Over the last few months I have had the honor of ministering to the women incarcerated at our local county detention facility. When God first called me into this ministry I had no idea of how much I would grow as a Christian and how God would push the boundaries of my life and my husband. In bringing the Gospel to these hurting women God has help me look at my own life and the personal need for repentance.
Jesus said, “they that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32 KJV
The New Testament (which literally means “new covenant”) was written primarily in Greek. So it is often helpful to look at the original Greek words used in the Gospels to gain a better understanding of what God is teaching us. In Greek, the word used for “repent” means “a complete and total change of mind.” In order to truly repent we must deliberately turn away from our old way of life and strive to follow a new path.
Let’s look at Luke 15 and the Parable of the Prodigal Son. In these scriptures Jesus intended for the younger son to be a character to which we could all relate. We have all been guilty of disgracing our heavenly Father by placing our personal desires and cravings above all else. God is very much like the father in this story because He loves each of us just as that father did individually, uniquely and unconditionally. God has been with us always, for better or worse. We must believe that God stands by us at all times, even when we choose to worship ourselves and harmful behavior instead of Him.
In the story, the son travels a great distance to separate himself from his father. Do we not do much the same when we make choices that are contrary to God’s design for our lives? Because of those choices we experience spiritual separation from God. The son reaches his all time low in verse 17 when he comes to the revelation that “he came to himself” in the King James Version. The son realized that his behavior has brought him financial, physical and spiritual poverty. He decides to return home and ask his father to allow him to work as a servant. The son believed because of his “sinful” behavior his father would never forgive him but just maybe he would consider allowing him to be a servant. He made a humbling personal choice to turn away from his sins and return to his father, this is the essence of redemption. How many times have you thought God will not forgive me? Not this time…I really messed up this time. I’m here as a testimony that God’s love for us is at the heart of His forgiveness. Just like the father in the parable…the father in seeing his son coming in the distance called to his servants to bring a fine robe. In this the father re-establishes his relationship with his son, showing the son his love and forgiveness. As scripture says “still a long way off” the father meets the son on the road. God meets us along our journey, walks along side us encouraging us to continue discovering who we can be as His child, loved and valued.
I’m so glad God is not like us. His capacity for forgiveness and compassion has no boundary. God wants nothing more than for us to turn away from our sins and turn toward Him. Amazing that we can return to Jesus just as we are…not “fixed”, we have only to make a commitment to meet Him along the way and GOD WILL BE THERE! Deliverance and Freedom becomes real for you and me.
Thank you Doug for your support in this journey!
Be Blessed, Laurie
Thank you to Michael K. Mason for the wisdom he shared in his book “Amazing Grace”.
Scripture: Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14 NIV
Observation: This is a good follow-up to yesterday’s SOAP. If we will seek peace we will stop doing evil. We will not delay justice and we will no longer call good bad and bad good.
Application: As I desire to allow God to reign I will automatically seek peacefulness with others and justice will result.
Prayer: Father, help me to desire your will for my life so that evil will not prevail. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen
Scripture: When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong. Ecclesiastes 8:11 NIV
Observation: When justice is delayed, injustice becomes the order or more precisely disorder of the day. All we have to do is look at our society and see the truth in this scripture. Delayed justice has led to a complete flip-flop and the inmates seem to be running the asylum. Isiah 5:20a says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil…” We have forsaken our Lord and his truth and our upside-down world is evidence of that!
Application: I must pray for God and his justice to reign in my life and our world today.
Prayer: Father, we have caused there to be great injustice in this world. I must take responsibility for my part in allowing it to happen. Reign in my life and help me to be bold in the face of injustice and to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen
Scripture: I will exalt you, lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. Psalm 30:1 NIV
Observation: I have to go to drill today. That’s periodically reoccurring school for firemen to hone our skills. I’m old fashioned and my glory days as a strapping young fireman with all of the answers have long-since passed. To put it bluntly, all of us firemen nearing retirement need to hurry up and get there and get out of all of the young guy’s way. As I left for work today, Laurie prayed for me that the Lord would protect my crew and me as we are put through our paces. Psalm 30:1 confirmed for me that God heard her plea and I am protected, “…and did not let my enemies gloat over me.” Psalm 30:1b NIV Thank you Lord!
