Wednesday, October 21, 2020

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not belong to us. – 2 Corinthians 4:7

I had a professor in seminary that once said, you can tell the health of a church by how willing people are to name their own sin. His point was that if a person truly believes in the redemptive power of God’s grace, they should be free of the shame and embarrassment that often accompanies sin. Unfortunately, it’s that shame that makes us want to keep our sins hidden and keeps us from truly experiencing the freedom God’s forgiveness is intended to bring.  

In today’s verse, Paul is trying to communicate that the power of God’s grace is exemplified in our messy and (likely) hypocritical lives. When we strive to make our lives look picture perfect, we obscure the redemptive work that God has done in us. Just imagine what the New Testament would look like if the people who encountered Jesus’ forgiveness were never willing to share what God had done in their lives! 

May each of us live this day fully embracing God’s forgiveness and taking steps toward sharing our own story for God’s glory and the good of those around us.

Monday, October 19, 2020

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” —John 8:36

In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt laid out four essential freedoms that he argued should be universal: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. No doubt we all agree that these are important goals. And no doubt we all lament that we’ve yet to see these freedoms be guaranteed to every person in this broken world.

But even those of us who are more or less free to speak and worship, free from want and fear, experience bondage. In John 8, Jesus says that “everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” Not only that, he says that “a slave has no permanent place in the family.” So we, who are sinners, are not only in bondage but also without permanent family.

Or we would be, if it were not for Jesus’ intervention. Jesus, the Son of the Living God, has invited us into his own life, has claimed us with his own identity. So we are forgiven and set free from sin and joined to the family of God. The freedom of Jesus is true freedom, lasting freedom, freedom from the ultimate enemies of sin and death and destruction. You have been made freed by the Son, and you are free indeed.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Today’s reflection is written by Deacon Karen Katamay.

“He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” —Psalm 121:4

Are you a worrier? I tend to be. Even though Jesus reminded us not to worry (“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life …” [Matthew 6:25]), I find it difficult sometimes not to worry. I worry about my son’s health with his diabetes. I worry about the COVID-19 virus. I worry about many of the things I see happening in our world, especially the hatred, the violence, and the division.  

So whenever I feel worried, I find Psalm 121 to be a comfort. It reminds me that no matter what is going on around me, and especially the things I have no control over, God is always with me. We may need to sleep, but God doesn’t. God is there, day and night, each day and every day. God is my protector and keeper. God listens to me and comforts me. God knows my very heart and everything that concerns me. Thank you, Lord!

“I lift my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” —Psalm 121:1-2