Yesterday was Easter Sunday.
I trust that everyone had a very blessed day.
And I hope that we all felt the real impact of what Jesus actually accomplished for us on that cross…
…and what He achieved when He walked out of that empty tomb.
I don't know about you, but the Easter story is so familiar that sometimes I wonder if I miss the meaning. Not really, of course, for I never take salvation for granted. But sometimes I have to make myself stop – I have to stop my SELF – and truly ponder the effects of that momentous act of sacrifice in my life.
Today I am thinking about Jesus' outstretched arms.
Those bloodied, pain-stricken, weak, disjointed, frail arms.
I picture them in my mind.
Would you take a moment and do that, too?
Maybe just close your eyes and hold your own arms out to the side. Hold them for a while. Hold them there until they begin to ache. And in the moment when you feel like you can no longer hold them up, please do this – whisper to the Lord, "Thank You."
Yes, those outstretched arms.
Weak, yet strong.
Full of love.
How grateful I am for them.
When my sons were little boys, I remember telling them often how much I loved them. Sometimes they would ask me, "How much, Mommy?" And then I'd hold my arms out as wide as I could and say, "This big."
Do you know how *big* Jesus loved you on the day He died? Do you understand how much He gave you when He walked out of that tomb?
And do you recognize what those outstretched arms represent?
They are the very picture of grace.
Grace that stretches over all of our lives. From beginning to end, and into eternity. Those outstretched arms of Jesus are like protective wings that shield us from death and judgment.
This Easter, I found myself contemplating the impact of grace in my life.
I know that Jesus' sacrificial death bought forgiveness for my sins. I know that He covered all my sins – even the ones I haven't yet committed.
But as I pictured those outstretched arms, I realized something anew.
Grace goes backwards.
Grace covers the sins I commit today, and most certainly covers the sins that I will commit tomorrow.
But it also covers the sins that I committed yesterday.
This is what I felt in a different way this Easter when I pondered the outstretched arms of Jesus. I saw His grace and forgiveness covering everything that I have ever done in my life. And that includes my past.
It's almost like grace is retroactive.
I don't know about you guys, but I have a very hard time forgiving myself for the things I've done wrong in the past. And trust me, I've done some things that I am very "un-proud" of!!
And the memories of those things, if I let them, would open like Pandora's box until I was overwhelmed and consumed with regret, guilt, and shame.
I've had moments when that exact thing has happened.
Times in my life when I've been paralyzed with guilt, unable to move forward. I've been besieged with doubts about my worth as God's child. I've been weighed down by the remembrance of pain and shame.
And I have forgotten that the forgiveness of God, as expressed through Jesus' death, is much bigger than all of that.
Grace is big enough to go backwards.
Dear friends, are any of you paralyzed with guilt over past sin? Are you besieged with doubts about your worth as God's child? Are you weighed down by the remembrance of pain and shame?
Have you forgotten that the forgiveness of God is bigger than all that?
Then come again to the foot of the Cross.
Contemplate the outstretched arms of Jesus.
Weak, yet strong.
Full of love.
And be grateful for them.
Whisper from the very depths of your soul, "Thank You."
Thank Him for opening His heart to save us.
Thank Him for being willing to die a terrible death to redeem us. Thank Him for His humble self-sacrifice. Thank Him for enduring the worst sort of torture – including a loss of intimacy with His Father – just for you.
Thank Him for stretching His bloodied, pain-stricken, weak, disjointed, frail arms out on a cross.
Know that His forgiveness spans your whole lifetime. From one end to the other, and into eternity. There is no end, and no beginning, to the infinite forgiveness of salvation.
Grace is like an umbrella – a shelter of protection that reaches out into the future, covers the present, and washes away the past.
This is what Jesus meant when He proclaimed:
"IT is finished."
(Most interesting sidenote: – The Greek word for the phrase, "It is finished" is tetelestai, which is an accounting term that means "paid in full." These words, found only in the Gospel of John, are the most important and poignant words spoken by Jesus. When He uttered those words, He was declaring the debt owed by mankind to His Father – the debt of sin – was wiped away completely and forever.)
Yes indeed, Jesus paid it all.
And when we look at Him and say:
"How much do you love me?"
See His outstretched arms and hear Him say:
Oh, how we are blessed!
There you saw
how the LORD your God carried you,
as a father carries his child,
all the way you went.
I have made you
and I will carry you,
I will sustain you
and I will rescue you.
"Then the LORD passed by in front of [Moses] and proclaimed, 'The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin…'" (Exodus 34:6-7, NASB)
"The LORD is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love." (Psalm 145:8, NLT)
"He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west." (Psalm 103:10-12, NLT)
"'And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.'" (Hebrews 8:12, NLT)
"'I…am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.'" (Isaiah 43:25, NIV)
"Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love…" (Micah 7:18-20, NLT)
"'Come now, let's settle this,' says the LORD. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.'" (Isaiah 1:18, NLT)
"It is because of the Lord's mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not."
(Lamentations 3:22, AMP)
"Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning." (Lamentations 3:23, NLT)
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people…"
(Titus 2:11, ESV)
"...when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement…"
(Titus 3:4-8, NASB)
"Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:16-17, NIV)
"And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:18-21, NLT)
What do the outstretched arms of Jesus mean to you?
SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, SMALL WONDER, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, MOTIVATE & REJUVENATE MONDAYS, MAKE A DIFFERENCE MONDAYS, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, SOLI DEO GLORIA, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, UNITE, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS, TUESDAY TALK, TELL IT TO ME TUESDAYS, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, TELL HIS STORY, TEACHING WHAT IS GOOD, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, SO MUCH AT HOME, WOMAN TO WOMAN WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, WISE WOMAN, WOMEN WITH INTENTION WEDNESDAYS, LIFE GIVING LINKUP, FROM HOUSE TO HOME, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAYS, BELOVED BREWS, EVERYDAY JESUS, GRACE AT HOME, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, SHINE, LIVE FREE THURSDAY, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, A GROUP LOOK, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAY, GRACE & TRUTH, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, FAITH & FELLOWSHIP, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, STILL SATURDAY, SATURDAY SOIREE, WEEKEND BREW, SUNDAY STILLNESS, GIVE ME GRACE
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