Beloved Carstairs Bancroft United Church Members,
I trust that you are managing to stay well in body and soul! I was honored to hear that some of you find these daily encouragements helpful and uplifting. And as I can see, appreciating the elevating love of God is the best way to strengthen our spirits, no matter the circumstances.
During Holy Week, we can gain a glimpse how far God was ready to go in order to lift us up, and to open a path to the Kingdom of God. However, on this final phase of our Lenten Journey we may come across with a message that is hard to take in. And this is sin.
I have to admit that I am among those who had felt quite uncomfortable with this concept. I struggled to understand it, and considered it as a harassment that makes you feel bad, and pushed down, instead of being uplifted. Still, in my understanding, before we can be raised, we should have a glimpse from where we have been lifted up. Several passages of the Bible indicate that those people whom we consider the heroes of faith, saw this clearly. Just two examples:
After the miraculous fishing in Luke chapter 5, this is Peter’s reaction: “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8)
And here is a well-known quote from Apostle Paul: “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the gloryof God…” (Romans 3:22-23)
The Lenten period gives us an opportunity to gain a better view of our deprived state without God. And at the same time, we can gain a better insight on what God has achieved to lift us out of our ‘poverty’, and to make us rich.
And for me this is the point: understanding the damage of sin, and catching the reaction of God can lift us up; can make us grateful, joyful and strong in spirit. With another word, it can change us for better.
So, let me ask something as we get closer to Good Friday and Easter:
Has the love of God shown in Christ’s death moved you any closer to God? Has it changed you at any stages of your Christian journey?
God’s love was shown to all of us who “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, and we are all invited to enjoy the gift of forgiveness in the name of Christ Jesus. And this is game-changer! Thanks be to God!
Below please find today’s devotion from Rev. Alice. I trust that it provides food for thought in the finals of our Lenten journey.
“The God of peace be with you all. Amen.” (Romans 15:33)
My Sin, Your Sin, Whose Sin?
For our sake He (the Father) made Him (the Son) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him (in Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God. / 2 Corinthians 5:21
God has a plan. — The reason why it is good to read the Bible, that it can open our eyes to spiritual reality. We tend to see physical reality as the whole picture, but it is not. Spiritual reality has many truths, and one of them is the realization that God is in control, and He has a plan. Always.
God used the death of His Son to give us life, life eternal.
Sin is an unpleasant concept; we tend to dislike it. We tend to trust God’s ability to be generous, and in His generosity overlook our sins… but we cannot expect a perfect person to overlook anything, can we?
We call our sins “mistakes.” That is a clear indication of spiritual blindness. When the Holy Spirit touches somebody’s heart, the reaction of that person is the recognition of the gravity of sin… not something generally bad but his/her very own sin, which breaks God’s heart.
If you ever want to know anything about the seriousness of sin, all we have to do is to look at the price tag. The best and the most painful yet somewhat mathematically precise definition of the cost God had to pay, comes from Apostle Paul. Jesus, the Son of God, knew no sin but God, the Father made Him sin… not a sinner, but sin, to save us.
God has a plan. This was His plan of redemption from before the foundation of the universe.
Prayer: – by Rev. Alice(based on VU # 288)
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not, as Thou hast been Thou forever will be.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness, Morning by morning new mercies I see
And all I have needed Thy hand hath provided, Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.
Rev. Maria Szabo Berces
Carstairs Bancroft United Church
1202 Hammond Street, Box 34
Carstairs, AB T0M 0N0