Change: it looks like God's love.

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.

They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:1-11 NLT)

You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. (John 8:15, 16 NLT)

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Christ allowed the Pharisees' own consciences to condemn them. He didn't condemn.

He did not condemn the woman: she stood accused by a horde of those who were SURE they were the righteous ones. But Christ, the truly righteous One, didn't condemn.

It was the "faithful", the "righteous", the law-of-Moses-abiding leaders who accused. Christians today are quick to point out the Pharisees and all they did wrong, but how often do we stop and think: Whose pattern does my behavior match: Jesus', or the Pharisees'?

The only ones Christ spoke harshly to were those who held themselves up as an example. The only ones He ever treated with anything but kindness were those who were robbing the poor in the temple by selling animals for sacrifice at double and triple the cost. In both cases, He was dealing with those who had a hand in actively hindering those seeking God.

I know from sad experience that as soon as I begin to constrain, condemn, or accuse, the Spirit of God is grieved, and flees. But when I take a deep breath and speak ONLY in love the words God gives me to say--no condemnation, no pointing out what seems to me to be sin--then the Holy Spirit can work in the hearts of my loved ones, and they always know exactly what it is that would make God, who loves them so much, the happiest. When I carry the love of God in my heart, good things happen. When I operate out of fear or the idea that I'm on a moral high ground, I'm only serving the enemy.

Gentleness. Meekness. Love unfeigned. Entreaty. Long-suffering. Patience.

If we, as believers, EVER want ANYTHING to change in the LGBT communities, it's gotta happen one understanding, one friendship, one outpouring of God's love at a time. He will speak to them whatever it is that He wants heard. (And heaven forbid I should ever say what that might be.)

I know . . . from unconscionably long, painful, personal experience . . . that the only way for God to come in is for US to get our damning opinions, the precepts and philosophies of our fathers, out of the way. For us to be a conduit for Him, instead of taking His law unto ourselves.  Like to a shell dishabited, only there then can there be place for Him to dwell. I finally met Jesus because I prayed for friends, true friends, and over the course of about two years, God dumped a bunch of radically-obedient believers in my lap. One by one, the love of God they radiated, the reality of Jesus to them in their lives, changed mine.  A couple decades of well-intentioned and pleasant instruction in heart-warming stories and powerful emotionalism couldn't do it.  Only Jesus.

I'm so glad that it's not my place to do anything but love ALL others, to treat them as I would wish to be treated, and leave everything else up to Him.

I Choose to Walk in Christ!

Scripture: Jeremiah 46:28

Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, for I am with you,” says the Lord . “I will completely destroy the nations to which I have exiled you, but I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you, but with justice; I cannot let you go unpunished.”

Observation:

This was life under the law.  Israel merited justice, because they hadn't turned to Christ.  The Old Testament is full of examples of the Lord forgiving His people . . . but if they refuse to repent, justice claims its due, and as it says in the last phrase, the Lord cannot let the unrepentant go unpunished.

Application:

I'm SO glad I have been given the chance to know Christ.  To walk in His sacrifice each and every day.  To live in a completely new and different way . . . a gentler, merciful, loving way.  To not feel compulsion to beat myself up for each and every shortcoming or failure, and to have the simple ease of forgiving all men in the same way flow from that forgiveness I feel surrounding me that comes from my Savior.

I feel like I should write and write about this.  It's radically revolutionary to the way I was taught.  I was taught something like this:

Sin:Repentance = 1:1

When, in reality, when you have been washed clean, it's a much more organic, constant process.  I can stumble and mess up in a whole bunch of ways during a period of time, but it just takes one coming back to Jesus to make it all right again.  (Apologizing & restoring if I've hurt or destroyed along my merry way, of course.)  But it's not a game of trying to remember each and every blunder I've made, asking forgiveness for each and every one, and torturing myself over and over, trying to remember them all, and to make proper atonement for each myself.  I just have to turn to Christ, and He comes and walks me through it all, healing and fixing and teaching along the way.  This is SO much better than the "old" way, living under justice, instead of mercy.  This is grace.

