talking about Himself as being the spiritual food we so desperately need. The truth is, many of us are starving for the truth, for more than this world offers us, for hope, for love and for acceptance. When we accept Jesus into our lives, read His word (the Bible), it fills our cravings, almost as if we are eating. This is what Jesus meant. He meant that only He can satisfy us.

Peter knew this too. When Jesus asked him, ‘are you leaving too’, Peter replied and said ‘where else can we go? You have the words that give eternal life!’ Can we say today, that we are fully confident that there is no-where we can go that can compare to Jesus? He alone fills us until we are full; full of His love, His grace, His Kindness, and His mercy. He is the Bread of Life. Don’t look any further than Jesus for your spiritual food.

True Friendship

16th January

Then David took an oath before Jonathan and said, “Your father knows perfectly well about our friendship, so he has said to himself, ‘I won’t tell Jonathan – why should I hurt him?’ But I swear to you that I am only a step away from death! I swear it by the Lord and by your own soul!” “Tell me what I can do to help you.” Jonathan exclaimed.”

1 Samuel 20:3-4

True friendship is essential in our lives. Without it we are lost; A fact emphasized in the life of David and Jonathan. Let’s take a look why?

David was anointed King by the prophet Samuel, just before he went into battle with Goliath, the Philistine giant. David’s victory caused a great jealousy to rise in King Saul’s heart. His jealousy was so strong that he wanted to kill David. A fact made very obvious by Saul’s actions and attitudes. Jonathan, Saul’s son and probable heir to the throne (if it were not for Samuel’s prophecy), was David’s best friend. By all accounts they should not have even met, let alone be best friends. David at that time was a mere shepherd boy (although later upgraded to playing harp for Saul in his courts). Jonathan however, was the son of a King. The two should not have mixed, yet the scriptures tell us that there were best friends.

The day before the New Moon Festival, David fled to Naioth to find Jonathan in fear of his life. David knew that Saul was trying to kill him and he didn’t know what to do. After pouring his heart out to Jonathan, Jonathan says the following words of comfort to his friend, “tell me what I can do to help you.” These words are so deep on so many levels. Jonathan a King’s son, offering to help a servant boy. Not only that, but Jonathan’s offer of help, probably meant sacrifice for him too. Yet Jonathan, spurred on by his friendship with David, seemed happy to sacrifice his own life, his own inheritance, and perhaps maybe his relationship with his own father.

The friendship David and Jonathan had, highlights what true friendship means and what it looks like. It builds the other person up, even at their own expense and is there in times of need and in joy. Friendship listens, is stable and stands with the other when they can’t stand on their own.