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February 6 -- "Can This Be the Year of the Lord's Favor?"

Jesus proclaimed in his first sermon: “This is the year of the Lord’s favor.” After that, he sat down. With the eyes of all in the synagogue fixed on him, he added, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

After the year we’ve just experienced wouldn’t it be wonderful to think that maybe this year could be that year of the Lord’s favor in our lives? What might that look like? Let me try in my small human way to describe God’s life for you in this coming year:

A woman is brought before Jesus. She was caught in the act of committing adultery. She is guilty, no if, ands, or buts, about it. As her captors accuse her before judge Jesus, she makes no defense, because she has no defense. What she did was wrong. She knows that she voluntarily joined in this sinful act. The accusers ask Jesus for the death penalty by stoning, They already have rocks are in hand, all that is left is for the judgement to come.

Instead of judgement though, Jesus feels the anguish of her sin and it leads him to say, “You who are without sin, cast the first stone.”

Five minutes later, the woman is still on her knees, her face still looking down at the ground. Yet, no rock has struck her. She looks up. The rocks are laying where the accusers once stood. The only two people still there are Jesus and the woman. Jesus speaks: “Is there no one left to accuse you? Either do I. Go and sin no more.”

At first she thinks it may be a trick, a cruel joke, but by the look on Jesus’ face, she knows that can’t be. Her sin has been erased. She now has the opportunity to start life over and in a new way.

This year – let your past go. Let the sins you still carry, be lifted off of you by the Jesus’ words to this woman. “Forgiven!” Your sins are gone. past, erased. It is the year of the Lord’s favor because you can start over.

James Moore in his book, Standing on the Promises or Sitting on the Premises, tells about a fire that broke out years ago in a hotel in Chicago. Flames and smoke blocked the normal escape routes. Some people on the tenth floor went out on a balcony to escape the smoke, but they found themselves trapped there. It looked as if they were doomed. However, one man crawled back into the building and found the fire escape. He make his way back through the smoke and flames and led the group to safety. A person in the group later said, “You can’t imagine the feeling of relief and joy we felt when that man came back to us and said, “Follow me. I know the way.”

That is the message of Jesus in this new year is: “Follow me. I knows the way!”

There is a sad footnote to that story though. When the man came back, four people refused to go with him. They didn’t believe him. They didn’t trust him, and because of that, they didn’t follow him. All four were later found dead. How sad to know there was someone there to help them, but they turned their backs on the offer, because they didn’t trust the guide.

“This is the year of the Lord’s favor ... Today this has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All it takes to have this promised fulfilled in your life today, is to trust, really trust the One who calls you; the one who allows you to start over. Today is the day to follow the Lord.

~ God bless, Dan.

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