Saturday, April 23, 2011

What is Your Isaac?

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The Sacrifice of Isaac

1After these things(A) God tested Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 2He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to(B) the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." 3So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy[a] will go over there and worship and come again to you." 6And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and(C) laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7And Isaac said to his father Abraham, "My father!" And he said, "Here am I, my son." He said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" 8Abraham said,(D) "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together.
9When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and(E) laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 12He said,(F) "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for(G) now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." (ESV)

This story of obedience has always fascinated me. Abraham lived with a sense of reckless abandonment that we are to also apply to our own lives. What is interesting about this story is that prior to this event, God had promised Abraham this for years upon years upon years. When he finally got Issac as his son, God asks him to sacrifice him---notice Abraham did not even question the Lord in all of this. Abraham simply replied, "Here I am Lord." Now all this is to not glorify Abraham as some super-human but to recognize the true definition of "fearing the Lord." Verse 12 says this after Abraham had the knife prepared to slaughter his son: "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you FEAR GOD, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me."
In those days, having a son was a HUGE deal. Huge. Because the son carried on the family into the next generation, the family's inheritance was passed onto him by this father. So everything that the family accomplished or did in the span of time they were given on this earth, was passed onto the son. Isaac was not just one of many sons of Abraham---he was his only son--the son that God himself had promised, yet he surrendered him wholeheartedly to the Lord. I love the point of this passage where Isaac asks, "Hey dad, where is the lamb to be sacrificed ?" And Abraham replies, "The Lord will provide the lamb." AH! Does this not sound so familiar to what is to come in the New Testament? "Behold the lamb that comes to take away the sins of the world?" Christ fulfilled this sacrifice: He too was God's only Son.

Even though we may not have children or understand the totality of offering your own child as a sacrifice, we too can relate and are called to fear the Lord as Abraham did. Christ has become our ultimate sacrifice through his death and resurrection. So although we may not "need" to sacrifice anything to obtain our salvation (other than total surrender of our lives) we are still called to fear the Lord--to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul mind and strength.

What is your "Isaac" in life? Is it your future? Is it your education? Your body? Your job? Your money? Your mom? Your dad? One area that God has GREATLY transformed in my life is the concept of marriage. As I am preparing to be married, I cannot help but think back to years prior to becoming engaged--I prayed and prayed for my spouse. I remember just before I met Kory, I had come to this realization that my life did not begin with marriage--my mission and ministry did not commence at the alter. Funny how all of a sudden I met Kory and now am engaged to be married. But even now, as I look forward to so much of a marriage with him, I find myself continually taking our marriage to the top of the mountain, knife in hand prepared to sacrifice it---not because I want to destroy it, nor do I want to lose it---but because even though marriage between a man and woman is sacred, and a wonderful example of our relationship with Christ----the Lord is to be feared above all else. The Lord is to be Lord over all. Do we need to live in fear of God taking things away from us that he has given? No, of course not---God is not out to give us something and just take it away because he can: but he does have the authority in our lives as Lord, to do whatever it is that will bring him the most glory--because He is God.

So the point in all of this is to not say to you, "What would be the hardest thing to sacrifice to God?" But rather make the point that God actually is the one who sacrificed the most in all of this---yes he called Abraham to surrender his son as a sacrifice, but God surrendered his very self, in the form of Jesus Christ, the Son, as an atonement for our sins. Would that not compel you to sacrifice anything and everything in your life---including your own? I pray that we would not cling to the gifts we've been given; education, family, a spouse, our bodies, our very lives---but that we would cling to the Giver.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Joyful Reconciliation

