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March 17 Devotional

Opening Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that while we were yet sinners, powerless to do anything about our spiritual condition, you demonstrated your love for us by dying in our place. O how deep the love that would make the God of all creation become a lowly man in order to die a death that we rightly deserve. Thank you, Lord Jesus, thank you! 

Scripture Reading for the Day: Romans 5:6-8

Journal: What do the words of today’s scripture do within you? How aware are you today of your own sinfulness? How aware are you of God’s great love? What is your response to his love today?

Reflection: While we were yet sinners. The Greek word here for sinner is hamartōlos, which comes from the root hamartanō, meaning to miss the mark. We are people who are constantly missing the mark. Have you missed the mark recently? What did it look like? What did it feel like? Do you ever feel like, regardless of what you do, you just can’t measure up? I feel that way a lot. Probably because apart from the saving work of Jesus, that is the condition of my heart and soul. It is a condition that runs deep and one that, this side of heaven, I’m not sure I will ever be completely free of. 

That’s the picture that we are offered here in Romans 5. But luckily that is not where the picture ends. Thanks be to God that even though we fall woefully short (and woefully is not nearly a strong enough word) of what we were created to be - again and again and again - God still chooses to demonstrate his great love for us by sending Jesus to die. God took our mess on himself, so that we might be made whole and clean. That should make us glad. That should give us hope. And that should also make us humble, constantly reminding us that it was because of our mess that Jesus had to get his hands dirty in the first place. 

The good news is that Jesus never seemed to be afraid to get his hands dirty. No mess was too big for him. I mean, he was constantly touching lepers and receiving kisses from prostitutes for heaven’s sake. If he was okay with getting his hands messy, shouldn’t we be also. Yet, oftentimes we demand that people be mess-free before we will have anything to do with them. I am so glad Jesus was not like that. In fact, it was while we were still a mess that he died for us. That is not a license to continue to live in our messiness, but a reminder that, whether we are aware of it or not, we are all still a mess apart from God’s grace. Therefore, if we are going to be like Jesus, we can never demand that everyone we meet be mess-free before we will have anything to do with them. 

My guess is that none of us has finished making a mess of our lives, there are still plenty of opportunities ahead. The reality is that life is messy sometimes. That does not mean that we should ever set out in the direction of messy, we are called to much greater things than that - holiness and righteousness. But it does mean that when messes occur, all is not lost. Because it is in the middle of the messes - while we were yet sinners - that God demonstrates his great love.

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Leoma Gilley works for Wycliffe Bible Translators and is responsible for developing university-level, accredited training in linguistics, literacy, Bible translation, Scripture use, anthropology and language assessment (survey) to people across Africa. Pray today for wisdom for Leoma as the training program develops in Africa. They need staff to prepare the materials and ensure that teaching is given at the right level for the students.

Christian Leadership Concepts (CLC) is an organization that seeks to find and deploy the natural male disciple-makers in our city, asking them to pour into other men via a two-year disciple-making process. Pray today for the men currently in the two-year discipleship groups.

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner!