No Matter What

Today’s reading is John 8:1-19.

We will focus mostly on the first portion about the woman who the Pharisees brought to Jesus for committing adultery. They were attempting to trap Jesus by saying she must be stoned based on the Law of Moses for committing this sin. But, Jesus did the unexpected. He told them whoever was without sin should throw the first stone and not only did they not stone her, but they walked away from oldest to youngest. Jesus then told her He would not condemn her either and to go and sin no more. He gave her both grace and truth. If we are willing to walk away from our sins, He’ll wash away our sins.

John 3:17 reads…

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”

About this time last year, I remember interacting with a gentleman in park in New York City on the Spread Truth mission trip. This man was brought up going to church and was very knowledgeable about many world religions. He specifically stated that He was not a Christian because he thought the idea that God would humble Himself to become man and suffer the way Jesus did was ludicrous. He said if there truly was a God, he would show his power and might and condemn humans because essentially if he was God that’s what he would do. He’s right…we can’t fathom the idea of what God did because we, as sinful humans, would show our power and judge others as the Pharisees did and expected Jesus to do. I sin a lot and in many different ways, but if I were to count each one and label by type, judging others would be near the top of the list. We expect God is like us and would do the same, but He’s not. He tells us in Isaiah 55:8-9 that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours, therefore it’s hard to fathom what He did through Jesus.

As a child, I remember sort of wondering what the big deal was with Jesus dying on the cross at some level because other people die in the act of helping someone like police officers and fire fighters. What was the big deal about Jesus doing it? It wasn’t until I was an adult and realized that Jesus was the only person to walk the Earth without sin, and even just one sin permanently separates us from God without his perfect death on the cross (Romans 3:23). Only when I was able to wrap my arms around this and that He didn’t have to suffer for us, but willingly did and brings us together again with Him and gives us the free gift of eternal life through His death on the cross could I fully appreciate what God has done (Romans 6:23). Actually, as hard as I try, I’m probably still much like the Pharisees and the man in the park, it’s just hard to fathom.

As I’ve mentioned before, I feel one of the main ways God reaches me and connects to my life is through music. This time is no different. Recently, friends and family have been directly or indirectly impacted by depression. Depression can come for many reasons, but I have to believe many circumstances are due to the weight of past sins or feeling like the person is insufficient and doesn’t measure up. If you or someone you know suffers from depression, I hope this amazing song, “No Matter What,” can bring you or them peace and comfort. Every single one of us, even those perceived to be very successful and appearing to have everything going for them, are insufficient without Him. He is enough though. He makes us whole and perfect to God despite all our failures and imperfections. No matter what.

The Freeing Power of Forgivness

I (Luke) just got married this past June to my beautiful wife Caitlin. We have a little apartment that we call home and are truly content with the little we have. I have always been someone who learns from others. Growing up, I looked up to my dad and learned as much as I could by watching. As I have grown into adulthood, I’ve started to learn from people in my field of work. I enjoy hearing their story and really talking to them about life and work.

“What’s your goal?” you might ask. My goal is to get ahead of the curve. I don’t want to hit the speed bumps that others have hit because I am a firm believer in learning from mistakes, even if I didn’t make the mistakes myself.

Now, let’s talk about marriage. I don’t think I had any way to fully prepare for the refining process that marriage truly brings into your life. In the past 7 months, I have learned so much about how broken I am as a human being. Before marriage, I was a big shot; I was confident and people knew it. There was no one in my life to keep me in line, and as I went through adulthood, I started to create these habits that stuck with me. Some were good, but most were bad. As the first few months of marriage went by, those “habits” came out in plain sight, and boy was that not fun. I felt “dirty.” The great news was that my wife showed me grace and forgave me countless times. Jesus has done that too throughout my life, but it’s now just becoming more visible to me.

Matthew 18 has a parable in it that talks about forgiveness. The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant reads:

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.[g] 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.[h] 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant[i] fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,[j] and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,[k] until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

This parable shows the power of forgiveness that we can have in each of our daily lives, and especially in our marriages.

Carefully read this story. The servant pleads for mercy from the king, and the king finds it in his heart to forgive the servant of all of his debt and his baggage. Everything he owes to the king is gone in an INSTANT!

You might be able to relate to this better.  Think about if someone came to you and paid your house off or even your car off. How would that feel? No more mortgage payments… no more car payments.

You’d feel free, right?

Now, think of that from a spiritual aspect. In your life, what is your baggage and what are the things you are holding on to? God is ready to take those from you; all you need to do is ask. Ask for forgiveness for your sins, and I promise you, God will be happy to take that baggage from you.

Remember, this street goes both ways. You need to remember whose baggage you can take in your life. Who have you been holding back from forgiving? Who has done that one hateful deed that you just can’t seem to forgive? It’s in THOSE times you need to remember that our Holy Father chooses to forgive us of all our hateful or sinful actions. Why can’t we do the same for our brother or sister?

Forgiveness is freeing. Remember that as you go about your Thursday!