Did you ever make mud pies when you were growing up? Did you ever experience the fun of sitting in your driveway (or some other spot with a muddy puddle) and playing with your sibling pretending to make “pies” out of the mud? If so, do you have any memory of how muddy you most likely got? Do you remember your parents sighing with exasperation that the mud would probably never get out of your clothes (hopefully your “play clothes”)? Most likely, all you can remember is the fun you had … not the stains that got embedded into your clothes (play or otherwise). Now, as parents yourselves, it can be hard to see anything but the mud … anything but the stains. Try as you might, when your children play … whether it be in the mud, or on the grass, or even in the sand on a beach … it can be hard to see anything but the stains left behind from all of their “fun.” Is that the case with you, personally, as well? Do you see yourself as “stained” from the sins you may have committed throughout your lifetime? Do you see the stains of everything you’ve done in the past that you once considered to be “just fun” but now, in hindsight, you have come to realize that the fun you had for a short time actually ended up costing you (and perhaps others) dearly? A little bit of drinking here … a little bit of promiscuity there … a little bit of drugs here … a little bit of lying there … a little bit of stealing here … no big deal (or so you thought until later when you saw the consequences of your actions). Then, if someone were to mention Jesus to you, and how He could forgive you of all your sins … past, present, and future … perhaps all you could see, all you could comprehend were all the stains that were still embedded (like mud) into your heart, into your very soul. Perhaps you have felt like there was nothing that could wash those sins away … nothing that could “shout it out” (as the previously popular commercial for stain remover claimed). If so, I’m personally asking you to reconsider. I’m personally asking you to consider Jesus once again. I’m personally asking you to really and truly consider just what Jesus has already done for you when He died on the cross. In a nutshell, Jesus died on the cross to “shout it out.” All the sins of your past, all the sins of your present, and even all the sins you undoubtedly will commit in the future (even unintentionally since no one is perfect) … ALL of your sins WILL be wiped away … will be completely clean … you will be stain free … but ONLY IF you fully and truly ACCEPT the sacrifice that Jesus made for you by FAITH ALONE, by TRUSTING IN HIM ALONE and then, through that faith and trust, by asking Him to come into your heart to be your personal Lord and Savior. You see, it is ONLY through grace ALONE that we are saved; it is ONLY through trusting in the FINISHED WORK on the cross that anyone (you or me) can be made righteous, holy, and acceptable to God … free of EVERY stain of sin. In fact, scripture confirms it! Ephesians 2:8,9 (NIV) reads, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Or maybe you’d like to hear the same truth the way Psalm 51:1-15 of The Message (MSG) puts it, “Generous in love – God, give grace! Huge in mercy – wipe out my bad record. Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry. I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down. You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you: whatever you decide about me is fair. I’ve been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born. What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life. Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.” Yes, that pretty much spells it out! So, the timeless truth for today is this: Consider Jesus once again (or even for the very first time!) Consider all He has ALREADY done for you and for me. No matter what you’ve done in your past . . . anything and everything CAN BE forgiven and made clean through the blood of Jesus that He has ALREADY shed on the cross for you and for me. All ANYONE and EVERYONE needs to do to get all the “stains” out is to wholeheartedly put their faith and trust in JESUS ALONE to save them, wash them clean, and give them a new life in Christ . . . so that, when God (the ONLY judge) looks on you, as your Heavenly Father (IF you’ve committed your life to Him and personally prayed to accept His gift of salvation through Jesus alone) . . . as Your Heavenly Father, God won’t see the stains anymore. He will only see you as righteous, holy, and acceptable because of your exercising faith and trust and acceptance of what JESUS has ALREADY done for you. Bottom line: You accept Jesus, and God will accept you! No more trying to earn anything, no more striving to be “good enough,” no more hoping you’ll measure up . . . ALL you have to do is trust and believe, then accept Jesus . . . and He WILL cleanse you and give you a new heart . . . a heart of love that will desire to live in loving ways towards God and others. Now, what could be better than that?