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Devotions

Celebrate Full Forgiveness, Rich Reconciliation, and Lessons for Life

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke with the keys
Of Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

Death in His Grave – Song by John Mark McMillan

Hello, my precious friends! I’m here to testify to God’s grace. I blew it and let my mouth get ahead of me. Again. But while God let me feel the painful pinch of my mistake, He also encouraged me through His Word with a timely, seasonal lesson.

Celebrate full forgiveness, rich reconciliation, and lessons for life

Are you familiar with Simon Peter? He was a disciple, who had left everything behind to follow and learn from Jesus. And he was impulsive – known for letting his mouth and muscle run ahead of his mind.

I found myself identifying with Peter because  I also lost control of my tongue. I shared details in a conversation which should have been left unsaid. I felt so convicted!

I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned all night, just wanting morning to come so I could ask forgiveness from the friend to whom I had misspoken.  While I lay awake, I felt for Simon Peter.    

At dawn, on the morning the world would forever celebrate as the first Easter, Peter was in a bad space, physically and emotionally.  He was with the other disciples of Jesus in self-quarantine, something we all know a little bit about these days.  They were sequestered because of fear and grief. 

They had seen their Lord arrested, beaten beyond recognition, and crucified with a taunting sign over his head that read “King of the Jews”.  Peter and the others had upheld that title and helped to propagate it.  Would the soldiers come for them next? 

It was even worse for Peter because, not only was he sad and afraid, but he was also ashamed.  He had disowned his Savior! Jesus had tried to warn him that he’d fail this way. But Peter had indignantly rejected the possibility. Instead, he raised the stakes and promised to die with Jesus if it came to that.

But it happened. Peter’s tongue leapt before his thoughts and he denied he was a friend of Jesus; not once, not twice, but three times!  Jesus heard the whole thing and had looked him straight in the eyes while the awful words still rung in the air. And then Jesus was led away to his death.

The story is in Luke 22:54-62. I imagine Peter lay awake those next few nights, wishing he could find forgiveness.  But how could he?

Lessons for Life

Have you ever done something awful that you never intended to do, or not done something that you really should have? Maybe you betrayed a close confidence or didn’t stand by someone when they needed you most?

If so, you know that a heavy heart is a burdensome thing. As I wrestled with mine, I felt for Peter. I was anxiously awaiting dawn so I could make things right.

Peter must have felt hopeless in his shame. Jesus was gone. He couldn’t have expected dawn to hold any hope of reconciliation for him.

A rowboat in the water near the shore. Celebrate!
Photo by TheOther Kev on Pexels.com

Oh but it did! Dawn brought news of the Resurrection! And that changed everything!

On that glorious Sunday when Jesus arose, there was so much for Peter to celebrate. His Lord was alive! And so were his chances for restoration.

When Peter’s opportunity came, he was in a boat offshore. He saw the Lord on the beach and jumped into the water. He couldn’t get to Jesus fast enough. He really needed to make things right.

What a succinct lesson for life! Jesus is alive! And so is our opportunity to receive forgiveness and reconciliation.

Rich Reconciliation

Jesus had no words of accusation. He simply asked Peter if he loved Him. Peter said he did. Jesus told him, “Feed my lambs”. Then He asked him again, and a third time. In each instance, Peter responded the same and Jesus repeated His command.

How precious is that turn of events? What a rich reconciliation! Jesus allowed Peter to settle his own heart with a reiteration of love, and a promise to serve, for each of the three times he had failed. You can read the account in John 21:7-17.

Full Forgiveness

Jesus not only granted Peter full forgiveness and took away his devastating remorse, but He also reinstated his purpose. It was Peter who founded the church. His forgiveness was so full, so complete, it was as if nothing had ever come between them.

Now, as we celebrate the miraculous implications of the Resurrection, I wonder if there are possibilities of restoration in your life? Are you needing forgiveness? Have you been carrying a heavy load of regret or shame?

