Pardoner

Pardon (verb) –  to absolve from the consequences of a fault or crime; to allow (an offense) to pass without punishment; to relieve of a penalty improperly assessed (Merriam Webster).

The President of the United States has a virtually unlimited ability to pardon and commute sentences related to federal offenses, except in cases of impeachment.  Thanks to the checks and balances designed into our government, most presidential powers have limits. But the power to pardon is unlimited other than the President can’t pardon himself/herself.

Can you think of some high profile, controversial presidential pardons?  Gerald Ford pardoning Richard Nixon in 1974?  Jimmy Carter pardoning Vietnam draft dodgers in 1977?  If you live in IL, did you know Donald Trump recently pardoned former IL governor Rod Blagojevich for his federal corruption conviction related to the wheeling and dealing he did for President Obama’s senate seat?

In my opinion, the value of a pardon is directly related to the significance of the consequences and timing.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying a pardon after the sentence has been served or a posthumous pardon has no value.  There is something to be said about “clearing your name”.  But a pardon or commutation that cuts a prison term short or keeps someone from having to go to jail in the first place is much more valuable (just ask Rod B how good it felt to get out of jail 6 years early).

The attribute of God we are studying today is “pardoner”.  There is no better illustration than the gospel story.

We are all guiltyAll have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

We all deserve death – For the wages of sin is death…(Romans 6:23).

As long as we accept Jesus as savior, God pardons us – …as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

...we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2, 1-2).

The value of this pardon is…

  • The consequences of sin are significant – death is final
  • Timing is ideal – we can avoid eternal death by declaring faith in Jesus Christ before we die
  • It cannot be paid for or earned – it is a gift of God

…priceless.

Owner

2 Corinthians was written by Paul to God’s church in Corinth and to all the Christians throughout Greece. In this letter Paul was giving the Corinthian church the power to endure when they suffered for their faith. Corinth was a flourishing trade center and also one of the most immoral cities of its time. The Christian church would undoubtedly find difficulty in a place like this. I’m sure they faced criticism for their hope in Jesus and God’s plan for an abundant life.  Their attempts to share their faith often ended in suffering and discouragement. If not rooted in the truth and a daily communication with God it would be easy to be led astray and give up. Thankfully Paul listened to God’s plan and he continued to encourage the church to keep up their good work. To keep preaching the Good News of Christ even when it was difficult and didn’t seem to be making a difference.

Paul’s encouragement for the Corinthians is also for us today.  We are all looking at the circumstances of our world through different lenses, but as believers in Jesus our ultimate lens is God and the Bible.  As so much is happening in our world and there seems to be so much injustice and lies, what does Jesus ask of us? How are we supposed to share the truth of the Gospel while also grappling with so many questions and unknowns of our own? We are imperfect people following a perfect God. Thankfully, He knew we would struggle on our own so he sent the Holy Spirit as a helper. The Holy Spirit is the gift that comes when we accept Jesus.

Luke 15:26 “But I will send you the Counselor – the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and tell you all about me.”

In this verse Jesus uses 2 names for the Holy Spirit. The first is counselor which means the helping, encouraging, and strengthening work of the Spirit. The second is the Spirit of truth which lends itself to the teaching, illuminating, and reminding work of the Spirit. In these ways the Holy Spirit attends to both our heart and our mind. This is “God with us” on Earth. Have you had “AHA” moments when reading the Word? That’s the Holy Spirit. Have you been prompted to say something or do something in the name of Jesus that would not be your typical action? That’s the Holy Spirit. Has a verse come to mind in a certain situation? That’s the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:26 “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray but the Holy Spirit prays for us with groaning that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

Have you ever been on your knees with a situation, but there are no words to express what you need? The Holy Spirit is praying on your behalf – the words you do not have. There may be no one else that knows the real turmoil or circumstances, but God knows. Humbly kneeling at His feet in prayer is all it takes. And then trust and wait for the answer. It may just be comfort or peace instead of resolution. But the peace will be undeniable.

