Tag Archives: reconciliation

Nuggets of Hope 12 – Cancelled


Many things have been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel plans, meetings, projects, school, parties, shows – you name it.  Most of these cancellations are unwelcome, although some people are discovering a hidden blessing in the enforced slower pace of life.

For believers in Jesus, something else has been cancelled, and the cancellation has nothing to do with COVID-19.

Our record of sin has been cancelled. Our punishment has been cancelled. Our penalty – eternal separation from God in the lake of fire – has been cancelled.

The Apostle Paul summed it up with these memorable words (Romans 8:1-2 ESV)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

If you’ve been a lifelong Christian, it may be hard to think of yourself as a potential object of God’s wrath. But the Scriptures are very clear about this. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Had Jesus not gone to the cross for us, we would stand before God guilty and condemned.

If you are inclined to doubt this, consider one simple question. Do you want your own way? If you answered honestly, you have just admitted to being innately in rebellion against God. We humans like to think of ourselves as innocent and just. It’s other people who are perverse, not us. We’re very good at convincing ourselves of this. We far prefer this to facing our own guilt. Of course, if you’ve been learning to surrender to the work of grace, then you’ve been crucifying that rebellious, devious old nature – but you can only do that because Jesus – the perfect Lamb of God – went to the cross, wiped your slate clean, and secured for you a record of Not Guilty.

Let’s not waste the precious and wonderful gift of freedom that Jesus won for us. Let’s treasure it. If you have put your hope in Jesus, the wonderful, glorious truth is that you are not condemned. You could have been, should have been, but you weren’t, because Jesus took your condemnation for you. You don’t have to be afraid of COVID-19. You don’t have to be afraid to die. Your sentence was cancelled. You are free – free to live a new life for the glory of God.

Even if I don’t succumb to COVID-19, the reality is that I don’t know how long I have left in this life. When I consider what Jesus has done for me, I don’t want to waste the years I have left. My record of sin has been cancelled, and so has my ticket to the Lake of Fire. By the mercy of God, I’m going to miss that party.

Instead, I have an invitation to a much better, more glorious party – the wedding banquet of the Lamb and his Bride, a celebration of God’s glory, beauty and goodness that will never end. But I don’t want to get there, and find that I’m ashamed to go in because I’m not dressed for the occasion. I want to be dressed in the pure white garments of those who have been transformed by the love of Jesus.

That choice is open to anyone who wants it. If you’ve never given Jesus central place in your life, the COVID-19 pandemic is a great opportunity to take stock of where you’re really headed, turn to Jesus, turn in your cancelled ticket to hell and accept your free ticket to glory.

If you’ve already done that, this pandemic is also a great time to re-set your course and decide again that you want to be wholeheartedly for Jesus, so that when you get to the celebration you’ll have no need to be ashamed, and you can walk in and enjoy the party.


Nuggets of Hope 10 – Forgiven

In my home growing up, forgiveness was not something we ever talked about. I am very thankful for many things about my childhood, but giving and receiving forgiveness was not something we did well. When we had a conflict, we never talked about it afterwards. There would be a blowup, then the parties to the conflict would ignore each other for a while, and then eventually everyone behaved as if nothing had happened. But no-one ever acknowledged any wrongdoing or asked anyone to forgive them. It just wasn’t done. As a result, the residue of the conflict often persisted, and we all got very good at justifying our own position and finding fault with others.

It was only after being introduced to Jesus – as a real, living Lord, not just a figure from the Bible stories I learned in Sunday school – that I learned how to give and receive forgiveness. In the process of being trained in prayer ministry Marion and I were schooled in the implications of Jesus’ words on forgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15),

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others their sins,
your Father will not forgive your sins.

We were trained in the practice of confession, repentance and forgiveness, based on the instruction of James, the brother of Jesus, who advised his hearers to confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. We not only learned to forgive, we learned to repent, and to request and receive forgiveness – from others and from God. This saved our marriage and became a foundation stone for our life together. We haven’t always practiced it perfectly – it took me quite a while to learn not to be too hard on myself or my children – but over the years we have learned not just to forgive, but to forgive quickly and extend grace to others quickly – even when they have wronged us, and even when they don’t ask.

So what has all this got to do with COVID-19?  Am I saying that your personal sins are being punished by this crisis? No, the connection between sin and this pandemic is not nearly as linear as that. But there is a connection. The earth is groaning because of the wickedness of its inhabitants, and God is shaking the nations as he warned he would do, preparing us for the return of Jesus and the restoration of all things. At the same time, Satan is raging, seeking to discourage and destroy the people of God. This is a time to search our hearts and lives. Because of the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God who was slain for us, we can be completely set free from the guilt and penalty of our sin, but we do have to ask for that forgiveness. When we humble ourselves and pray, we receive assurance from God that we are forgiven, accepted, that there is no barrier between us and Him. We stand clothed in the purity and righteousness of Jesus. From that platform of assurance and confidence we can then ask Him for mercy on our nation and the nations of the earth.

