July 18-19, 2015
Bear with me a little on this one as this story might sound a bit shocking to most of you, but put yourself in these shoes. Bear with me as I try to clarify a significant principle of living a full and joyful life. Picture this scenario: Imagine you were a murderer, rapist, thief or child molester—all terribly atrocious, sinful identities. Then picture getting caught, put on trial and found guilty and your sentence proclaimed: DEATH! Now, you anxiously await your execution.
Just as they are getting your humane, but very lethal injection ready, the warden runs in to stop everything in the nick of time. He lets you know of a true and amazing miracle. No one has ever seen anything like it before.
He excitedly explains, starting with the basics. The penalty for your crime is death. The accuser, Satan, and justice both demand that you pay the price. However, a perfect person, Jesus, who owed no penalty, has voluntarily stepped up demanding to take your place. He will be executed in your place, and once that happens, with your penalty and payment satisfied, you will be free to go and live your life. Your penalty is “Paid in Full” (this is the first blessing). What a great day!
Now, here is the weird but realist part that gets overlooked. Even though this is an awesome development, if that were the end of the story, it wouldn’t be all that great. You see, who really wants to date, befriend, hire, hangout with or marry a convicted murderer, rapist, thief or child molester? We all judge these types of people. We avoid them, fear them and attack sinners like them.
Your life, although spared, would be a walking death of isolation, ridicule, obstacles, loneliness and never-ending effort to prove yourself worthy of a second chance. Do you doubt what I am saying? If so, talk to a sex offender about to leave jail who can’t get housing on the outside to satisfy parole conditions. Ask people with a criminal record how hard it is to get a real job.
Now comes the most awesome part of this story, as God grants an even more powerful second blessing that defies explanation. Your record is purged. Every crime/sin is blotted out. Then, Christ’s record of perfection and purity is transferred to your account. You inherit all He has. So now, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, Almighty Creator of everything actually wants to hang out with you, befriend and date you, and even marry you forever. He trusts you with His most valuable possessions including children. Most of all, He really loves you above all things and wants to get to know you intimately regardless of your past, present and future sins. Amazing, isn’t it? And you never lose this place in His heart once you accept His sacrifice for you.
Today, try to see yourself the way God sees you. How different could your life be? Now, look at God with the gratitude and love that He deserves for all the grace and for the double blessing He extends to you. (If we could even muster 1/100th of the love He gives us – wow!) Accept His instruction and I guarantee—actually He guarantees—that your life will be grander beyond your finite imagination. Be glad the story doesn’t end with forgiveness. Rejoice in His second blessing of transferred righteousness. Our curriculum at Lighthouse Network was developed to help you apply this second blessing to your life. Whether you grab hold of the second blessing and live it or you let your story end after the first blessing, it’s your decision, so choose well.
Dear gracious and merciful Father, I confess my sinful ways before You and thank You for Your forgiveness. Thanks for not giving up on me and for relentlessly pursuing me, especially when I stray way off course. Thanks for nudging me to get back on track, even though at times I see it as adversity. I now realize You are trying to catch my attention and get me back on the right path toward true peace, freedom and contentment. Please help me to be a grateful prodigal son and not resent other prodigals whom You also forgive. I pray this in the name of the One who paid for me, died for me and pursued me, Jesus Christ. And all God’s children say AMEN!
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.” Luke 15:10-24
“Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’ But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’” Luke 23:39-43
“Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: ‘I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.’” Isaiah 42:5-7