Grace Rules

5 x 7 tropical 3So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.                   Romans 5:21  (NLT)

Matt hung his head. The judge had made it clear. He was to die by lethal injection in two months. His lawyer promised an appeal but Matt was through fighting. I’m guilty. I deserve to die. I broke into that apartment, tied those people up, and then slit their throats. I knew I’d done wrong. I knew the law.

Matt didn’t want to die. He loved to party right along with the best of them but…well…he’d had his day, hadn’t he. He walked quickly in front of the guard. They didn’t need to grab his arms and take him kicking and screaming back to his cell. He’d walk like a man and take his punishment like a man.

The cell walls started to close in just before bedtime. The news of his shortened life expectancy came at him like a battering ram, ripping into his resolve to face whatever life or death threw at him. He groaned.

“I heard that.” The man in the next cell whispered so the guards couldn’t hear. “Not so easy as you thought, huh?”

Matt sat down hard on the bunk. He placed his head in his hands. Trying hard to control his emotions, he stuffed his pillow over his face but his sobs could be heard by the man next door.

 “Matt, they can take your body but you can be assured of a place in heaven where your soul with live on.” The man had tried to witness to Matt many times before but Matt always straightened his back and said he could take whatever they dished out.

“Man, you on about that stuff again. I don’t need no fairy tales.” Matt groaned and lay on his side. The mattress smelled of urine.

“You got no time left, Matt. Jesus Christ died on the cross for all the rotten things you done in this life, as if you were the only one living. You gotta accept His free gift. He paid for your sins so God will accept you into heaven when you leave this life behind. Don’t be a chump. He’s real. He’s the one true God and He loves you.”

Matt had been judged guilty by the lawgivers in his city. And rightly so. But Jesus Christ is able to lift him up, above the law, because of the death He underwent on the cross. God looks upon His death as justification for us. Because of Jesus, God forgives and allows us access to His Holy City.

Father, Thank You for allowing Jesus to pay the price for my sin. Thank You for accepting me as righteous and for permitting me entrance into heaven. Amen

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Looking Forward

best sunrise pictureYour father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” John 8:56  (NLT)

Jenny rubbed her tummy. Imagine. In less than nine months, I will be holding you. I already love you. Jenny had just received the news that she was about to become a mother. She couldn’t wait to tell Samson, her husband of 15 years. Jenny wanted to skip, to walk up to complete strangers and tell them her news. She didn’t but she sure wanted to. She and her husband had waited so long.

She ran up the sidewalk when she arrived home. “Samson.” She called as soon as the door was opened. She looked in the living room, and then the kitchen. “I’ll bet he’s working on his bike in the garage.” Jenny spoke to the walls as she walked out the back door. There he was, sitting on the ground, working on the back wheel. I think he loves that bike as much as he loves me. “Samson, I think we’ll need to clean out the spare bedroom.” Jenny couldn’t help the silly grin that had been plastered in place since she heard the news.

“Why? There’s so much stuff in there.” He continued tightening the nut on the wheel, hardly glancing in his wife’s direction. “I can’t see me getting at that until next month at least. Have a lot to do to get this bike ready for ride season.” He stood, stretched and then looked at his wife’s glowing countenance. “What? Why are you grinning like that?”

“I didn’t want to get your hopes up again so I didn’t tell you. I had an appointment with Dr. Madison this morning. Honey, we’re pregnant…er…I mean…I’m pregnant.”

“Aw, Jenny. Don’t get your hopes up. I know what the doc said but…well…he’s said that before and look what happened. I’ll celebrate when we can hold the little guy in our arms.” Samson wrapped his arms around his wife. He wanted to believe but he still remembered the mountain of disappointment that a miscarriage could bring.

“I know but…I already love this baby and I will hope and believe even though…”

“Even though you can’t feel it move or see it. I know but…”

“Let’s just be happy for a while, okay?” Jenny wriggled out of his arms and took a step toward the back door. “Supper will be ready in about an hour.”

When God promised Abraham that He would make him the father of a great nation, Abraham did not say we’ll see. He believed him even though he never did see the promise become reality. He had faith. Jenny had faith that her baby would grow and thrive even though she didn’t feel or have any way of knowing that he or she was actually inside her tummy. She had to believe the doctor. Abraham believed God. Faith is sometimes believing in the bearer of good news, not in the news itself.

Father, Please give me an extra measure of faith today. Help me know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Your word is true because You are truth itself. Help me love others because You are love and help me believe in the cross because You went to the cross just for me. Amen.