2 Corinthians 1:17-22   It is God who gives us, along with you, the ability to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment of everything he will give us.

The Holy Spirit guarantees that we belong to God and will receive his benefits. Ephesians 1:13,14 says, “And now you have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us everything he promised and that he has purchased us to he his own people. This is just one more reason for us to praise our glorious God”.

I pray that you find great comfort in the knowledge that you belong to God as his son or daughter. He has given you the gift of the Holy Spirit to come alongside and help guide and direct all of your steps.  The Holy Spirit is a free gift from the “owner” of your soul. If you are feeling alone, or questioning where you belong – Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for YOU! To have a relationship with you. The Holy Spirit is just a glimpse of eternity.

 

One Greater Than

The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.

I love reading the daily verses and learning more about God’s living words.  They are truly a lamp for my feet, and a light on my path.  (Psalm 119:105) Today’s verses look at Jesus talking to the Pharisees and religious leaders who are still wanting to see a sign. The Pharisees and religious leaders said they wouldn’t believe until they saw a sign. (Really, Jesus had performed many signs throughout His time already)-you have to have eyes to see, and ears to hear. (Look at Jeremiah 5:21, Matthew 13:15, Ezekiel 12:2, Isaiah 6:10, Acts 28:27).

Jesus explains in His storybook parable fashion to the leaders that someone greater than Jonah and someone greater than Solomon is here.  It’s Him! Still, just hearing it wasn’t enough. Think back to the words spoken by someone who led you too knowing Jesus. Are we ever still asking for a sign?  The New Life Version of Hebrews 11:1 says Now faith is being sure we will get what we hope for. It is being sure of what we cannot see.  Jesus gives us signs all the time.  We just need to believe.  The journey we are on with Jesus are packed full of glorious days.  Most days I can miss these moments because my prideful self can get in the way.  Yes, there will be trials and temptations that will happen along the way, but we have our Lord on our side.  Our journey needs to be lived with eyes open and ears ready to hear without always needing a sign.  Our days are engineered by a perfect God that has His next perfect plan ready for you today when you let go of our grip on life and trust in Him.  It’s scary at times, hard to comprehend, and goes against many worldly ways that we are surrounded by daily.  There are no other things Greater than Jesus!

Is anything holding you back today from sharing the greatest part of your life? Your testimony is living proof of Jesus. He is our constant companion and He has already done enough by dying on the cross for your sins and mine.  We have all fallen short but Jesus was willing to sacrifice himself to pay for all our sins. The more we meditate on His words we see all the promises Jesus kept and has in store for us when we believe.

He is Greater than the pain you are going through today.  He is Greater than any virus.  Nothing compares to the One who is Greater than it all.  Jesus!

Dear Heavenly Father,

God, there is nothing in this life greater than you.  Help me never forget this. You hold this world and everything in it in your hands.  You hold our lives.  Let us not take your loving greatness for granted. Help us to always have open ears and eyes and present to us today an opportunity to tell of your greatness.  Amen

Romans 8:28-29 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

 

The One and Only Son

 

Today’d Reading : John 1:14; 3:16

Today, I asked my mother to be a guest writer and she graciously accepted. I have over the years learned so many things from her that has created the person I am today.  I am happy to share her inspiration with you as well.  Be Blessed

One And Only Son!

John, “the beloved disciple,” who belonged to the “inner circle” of Jesus’ followers gives an account of Jesus’ life and that it is centered on knowing God by believing in Jesus Christ.

Sunday, June 21, 2020 was recognized and celebrated as “Father’s Day” in our Western society.  Fathers, grandfathers and God-fathers spent memorable time with their children and families.  In many homes, there were fathers who thought about their sons and daughters—and how he could guide them, inspire them and protect them.   There are many fathers who are blessed and who have been blessed to have only one child and some were blessed to have only one son.  And you can only imagine the love these fathers have for their one and only son.  This brings to mind, “Only Begotten Son,” and its meaning—the only offspring of its father. Only begotten describes the unique, loving relationship of the Son with the Father.

