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Power

white and black labeled book selective focus photography
 
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me.” [Matthew 28:18] 

“Come on, just get it done!” A line we love to use with our children or grandchildren, to get them finally to finish their homework or cleaning or dinner. Finish it, just do it. Thoughts we love to harbor about what other people should be doing. But do we bring the same conviction upon ourselves? 

Jesus said that all authority is his. And he proved it by rising from the dead. He did get it done! He did complete it. Jesus has all the power. And the crazy thing is that Jesus has promised to share. 

Jesus has given his disciples the Holy Spirit, the power to live out everything he’s asked us to do. Often, we are controlled by fear, worry, or laziness, and we give up or fail even to start living out the Christian life. What are your excuses for not living out your faith? Write them down, think about them. Take them to Jesus. Be bold enough to say, “Jesus, here are the reasons why I cannot do what you are asking me.” 

But then read Matthew 28:18-20, and remember Jesus can do anything. Our God can do anything! That means even turning your life around. Maybe he already has. Jesus promised to give us life-changing work- being loving and patient and gracious. Jesus appointed us to make disciples by demonstrating what it means to be a Christian day by day. And Jesus made a promise that he would be with us always.

So come on, just get it done! I believe in you. I know you can do it. Why? You have the power of Jesus on your side. And Jesus can do anything.

Prayer: Jesus, please show us Your power today. May we experience how easy it is for You to give Your love and strength to us, that we may do the things to which You’ve appointed us. In Your name we pray, Amen.

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Pardon

 
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” [Luke 23:34]

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t… 
That is how life feels sometimes, right? No matter what decision you make, no matter what you say, no matter what you do, you are in trouble. Guilty. Angering someone. And let’s not forget that we ourselves are pretty good at getting upset, too.

God hates sin. God is light. In him is no darkness. He is the ultimate judge. So, we can only imagine that God, too, sees it this way. To be sure, each and every one of us is damned by our action or inaction. Each of us is damned because we’re human. But more than that, each of us is loved because we’re human. God has the power to judge, and instead chose to pardon. Jesus came to display the judgment of the world in his body, hanging on the cross. That’s where judgment was done, so that we could all live in pardon. In grace.

We are sent to display that pardon in our lives. “Forgive them Jesus. They don’t know what they’re doing.” They are just like me. We receive God’s love and God’s call to love others. Are you withholding a pardon- or need to seek some forgiveness? Take time today; live out that pardon. 

Prayer: Father, help us to experience Your pardon of our sins in Jesus, so that we can live in the freedom of sharing forgiveness with others. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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Presence

 
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. [John 1:14]
 
After a year of limited relationships, people are ready to get back together with others. But if we’re honest with ourselves, there are some people we are happy not to see so often. Some people bother us, irritate us, anger us, frustrate us. Some people judge us, condemn us, dislike us. Let’s be honest. We are not always saddened when some people aren’t present. 
 
How about God? If God were present, what would that be like? We can imagine being struck with fear, or judgment over all the wrong we’ve done. We are the ones who have probably annoyed, angered, or frustrated God, after all. Wouldn’t we expect God to come at us with anger? Or maybe just want to stay away from us for good?
 
God is so unpredictable. Instead of pulling away or coming against us in judgment, God did the unthinkable. God came down to us. In love. In weakness. In humility. God sent Jesus, born as a baby, living in human flesh. God not only wants to be present with us; God wants desperately to know us and be known by us. 
 
Jesus is present with his people. Jesus is present with you. Let’s be honest; we don’t deserve it. But that doesn’t matter. Jesus loves you, and he wants you to know that he is with you, God-with-us, Immanuel. 
 
Today, no matter who you’re missing (or not missing), you don’t have to miss God. Jesus is always with you, showing you glory. Showing you grace and truth.
 
Prayer: Jesus, You are God with us. Thank You for being with us, especially when we don’t deserve it. Help us to see You always, and live in Your grace and truth. In Your name we pray, Amen.

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Will You Start?

black and silver steering wheel
 
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:9-10)
 
I can’t believe it. I woke up this morning, got ready for my day, got in my car, and I turned the key in the ignition. Guess what? It started! Amazing! 
 
No. Not amazing, just expected, right? It’s science, or technology, or math. Something that just works (until it doesn’t). Our cars starting, or our electricity working, or so much of our modern lives, faithfully happens. We have lost some sense of the wonder that should accompany such alarming consistency in our lives. Thank God so much of this world is faithful!

What about God? Well, we know God is faithful. God creates life, sustains life, and has a plan in place for life forever. God’s forgiveness in Jesus is consistent, unfailing, unwavering. God’s love doesn’t change with the weather or our moods. 
 
But what about us? We are about as far from faithful as you can get at times. We regularly break our promises, do what we say we won’t, don’t do what we say we will. We get so low and desperate that we need to hear it again: “You are God’s child.” But then the second we feel confident in ourselves, we take up that unthinkable line: “I haven’t sinned!” 
 
John wants us to know that is the equivalent of calling God a liar. This side of heaven- everything we do is tainted by sin. Our best and most holy works are touched with sin, even as our worst acts of sin are touched by the forgiving and healing hand of Jesus. 

God is faithful and just. No matter what today brings for you, takes from you, works in you, God is faithful. Jesus has put His word in you, and like a key in the ignition, that will ignite our lives every day.
 
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are faithful. We want to see Your faithfulness and mercy every day. Keep Your forgiveness before us, as we trust in You and share Your love with the world. In Your name we pray, AMEN.

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Admit It

Inri crucifix at daytime

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:7-8)

“I didn’t sin!” We don’t hear those exact words, but so often we take up our defense of our innocence. Wasn’t me… I didn’t do it… Don’t blame me… There’s no way I’m at fault… People don’t really like to accept blame, responsibility or judgment. And Christians are people, so we don’t like to do it, either. 

But Jesus has called us to a pattern of living: confession and cleansing. We first have to come to terms with who we are before we can fully walk in the light of Jesus. The darkest and worst parts of ourselves. The corrupt and challenging parts of who we are. We must take our sinfulness, our brokenness, our mistakes and willful ignorance and lay it down at the feet of Jesus.

Don’t deceive yourself. You are no better than anyone else. You aren’t any worse, either. You are a sinner. Just admit it, take responsibility for it, and turn to Jesus. He has promised to cleanse you after all! Jesus has promised to keep you united with him and with other people through his sacrifice. 

This very thing is what makes Christians so distinct in this world. We are willing to hold to truthfulness, not sugarcoating anything, while also holding to grace. It is the reality of brokenness that leads us not to a place of judgment, but rather to the ultimate source of grace: God himself. 

Embrace grace and truth today. Walk in the light. Confess your sin. And let the blood of Jesus cleanse you.

Lord God, no matter what we say or do, we know we have sinned. We don’t want to be deceived. We want to be delivered from sin! Please cleanse us from all evil by the blood of Jesus, and keep us close to You now and forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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