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Abraham Believed

For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham Key West Sunsetbelieved God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” Romans 4:3  (NLT)

Ginger walked slowly along the road leading home. Why couldn’t these people use cars in this town? The train ride had been uneventful but something was drawing her, making her restless. She placed one foot in front of the other. The trees were covered in leaves. Some had beautiful flowers on them but nothing drew her like the still small voice she’d heard earlier. What it was, she couldn’t say. It was something she just knew.

The streets of Los Angeles had been a harsh reality for many years. She did whatever she needed to do to feed herself. She wasn’t trained for any type of job but then she was too young, That’s what most prospective employers said. She couldn’t afford a place to stay. Even the shabbiest and most rat-infested room was out of her non-existent budget. Then she heard the voice, the feeling for the first time. It drew her home.

Ginger chose to believe the feeling, the voice, even though she’d never seen any person attached to it. It drew her…led her…back where she’d come from. Her home hadn’t been perfect but it was sure better than what she’d been through the last three years. She didn’t know how they would receive her, whether they’d let her live there but she believed the voice and followed the instructions it gave.

Abraham was almost like Ginger. Walking toward Ur of the Chaldeans, coming home from a business trip, he heard the voice of God. Without seeing anyone, he believed the voice when God told him to take his family and travel in the dessert. God called Abraham righteous because of his faith, not because of any laws he obeyed. All God asks is that we believe. Do you believe that Christ died on the cross for you?

Father, I do believe Your word and Your Son when He says that He died to make us right with You. By accepting Jesus’ gift on the cross, His payment for my sins, You call me righteous too. Thank You Father. Amen

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Lillian Duncan introduces GAME ON

Meet My Friend – Lillian Duncan

Lillian Duncan…Stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem.

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in Ohio Amish country with her husband. After more than 30 years working as a speech pathologist for children, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

Lillian writes the types of books she loves tLilliano read—fast-paced suspense and mystery with a touch of romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us. To learn more about Lillian, you may visit her at www.lillianduncan.net or www.lillian-duncan.com. She also has a devotional blog at www.PowerUpWithGod.com.

Tell us a little about you.

My husband and I live in a small town in Ohio. I mean small—we only have 1 traffic light. But I love being back home. I grew up in the area, but moved to the big city of Cleveland for many years. Like Dorothy, I love being home again.

What is your favorite genre to read? To write?

The answer to both is Christian mystery and suspense with a little horror thrown in from time to time. I guess writing is sort of like eating. You are what you read, and for me that means I’m a suspense/mystery writer.

Tell us about GAME ON.

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that someone’s not out to get you!

Game OnThat’s the premise behind GAME ON. Politician Lucas McMann believes he’s the victim of an elaborate stalking game. Since he has no proof, his friends and colleagues believe he’s being paranoid.

He needs someone to help him get the proof and that’s when he turns to Nikki Kent, someone from his past. She’s a private investigator now, but the last person she wants in her life is Lucas McMann. He deserted her years ago when she needed him most, but her new found faith won’t let her say no to him.

And that’s when the game begins!

Tell me a bit about your main characters.

Lucas McMann is a politician with a big problem–actually two. First, he believes he’s the victim of an elaborate stalking game. His second problem is that no one believes him because there’s no proof. He can’t move forward until he stops the game. He can’t stop the game until he discovers who’s behind it. To do that he needs someone who will believe in him enough to help him get the proof he so desperately wants.

And he knows just the person, if only she’s put their troubled past behind her.

Private Investigator, Nikki Kent makes a living finding out other people’s secrets, but she has one of her own. When Lucas shows up asking for her help, she refuses. She can’t take the chance of her secret coming to light. But her new-found faith won’t let her turn her back on someone who is desperate for her help—even if he was the first man to break her heart!

What’s the setting for GAME ON?

Most of the story takes place in Maiden, North Carolina which is a real place. But that’s the only things that’s real. The specific places talked about in the story are a figment of my imagination.

 What’s your day job? Tell us a little about it.

I retired as an SLP from a large city school district in Ohio, then spent several more years working part-time in smaller, rural districts near where I live. Between the two jobs, I don’t think there is any type of child I haven’t worked with at least once.

I loved my job and miss it. Mostly I miss the children, not the paper work. If it weren’t for serious health issues, I would still be working.

 What sort of serious health issues?

