When He Speaks

One day, when Jesus was visiting Simon, the Pharisee, having a meal at his house … a lady came in. She kept sobbing, kissing Jesus’ feet and washing them with her tears and perfume. Simon tried to tell Jesus what a sinful woman that was at His feet. But Jesus cut him off, and told him this story: “Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?” Simon answered correctly, “the one who was forgiven the most.”extravagant

After pointing out to Simon all that the woman had been doing since she arrived, He said, “She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.” Then, He spoke to her–the first words recorded–and said, “I forgive your sins. … Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” (Luke 7:36-50 MSG)

When we take our wounded and wayward lives (hearts, minds, bodies, spirits) to Jesus, what healing! what pardon! what freedom there is to be found when He speaks forgiveness and peace to us! He wipes the stain away. He affirms our faith. He sends us out in peace, free from the chains we came into His presence wearing.

“I, even I,” said our Daddy, “am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remember your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25). “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” (Is 43:18-19a). “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist” (Is 44:22).

Though we know in our minds that all sin is sin, sometimes the shadow of our chains lurks around when the sin was one of “those” sins … the kind that come with an “open to the public” sign plastered all over them (even when you didn’t post it!). Still, sin is sin and His forgiveness is real forgiveness.

David Seamands once wrote, “When God forgives, He buries your sins in the sea of His forgiveness and forgetfulness. As Corrie ten Boom says, ‘He then puts a sign on the bank which says: NO FISHING ALLOWED.’ You have no right to dredge up anything that God has forgiven and forgotten. He has put it behind His back.” He chooses to forget.

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Acts 12

Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.

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This account of Peter’s escape from prison has brought forth a view of this passage from a different angle, Lord, one I’d not thought of before.  Stepping back from the details of the story, I can see how all that happened to Peter literally and physically is related to what happens in a spiritual sense to us who follow You.

INCARCERATION

“When [Herod] saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also … after arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded…” (v 3-4 NIV)

You had been using Peter mightily: speaking through him, impacting hearts and lives through him, transforming his own attitudes and understanding.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, “boom!”  Peter is arrested, taken captive by an enemy who came upon him, one who had NOTHING of God in his plans or motives.

When I’ve been in those times of being used by You, making strides by Your side in advancing Your kingdom, I too have been seized.  The enemy has come to get me, chain me up with chains of old baggage and new doubts.  I “sit in a cell,” surrounded by his servants, as he looks for the time to lower his pulverizing blow.

INTERCESSION

“So Peter was kept in prison, but the Church was earnestly praying to God for him.” (v 5 NIV)

Yet, when Your servant was bound by the enemy, You set Your Church to work through praying and interceding for him.  You do the same for me when I am bound.  You either do the calling Yourself or You guide me to the ones whom You want to hear of my condition and to pray.

INTERVENTION

“Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared … He struck Peter on the side and woke him up.  ‘Quick, get up!’ he said,…” (v 6-7 NIV)

In the midst of my imprisonment and captivity, YOU make known Your presence.  You take action on behalf of one such as me, who has given her heart to You.  Your presence assures me that Your eye is attentive to my EVERY care and concern.

LIBERATION

“…And the chains fell off Peter’s wrists …Peter followed him out of the prison… They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city.  It opened for them by itself, and they went through it…” (v 7-10 NIV)

When my very being is held captive by my thoughts, my feelings, my past, my fears …when the enemy holds me in his chains of deceit, only Your Truth can set me free.  Only You can sever that which binds me in that “prison.”  ONLY YOU can walk me right past the enemy’s snares and into the wide open places of freedom in You.

ILLUMINATION

“Then Peter came to himself and said, ‘Now I know without a doubt that the LORD sent His angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.” (v 11 NIV)

Sometimes the “going through it” can be as overwhelming as “being in it.”  Then, the realization of what You’ve just done comes into full view after You’ve done it in my life.  This is the part when You get to sit back with a grin on Your face, Lord, and watch me, Your child, recognize Your work in my life.  You get to see the transformation in me from bound to freed, and how I react when the full truth of what You’ve done hits me.

PROCLAMATION

“When this had dawned on him, he went to…where many people had gathered and were praying…Peter …described how the Lord had brought him out of prison…and then he left for another place.” (v 12-17)

Your freedom sparks a joy that can’t be contained.  In those times when I’ve seen You free me from this chain or that shackle, there is a part of my heart that runs to tell of Your work in me.

Father, thank You for the chains You’ve made to drop away.  Thank You for the prison gates You’ve flung open before me and led me through.  Thank You for the freedom You bring to me.

Still, You know that the enemy lurks about to pounce on me any given day.  You know right where, even now, there are chains attempting to be put on and latched.  Lord Jesus, only YOU can free me indeed.  I am forever at Your mercy, so long as I walk this human path.  Once more, I entrust myself to You and believe You to be my Defender, my Shield, my Deliverer.

With each step I take in Your truth, Your light, Your freedom, Father, keep on making me just like Jesus.  Amen.