Do you know the forgiveness of the Lord?

“If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” (Ps 130:3-4)

There is a wonderful truth in this verse. One we couldn’t live without. One that would keep us from hope and lead us into despair if it weren’t true. With the Lord there is forgiveness.

Despite our sin our against him, which is plentiful and heinous, the Lord offers forgiveness. He doesn’t hold sin against those who repent and seek His face, desiring to walk according to His ways.

He forgives because He absorbs the cost. He can absorb the cost and be just because of Jesus. Jesus has always been the Father’s plan to deal with our sin. He is not plan b. He is not an afterthought. Jesus is plan A through and through. Because Jesus was coming and the Father’s plan would come to fruition, the Psalmist can write 1000’s of years earlier about the Father’s forgiveness.

Do you know the forgiveness of the Lord? Is Jesus your Savior? Your hope?

Rest, your sins are really forgiven

as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Ps 103:12

Our God is a God who forgives. He does not hold our sins against us. If you are in Christ, you do not need to pay for your past sins, your current sin, or your future sins. God has forgiven you, not on the basis of your works. You are clearly sinful and need forgiveness. Rather, He has forgiven you based on Jesus’ work.

God’s forgiveness is not universal. It is, as the Psalmist goes on to say in the next verse:

as a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

Ps 103:13

In order to receive forgiveness, we must fear the Lord. Fear does not solely refer to fear of judgment, though God is our Judge. Fears primary use in this context is that of reverence for the Lord. To revere the Lord, we must recognize Him for who He is — our Creator, Sustainer, Provider, Judge, Lord, all wise, loving, caring Father who shows steadfast love, but does not pardon the guilty.

Those who revere God desire to honor and glorify Him with their life by living according to His wisdom and purposes. They turn from self to God, understanding salvation is found in Him alone. Only Jesus could die in our place as our substitutionary sacrifice. Only Jesus could atone for our sins, repairing our relationship with the Father. Only Jesus could allow the Father to remain holy while He forgives our sins, not holding them against us, separating them from us as far as the East is from the West.

Do you fear the Lord? Or are you attempting to pay for your sins with your own works?

On Christmas

On this side of eternity, Christmas is still a promise. Yes, the Savior has come, and with him peace on earth, but the story is not finished. Yes, there is peace in our hearts, but we long for peace in our world.

Every Christmas is still a “turning of the page” until Jesus returns. Every December 25th marks another year that draws us closer to the fulfillment of the ages, that draws us closer to…home.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you long for peace in the world this Christmas?
  2. Do you long for home?

Resources

Joni Eareckson Tada, A Christmas Longing, 137 via Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus edited by Nancy Guthrie

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On Isaiah 9:6 & Jesus’ Incarnation

The Son of God did not want to be seen and found in heaven. Therefore he descended from heaven into this humility and came to us in our flesh, laid himself into the womb of his mother and into the manger and went on to the cross.

This was the ladder that he placed on earth so that we might ascend to God on it.

Question for Reflection

  1. What should our response be to Jesus’ incarnation?

Resources

Martin Luther on Isaiah 9:6 via Stephen J. Nichols, Peace: Classic Readings for Christmas, 56-57.

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On Church Discipline

Discipline is not the “final straw” where judgment is pronounced.

Biblical church discipline is a culture of accountability, growth, forgiveness, and grace that should permeate our churches.

Each member of the church has a responsibility to help others as they struggle with sin – not through judgment and criticism, but rather with gentleness and an eye toward restoration, knowing that he too is subject to temptation (Gal. 6:1).

Matthew 18 does not describe some kind of alternative to litigation; it is a primer on how we lovingly engage one another, patiently exhausting lesser steps (for example, going in person) before moving to greater ones (for example, taking it to the church).

Questions for Reflection

  1. How do you think of Church Discipline? Does it have a negative connotation to you?
  2. Do you have a culture of accountability, growth, forgiveness, and grace in your church?

Resources

Table Talk Magazine, August 2013, pg 25.

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On Forgiveness

All sin breaches our relationship with God, but we must never think that the Lord will refuse us if we humble ourselves and return to Him with true contrition.

He longs to take us back, and His willingness to forgive His children is infinite.

No matter where we are or what we have done, we can be confident that God will pardon us if we forsake our sin and turn to Christ alone for our pardon. That is the magnitude of His grace. That is the mercy of the God whom we serve in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Questions for Reflection

  1. How do you think of God’s grace and mercy alongside His justice?
  2. What is the key to the Lord taking us back?

Resources

Table Talk Magazine, Devotional from July 4th

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