When we fall down

wordswag_1514982912194The title is correct.  It is not “if” but rather, “when.” One of the things I love about the inspired Word is that the stories of the ‘heroes of faith’ get told in full, without censoring out the ugly stuff! Abraham, the father of the faithful, lied about Sarah’s identity to save his own skin. David, the man who loved God wholeheartedly, lusted for Bathsheba, wife of Uriah, and ended up conspiring to murder. Peter vehemently swore he did not know Jesus when he felt threatened.  Later on, he compromised his Christian conviction about God’s acceptance of all people and exercised prejudice against the Gentile believers.

Today I write to encourage renewal and hope. The lie persists both inside of us and in the Christian church that failure makes us unacceptable to God, unworthy of His service.  Jesus’ interaction with Peter on the shore of Galilee says otherwise.  Peter was so demoralized by his denial of the Lord that he went back to fishing.  One morning, after a night of fruitless effort, the resurrected Lord came to the beach.  He did not berate Peter.  He restored him – with confrontation, confession, and commission! “After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17, NLT)   Three denials, three affirmations!

When we fail, God offers forgiveness and restoration. How does it happen?  Look at this amazing passage.  Speaking of the efficacy of the sacrifices of lambs and bulls to atone for the sins of the Old Testament faithful, the Word then tells us – “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:14-15, NIV)

Christ Jesus holds out His hand to us and restores us to our Father; a Mediator of the Holy Promise!
His grace is free, but it is not cheap.
And it is not a Band-Aid™ to temporarily soothe us;
it is a healing experience that empowers us for a whole new kind of life.

Here in the opening days of this New Year, we must not become obsessed with living a flawless life. Instead, we will choose to celebrate God’s grace. The paradox of holiness is that it is first declared by God, and then grows in us. We cannot perfect ourselves, but He can, and will, make us whole. Paul might have spent his life after meeting Christ filled with shame and regret for his persecution of Christians, a kind of spiritual leper, crying “Unclean! Unworthy!”  He did not! Instead, he accepted the forgiveness of the Lord and help of Barnabas and gave us half of our New Testament by the inspiration of the Spirit!  Might have been thinking about his part in the stoning death of Stephen even as he wrote that ‘there is no condemnation for those who in Christ?

His words about God’s grace move me deeply. “With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2, The Message) “Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.” (Romans 8:6, The Message)  “If God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about.” (Romans 8:8-9, The Message)

Are there some dark chapters  in your story?
Does some temptation whisper its seduction in your heart?
Is fear fighting with faith in your chest?

Stop soaking  in self-pity. Refuse to listen to the lie that you are unworthy. Cling to the Mediator of Grace, the One whose perfection wraps around our failures and ushers into the Presence of God.

Here are words from the Word. Spend a few moments letting them fill your mind, as you invite the Spirit, to make them living Truth today.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18, NIV)

“Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” (Psalm 51:2-3, NIV)

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9, NKJV)

When we fall down, we have only to look up, see Jesus’ hand extended. And that, my friend, is the Gospel Truth.


And Can It Be

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood
Died He for me who caused His pain
For me who Him to death pursued
Amazing love how can it be
That Thou my God shouldst die for me
Amazing love how can it be
That Thou my God shouldst die for me

 He left His Father’s throne above
So free so infinite His grace
Emptied Himself of all but love
And bled for Adam’s helpless race
‘Tis mercy all immense and free
For O my God it found out me
‘Tis mercy all immense and free
For O my God it found out me

 Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray
I woke the dungeon flamed with light
My chains fell off my heart was free
I rose went forth and followed Thee
My chains fell off my heart was free
I rose went forth and followed Thee

 No condemnation now I dread
Jesus and all in Him is mine
Alive in Him my living Head
And clothed in righteousness divine
Bold I approach th’eternal throne
And claim the crown through Christ my own
Bold I approach th’eternal throne
And claim the crown through Christ my own

 Charles Wesley © Words: Public Domain

Jerry D. Scott, Pastor
Faith Discovery Church


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