Prayer: 

Father, I praise you for your incredible gift of Jesus.  I praise Jesus for His astounding love and sacrifice . . . every minute of every day, for His whole life, He lived blameless, so he could pay for the wreckage I create, blundering through life with the best intentions.  I have trouble, some days, with living blameless for three minutes, let alone 33 years.  Guide me today, show me the path You want me to tread.  Teach me Your will, Your ways, Your love and Your forgiveness each and every day.  I glory that Your mercy is brand-spankin-new every morning.  That I'm continually presented with a shiny new chance to live in Your will for me, to drink from the fountain of Living Water, and to be filled!  You are so, so Good, God of mine, and I will rejoice in You forever.  (And oh, what a wonderful eternity that will be! :o)  In Jesus' most precious name I pray, amen.

Grace: the Ultimate Antidote

Today, I left a comment over at The Perfect Day, in answer to a reader question.  Below is the question, and my answer.  I wanted to keep a copy of my answer, because I was reminded of some deeply important things that I had forgotten over the last couple of days.

"One of my own personal difficulties, in relating to prayer, esp. evening prayers, is that it's so hard for me to get into the frame of mind to pray in a way that I really feel close to Heavenly Father in closing out my day. I think it has to do mostly with 'well...I set out this morning with all these great ambitions and look how I didn't achieve it, again.' Is there anything you do to 'prep' yourself for prayer? I've tried reading my scriptures and singing hymns before I pray but for some reason those nightly prayers -- reporting back when I always have something that I've messed up on (even though there's good stuff in there too) -- are always harder to feel the closeness for me.

Just wondering what you think. How can I let go and prepare myself better to pray when every night I just feel disappointed in all the things I've done wrong?

Thanks,

M"

M, it sounds like you're judging your performance each evening.  But you're in luck: these are things I've struggled with, as well! ;o)  Two thoughts:

1) Christ is the only judge.  And He has told us, over and over and over in scripture, that He isn't going to condemn us.  Our God isn't one to shake His finger in our faces, or alienate us from His presence.  Judgement, consignment to a certain distance from God, doesn't happen until Judgement Day.  So you can let go of that judgemental spirit. (Or cast it out, if you prefer.)  Self-condemnation (which includes disappointment in ourselves!) is one of the adversary's biggest, beefiest, most steel-studded bludgeons . . . and we take it from him and use it on ourselves with a will, thinking we're being good Saints as we do so.  But I have GREAT news!  Anything (and I mean ANYTHING) that keeps you from drawing closer to God is NOT of Him.  And if something isn't of God, then it's either of men or of the devil.  And we all know how effective those latter two are at bringing about salvation. ;o)

2) Performance.  This is a tough one, because it's so insidious, especially if you're a Latter-day Saint, or a member of another works-focused church.  The Law of Moses was a law of performances and ordinances.  And that law was fulfilled, down to the tiniest detail, by the sacrifice Jesus made: His perfect life, His atonement, His death, and His resurrection.  He has broken the bands of death and SIN . . . and freed us from them.  Period.  End.  It is done!!!  And whenever I think of that, I want to jump and shout and sing, because I don't have to EARN my salvation.  I don't have to perform to a certain standard in order to have the help of my Savior and Friend in this life.  I have to have a willing heart, and then He will walk me through whatever comes next.  It takes NO level of righteousness to "earn" access to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Who did He hang out with, and often, during His life?  Hated tax collectors for the oppressive government.  Women who were sold to whoever wanted them. Sinners.  He let all who wanted to come unto Him to come.  He BID them come.  "Come unto Me, all ye who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!"  And He still calls us today.  Constantly.  Every one of us. All the time.

The grace of Jesus Christ means that He will be close to us AS we mess up, fall down, bloody our knees and noses, and blunder around through this life.  He will heal our hurts, the injuries of those who we've hurt through our own actions, and help us give it another go.

The next time you feel distant from God, for whatever reason, just stop.  Stop and quiet your mind.  Even if you're in the middle of a crowd, or there's a lot of distraction going on, you can quiet the inside of your own head, making stillness there.  And listen.  Listen with your spiritual ears for the sound of your name.  Because Jesus is calling you.  He's calling me.  Every one of us, every second of every day, He's calling us back to Him.  All we have to do is answer with a willing heart, and suddenly, He will be there.  You can talk to Him, and share with Him, and He'll feel closer and closer as you continue to praise and thank Him for all you have.  Then you can talk over what you need to work on, and He will take your hand, or gather you up into His amazing arms, and love you through whatever it is that you're going through.

Don't give up.  Just listen . . . He's there, waiting for you to turn your mind to Him!!!