Psalm 32 1(A) Blessed is the one whose(B) transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2Blessed is the man against whom the LORD(C) counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit(D) there is no deceit. 3For when I kept silent, my(E) bones wasted away through my(F) groaning all day long. 4For day and night your(G) hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up[b] as by the heat of summer. Selah 5I(H) acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I(I) will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah 6Therefore let everyone who is(J) godly offer prayer to you at a time when you(K) may be found; surely in the rush of(L) great waters, they shall not reach him. 7You are a(M) hiding place for me; you preserve me from(N) trouble; you surround me with(O) shouts of deliverance. Selah 8I will(P) instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will(Q) counsel you with my eye upon you. 9(R) Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with(S) bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. 10(T) Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who(U) trusts in the LORD. 11(V) Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and(W) shout for joy, all you(X) upright in heart! Footnotes: a.Psalm 32:1 Probably a musical or liturgical term b.Psalm 32:4 Hebrew my vitality was changed Cross references: A.Psalm 32:1 : Cited Rom 4:7, 8; Psalm 85:2 B.Psalm 32:1 : Exodus 34:7; John 1:29 C.Psalm 32:2 : 2 Cor 5:19 D.Psalm 32:2 : John 1:47 E.Psalm 32:3 : Psalm 31:10 F.Psalm 32:3 : Psalm 22:1 G.Psalm 32:4 : 1 Sam 5:6, 11; Psalm 38:2 H.Psalm 32:5 : Psalm 51:3 I.Psalm 32:5 : Psalm 38:18; Job 33:27; Prov 28:13; Luke 15:18, 21; 1 John 1:9 J.Psalm 32:6 : Psalm 30:4 K.Psalm 32:6 : Psalm 69:13 L.Psalm 32:6 : Psalm 18:4, 16; 42:7; 69:1; 144:7; Job 22:11 M.Psalm 32:7 : Psalm 91:1; 119:114; Psalm 27:5; 31:20 N.Psalm 32:7 : Psalm 9:9 O.Psalm 32:7 : Psalm 18, title; Exodus 15:1-18; Judg 5:1-31 P.Psalm 32:8 : Psalm 25:8, 12 Q.Psalm 32:8 : Psalm 73:24 R.Psalm 32:9 : Prov 26:3; Job 35:11 S.Psalm 32:9 : James 3:3 T.Psalm 32:10 : Prov 13:21; Rom 2:9 U.Psalm 32:10 : Psalm 34:8; 84:12; Prov 16:20; Jer 17:7 V.Psalm 32:11 : Psalm 64:10; 68:3; 97:12; Psalm 33:1 W.Psalm 32:11 : Deut 32:43 X.Psalm 32:11 : Psalm 7:10 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I came across this passage this morning while reading and I couldn't help but find such joy in it and share it! I included the cross references as well in case you were wanting to explore into more detail about certain verses. I can totally relate to the Psalmist in verses 1-4 where he is trudging along with this heaviness of the Lord's hand upon him. Have you had to carry the dead weight of someone? Hopefully not like a body-bag-dead-weight, but you know, when you are just playing around and you collapse and someone has to drag you or you have to drag someone? It's horrible! It's so tough! That's what I feel like when I am convicted of something, like this huge person's dead weight has just collapsed upon my back. The Psalmist says, "For when I kept silence, my bones wasted away..." Not only does that conviction of the Holy Spirit weigh a ton, but your insides ache and groan for relief. What a wonderful thing, Amen? What a glorious thing to have the convictions of sin, because I believe it proves all the more of the work of the Lord in our lives! Reread verse 5. Ah! So great! Such a wonderful example of God's faithfulness in forgiving our sins---and this is in the Old Testament, before Christ--so here is somewhat of a glimpse of the grace-giving God that we serve providing forgiveness for one's iniquity. The Psalmist urges those of us who are godly, to offer prayer in time that God is near. Now God is present both in times of living obediently and times of disobedience, but this verse urges us to offer prayer in that moment to reconcile our hearts to God. I used the cross-reference on this verse in Psalm 69:13 which states: "But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness." Offering that prayer of reconciliation with God is so important! We should praise the Lord for his abundance of steadfast love and his saving faithfulness! What a wonderful Father. I love the description of God when the Psalmist says, "You are my hiding place, you preserve me and surround me with shouts of deliverance!" When you look at forgiveness that way, we should rejoice so much more than how we normally react to sin. I don't know about you, but I often find myself continuing to bury my head in the sand when I sin. I hold onto that and continue to beat myself up. I acknowledge that I am forgiven, but I fail to surrender it completely. I understand that we have consequences that may go beyond our prayer of confession, depending upon the authority over us---but why give yourself lashes when it's already been done? Why crucify yourself when Christ has already taken your place. You can recognize the horrific act of Christ dying for you, but also remember, that He is the perfect sacrifice, the perfect Lamb, Atonement for our sins and you trying to make yourself into a mini sacrifice, won't cut it! He's done it! Relate to him, but ultimately see his sacrifice as sufficient, and REJOICE in your forgiveness! I like the promise of verses 7-8 which are from God. They say that he will instruct us in the way we should go and his eye will be upon us. At times, I am one to not like observance of someone. In my internship, we will often have our preceptor go with us and observe our charting or consulting of a patient and you get pretty insecure with her eyes watching you. But there is also rest in it because you know that if you make a mistake, she is there to counsel you, to help you and make sure that you do it right. There is security within the insecurity: dependence upon God to help you. In addition, the verse makes reference to a mule or a horse with a bit. We are to be obedient in those moments of counsel or direction---to not doubt the instructions from God. This is just like when my preceptor says that I need to make this statement in the chart or visit with the patient about this ---if I don't do it, then not only is my preceptor in shock of my disobedience, and that patient may not be getting the best care possible. There is something to be said about being obedient in the moment you are asked to do something: a trust is immediately created and in that trust, God is glorified in your life. Ending this passage, the Psalmist makes the statement that 'many are the sorrows of the wicked.' Do you live in constant sorrow? Is your heart continually troubled? Perhaps you have good reason! Perhaps you are wicked and are in need of surrendering your life to God. But if you have surrendered your life to Christ, maybe you're like me in the sense that you continue to live in light of the sin rather than living in light of the sacrifice. The passage ends with the command to rejoice in God's steadfast love that surrounds those who trust God. Do you trust God? Do you truly believe that He will forgive you? Do you fear yourself more than God? I do sometimes. I have standards set-up in my mind that force me to fear myself more than God: and that's wrong! It's wrong! I am all about recognizing your sin and experiencing that dead weight that is caused by the Spirit's convictions. I think of Luther who use to sleep on the cold, damp floor and roll around in ashes because he recognized his unworthiness before our Righteous and Holy God. Go ahead and recognize your unworthiness, but then rejoice and be glad and shout for joy with an upright heart! You have been forgiven a mighty fine: eternal separation from our loving God. That is something to take joy in!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Taking Candy From Strangers

