Today I want to tell you the story of Rusty Woomer. Rusty had a rough childhood. He got involved in drugs at an early age, spent time in jail for rape, and got involved with the “wrong crowd.”
One night, while high on drugs, he and a friend robbed, assaulted, and killed five people, wounding several others. He was sent to death row for his crimes. There he remained, wasting away until the day he met Bob McAlister.
Bob was visiting another man on death row at the prison in Columbia, South Carolina, when he met Rusty. Rusty was living in filth and didn’t seem to notice. Bob could see that Rusty was suffering under spiritual oppression. He urged Rusty to call on the name of Jesus, and Rusty feebly cried, “Jesus. Jesus.” Bob led Rusty in a prayer for forgiveness and went home. He returned the next week to find Rusty transformed—physically and spiritually. Rusty met Jesus, and his life was radically changed.
What is your response to a story like Rusty’s?
Are you praising Jesus for a lost soul finding forgiveness and eternal life? Or are you like Jonah, bitter because the wicked can be forgiven?
Last weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder spoke of the remarkable transformation of the people of Nineveh. They put on sackcloth and ashes and fasted in hopes that their repentance could reverse the curse that the prophet of God, Jonah, had spoken upon them. God heard their cries and forgave them.
How did Jonah respond?
This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry.
Jonah looked at the mercy God shed on the great city of Ninevah and started fuming. He wanted them to suffer God’s judgment and vengeance, but God gave them mercy.
Are you like Jonah when you hear of great sinners coming to repentance? What would you think if you discovered that, before their deaths, Adolf Hitler or Osama bin Laden came to faith in Jesus? Would you celebrate with the angels in heaven or sit with Jonah, mourning God’s great mercy?
My flesh wants judgment for the evil done by those in the world, but when I seek justice on my terms, I am forgetting the mercy God has shown me. I want to join with the angels in celebration, rejoicing when another soul discovers the love of Jesus for themselves.
Luke 15:7 NIV
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Has someone hurt you, causing you to have bitterness in your heart toward them? What is stopping you from offering them the forgiveness God has offered you?
Are you grateful for God’s mercy to all who come to him, or are you secretly disappointed when people don’t “get what they deserve”?
Pray for those who are far from God and doing evil in this world. Pray also for opportunities to offer forgiveness and share God’s mercy with those who have hurt you. When those opportunities arise, take the next step and forgive them. Remember Christ has given his life to forgive you.
Day 19 Focus – Give me the Courage to Make a Difference (Matthew 5:14-16)
Thank you, God, for blessing us with your love to share with the world. Please, give us the strength to step out in faith when we see a need. Give us the courage to reveal your truth, so that others can receive the knowledge of your heart for them, and then join you in the work you are doing. Help us to reach our neighbors through our everyday actions and grant us the confidence to live by faith, sharing you in some way with everyone we meet. Let them see your forgiveness in us, so that they may also experience your grace. Amen
This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.
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