Signs point toward a particular direction or describe the place where it’s posted.
The Gospel of John has 7 miraculous signs that Jesus performed.
And each sign points to who Christ is.

THE SITUATION

Jesus’ first miraculous sign was at a wedding in a town called Cana (John 2). Jesus, his mom and his disciples were invited to the celebration. We have to keep in mind that weddings those days involved the whole community. It wasn’t just the couples’ event but the community’s event as well.

The most embarrassing thing was about to happen. The reception ran out of wine. In an honor-shame culture, this was a major concern. The family could lose influence, reputation and position in society.

Shame was about to take over until Jesus stepped into the situation.

THE SIGN

Mary brought up the concern to her son and told the servants to do whatever He says. Jesus asked the servants to fill six stone water jars with water to the brim.

It important to note that when Jesus performs a miracle, He makes sure that it’s complete to the brim. He makes everything complete, perfect and beautiful in His time.

When the master of the feast tasted the wine, he was so impressed with the superior quality for usually, it’s the best that is brought out first and when the guests have had lots, then they bring out the next best. But in this instance, they seemed to save the best for last.

When we walk with Christ, our relationship with Him gets better and sweeter each and every day. I didn’t say circumstances are always great, but because we are in Christ, our relationship will get better and sweeter each and every day.

Proverbs 4:18 tells us that “the path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter unti the full light of day.”

With Christ, the best is always yet to come!

THE SIGNIFICANCE

What Jesus did averted the potential shame the couple and their family. Jesus rescued them from certain and costly shame and in effect restored their honor. As it turned out, Jesus would do all the work only for someone else to get the credit for His work.

The people had no clue where the wine came from.
The master of the feast had no clue where it came from.
The bride and groom had no clue either.
But what Jesus performed, someone else got the credit for.
That’s the work of the gospel.

And the shame, Jesus averted.
And to this day, Jesus continues to redeem us from shame.

We all have things in our lives that make us cringe when we remember them.
Things that we did or done to us.

Abuse.
Words that caused pain.
Immorality.
Deeds that offend.
Thoughts that hurt.

But all that, Jesus took upon Himself on the cross, suffered for what He didn’t even commit.
Jesus took our shame and replaced it with honor.

As Isaiah 61:7 said, “Instead of your shame, there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor, they shall rejoice in their lot.”

What we were unable to restore, Jesus does.
What we were unable to fix, Jesus mends.
What brokenness we’ve experienced, Jesus makes whole.

As we repent from our sin the Bible promises that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone and the new has come.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, thank You for what You continue to redeem me from. You did not only redeem me from my guilt and sin. You also redeem my life from all the shame and mess ups I’ve experienced. And for that, I am eternally grateful. May my life be a demonstration of gratitude for all You’ve done. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

 


 

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Offense is a very difficult thing to deal with.
False accusations.
Untrue statements.
Stolen opportunities.
Painful conversations.
Hurtful words.
Silent treatment.

These and more are hard to go through.

In Luke 15:20, when the prodigal son came to his senses and endeavored to return home to his father after squandering all his inheritance and ended up working in a pig pen, he didn’t know what to expect.

Neither did the father know what to expect. Without context and without knowing how the son would respond, he runs to him and embraces him. He leaves his porch and offers forgiveness to his son.

I thought that was incredible. Without any idea how the son why the son came back and how he would respond, he goes. The son could be coming back for more money. He could be coming back to steal from his brother. He could be coming back for some other reason but without context, the father goes and offers forgiveness.

When he embraced his son, he must have smelled like the pig pen. Remember, he just came from there. But here’s the truth:

The magnitude of God’s love is greater than the stench of our sin.

He buries his face into the son’s shoulders and kisses him.
He must have played this scenario in his mind over and over.

When offense happens, we usually replay both the painful experience and what we would do when we see that person – what we would say, how our facial reactions be like and our rebuttal to their excuses. But the father must’ve replayed in his heart how he would respond for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth will speak and our actions will show. His response? Compassionate and forgiving love.

And here’s my main point: When offense happens it’s always your move.

Jesus said in Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone.”
And then in Matthew 5:23, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go.”

In both scenarios, Jesus says to go and offer forgiveness, whether you’re the offender or the offended. It’s always your move.

The father didn’t stay on the porch standing and waiting for his son to crawl on his knees and beg for forgiveness. He runs and offers it.

That’s the picture of many homes today. Too many people stand on their porches with folded arms and the painful experience replaying in their hearts waiting for the offender to crawl for forgiveness.

“Well, it’s his fault.”
“She started it.”
“I’m not to blame. He is.”
“They caused the mess. They need to clean it up.”