Do you crave another chance to fulfill your purpose? Well, my dear friend, launch yourself out of that boat you’re in and hasten toward Jesus. He knows what’s in your heart and He is eager to unburden you.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

What better day than Easter to come to the Risen Lord, confess your sins, and reconcile with Him? Will you take the opportunity to profess your devotion, and allow Him to set you free toward your renewed purpose? The victory of Easter means new life and new beginnings! I’d love to celebrate yours with you today!

God of salvation,
You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride.
On a hill You created,
The light of the world,
Abandoned in darkness to die.
And as You speak,
A hundred billion failures disappear;
Where You lost Your life so I could find it here.
If You left the grave behind You so will I.

So Will I (100 Billion X) – Song by Hillsong Worship

If you would like more information on what it means to reconcile with Jesus, please reach out to me in the Comments or via the Contact link at the top of the page. You can also read The Gospel in a Nutshell.

The word gospel means good news. We all need more of that. And oh, this Gospel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is the BEST NEWS!

And in case you’re wondering, I reached out to the person whose confidence I’d broken as early as was reasonable to do so. I repented and my burden was relieved by mercy and grace. My friend was a beautiful example of Jesus to me.

I learned a life lesson about second chances and our resurrected Savior. We find nothing less than full forgiveness and rich reconciliation when we ask it of Him. We have the opportunity because He arose. What a reason to celebrate!

Related Post: Might Have Missed the Miracle

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Devotions

Settle the Most Urgent Distractions Now

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”

Psalm 68:19

No matter what time I do my ‘quiet time’ with Jesus, it is the most chaotic time of day.  The phone chimes, the kids need help, and my brain suddenly remembers something urgent.  I have learned to write the distractions down, getting them out of my head so my mind can be still. 

I believe God wants me to treat each day like quiet time.  When I begin to worry about some future event, I will take a small immediate action to put my mind to rest.  That might mean saying a quick prayer to release the stress to God.  Sometimes it may be a more hands-on task, such as stashing a few dollars away or doing some research to inform myself about a scary unknown.  

I have what I need for today.  I will do what I can to prepare for tomorrow, knowing that when tomorrow becomes today, God will bear any burden that remains.   

How about you? Is there anything occupying your thoughts and disturbing your peace? What can you quickly do to settle the urgent distractions now?

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Devotions

How my Love Falls Short of the Greatest Love

“‘But to you who are listening I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you.”

Luke 6:27, 28

When someone lashes out at me, my first reaction is usually concern for me. I reassure myself that I did not deserve it and I lick my wounds. I feel justified in coddling my dignity.

My love falls short of the greatest Love.

It happened the other day at Starbucks. My order was made incorrectly. It occurs occasionally and baristas are usually apologetic and accommodating. But this time was different.

I politely asked the young woman behind the counter for a correction to my drink and was shocked at the sassy reply I got in return. I tried to smooth it over with her, thinking surely there was a miscommunication, but that only made it worse. Her retort was rude and hurtful.

I retreated to the corner to wait, because although she was mean about it, she was remaking my drink. I stood there and replayed the exchange in my head. I didn’t say anything accusing. I didn’t deserve such a response.

Hearts in foam on a cappuccino: How my Love Falls Short of the Greatest Love
Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas on Pexels.com
Love and Coffee, both best brewed pure.

I had placed my order from an app on my phone, so I had a copy of what I’d asked for. I pulled it up. Yes, I did it right. She made the error. I had proof. I was licking my wounds.

When my corrected coffee was ready, I tried to let bygones be bygones. I mustered extra sweetness when I said, “Thank you! I really appreciate it. Have a great afternoon!” She responded with unkindness, and I hurried out.

I got in the car and told my husband all about it. As the words came out of my mouth and I heard them, I felt God nudge me. I’d missed an opportunity. My love had fallen short of the greatest Love.

I know that hurt people hurt people. I suddenly wondered what had transpired in the barista’s day to make her so bitter. I could have cared for her and her needs instead of protecting my own.

