Saturday, February 02, 2019

Dark Stories of Sin and Salvation

Today's Reading:
2 Samuel 13:1-39
1 Corinthians 3:5-23
Psalm 85:8-13
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: 2 Samuel 13:20-22
20 Her brother Absalom said to her, "Has that Amnon, your brother, been    with you? Be quiet now, my sister; he is your brother. Don't take this thing to heart." And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom's house, a desolate woman. 21 When King David heard all this, he was furious. 22 Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.

Some portions of the Bible are deeply disturbing. Today's reading exposes David's family for the dysfunctional mess it was—a mess that rivals any horror story you could point to in the news today. In this one horrific chapter, we see the house of David engaged in incest, premeditated sexual assault, misogyny, denial, aiding and abetting, injustice, vengeance, and murder. Yikes. So much for reading the Bible for inspiration and heroes to emulate!

Evil is nothing new. The unfolding drama of God's plan to redeem and save humankind is a long, tragic, and messy story. Sin isn't just a problem for humanity; it's an addiction.

It's no wonder the story of our salvation culminates with Jesus dying at the hands of those he came to save. It's why the cross, an instrument of death and violence, has become ironically the symbol of salvation and love. The cross is not just a reminder of Jesus' love and sacrifice, it's a reminder of the violence, death, hate, and sin he came to save us from.

Response and Action:
The first step toward salvation is to recognize the sinfulness of the human heart and the need to be saved. I need to recognize the sin in my life. I need the forgiveness, deliverance, and power of God to turn away from sin. I cannot be saved from sin if I refuse to recognize it and fail to turn away from it. I need to embrace the hope, the life, the direction, the grace, and the transformation only Christ can give me.

O God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Help me to turn away from what is wrong and do what is right. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, I ask you to lead, teach, transform, shape and strengthen me, that I might delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 6:22-23
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Never Beyond Hope: How God Touches and Uses Imperfect People
by J. I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom

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