Day 78: March 19, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Luke 7:36-50 Read Online


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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.

—Luke 7:47

The Greatest Offering We Can Bring
by Mike Harland, Member of Brentwood Baptist Campus

“You will need to go by the business office before you leave. “ 

Those words scared me to death. My wife was being discharged after five days in the hospital, three of which were in Intensive Care. She’d been through a seven-hour surgery, performed by four surgeons, to deal with the invasive breast cancer found the previous week—and now it was time to talk about the bill

We had insurance, and I was pretty sure everything would be covered. But I also knew that 20 percent of an enormous bill would equal a whole lot more than we had.

I was grateful beyond words that her cancer was found early enough to be removed surgically. But the prospect of having a huge hospital debt was terrifying to this young husband and father of three on a minister’s salary.

I sat down opposite the business manager of the hospital and he showed me the bill. It was 20 pages long and well over $100,000. Gulp. But then he told me something that, to this day, I still find hard to believe.

It went something like this, “Mike, there’s a foundation here at the hospital that helps clergy with large hospital bills. Your case was presented to the review board last night and the vote was unanimous. Your bill has been paid. You have a zero balance.”

Now, I don’t remember exactly what I did next, but I’ll never forget the feeling of a forgiven debt—through no action of my own. And I remember getting up to hug the man I barely knew and dancing as much as a Baptist can, all the way back to Teresa’s room. I couldn’t wait to tell her what God had done.

To this day, 15 years later, the memory still brings tears to my eyes.

The woman in Luke 7 knew something about what it feels like to have an ominous debt covered. She was well aware of her condition. No one knew her sin better than she did. But she also knew that Jesus was in her town and that He had compassion on people like her.

She rose, gathered the most expensive offering she could find, and made her way to His feet. Simon couldn’t believe the waste of the moment. But he didn’t know what she knew. Jesus, loving Simon too much to leave him in his puzzled state, gave him—and us—insight to her action.

When we find ourselves cold in our worship or unresponsive in our praise, let us remember the woman in Luke 7. And let us also remember that Jesus—because of His love and grace—has forgiven the debt that we could never repay

May we find the greatest offering we can and bring it to the One who makes all things new. And may we dance, as much as a Baptist can, for all that Jesus has done for us.

Reflection Questions

  1. Who do you identify with the most in this story? The woman who was forgiven and worshiped? Simon, the one who questions the willingness of Jesus to allow this worship from a sinner?
  2. What are ways in your worship that you reflect her or Simon?
  3. Test your heart. Do you hold back your praise for the One who has forgiven you? Do you pour out your best before Him?
  4. When is the last time you were extravagant in your worship expression to the Lord?
  5. When you leave the worship experiences of your life, do you “go in peace?”

About the Author

Mike Harland

Originally from Corinth, Mississippi, Mike grew up playing sports and his guitar, and writing and singing songs. After he graduated from Delta State University, where he majored in music and played baseball, Mike earned his Master of Church Music degree at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

For 25 years, Mike served in churches as a worship pastor across Mississippi and Texas. Along the way, songwriting became an important part of his life’s work. His songs have been recorded by Christian artists and arranged for church choirs. He has more than 200 published works that include a number of musicals and collections.

In 2005, LifeWay Christian Resources asked Mike to lead the development of music and worship materials for churches as Director of LifeWay Worship. In this role, he writes songs and articles, and he speaks about worship across the U.S. and around the world.

In 2008, Mike was the Editor of a new hymnal for Baptists. He also co-authored the book and Bible study Seven Words of Worship with Christian Music industry veteran Stan Moser. Later, in 2011, New Orleans Seminary awarded him the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Mike is married to Teresa and they live in Franklin, Tennessee with their youngest son John. They’ve been members of Brentwood Baptist since 2005.