Forgiveness, Grace

No More Grubby Sin-Clothes

Do you ever see sin like it’s a suit of filthy clothing and wonder whether you’ll ever wash clean?

My kids used to come home dirty after playing outside, but one day in particular was the worst. I eyed them from the door, every inch of them covered in head-to-toe grime.

“We found a mud pit, Mama!” they shrieked, little faces transformed with glee.

My heart tumbled—so much for all the cleaning I’d done that morning.

One by one, I scooped them up and deposited them in my shower. There was so much mud caked on that it took me three shampoos and a loofah scrub-down to get most of it out of their hair and out from under their fingernails, not to mention all the loads of laundry.

That night, as we snuggled up in my son’s room reading bedtime stories, I inhaled their scent, their freshly washed hair and laundered clothes a balm for my senses.

“We were dirty, Mama,” my daughter whispered, giggling. “But it was so much fun.”

My son looked worried. “Is my special shirt ruined forever?”

I kissed his brow. “All the stains came out. It’s as good as new, sweet pea. Just like you two.”

It took a lot of work to get the mud off my kids, not to mention a bunch of stain remover and laundry cycles. But it was true—every bit of filth had been washed away. No more walking swamp monsters.

Reading Zechariah in the Bible today, the prophet’s vision reminds me of my dirty kiddos all those years ago—and what it means for us all today.

In Zechariah’s vision, in Zechariah 3:1-7, an angel had come to him from the Lord, telling him how angry God had been with His people. But God promised He would return to Jerusalem with mercy, cleansing them of their sin if they would walk in His ways and follow His commands.

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?’

“Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’ Then he said to Joshua, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.’

“Then I said, ‘Put a clean turban on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.

“The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here’” (Zechariah 3:1-7 NIV).

Joshua, the high priest of Jerusalem, had been adorned in filth—covered in sin and unworthiness. He and all God’s people wandered far astray, worshipping other gods and forgetting Who they belonged to. But God, in His great compassion, elected to remove that sin and give Joshua new clothes. Not only that, but He promised Joshua a place in His heavenly home if he would walk in obedience to God.

Just like my kids were covered in mud and grime and Joshua wore clothes of filth, we too are adorned in the muck and mire that is sin.

Just like my kids were covered in mud and grime and Joshua wore clothes of filth, we too are adorned in the muck and mire that is sin. Click To Tweet

Others might not be able to see the grubby sin-clothes we wear, but God can. In fact, to God and His holy beings, I imagine we look like my kids did that day after their visit to the mud pit, our sin stinking and caked on for all of heaven to see.

But, through God’s almighty mercy and Fatherly love, He gives us the chance to be washed clean, to put on brand-new clothes, the finest clothing we’ve ever imagined, and take up residence with Him—if only we choose to follow Jesus.

Through God’s almighty mercy and fatherly love, He gives us the chance to be washed clean, to put on brand-new clothes, the finest clothing we’ve ever imagined, and take up residence with Him—if only we choose to follow Jesus. Click To Tweet

God sent His Son to die for us and pay our sin-debt so that we can discover the path to heaven. He offers us His heavenly shower and laundry, effectively rescuing us from the fires of hell and granting us, in His mercy, new life.

Like “a burning stick rescued from the fire,” we are rescued from eternal death when we choose the path of Jesus.

Like 'a burning stick rescued from the fire,' we are rescued from eternal death when we choose the path of Jesus. Click To Tweet

As Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NIV). And as the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

Let’s get rid of those filthy, muddy, sin-caked clothes. Let’s put on new clothes of redemption—and choose life eternal.

Let’s put on new clothes of redemption—and choose life eternal. Click To Tweet

Your turn: Do you ever see your sin like it’s a suit of filthy clothing, or a layer of mud upon your skin? Did confessing and repenting of your sin make you feel like you were fresh and clean?

 

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Grace

Hitting Pause to Rest

rest quote and woman sitting

Do you feel as if summer is moving much too fast? Did those lazy days you planned, when June first rolled around, get swallowed up in business an hustle? Do you wish you could simply hit pause, turn on some praise music, maybe grab a great book or go for a slow, leisurely stroll?

We do, too! That’s why we’ve decided to slow things down this month in order to quiet our hustle as we learn to rest.

Today, we’re intentionally resting in grace. What does that look like for you?

For us, it means releasing our mistakes and regrets. It means allowing each new day to be precisely that–new. A new opportunity to laugh, to love, to connect with God and others, and to lean deeper into, you guessed it, grace. It means trading our striving for surrender, our guilt for all we have or haven’t done for celebration for all God’s doing, at this moment, in us. It means celebrating His grace revealed in others, too, and entrusting our loved ones into His hands.

It’s focusing on how God is leading us today, knowing tomorrow will come, in His timing. It’s embracing all today has to offer, knowing He’s always right beside us.

Here are a few of our favorite verses. Choose one to prayerfully consider this week as you rest deeper in God’s love and grace as well.

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

Grace

Moving From Guilt to Freedom

I was a mess during my teen and young adult years. I blamed everyone else for my self-destructing life: If my circumstances hadn’t been so chaotic, I never would’ve dropped out of high school. If certain interactions hadn’t been so painful and unstable, I never would’ve turned to alcohol. And if so-n-so hadn’t said such-n-such, I never would’ve reacted as I had.

