…when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. Luke 15:20
Lord, You are my Father (and a consuming fire).
To draw near to You is to encounter the warmth of Your love, and the intense heat of Your wrath towards sin. I cannot draw near to You without retreating from sin in my heart. This is the delightful and deadly journey into Your presence, and any personal purity I experience is only a consequence of that journey… a continual casting away of the worthless and temporal in exchange for that timeless place before You.
It is an illusion and a lie to believe that intimacy with You is costly, when nothing compares to the unspeakable joy of being lost and found by my Father the King (who is also a consuming fire).
Thank you for rejoicing and running… towards me.
– a grateful son
When He died…I did not exist…
except in His mind.
I was just another unborn sinner with a lifetime of future offenses.
But I was known.
He knew the lost and broken soul.
And He was ready to forgive my sins before I had done any of them…
on the morning I first drew breath…
before I felt the dark stains in my soul.
His is an ancient readiness to forgive.
Because He loves me…
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Romans 8:15-16 “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”
How can I know for certain that I am a Christian? God wants you to know your salvation as a fact. More than that, He wants to write that truth on your heart.
When our oldest daughter was four she disobeyed and was scolded. Afterwards I could see that she was not feeling very good about herself. In fact, she was devastated. For a moment I could see a lifetime of self-doubt trying to climb its way into her soul.
I took her by both shoulders, looked her in the eyes and said, “You know what? If I could pick any four-year old little girl in the whole, wide world to be mine, do you know who I would pick?”
I could see the question loom large in her eyes as she wondered. Who would Daddy choose?
“You!” I said with a smile and a hug. The clouds lifted from her face and her soul. That exchange became a game we played for years — she needed it.
So do you. The Bible says that when we trusted Jesus’ death on the cross to save us from our sins, we were saved. Period. The Bible tells me so. But that’s not all. There’s more…
John tells us in his first letter that we can look at our daily life. Can you see a change? People who have been born again change over time. You may look at your life and see objective evidence that your life is different. But that’s not all. There’s more…
The Holy Spirit lives within. He wants to convey to your heart an experiential knowledge of your sonship. As He moves you to cry “Father”, He wants to open your spiritual ears to voice of God. Listen to a father’s heart: “You are my child. And of all the people in the world I could bring into my family, I choose you!”
Romans 7:24-25 “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Can you think of something that you were never any good at — -but wanted to be? You tried your best. You took lessons. You read books. You practiced. But it was no use — you were never going to be any good at it.
Baseball was that way for me in the second grade. Just no good. The coach did everyone a favor by leaving me on the bench most games. I got a “hit” once when the ball bounced off of my knee on a line drive to second base. I still remember the cheers from the stands as they carried me off the field — I had never heard cheers before!
In Romans 7 Paul is expressing his frustration over sin. He wants to eradicate it completely, but as he grows, he continues to discover sin in his life like a multi-layered garbage dump.
Dear Christian, sin will be resident within you until death opens the door to heaven. You will hate things you say and things you do. You will wonder how a holy God could still love a person like you. You have not finished sinning. And there’s more to come. Much more.
Can you feel Paul’s anguish? “O wretched man that I am!” More importantly, can you exercise Paul’s faith that ultimate deliverance will come through Jesus Christ?
The truth is none of us are going to completely master the ins and outs of a holy life. We need to know that our failures cannot keep us from the love of God.
Someday you and I will be carried off the ballfield of life by his angels — kind of like that second grader who was no good at baseball. And there will be cheers from the welcoming saints in heaven’s stands. But the loudest cheering will come from the throne!