“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” (Psalm 32:1, NIV)

 Funny thing about the Bible… When you start reading it, you slowly begin to recognize yourself in the characters of the story. With prayer and conviction, we often swallow the lump in our throat as it dawns on us: We are Adam and Eve, trying to cover our shame. We are Peter, denying Christ when the gospel becomes counter-cultural. At our worst, we are the same ones who nailed Him to the cross. Our sin held Him there.

 "I’m the one who held the nail / It was cold between my fingertips / I’ve hidden in the garden / I’ve denied You with my very lips"

 It’s humbling, isn’t it? The gap between our depravity and His holiness is infinite. Our sins are oftentimes more than we can bear and greater than we can count. The canyon between who we are and who we were created to be gets wider by the day, it seems. Yet, God promises that the outstretched arms of His Son are more than enough to bridge that great divide.

 The Bible plainly confirms this truth: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, NIV)

 Forgiveness rushes in like a balm to our souls, allowing us to bask in the liberty a relationship with Christ provides. Forgiveness is such an extravagant gift. However, it comes with great responsibility. If we seek the Father’s forgiveness, He always promises to forgive His children, but He also expects us to be just as quick to forgive.

 There’s the rub. We desperately want to be shown grace, but when it comes to extending that same grace to others, we’re quick to dole out judgement instead of the mercy Jesus desires us to reciprocate. With so many viewpoints at war in today’s society, it’s easy to focus on the things that divide us. It’s easy to point fingers and hurl insults. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that differing opinions equal differing sides of the equation. It’s easy to desire revenge and far more difficult to turn the other cheek.

 Christ never said forgiveness would be easy. If anything, it’s perhaps one of the hardest things we’ll ever do this side of eternity. Yet, He asks us to never forget the sacrifice He made that covers all sins.

 “Be kind and compassionate to one another,” He commands, “forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32, NIV)

 He extends forgiveness so that we’ll give it away to others. And it’s in that exchange where we find true freedom. Just like anything else He bestows upon His children, forgiveness is a lavish gift we don't deserve. Yet, the Giver gives it away freely and often. And He invites us to do the same.

 "You look at me, arms open / Forgiven, Forgiven / Child, there is freedom / From all of it / Say goodbye to every sin / You are forgiven"

 

Forgiven,” by Crowder

devotional by Lindsay Williams

The Bible is not discreet about our relationship with God. It is clear. God is our Father; we are His children. In fact, God is identified as our Father 265 times in scripture. Most of those are found in the New Testament because through Christ, we have a new identity as an adopted child of God.

Romans 8:15 says, “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.’” Galatians 4:7 says, “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”

 

You're a good, good Father

It's who You are, it's who You are, it's who You are

And I'm loved by You

It's who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am

 

The word “father” invokes up all sorts of images for people. For some, “father” is associated with warm memories, laughter, family trips or long conversations on a front porch. For others the word is associated with absence, rejection, hurt, or pain. At times, we have greatly distorted what the role of a father was intended to be.

 This is why it’s so important to understand that God is not only our Father, but He is a good Father.

 You may believe you are a child of God, but do you believe, really believe to your very core, that you are loved by God? This can be a difficult truth to grasp, even for the most fervent believer. Guilt, shame and sin can prevent us from believing in and experiencing the love of God. Bitterness and past experiences remain in our hearts and minds and over the years, we grab hold of a lie that He wants good for others, but not for ourselves.

 

 Oh, I've heard a thousand stories

Of what they think You're like

But I've heard the tender whisper

Of love in the dead of night

And You tell me that You're pleased

And that I'm never alone

 

 This sort of thinking is counter to what scripture says about God as our Father. Think about how the Father figure of God is described and what this says about His character:

 He embraces the prodigal son, and the older brother—He is loving, accepting and patient. (Luke 15)

 He takes care of the sparrows but says He cares much more for his children than the sparrows—He provides and is attuned to our needs. (Matthew 10)

 He goes after every single lost sheep until it is found—He pursues a relationship with us and doesn’t ever get tired of looking after the lost. (Luke 15)

 The two truths that have the most transformative power in your life are that you are God’s child and God is a good Father. Tell yourself that today, over and over. It’s who you are, and it’s who He is.

 

 

 

 

"Good Good Father" by Chris Tomlin

Devo by Andrea Lucado

Jonah couldn’t do it. Nor could Moses nor David nor Paul. They couldn’t escape God’s call. Jonah literally jumped ship and still wound up in the will of God in Nineveh. Moses protested when God called him to deliver His people from slavery yet became one of the greatest leaders in Israel’s history. David was initially overlooked by everyone to be the next king, everyone but the Lord. And Paul killed and convicted the ones he eventually became like after an encounter with God on a road.

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms

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God has always been a fan of fire. All throughout the scriptures it has consistently been one of the main ways He chooses to reveal Himself. As Psalm 104:4 says it, ” He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants.” It’s a tool used by the King to make His presence known; to demonstrate His power. Whether it’s with Moses and the burning bush, Shadrach Meshach and Abednego, or Elijah on Mt. Carmel….there is just something about fire.

We also see fire deeply connected to the idea of refining and atonement. In the old testament it plays a huge role in the process of sacrifice and sanctification. Be it a praise offering or a guilt offering, fire is always present. This idea is woven all the way through the New Testament as well. Jesus, the Christ, our eternal sacrifice, He calls us to the fire. John speaks of it when he says “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:16 NIV)

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