This week’s segment is on “One And Only Son” focuses on John 1:14 and John 3:16.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  –John 1:14  NIV

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  –John 3:16  NIV

John,“the beloved disciple,” outlines and illustrates Jesus’ journey, character, teachings and miracles.  God’s desire and unconditional love is that everyone would be saved.  God sent Jesus in the flesh, so that man, could see and understand, be aware, be knowledgeable and saved for eternal life.  Jesus identified himself with humanity by becoming flesh.

In John, chapter 3, Jesus is teaching and describing the “new birth” in order to receive the glory of God and eternal life with God. Jesus describes this “new birth” in the conversation with Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader, scholar and Pharisee. Most Pharisees were intensely jealous of Jesus because he undermined their authority and challenged their views. But Nicodemus, a believer, was searching for some answers, the truth about God.  Perhaps Nicodemus was afraid of what his peers, the Pharisees, would think about his visit with Jesus, so that is why he sought Jesus at night after dark. Like Nicodemus, we must seek Jesus for ourselves with an open mind and heart.  Chapter 3, verse 3, Jesus states,

“I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God.” Nicodemus asked, “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”    Jesus replied, “The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.  Humans can only reproduce human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from Heaven.  So, don’t be surprise of my statement that you must be born again.  Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” 

 Jesus explains here that we cannot control the works of the Holy Spirit.  God works in ways we cannot predict or understand.  We cannot control our physical birth; nor can we control the spiritual birth.  It is a gift from God through the Holy Spirit.

In order to have “eternal life,” chapter 3, verse 16 states,

“…so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

To “believe” is more than an intellectual agreement that Jesus is God.  It means to put our trust and confidence in Him that Jesus alone can save us.  “Believing” is putting Christ in charge of our plans and eternal destiny. “Believing” is both trusting His words as reliable and relying on Him for the power to change.  Christ is able to change those we might consider unreachable. If you have never trusted Christ, let this promise of everlasting life be yours—and believe.

As Christians, we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and He came to save us; we believe that He lived among us and taught us. We believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose in the Holy Spirit.   We believe our sins are forgiven, if we repent.  We believe Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. Eternal life is God’s life embodied in Christ and is given to all believers now as a guarantee that they will have eternal life.  In eternal life there is no death, no sickness, no enemy, no evil or sin.  As Christians, we receive this new life by faith and begin to evaluate all that happens from an eternal perspective.

Prayer:   Almighty God, thank you for sending your “only begotten son” to save the world from sin. Lord Jesus, by faith, I gratefully receive your gift of salvation.  I believe you are the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead on the third day.  Thank you for bearing my sins and giving me the gift of eternal life.  I believe your Words are true. Please come and remain in my heart, Lord Jesus, and be my Savior.   Amen.  

Omega

How many things have a definite start and finish?  What can you think of that has a distinct beginning and ending?  I used to be a competitive swimmer so the concept of start and finish was ingrained in my head.  The beginning of a swimming race would start with an official gun start.  The end of a race would be my hand slamming into the wall to stop the clock ASAP!  There was no messing around because the fastest time won the race.  When I was finished there was no going back, what was done was done.   The race happened between the beginning and the end and then it was over.

This is so different from our Heavenly Father.  Our race begins and ends with Jesus if we so choose, but because He is the Omega, our life never truly ends.  

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Revelation 1:8

This verse reminds us that God is our Omega:  “Who is to come.”  These are awe-inspiring words.  It is hard to even understand what these words mean.  We understand a definite beginning and ending, but what does it mean that He is to come?  

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines Omega as the extremes of the final part.  Other words for Omega are the last, conclusion, and perfection.  Our earthly stories will one day come to an end.  They will be filled with ups and downs and well as hard and easy.  If Jesus Christ is our end, or our Omega, we can look forward to a happily ever after with Him.  

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”  The he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  He said to me:  “It is done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.