Coffee cup in the middle of a heart made out of coffee beans: How my Love Falls Short of the Greatest Love
Photo by Jessica Lewis Creative on Pexels.com
Showing love is more important than drinking perfect coffee.

I imagined my own daughters, who are similar to her in age. I remembered the times they had been hurtful and what had driven them to it. I suddenly wanted to cry. My new emotion was for her, not because of her.

It was too late to go back. I prayed for her instead. I prayed that her next customer was not as slow to hear God’s voice. And I prayed for me.

I asked God to recondition my responses to care for other people when they get in my face. I want to immediately seek to ease them at the source of their pain instead of taking offense. If they see Jesus instead of me, He can make an impact!

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Luke 6:35, 36

Oh Lord, please forgive me. I thought I was being the bigger person because I was polite. But You didn’t put me there to show that I could rise above. You should have been magnified. I should have ministered, on Your behalf to the injured heart I encountered. She was precious to You and I could have shown her your healing grace. Please continue to teach me how my love falls short of Your greatest Love. Help me do better next time, in Jesus’ name.

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Devotions

There is Something Amazing in the Sinking

“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said.”

Matthew 14:25, 28, 29a

Oh, these verses hit me in the gut!  Here’s why: Peter manipulated this call.  It was his idea. 

He saw Jesus doing something miraculous. He wanted in. More likely, he wanted out. He wanted out of the boat, out of the physical world constraints to which he was subject. He secured his invitation.

“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’”

Matthew 14:29b, 30

There is something amazing in the sinking, a nugget for you and for me.

Let’s back up a little. The verses prior to these explain that the disciples were in the boat because Jesus had plans on the other side of the lake. He had sent them ahead while He stayed behind to finish after a prior engagement. And before He joined them, He went off, alone, to pray.

The disciples had quite a head start across the lake. The wind whipped up and the water got choppy. My version of the Bible says the boat was “buffeted” by the waves.

buf·fet; verb
past tense: buffeted
1. (especially of wind or waves) strike repeatedly and violently; batter.
2. knock (someone) over or off course.

Dictionary.com

There they were, in a little boat in deep water, being buffeted. If I put myself there, I imagine hanging on for dear life, trying not to throw up. It does not sound unlike how life feels to me right now, but that is a point for a different post.

Jesus intended to catch up with them so they would arrive together on the other side. Do you think they wondered how He was going to do that? They were certainly not expecting Him to come walking out on the water.

“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.”

Matthew 14:25, 26

Can you imagine? It would have been amazing on a calm lake, but this water was rough! It was a show of power indeed.

Peter wanted to walk in power too. (That is giving him the benefit of the doubt. My suspicious side thinks maybe he just wanted to do something cool. Either way…) He stepped out onto the lake, became afraid, and started sinking. Jesus immediately caught him and put him back into the boat. 

“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’ And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’”

Matthew 14:31-33

Jesus did not pull the disciples out of the storm and put them back, safely on the shore. He moved them forward. He calmed the storm and then saw them through to the other side.  Why?  Because crossing was God’s plan, His idea, His will. 

Peter, though, was plucked from the waves and returned to the boat from which he came. Jesus gave Peter a glimpse of what was possible, but there, in the middle of the lake, in the pre-dawn dark, more water-walking was not the miracle they needed.

Ferocious blue waves: There is Something Amazing in the Sinking
Photo by bt3gl on Pexels.com
Peter’s first thought was not to calm the waves, but to walk on them like Jesus did.

Peter was enthusiastic, but his timing was wrong. Miracles bring glory to God, not men. God was working. Jesus was calming waves. The buffeted boat was going to make it safely across and Peter was distracted by his own idea. He had to be put back in his place.

Peter’s ego was probably a bit worse for wear when he found himself back at square 1. But did this disqualify him from being part of what Jesus had planned? Not at all.