In 2012 I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors and subsequently a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 2. A long name that basically means I can develop tumors at any time on my nerves but especially in the brain.

It’s been a long, long journey but God is good. There’s a lot I can’t do these days, but I can still write!

What do you want readers to take away from GAME ON?

I think there are several lessons to be learned. One of the most important is that forgiving others isn’t letting them off the hook. It’s letting go of your own anger and bitterness so you can have the life God wants for you.

What is your writing process?

I never know what is going to happen in my story on any given writing day. It’s as if my mind is a movie screen and I watch that day’s events and then I write it.

When I start a new story I usually have a clear picture of the main character in mind and what obstacle he/she will face, but anything goes after that. If I’m writing and start to feel bored—then I kill someone or blow something up. And that way it’s a surprise to me and to my readers.

 Do you know who the bad guy is when you begin your story?

Not usually. Most of the time I have several characters who it might be and as the story comes to a conclusion, I’m surprised right along with my readers.

Most people don’t think of murder mysteries and suspense novels as Christian Fiction. What do you say to them?

I can certainly understand their point of view. And for some readers my stories might be a bit too graphic or edgy and that’s okay, I would say my readers are those who like traditional suspense and mystery novels but are tired of all the explicit language and sex scenes that aren’t necessary to a good story.

I don’t promote or glorify violence in my stories and show characters experiencing the natural consequences of their bad choices and bad actions. My characters are usually on a spiritual journey as well—but some are further along than others.

What are you working on now?

I just finished the final edits on the third in the Deadly Communications series. Its title is DEADLY SILENCE. In it, Maven will be back and facing some very difficult life circumstances.

Along with that, I’m working with a late-deafened adult as a client. A subject near and dear to me since I’ve lost all my hearing in one ear and a significant amount in the other because of the brain tumors.

I also have several other stories in various stages that I’m working on.

HOW CAN READERS FIND YOU ON THE INTERNET?

My website is www.lillianduncan.net and I have a devotional blog at www.PowerUpWithGod.com My blog is TIARAS & TENNIS SHOES at www.lillian-duncan.com.  I’m also on Twitter as @LillianDuncan and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lillian.k.duncan

What inspired you to write this series, or this novel in particular?

Actually, I was watching a TV talk show. This particular guest believed that many of his “friends” were actually stalking him. My writer’s mind took over from there and I created Lucas McMann, a politician who believes he’s being stalked but nobody else does. And it went from there.

 Who is your favorite secondary character in this latest novel, and do you think you’ll include that character in a future story?

Lucas’s mother is my favorite secondary characters. She’s a gun-toting Southern belle who believes in being able to protect herself.

Do you have personal experience with any of the events in your story, and if so, could you share about that?

Not in the least! My suspense stories are just that—stories I create.

 Paper or e-reader? There are certainly pros and cons to each. Which is your favorite?

I prefer a “real” book with paper. Unfortunately, I don’t read them that way very often because of my eyesight. So, I use an e-reader almost exclusively these days.

Do you have a favorite or “life” verse? Why is that one important to you?

Romans 8: 28:   And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

In 2012, when I was diagnosed with brain tumors, the treatments and the side effects wreaked havoc on my health! I was very sick but I kept repeating this verse over and over. It kept me trusting God and it kept me in peace and joy in spite of how bad I felt at the time.

How did your education or previous career impact your journey to publication and where you are now?

My day job was as a school speech pathologist, better known as a speech therapist. So for more than 30 years I listened…and listened…and listened some more. I think it helped me in a lot of areas but certainly with writing dialogue of my characters.

If you could offer a word of encouragement to an aspiring author, what would you say?

DON’T GIVE UP! It took me 15 years to get a traditional contract, and now I have almost 20 books published! If I can do it, so can you. But not if you give up. KEEP WRITING!

Anything else you need to tell us?

To celebrate the release of GAME ON, I’m giving away a virtual basket of goodies at www.lillian-duncan.com  including Amazon gift cards. For all the details go to my blog, Tiaras & Tennis Shoes. Simply leave a comment on the blog post GAME ON at www.lillian-duncan.com and you’ll be entered.

Also, my publisher outdid herself when she created a book trailer for GAME ON. Check it out at: https://youtu.be/t6MK2UGB1P0

And lastly, thanks for having me.

 BLURB for GAME ON

Politics is no game when a stalker nears and there’s nowhere to hide.

