Birth

My desires birth my sin; the Father’s decision birthed my salvation

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Read: James 1

Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:14-15)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (James 1:17-18)

Reflect:

Two births are described here: the birth of sin, from evil desire and our (Christian) birth through the gospel. The former leads only to death but the latter prefigures the new creation. Sin is birthed by human hearts, but Christians are born as the heavenly Father’s firstfruits.

What does it mean that sin springs from the evil desires of the human heart? It means I cannot blame anyone but myself for my mistakes and bad choices, just as I cannot blame anyone else for my rebellion and disgrace. It was my fault that I went my own way instead of staying on the narrow way of Christ. It is my fault that I am frequently lazy, selfish, short-tempered or fearful.

What does it mean that new birth is a good and perfect gift from the Father? It means that I do not deserve new birth, I did not do anything to earn it and I could not do anything to repay my heavenly Father for it. It is free, ‘no strings attached’. It’s an outpouring of the LORD’s goodness and generosity, his loving-kindness and compassion, his mercy and grace, his choice and creation. I can do nothing to lose this new birth for I did nothing to win it.

crux:

My desires birth my sin; the Father’s decision birthed my salvation.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

Please receive my apology: I am truly sorry for my sin, my evil desires, my wicked rebellion against you who are my God.

Thank you for your choice to give me a new life as your saved, redeemed, adopted, renewed child.

I love you. You are good and generous, and I have benefited mightily from your grace.

Please allow me to share your grace with others.

Amen.

Refuge

Jesus Christ offers refuge to all who flee to him

Read: Deuteronomy 19

Then set aside for yourselves three cities in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess. Determine the distances involved and divide into three parts the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, so that a person who kills someone may flee for refuge to one of these cities.
This is the rule concerning anyone who kills a person and flees there for safety – anyone who kills a neighbour unintentionally, without malice aforethought. (Deuteronomy 19:2-4)

Reflect:

Israel had a fresh start in the new land they were about to enter, a second change. But with fresh starts and second chances came bad mistakes and slip-ups, because the people of Israel, like me, lived in a fallen world. Sometimes terrible things happen – and occasionally unfairly, other people get blamed when bad things happen.

God knew human nature, our propensity to blame others when things go wrong. It started back in the Garden of Eden, which Adam blaming Eve and Eve blaming the serpent (Genesis 3:12-13). God knew also our tendency to want revenge. That also started right back at the beginning, with Cain fearing a revenge attack after he committed the first murder (Genesis 4:14).

So God made a way for those innocent people who were blamed for bad things, who had undeserved bad reputations, to stay safe while they were granted their fresh start. God wanted his people to be free to love and serve him without the hindrance of a bad reputation, and he ensured they would have this freedom. He gave them good land, as well: land in cities where they could blend in with the crowds and leave their sad pasts behind. God didn’t want these people to have difficult lives in barren places. He offered mercy and grace.

Even today, God offers grace and mercy to all who run to his Son Jesus, seeking refuge with the One who also was once a refugee (in Egypt, Matthew 2:13-15). He is the One who came to seek and save the lost, and his name is Jesus Christ.

crux:

Like Israel’s cities of refuge, Jesus Christ offers refuge to all who flee to him.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

Thank you for Jesus and the refuge he has provided for my soul as I fled from my bad choices and mistakes and also from my deliberate, wilful sins. Thank you for the fresh start I have through the blood of Jesus. Thank you for the new, eternal life I live because Jesus died in my place.

Please grant me today the opportunity to tell someone else about this second chance at life that is offered by Jesus – and please help me to be bold to take up that opportunity with graciousness and kindness.

Amen.