December 28, 2010
Luke 19:10 NIV
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.
I know I said I wasn’t going to write until next year but something occurred and I felt God compelling me to write about it. I would love for all of you to read the story of Zacchaeus which is found in Luke 19: 1-10. I want you all to know that right away we learn that Zacchaeus is not a popular guy. When Jesus announces He is going to his house the crowd is vocal and calls this man a sinner. Oh and a sinner he is for he has cheated his own people and took money from them with taxes but took over the amount so he could make himself rich. The crowd is appalled that Jesus would want to spend any time with this man.
Last week Gary and I were sitting with some people who were guests in our home. During the course of the conversation I mentioned that I am an ex smoker. I quit the day of my heart attack in 1994. Gary then went on and told our guests the age I started. I was very young and it is not an age I am proud of, however, it is not an age I can change. When my own mother was alive and heard the age she was stunned. How old was I? I was 9 years old. Now at that age I was not regular, but that is when I did start and by the time I was 13 I was addicted to cigarettes. That is the bad news, the good news is that since then I have been saved by Jesus and quit smoking over 15 years ago. This by the way is not what the devotional is about; this is just my ‘Zacchaeus sin.’
The guests that we were entertaining are not ‘Michele’ fans and I do say that with a chuckle. In fact, they have treated me much like Hester Prynne was treated in her Puritan village of Boston Massachusetts back in the 17th century. Okay so they did not pin on me “A”. They didn’t have to; their demeanor towards me convicts them of this truth. What I am is a remarried divorced woman and for that I am looked down upon. (I guess this would be another Zacchaeus sin) As soon as Gary mentioned my age when I started smoking their countenance changed and I knew that the low opinion of me just went lower. Later that night I made a grievous mistake and that is what this devotional is all about.
While Gary and I were getting ready for bed I said to him, “Gary, my testimony is mine to give so I am going to ask that in the future if you want to share it with someone to first ask me for permission.” I said this because I was upset about how the couple responded and quite honestly embarrassed by my past. Gary, who is gracious apologized and said he understood. Since that time, Jesus has asked me a few times if I understood and today I think I finally do.
I have a rebellious sinful streak that runs right through me. Each night I go to bed and confess my sins I marvel at the love God has for me. I can’t explain it, He just loves me so much that He blesses me with my writing, with all of you and with my family; but most of all He blessed me with my testimony. There are a lot of things I did in my past (when I say past I mean starting from yesterday to the 1960’s) that I am not proud of, but it is, what it is. The same is true of Zacchaeus. What he did in the past he is not proud of and he cannot change. He can only go forward and try to make things right and then live a better life. That is what I am trying to do. Still and much like Zacchaeus there is going to be some in the crowd who love to shout out and remind us of who we are, and where we came from. This is the self righteous group who like to point out the sins of others because they believe themselves to be sin free. They are religious and pompous and it is amazing to see how much worth they are in their own eyes. Those are the same eyes that look down upon you. Well, in this case, at me and that is what made me uneasy and that should not be. I am not here on earth for their approval but for Gods. God knows all about my past and desired for me to be His regardless of the mistakes and the sins. That is all I need to concern myself with and that is all that Zacchaeus focused on. He goes on to tell Jesus that he will give back to all those he stole from and pay them back even more than he took. Jesus does not ask Zacchaeus to do this but it is what he does to show Jesus that he is repentant and sorry for what he has done. I feel my ministry is the same and by my using my own testimony to show that no sin is too great or takes you to far away that you are no longer within God’s reach. That is why Jesus is sent to this earth and that is the very good news of His wonderful gospel.
What I should have said to our guests is; “I realize that my past does not meet your approval but I am certainly thrilled that it met God’s. For He not only forgave me for all my sins but He allows me to use that past to reach others.” That would be the truth, perhaps not a truth they want to accept or even hear but it would still be a truth.
Why do I think this was so important to share with you? Well, as I said before the next year we are going to really take a good close look at the poor and see what it is that God does want us to do with them. I can tell you right now that some of the poor are that way because of bad choices, some are poor because they are born into poverty and some are poor because they don’t have the resources to get out of poverty regardless of the good choices they make. It will be very easy to look down our noses and assume they are unworthy of our help. Before that occurs I want you all to dispel that thought. Keep your minds clear and your hearts open and be prepared to meet a lot of Zacchaeus, Hester’s and Michele’s along the way.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost, so don’t be too proud of being one of the crowd!
Thank You Jesus for this day and this devotional and more importantly for this lesson. I don’t care what letter someone tries to put on me I know the blood of Jesus covers me and that Father is all I need to concern myself with. This truth I have learned through Your holy and divine word spoken by my Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.