We all stand on our porches of pride and sink into hellish misery.

May the Lord give us grace to remember that the way we’ve been forgiven empowers us to forgive others. With the mercy dispensed to us, we can dispense it to those who have offended us.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing example of forgiveness. None of us deserve it. Not of us are worthy of it. And yet, You did not remain on Your porch in heaven but came to us – from heaven to earth, that we may receive forgiveness, freedom and restored fellowship with You. Help us to do the same with people whom we have offended and those who have offended us. May we be a people who is forgiving for we knows what it means to be forgiven. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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A failure to grasp the grace that have been demonstrated to me will cause the failure of demonstrating grace to other people.

I grew up religious. But we all know that being religious doesn’t necessarily mean being righteous. I had a semblance of virtue but only I knew the wickedness brewing inside of me.

It didn’t take long to show on the outside what stemmed from the inside – pride, greed, immorality, selfishness, self-righteousness. And when it did, I would mess up big time.

Gratefully, at 17, God rescued me from my sinfulness. But that rescue mission didn’t stop that moment when I accepted Christ. He had to rescue me daily from slipping back to my old self. I am forever grateful for the gospel that frees me from sin, the Holy Spirit that sanctifies me to become more like Christ and the hope of the resurrection that is to come where sin will no longer be present.

I used to have great difficulty dispensing forgiveness. I said “great difficulty” because to this day, offense is never an easy thing to deal with. But it has become quicker to forgive when I remember that I myself have been forgiven.

I love how Colossians 3:13 (NLT) puts it.

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

Make allowance for each other’s faults.
In other words, Paul was telling the church, “Expect it. You’ll have to practice forgiveness for offense will happen. The people you have relationship with, they have faults. They are not perfect. Because of that, not only will you have to make allowances for their faults but choose to forgive when the opportunity arises.”

How in the world can we do it?
As the Lord has forgiven, we are to forgive others.

This we need to remember, we are first a sinner
and only secondarily sinned against.
Read it again.
We are first a sinner and only secondarily sinned against.

When we have no idea how much we have been forgiven, it will be hard for us to release forgiveness. If we don’t comprehend how much grace has been dispensed toward us, then we will have a hard time dispensing the same grace to others.

And this will extend to our marriage, friendships, work relationships, family relationships, classmates and church friends.

The more aware we are of our own need for grace, we become more willing to extend it to others.

“But this person doesn’t deserve my grace! You have no idea how much he/she offended me.”
Well, that’s why it’s called grace.
Grace is kindness undeserved.
The bottom line is that the person we choose to forgive may not change when we first extend grace.

Once we embrace this truth, it will not just benefit those we forgive. It will greatly free us from baggages we’ve been carrying for days, weeks, months, maybe even years.

Grace changes everything!

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Forgiveness is a valuable commodity these days.

Offense. Pain. Hurt.
But whatever might be the cause, forgiveness is something of a great need.

In today’s Day 1 of Ignite 2015, Pastor Wayne Alcorn told a powerful story on forgiveness.

Ernest Hemingway wrote a book entitled Capital of the World. He told a story of a father and his son named Paco had been estranged for some reason.
As a result, Paco ran away from home. No one could really say why he ran away. Perhaps he didn’t, but was kicked out of his home by his father for something foolish that he said or did.

Either way, Paco found himself wandering the streets of Madrid, Spain hoping to enter into a profession that would most likely get him killed – bullfighting. Those who train under a mentor have a good chance of surviving this profession, but Paco’s memory of his mistakes and guilt over what happened blindly drove him to this one way street to suicide.

But that was the last thing his father wanted, which is why he tried something desperate which he desperately hoped would work. There was little to no chance that he would be able to find Paco by wandering the streets of Madrid , so instead he put an announcement in the local newspaper El Liberal.

The advertisement read,

“Paco, meet me at the Hotel Montana at noon on Tuesday.
All is forgiven!
Love, Papa.”

At the time of the meeting, when Paco’s father got to the Hotel, he wasn’t prepared for what he was about to see. Because Paco was such a common name in Spain (a nickname for Francisco), the next day at noon, there were 800 young men with the same name waiting for their fathers – waiting for the forgiveness they thought they would receive that day.

If we needed education, God would’ve sent a teacher.
If we needed finances, God would’ve sent a businessman.
If we needed technology, God would’ve sent a scientist.

But God knew that our greatest need was forgiveness.
That’s why He sent His Son.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Thanks be to God that forgiveness is available through Christ.

If you’re reading this and you’re saying, “That’s me! I’m that Paco. And I have walked away from my Heavenly Father,” know that He will never turn you away. He said that a broken and contrite heart, He will never turn away. (Ps. 51:17).