A run for the senate is just a step on the road to the White House for Congressman Lucas McMann. But his public profile has put him in the middle of a crazed gunman’s twisted game of stalking. If he wants to win the election and reclaim his life, he’ll need the help of the one person who’d rather leave their past behind them.

Private Investigator Nikki Kent knows how to dig up secrets and discover those who exist in the shadows. She should. She’s good at hiding secrets of her own. Can she risk her own discovery for someone so desperate for her help? For the first man who broke her heart?

With new-found faith, she’ll help Lucas search for the answers. But with the truth comes a danger they must face together.

AMAZON LINK

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God’s Made Rites

So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. IMG_5323 Romans 3:28  (NLT)

Jonah dropped his kickstand. He unhooked the bungee cords holding his duffle bag in place. He wound them together and stowed them in his saddle bag. Turning the key to the lock position, he threw the duffle over his shoulder and strode toward the tiny airport terminal. This was not going to be fun.

Jonah hated flying. In fact, he’d have given just about anything to not be here today. He walked through the door causing a bell to jangle in the nearby office.

“Hey, Jonah. Ready for another flight?” The man chuckled. He knew of Jonah’s phobia and liked to tease although the much larger Jonah had his limits. As he looked toward the bearded man standing by the door, he scowled. It looked like he’d left his sense of humor at home again today. “Aw come on, I was just kiddin’. Let’s go. The plane’s all gassed up.”

Jonah’s thunderous countenance continued all the way to the tarmac. He knew that he’d successfully been flown every week back and forth but each time, it was as if he had to dig deep to find the trust he needed in both the plane and the pilot. Jonah needed faith.

That’s what we need when it comes to our relationship with God…simple faith. There’s not a thing we can do to earn salvation. Faith eliminates selfish pride in our own accomplishes. It causes us to focus on what God has done, not something we’ve done. Faith admits that we can’t measure up to God’s standards, that we need help. Faith is based on our relationship with God, not our performance for God.

Father, give me an extra measure of faith today. Help me clearly understand that it’s all about You. Keep me strong, believing in what is unseen. Amen

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Made Right by Faith

For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life. Romans 3:25a  (NLT)

Everyone looked toward the man standing alone, in the center of the room. Men, in a variety of sizes, some with tattoos trailing down brawny arms, sat at tables along the far wall, waiting, happy it wasn’t them standing there. They looked toward Chet, smirked and then lowered their gaze, not wanting to draw attention to themselves.

Chet trembled. He tried hard to look tough but he knew he’d been caught. Now what would happen to him?

Three months ago, he’d begun siphoning funds from the club treasury. His wife had been diagnosed with cancer and she‘d needed some very expensive treatments. Chet felt he’d had no choice. “Digger, I…”

“Shut Up. I don’t wanna hear none of yur excuses. There’s thousands missing and we know you took it. You’re a dead man.” The bulky man scowled, slammed his fist on the desk in front of him and then stood. He towered over Chet, crossed his arms over his broad chest, and commanded the attention of everyone in the room. “You guys will learn not to mess with me. What I says goes. Come here.” He motioned for two men who’d been standing behind him. “Take this creep to the usual spot. Make sure no one finds anybody afterwards.”

“Boss?” A skinny, very old man shuffled to stand in front of Digger. His sleeves were torn off to reveal tattoos from his days as a marine in Vietnam. “Boss, take me. I’ve lived a lot longer than Chet and I’m sure the man is sorry for what he did. I’ll be your example.”

“No, Slider, I can’t let you do that.” Chet took a step toward the old man.

“Get back where you are.” Digger barked. “Old man, you’re nuts.”

“Maybe so but I want you to take me in place of Chet. Now, let’s go.”  Digger scowled. Someone had to pay. He didn’t care who. As long as the boys feared they could be next if they just once step out of line.

“Get goin’. Chet, you step out of line one more time and no one will save you. Now get outta here.”

That’s what Christ di5 x 7 tropical 4d for us. He stepped in front of a justly angry God who had declared us guilty for not keeping His standards, His law. Jesus paid the price we rightly deserve when He died on the cross all those years ago. It was as if we stood there and all our misdeeds were taken from us and placed on His shoulders. All that God asks of us is that we believe it was done for us personally because we are sinners. Then, we are asked to access Jesus power through the Holy Spirit. He will help us not give in to the temptation of sin anymore.

Father, thank You for allowing Jesus to pay the price for my sin, for accepting His death as a just payment. Jesus, I love You and will walk where You want me to walk from now on, doing what You would have me do. Amen.

