May 10, 2014
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“”Peace I leave you; My own peace I now give…Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid…You heard Me tell you, I am going away and I am coming back to you.”
John 14: 27,28
“My peace I give in times of deepest grief;
Imparting calm and trust and My relief.
My peace I give when prayer seems lost, unheard;
Know that My promises are ever in My word.
My peace I give when thou art left alone –
The nightingale at night has sweetest tone.
My peace I give in times of utter loss,
The way of glory leads right to the cross.
My peace I give when enemies will blame,
The fellowship is sweet through cruel shame.
My peace I give in agony and sweat,
For mine own brow with bloody drops was wet.
My peace I give when nearest friend betrays –
Peace that is merged in love, and for them prays.
My peace I give when there’s but death for thee –
The gateway is the cross to get to Me.”
Today’s Study Text:
“When Jesus raised Himself up, He said to her, ‘Woman where are your accusers?’”
John 8: 10
“Behold The Man” – Part 20
“I Do Not Condemn You!”
“At times of greatest shame, we need to do the exact opposite of what we feel like doing. We need to lift our faces to our God, open our mouths in confession, let Him wash us with forgiveness and bathe us with His radiance.”
Is there something I’m carrying in my heart that causes me to feel guilty and ashamed?
How would I have felt if I had been the lady “caught” in sin and I heard Jesus say, “I don’t condemn you?”
“The good news is (Jesus) can and will erase your wrong every time. You can start fresh, just as if it never happened. So if you feel guilty about some of the things you’ve done, bring them to Jesus. He’ll always forgive you.”
Claire and Curt Cloninger
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation, (no judging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8: 1
She had made a mistake. She had been caught in an act of adultery. The good old boys – the scribes and Pharisees – decided they would “use” this fallen, sinful woman to lure Jesus into a trap they had set for Him. Evidently, these “holy men” had noticed one thing about Jesus. He had a heart for the fallen. He had a message too – a message of hope. With the lady as their bait they opened court. They were going to have a field day at the expense of a woman they deemed worthy of nothing more than a good stoning.
Here’s how the Apostle John describes the scene. “They made her stand in the middle of the court and put the case before Him (Jesus). ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘This woman has been caught in the very act of adultery. Now Moses in the law commanded us that such shall be stoned to death. What do You say to do with her?’” (John 8: 2-5, Amplified Bible).
I want to point out several glaring highlights, or in this case “lowlights” found in this passage. The scribes and Pharisees didn’t even bother to call the woman by her name – they referred to her as “Such” – “Such shall be stoned.” We never hear Jesus calling one of His lost children, “Such.” He calls us, “Son, Daughter, Woman, Mother” – but not a cold, unkind word like “Such.” I read not long ago that it is so much easier for us, as humans, to have an unfeeling attitude toward individuals when we don’t know their names. It is as though they become faceless objects in a world that all too often is a blur of “unidentified living objects.”
The next thing I want to mention is that this was a woman who had been used by a man before. For all we know she may have been “used” on many other occasions and now it was the “religious” men who were “using” her. This was to be a test for Jesus. Was He or was He not a “lawbreaker?”
What a way to hit a girl when she’s down. First, the woman was caught for breaking the law. Then she was going to be condemned for breaking the law. And finally, if the “rogues of righteousness” had their way, she would end up being killed for breaking the law.
Pointing fingers, scowling faces, incriminating stares – what would your reaction have been if you were the guilty party? I’ll tell you how I would have felt – I’d have been ashamed of myself!! I’d have asked myself, “How could you have messed up like this? How could you have fallen so low? Girl, what were you thinking?” Oh, yes, I would have been ashamed big time! And then, something beautiful and wonderful happened!
The Bible says, “Then Jesus bent down (John 8: 8, Amplified). John says that He began writing on the ground. For years, theologians have had opinions about what Jesus was writing. Some say He was writing down the sins of the people doing the condemning. I don’t know because the Bible doesn’t say. However, and this is a big however. Every version of Scripture I read says, “Jesus bent down!” In John 6: 38, Jesus says, “For I have come down from heaven not to do My own will and purpose but to do the will and purpose of Him Who sent Me.”
It is as though you and I fell into a deep well, unable to do one thing to get ourselves out. God didn’t just send a rope down and holler at us from above, outside the muck, filth and grime of the well. No. He sent His “one and only begotten Son” to carry us out. Jesus came down – He bent right down and lifted us out of the mess of sin. No wonder the Apostle Paul writes so eloquently and with such certainty, “For I am not ashamed of the good news of Christ – for it is God’s power delivering me” (Romans 1: 16, Amplified).
You see, when I take a look at my life and everything I’ve ever done – there’s a lot to feel guilty about. Like the woman in court in front of Jesus and her accusers – I know that I’m going to be ruled, “Guilty.” So I stand ashamed – feeling worthless and humiliated. Then I see a Man. He’s bending down – extending His hand to me. But He doesn’t stop with just a hand, for John tells us in Jesus’ own words: “I lay down my life” (John 10: 17).
Is there any wonder Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the good news about Jesus.” It is Jesus who bends down, takes my guilty verdict and stamps a big “not-guilty” sign on it – then He lifts me up – and tells me, “I have, in Him, nothing to be ashamed about anymore!” With confidence like this, I can understand why English philanthropist, William Wilberforce encouraged Christians to “vindicate boldly the cause of Christ.”
If you and I accept Jesus – the Son who came-down and bent-down to rescue us – we are pronounced not guilty. No guilt! That means there’s nothing to be ashamed about anymore!
“Lord, let me return to You,
Let me come to You,
reach out to me.
I am alone.
Ashamed of myself.
Let me come to You.
Reach out to me.”
“She doesn’t know God forgives her. That’s the only power you have – to tell her that. Not just that He forgives her the poor little adulterer. But the faces she’s (ashamed) to look at now. The man’s. Her husband’s Her own, half the time. Tell her He forgives her for being lonely and bored, for not being “full” of joy with a house full of children. That’s what sin really is. You know – not being full of joy. Tell her that sin is forgiven because whether she knows it or not, that’s what she wants more than anything else – what all of us want.”
“The ultimate remedy for living beyond guilt and shame is abiding in the protective love of Christ.”
The Woman In The Temple
“A still dark joy! A sudden face!
Cold daylight, footsteps, cries!
The temple’s naked, shining space,
A glare with judging eyes!
All in abandoned guilty hair,
With terror pallid lips,
To vulgar scorn her honour bare,
To vulgar taunts and quips,
Her eyes she fixes on the ground,
Her shrinking soul to hide;
Lost, at uncurtained windows found,
It’s shame be clear descried.
All-idle hang her listless hands
And tingle with the shame;
She sees not who beside her stands,
She is so bowed with blame.
He stoops, He writes upon the ground,
Regards nor priests nor wife;
An awful silence spreads around,
And wakes an inward strife.
Is it a voice that speaks for thee?
Almost she hears aghast:
‘Let him who from this sin is free,
At her the first stone cast.’
Astonished, waking, growing sad,
Her eyes bewildered rose;
She saw the one true friend she had,
Who loves her though He knows.
Upon her deathlike, ashy face,
The blushes rise and spread:
No greater wonder sure had place
When Lazarus left the dead!
He stoops. In every carnal breast
Dead conscience rises slow:
They, dumb before that awful guest,
Turn, one by one, and go.
Alone with Him! Yet no new dread
Invades the silence round;
False pride, false shame, all false is dead;
She has the Master found.
Who else had spoken on her side,
Those cruel men withstood?
From Him even shame she would not hide;
For Him she will be good.
He rises – sees the temple bare;
They two are left alone.
He turns and asks her, ‘Woman, where
Are thine accusers gone?’
‘Hath none condemned thee?’ ‘Master, no,’
She answers, trembling sore.
‘Neither do I condemn thee. Go,
And sin not any more.’
Our sins to thee us captive hale –
Offences, hatreds dire;
Weak loves that selfish grow, and fail
And fall into the mire.
Our conscience – cry with pardon meet;
Our passion cleanse with pain;
Lord, Thou didst make these miry feet –
Oh! Wash them clean again.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus}
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