This type of victim-mentality robbed me of the strength to change and distanced me from God’s mercy and grace. To experience the freedom of forgiveness, of being absolved completely, that Christ offered, I first needed to grasp my need for it. Click To Tweet

I had to honestly evaluate not just my life, not just my outward behavior, but my sinful heart as well.

Honest self-evaluation is hard. Admitting our sin truthfully, not only to ourselves, but to God, can feel even harder. It takes great humility to acknowledge what God already knows—that we’re worse than we’d imagined and are helpless, in our own power, to change. Often there’s an additional challenge that often holds us in fear when we could be living in the freedom of grace: we’re afraid of rejection. Scared of being cut off entirely. Because that’s often what we’ve experienced from others.

An acquaintance grew up in a controlling household where love was conditional and tied to behavior. When she acted a certain way and others were pleased with her, they welcomed her close. When she disappointed them, she was disregarded and pushed away.

Maybe that resonates with you. Many of us have experienced similar interactions, whether with family, friends, or with our significant others. As a result, we can unknowingly carry a similar expectation into our relationship with God, and we likely aren’t even aware we’ve done so.

Here’s where God’s different. Whereas others might say, “You messed up. You blew it,” and cuts us off, Christ said, in essence, “You messed up, and I’m going to draw you near.” Click To Tweet But He did even more than that. When He stretched out His arms wide and died on the cross for our sins, He said, in essence, “Sweet daughter, you really made a mess of things. Of your life, your relationship with others. Your relationship with Me. And so I’m drawing near.”

Whereas others might say, “You messed up. You blew it,” and cuts us off, Christ said, in essence, “You messed up, and I’m going to draw you near.”Our Savior’s love is different than any we’ve ever known. Click To Tweet

When our sin separated us from Him, Christ took the first step to bridge that gap. Click To Tweet He took the first step, then the next, and then the next after that, pursuing us with His last breath, quite literally, to welcome us in. This demonstrates, where sin abounds, as serious and destructive as it may be, God’s grace abounds all the more, for God’s steadfast, unshakable love never ceases, and His mercies truly are new each morning (Rom. 5:20, Lamentations 3:22-23).

Scholars believe Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, wrote that last phrase, shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem. He’d spent a good chunk of his adult life warning the Israelites to turn from their idolatrous ways and back to God, but His children persisted in their sin. And after generations of rebellion and idolatry, they were finally experiencing the consequences.

Jeremiah, a prophet who loved God and had remained faithful, witnessed the destruction of his beloved homeland. The city and their beloved temple had been reduced to rubble, and the people became destitute.

Mourning all that had been lost, Jeremiah didn’t say, “Why me? This isn’t fair, God.” No, instead, he said, “See, O Lord, how distressed I am! I am in torment within, and in my heart I am disturbed, for I have been most rebellious.”

This from the man who could’ve prayed, “I, only I, have remained faithful.”

Scholars debate whether he was speaking of his own sins or of those made by the nation as a whole, but regardless, we know he sinned. According to Scripture, we all have. We’ve failed to live and love as we should, whether we’re harboring selfish thoughts or displaying selfish actions. I do both a thousand times each day, and when confronted with my wretchedness, it’s tempting to divert blame. To justify and make excuses, but though doing so might feel “safe” in the moment, it only leads to increased bondage.

To find freedom, I need to take an honest look at the sin-wrought rubble of my life, focus on the love and goodness of God, and like Jeremiah did in the next chapter over, cast myself upon the One whose mercies never fail.

Because “the Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the One who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly on the salvation of the Lord” (Lam. 3:25-26).

Let’s talk about this! Have you received the forgiveness Christ offers and the freedom that follows? If not, and you would like to learn more about finding ultimate and eternal absolution, please contact us HERE. If you’ve already experienced God’s cleansing grace, are you walking in that? Or are you interpreting spiritual distance that isn’t there, that Christ died to remove? How might remembering His reaction to our sin help you rest more deeply in His embrace, not just when you’re acting in a way that pleases Him, but when you mess up as well?

Join our online book club to learn to rest, daily, in God's grace! Click To Tweet

Book club inviteWe want to help you live in the freedom of God’s grace! Join us for a five week online book discussion club to discuss the Ragamuffin Gospel, a book that was truly transformative in Jennifer’s life. You can find the book HERE.

From the back cover:

A Furious Love Is Hot on Your Trail! 

Many believers feel stunted in their Christian growth. We beat ourselves up over our failures and, in the process, pull away from God because we subconsciously believe He tallies our defects and hangs His head in disappointment. In this newly repackaged edition—now with full appendix, study questions, and the author’s own epilogue, “Ragamuffin Fifteen Years Later,” Brennan Manning reminds us that nothing could be further from the truth. The Father beckons us to Himself with a “furious love” that burns brightly and constantly. Only when we truly embrace God’s grace can we bask in the joy of a gospel that enfolds the most needy of His flock—the “ragamuffins.”

This club will be hosted on our Facebook Group and through Zoom video. Contact us HERE for information on how to participate.

Plus, we have fun news! Our 90-day devotional is now available!

Cover image for Bible study devotionalDrawing Near: 90-Day Devotional:

Each day, God beckons us to Himself, calling us to rest in His love and grace. As we do, He heals our hurts, overpowers our fears with love, and restores us to the women He created us to be. This 90-day devotional, written by women who are learning themselves to live anchored in God’s grace, will help you deepen your faith and grow your relationship with Christ.

Buy it HERE.