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One Size Fits All

245We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. Romans 3:22  (NLT)

BJ sat in the corner, reading. That’s what it looked like to everyone else but, in reality, she was thinking. Her life was such a mess and she was to blame. Her parents had taught her right from wrong and, while they weren’t very demonstrative, she knew they loved her, in their way. She’d become their disappointment.

BJ had arrived at her name because she was a Bad Judge of character. She trusted any man within five feet of her and consequently had ended up pregnant before the age of twenty, with no means of support. She felt tarnished, undeserving of a nice man so here she was, at the beck and call of Thunder. He was appropriately named since he was always shouting at her to do this or do that. He used her whenever he wanted and sometimes invited his friends to have her too. What a life.

One day, feeling lower than she’d ever felt before, BJ walked to the closest drug store. She marched purposefully up and down the aisles looking for just the right product. There, on the second shelf. Just the right combination and it would all be over.

“Can I help you?” A young woman, probably her age surmised BJ, stood tall beside her, back straight and feet planted firmly. “That stuff is for colds but we have something that’s even better.”

“Huh, huh…it’s for my boyfriend. He wants this stuff. I need some Tylenol too. Do you have it with codeine?”

“Only by prescription. Those items should not be taken at the same time. So you need to be careful.” The young woman looked around to see if her boss was listening. She sensed this woman was in trouble.”Are you all right? I mean, is there anything else I can do for you?”

BJ looked into the woman’s eyes. She seemed to really care. Could she trust her? “Why do you care? No one else does.”

The sales clerk smiled. “Oh Yes someone does. His name is Jesus. Do you know about Him?”

“Yeah, I’ve heard of Him. Who hasn’t? It’s just…He can’t possibly care about me. I’ve done so many bad things and now…”

“But He does. He loves you so much in fact that He died on the cross paying the penalty for all those bad things you’ve done. Because of Him we can have a personal relationship with God.”

That young sales clerk was right. Jesus Christ is our way to a right relationship with the God of the universe. No matter who we are, how rich or how poor, how good or how bad, we can approach God daily once we have accepted the free gift that Jesus offers…salvation.

Father, I need you today, I feel so worthless and no one seems to care about me. Please come into my life, guide me in your paths and allow me to begin making wise choices instead of bad ones. Amen.

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Swept Away in Sin

Windemere Baptist Camp, Roach MOWe are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. Isaiah 64:6  (NLT)

“Hey, dummy. Clean the dust off my bike.” Charlie’s hunched back straightened. He jerked around and rushed toward Digger’s motorcycle. He grabbed the rag from his back pocket and began to polish, careful not to scratch the paint in any way.

“Digger, c-can I c-come inside to get outta the s-sun later?” He turned hopeful eyes on the large man sitting on the top step leading to the clubhouse door.

“Yeah, when pigs fly. Keep polishin’” Digger stood and pushed the door open. Charlie felt the whoosh of cool air-conditioned air. He heard the music and everyone was laughing, enjoying themselves. Oh, how he wanted to be able to go in and laugh with the guys.

Day after day, Charlie walked down the street from his house toward the large building where a lot of motorcyclists gathered every day. He didn’t have a bike but he sure would like to ride one. His plaid shirt had a few holes in the sleeves, the knees of his jeans were thread bare and ripped and he hadn’t shaved in a long time. His beard was tattered and rough looking. But he wanted to be part of them so bad.

He remembered the first time he walked here. They’d thrown some empty beer bottles at him and chased him away. Then after that he began to polish their bikes, Soon they expected him to do whatever they asked…but they never let him come inside, be one of them.

Every day, thousands of people do all sorts of charitable things, volunteer for all sorts of organizations, and give their money to charitable events and causes. Every day, they hope they’ve earned another step closer to heaven. They work hard to gain entrance so that when they die, they’ll see those pearly gates they always hear about.

The Bible says our righteous deeds are the same as filthy rags, not worthy of anything, let alone entrance to the heavenly home of God. Our sins blot out anything we might consider payment to balance the scale. There are not enough good deeds for us to do, to pay the price for our sinful nature.

Jesus Christ was perfect in every way. He was obedient to His Father all the way to the cross. He paid the entrance fee for us to get into heaven. That’s His gift to us. All we need do is accept that gift. Simple, yes it is but real nonetheless.