Can you all remember your first “Stranger Danger” education wave in elementary school? I remember having Officer Savvy and Officer Christiansen come into my Kindergarten classroom to talk with our class on how to stay away from strangers. The said things like “Hey! How many of you kids like candy? (My classmates and myself: “Me! Me! Me!”); that’s great! Who do you normally get candy from? (“Mom! Dad! Grandma!” Etc…) That’s great! It’s fun getting candy from your parents or grandparents, especially if it’s your favorite kind. But what about from someone you don’t know? Is it safe to get candy from someone you don’t know?(“No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” With the Classroom clown still screaming when we’re done….yup! We had a few of those) That’s good class! No, it is not safe to get candy from strangers, do you know why? Gabe (he knew everything!), the smartest boy in the class says, “It isn’t safe, they could take you away from your mom and your dad or hurt you, or even poison you with the candy!” Ok, so you get the picture!

I was sitting in church this morning listening to Pastor Williams share about a passage in Matthew 7 on false prophets. The passage uses another analogy of “false prophets are like wolves in sheepskin.”

True and False Prophets

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. True and False Disciples 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ NIV

Just for some comical relief, I am going to let out a “Ha!” Because I know I have just picked probably one of the “Top Ten Controversial Verses of the Bible,” (right up there with the Predestination verses….yup, I said it! :) ) But seriously. When looking at this passage of scripture, I think that we can glean some very simple information: How can we serve a God who spits out lukewarm individuals for him to turn around and give us a gray passage of scripture? This passage is very black and white to me when approaching it. Jesus is warning people to ‘watch out for false prophets,” people, who are, like Pastor Williams said, are ‘adding’ or ‘changing’ what has been said in the Word. I will give you five ‘Mississippi’s’ to guess how relevant this is to the recent news on certain pastors with skewed biblical teachings are sweeping the nation. It was happening back in Jesus’ day as well! Just like a stranger offers you candy, these false prophets are presenting you with a ‘sweet Gospel,’ something that appeals to your taste and your liking. The “drive-thru pray the prayer technique” is a hot concept among churches claiming to present the Gospel. You may even get a little feeling in your stomach and get teary-eyed as you go on your way, ‘pay your bill,’ and back out to the freeway. This is a great example as to how false prophets are approaching people: tailoring the Gospel to your needs; one-size-fits-all approach. When sadly, thousands maybe millions of people are being lied to! Am I saying that you cannot initiate a relationship by praying to God? Of course not! How else does one talk to God but through prayer? I wish sometimes I could look inside another man’s heart and discern his sincerity level to Christ, but then I’d be Christ…and I am not (thankfully!). No, I may not be able to read the person’s heart, but the passage does say that he or she will ‘bear good fruit.’

