With God there is Forgiveness

Written by: Tim Wood

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. (Psalm 130:3-4 NIV)

 When I got into trouble at school (which was almost every day), my offenses were kept in a file called my permanent record. Supposedly, this was a file kept in the principal’s office that followed you and hounded you everywhere you go. If you changed schools your permanent record went with you. A permanent record never goes away. It’s permanent. It still exists today. I hope my permanent record never becomes public.

What if the Lord kept a record? What if the Lord marked iniquities? We wouldn’t stand a chance. We wouldn’t have any hope. We would all be sunk.

God doesn’t keep a record of sins because with God there is forgiveness. God chooses to focus on forgiveness rather than failure. The Bible uses a number of images to describe how God deals with our sins.

Isaiah 44:22 - I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.

Jeremiah 31:34 - For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.

Isaiah 38:17 - In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.

Micah 7:19 - You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Psalm 103:12 - As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Hallelujah! Praise God with whom there is forgiveness! Our sins are forgiven, forgotten, removed, buried and swept away. They can’t condemn us. They shouldn’t hound us. They should never stop us because with God there is forgiveness. Let that truth grip your soul, thrill your heart and renew your mind.

Why doesn’t God see our sins? Because He sees the blood of Jesus which cleanses us from sin. God didn’t overlook sin, He willingly laid it on Jesus so we can experience the freedom of forgiveness.

Prayer: God, we are deeply thankful that you don’t keep a record of sins. We acknowledge that with you there is forgiveness. AMEN!

An Eye-Opening Experience

Written by: Tim Wood

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law.  (Psalm 119:18 ESV)

 An eye-opening experience is often necessary in order to see things differently. The area where I live and pastor has a serious homelessness problem. I spoke several times to Roberto, a homeless veteran near our church. He told me how he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after coming home from the war in Vietnam.  Hearing his story opened my eyes. I began to see the people afflicted by this hardship with new insight and compassion. I became a more informed and caring advocate for the homeless.

Hearing Roberto’s story was an eye-opening experience and it changed me. Seeing things differently causes us to do things differently. Psalm 119:18 is a simple but powerful prayer for spiritual illumination. The Psalmist prays for an eye-opening experience. It instructs us to ask God, by His Spirit, to remove the scales from our natural eyes so we can see with supernatural eyes. Spiritual truth cannot be comprehended in a natural way, but requires a supernatural understanding.

This prayer is an admission that God’s Word is not what needs to change – it’s me. I need to change. The Psalmist didn’t need new revelation, he needed his eyes to be opened.

We should pray this prayer every time we read the Word of God. When the Spirit of God and the Word of God combine to meet eyes that have been opened by God, wondrous things happen. The Word of God contains wonderful things for us, but we will never see them without God’s help.

Pray this prayer: “Lord, I need an eye-opening experience from Your Word today. Thank you for the wonderful things you have in store for me. Amen.”

 

 

Why are you following Jesus?

Written by: Tim Wood

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.”  (John 6:26 ESV).

 Simon Sinek has written a New York Times best-selling book titled, “Start With Why”. His premise is that inspiring leaders start with why instead of how. Start with why something is done a certain way rather than how it’s done. Sinek points out that we cannot assume people know why.

Jesus doesn’t assume anything; he knows everything. Jesus offers challenging words for the people following him.  He had just fed 5,000 families with five loaves and two fish. Many of the people who ate this miraculous meal followed him to other side of the lake. It was there that Jesus addressed the issue of why. “You’re seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.”

Some were following Jesus for self-serving reasons. People who were filled with urgent needs and knew that Jesus could provide. Some people were following for sensational reasons. The thrill of seeing the miraculous. The excitement of a mountain top experience. The emotional high of conquest.

Everywhere Jesus went he healed the sick, he exorcised demons, he provided for the needs of people. As a result, great crowds followed him, but why were they following?

What an inspiring question for us to ask ourselves – why am I following Jesus? Am I following for self-serving reasons?

One day Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). Peter’s answer is why we follow Jesus. He’s the Christ. We primarily follow him because of who he is, not for what he can do. This noble reason to follow him goes past sensationalism, selfishness or emotionalism. It’s a deep recognition that Jesus is the Son of God and therefore worthy to be followed.

When we know why we follow Jesus, everything else falls into place. It’s not what Jesus can do for me, it’s who he is that brings lasting satisfaction to our deepest hunger.

Why are you following Jesus?

Victory isn't Victory

Written by: Tim Wood

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.  (1 John 5:4 ESV)

 Victory is an outcome that most people desire - victory over opposition, addiction, sickness or struggles. Everyone born of God overcomes. Everyone born of God is victorious.  How is one born of God? Verse one in this chapter explains, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.”  Faith in Jesus as Christ is the key to being born again.

Faith is also the key to overcoming the world and experiencing victory over the world. Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 ESV). Jesus’ words are powerful. Faith in Jesus means I experience His peace. Living in the world means I experience tribulations. The world is full of unexpected twists and turns.  Living in this world we experience sufferings, accidents, diseases, selfishness, bitterness and more.  We gain victory over all these things by faith. A faith in Jesus that talks to Him, walks with Him, and abides in Him- that faith is the key to overcoming the world’s tribulations.  Faith opens up the presence and power of God into our lives. Day by day, we have overcoming victory in the world as we realize God is with us and for us.

Faith is the victory. Don’t miss the practical power of this truth. Victory doesn’t overcome the world. A winning outcome doesn’t overcome the world.  Faith does - faith in God’s Son, His plan, His Word. If I’m sick it’s natural for me to desire healing. But healing isn’t the victory. Faith in God during my sickness is the victory. If I’m facing a trial it’s natural for me to desire a resolution. But a resolution isn’t the victory. My faith in God during the trial is the victory. Our faith is the victory. Embrace it and walk in it.

Nike is the Greek goddess of victory. The Greek word “nike” appears twice in the verse above. The Greeks believed ultimate victory could not be achieved by mortals, but only by the gods. However, our God has given to us the victory that many believed to be unattainable and we experience our victory by expressing faith in Jesus.

 

The Game Face of Jesus

Written by: Tim Wood

But the Lord God helps me; therefore, I have not been disgraced; therefore, I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.   (Isaiah 50:7 ESV)

 Game face. A term used in sports to indicate a player is locked in; focused, determined to give their best. Flint is a hard type of sedimentary rock. When struck against steel, a flint edge produces sparks to start a fire.

Jesus put on his game face when he began to journey toward the cross. He exhibited a divine grittiness to finish his task even in the fiery furnace of trials.  Luke tells us that Jesus “set his face” to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51).  He went there to suffer and die.  In Jerusalem he would be mocked, spit on, brutally beaten and crucified. But, he set his face like a flint to go there despite knowing what awaited him.

Jesus set his face like a flint for two reasons:

1) He knew His Father, the Lord God, would help him.  Therefore, Jesus was confident. He would not be disgraced by His Father or dismayed. He could set his face and be determined because he was assured of God’s help. Step by step, moment by moment, Jesus knew the Father was with him and for him.

2) His mission was worth it. Jesus set his face in determination because securing salvation for us was worth it.  Death on a cross was a heavy burden for Jesus but he knew it was the only way to save us. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:2 ESV). The joy set before Jesus is you and me. To Jesus, we are worth more than the pain he experienced, the suffering he endured, the cross he bore.

Jesus  put on his game face and journeyed toward the cross because he loves us. Because we’re valuable to him. He went through the fire and won for us the greatest victory imaginable, a life at peace with God for all eternity.

 Prayer: Thank you Jesus, for setting your face toward the cross for me. May my face be set on you with grateful devotion.  AMEN.