Revelation 21: 5 & 6

Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last.  Jesus is the beginning and the end.  The length of His life on earth was not the extent of Him.  He existed with God in the beginning and will reign with Him forever.  God is timeless and His power is limitless.  Everything begins with God and will somehow end with Him.  

God, thank you for being the before, the now, and the forever after.  We know You never end and You never leave us.  You are the only constant within our lives.  You are the only constant beyond our lives.  We praise You for your boundless presence!  You are the Omega, “Who is to come.”

Offering and Sacrifice to God

Ephesians 5:2 – “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Why do you do kind things for people? Who do you do kind things for? From small, simple gestures to profoundly generous gifts, we Christians use acts of kindness as one form of doing good. In Ephesian 4:32, Paul commands us, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” In coming to Christ and becoming more like Him, we put aside the selfishness and impurity of our pre-Christ days and are called to display our new life through doing what is pleasing to the Lord, such as forgiving and showing kindness to others.

But Ephesians 5:2 raises this conviction within me: how do I love sacrificially, as Christ did? Back in the Old Testament, people would offer sacrifices to God to atone for sin, ask for forgiveness, as acts of humility or fellowship, or to give to God what is rightfully His, among other reasons. The smoke from these burnt offering would often be described as “fragrant”, and people would hope the Lord found the aroma from their sacrifices pleasing. The Israelites were called to give their always give their best, as in Leviticus 22:20: “You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable for you.” The specific phrasing “without blemish” comes up again and again. I remember as well in 2 Samuel 24:24, the old King David saying “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” The Lord deserves the best we have to give Him, for ultimately all we have comes from Him. Moreover, a sacrifice must be exactly that; it has to truly cost us something, be it our time, money, work, or however you may give. For if you don’t really feel the effects of your giving, how truly sacrificial is it?

What greater sacrifice could there be than the sacrifice Christ made on the cross? The blameless and spotless Son of God offered Himself as a sacrifice for our atonement. And just as Paul commands of the church at Ephesus here, so does he say to us that our actions should emanate a love that mirrors Christ’s death. Christ did not low-ball our eternal salvation. He did not try to bargain His contribution to the forgiveness of our sins. The lamb of God, without blemish, gave everything on our behalf.

We recently went through Romans in our church, and one verse that has particularly stuck with me on sacrificial love was Romans 5:8: “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The recurring, humbling thought I have that ties to this verse in Ephesians is how incredible Christ is that He would willingly accept death for someone who totally did not deserve it. Yet despite us being unredeemed at that time, Christ showed us sacrificial love on a level beyond understanding of those who stake their existence solely in this life. That is the incomparable quality of the offering raised on behalf of our sanctification. That mind-blowing love is what we are called to live, just as Christ did.

So again, why do you do kind things, and who do you do them for? Are your kind deeds reserved for those who deserve it? Are they done only for those close to you, so you may personally see and enjoy the benefits of those kind acts? Or are they done for all, unseen acts of kindness, even for those who you find it difficult to show kindness to? Or those who’ll never know you for your actions, nor repay you for your works? Do you give for the glory of God? By our own ambitions, it can be easier to give to those who you already know; but what of all those with hardened hearts and hopeless lives, the lost sheep who need Christ’s incomparable love more than anything else they’ll find in this life? Just as Christ offered Himself for all of us when we were not justified or deserving, the world needs us more than ever to show this Christ-centered and Christ-glorifying love.

Offering

Today’s reading is from what some refer to as “The Great Eight,” in Romans chapter 8. When I think of so many of the great verses in this chapter, Romans 8:3 isn’t one that really comes to my mind at least until this assignment today, but it might arguably be the most important one.

“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,”

Within the last year our church did what we called a “Barnabas offering” through members selling something of value and giving it to the church, modeling what Barnabas did in Acts 4:36-37 when he sold a field of his. I must admit that when I began thinking about what to sell, the first things that came to mind were things that would bring value, but yet I would not really care about and likely never miss in the future. When I was thinking about my offering, I was not thinking about my best and first sadly.