I grew up on a farm in South Dakota and we had a few apple trees in our grove that I would go and pick from at the end of summer, early fall. I was able to identify which tree was doing well, was healthy and full of life based upon the size of apples it produced. If it look like the worms had gotten to most of the apples or the tree appeared as though it had wilted; I didn’t bother messing with that tree. Now, so often people see this analogy and say, “But what if I am struggling and I am unable to produce fruit, does that mean I have to be perfect? Someone who is always on top of things, always sharing the Gospel and always producing, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control?” Ha, no. Once you become a Christian, you are not perfect---your salvation was perfected through Christ, but you yourself, may still sin and struggle for the rest of your life. But the point made here, is that a good tree, is going to produce good fruit, regardless of type of weathering that takes place on it. If the Spirit of God is within you, and you believe that God is a perfect, sinless, holy God, then shouldn’t you reflect those same attributes?

Hmm. The next passage is one that my youth pastor, Dave Moe, challenged us with my senior year of high school. I remember sitting there and he approaching this verse with no sugar-coating: he wouldn’t allow us to give him the Sunday-school answer. In fact, I remember him almost being down-right angry, a righteous fury that came because he knew that some of us had been lied to, even though they may have grown up in his church. I love that quality in Dave and I was so blessed to have him challenge me on this. In my mind as an 18 year old, a grown girl with roots dug well deep into scripture, I was thinking, “How is it possible God? Don’t you want everyone to enter the Kingdom? If they say they know you, and do things for you, shouldn’t they be allowed to come in?” Dave emphasized the last portion of the passage to us, “You who practice lawlessness.” Dave wasn’t coming down on us for not being perfect: He wasn’t trying to point out our flaws and weaknesses: He was saying, if you have not made a lifestyle change, one that has completely surrendered and repented of his or her sins, then you cannot help but practice lawlessness, or bad fruit. Just like the trees in our grove that were bad trees to begin with, there’s no way that all of a sudden they would have the ability to produce good fruit. A new seed would need to be planted and it would have to grow up to become a good tree.

Do you get the difference? There is one. A big difference. So often we as Christians get approached by other people or mocked for obvious things we may or may not do. I am one who has strong convictions on several things that people would look at and say, “Why? Are you too good? Other Christians do it! You’re too much of a goody-goody; I don’t think God would send you to hell for…. (Fill in whatever you want).” I get frustrated with these assumptions because to me, a relationship with Christ is not a matter of getting to go to heaven or hell, its saying, “I want to be with God! Where God is, I want to be. I want to be in a relationship with Him, I want to experience who He is and what He’s created me for.”

When you find someone you love and desire to spend your life with, you don’t just get married, to get married: you marry so you can do life together, to become one. Similarly, you don’t just accept Christ with this expectation that the only thing you desire is for you to not have to go to hell.

My heart aches for people to realize this before they come to the point of their life that it’s too late and you are the one saying verse 21. How a loving God say can verse 22, you may ask: a God that is not only loving, but just, righteous, and holy. Think of your biggest pet peeve and multiply it times a thousand, or imagine the angriest you have ever been, similarly God has a fury against sin, it is everything He is not and He lost his son over it. Sin is hostile to everyone involved. But He has given us a means of approaching His throne out His great love, grace and mercy.

You see, we serve an amazingly mysterious God! One that deserves to have a committed child, not one who just wants to “sneak into his kingdom” (which doesn’t happen). Do you get it? Does it make sense? Don’t take candy from strangers! Don’t believe the lies that you can ‘get salvation,’ based upon the lies of false prophets. Recognize the true Gospel: that Salvation comes to those who surrender their lives, take up their cross and follow Christ daily. Or maybe I will just let the scripture speak for itself!