You can pray this prayer now…

“Heavenly Father, I know that I have disobeyed and walked away from You. I now realize that You love me and continue to love me in spite of my disobedience. I am sorry and I repent from my ways. I hear your voice inside my heart and I am responding to Your call to come home. I receive You into my life. Please by my Lord, Master, Savior, Redeemer and Forgiver. I give my life to you. Help me to live for You from this day forward. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.”

 

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PHOTO CREDIT (blog banner): https://www.flickr.com/photos/47444383@N06/6105349915/

Here are a few of the photos for Ignite Day 1.

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Pastor Wayne Alcorn

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Photo Credit: Ignite Facebook Page
More photos here.

It was like drinking water from a fire hydrant.

That’s how I felt coming out of the Biblical Counseling seminar by Dr. Harold Sala.

All I can say is “wow.”

Here are a few take-aways.

God has entrusted to us the ministry

and message of reconciliation.

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5 that we have been reconciled to God.  As a result, we have been given the ministry of bringing others into a restored relationship with Christ.

All problems stem from one root – SIN. It may sound simple but it’s not simplistic.

Every relationship that has been broken results from a heart that has been marred by bitterness, greed, pride, anger, hatred or something of that sort which the Bible calls sin. We just have to call a spade a spade.

In a day and age of political correctness, we use words like “affair” and “misappropriation of funds” to hide the real essence of what we have done to offend a Holy God.

The good news will never sound so good until we realize how bad the bad news is.

We are separated from God and we cannot save ourselves. Our hearts are rotten and only Jesus can rescue us.

 

The Bible is not only cross cultural

but also counter cultural.

While the principles of Scripture are not confined by geographic boundary lines, we will find that they are also counter-cultural.

This means that what the world reveals to us as ‘common’ may not necessarily be ‘normal.’

It’s common for people to have sex before marriage these days, but the Bible says it’s not the norm.

1 Thes. 4:7 says that it is God’s will that you should be sanctified: to avoid sexual immorality.

What is common may not necessarily be normal according to God.

 

Conflicts don’t destroy relationships;

our refusal to resolve does.

I found this to be very true.

There will always be conflicts. When you’re talking about relationships with people, that’s clearly inevitable.

The question is not whether there will be conflicts or not, but are you willing to resolve.

A wise man told me once, “the goal is not the point out who’s wrong or right but to restore the relationship.”

 

Forgiveness doesn’t mean everything is ok;

it’s giving up the right to hurt back.

Forgiveness does not equal forgetting.

I think that’s quite impossible. No matter how you try, the scar is still there.

But forgiveness is letting go of your right to hurt back and retaliate understanding that God is the ultimate Judge.

There is punishment for the unjust.

And for those who give their life to Christ, the appropriate penalty has been taken on by Christ Himself when He died on the cross.

Does time really heal all wounds?

I spoke to a young guy today and we talked about what he’s been going through lately.

No matter how we try to commiserate with another person, it still is difficult to fully understand what they’re going through because of context, background, past experiences and current circumstance.

The pat answer to a person hurting is this very statement: “Time heals all wounds.”

Does it really?

Two quick thoughts about this…

1. DECISION.

Forgiveness is a decision more than a feeling.  This is where the principle of “motion-emotion” gets into play. I know people who have never been able to forgive for decades because they just simply haven’t felt like forgiving the person who offended them.  For some, the person has been in the grave for years and yet forgiveness has yet to be released.

I realize that people will say, “You’ll never understand until what he did happens to you.”

Granted.

However, you still have to face the fact that everytime you hear his/her name, or see him/her in the mall, your day is ruined.

Deciding is never easy but it is well worth the effort.

I know. I’ve done it a few times. Email me and I can write you back and tell you the stories of times when I’ve had to decide to forgive.

Bitterness kills.

It’s like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.

Decide to let go of the hurt, the pain and the offense.

2. JESUS.

Letting go of the hurt, the pride and the offense is a supernatural work.

Forgiving is letting the person off the hook and resolve to not bring it up again.

Now, THAT is not easy.

That is why I said “Jesus.” He is the One who can give grace to forgive.

Only when we realize how much we have been forgiven is the time when we can choose to let go and forgive others.

That is the GOSPEL – understanding the magnitude of my debt and the greatness of His provision.

He loved me inspite of me.  He chose to die for me despite my actions toward Him.

Because of that, since I have freely received, I am able to freely give.

Will time heal all wounds?

It will help but it is when we decide and let Jesus cover our situation with His grace can we truly, truly experience freedom through forgiveness.