Merry Christmas! Let JESUS be your gift this month by sharing your faith or even this site with someone who doesn’t know God’s love and grace.
“…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” 1
A Teenager’s Response…
“My name is Reese. I am 19 years old. I have really been into your case lately.
“Reading your story and how you found God and learned to forgive yourself and how He also forgives you has helped me a lot these past few months. Sometimes I feel like God won’t forgive me for my sins, and I can’t change my life. So I’m spending more time to myself and in the Bible.
“I have been fighting a battle with myself and drugs. It seems as if I’m in the wrong crowd and all my friends have changed. I keep doing what they want me to do and not what I should do. Trying to be cool I guess you can say, and now I have no one I feel is there for me, but I came across aboundinglove.org through YouTube, and that’s where I found out about your change. You have inspired me to change for the better and have faith in God and myself.
“I think I have found the strength to fix my relationship with my father. Three weeks ago, he and I were strangers; now I find myself desiring to spend time with him and get to know him more not just as my dad, but who he is as a person. I think I will stay with my parents until I’m ready for the next big step in my life. I moved out once, so I just want to make sure I do it right next time, and not come crawling back.
“Also, I’m cutting off all bad influences. A close friend got a job with me at Whirlpool, and he has been a positive influence on me, and I’ve been hanging with him and his friends instead of my normal crowd. I’ve been feeling better about myself than I have in a while. I’m so thrilled that I found your site. I’m doing great and thank God and you so much. I wish you the best; you can write me any time! Sincerely, Reese, TN.”
Forgetting the Past…
It’s hard to forget the past, especially when it’s the elephant in the room at family gatherings. Reese ended his letter to me by quoting the apostle Paul, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” 2
Even the apostle Paul hadn’t achieved perfection. I’m almost certain that he battled with how he as Saul persecuted the followers of Jesus, which was recorded by the writer of the Acts of the Apostles, the Lord Jesus Christ, and Paul himself. 3
The secret is a change of focus; forgetting the past and looking forward like Reese, to what lies ahead as promised in God’s Word. As an example, I’m in prison for sins that caused many deaths and unbelievable trauma and weeping for a multitude of people, even myself. My sins will never be forgotten by mankind, but I have learned to focus on God and all He has done for us. As a result, my identity in Christ’s finished works and inner strength of the Holy Spirit has sustained me. I pray that the joy of the Lord and ability to praise God in the midst of it all will be a witness of God’s power, and result in the salvation of not only those like Reese, but also the guards, similar to the Philippian jailer believing in God, “He brought them [Paul and Silas] into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.” 4
Looking Forward to…
The Good News of Jesus Christ is the only message to share with someone who desires deliverance. Jesus took the burden of our past upon Himself at the cross, forgiving all our sins. After Paul and Silas received Christ, they were stripped, severely beaten, thrown in prison and put in stocks for sharing Jesus in Philippi. While in prison, “Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!... The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.’” 5
Afterwards, Paul wrote a letter to the Philippian believers, teaching that righteousness is solely by faith in Christ, saying: “I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me… I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” 6
What Lies Ahead…
I believe that Reese will come “to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead,” through faith in God’s grace. 7 Paul’s revelation of God’s righteousness inputted to us be faith in Christ Jesus set him free, “So now, there is no condemnation to those who belong to Christ Jesus.” 8 This is why we can be honest about our sin, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be right with God through Christ.” 9 Did Jesus provide you right standing with God or not? Yes, He did.
You too can experience this same revelation of righteousness in Christ through faith, by receiving the gift od righteousness this Christmas. "For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” 10 Won’t you believe and receive your righteousness in Christ today?
A Prayer for You…
Lord Jesus, I thank You for the cross. I thank You that when You died for me, Your blood cleansed me from all my unrighteousness and the sins of my entire life. You are my Lord and Savior. I give You all my addictions today. I am sick and tired of being defeated and condemned by the accuser. Today, I confess that because of the blood of Jesus Christ, I am right now the righteousness of God. By the supernatural strength and power of the Holy Spirit Who is present to convince me of my righteousness in Christ, I will be reminded every day that I am the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus. Amen!
Tell someone about your prayer and this message!
Scripture References (NLT):
1) Lk. 19:10
2) Phil. 3:13
3) Acts 7:58-60; 8:1-3; 9:1,4,13; 22:4; 26:10,11; Gal. 1:13; 1 Cor. 15:9; Phil. 3:6; 1 Tim. 1:13
4) Acts 16:34
5) Acts 16:25, 26, 29-31
6) Phil. 3:6-12,14
7) Eph. 2:8,9
8) Rom. 8:1
9) 2 Cor. 5:21
10) Rom. 5:17