Thursday, October 19, 2017

Guilt and Grace - Acts 10

Acts 10:43 Peter concluded, “All the prophets testify about Jesus that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”

            Guilt is something that a lot of us struggle with on a regular basis. As we go through life, we carry a lot of baggage, some of which include regrets from the past. This might be something wrong in our teenage years, an old family conflict, a foolish and embarrassing choice, or even a mistake that affected our relationships or careers. Whatever the case, our guilt is usually about something that remains unresolved and unforgiven.

            From its very beginnings, the message of Christianity has always included the gift of forgiveness, which Jesus offers to us in His name. He can do this because God allows Christ to claim us as His own. This means we can be both pardoned and restored to God at the same time. All of the baggage that we carry from past mistakes can be personally removed when we trust Jesus. We also don’t have to go through religious acts of penance or make major sacrifices to appease God. We only have to embrace Christ and rely on Him to keep His word.

            Perhaps there is still something in your life that constantly casts a shadow over you. Maybe there is an unhealed memory that haunts you or a deep regret that weighs you down emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Please know that you can bring those things to Christ in prayer, express to Him your sorrow, and ask Him to forgive you in His name. As soon as you do this, God will forgive you, Christ will release you, and the Holy Spirit will help you to start again.

Point to ponder

What is my greatest regret? Am I willing to let Jesus forgive and heal me of this burden?

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, You know all that we carry in our hearts and play over again in our minds. You are aware of the burdens of guilt that we carry and the sources of sorrow in our lives. Please help us to quietly come to You to ask for mercy and grace. Hear us now as we humbly pray in Your Holy Name. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or make comments about today’s message, please send John an email to You can also read the church website at

Today’s image is one of John’s digital glass drawings called ‘Time to Pray.’ If you would like to view a larger version, click this link: Pray.

Monday, October 16, 2017

An Inconvenient Truth - Acts 9:16

Acts 9:16 “I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

            After his Damascus Road experience, things would never be the same for Saul of Tarsus – nor would they ever be easy, according to Christ’s words. Saul was being called to bring the message of the Gospel, which he initially hated, to the very people he was meant to be striving against. Groups on both sides of the Christian persecution now had no reason to trust him. To the Syrians Christians, Saul would be considered as a tremendous risk for the fledgling faith; to his religious overseers in Jerusalem, he would be known as an unholy traitor who betrayed his own faith and dishonored God. And even though Saul was put in this situation against his own will, Christ would not fully protect him from the many years of suffering that would come. His calling was not just to spread the Gospel, but to suffer the consequences that came along with it.

            As post-modern Christians, we tend to avoid suffering for our faith as much as possible. We want laws to protect our beliefs and advance our causes. We want other people to follow our moral codes to prove that we are right and they are wrong. We want our faith to be individually shaped and personally convenient. We want God to operate within our timetables and according to our goals. We disown anything about our faith that interferes with our desires and we embrace everything that makes us feel good about ourselves, no matter if it conflicts with Christ’s teaching. If Christ were to meet us on our own Damascus Road, we would probably put up with our own blindness rather than have Jesus change everything about us. As for suffering for our faith? – that belongs to the saints in the past or fanatics in the present.

            It seems that being nice to one another is more important than being honest with Christ. To be secure is better than suffering; to be comfortable is way much better than being called. Perhaps we should re-read the New Testament passage again (Acts 9:1-22) and then honestly ask ourselves this question:

Am I willing to let Christ call me, even though He will change everything?

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, sometimes we are scared to give You our hearts and open our lives to Your calling. We don’t want things to change and we would rather turn away from suffering. Help us to approach You honestly so that we may serve You faithfully and do what You want for the rest of our lives. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is currently the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment or ask questions about today’s message, please send him an email to You can also read the church website at

Today’s image is one of John’s latest Christmas drawings called “Mary Had a Baby.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Mary.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Amazing Grace (Revised)

Amazing Grace (Revised)

An act of grace, knees on the ground
That shows their dignity.
We all are lost and need re-found
We’re blind to what we see.

‘Twas hate that caused our hearts to fear,
And made those fears believed;
How furious did that hate appear,
When we were first deceived.

This hateful anger spoils our cares
No matter where it’s from;
It’s hate that causes us to fear,
And hate destroys our home.

The Law has promised rights to me,
Its Word my life secures;
It will protect and keep me free
Wherever Love endures.

O we’ve been here ten thousand times,
And nothing still is done,
We’ve no less ways to heal each race,
And make us all as One.

Amazing Grace! How sweet it is,
When we shall all be free.
When hate and fear are nowhere near,
And Love wins you and me!

© John Stuart 2017