Mark 8

The Way of the Cross

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life[b] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” NIV

Friday, April 1, 2011

Illegal U-Turns of Life

I was lost. I was north of Dallas trying to find my cousin’s house at 12:30 pm at night after driving from Little Rock and I was lost! Now, in South Dakota, we have a system with our roads: the numbers either increase or decrease as you go east, west, north or south on country roads with the exception for a few random road names like “Greenfield” or “University.” Texas, on the other hand, must like to see out-of-staters squirm because there was no way I was going to be able to locate the road I needed to turn on due to the sporadic numbering system! I couldn’t tell which direction was east, west, north or south and to top it off, my dear boyfriend was indeed food poisoned just prior to our departure and needed me to pull over frequently. Can you imagine the scene? It’s somewhat comical now but I recall those moments as being nothing shy of miserable! I sensed that we were going in the wrong direction and so what do I do? I go through the intersection, look ahead and behind to see if traffic is coming from either direction and do a U-turn. As I am returning to the same intersection I was driving through moments before, Kory, bless his patient heart, says “Ah, Joni, not trying to freak you out but you may get pulled over, there’s a cop ahead of us that just pulled into the parking lot to turn around.” I immediately went into that panic mode: you know the “OH NO!” I feel like no matter how many tickets you get or how old you are, you get that 14-year-old-driver fear of, I am going to get my freedom taking away! They’re going to take my license! My palms got sweaty, my heart raced for a few moments and sure enough, the Cop switched on the blue lights and I pulled over. He came over and asked the standard question, “Ma’m, do you know why I pulled you over? Back on that last road you were on, you performed an illegal U-Turn, did you see the sign” I honestly had not seen the sign and replied with a “No, sir, I didn’t, I’m sorry.” He proceeded to see my license and registration. (Meanwhile, Kory is turning all shades of green).

The officer went back to his car ran my license and came back a few minutes later. “Well ma’m I am only going to give you a warning tonight, here’s a copy, just be careful.” I was so relieved and then I proceeded to ask, “Sir, I am so lost, is there any way you could give me directions to the golf course?” Ha, oh goodness, we finally got to my cousin’s but what a night!

My reasoning behind sharing this story is that, I was listening to a message on the topic of obedience to the law from a passage of scripture found in Romans 7 and 8 and I immediately was drawn back to that night and saw some correlation between the Laws related to driving and the Law of scripture.

Let’s read it together:

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin.

(continuing into chapter 8)

Life Through the Spirit 1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you. 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[f] And by him we cry, “Abba,[g] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." NIV

What an amazing passage of scripture, amen? As I was just rereading it, I was able to draw a few parallels with real life story of getting pulled over. Typically, if you break the law—knowingly or unknowingly, you deserve a ticket for breaking that particular law. With that ticket comes a fine. This maybe a stretch, but try and use the story as an analogy with this passage: imagine that when you got pulled over, you were guaranteed to never have to pay the fine with the violation completely removed from your record.

You may still get pulled over for breaking the law, but the violation was immediately forgiven and paid by another person: Christ. Now, you could go through life, let’s say, not a believer and work really hard at not getting pulled over but what if you came to a different state, like me, and unknowingly broke the law? You’re still guilty of breaking the law! Whether you know it or not, you’re guilty. Similarly, no matter how wonderful our ‘driving skills’ in life maybe, we are still guilty of sin! And there is no way that we have what it takes to pay the debt of that sin in our lives, but through Christ, we have been set free from the fines of the law and have been forgiven. Now Paul will go on an describe the concept of “having the license to sin?” By no means! No we should desire to abide by the law even more because we know that Christ is going to have to pay for that sin each and every time we ‘get pulled over.’ But when we do, we can rest assure and say, “I am free!” And we praise God for his grace through our faith in Christ Jesus.

Although it may seem somewhat an elementary analogy to the magnificent mystery of salvation through Jesus Christ, I hope that you can approach today in light of knowing that you are free from condemnation through faith in Christ Jesus, and that when you’ve established a committed relationship with Him, he will forgive both your intentional and ‘unintentional’ sins---paying for your ticket on the Cross of Calvary.