that they may receive forgiveness of sins

Acts 26:18 (ESV)

18 “… to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

Whilst the risen Jesus is speaking specifically to Saul here (who later will be renamed Paul), it is still a valid command to all missionaries.

Although to think of missionaries as only those brothers and sisters in Christ who travel to some far-flung compass point overseas is naive.

We are all called to share our faith. The hope we hold onto and that sustains us.

How else are out friends and family and work colleagues and neighbours going to hear of God’s saving grace?

How else will they have their “eyes opened”?

How else will they be delivered from “darkness” into His wonderful “light”?

How else will they be saved from the manipulating clutches of “Satan” into the loving, outstretched arms of “God”?

How else will they receive forgiveness of sins?

And “a place among those who are sanctified by faith”?

Kim+

prayer : that I could be bold in sharing my faith

action : seek opportunities to speak of my hope

and when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin

John 16:8-11 (ESV)

8 “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

The “He” refers to the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is discussing with His disciples why He needs to leave them. But He reassures them that it is to their “advantage” as He will “send” the Holy Spirit in His place (John 16:7).

Why? Because the role of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world.

Of what? Our sin for one.

For “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Except Jesus Christ.

For God “made Him to be sin who knew no sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Wow. What a gift this is. To be made righteous before God through the deeds of Christ.

His birth. His life. His death & resurrection. And His ultimate ascension into heaven.

This is the gospel in a nutshell. Why is it so hard to understand? Why is it so hard to accept?

Let the Holy Spirit guide you if you don’t believe. For He can open the eyes of the blind (Matthew 11:5).

Kim+

prayer : thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit

action : help me to restore sight to the spiritually blind

sin when it is fully grown brings forth death

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” James 1:14-15 (ESV)

How easy is it to give into our sinful “desires”?

The voice inside our head says it’s OK. Just this once. It’s not hurting anyone.

Yet it’s a slow and steady progression:

“Temptation. Desire. Conception. Birth. Growth. Death.”

Deep down inside we know its wrong. Perhaps we struggle a little. Perhaps we struggle a lot.

But the greed, the overwhelming lust, the all-consuming “desire” responds to the temptation by shrugging off those feelings of guilt. Putting them aside whilst we indulge in the sinful pleasure.

Unfortunately, this habitual sin is leading us down a steep and slippery path to oblivion.

Turning our back on God and choosing to follow our idols, whatever they may be, leads to death.

All are guilty. Yes, even me. No one can claim righteousness. No one is blameless (Romans 3:10-12).

Yet God has graciously provided us with a saviour. Someone who has already stood in our place and received the punishment we so justly deserve.

It’s a difficult concept to comprehend. And even harder to accept.

But this doesn’t make it any less true.

Ponder that as we approach this Easter weekend.

Kim+

prayer : that God would grant me mercy and strength

action : share the message of Easter this weekend

you were washed

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)

It’s easy to read this passage and point the finger at “wrongdoers” (another translation for the “unrighteous”).

Yet, as Paul so clearly points out at the end, some of the listeners were once exactly like those he describes.

In fact, the only thing that “makes” them righteous is the blood-of-Christ as it washes them clean.

Better that we should spend a lot less time condemning the practices of others and more time “repenting” of our own sins (Luke 1:3).

We don’t condone sinful behaviour. But neither are we to “judge” it. That’s God’s responsibility (Matthew 7:1ff).

What we should be doing is “loving our neighbour” in genuine and practical ways (Luke 10:36).

For like Jesus, we should “desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13 – quoting Hosea 6:6).

Kim+

prayer : forgive my unrepentant heart: my pride, my greed, my lust

action : share the grace of God through merciful actions

to save sinners

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” 1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV)

Sinners? Who, me?

Yes, you and me both.

I prefer not to think of sin as merely doing the wrong thing. Breaking the law as it were.

Whilst this is true, it doesn’t fully encompass what it means to sin.

Instead, I understand it to be the rejection of Jesus Christ as God’s only son.

Effectively turning our back on God and choosing to live our lives our own way. (Romans 3:10-18)

It’s sad but true.

We might like to think of ourselves as good. But we can never be good enough.

And that’s why Jesus came into the world. To save us sinners.

To accept the punishment that we deserve. And die for us, in our place, “once for all”. (Romans 6:10)

Kim+

prayer : thank you God that you loved us so much you sacrificed your one and only son

action : show my gratitude by living a life of “sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1)