Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pennies and Stickers

Remember last week when we talked about sin? What did we say about sin? All people have it, it is messy, it is not believing what God says about us, it is a word used in the bible. Think of something wrong you did last week. Maybe you disobeyed your parents, or lied to somebody. Think of one thing, but don't say it out loud.

See these pennies and how dirty they are? Everybody hold one penny, and remember that wrong thing you did this week. Now place the penny back on the plate. Thank you.

I will put this sticker on your forehead, but you cannot touch it with your hands. That sticker represents the thing you did that was wrong. We all have stickers on our faces because we've all sinned. Our hearts are messy on the inside.

Now, let's try to remove that mess, and those stickers. Think really hard and see if those stickers will pop off. Did it work? Think really hard and see if you can undo that sticker. Why can't we undo the bad things we've done in the past?

We do not get any do overs for the bad things we have done. We can't take back our words or actions. Sins stay put, just like those stickers we have on our faces.

But God cleans up those sins for us. I'm going to read you something a King wrote. His name was David. You may have heard of him, he slayed a giant when he was young. He got in big trouble when he became a king. Big, big Trouble! Let's see what David says to God in Psalm 51:

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. `ESV

Father sent Jesus to pay for our sins. All those dots that represent sin are cleansed. Jesus died for our sin, and rose three days later, or came to life again three days later, to make us clean. King David believed Jesus did this for him. I believe Jesus did this for you and me, too.

Remember those pennies? I put hot sauce on one side while we were talking. If I wipe it off, look what happens to the penny. It is cleaner, but not completely clean. God makes us completely clean. He forgives us of our sin. Isn't that good news?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bare Naked Lady

So unprepared was I for what happened last week that I was completely blindsided by the Law and it's accusations against me. I thought I was preparing a simple gospel lesson and devotion for children. You can read the devotion in the blog post here. It snowballed into what seemed a ceaseless rail of accusations that swept others into the overwhelming speed of my own sinful avalanche.

Upon reviewing my devotion for the kids with my co-worker in the Lord, she told me that children should not be told that Jesus died for their sin, that it was too scary of a concept for them. I ignored that advice and went ahead with the lesson I had developed. I was interrupted several times during my devotion, and given a look of surprise that I had gone ahead with the lesson as planned. I left feeling confused, as if I had done the wrong thing.

Then while talking to some friends after this experience, which they were unaware of, I misinterpreted some things that were said. I thought they were suggesting we end our friendship. Feelings of rejection and being in middle school again were resurfacing. Amazing how long those hurts stay with us from when we were not yet teens. Then in an attempt to encourage that rejection I said some very unkind things. Thankfully, two of the friends responded quizzically with, "Julie, this isn't like you. What is going on?" One brother in the Lord helped me to see what had happened.

To my wounded friends, I am so sorry. Forgive me.

Being new to understanding God's word in terms of Law and Gospel, this was my first awareness of a spiritual attack. My conscience and sins were being thrown before me. I needed to run to Jesus for refuge. In my confusion, I came out swinging with deadly words. My faith was on trial and I did not know what to do about it. I had forgotten to remind myself of the Gospel; that Jesus paid for all my sin, past, present, and future.

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. ~ 1 John 3:19-23

Since this incident, I have talked to my co-laborer with the children and we talked about what happened that afternoon. We know one another better now. I will continue to tell children that Jesus loves them and died for them, because it is true.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Believing What God Says About Me

Have you ever drawn a self portrait? Were other people able to recognize you? In a large group, where everybody draws a self portrait, all the drawings will look different. It would be interesting to have each person hold another person's portrait and then match it to the artist.

There are many ways that we are different from one another besides our appearance. Some of us are good at one thing; while others excel at something else. For instance, one of my friends is very outspoken and open with her views on everything and anything; I am usually quiet and reserved. We often think differently from our closest friends.

When God created the world he said it was good. When He created humankind he called us very good. Does "very good" refer to you and me, too? Sometimes we don't feel good about ourselves and we know we have been naughty or we have sinned.

The differences we see in people around us can cause us feelings of jealousy, envy, and even hatred. We want what they have. Sometimes we begin to hate ourselves because of the things others say about us, and we begin to believe them.

When we lie to other people, God knows. When we are mean to other people, God knows. When we are sorry that we hurt others, God knows. When we tell God that we have hurt our friends, He will forgive us when we ask Him to.

When we disobey mommy and daddy, they still love us. Mommy and Daddy do not stop loving us when we are naughty. God is our Father also. He does not stop loving us when we sin. Does God love us even when we sin? The answer is Yes. We know this because He sent Jesus to die for our sin.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."