Thursday, April 14, 2016

Overdue Rentals and the Grace of God

Last week, North Carolina police arrested a man after a routine traffic stop. The crime: a late movie rental overdue since 2002. True story: authorities stopped the man in response to a broken break light. Running his license and registration, the officer learned of a warrant for the man’s arrest. While booking the man at the local precinct, officers learned the man had failed to return a VHS tape to “J&J’s Video” over fourteen years ago. J&J’s video is no longer in business. but, as it turns out, it doesn’t matter. Mistakes long forgotten can come back to haunt us.

That story illustrates how many of us can feel in our spiritual lives. We worry that some misdeed done years ago will come back to haunt us. We may have even forgotten what it was, but, we worry that when the right authorities in the right circumstances find out, we will be busted. The forgotten misdeed will land us in jail once and for all.

According to the scriptures, that is impossible for those who believe in Jesus. Writing to the early church in Rome, the Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death,” (Romans 8:1-2). In other words, nothing in a Christian's past can condemn that Christian because condemnation no longer exists the way it used to. Jesus has freed His people from that.

As you go through the coming week, remember your freedom in Christ. That freedom frees you from worries about the past. It also frees you for the life Jesus calls you to today. That is good news for all who have lived under the law of sin and death. It is also good news for those of who may have lost a VHS tape or two.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Tough Truth and the Love of God

My parents disciplined me as a kid – from time to time.  They claimed that they disciplined me because they loved me.  They would say thinks like, “I do this because I care about your welfare” or “It hurts me worse than in hurts you!”  I didn’t believe them.

Looking back on their investment (and direction), I better understand the spirit of their message.  It was this: people who love you do what they think is best for you even when it is hard.  Loved ones are willing to have the difficult conversations.  Loved ones tell us the truth – even when we don’t like it.  They don’t do it because it is fun or they enjoy it.  They do it because they care about our welfare and what is right.

In his letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul describes and celebrates this type of love.  In doing so, Paul writes, “Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth.”  Why does love rejoice in the truth?  The truth is healthy for people to hear.  While telling the truth may not always be fun, it can lead to incredible growth – especially when we are told the truth in love.

As you go through the coming week, praise the Lord for the people who loved you enough to do the hard things.  Praise Jesus for those willing to have the tough conversation.  As you do, you will recognize the loving people God placed in your life.  You will also recognize that God can work through the difficult things for great results.  Praise the Lord!