Application: I must accept the truth and carry on. I’ve done my job for many years. I know my job and I must trust in the knowledge and training that I’ve accumulated over the years to complete today’s exercises. Thank you Lord!
Prayer: Thank you Lord for having my back. I pray that I honor you today. Amen
Scripture: If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:23 NIV
Observation: I remember having this piece of scripture given to me before. It must mean that God really wants me to understand this truth. It’s pretty powerful and comes with a lot of responsibility. Through the power of the Spirit, we can or cannot forgive sin.
Application: I’m not sure how to apply this truth. I know that it’s not to be taken lightly. If anyone can help me with this I’d appreciate it.
Prayer: Father, help me to know. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen
Scripture: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 NIV
Observation: This proverb instructs that the arrogant fail and fall.
Application: Take it from me, arrogant people get humbled. It’s not a source of pride for me to admit but I’ve dealt with this myself. I pray for humility from God so that he never has to humble me again.
Prayer: Father, help me to be humble and consider others before myself. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen
Scripture: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 NIV
Observation: Jesus tells his disciples that he is the only way to gain access to God.
Application: Belief in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the key to heaven. He’s not only the door, he’s the key to the door.
Prayer: Father, thank you for Jesus. Amen
Scripture: So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!” Exodus 32:24 NIV
Observation: Aaron took all of the blame for the act that he had committed and laid it off on the fire of all things. “I just threw it in and ‘poof’ out popped this calf, it wasn’t my fault!” This lame excuse reminds me of Adam in the garden answering God, “The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’” Genesis 3:12 NIV It’s like what I heard a prosecutor say once of an accused’s defense strategy in an up-coming trial, “he’s going to use the S.O.D.D.I. defense…some other dude did it.” I can almost understand Aaron using that excuse with Moses, but Adam trying it with God? Really? When you stop and think about it, Adam really laid it all off on God, “it is your fault God! You gave me that woman.” As my Jewish brothers say, “now that’s chutzpah!”
Application: As Christians we need to man-up and accept responsibility for our actions. “It wasn’t my fault” is a really poor epitaph. When we fail we need to accept it and ask for forgiveness. We need to not make excuses for our behavior.
Prayer: Father, help me to know when I fail and accept that the failure is mine alone. I know that acknowledging sin to you when it is committed and asking forgiveness is what you expect of me. I ask for the strength to accept my failures and humble myself before you. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Scripture: Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided. John 9:16 NIV
Observation: This passage made it clear to me that some people love the created more than the Creator. In this case the created being the rituals of religion. What does God want, clean hands from proper washing procedures or pure hearts from truly changed lives? I know the answer. The writer aineo from my notes section wrote “Which Are You?”, it makes the point perfectly.
“This made me think of how religious we are sometimes. Ask yourself, if some out of town strangers in an old beat up car were in a bad accident in front of your church right before the service, would your church members dirty up their clothes to help? Would the service be postponed or canceled in order to help those in need? There are all kinds of scenarios that could be painted, but the ultimate question is the same – are you someone that loves people, or are you religious like the Pharisees?”
Application: We need to examine our hearts and know that we are where God wants us to be.
Prayer: Father, help me to know that I am where I should be according to your will. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen
Scripture: May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me, O Lord, the Lord Almighty; may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me, O Lord. Psalm 69:6 NIV
Observation: The Psalmist is crying to the Lord to not be the cause of disgrace for him or other believers.
Application: That is my prayer, to not be the cause of disgrace for God or his church. I owe it to my God, my wife, my children, my church and my coworkers to be consistent in my words and my actions. If I fail that I bring shame upon myself for hypocrisy. That hypocrisy is transferred to all believers; the church is harmed and God’s commission is stymied. We have seen in the recent past how the sins of Christians, specifically famous church leaders, has translated into a “Christ-bashing fest.” I can think of no greater insult to the Lord than to bring shame upon him and his church because of my sin. I pray that I never bring shame to either the Lord or fellow believers.
Prayer: Father, help me to live out the truth that I proclaim. Don’t let me ever be the cause of shame for you or the church. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen