Friday, November 21, 2008

The glory of God's pardon...

"I'm not worthy."

Versions of that sentiment are some of the most powerful lies that keep us from fellowshipping with God. So often, we feel that whatever we've done is one too many for God to pardon. It's above and beyond what we believe is forgivable. We've done it one too many times. Or maybe, God will forgive us tomorrow, but right away is too much to ask for.

I'd like to describe a scene from a movie.

One Night With The King is a dramatized version of the story of Esther. Many of you have probably heard of it, and some of you might have seen it. It's accuracy to the Biblical account is questionable, and many criticize the movie in other ways. I'm not here to tell you it's an amazing movie. But none of that stopped one scene from affecting me.

In this movie's version of Esther's story, Esther and the king fell in love. They have now been married for several months, at least, but they have become estranged. It has now been over a month since they have last seen each other.

Haman is deep in several plots. One is to destroy the Jews, and another is gaining power for himself. By this time, he's successfully become the king's right-hand man.

In addition, the historic battle between Persia and the Greeks, at the height of the Persian empire's power, is looming.

So Esther has been fasting for three days, in preparation to risk her life and go before the king on behalf of her people. Then, she suddenly receives news that he is leaving for Greece. She realizes that she has no time left. She must go before him now, or lose her chance.

It's a rainy night, and the Persian palace at Persepolis was set up with many courtyards to let light in and smoke from the fires out. In the Bible, it says Esther put on her royal robes, but in this movie, she goes in the clothes she had on, at that moment. Clothes that looked fine when she'd been in her chambers, but that don't remain so. In fact, by the time she crosses these courtyards and reaches the throne room, she is bedraggled and shivering, with water pooling at her feet.

She pushes open the doors to the king's throne room, interrupting a royal speech and thereby earning herself an instant death sentence. That was the law. All the king had to do was remain seated, and she would be instantly killed.

She slowly makes her way toward the throne, between the nobles who line the room. The room is silent in shock, that she would dare to come before the king! She reaches his throne, Haman points out that she has broken the protocol and deserves death. At that reminder, accusations are hurled at her from all directions. But she looks up at her husband and waits. He stands there, knowing that she is now under sentence of death. Knowing that she has asked for it by her actions. Yet he also knows that he loves her, despite what has happened between them.

Just as the sword starts to fall, he reaches out his hand and stops it, and he extends his scepter to her.

But afterward, his nobles level accusations at him, saying he should not have done it. It is his response that I love. He reminded them that he was the king, and that he could lower his scepter to whomever he wished. Case closed.

That is the wonderful thing about God's pardon. He is the King, not those who level accusations against us. He created the universe and dictated how things would be. He is the only One who can issue pardons.

He sent Jesus to issue them on our behalf... an infinite number of them, to anyone who was willing to receive them. All the person had to do was come to His throne room bearing one of those pardons.

Any time we even think of going, however, the devil is waiting. Accusations of what we've done are hurled from all directions. We've broken the law. We're not worthy. We should be punished.

Yet all we have to do is go there anyway, carrying the pardon of what Jesus did on the cross. God reaches out a hand and welcomes us into His arms. And if anyone dares to argue with Him about that pardon, His answer is the same. "A King can pardon whomever He wishes!"

Who will you listen to?

The ones hurling the accusations?

Or the One who made the law and issued your Pardon?

Monday, November 10, 2008

The glory of hope...

One of the reasons that I write this blog is because I desire to show the world what being a Christian is really all about. There are some who thing it's following a strict set of rules. (It's not, and I plan to post someday on those "rules.") Then there are those who think that it's just going to church and following a not-so-strict set of rules.

Then there are those who are frightened into "becoming Christians." They're told of the reality of hell, given the truth that God doesn't want them to go there and told that if they pray a prayer to accept what Jesus did for them, they can go to heaven.

All that is true. But it's only part of the story. You see, not only is the prayer you pray supposed to include turning control of your life over to God, but what you get in return is so much greater than simply a change of destination when you die!

And that is the purpose of this blog... Salvation from hell has been made available to me, and all I must do is accept it. But there's more. Salvation from from hopelessness, fear, despair, worry... all the things that drag us down... salvation from those things is also available to me, if I will accept it. Daily available!

I'd like to share this example from another blog I follow. Confessions of a Pioneer Woman is one of the most followed blogs in the world. It's a hodge-podge of daily life, as seen by a woman whose daily life is drastically different from most of ours (she lives on a ranch in the middle of no-where), yet whose life isn't all that different... all seen through a sense of humor.

Recently, however, her husband (whom she calls Marlboro Man) went to the Dominican Republic with their two oldest children. She asked him to send back pictures and updates on the trip, so she (and all her blog readers) could, in a small way, participates.

And there, in a tiny shanty in the Dominican Republic, I found what is, perhaps, the clearest example of the kind of salvation that Jesus has to offer people every day, no matter what circumstances they find themselves in.

A Tale of Two Houses

That is what Jesus will do for you!

Will you let Him?
Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion