The old and grand Story

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In all my years of ministry, there is nothing that compares to that moment when a person accepts the Gospel and is ‘born again,’ a child of God. For some the shift is full of drama, coming out of addiction, finding renewal from a seriously broken life.  For others it is the dawn of new understanding, discovery of love, the possession of a previously unknown love and purpose.  Who cannot love an authentic testimony, a person who makes the ancient hymn new – “I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see!”

Do you believe the Gospel? In the secret of your own thoughts, are there memories of words spoken, actions taken, that cause a reflex of shame?  Truth is we ALL have some cringe-worthy moments in our history – selfish acts, moments of rage, indulgence of pleasure – things we hope are forgotten.  Guilt and shame can serve a valuable purpose of motivating change, sometimes.  Frequently, they hinder us, making us feel unworthy or turning us into constant strivers who are trying to prove ourselves as we attempt to outrun the negative emotions that swirl around in our head!

God has a healing for our shame, a release from our guilt. Thankfully, He does not just tell us to ‘live with it,’ or ‘everybody does that kind of thing.’  He gives us the Gospel of Christ. Paul writes to us to teach us that  “in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17, NIV)  “Righteous” is not an everyday word. It is an important one. Universally, we are ‘dead in sin,’ destined for darkness, less than God made us to be, prone to chase after things that leave us unsatisfied. Not a great description of life, is it?  That is why millions bury feelings of unworthiness, feelings of guilt and shame. How can we face the terrible truth that we know we should be different, but fail to change?  Some work very hard, doing much good. Others play hard, trying to forget. Some drug themselves.

God’s “Good News,” the “Gospel” that is the heart of Christianity, is that God has set us right with Himself, eradicating our guilt, and releasing us from the grip of shame. No one is too anything to be beyond God’s forgiveness.  The pages of the Bible tell the stories of real people- once far from God, then changed to love Him.

  • Paul persecuted Christians, even seeking their deaths, but he became an apostle of the Gospel.
  • David murdered a friend so he could marry the man’s wife, but he became the author of worship songs in the Bible (the Psalms).
  • Peter swore he did not know Jesus at the very moment his Friend was being tried, but he became the leader of the Church in the early years of Christianity.

The Gospel is about Jesus Christ, who brought a message that God loves broken people, and Who made the sacrifice that settles the debt of the sins of the word. We are invited to Believe and Receive! Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” (Romans 5:1, NLT) “And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.” (Romans 8:30, NLT)  I hope you did not hurry through those words.  God says “Shame be gone!”

The Gospel invites us to honest confession of what we’ve done, who we are, with the assurance that God will not leave us there. God’s gifts of love and grace silence the accusations of our conscience and the lies of the Evil One. Receive the righteousness that is perfect; that of the Savior.  What none of us can do on our own – living a holy life – is possible when the Spirit takes up residence in us. The paradox of the Cross-centered life is that God’s greatest glory is revealed at the point of our greatest shame!

Here’s a word from the Word.  Let it inspire you today; first to live without shame and then, to do live like the person He made you to be.

“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it:“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners.

Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. All honor and glory to God forever and ever!  He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.”  – Paul   (1 Timothy 1:15-17, NLT)

_______

And Can It Be
(a beautiful Wesley hymn of grace)

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

 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

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