Am I a Friend of Sinners?

With all the troubles going on in our world only getting worse as time goes on, a verse keeps coming to my mind:

For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10

It’s so much easier to judge unjustly. To pick out sin, point to our Bibles, and wield judgments left and right. No questions asked. No understanding offered. After all, what they’re doing is SIN. They’re wrong to sin like that. If we are kind and understanding, they’ll think we condone their sin. We can’t do that! They need to be told how wrong their sin is so they will be ashamed and repent.

But Jesus didn’t do that, did He? He hated sin, but loved the sinner. He offered the hope of redemption to those lost. He came to redeem, not condemn.

My favorite example of this is in John 8:

 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.  Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”

This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

The Pharisees wanted to test Jesus, to condemn the woman, to prove their own righteousness. But Jesus saw the woman just as He sees every single other person: as a broken sinner who needs Him, His love, His free gift of salvation. He saw her not as someone who needed to be condemned, but as someone who needed forgiveness and salvation. He sees us as we are: broken, dirty, far separated from Him, and He stretches out His hand to us. The difference between Christians and non-Christians is simply that we as Christians have already realized our need to be saved and accepted the gift of God’s grace. Non-Christians have not, and they won’t until they see our love for God and our love for them–despite their sin.

It’s such a difficult balance: loving without condoning.  Which is one of the reasons I love the song Jesus, Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns so much. This song has been challenging me lately to be kinder, more merciful, and yet at the same time more just.

Isn’t it interesting how loving with God’s love, rather than pointing fingers, helps strengthen your convictions and your genuine desire to point others to Christ and His saving power? Shouldn’t we be heartbroken over the souls on their way to Hell because of their spiritual blindness, rather than condemning them for being a sinner just like you and I?

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 6:23 (emphasis added)

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5

Boldly but lovingly speaking truth–of sin’s penalty and God’s justice, mercy, and love–is what God called us to do. Not to back down because we might hurt someone’s feelings or offend someone. Not to judge unjustly as we shout and wave our picket signs over our heads. Not to forget our own past sin and the extent of God’s saving grace.

It’s time to take the planks out of our eyes so that we can clearly see to actually help people and point them to Christ. We need to remember Jesus’ love, grace, and mercy for us, and then seek out those still lost in sin to share God’s love, grace, and mercy with them.

“Oh Jesus Friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours.”

One Word 2016

One Word 2016 | Everyday Encouragement

A few years ago, I started the tradition of picking  one word to ‘define’ my year. Or rather, asking God to give me a word to study in the year to come. This word is meant to  help guide my  devotions, helping me grow as a follower of Christ and helping me to learn more about  God. It’s a teaching/learning thing, and it’s challenging and convicting

In 2014, my word was FAITHFUL. (you can read more on this word here.) By the end of the year I thought I’d failed God in learning about  and practicing this word, but God hadn’t failed me. He was…faithful. And I saw His faithfulness in new ways every day that year. Through it all, He was faithful with love and forgiveness.

For 2015, God gave me the word HOPE.  At first I thought maybe He would give me a potential spouse in the ‘here’s-some-hope-for-your-future’ kind of way. And maybe He did, but the young man hasn’t stepped forward yet. I don’t know. What I do know is….a lot of things seemed to go wrong in my life in 2015. Almost to the point where I overlooked the good and forgot to appreciate the beautiful, like new and lasting friendships forged.  And as I was crying out to God about how unfair it was for Him to give hope to some and not to me this year, He ever so gently reminded me that through all of this, I have the Hope–certainty–of eternal life with Him. I have the Hope–certainty–that He is with me always, no matter what happens in my life. And maybe, just maybe, He allowed all those things to go wrong in my life so that I would find my Hope–certainty–and security in Him alone.

So as 2016 approached, I once again prayed and asked God to give me a word for the new year.  The very next day, I heard the song Thrive by Casting Crowns.  After that there was no doubt: 2016’s word would be THRIVE.