Father, Thank You for allowing me access to Your heavenly home through the blood of Jesus Christ. I accept His free gift once and for all and want to serve You with all my being from now on. Amen

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Peace With God

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.  Romans 5:1  (NLT)

Duffy walked into the clubhouse. His tattooed arms rippled and he clenched his fists. “Anyone looking for a fight?” He glared toward several guys playing pool. He stomped his way over to the bar, sat on the nearest stool and pounded his fist on the counter in front of him. “Gimmee a shot of whiskey.”

“Why’re you guys lookin’ at me. Go on about your business or I’ll knock you into next week.” He turned toward the bar once again as the murmuring continued near the pool table. He heard balls drop into the pockets as players racked up points. He didn’t know why Sims had summoned him. I’ll tell him a thing or two if…no…when I get the chance. He tilted his head back, swallowing the burning liquid. Might as well get it over with.

Duffy walked toward the door located along the back wall. He knew the president of the club by reputation. He’d never met the man. Any orders he’d received had always been through someone else. When he’d joined this group three days ago, they’d told him that the boss was not a man to fool with. If he kept his nose clean, he’d live. If not…

Duffy knocked. “Yeah, get in here.” The deep voice vibrated with threatening force. “You’re right on time.”

Sims was sitting behind a large mahogany desk, his back to a blank wall so he could see out the window near him. He leaned back, placed his hands over his massive stomach, and then chuckled. “The boys tell me you’re mad as a hornet. What gives?”

“Why’d you call me? I ain’t done nothin’” Duffy hovered near the door, ready to bolt when he had the chance.

“Awe, come on. Sit. The boys also told me what ya done for me the other day. I decided that you’re the man I’ve looked for to be my lieutenant. Let’s have a drink.”

Duffy was given the right to approach his boss anytime he wanted. God, through His Son’s death on the cross, has given us the right to go to Him anytime we want. We are reconciled through Jesus Christ, justified in His blood. We have peace with God, the Creator of the universe and all mankind. Imagine!

Father, You are the Holy, omniscient God of the Universe and yet I can approach your throne any time I want. Thank You for sending Your Son so that I can be reconciled to You. Amen

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Undeserved Kindness

IMG_6811Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.                           Romans 3:24,26b  (NLT)

Dillon waited patiently in his cell. He wore the suit that his lawyer had given him. He’d even polished his shoes so they shone as brightly as the sunshine he could see through a window high above his head. His stomach felt as if he’d eaten nails for breakfast. “I’ve never had any problem with indigestion until I came here.” No one was listening but he had to hear someone’s voice even if it was only his own.

Dillon heard footsteps. Finally. Now he’d find out what the verdict was. He was really innocent but there seemed to be so much evidence stacked against him. Circumstantial. But they didn’t care. They wanted someone to pay for killing that lady and he was handy.

The guard escorted Dillon to the side door of the courtroom. It wasn’t a long walk but one that Dillon knew by heart. The trial had lasted weeks. No one listened when he said he didn’t do this. No one believed him. Well, I guess now’s when I pay for the stuff they didn’t catch me doing.

Dillon leaned back in his chair beside his lawyer once they’d arrived at the desk in front of the judge. He’d asked for a judge’s verdict instead of a jury trial. He’d thought the judge would be fair.

He was asked to stand. Dillon hung his head and then looked the judge in the eye. If he was going to die, he’d do it standing tall. “Dillon Martin, I have gone over all the evidence in this trial. I’ve listened carefully to all the witnesses and, while some of their stories are compelling, I have decided that you are not guilty. You are free to go.” Dillon legs gave out from under him and he sat down hard. Tears, very unmanly tears, flowed down his cheeks as he looked toward the judge. Did I hear right? His lawyer patted him on the back.

Dillon knew he was guilty of many things, maybe not this particular crime, but others that the judge didn’t know about. Yet he was declared innocent. He was free. That is what God has done for each and every one of us. We know we’re guilty. Even the person who’s never picked up the Bible, knows that they’re not worthy of the freedom and privileges they enjoy. Yet God forgives. His Son was declared guilty in our place. His Son went to the gas chamber for us. His Son justified us in God’s eyes and we can freely come to Him any time we want.

Do you accept that Jesus paid the price for your sin? Accepting something freely with no strings attached is hard to digest but it’s that simple. Ask Jesus to take up residence in your life today and freely walk in the freedom He’s paid for from now on.

Father, I may not know how Dillon felt when the judge declared him free but I do know what it’s like not to have a guilty conscience all the time. I know where to bring my bad choices and where to seek forgiveness. Thank You for dying on that cross, just for me. Amen

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