June 2016

sunriseWelcome! We are receiving a wonderful response to last month's view. Many of us are ashamed of our past, but because of God's amazing love and grace, we walk in authority over the debilitating effects of guilt and shame.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old is gone; a new life has begun!” 1

A Wonderful Response...

After viewing the website, it's important that we hear from you to know that you are listening. Under What People Say, we share many responses, but here's one from Gwen now.

“I just finished reading your book “Will You Die For Me?”. It was interesting to see things from your perspective. Obviously, your crimes were horrible, but not beyond forgiveness and redemption as you discovered. I came to understand how they happened. In fact, I could have easily been one of you, falling into living among you all if I've been in the same place at the same time.

Like you, and I suspect most of the others, I was a kid disillusioned with my family, my life and society in general. I was full of anger, rebellion and in search of love and acceptance from anyone willing to give it, which is probably why I've had three failed marriages, among many other bad choices. I was heavily into drugs, sex with anyone who seem to want me and of course everything that goes with that lifestyle.

My family, like yours, were church-going, Bible-believing people, but I went mostly because I had to; at least until I was a teenager. It took me several years of living in hell to discover the love of Christ was for me too. I have been clean many years now; I believe God delivered me from certain death. Since then, I have been walking with God, but didn't get real serious about it until ten years ago. It's been a slow process, but I discover daily how good God really is and that I am his child, and that he loves me in spite of the things I've done. Sincerely, Gwen” Missouri.

I hope you can identify with Gwen's testimony, because “...everyone has sinned, we all fall short of God's glorious standard.” 2 It's time to rejoice because of God's love and grace.

Taking Responsibility...

One thing that sticks out about Gwen's testimony was that she took complete responsibility for her failed past; not blaming anyone but herself. She could have blamed her parents, husbands and society, never truly experiencing healing and freedom.

Gwen simply took responsibility, turn to God in faith and responded to what He has already provided by grace. We call this salvation, forgiveness, righteousness, peace, and joy and so much more in the Holy Spirit.

Grace is the undeserved, unmerited and unearned favor of God. It is His ability working in us, making us able to do what we cannot do in our own ability. The Lord gives us the ability to respond to Him, which is actually responsibility. He gives us the ability to live a responsible life to the power of His grace.

“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God.” 3

Healing Reflections...

We can only imagine what life would have been like if we had followed in the footsteps of positive role models towards a responsible life. The choices I made tragically affected so many families and friends, including mine, plus Society in general.

I was at a lost in what to do, not being able to go back and correct things. Being depressed in a state of turmoil over my actions, I recall being told many times to lift up my head. After surrendering my life to Christ, a beautiful chorus helped me to praise God for his glory and grace. Maybe it will help you too, by singing

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full into his wonderful face, and the things on earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.”

For the past many decades, it's been all about that grace; nothing I deserve, merited or earned. The Lord offered me this free gift that I couldn't resist. Though I am in prison for the consequences of my sin, His love and grace abounds beyond my wildest dreams in all areas of my life. As we lift our eyes unto the Lord,

“...we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds." 4

Greater Than Consequences...

God's grace is greater than the consequences of our sin. In Gwen's testimony, she concluded, “...I discover daily how good God really is and that I'm his child, and he loves me in spite of the things I've done.” Let us proclaim with the Apostle John,

"...greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world." 5

Greater is God's love in us than the consequences of our sins; that is, knowing and believing in his love empowers us to live victorious.

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” 6

Thank God for his love, “and as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgement, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.” 7

Simply put, we are united with Jesus, seated in the heavenly places. We can trust God wholly, without fear, because the punishment for our sins has already taken place through Christ's finished work. His love never ends because of righteousness in all our relationships as we reach out to others with the good news.

“And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever.” 8

A Prayer For You...

As the Apostle Paul prayed in Ephesians, “that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. 9 Amen!

Scripture References (NLT):

1 2 Cor. 5:17
2 Rom. 3:23
3 Titus 2:11,12
4 Titus 2:13,14
5 1 Jn. 4:4b, KJV
6 1 Jn. 4:16
7 1 Jn. 4:17
8 Isa. 32:17
9 Eph. 3:16-19, KJV

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