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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 Reflections

Might Have Missed the Miracle

The very first Easter morning was unique to all that have come since in that it dawned in apparent defeat. Have you ever thought about that? The Resurrection had happened, but nobody knew it! The family and followers of Jesus awoke in grief, unaware of the glorious victory and power that had changed everything. They might have missed the miracle, if not for the faithfulness of Mary, Mary and Salome.

These three women, who had followed and served Jesus daily, woke up in despair. He was gone. They had seen Him beaten, nailed to a cross, ridiculed and confirmed dead. Because of strict Sabbath rules, He’d been buried quickly. There hadn’t been time to properly embalm His body with the customary spices. But the Sabbath was over, and they would be able to do this one last thing for the One to whom they’d been devoted. So, they got up and prepared to do what they’d done every day – serve Jesus.

“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.  Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’ But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”’

Mark 16:1-7

Remember, three days had passed since Jesus’ death. Earlier in Jesus’ ministry, a friend of His, named Lazarus, had died. Jesus planned to bring Him back to life and asked that his tomb be opened. The people hesitated at His request, and might have missed the miracle, because dead bodies decay quickly.

“‘Take away the stone,’ he said. ‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’”

John 11:39

This glimpse of unpleasant reality helps us to grasp the depth of what the women were about to do for Jesus. They got up early and headed out on their mission. They were not simply going to perform the ceremonial embalming of His body, they were going to see, feel, and smell death. They weren’t even sure how they were going to accomplish it, because the boulder that sealed the entrance to the tomb was much too big for them to move, but they were determined to try. And because of their faithful effort, they got to be the first to witness the everything-changing miracle of the Resurrection.

Photo by Jose Aragones on Pexels.com

I wonder, would I have been as devoted? I mean, He was already dead and laid to rest. Would it really matter now if there were spices on Him or not? I might have chosen to stay in bed, wallowing in my loss. I might have chosen to eat junk food, cry, and have a pity party. I might have questioned God’s goodness. And you know what? I might have missed the miracle!

My friend, you and I woke up today, a couple thousand years later, in full knowledge of the reality of the Resurrection. We live our lives in light of its glorious victory and power. And yet… is Jesus our focus, or do our agendas overshadow Him? Are we looking for ways to serve Jesus or opportunities to make names for ourselves? Let’s encourage each other to be as faithful everyday as Mary, Mary and Salome, so we might not miss the miracles!

“By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.”

1 Corinthians 6:14
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Collaborations

It Isn’t Easy, But It’s Worth It

Hi everyone, I’m Shelly from Growing With Spawn! It’s such an honour to be here, writing a post that stretches very far out of my comfort zone on such a special occasion. Mama Lava and I have bonded over our shared passion for blogging both offline and online. However, what I truly love about her is her passion to share her faith with the world. As a Christian, it is such a beautiful thing to witness, and I admit, it’s something I have been too shy to do. But here we are, stepping away from the typical mental health and lifestyle posts to share something with more value.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

But what does this really mean?

As Christians, we know that verse through and through. It’s the very first scripture that we are taught, and one we can recite in our sleep. God gave up his son Jesus to create a path to heaven. And all we have to do is believe in him, be baptised in his name and declare that we accept him as the Christ. This is the essence of Easter.

From a very early age, I knew about Jesus. My mother was a devout Christian who made sure that we were well-versed in the scriptures. Prayer was a part of our daily routines, and we often prayed in the middle of the night. Church was not just every Sunday, but also in our homes, in the streets and with our loved ones. If you had asked me as a child if I was a Christian, I would tell you with conviction that I was a child of God.

But the interesting thing about faith is that it is useless without works. Just because you do something out of routine, God can look at that and say that you are not doing anything in his name.

Growing up, I was a Christian because it was easy – until it wasn’t.

I lost my (single) mother at the age of 14 to a very difficult health battle. Of course, losing her was the most painful thing that ever happened to me, but what hurt even more was to see her suffer. To see someone who lived the Word transition from this world in such agony. And to top it off, she left two young daughters behind, with no contingency plan. Being a Christian was convenient, until God called my mother, then it was something I ran from out of anger.

As an angry teen, then in my early twenties, just the thought of God made me angry. What started off as losing my mother, became the most traumatising decade of my life. And through it all, I just wondered how God could be so cruel. How could he spite us after all we did for him?

It was during this period of my life that I learnt about Job. Such a faithful servant of God who had all of his riches, his family and his health taken from him. And for what reason? Simply because God allowed Satan to test him, knowing that he was a true servant. Why then was a man like Job who lost far more than I ever did still able to serve a God that would allow the devil to test him? 

The answer is simple… 

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12

So what does Easter mean to you?

As Christians, we remember Easter as the day that Jesus rose from the grave. I’m sure a lot of us have even watched movies resembling Christ’s life where he was scorned, flogged and crucified. But has the true meaning of the sacrifice that God made really sunk in?

I lost my mother to a health condition, not as a sacrifice for someone who showed little interest in her life. And I’m a mother now, but doubt I could ever sacrifice my daughter as Abraham once did with Isaac. So how then can someone like me say with conviction that I am a servant of the Lord?

We eat Easter eggs during this time of the year, because society has convinced us that we should teach our children about the Easter bunny. During Christmas – which isn’t actually Jesus’ birthday, but has been so-named – we sing carols, have a feast and invite Santa and his elves into our homes. And let’s not forget how great it is to be able to say “thank God” or “God forbid” and all of the other sayings that we Christians love to use. Some even use the name Jesus Christ as a swear word when angry or surprised. Is that what Christianity has become?

My faith has faltered over the years, but our God is a loving, faithful God. He is always there with his arms wide open, waiting for his prodigal children to return. And the reward in him is far greater than you can imagine!

Photo by Miles Hardacre on Pexels.com

No one ever said that being a Christian was meant to be easy, so if there is one lesson I would like to share with you all after the heartbreaking year called 2020, it is that God loves you so much and is inviting you into his kingdom.

“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…”

Titus 3:5

Happy Easter everyone! Thanks again for allowing me to share my personal story with you. Mama Lava has also written a beautiful piece over on my blog, so please join me in supporting her!