My Consequence and My Pardon

I am a sinner saved by grace and in this present world, I will never be anything else. That doesn’t mean that the grace I’ve received is a cloak for evil. My profession of faith isn’t a ticket to sin without punishment. What I do avoid by my acceptance of Christ is what the Bible describes as the “second death”. I believe in Judgment Day and on that Day the pardon I’ve received through faith in Jesus will keep me safe from the final death of spirit and soul that I and all human beings deserve. Jesus didn’t die to make me a moral person. Jesus died to give me and anyone else who will accept it, eternal life. Jesus died in order to reunite God and man. Faith in Jesus isn’t a matter of morality. It is a matter of life or death. However, I am changed by having Jesus at the center of my life and my desire to sin is diminished by my greater desire to please God. The gift of eternal life is a morally transforming gift.

As a sinner saved by grace, I still suffer the consequences when I sin. Those consequences are natural and inescapable. No one is able to break God’s Law and avoid what those wrong actions create even if they escape human punishment. I have been sick for the better part of forty years now, due to a serious sin I committed against myself as a teenager. I have changed my life since then and there are those who love me and think that God is being very unfair toward me in allowing me to suffer for a mistake I made as a child. I know that if God hadn’t intervened in my life, I never would have been able to change my life, and I would most likely be dead, forever separated from God. My illness is simply the natural consequence attached to my sin and part of my cross to bear. Others doubt my faith or think I suffer needlessly because my faith is weak but my faith doesn’t come from me. It too is a gift from God and the consequences I endure prove the durability of my precious gift. Without Christ, I would be a physically broken bitter old woman. With Christ, I am a physically broken joyful old woman. All that should have embittered me has taught me empathy and opened many doors into the lives of others that enable me to share God’s love and comfort with my fellow, suffering sinners. The consequence of my foolish actions keeps me humble and in a position that allows God to work through me more effectively. I endure because I know ultimately, my healing is coming. Because Jesus died for me, I will physically die only once, and I will rise again to live with Him in a better world.

As a sinner saved by grace, I also suffer as a result of the sins of others. In fact, some of those sins are what drove me, as a child, to use drugs. However, I am still accountable for my actions as those who hurt me are accountable for theirs. The sin I committed against myself hurt me, hurt the people who loved me, hurt the people who love me now, and most of all hurt my Heavenly Father. My sin put Jesus on the cross and His physical sacrifice made it possible for me to be granted forgiveness from God. In the same way, I a sinner must forgive those who sinned against me. That doesn’t mean they will accept my forgiveness by taking responsibility for their actions. I can’t do their part of restoring our relationship. I can’t force what even God doesn’t force upon others. It does mean that I pardon them just as in Christ I am pardoned. I am unable to do this on my own but because Jesus lives in me by faith, the Holy Spirit enables me to do what is humanly impossible.

This is what the cross means personally, to me. I know it sounds very foolish to most but that is the power and the ultimate wisdom of the cross of Christ. True foolishness is to reject the free gift of eternal life by denying the price Jesus paid to obtain it and then offer it freely to all who will believe. True foolishness is to deny the fallen state of mankind and our need for God. We can never be Him and will only die trying. My prayer during this time of year when the world considers the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is that eyes and hearts will be opened to realize the need for salvation found only, at the foot of the cross of Christ. Please, accept your pardon today.

 

 

The Source of Genuine, Indestructible Joy

My joy isn’t dead, no matter how I feel. Even though everything on my plate is seasoned with pain, Jesus lives! Though the boot-heal of oppression bears down in an attempt to grind me into dust, my hope is un-crushable. Even when my happiness shatters and all those I love move beyond my embrace, love isn’t carnal or mortal. When my body is broken, then passed around as bread and my blood becomes a drink, a sacrifice consumed but unrecognized, Jesus is my validation. He walked this path before me. He set the standard. True sacrifice isn’t made in hopes of personal reward. Though I fall and the weight of this cross I bear is too much for me to lift again to carry, God’s ultimate plan remains. When my eyes are blind with the tears of sorrow and agony causes me to no longer care, a new blast of His breath enters me and by His strength I rise to move forward. Though the sting of sin poisons everything I see and touch by the fulfillment of His Will, not mine, I will press beyond Death’s boundary and reach the ultimate prize. In Jesus I possess indestructible joy which He bought by His obedience and blazed the Way predestined for me to follow. This narrow path I must walk despising all worldly gain. I am nearer now to the finish than I was yesterday. Though in this world I endure suffering and can’t always feel my joy, when I finish this race, my agony will melt away. When my body dies to become ashes and dust, I know Death has no power over my soul. Though this present night is deepening, soon the Son will rise with healing in His wings! When morning comes, my feet will rest on the eternal shore. I will forget the effects of sin’s painful sting and cry no more. Jesus is my eternal joy.

Job 42:1-6 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”