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MARCH 25, 2021


INVITATION

 

Let your Spirit fall upon us. Lord Jesus ...

Let him fill us and move among us ...

Let him whisper your words in our ear - and stir

our hearts and souls ...

Let him heal and help and forgive us - and may he

lift our praises so that they rise as sweet perfume

to you - all this we ask for your sake. Amen.

 

BIBLE READING



PSALM 32

 

1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.Selah


5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.Selah


6 Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them. 7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.Selah


8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 9 Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you.

10 Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

 

You have never been so tense in your life. You have been held in custody without bail on a murder charge. The courtroom battle has dragged on for weeks, draining your vitality and weighing upon you with increasing anxiety. Finally, the big moment has arrived. With your hands manacled, the bailiff leads you into the courtroom. The jury files in after several days of deliberations. The courtroom falls silent as the judge calls the court to order. He asks, “Mr. Foreman, do you have a verdict?” Your heart is pounding, and your mouth is dry as you watch him rise. The rest of your life depends upon his words. “Your honor, the jury finds the defendant not guilty.”


Not guilty! A flood of relief sweeps over you and tears of joy well up in your eyes. Not guilty! It is as if a heavy weight has rolled from your shoulders! The bailiff unlocks your handcuffs and you hear the judge declare, “You are free to go.” Freedom from condemnation! Life suddenly takes on new meaning. You are free from confinement, free from the constant pressure of the charges against you, free to begin a new life, because you have been released from those charges. Can you imagine how that would feel? (the above is based on a Podcast featuring Pastor Steve Cole)

Today's psalm reminds us that we are forgiven. “Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Day after day, over and over again. We live as forgiven people. God does not hold resentment. God forgives us, cleanses us, and offers strength and support to keep moving forward in our lives.


I remember reading that unresolved guilt is like having a snooze alarm in your head that won't shut off. Can you imagine that? If you had a snooze alarm that never shut off it would be hard to concentrate, as your attention would be constantly dominated by bursts of guilty feelings. Having unresolved guilt can have an extremely detrimental effect on us. Studies have found that concentration, productivity, creativity, and efficiency are all significantly lower when you are feeling actively guilty. Guilt robs us of the ability to fully enjoy life. Guilt’s outcome can be a “cutting off”, and distancing of ourselves from others, or events we really enjoy. Guilt can be a crippling emotion, and the greatest destroyer of emotional energy. That is not what God wants for us.


The forgiveness and freedom from guilt which Christ offers changes lives. I was reading a while ago an account by Ron Blanc, a pastor in Phoenix, Arizona, he describes how he was called to visit a 14-year-old boy who was in a catatonic state in the psychiatric ward of a nearby hospital. The boy was lying on his bed as stiff as a board. Nothing had helped. He went in and began to talk, and the boy finally began to open up. Ron said that the boy “was under a pile of guilt.”


Ron shared with this young teen the forgiveness Christ offers. Before he could invite the boy to pray, the boy began to pray on his own. Ron bowed his head. The boy asked Jesus to come into his life and forgive his sins. When he finished praying, Ron looked up to find the boy sitting on the edge of the bed, freely swinging his legs. Ron asked, “What’s this?” The boy exclaimed, “I’m free, man! Jesus has forgiven me!” They walked out to a little patio area to chat some more. You can imagine the shock and surprise of staff to see this boy who was “catatonic” walking around.


What I want us to remember and know is that we can be free from guilt today and every day! God’s grace and mercy is just that amazing. There is no greater blessing than the blessing of having your sins forgiven, your sins covered, and your iniquities not

counted against you by our loving God. We call this “Justification,” which means being treated by God as though we never had sinned. That blessing is available to you right now if you will confess your sins and acknowledge your need of God’s freeing forgiving grace.

 

PRAYER



*** The prayer below is from The Exposotory Times Journal, (Volume .1:18 Number 5)

I did not write it, but when I read it I found the prayer spoke into my life about the amazing Grace of God. I pray you too will be moved by these words today. ***

 

Like the woman at the well

Like Zaccheus the tax-collector

Like Mary of the night

And the rich young ruler

We come to you knowing we've failed you ...

And we find ...

your arms opened wide in welcome, a smile on your

face ...


Like the woman caught in adultery

And the men itching to stone her

Like the woman hiding in the crowd, longing to

touch your cloak but feeling so 'unclean'...

And the prodigal son so self-centred - his brother

so jealous...

We come to you with head bowed, faults, hurts and

needs exposed ...

And we discover your hand reaching out, tilting our

chin until our eyes meet yours ...


Lord God,

You have loved us and have known us since before

the world began ...

And you've never stopped loving us.

Even when we fail you.

Even when we let you down

And hurt you

Your love is there still...


Never to let us go.

So great is that love that you even sent your own and

only son for us ...

For me...

He came to live

To die

And to rise again

For each one us-

In this world

All a new creation in Him.

And you offer us, you

offer us life - life in all its fullness.


Heavenly Father,

Our minds cannot take in the depth of your

generosity ...

We cannot comprehend the length and breadth of

your grace reconciling us to you ...

Your patience and understanding go way beyond

our wildest dreams

And your forgiveness ...

Your forgiveness - so ready

So sweet...

So undeserved ...


Teach us to rejoice in your goodness.

Grant us the faith to run into your arms and to

hold on to you

As tightly as you hold onto us.

So may we know how blessed we are

Always to live in your forgiving love

To the glory of your name. Amen


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