I am writing this on the morning of Saturday March 28. In a little while a National Day of Prayer and Fasting will begin here in Canada. If you are able, and can get a connection, I invite you to join us by clicking on the link. If you haven’t already registered you may be able to do so. If you can’t join online, pray where you are. Let’s humble ourselves before the Lord, receive the assurance that we are forgiven and washed clean by His blood, and ask Him to intervene in this crisis.

God bless you.



What my Jewish brother taught me

Some of my best friends are Jewish.

To start with, there’s Jesus. You know, the one they crucified so that you and I could be born anew into resurrection life.  He’s my friend. He’s Jewish.

Oh, and then there’s Paul. You know, the one who told Gentiles (non-Jews) about Jesus, and wrote all those letters explaining what Jesus had done that was so important, and what it means to belong to Him.  I’ve never met Paul, but I have read what he wrote about Jesus — quite a few times in fact — and I’ve learned a lot from him. His writings are one of the reasons I believe in Jesus. I think that makes Paul my friend, even if not in the usual way. By the way, he’s Jewish too.

But Jesus and Paul aren’t my only Jewish friends. Let me tell you about Jean-Claude, who has been a friend and mentor to me for over two decades.

When I first met Jean-Claude, I didn’t know he was Jewish. Neither did he. I thought of him as a gentle French-Canadian pastor with a gift for building bridges between people of different languages and cultures, and an uncanny ability to see into people’s souls – well, mine anyway. I often found myself telling him things that I probably wouldn’t have said to anyone else, and he always seemed to understand.

A few years ago, Jean-Claude learned through genealogical research that several of his ancestors on both his father’s and his mother’s side were Jewish. They had hidden their Jewish identity to avoid being persecuted by the Gentile church. History shows that this was not an unfounded fear. So, they lived as Jews at home, observing Shabbat in secret every week, hiding their Jewish identity behind a Catholic exterior as they attended Mass every Sunday.

I was in high school (where I had several Jewish friends) when Fiddler on the Roof  had its first run on Broadway. Although the story is fictional, it is based on events that were repeated many times over, throughout many centuries, in “Christian” Europe. When I first saw the film version, I remember being deeply ashamed of the hateful actions of the Tsarist soldiers towards the Jews of their village – actions they justified by labelling the Jews as Christ-killers.

When Jean-Claude first told me of his Jewish roots, he seemed unsure what response to expect from me. I didn’t call him a Christ-killer. I gave him a hug and told him how delighted I was to discover that I had a Jewish brother.

It is true that the leaders of Israel rejected Jesus, and conspired to have him killed. But that does not make me – a Gentile – innocent of his death. I am as guilty as they, and like them I am declared innocent through His sacrifice, not because of my own righteousness. As a Gentile believer, I live only because He shed his blood and rose again for me, as does every believing Jew. And I cannot overlook the fact that while a majority of the Jewish people rejected Jesus as Messiah, there were also many in Israel who received his message with joy. Most of the first generation of apostles were Jewish. They took the gospel to many Gentile nations, often at great cost. Without their testimony, none of us who believe in Jesus today would ever had heard his name.

True, Jesus prophesied great wrath and distress against Jerusalem because of her rejection of her Messiah.  But he spoke these words more in sorrow than in anger, weeping over this city which he so dearly loved. And even in his warnings of wrath and desolation, there was also a promise that one day Jerusalem would again welcome him and bless his name.

And what about Paul, the Jewish apostle whose main ministry was to the Gentiles? What did he have to say about his own people, Israel? On the one hand, he called his people enemies of the gospel because of their rejection of Jesus. On the other hand, he yearned for their salvation, called them beloved by God and affirmed that they had not been rejected by him. And he looked for a time – a time for which my Messianic Jewish friends still yearn, and for which they labour – when all Israel would be saved.

There are many issues regarding Israel that are beyond the scope of this post. My only goal here is to stir up love and prayer in the hearts of Gentile believers towards the people of Israel, from whom our Messiah, the Son of David, was born. Christians may legitimately differ on many things, but when it comes to love, we are not given any option.

It is true that Israel is not innocent. Nor is any people group on the face of the earth. But it’s not up to me to judge Israel. I am deeply grateful for the people of Israel, through whom the blessing of the gospel has come to all nations of the earth. As a Gentile believer in Jesus, I am instructed by Paul, my Jewish brother, not to be arrogant over Israel’s failure, but to walk in humility and love towards this suffering, hardened, blinded people until that glorious and long-awaited day comes when their eyes are opened and they receive the mercy of God.

It is my belief that this day is fast approaching, though it will not come without turmoil and suffering. So I will continue to pray for my Jewish brothers and sisters who love Jesus as I do, and believe with them for the day when the rest of their long-suffering people receive their Messiah.