When God thought about the offering He could give us for the forgiveness of OUR sin, He did not think about the smallest and easiest way He could bail us out for our transgressions…He gave us His best and first, His Son. He was willing to let His own Son pay the price in the worst, but only perfect, way for our sins. Although He gave us the Law, He knew all the way back in Genesis 3:15 right when sin entered the world that we could not keep it, and He would have to give us His best and first offering to bring us back to be one with Him in the way we were before sin entered the world. He knew that giving up His Son who was in the flesh and faced all the pains, problems, challenges, and temptations of this world, yet did not sin, as a sacrifice was the only way to truly free us and help us also realize the perfect love He has for us.

Pastor and author Mark Batterson said once when you see the word “therefore”…you should take note and see what it is there for. Typically, when “therefore” is used by an author it is used after many other sentences to then highlight the true point of everything before it. However, Paul actually starts out Romans 8 with “therefore” in Romans 8:1…

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Paul started out with “therefore” in Romans 8:1 because he wanted to highlight from the beginning how important it is that because of God’s perfect offering in His Son Jesus, we are not punished for our sins. He paid the price already, so that despite our transgressions, we can live with Him forever in Heaven. Let us begin our day today by thanking Him for the only perfect offering possible in His Son Jesus. Personally, with today being our daughter Reese’s 5th birthday, it underscores even more how big of deal it is that He gave you and me His very own.

Obedient Son

 

 

Luke 2:51, Phil 2:8, Heb 5:8

 

Do you remember being a kid and the thoughts that rolled through your mind when you were forced to follow rules or do jobs you didn’t want to do? Did you think, “I can’t wait to be an adult so no one can tell me what to do, and I’ll get to do whatever I want to do, all of the time”?  If only that were true… Obviously now that we are on the other side of childhood we see that the demands on our time choices, societal rules, government regulations and work responsibilities far outweigh the 15 minute jobs assigned to us as kids like sweeping out the garage or picking strawberries. Most of us would welcome childhood tasks over our daily adult responsibilities these days. As kids, we couldn’t understand the weight that our parents were carrying or the discipline they were trying to teach us by requiring some tasks. What is the saying? “You don’t know what you don’t know”!

Today we get to look at three different places in the Bible that tell us about Jesus choosing to be obedient as a human to human parents, to human government and to His Father while here on earth. I don’t think we can begin to comprehend what that was like for Him. Humbling, humiliating, uncomfortable, painful, frustrating…all words that weakly describe what leaving Heaven and His King’s throne to become human must have been like for Him. But He did it. He chose to complete the plan. He humbly left His home and rightful spot in heaven and lived an entire human life with family, work, friends and a mission that we can never fully understand the weight of, because He loves us. He wanted to make a way for us be able to have relationship with Him. We are that important to Him.

Every year as Jesus was growing up, His family made the trip to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. The year that He was around 12 years old, His family headed for home at the end of the celebration and at the end of the first travel day his parents realized Jesus wasn’t with them. Panic! They returned to the city and eventually found Him in the Temple sitting among the teachers and listening to them and asking questions. His parents were frustrated with Him for not sticking with the family and He responded to them by asking why they had to search for Him. Didn’t they know that He must be in His Father’s house? They didn’t understand what He meant. Luke 2:51 says that “He returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.” Such a short simple sentence, but its meaning and action are loaded with more weight, humiliation, and patience than we can understand. Philippians 2:6-8 explains my point beautifully. “Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and He died a criminal’s death on a cross.” The commentary I read on Heb 5:8 says that, “Jesus’ human life was not a script that He passively followed. It was a life that He chose freely. It was a continuous process of making the will of God the Father His own. Jesus chose to obey even though obedience led to suffering and death.”

I think that sometimes I downplay in my mind what human life was actually like for Jesus. I tell myself that He was perfect, He was mighty, He knew all and because of these traits, He had a special “hall pass” from the frustration of life. But now that I think through this in light of His name “Obedient Son” I realize that being God made human life harder instead of easier. He faced the same things we face during His entire life, but He knew who He was and that He could remove Himself from the situation at any second. He chose daily to stay. He also knew the perfect home He left and His position of King over all and still He chose to leave it behind to complete the plan. Knowing what His future on earth held for Him, He chose to sacrifice His life and give it for us. He chose the ultimate gift of love, His life for ours. No other can or will offer you this.

