Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Welcome home

Recently at the Regional Justice Center in Kent, I shared with two men who recognized their addictive and destructive behaviors that led them back to the jail. They were openly embarrassed and even experiencing shame.

Both shared specific details and even dates about when they received Jesus Christ as their Savior several years ago. They both broke down and choked up as they realized the trail of damage they have caused. Both men were openly repenting. Does our Lord continue to forgive us? How much are we forgiven? What does forgiveness look like?

First, God promises to cleanse us thoroughly every single day when we confess our sins to Him, Psalm 51:1-9, 1 John 1:9.

Second, God removes the weight and pressure of guilt when we acknowledge our sin to Him, Psalm 32:3-5.

Third, God forgives us with eternal lovingkindness as high as the heavens are above the earth, as far as the east is from the west, and as a gentle father has compassion on his children, Psalm 103:10-13.

Fourth, God reaffirms the lengths He goes to remove guilt from His records. The pictures of His forgiveness on our behalf in Isaiah are vivid:
1:18 the very real scarlet and crimson sin is white as snow and like wool
43:25-26 For His sake He wipes out and does not remember our transgressions
44:21-23 He wipes out trangressions like a thick cloud and heavy mist
so that He commands creation to praise Him!
55:6-7 The LORD willcompassionately and abundantly pardon

Fifth, Paul amplifies God's awesome forgiveness as the riches of His grace.
Ephesians 1:7 calls this great forgiveness the riches of His grace lavished upon us
Collossians 1:13 says He delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.
Colossians 2:13-14 says Christ cancelled hostile certificates of debt, taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

So, this all causes my heart to leap for joy within me. How about your heart? I brought my two jail brothers to Isaiah 55. Isaiah is the great Old Testament evangelist. He invites every repenting sinner to come to the banquet table of our LORD. Who can come? Every one who is thirsty, every one who is broke, every one who is hungry. Come, come, come to Me, our LORD offers, and delight yourself in abundance. I shared with each of these men and remind myself and every reader, the LORD Himself has a chair and place-setting just for you, with your name engraved on it.

During this entire time, I have remembered a wonderful worship song from the Jesus Music of the 70's by Chuck Girard and Lovesong. I shared the rich lyrics with the men, for my own heart, and for you.

Welcome back to the things that you once believed in
Welcome back to what you knew was right from the start
All you had to do was to be what you always have wanted to be
Welcome back to the love that is in your heart

I know that you thought you could turn your back
And no one could see in your mind
But I can see that you know better now
You never were the untruthful kind
Yeah, and I'm so happy now to welcome you back

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