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Words & Actions, Week 5 - Daily Steps

Posted by Kim Stiver on

Welcome to Daily Steps
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.

Luke 7:48-50 "Then Jesus said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.' The other guests began to say among themselves, 'Who is this who even forgives sins?' Jesus said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'”

Breaking the Chains of Shame

For the uninvited woman who showed up at Simon's dinner party on the night he was hosting Jesus for dinner, shame was draped over her like long, filthy rags spilling down her arms and chains cascading down her legs to the floor. When she entered the room no one even saw her... the real her. They only saw her shame. The worst part is, they didn't even care. They didn't want to know who she really was or the potential that was hidden deep inside of her as a daughter of the King of kings. But Jesus did. Jesus saw the amazing woman He created her to be, and within a matter of moments her entire life would be redeemed and changed forever by a Savior who cherished her without any reservation, prejudice, judgment, or punishment. 

We don't know exactly what burden the woman — who wept and washed His feet with her tears — was carrying when she entered Simon's house, but it was likely the public shame of being known as a harlot or prostitute. One thing is for sure, however, the alabaster jar containing perfume was likely worth a year or more of wages. Choosing to pour it out upon the feet of Jesus was not only a costly decision but it would've also been considered inappropriate for a woman to do this in public, especially one of such ill-repute and with a man who was not her husband. Every aspect of her sacrifice was clearly premeditated and very expensive emotionally, monetarily, and socially. Jesus lovingly acknowledged her and accepted her extremely sacrificial offering because He saw her heart... the real her... and He knew she would accept His offering in return... the gift of Himself. 

While we may not relate to how this woman felt in exactly the same manner or for the same reasons, from the earliest stage of life we all become victims of unfair actions and events, the cruelty of others, and our own sinfulness. As we experience suffering and hardship — either self-induced or forced upon us — we can become jaded, disillusioned, and broken down. Shame can set in and smother our souls. For some people, the unthinkable happens. One day, we might even look in the mirror and no longer see reality. We may only see what we think others can see... the ugly residue, blemishes, and scars as a result of life’s unfairness and heavy blows. So we become caught. Ensnared. Enslaved to regret, pain, and shame… seeing only ourselves and everything wrong with us and our lives. Eventually, our slavery erases our memory of what it feels like to be free, whole, and joyful. Slowly we begin to believe that our slavery and shame are deserved. Even worse, we believe no one would possibly want to love us enough to set us free. Even if we were free, it would feel so foreign and so uncomfortable, that we might run back to our chains. This is how the woman who washed the feet of Jesus probably felt. Her shame concealed her inner beauty and her chains kept her in social slavery... that is until she wept at the feet of her Savior. 

It has been said that the Gospel is simple to understand but difficult to accept. This is definitely true for many of the onlookers in Simon's dining room. We can only imagine their mouths falling open from the moment that the woman knelt down and began touching the feet of the only person in the world capable of seeing her for who she really was and what she had to give. The Apostle Paul puts it this way in Galatians 3:26-29: "For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you." In the culture of that time, this woman would've been ostracized for her profession and barred from approaching someone like Jesus — simply because she was female. In every way possible, this scene from Luke 7 shatters glass ceilings, breaks chains of prejudice, and destroys human-powered requirements for receiving God's favor.  

As you meditate on the Scripture readings for this coming week, ask the Holy Spirit to do two things. First, ask Him to set you free from any shame that clings to you, either as a result of something you did or something that was done to you. Ask Him to show you the path to forgiveness, healing, and restoration and give you the confidence to live in freedom — forever leaving the chains behind. Second, ask Him to show you how your own faulty perceptions and prejudices might be interfering with your willingness to honor and love others for who they truly are in Christ. Then ask Him to empower you to put the Gospel into action with everyone you encounter.

Daily Bible Readings

This week, as you go through the daily readings below, ask the Holy Spirit to make each of the passages deeply personal and applicable to you. (NOTE: We suggest that you read each of these passages in several different versions of the Bible, including at least one paraphrase version.) As you contemplate these passages, make time to pray before and after you read them. Write down anything the Holy Spirit whispers to your soul. 

Monday — Read Galatians 5:1. When we surrender to Jesus, it's not a temporary fix. His desire is for us to continually seek Him on a daily basis so that we don't fall back into the slavery that held us in chains before we found freedom in Jesus. As you contemplate the things you struggle with the most, praise Him for how far you've come and ask Him to give you the humility to continually seek strength from God and not yourself. 

Tuesday — Read John 8:1-11. Throughout the Gospel accounts, we see Jesus addressing inequality and the human tendency to label others. As you read this story, what do you think Jesus wrote on the ground? Do you think He was trying to send a message to the religious elite holding the stones, to the onlookers, or to the woman? Imagine yourself in the scene, putting yourself in the shoes of the woman, her accusers, and the crowd around them. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what He wants you to learn today from this passage. 

Wednesday — Read 1 John 1:9. Most people struggle with offering forgiveness either to themselves or to others who have wronged them. Contemplate which is harder for you to do and why. Spend time in prayer asking God to convict your heart of any ways you have withheld forgiveness and ask Him for the strength and courage to pursue it fully and immediately. 

Thursday — Read 1 John 4:18 in at least three different translations of the Bible (click the link for a parallel view). When you think about how much God loves you, do any fears arise in your mind related to past sins, who you are, or what people think of you? Ask the Holy Spirit to fill your heart and mind with the kind of love this verse describes and show you how to extend that same love to others.

Friday—  Read Psalm 103:8-12 several times slowly and then write down the words or phrases that stir your heart the most. Ask God to speak to you through those words and ask Him why you’re drawn to them. Spend time worshipping Him for how much He loves you and how much He wants to use your life to share that kind of love with others regardless of where you come from, what you’ve done, or who people say you are. 

TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to God each day and explore what it means to be a part of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth.

Want to Go Even Further? 
Check out our companion study guide to use with your community group, neighbors, or family members! Each week includes thought-provoking questions for discussion or individual study based on this week's sermon topic. 
STUDY GUIDE

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