Need Meeter

I feel like I am drowning each day by one thing…money. I am only twenty-five years old, and I am concerned with the amount of money that is in my bank account every day. Growing up, my family was always in debt. My parents went through a bankruptcy, which always instilled fear of the same happening to myself. I face that fear each day as I struggle with the amount of student loan debt that I have. Worry and anxiety overcome, and I always feel like I don’t have enough.

We all have our own needs that make us worry and put fear in us. Some of us have family and/or relationship issues. Others are constantly dealing with health concerns.No matter the case, we all are attempting to find ways to fulfill the needs we have in our lives. What if we had one person who could take care of each need?

God is the only one that can provide for all of our needs. No matter what it is, God is present in your life and will carry you through whatever you need. In Philippians 4:19, Paul writes, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”. Paul is telling us that God loves us beyond what we can imagine, that He will take care of it. It doesn’t matter if it is health, money, relationships, etc., God supplies everything we need.

How can we know this is true? What proof do we have? Beyond the countless examples in the Bible, there is one example that trumps all else, the way God provided His Son to pay for our sins. We require a Savior. Without a Savior, we are destined to be drawn to sin. Sin leads us to be disconnected from God. God loves us so much that He supplied a sacrifice that would be for everyone, His Son Jesus.

Each one of our needs is different. We all carry burdens that weigh on us. However, we need to stop living each day, worrying about areas of our lives that God already has a plan for. We need to trust in Him and His promises to us. God will always provide and has a plan for us.

He Shall Be Called a Nazarene

Where were you born?  Where did you grow up?  What city are you from?  The Bible makes reference to different groups of people as Jews, Gentiles, Romans, Ethiopians, and the like.

Since civilization began, we have given names or labels to people to describe them. Names derive from where someone is from, their religion, their language, or sometimes the color of their skin.  Maybe you are a Texan, Bostonian, Californian, or a New Yorker. Labels are relevant today in a world addressing racism.

What I do know is that those have a true heart for Jesus love and support all people, dialects, skin colors, and languages.  Sadly, some of the most hateful and horrible instances of racism have come from people who call themselves “Christians.”  Sin is prevalent in all of us but most disappointing is the underlying hate or silence from Christians who claim to follow Christ.  Their action or inaction is no different than those who openly discriminate.

Martin Luther King Jr said “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

To truly have a heart full of Jesus and glorify Him, we must be honest with ourselves. Do we discriminate?  Are our thoughts and hearts pure?  I am focused on removing any bias from my heart and mind, so I can openly listen and understand.  I may never know what true discrimination feels like but I want to impact change in the circles of my world.

We are human and the Bible says we will all stand before the throne of God some day, “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” (Revelations 7:9).  I commit to being an example and activator of positive change in my family and community.  I commit to praying for the conversion and cleansing of hateful hearts.  I commit to calling out direct and indirect actions of discrimination and bias.

Matthew 2:23 says “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which as spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.’”  Beside Nazarene, Jesus carried many labels and ultimately was murdered by people who hated him.  He was crucified and suffered a horrific death because of his ministry.  Even through the persecution, discrimination, and strife, Jesus taught love and forgiveness.

I would ask that we all be honest with ourselves to understand how we can contribute to an equitable world.  How can we genuinely listen, remove our bias, and rid ourselves of naivety related to discrimination?  Take action, speak up, be an example, and advocate to be a Godly person, even when no one is else is watching.  Let’s start with ourselves and impact change and a movement in our hearts and homes first.

Please pray for divine intervention in hearts, minds, and relationships.   Please pray that the Holy Spirit will use this time to glorify His Kingdom, bring love into hearts and souls, encourage repentance, and pray that the offenders of prejudice will be changed and fall into the loving arms of Jesus.