This year’s verse is John 10:10-

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

And this year’s goal? To develop a stronger prayer life, possibly inspired by War Room 🙂

This year is fresh and new like the snow outside my window. I don’t know what this year holds, but I know Who holds this year…and my life…in Hi hands.

 

 

Thrive//2016

Merry Christmas!

 

Never been a huge Francesca Batistelli fan, but I heard this song a few weeks ago on the radio and it was too good not to share 🙂

Also, I found this picture on facebook last night  and in it’s simplicity, it describes why we celebrate Christmas.

(click picture to go to source)

 

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Merry Christmas!

Someday Today

Someday Today | Everyday Encouragements

“If only…..”

I mutter to myself as I read yet another Facebook post about someone who has announced their upcoming
wedding/new baby/house down-payment.
And it’s enough to make an eighteen-nearly-nineteen year old girl like myself wonder,

“When will it be my turn?”

Then I remind myself, “God is enough. His will, not mine,” and go on  my merry-ish way.
A couple of days later, a friend tells me, “You know so-and-so? Well, she’s expecting!!”
I paste on a smile while my heart cries, “When, Lord, when?? Will it ever be my turn?? Can ‘someday’ be today???”
Then He reminds me:
  If I am not content in my circumstances today, how will I ever be content in marriage and motherhood?
If I don’t love my Savior with all that is in me today, will I really be able to love my husband someday?
I’m so caught up in my desires for someday, that I’m not looking to God to fulfill me. When I take my eyes off of Him, I can’t be content.
True, there will still be days when I in tears bring my desires back to the hands of my Father.
 I need to remember:
Wedding cakes and bridesmaid dresses,
baby bottles and diapers,
 will never bring true contentment to my heart.

Only Christ can do that.

Today I am single.
Today I can serve God in ways that as a wife I could not.
Today I can participate in dozens of areas of ministry that further His kingdom.
And in serving, I’ll be prepared for ‘someday’.
Today I’ll live; I’ll not hold back, not shy away from the fun and the beauty of now.
Today I’ll love Him fully, and learn to love Him with all my heart.
 And maybe, one day, when I am lost in Him and His love, I’ll wake up and realize that ‘someday’ is now ‘today’.

Dry Hands

dry handsIt was January, which is probably the coldest month of the year here in Maine. The air was incredibly dry, and it was making my hands dry and itchy.  Because this was a distraction to me, I tried to solve the problem—by running warm water over my cold, dry hands. I did this often, and it wasn’t long before my hands were red, cold, and dry.

Well, I did the brilliant thing and kept running water over my hands. One day I decided to go without the water for as long as I could, hoping that it would cure my hands. This resolution lasted about twenty minutes.  Not long after this my hands started  to be cracked and bleeding, but I kept trying to use water to fix them.

Finally one day, my mother noticed my hands and asked me what was wrong them. I explained what I’d been doing. “Micaela, you can’t do that. It doesn’t  help at all. The only thing that’s going to make them better and not dry anymore is hand cream.” Mama then pulled a hand cream bottle from her desk drawer and squirted some into my hands. I quickly rubbed it in, and  soon my hands felt a little better. Though it took a few days for my hands to be back to normal, I was able to focus better on my schoolwork or whatever I was doing–thanks to the hand cream.

This is what many Christians do in their daily lives(I’ve done it many times before). Their lives are dry: something’s missing, so they try to fix it by pouring water (worldly pleasures) into their lives. This doesn’t work, so they try harder, still hoping to feel fulfilled with relationships, media, friends, etc. Only when they turn to God to meet their needs do they feel this fulfillment and are no longer dry; they got some “Holy Hand Cream” :).

We need to steer clear of worldly pleasures and focus on God’s will in our lives. By looking to Him to meet our emotional, physical, and spiritual needs, we will experience true fulfilment and not need the things of this world. We were created to serve Him, and we can’t do that if we are still living in the world.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. ~1 John 2:15