Tag Archives: sin

Like a Rolling Stone

thDGGZFG6WWhen the women arrived at the tomb on Easter morning, they found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb; even more astonishing, the body of Jesus was no longer inside (see Luke 24:2-3).   The stone used to seal the crypt was not a small rock — nor was it even a stone the size of a typical  headstone used to mark graves in cemeteries here in the United States.   Instead, it was a massive stone that ordinarily would have taken several people to move, and such stones typically had to be moved with the aid of levers.   Due to its size and weight, this stone was guaranteed to stay in place and to prevent robbers from pillaging the tomb.  However, there it was — rolled away from the entrance so anyone who wished could  enter and be astounded at the empty tomb.

As Christians, we understand that Jesus’ death and resurrection paid in full for our sin and gave us the gift of eternal life with Him — our final destination is Heaven.   However, we can easily overlook the implication of the rolled-away stone for our daily lives on this earth.  Heaven often seems distant, and the challenges we face in our families, friendships, workplaces, and neighborhoods can prove overwhelming.  However, God promised in  Ezekiel 36:26 that He would give me a new heart and put a new spirit in me, that He would remove from me my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh.   That means I can ask God to touch the hard, stony places of my heart with His life-giving, resurrecting power and give me a tender, sensitive heart.   He can heal the pain of past sin, traumatic memories, and all my disappointments.   In Jeremiah 31:33, the Lord also says that He will put His law in our minds and write it on our hearts.  That means He will empower me to obey His law, which protects me and reflects His concern for my well-being.  Moreover, Paul admonishes the Hebrews (12:1-2) to lay aside every weight and run the race set before them with perseverance, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith.  God heals and tenderizes our hearts, empowers us to obey, and urges us to run toward Him. 

What does this truth mean for me personally?  It means that the Holy Spirit has the power to roll away heaviness, sorrow, sadness, sin, oppression, infirmity, death, and destruction from my life.   Sometimes I find myself groaning  under the pressure and darkness of challenging circumstances or relationship difficulties.   If I can remember to ask God to roll away the stone, light pours into the tomb-like rooms of my heavy heart, and my hope is renewed. He will empower me to lay aside everything that weighs me down, to figuratively clean the rocks out of my pockets, and run the race set before me.   Jesus, roll away the stone from my heart and empty all the rocks out of my pockets!   Help me take the pebbles out of my shoes that hinder my walk with You.   Pour your light into the dead places of my heart and renew and restore me!   I long to experience your resurrection power in my daily life this side of Heaven!

This song performed by Kari Jobe with Bethel Music should encourage us all!  — https://youtu.be/WlsRh5_MKE8

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Hitting the Target

ImageAs anyone involved in archery will tell you, hitting the target is all about proper aim.  From the archer’s perspective, the point of aim may be above or below the actual target, depending on the distance to the target.  In fact, the ability to aim accurately at one’s target is vital to nearly every sport; football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and bowling are only a few examples of sports that require a player to aim well.

Unfortunately, as a child, my athletic skills were nearly non-existent.  I was extremely nearsighted and wore thick glasses that limited my freedom in playing sports.   Sadly, I doubt my athletic performance would have improved with perfect vision, as I was truly not well-coordinated.  One year I made the mistake of signing up for a bowling league.  My friend’s father was an excellent bowler, and he kindly took it upon himself to coach me in the effort to help me improve my score.  He made the erroneous assumption that simply understanding HOW to aim the ball would solve my problem.   However, I could probably have explained to someone else all the details of his instructions on throwing the ball; I understood them perfectly.   Alas — I simply was unable to make my body cooperate with what I knew it should do!  At the end of the bowling season, to my chagrin, I was selected as the most improved bowler in our league.   I was given a patch for my jacket; despite my embarrassment, I dutifully sewed the patch on my jacket.  Upon seeing the words “most improved bowler,” other people I met would often ask me with admiration what my scores had been.   Humiliated, I was compelled to confess my average score had improved from 63 to 95 — abysmal at best!

Most of us are all too conscious of how often we fail to hit the target in other areas of our lives as well.  In spite of constant practice, study, and even understanding what we should do and how we should do it, we miss the mark so often, at least in our own eyes.   Life is replete with challenges, and we cannot possibly meet every challenge perfectly.  I have often disappointed myself as well as others.   I have found it impossible to be the athlete, student, musician, wife, sister, mother, and even the friend I would like to be.   When it comes to my spiritual walk, I also often fall short.   However, there IS good news!   By living a flawless life and dying on the cross for our sins, Jesus already hit the target on my behalf.  He completely paid for the times my aim was too low, too high, or way off the mark.  What’s even better is that He empowers me to do the things I am patently unable to do in my own strength.   All I need to do is fix my sights on Him and keep my focus on His face while I run.  His strength and power sustain me and more than compensate for my weaknesses (His strength is made perfect in my weakness! — 2 Corinthians 12:9).

Of late, Hebrews 12:1-2 has become one of my favorite passages:  “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”   Jesus is my goal; He is my target.  He is my focus, no matter how bumpy or rocky, uneven, slippery, or muddy the path might be.   His glory and goodness sustain me!  He delights to draw me to Himself, and my success does not depend on me, but rather on Him!  All I need to do is be willing to run to Him.

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