Friday, January 08, 2021

The Gift I Need Today

A thought I had during my quiet time with God today: Every time I read a Bible verse and think, "So and so should read this" or "This doesn't apply to me," I'm actually the one who needs to read and it applies to me.

Jesus says in Matthew 4:17: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."

When God the Son took on human flesh, the kingdom of heaven invaded our world.

When I encounter the God revealed in Jesus, I need to repent.

That means I need--desperately need--to turn when He calls, admit the reality of my sin, frailty, and mortality and, setting aside excuses or rationalizations, receive the gifts only Jesus can give: forgiveness, freedom from condemnation, hope for eternity, His righteousness covering me so that when God the Father sees us He sees Jesus, the Holy Spirit setting me apart for God's good purposes, and God's permission and freedom to love, honor, and enjoy Him and to love, serve, and forgive others. 

In short, repentance is a gift of God that always culminates in joy over being restored to the One Who made me and loves me most!

Father, this morning, as I begin my day, I repent. I turn away from sin and death, MY sin that leads to death, I renounce both my pride and my self-loathing, and I trust in Jesus to carry me through life and death here and into eternity with You. Thank You for giving me gifts I don't deserve and help me to submit to the regular habit of heeding You through Word and Sacrament so that Your Spirit can be about the sometimes painful but always perfect process of readying me for resurrection life with you AND allowing me to be Your Child right here and right now, In Jesus' name, I pray. AMEN!

[The painting is The Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni, painted in 1773. It portrays the moment when the younger son of a rich man turns to his father after he has squandered his father's money on prostitutes and wastefulness. It shows what repentance is: In it we turn from our slavery to sin, self, death, and darkness to the One Who freely gives us forgiveness, community, life, and light. He gives us our true selves! Repentance ends in joy! See Luke 15:11-32.)

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