Today's Scripture -- 11.17.2014
We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is declared right with God—something the law of Moses could never do. ~ Acts 13:38-41
The Startling Truth About Grace and PreApproval
Sometimes our sin can feel so heavy, our repeat offenses so burdensome, and our private thoughts so embarrassingly awful. We can't image how a God could love or approve of us.
That must have been how the woman felt that day, when she came to me crying. I was sitting at the lunch table, with half-a-dozen others at a women’s retreat. She grabbed my elbow and pleaded.
“It’s so big, Jennifer. It’s so big and awful,” she said. “And I’ve kept it inside for so, so long.”
I stood up and slipped an arm around her waist. We walked to the other side of the building, away from the others. She wanted to confess a sin that she’d been hauling around for years. She had tried to keep that sin clamped shut, but it had burned a hole through her. It spilled out, like ash.
She hitched her thumbs in her pockets and stared at one spot in the carpet when she told me what she'd done.
Yes, it was horrible. Yes, it was big. And it had dug its claws into her heart and she couldn’t figure out how to make it go away.
She said she just wasn’t sure how to give it to God all by herself. And I’d been there before, too, needing a Spirit-sister to go with me.
“Would you be willing write it down?” I asked her, and passed her a scrap of paper I’d ripped from the side of an envelope.
So she wrote the name of the thing she’d done on ragged paper, and we found a lighter by the altar. We slipped out the back door, and huddled on the back step of a patio.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us,” I said. “Do you believe that?”
Yes, she said, yes, I do.
She held the paper, and I clicked the lighter. The paper sizzled, curling under a flame. She dropped the burning sin to the pavement, and it left a streak of ash.
She wept. So did I.
It was gone.
How Do We Know That God Really "PreApproved" Us?
Quite often, it will happen like that -- a woman will pull me to a corner at a conference. Or she'll quietly slip a note into my inbox, after reading my book about approval.
"What about God's approval? How do I know I have that?" the woman will ask. "I feel like there's no way I can have His love and approval, after all that I have done."
Every time I get a letter like that, I remember that moment with the burning paper. I remember the words, "It is finished."
And I remember the words in the Book of Acts. Look there for some startling truth about God's grace toward us, and His forgiveness for us.
"Everyone who believes in him is declared right with God," the Scripture says, and that's something that the law could never do. The law could never produce perfect obedience in people. Only Jesus could do what the law could not.
It's scandalous, wonderful, tragic, and mysterious.
And it's real. Let it sink in.
When is the last time we took a good long look at Jesus, carrying the sin of mankind on His back? What an astounding burden, an illogical grace.
If we then looked at our own sin, and found it too big for Jesus, might we cheapen the work of the cross? Might we be saying, "Jesus, thank you for doing what you did. But it wasn't enough to cover the mistakes I've made."
That's not what the Bible says. There's no fine print. No escape clause. And there are no sins too big, or too small.
He handled it all. He carried it all, no matter how vile or ugly.
If ever there was a time when God declared us "preapproved," it was on a Friday.
His Son went to the cross for us, before we even existed. We were preapproved before we were born. We were already approved -- bought and paid for -- when Jesus took our yet-to-be-committed sins with Him to the cross, spread His arms wide, as if to say, "Preapproved, Preapproved, Preapproved! I'm dying for you now, and you don't even know Me yet. You're preapproved, not by your law-keeping, but by My sacrifice."
Maybe you've been wondering it, too: Am I really loved and approved? Can God preapprove a wretch like me? The Scriptures say yes.
So maybe today's the day to release your pent-up baggage. Take your sins to a friend, and burn them if you must. Cry. And believe. Believe that He loves you, and He likes you, and He sent His son to die for you in the biggest act of validation known in the history of mankind. Let yourself believe that it's true. Because it is.
This post is part of our month-long series, “A November to Remember: Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes.
How You Can Be a Part of This Movement:
1 – Print out the Scripture sheets. (Click here for printable versions.) Each of the 30 daily Scriptures are quoted in Love Idol, and each one ties back in some way to our identity in Christ. (You don’t have to read the book to participate in this study. But of course, you’re welcome to! )
2 – Find the passage assigned for today’s date.
3 – Consider how God is speaking to you. How does the verse help you remember who you really are, outside of all the cultural noise?
4 - Visit us on the blog, or the Love Idol movement page on Facebook, to share what the verse means to you.
5 – Share your insights on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or your blog, to add more soul to your scroll. #MoreSoulLessScroll Tag me, so I can find you. (Or feel free to follow along silently! No social-media presence required.)
I’ll post my own response here on the blog every morning at 5 a.m. Sometimes, you’ll find a story, maybe a few short words, maybe a series of photos. That will happen every day, for all of November, God-willing.
Studies show that the best way to form a habit, is to NOT break the chain. Habits form if you keep at it, one day after the next after the next. After our 30 days, we may have created a new habit of Scripture before Scrolling – a habit that can take us into the Christmas season, and beyond.
If you want to follow along, visit us here every day. Consider subscribing to my blog by clicking here to get these reflections in your email inbox.
Let this be the November that we remember who we really are: Loved. Preapproved. His.
Find all the posts in the November to Remember series by clicking here.