Seeds of Reconciliation

Despite our contrasting views of who God is and what He is like, most people relate to the expression, “finding peace with God.” Now if we can identify with the quest to find such peace—or the jubilation of having done so—then the sense of separation from God must also be an experience common to humanity, for our shared pursuit of peace with God exposes the discord that exists between us in the first place.1

This excerpt from my first book, Christ in Me, observes the universal quest of finding peace with God. How striking its timelessness, for Augustine’s confession from centuries ago still speaks for us today: “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find peace in you.”2 Oh, how we strive to close the gap between us. Yet the One we seek is more intent restoring us to Himself than we are. As I continued in Christ in Me, “Are we troubled by the separation between us? It bothers Him even more, not as One who needs us, but as One who loves us; not as One who is helpless to unite us, but as the only One who can bring us peace.”3

We have begun a short series on “seeds that bear fruit”—Scriptures that speak truth to the human condition while proclaiming God’s liberating grace in its various forms. We began last week with three Bible passages that both declare the gravity of our sin and proclaim God’s provision of forgiveness through Christ Jesus. Today, let’s absorb two passages that simultaneously acknowledge our separation from God and celebrate His loving initiative of reconciliation.

Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:12-13 NIV

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. Colossians 1:21-22 NIV

Meditate on these verses this week; memorize these words of restoration. Blend them into your own story of reconciliation with God through sacrificial death and life-bearing resurrection of Jesus Christ. They may become words of life to a restless heart seeking to find peace with God.

Father, thank You for Your seeking, finding and uniting love. So fill us with gratitude and joy that we would readily and eagerly share the message of reconciliation with those who are separated from You. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Paul Nordman, Christ in Me, (Maitland, Florida: Xulon Press), 29.
2 Augustine, Saint Bishop of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, trans. Rex Warner. (New York: The New American Library, 1963), 17.
3 Nordman, Christ in Me, 29.


Seeds of Forgiveness

I have seen much in my 40-plus years as a believer in Christ Jesus, but nothing as powerful as a Kairos Prison Ministry Weekend. As an inmate once mused, “Look around this room. In just three days, the love you [volunteers] brought here has cut through these hardened men and entire lifetimes of hatred and anger. This can only be God.” Kairos observes some foundational practices that are effective in sharing the transforming love and forgiveness that are found in Christ, one of which is this: We do not come seeking commitments, rather we come planting seeds of truth and love; any spiritual “harvest” will be God’s doing in His own time.

Jesus used the “planting of seeds” as an analogy of speaking the Word of God: it falls on different kinds of hearts and over time, it produces spiritual life and growth in those who accept it. And to His disciples, he said that, of sowing and reaping, it is actually sowing that is “the hard work.”1 So over the next few weeks, let’s devote ourselves to meditating on “seeds” that bear fruit—Scriptures that speak life and truth to the human condition and produce a harvest of spiritual birth and growth in its time. We begin today with three passages, each of which acknowledges the gravity of our sin and celebrates God’s provision of forgiveness.

Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. (Isaiah 1:18 ESV)

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14 NIV)

All of these verses breathe hope into hopelessness. Each exhales a confession of our sin and inhales the cleansing breath of God’s forgiveness, a pardon at great cost, one that cannot be taken away. So let’s think on these truths and the new life they proclaim. Better yet, why not memorize them, so that we may be prepared to plant the Word in wrestling hearts as the Spirit leads us to do so?

Father, thank You for those who planted seeds of truth into my life, for through Your Word, You have saved me. Grace me to grow in knowledge and incline my heart to Your Spirit, that I might sow Your Word on the paths of human hearts. May there be harvest—rich, Kingdom harvest. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 Mark 4:34-38


Plans, Purposes and Priorities

“I didn’t accomplish a single thing I set out to do today!” How many times have we stewed in the frustration of such seeming futility? Whether self-discipline came up short or interruptions stretched out long, events turned out to be nothing like we’d expected and we fret the failure of our plan. But what if execution were actually the least of our problems, that a glaring omission in our plan rendered today’s to-do list a frustration from its conception?

Plans follow purpose. This is why organizations articulate mission statements—to establish one shared sense of purpose for its people and a focal point for the supporting strategies by which they accomplish it. Yet while any number of leadership books extol the value of alignment, virtually all of them overlook this indispensable Biblical truth: “Many are the purposes in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”1 We may have dutifully conceived plans that follow our pursuits, but if ours do not sync with God’s, and if our daily demands override His clarion call, we will never be completely satisfied, nor our purpose fully realized. For at the other end of what we might regard as an interruption is often a person struggling with a need—be it physical, emotional or spiritual in nature. We’ve been in their place before, and how grateful we were when someone sacrificed their comfort and convenience to share our burden and lighten our load. Perhaps they, like we, felt the frustration of a less productive day, but we thanked God for His love poured out through these, His obedient ones, as they helped to overcome our troubles.

For those of us who like structure and order to our day, ceding our agendas over to the higher and broader purposes of God can feel messy and at times downright burdensome. As Solomon wrote, “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?”2 But on the other side of obedience is blessing, not only for those who cut in on our calendars, but ultimately for us, too. So we watch for God’s daily directions—His divine appointments—and prioritize His purposes over our plans. Life is more fruitful this way.

Father, we confess our plans cater to ourselves and overlook Your higher purposes. Fill us with Your Spirit, that we would hear your call today and give ourselves over to your plans and purposes, that others would be blessed and You would be glorified. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Proverbs 19:21
2 Proverbs 20:24