I normally don’t share my devotions with people, mainly because I think they are personal between God and me. But today I was reading a chapter in Acts. Just randomly, I don’t follow a reading plan or anything I just open my bible and sometimes where it falls open I will read it. Today it was Acts 22.
After Paul is converted Jesus tells him to leave Jerusalem quickly because his testimony about Jesus wouldn’t be accepted there. Paul says this, “Lord, they themselves know that in every synagogue I imprisoned them and beat those who believed in you. And while the blood of your witness Stephen was shed, I myself was standing by approving and keeping the coats of those who killed him” (Verses 19-20).
I love that Paul brought this up, not because of it’s context in the chapter, but because of it’s truth. Paul states that he was the “chief of sinners,” yet it took me reading through this chapter to actually grasp it. Paul literally watched as Christians were killed, he gave the killing order. Paul beat Christians and imprisoned them. Yet Jesus called him. Jesus called Paul, the “Chief of sinners” to follow him and to go and share the gospel.
Lately I’ve been struggling a lot with my past, because for some reason I think it defines me, and holds me back, and keeps me from love.
Reading through this chapter was like a bucket of freezing cold water on my sleeping soul.
If God called Paul, the person who imprisoned Christians and ordered for their murder, and forgave him, then why couldn’t he do the same for me? My holding on to my past and not forgiving myself and thinking that I can’t be forgiven, is in complete contradiction from what Jesus did on the cross. How can I continue to tell others that they are forgiven for their sins, if I can’t believe that mine are forgiven? How can I tell other people that their pasts make no difference and I still love them the same, if I can’t believe anyone could ever say that to me?
I have sinned. I have fallen short of the glory of God. However. I am saved. I am called. And I have been forgiven. You are forgiven. Nothing that you have done in your past can keep you from God when he says that you are forgiven. So for me, it’s time to forgive myself and move on. If I don’t start now I’ll never be able to let people in. I deserve love, and my past doesn’t change that.
Thank you God for your forgiveness and never-ending love. I love you. Amen.