Jesus had something amazing to do on the other side of the lake. It was to heal the sick and save the lost. All the disciples, including Peter, got to be part of it.

“When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all who were ill to him and begged him to let those who were ill just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.”

Matthew 14:34-36

There is something amazing in the sinking of Peter that resonates with me. I recognize times where I have called myself into ministry. I saw Jesus doing something amazing, somewhere other than my area of responsibility, and asked Him to let me participate.

Ultimately, when I sought positions, as opposed to being called to them, I was chasing opportunities for my own glory. Whether I wanted to appear useful in the Kingdom of God, feel gifted for service, or whatever my reasons, they were about me.

When it became apparent that my ideas were a distraction from what God had asked me to do, my efforts tanked and I sank. Jesus had to grab hold of me and set me back where I started. 

A boat safely moored and in calm water: There is Something Amazing in the Sinking
Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com
I need to stay in the boat God puts me in until He calls me out.

Jesus, the ultimate Life Guard, has always rescued me. In his grace, He has allowed me to get back on board with His amazing agenda, even after distractions and failures. I can say, there is nothing like sinking to remind me to ride contentedly in the boat I am given to the shores God has in store for me.

Lord, You are so good! Please forgive me for every time I’ve stepped out into situations for which you hadn’t prepared or called me. You are faithful to rescue and restore with such patience! I do not want You to have to keep returning me to square one. I want to progress in doing Your will, in Your time, and for Your glory. Oh Lord, your agenda, not mine!

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Devotions

Forgiven and Free – Fooled by Feelings or In the Know?

The following quote made me stop and think. Do I bank my future on what I feel or what I know? How about you? Are you fooled by what you feel? Do you need to know whether you’re forgiven and free?

David Hocking quote about feeling forgiven: Forgiven and free - fooled by feelings or in the know?
Feelings can fool us. We need to know we’re forgiven!

To be sure, we need to go to the Source. The Bible helps us know whether we’re forgiven and how to fix it if we’re not. Feelings change but the Word of the Lord abides forever.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Matthew 6:14, 15

“And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”

Matthew 12:31

“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 2:38

“All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Acts 10:43

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”

Ephesians 1:7

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Colossians 1:13. 14

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9
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Devotions

God Will Meet You Right Now as You Ready, Set, Pray!

Do you feel a million miles away from God right now? Well, let me ask you this: Have you ever invited Him into your heart? If not, it is impossible to be close to Him. Are you ready? Get set! And then pray! Tell Him you want to meet. Ask Him in.

For more information, read The Gospel in a Nutshell and feel free to ask any questions you have.

Once you’ve done that- even as you’re doing that- He will meet you where you are and NEVER leave you.

“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’.”

Hebrews 13:5b

Maybe you have already established a personal relationship with God but still feel distant and alone today. If so, there is hope! This is fixable.

While it is true that God will never leave us, we often turn our backs on Him. And once we’re facing in that opposite direction, we can move as far and as fast from Him as we will. Can you look back and recall small steps or long sprints you took which carried you away from Him?

He isn’t a dictator, and He doesn’t force our faithfulness. We are free to make our choices. But He is a loving Father, and He wants a relationship with us. All it takes to restore our closeness with Him is our repentance.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9

No matter how far we’ve gotten, or how lost we feel, He knows exactly where we are. We just need to decide that we’re ready, set our hearts towards Him, and pray. He will meet us. He will walk with us as we face the natural consequences of the poor decisions we’ve made. I read this recently:

“One thing I love about God is, He’ll bring you out of situations that you got yourself into, and won’t hold it against you.”

TobyMac

Precious friend, if you’re feeling separation between you and God today, please know this:

No matter how far you have gotten, you’re only just a prayer away.

He will cover the distance and come to you. He will walk you back. If you want to erase the miles between you, let Him know. He’s not mad; He’s waiting. Moments from now, you could be enjoying sweet fellowship with your Creator again. Ready, Set, Pray!