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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16 (NIV)
It’s Tax Day and whether you had to pay this year or received a refund, the one thing we can all look forward to is seeing less of those tax relief commercials! There is a reason that these commercials throw around phrases like “wage garnishment,” “bank levy,” and “tax debt forgiveness”— a lot of people owe the IRS a lot of money!
If you have ever had a huge financial debt hanging over your head, you know the stress and anxiety that can come along with that. It can feel like a prison and there is good reason that God tells us in His Word repeatedly to avoid debt.
Getting out of financial debt, while not easy, is something that we can typically do given enough sacrifice, time, planning, and discipline. But what about the debt for our sin? All the sacrifice, time, planning, and discipline in the world will never be enough to cover the debt we owe. Our sin separates us from God and without payment for our sin, that separation remains.
Have you ever noticed that some versions of the Lord’s Prayer say, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us,” and some say, “Forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors”? Our sin creates a debt that we can never pay! Thankfully, the sinless life of Jesus offers more than enough to cover our debts!
God used Moses to purchase His people back from their slaveholders. He paid the ransom for them and, in doing so, secured their freedom. In a similar way, Jesus can only pay the ransom for your sin if you let Him; just like those tax relief companies can only help you if you let them. God longs for you to accept this gift He has offered, surrender your life, and follow Jesus with your whole heart.
But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharoah? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” - Exodus 3:11 (NLT)
I can relate to Moses. God and I don’t always see eye to eye on what I am prepared for. Maybe it’s a difficult time in the life of someone I love and He thinks I am ready to support them in ways I don’t feel qualified. Maybe it’s a hard conversation that needs to happen, but I don’t think I am the one who needs to have it.
I am sure you have heard the saying, “God doesn't give you more than you can handle.” I don’t know where that saying came from, but it certainly wasn’t the Bible. God’s Word is full of story after story of God giving someone more than they could handle. It’s kinda how He does things! If we could do all these things in our own strength, how would we ever see our need for God?
Moses didn’t come around to God’s plan quickly. He keeps debating with God beyond Exodus Chapter 3. God knew Moses’ weaknesses, doubts, and fears. What God taught Moses through the process was just as important as what He taught Moses in the outcome. God is God, Moses was not. On his own, Moses wasn’t enough. God wanted Moses to step out in faith and trust Him, not to trust in his own abilities.
All those stories in the Bible about unqualified people who succeed through faith—like David or Joshua—are stories where no one could have possibly taken credit for the victory but God. If God only asked us to do things we were naturally good at, we wouldn’t see His hand moving in our life or the lives of those we are serving.
It’s not just that we can’t work our own way to salvation; we also can’t please God without a life surrendered to His will.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. - Mark 10:45 (NIV)
When you have three children who have outgrown the kid’s menu, taking the family out to eat can get expensive quickly. One of our children really, really likes Sprite. (Name withheld to protect the not so innocent.) We don’t keep soda in the house and we all always order water in restaurants. But a few years ago this child figured out that we weren't always paying attention when they were ordering and snuck in a Sprite a few times.
Needless to say, this child had no money and no way to pay for what they had ordered. Being too small to stay in the back and wash dishes, we had to step in and pay a debt that we had not incurred. Even the coins in a child’s piggy bank aren’t enough to pay for the price of a soda at a restaurant these days!
There were discussions with said child, but in the end, it was only a few dollars. You see, it’s not just that God is our provider and will take care of the things you need, He has made a way to cover you when you sin too. My child didn’t need a Sprite, knew they shouldn’t have ordered a Sprite, and had to be sneaky in order to get a Sprite! That is sin... but we covered it because we love them and they really had no other way out of the situation.
No matter who you are or how good or bad you have been, you really have no other way out of your sin-situation either. But God’s limitless grace and mercy are enough to cover all your sins and all my sins through Jesus. He has enough coins in His piggy bank to buy us all a soda. And better yet, He will teach us to turn from our sin, even if it involves Sprite.
No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough. - Psalms 49:7-8 (NIV)
If you are like me, you have all kind of things on your computer that are useful and important: pictures of your family, important documents, maybe even financial information. One of the latest schemes of cybercriminals is to infect your computer with Ransom Malware. They basically hold your computer hostage by locking you out until you pay a ransom. In 2017, the average ransom amount was over $500. Did you know that sometimes, since these are criminals we are talking about, they don’t even unlock your computer after you pay! Sometimes, there just isn’t a way to pay the ransom that is demanded.
This is a picture of what happens to our lives when we try to work our way into God’s kingdom. We may feel like we are making some progress - becoming a “good person.” We can feel like we have made strides on our own, but even our good deeds are nothing compared to the holiness of God. Maybe we think we just need to do more good than bad, but all of our good deeds will never measure up and can’t cover the price of our sin. God tells us in Isaiah 64:6 (NLT), We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.
The good news is, He has paid the ultimate ransom for our lives and we can’t be taken captive again. His holiness is enough once and for all. The sacrifice of the sinless life of Jesus is the only thing that can pay the cost.
Have you accepted God’s payment for your sin? Have you allowed Him to ransom your life? Are you ready to talk to someone about following Jesus? Contact me and I would love to talk with you about what God has to offer!Share Tweet
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. - Galatians 5:1 (ESV)
I was recently watching a sermon by Craig Groeschel and he told a story about a brutal game of “Capture the Flag” where a coworker was hiding in his office closet. The coworker was discovered and Craig proceeded to tell him that he had blocked the door with a chair. The thing was, the chair didn’t fit! But his coworker never actually tried to open the door, so he spent the day locked in a closet that wasn’t actually locked.
Seems ridiculous, but how many times do we remain locked up somewhere only because we refuse to allow God to give us the key to our freedom? It can be easy to return to patterns of sin and bondage because it is familiar, and sheer willpower will only get you so far. The irony of not releasing control of our lives to Jesus is that we are still being controlled—but instead, by sin. In Romans 8:6 (NLT) God’s Word tells us that letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind lead to life and peace.
We could never imagine someone being freed from slavery willingly returning to captivity, or a wild animal that escaped its cage gladly climbing back in, but God knew our hearts would be prone to do just that.
He offers us everything: freedom, grace, peace, love, and more. We can misinterpret hard times or prayers answered differently than we expected as an absence of freedom, grace, peace, and love, but God never promised us an easy life, rich in the things of the world. He promised us spiritual riches and that He would be by our side every single day of our lives.
It may feel like you are trapped somewhere - locked away with no hope of anyone finding the key, but just like in Craig’s story, the door isn’t locked. Try the doorknob, God is waiting on the other side with open arms.